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guests looking at a map on the vancouver whale watch tour

26 Best Things to Do in Vancouver in 2024

Since 1986, I’ve been on a quest for the best things to do in Vancouver.

As a child, I relished forest trails, beach clam digs, and feeding squirrels in Stanley Park.

As I grew older, my tastes evolved to include culture, cuisine, and cocktails. Now, I’ve found a comfortable balance.

So, let’s dive straight into my eclectic list of the most fun things to do in Vancouver, featuring highlights like Stanley Park.

⚠️ Warning ⚠️ – Especially during high season, tickets to the top things to do in Vancouver sell out quickly. Guarantee your tickets by booking in the Vancouver sightseeing shop at Viator.

It also helps us get one step closer to doing Vancouver Planner for a living.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver, BC Canada

tourists riding the grouse mountain skyride to the top of grouse mountain with vancouver city view

Climb Grouse Mountain

The Peak of Vancouver is Vancouver’s year-round alpine recreational playground.

From the epic Grouse Grind hike and zip lining in Vancouver in summer, to skiing in Vancouver in winter, the mountain has no shortage of year-round activities on offer.

However, it’s also a vital cultural and educational hub as well. Visit the popular wildlife sanctuary, take in a world-famous lumberjack show or even the best breakfast in Vancouver – because it’s with the grizzly bears. 

Located just 15 minutes from downtown, Vancouver’s most visited year-round attraction is simply a must on any Vancouver itinerary.

Plan My Grouse Visit Now

an orca spotted during vancouver whale watching tourGo Whale Watching

How many big cities can offer you once-in-a-lifetime wildlife right on your doorstep?

Especially between March and September, you’ll find the top Vancouver whale watching tours in full stride.

Here, just outside of Vancouver Harbour, you can experience killer whales, humpback whales, and all sorts of Pacific wildlife to last a lifetime.

Half-day tours roll with expert naturists, state-of-the-art boats, and even food and drinks.

Half Day Whale Watching Tour Info

Instagram @capilanosuspensionbridge

Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Name any top tourist attraction that can string you on a line through an old-growth rainforest 280 feet above the thundering, salmon-filled Capilano River, then give you the rush of a roller coaster without even a slight drop in altitude.

The 800,000 people who traverse North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge every year will tell you it’s one of the most unique experiences you can have.

Beyond the bridge, you’ve also got a daring Cliff Walk attraction and the exciting Treetops Adventure included in the price.

Plan My Capilano Visit Now

Related: Capilano Suspension Bridge vs. Sea to Sky Gondola: Which is Better?

a vancouver seaplane tour flying above the vancouver skyline with coast mountains in backgroundTake an Aerial Tour of the City

To truly appreciate all of Vancouver’s beauty together, these 20-minute Vancouver seaplane tours are a great option.

You’ll take off right in front of Canada Place and the Vancouver Cruise Terminal, cruise past Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge, trace the majestic Coast Mountains, then circle back for views of Vancouver’s beaches and cityscape.

Even better? You’ll be flying the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.

Book My Seaplane Tour Now

Related: Best Vancouver Sightseeing Tours

Related: Best Walking Tours in Vancouver

the raven and first men origin story at the museum of anthropology vancouver canada

Take in the Museum of Anthropology

Those looking for a window into the rich history of the Northwest Coast First Nations will find answers in the art and archaeology at MOA: Vancouver’s most decorated museum that was commemorated with a Canada Post stamp in 1999.

The 535,000 archaeological objects also include a notable presence from faraway continents like Africa and Asia, though the piece de resistance is a yellow cedar sculpture called The Raven and the First Men – a depiction of a common Haida creation myth.

A little tip: plan the visit around dusk so you can see a spectacular sunset down at nearby Wreck Beach.

Related: The 20 Best Museums in Vancouver

 

Walk Through Stanley Park

The mother of all Vancouver parks.

Stanley Park actually checks in about one-fifth bigger than Central Park in New York, with about (just a guess) 72 times more natural beauty.

It’s home to the Vancouver Aquarium, a miniature railway, and the city center’s world-famous Seawall.

However, what’s truly Vancouveresque is the city’s hands-off approach: Stanley Park isn’t the work of a landscape architect but simply an old-growth forest that was allowed to evolve with a city next door.

You’ll swear you’re in the middle of the bush, not a city of millions.

Tip: you can really double down on the knowledge taking tours of Stanley Park.

Related: Best Vancouver Festivals

friends clinking glasses on a vancouver food tourGo on Vancouver Food Tours

For me, there’s no better way to discover a city than to eat up its local delicacies with a guide who also feeds you a bit of history.

Among our list of the best Vancouver food tours, you’ll find the following:

  • Granville Island Market Food Tour
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour
  • Gastown Historic Food Tour
  • Little Italy Food Tour
  • Richmond Dumpling Tour

Along the way, you’ll get to try signature eats like Canada’s national dish, poutine, local smoked salmon, gourmet food from top restaurants, and local beers and wines.

entrance sign to granville island in vancouver bc canadaVisit Granville Island

Granville Island used to be a boring mud flat just south of downtown Vancouver, but today it has swapped its turn-of-the-century sawmills and machine shops for local artists and their art galleries.

It’s also home to street performers, some of Vancouver’s best shopping, and the city’s top food market.

When I visit, I go straight to Granville Island Public Market for the double-smoked sockeye salmon strips – everything else is just a secondary attraction, including our beloved maple syrup!

A local seafood meal at Sandbar or a night at The Improv Centre also can’t miss.

 
riders laughing as they fly over the canadian landscape at the flyover canada ride in vancouver bc

Cross the Country with a 4D Flight Simulator

Visit Canada Place, right next to the Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver, for what has been dubbed “the ultimate flying experience.”

Flyover Canada utilizes state-of-the-art 4D video technology to simulate the sensations of flight across all of Canada’s disparate landscapes.

You’ll be strapped in to hang suspended in front of a 20-metre spherical screen for your exhilarating 8-minute journey clear across Canada.

Along the way, special effects such as wind, mist and scents will be combined with motion to create a true lifelike experience – it’s one of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver.

Plan My 4D Flight Now

 

vancouver boat tour passing under the lions gate bridgeTake a Vancouver Boat Tour

Vancouver’s city motto is By sea, land, and air; we prosper – so it’s only fitting to pay tribute to the sea by taking Vancouver’s best boat tours.

And we’ve got some pretty insane options: harbour cruises, wildlife boat tours, whale watching tours, dinner cruises, sunset excursions and more.

As a base, expect most tours to take you along city beaches, Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge, the Coast Mountains, and the city skyline.

Vancouver Harbour Tour Info

two women walking by the vancouver art gallery during a every child matters demonstration

Hit the Vancouver Art Gallery

The largest art gallery in Western Canada hosts a permanent collection of about 11,000 pieces of art – with some notable contributions from Emily Carr, Marc Chagall, and the Group of Seven.

Walking down the famous Robson Street, you won’t miss this National Historic Site of Canada building. The Vancouver Art Gallery is often the site of protests and demonstrations and is the city’s true cultural heart.

All the big international exhibitions touch down here.

A bonus? The cafe here is one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets as it offers a garden oasis in the middle of the city, yet it is rarely packed. They also have wine, and in the winter, there is ice skating out in the square.

Plan My Art Gallery Visit Now

kayas sit along the shore in false creek vancouver bc canadaGo Kayaking in False Creek

Why not discover Vancouver by water and perfect a useful skill while getting into shape at the same time? If you’re visiting between late April and early October, then hit up Creekside Kayaks.

Not wanting to lift a finger? You can try out one of Vancouver’s best kayaking tours for $44.80.

False Creek is our recommendation due to its connection with downtown Vancouver, sheltered waters and great stop-off options, like Science World, Granville Island and Yaletown.

Looking to rent your own kayak for a self-guided tour? Click the button below:

Plan My Kayak Rental Now

Ride the Sea to Sky Highway

If you’re renting a car, there’s no greater way to soak up the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia than burning up this 132 km (88 miles) stretch of highway that connects Vancouver with world-class ski resort Whistler.

You can stop at the breathtaking Sea to Sky Gondola or the historic Britannia Mine Museum.

Pick a sunny day, and your senses won’t be able to decide between the evergreen elegance of our mountain rainforest or the scintillating sea below.

Just keep an eye on the road!

Related: How Many Days Do I Need to Spend in Vancouver?

exhibition with chinese style dragons at the museum of vancouver
Courtesy: Museum of Vancouver

Visit the Museum of Vancouver

The Museum of Vancouver is a popular civic history museum that recounts the history of its namesake city.

Learn about the history of the three local First Nations who called the area home long before the arrival of European explorers.

Proceed in chronological order through the exhibits to gain an informative look at Vancouver’s dramatic transformation from a rough-and-tumble pioneer outpost to the cosmopolitan city we see today.

Plan My MOV Visit Now

bbq pork and duck with rice at heritage asiann eatery vancouver bc canada
Instagram: @eatheritage

Go for Chinese Food

Many of Vancouver’s Best Restaurants tend to have an Asian twist.

Conde Nast Traveler even boldly claimed that Vancouver not only has the best Chinese food in Canada but the best Chinese food in the entire world.

Their reviewer was left ‘trembling’ by the city’s variety of top Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Szechuan chefs utilizing the area’s top-notch seafood and produce.

Peaceful Restaurant is a good start, and Dinesty Dumping House and Chinatown BBQ are great value spots.

The Best Restaurants in Chinatown are a good place to start. 

the gastown steam clock erupts with steam in vancouver canada

Visit Gastown’s Steam Clock

It may not get the air time as other Vancouver landmarks, but this is one of the only functioning steam clocks in the world. It was built in 1977 as part of a throwback revitalization plan for Gastown.

You’ll see it in action at the top of the hour and every 15 minutes after.

You can find more information in our Gastown neighbourhood guide.

Related: The Best Gastown Bars

 

Go For Sushi

The 600 sushi restaurants in Greater Vancouver account for about 10% of the city’s total eateries, making them as common as coffee shops. Still not impressed by the number? Los Angeles only has 300, and they’re seven times bigger.

Vancouverites are sushi mad – but that’s because there’s an abundance of affordable yet delicious fish available around all of coastal British Columbia.

Another fun fact: the California roll was invented in Vancouver at Tojo’s. Tom Sushi has also been rated the second-best restaurant in Canada and is not even that expensive!

a bicycle on its stand at second beach vancouver bc canadaHit Some Vancouver Beaches

Ah, Vancouver in the summer months – spending a relaxing afternoon swimming, tanning, and barbecuing at one of Vancouver’s best beaches.

To hang with the beautiful people and check out Canada’s longest swimming pool, look no further than Kitsilano Beach: a quick taxi from downtown Vancouver. 

If you’re staying downtown, though, you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches facing west into English Bay.

For a more laid-back experience, you can head to Jericho, Locarno or Spanish Banks on the city’s West side.

More adventurous souls may want to head out to the University of British Columbia to check out Wreck Beach, Canada’s largest nude beach.

a red parrot at the bloedel conservatory at queen elizabeth park in vancouver bc canada
Courtesy: Bloedel Conservatory

See the Bloedel Conservatory

If Vancouver’s gloomy weather has got you down, don’t fret; the city is home to its domed tropical paradise. Located at beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, the Bloedel Conservatory was constructed to foster “a better appreciation and understanding of the world of plants”.

In pursuit of this goal, this beautiful domed heritage building was stocked with over 500 species of tropical plants and 120 free-flying birds in its tropical temperature-controlled confines.

Adjoining Queen Elizabeth Park is located at the highest point in Vancouver and thus contains some of the very best views in town. So be sure to bring your camera.

Plan My Bloedel Visit Now

Looking to get off the beaten track? Check out our guide to the top Vancouver Hidden Gems.

stone inukshuk monument at second beach west end vancouver bc canada

Take in the Seaside Inukshuks

What was once a traditional stone landmark and navigational aid for Inuit cultures has become a symbol of the city and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games logo, owing to Alvin Kanak’s inukshuk built-in English Bay in 1986.

Just west of the famous landmark, you’ll see hundreds of copycats along the Seawall trying to recreate their own versions representing the theme of northern hospitality and friendship.

After your attempt, you’re walking distance to the West End for coffee, drinks, or a delicious ethnic meal.

abruzzo cappuccino bar on commercial drive vancouver bcExperience Commercial Drive

Vancouver’s Commercial Drive is part Little Italy and part hipster haven (maybe even more than Main Street).

Here you can get into some Neapolitan pizza, hit a craft beer tasting room, sample some affordable cocktails, and visit a board game pub where dice determine your shots.

It’s one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Vancouver if you can find an Airbnb, and regardless of being a bit far from downtown, it’s easily accessible via Skytrain.

Related: The Top Vancouver Streets: A Tourist’s Guide

Get Lost in VanDusen Botanical Garden

This 22-hectare public garden, maintained by over 1200 volunteers, displays plant species from all over the world with a particular focus on plants native to British Columbia.

If you’re visiting VanDusen Botanical Gardens in May, you’ll be treated to one of the world’s biggest Rhododendron collections, counting over 1000 varieties.

Also of note are the totem pole, Elizabethan hedge maze, and heirloom vegetable garden.

Plan My VanDusen Visit Now

 
science world

Get Educated at Science World

Yes, we locals still refer to Telus World of Science as Science World, and quite frankly, you should too for that full integration factor.

Here, we get an iconic Vancouver building: a geodesic sphere at the edge of False Creek that looks like Las Vegas had its way with a golf ball.

With a huge variety of science-themed galleries like BodyWorks, Puzzles & Illusions, Environmental Trail, and the Wonder Gallery, you’ll be edu-tained like no other place.

The kicker? It’s got the largest OMNIMAX dome screen in the world.

Get Science World Tickets Now

colourful tomato bruschetta dish at botanist restaurant vancouver canadaEat Some Canadian Food

When I travel, people always ask me if there are any traditional Canadian dishes. I usually mumble something self-deprecating and say ‘maple syrup’ before changing the subject.

But you won’t have to.

Salmon n’ Bannock is a modest yet attentive restaurant where you can try updated Indigenous classics, such as salmon, elk, bison pot roast, and oolichans. While the Mr. Bannock food truck offers inventive “Indian fusion” items like Indian Tacos.

Many of the top downtown Vancouver restaurants also offer West Coast cuisine unique to our region.

 
the final show of shaina twain's concert entitled queen of me tour along with her two back up dancers at the background at rogers arena.

Area: Stadium District l 800 Griffiths Way l SkyTrain: Stadium Chinatown l Website

Watch Concerts or Events at Rogers Arena

Rogers Arena showcases live concerts and hosts the Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver Warriors.

The good thing about this arena is service animals are welcome!

There’s also Canucks Team Store, offering the city’s most extensive array of Canucks gear, situated at Gate 6 (Abbott Street and Pacific Blvd. corner). Game attendees can also reach the store through Section 113.

beautiful scenery with hanging lamps in dr. sun yat-sen classical chinese garden with people wearing traditional clothes

Area: Chinatown l 578 Carrall St. l SkyTrain: Stadium Chinatown l Website

Visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden stands as a registered museum and ranks among Vancouver’s premier tourist destinations.

Serving as a distinctive setting for cultural activities and gatherings, the garden hosts guided tours, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, receptions, and educational programs.

This Ming Dynasty-inspired garden-home holds the distinction of being the first of its kind constructed beyond China, remaining a singular global marvel due to the collective collaboration of community members, the Canadian Government, and the People’s Republic of China.

Things to Do in Vancouver Canada FAQs

What are the must-do things to do in Vancouver?

The things you absolutely must do in Vancouver are seeing the Capilano Suspension Bridge, visiting Stanley Park, heading up Grouse Mountain, shopping Granville Island, and taking a whale-watching tour.

What are some fun things to do in Vancouver Canada?

There are fun things to do in Vancouver, Canada, like strolling through the historic Gastown, skiing or snowboarding on Grouse Mountain, and enjoying the vibrant culture and diverse cuisine in Vancouver, Canada.

What are some non-touristy things to do in Vancouver?

Non-touristy things to do in Vancouver include visiting beaches on the West side (Locarno, Jericho), going to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, going to Lonsdale Quay Market, and eating in Chinatown and Punjabi Market.

Still Looking for Awesome Things to Do in Vancouver?

This website goes beyond simply listing the top things to do in Vancouver and then disappearing. While that might be a straightforward approach, especially in this city, we aim to provide a more comprehensive experience.

If you’re seeking personalized recommendations for your upcoming holiday or night out in Vancity, feel free to drop a comment below, and I’ll be happy to assist!

This ensures you always have a wealth of things to do in Vancouver!

Ash

I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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