Vancouver, a dense city on the West Coast of North America, has continuously been rated as a top city to live in over the years. If you have 24 hours or two days in Vancouver coming up soon, you might be scrambling trying to figure out how to make the most of your short time here. Well, no need to worry as I have plenty of suggestions for you on how to plan your visit to Vancouver. It's not as hard as you might think!
Vancouver is a vibrant and multicultural city in British Columbia, Canada, or BC for short. BC is a province, not a state (as they refer to them in the USA), filled with beautiful mountains and its coast surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. It has tons of natural wonders, cultural attractions and yummy food stalls fine-tuned for every taste. Vancouver is also classed as one of the most diverse and popular places to visit in Western Canada, offering plenty of fun for a couple of days or weeks.
Once here, you can rent a bike to get around the city centre (helmets MUST be worn at all times - it's the law!). Or, if you decide to travel further from downtown for day trips, an eco-friendly car is the best option for your few days here. You can find bicycle and car rental places all around the downtown core.
The public transportation is good in the city centre but can become more troublesome the further out you go into the suburbs, like Surrey and beyond. The primary method of public transport here consists of the SkyTrain (like a metro) and buses.
If you decide to stick with the trains and buses, then don’t forget to buy a Compass Card (available at the train stations, not on the buses!). It is not only more convenient, but it can also help you save a bit of money.
Wanting to save even more money? Then stick to walking as you can easily get from one landmark to another in the downtown core as is not all that big.
As there are plenty of things to do within a limited time, this Vancouver itinerary will help prioritise your time, get to know the city and visit the some of the most popular locations in the area. The sites included are Stanley Park, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Steam Clock, Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens, Granville Island and more. Take a look below to find out what else you can do in Vancouver for two days.
On the first day, you will begin in Downtown Vancouver. During the day, this part of the city is buzzing with people shopping, sightseeing and eating out (and of course those going to work too). At night, the area becomes a great place for watching live performances, clubbing and drinking.
You will start your day by visiting the Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical-Chinese Gardens. Then, you will head to the Steam Clock and Canada Place. Canada Place is a building shaped like a ship and is one of the most well-known Vancouver landmarks. Afterwards, go to the Vancouver Art Gallery, a contemporary art museum, and finish your day with delicious food on Main Street.
Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical-Chinese Gardens lies between Downtown and Gastown, in the Chinatown part of the city. It was named as the world’s top city garden by the National Geographic. It was opened in 1986, which made it the first Chinese or 'Scholars Garden' built outside of China.
Today, the Gardens surprise visitors with clear water ponds, traditional Chinese miniature trees, lotus flowers and grand yet minimalist Chinese buildings. Come quite early in the morning to experience the Gardens' tranquillity and to avoid the crowds of tourists from cruise ships.
Stopping by the Steam Clock is another thing you have to do with your 2 days in Vancouver, BC. It is located in Gastown, close to Waterfront Skytrain Station, which makes it a short walk from the Chinese Gardens.
The Steam Clock was built in 1977 and is the world’s first steam-powered clock. Every hour, the Clock's whistle blows and lets out steam. This process attracts lots of visitors. While waiting for the whistle to go, grab a light brunch or coffee at one of the nearby cafes.
Canada Place is located on the Burrard Inlet and is probably the most famous building in Vancouver. It resembles a ship and houses businesses like FlyOver Canada, the Vancouver Convention Centre, Pan Pacific Hotel, Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, Vancouver's World Trade Centre and several restaurants/coffee shops.
While you're at Canada Place, try the virtual FlyOver Canada ride that will take you on a flight across some of Canada's most beautiful places in less than 10 mins!
The Vancouver Art Gallery was established in 1980 and has a massive collection of 11 000 artworks by Canadian and British artists. The permanent collection includes respected artists such as Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, Jeff Wall, Harry Callahan and Marc Chagall.
The Gallery also hosts various touring exhibitions and has a public library, gift shop and café where you can get a delicious hot chocolate and freshly baked bakery.
Main Street is a very long and busy street that runs from the north to the south end of Vancouver. You can get here by getting off at the Main Street-Science World Skytrain stop or catching the 19 bus from downtown.
Here, you will find great independent coffee shops, various restaurants (Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Canadian, etc.) and great pubs where you can taste the locally brewed beer. Some of the more well-known breweries that are frequented by the locals in this area include 33 Acres and Brassneck.
On your second day in Vancouver, you will start your day by travelling towards North Vancouver, or the North Shore as some people call it. You can take a bus, the Seabus (a ferry) from Waterfront Station (you can use the Compass on here too!) or rent a car to get here if you want to save a bit of time.
North Vancouver is known for its abundant nature and spectacular views over the water and city. During this day, you will first visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. After you finish here, you will head back towards Downtown Vancouver and visit Stanley Park. Stanley Park is the largest park in Vancouver and is where you will find the city’s longest forest trail.
After exploring both parks, you will cross a bridge to visit the popular Granville Island. This area is known for its local food and market shopping stalls set among a beautiful backdrop with fantastic views of the city.
You will finish your day at Sunset Beach Park, which is another stop that should be on your things to do in Vancouver list.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park was established in 1889. The most visited attraction at the Park is a 450 ft (137 m) long and 230 ft (70 m) tall wooden suspension bridge that showcases spectacular views from above.
The Park is also known for housing the most extensive private collection of totem poles that were carved near the Park. If you wish to experience something more thrilling, try the Cliffwalk or Treetops Adventure that is suitable only for the bravest.
Stanley Park is located northwest of Downtown Vancouver and is one of the most famous parks in the city. It attracts more than 8 million visitors per year. It has various forest trails, lakes and beaches as well as a water park and aquarium (Vancouver Aquarium).
It is the best place to enjoy spectacular views of the north shore mountains and the lovely Lion’s Gate Bridge. If you are feeling hungry, there are plenty of cafes along the park trails where you can enjoy a light brunch/lunch.
Granville Island, a public market, is known as one of Vancouver’s many shopping areas and is a MUST on your two days in Vancouver itinerary. The area is packed with theatres, market stalls, shops, art studios, restaurants, bars and bookstores.
It is a great place for souvenir shopping and tasting fresh seafood that is prepared and sold here. If you have some time, make sure to check out a play at one of the amateur theatres. You will be surprised by how good it is!
Sunset Beach Park is a short bus ride away from Granville Island, which is west of Downtown Vancouver. You can also catch a ferry boat from Granville Island to Sunset Beach (or other locations). This beach is a popular spot for swimming, playing volleyball, dog walking and watching the sunset.
Sunset Beach is connected to Stanley Park via the Seawall path, which allows visitors to walk along the sea and enjoy the views. If you wish to do something more exciting than watching a sunset, then venture over to the West End and/or Yaletown for some more last-minute exploration.
This itinerary covered what to do in Vancouver for 2 days and how to make these days the most memorable and exciting. It includes some of the most famous landmarks in the city, which will give you a glimpse into Vancouver's local culture and history.
You will also experience some of Vancouver's unique activities, such as wandering around the biggest private Totem Poles collection, visiting the first Canadian Chinese Garden and watching an amateur theatre show on Granville Island.
This guide is simple to follow and includes a minimum number of stops, meaning you won't need to travel far in between the sites. You will also have some time to do extra things, such as eating, shopping or just walking around the beautiful streets. Also, feel free to skip any stop to try more exciting activities, like spending half a day climbing the trees at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
Enjoy a perfectly planned itinerary for your weekend getaway in Vancouver and forget about being overwhelmed planning. Save your time with our itinerary and enjoy the trip!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Oct 21, 2019 16:39 UTC.
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