The Best 4 Day Vancouver Itinerary by a Local


16 min read
A view of Downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada

Located on Canada's west coast, Vancouver is the largest city in the province of British Columbia and a highly popular North American vacation spot (and for good reason!). While you may think that 4 days in Vancouver is not enough time, don't worry! My 4 day Vancouver itinerary will ensure you see all that the city has to offer.

Vancouver is a diverse and multicultural city made unique by its surrounding scenery of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, urban rainforest and happening nightlife.

Once you begin exploring, you'll encounter everything this city is renowned for. That includes friendly locals, green space, beautiful and historic architecture, and memorable attractions and experiences.

While the area you will cover is quite large, you can get around mainly on foot or by bike (you can rent bikes and helmets at various locations throughout the city). For the few attractions further afield, shuttles or public transport can be used.

You can pick up a Compass Card at a Skytrain station to use the public transit system, which includes the buses, SeaBuses, and the SkyTrain (like the Canada Line). It's 6 CAD upfront, and you can then add however much you need to the card.

If you have more than a few days to spend here, consider also taking a short trip from Vancouver to places like Victoria on Vancouver Island or Whistler.

So, don't believe you can see all of Vancouver in 4 days? Keep reading to find out how you can!

  • 4 day itinerary
  • Average of 6 stops per day

Vancouver Map

Using the map of Vancouver, you can explore all the days and stops.

Explore Downtown Vancouver

Your Vancouver travel itinerary starts with you exploring the most popular spots in Downtown Vancouver.

Begin the day at the Vancouver Art Gallery and immerse yourself in the range of artworks. Next, head up the Vancouver lookout to enjoy 360 views of the city’s unique surroundings.

After coming back down to earth, walk to Gastown to check out the independent shops that line its cobbled streets. About a 10-minute walk from Gastown, you’ll find yourself in Vancouver’s Chinatown and the Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Classical Garden.

Finish the day by returning to your favourite area for dinner and drinks.

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Vancouver Art Gallery

Housed in the former provincial courthouse, the Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest gallery in western Canada and the fifth largest in Canada. Inside, you’ll find a range of contemporary art from Canadian and international artists as well as First Nations and Asian Art.

Along with the permanent exhibits, the gallery features interesting temporary exhibitions. Visit the gallery’s website for what is on during your stay.

Once you’ve completed the tour of the gallery, stop by the gift shop to get contemporary art-inspired cards and gifts. They also have a great selection of coffee table books to browse through.

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Street level view of the Vancouver Lookout above

Vancouver Lookout

Going to the top of the Vancouver Lookout is the perfect way to see the city from one of the best viewpoints, especially with a date!

Travel to the top in less than a minute to take advantage of the 360-degree view. Vancouver’s landscape of city, sea, and snow-capped mountains is unique from the ground, but up high it’s something else!

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The Steam Clock in Gastown in Vancouver, BC

Gastown and Steam Clock

While Gastown is slightly touristy; it's a highly recommended and popular place to visit in Vancouver! With old fashioned gas lamps lining the cobbled streets and historic architecture, you'll fall in love with Gastown.

Gastown is also home to the Gastown Steam Clock. As the world's first steam-powered clock, it has been in Gastown since 1977. Be sure to wait to see its iconic steam whistle, which goes off every 15 minutes.

Continue to the end of Gastown's Water Street to see Hotel Europe. This heritage building is designed to resemble New York's Flatiron Building and has been in Gastown since the early 1900s.

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The interior of The Old Spaghetti Factory in Vancouver

The Old Spaghetti Factory

If you’re in the mood for something to eat, Gastown has a range of delicious options, but The Old Spaghetti Factory is somewhat of a Gastown icon. With delicious and affordable pasta dishes, it’s an obvious stop for a mid-day refuel.

Don’t, however, assume a quiet lunch! It’s rumoured that a host of ghosts haunts the location. Sure, they serve some of the best ravioli in the city, but is it worth having an unexpected plus one? From experience, I say it is!

Other great eating spots include the Water Street Cafe, SteamWorks, and 1920’s prohibition-era themed Pourhouse.

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The Millennium Gate in Vancouver's Chinatown

Chinatown

If you're a frequent traveller, you might be wondering "Do I really need to see another city's Chinatown?" Well in Vancouver, the answer is an absolute yes!

Vancouver's Chinatown is the biggest in Canada and has even been declared a National historic site. Established in the 1890s, walking through Chinatown, you'll encounter unique shops and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Garden.

An optional stop, if you're in the mood for coffee and cuteness, is the Vancouver Cat Cafe. Located in Chinatown's International Village Mall, you'll find cat-themed drinks (cat-puccino anyone?) and feline friends to hang out with.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Classical Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Classical Garden

This oriental oasis in the heart of Chinatown’s Sun Yat-Sen Park will transport you right out of the city.

A representative of the Ming Dynasty-era tradition, the garden features Chinese architecture, tranquil ponds, and exotic flowers. Add some pics to your socials, and your friends will be asking when you decided to vacation in China over Canada!

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Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

Asian food lovers will find a multitude of options to please them in Chinatown!

I recommend Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie. Instead of the large portions you usually get at Chinese restaurants, at Bao Bei, you can indulge on small dishes and modern cocktails to accompany.

Alternatively, try the trendy Keefer Bar which serves Asian fusion plates and Instagram-worthy cocktails.

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Gardens, Granville Island, and Gastronomy

View of Granville Island and the nearby harbour

Pull out that Compass Card, it's time to leave downtown! First, you'll hop on the Skytrain to head to VanDusen Botanical Garden. Then, continue to Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory.

Next up on your Vancouver 4 day itinerary is a visit to Granville Island Public Market. Here, you'll discover craft and culinary finds, including some of the freshest ingredients in Vancouver, plus artisan jewellery, souvenirs and more!

Lastly, return to downtown and walk through the beautiful David Lam Park, eventually ending up in trendy Yaletown.

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A duck in the lake at VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden

This 55-acre botanical oasis is about 30 minutes outside of Downtown Vancouver, but you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from the city.

The garden is home to over 7,500 plant species, tranquil lakes, and unique architecture. There’s even an Elizabethan hedge maze to explore and garden side cafes to relax at and enjoy the view from.

Utilize the Garden’s Bloom Calendar to see what will be in bloom during your visit. You can see the garden yourself or take a guided tour.

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Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, BC

Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park

This tropical paradise is located in Queen Elizabeth Park, about a 10 to 15-minute walk from VanDusen Garden. The temperate conservatory is home to various tropical birds, plants, and other exotic creatures.

While in the park, also head to the lookout located atop Vancouver’s highest point for sensational city views.

You could even grab lunch at the renowned Seasons in the Park restaurant. However, based on your next stop, I would recommend just getting a drink or returning for dinner.

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Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island is a very fun thing to do in Vancouver, Canada as you can get things here you cannot get anywhere else. This includes souvenirs, first nations art, unique jewellery, and even witches' brooms!

Begin exploring by wandering around the shops and visiting some of Granville Island's unique attractions, such as the Houseboats and Giants' Silo Mural.

Next, head to the Central Public Market. At the large indoor market, you can purchase meals, snacks, and high-quality ingredients from a range of long-time vendors.

I recommend picking up some snacks or meals for a well-deserved picnic stop. Settle down in the inside or outside eating areas, or pack up your goodies and take the Aquabus back downtown.

If you're travelling with children, Granville Island also has a Kids Market with a play area, toy and clothing shops, and an arcade.

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False Creek in Vancouver

David Lam Park

Directly across from Granville Island Public Market is David Lam Park. Take the Aquabus across False Creek to reach it from the market.

Here, you can relax with your picnic and then walk around to the end of the Seawall, or into Yaletown. While in the park, you’ll enjoy harbour views, lush green space, and pretty flower gardens.

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Yaletown in Vancouver, British Columbia

Yaletown

Heritage meets hip and luxurious style in Vancouver’s Yaletown. Formerly an industrial area, Yaletown’s warehouses and industrial buildings have been transformed into high-end boutiques and trendy restaurants and bars.

Start by visiting any of the fashion and decor shops that catch your eye. Then, choose one of the many bars to get a yummy drink at.

Attending a happy hour is a fun thing to do in Vancouver, and Yaletown has some of the best deals in the city. Running from about 3 pm to 5 pm, most Yaletown bars have special deals on drinks and snacks.

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The Flying Pig

This Canadian cuisine restaurant is a favourite among locals for brunch, lunch, and dinner. While the name may suggest a pork-heavy menu, you can actually get a range of meat, fish and vegetarian options.

Inspired by the fresh ingredients available on Canada's west coast, you won't be disappointed by whichever dish you choose.

Like most Yaletown bars and restaurants, they have a daily happy hour, but if you aren't in the mood for dinner, their weekend brunch is Vancouverite recommended.

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A Day by the Water

An aerial shot of Canada Place in Vancouver, BC

Your third day in Vancouver will begin at Canada Place; an iconic sailboat-inspired building near the harbour. Make a quick stop at FlyOver Canada, and then walk around the Seawall to Coal Harbour.

After a quick stop at Coal Harbour, continue around the Seawall to Stanley Park (or hop on the bus if you prefer). At Stanley Park, whether you keep walking the Seawall or veer off onto one of the park's trails, you'll find amazing views and cultural landmarks.

Having walked through the park, you'll end up at the four beaches that run parallel to the park and downtown. End the day's activities in quaint Kitsilano, which is a quick bus or boat ride across the water.

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Canada Place and Coal Harbour

Canada Place in the Burrard Inlet is designed to resemble the ships that reside in the harbour. At Canada Place, visit FlyOver Canada, a 10-minute simulation that “flies” you over Canada’s most historic locations.

Next, walk around the seawall from Canada Place to Coal Harbour. On the way, you’ll additionally come across the Digital Orca. This lego-style killer whale structure was installed in 2009 and is a great photo-op.

Then, either continue walking around the waterfront to Stanley Park, or hop on the bus that will take you straight to the park’s entrance.

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Stanley Park Totem Poles in Vancouver

Stanley Park and Totem Poles

No Vancouver 4 day trip itinerary would be complete without a trip to Stanley Park. Vancouver’s largest urban park (which is a rainforest!) will provide you with forest, ocean and city views. It’s also home to a range of cultural landmarks and wildlife.

You can either follow a variety of trails that will lead you through the park, or choose to walk or bike part of the 9km Seawall that wraps around the park.

The First Nations Totem Poles are also a must-see and are one of the most-visited attractions in Vancouver. Located at Brockton Point, they were added in the 1920s, but some of the poles may have been carved in the 1880s.

Some other sites of interest to see include Brockton Point Lighthouse, the Rose Gardens, Lost Lagoon, Beaver Lake, and Prospect Point. If you’re visiting the park with kids, or the weather’s bad, the Vancouver Aquarium within the park is a worthwhile stop too.

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English Bay Beach in Vancouver

English Bay Beach and Surrounding Beaches

As one of the four main beaches along the Seawall, English Bay Beach is one of the most popular.

Relax and enjoy the oceanic and mountainous views whilst resting on one of the tree trunks placed along the beach. Also, be sure to check out the A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture close to the beach. The animated bronze statues will be an interesting addition to your vacation photos!

Along with English Bay Beach, Sunset Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach are additional popular spots.

Head to Third Beach for a quieter and more relaxed beach day. That is unless you're visiting on a summertime Tuesday night when Third Beach hosts an impromptu drum circle. Arrive between 6 pm and 9 pm to dance and listen to music provided by the Vancouver residents.

Second Beach features another sandy beach as well as a public pool and food outlets. A fun thing to do in Vancouver if visiting in July or August is attending Second Beach's outdoor movies on Tuesday nights.

While the movies start at sundown (around 9 pm), I recommend arriving earlier to get a good spot. While you wait, enjoy the sunset and some dinner from one of the onsite food trucks.

Sunset Beach is the closest to downtown. It's an ideal place to relax with a book, swim, and as the name suggests, watch the sunset. You can also view the Engagement sculpture here. The two 30ft high engagement rings were installed as part of a global series in 2005.

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Cactus Club Cafe

Vancouver’s popular Cactus Club Cafe has a great beachfront location at English Bay for drinks and lunch, dinner, or snacks.

This is a busy location, so I recommend booking online or reserving a spot with the hostess and returning. If the weather is good, make sure to ask for a patio spot; enjoying one of their signature cocktails while looking out at the ocean and mountains is well worth the wait!

Hook Seabar, across the street from the beach, is another excellent location for quality cocktails and fantastic seafood.

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Sunset Beach view from Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano

Located across the water from Downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano is a peaceful and quirky neighbourhood.

Kits Beach is a favourite for relaxing, enjoying barbeques and playing beach games in the summer. If you aren't in a beach mood, head to West 4th and surrounding blocks for some retail therapy.

Along with interesting independent stores, such as those selling crystals, you'll find more well-known brands like Lululemon and Urban Outfitters.

Another recommended stop for your Vancouver travel itinerary is the Museum of Vancouver, Canada's premier civic history museum. The Vancouver Maritime Museum is also suggested for history enthusiasts.

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Trattoria Kitsilano

Enjoy authentic southern-Italian cuisine at Trattoria Kitsilano. This vibrant and casual spot is a great place to grab some dinner before heading back downtown.

Choose from delicious pizza, antipasto, pasta, and meat and fish dishes. Prices per dish are often under 20 CAD each, and they also boast a wine list with 50+ local and international wine choices.

If you are not in the mood for Italian, check out Fable Kitchen. They serve contemporary Canadian cuisine.

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Thrilling Heights and Magnificent Views

Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, BC, Canada

Get ready to explore! Your last day's stops will take you high above Vancouver and will see you encountering adrenaline-inducing experiences, magnificent views, and Canadian bears!

You'll start the day by venturing to North Vancouver for Grouse Mountain. In the summer, you can get a free shuttle from Canada Place to Grouse Mountain. For the rest of the year, take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay and then the number 236 bus.

Once at Grouse, no matter which way you choose to reach the peak, you're sure to encounter amazing views and local wildlife.

Next, you'll get on the connector shuttle to travel from Grouse to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Experience the thrill of walking across this 450ft long bridge, then move on to the Treetops Adventure or Cliff Walk. Finally, head to the Cliff House Restaurant for a relaxing lunch.

End the day by heading back downtown for some shopping and dinner.

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Sunrise from Grouse Mountain in Vancouver

Grouse Mountain

Located on Vancouver's North Shore, Grouse Mountain rises 1,250 meters above Vancouver. To get to the peak, take an 8-minute ride on the Skyride gondola. While travelling up the mountain, you'll get a great view of the Burrard Inlet and the surrounding alpine forest.

Thrill-seekers may prefer the Skyride Surf Adventure. Available in the summer months, ride upon the gondola's roof instead of inside. You'll also be accompanied by a guide to point out surrounding areas of interest.

Alternatively, get to the top by tackling the Grouse Grind. Nicknamed "Mother Nature's Stairmaster", this intense workout takes about 90 minutes and will see you climb an 850-meter elevation.

You can also follow mountain biking and hiking trails at Grouse, and those after an extra thrill can zipline through the alpine trees!

If visiting Vancouver in the late fall, winter, or spring, Grouse is a great place to undertake some snow sports. You can purchase a pass and equipment to ski or snowboard between November and May.

Don't forget to see the mountain's two resident bears at the Grouse Mountain Grizzly Bear Habitat. See if you can spot them in their enclosed area, or watch with a snack from the Grizzly Lookout Cafe.

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View of Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge allows you to experience breathtaking natural views with a little bit of an adrenaline kick. Venturing across the 450ft long bridge, suspended at 230ft above the canyon and river below, you’ll be surrounded by fantastic forest views.

With your entrance fee, you’ll also have access to the Treetops Adventure and Cliff Walk. If you’re brave enough to tackle them, you’ll experience even more of the forest scenery from up high.

If visiting between the end of November and the end of January, consider exploring the park at night. During this period, the park hosts the Canyon of Lights event. The bridge and other attractions throughout the park are illuminated by hundreds of festive lights, making them even more magical.

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Cliff House Restaurant and Bar

Overlooking the Capilano Canyon and suspension bridge, this casual spot offers delicious Canadian dishes and great views. The west coast inspired dishes use fresh and local ingredients. A vast range of BC craft beers and wines are also available.

During colder periods, they even have a campfire on the patio. Grab a blanket and snuggle up with some hot chocolate or mulled wine.

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Robson Street sign in Downtown Vancouver

Robson Street and Pacific Centre

Back downtown, finish your last day in Vancouver with a relaxing bit of shopping on Robson Street and at the CF Pacific Centre shopping mall.

Robson Street is home to souvenir shops, fashion stores like J.Crew and Vancouver’s own Aritzia, and confectionery stores including Laudree and the highly recommended Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop.

The Pacific Centre, about a 10-minute walk from the start of the shops on Robson Street, has chain and luxury stores. High-end department stores Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew can be found in the mall along with Aldo, H&M, Apple, and many more.

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Joe Forte's Seafood & Chop House

This legendary Vancouver dining spot may be a little high in the price range, but it's worth it.

At this San Francisco styled seafood grill, you can try the best oysters in Vancouver, luxurious seafood towers, and perfectly cooked steak. Accompany your meal with one of over 300 wine choices from their well-curated wine list.

The relaxed and high-class atmosphere, award-winning food, and impeccable service make it the perfect place for your last dinner in the city.

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In Summary

You should now have no problem deciding how to spend 4 days in Vancouver to ensure you see all the city is famous for.

You'll go from visiting the hotspots Downtown to chilling on Vancouver's many beaches and exploring the renowned Stanley Park. With the addition of adrenaline-pumping experiences, relaxing journeying through Vancouver's many gardens and tasty food stops galore, I guarantee this will be one of your best vacations yet!

Following my itinerary will allow you to experience all of the best things to see and do in Vancouver. And with careful planning, you're sure to see everything in the most efficient manner with the shortest amount of time between sites as possible.

So just relax and enjoy your trip and all that Vancouver has to offer!

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.


Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!


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