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the stone inukshuk monument at second beach, a key stop on our list on how to spend 4 days in vancouver.

How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver in 2023

Planning a Vancouver itinerary doesn’t have to be hard. So we’ve come up with the ultimate guide on how to spend 4 days in Vancouver to ease the burden.

The awesome attractions and nifty nature packaged here on Canada’s West Coast can be done in a way that makes it easy on the odometer – and soft on the savings account.

I was born and raised here, and this is how I’d do it if I were a tourist.

Let’s get started.

How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver – Day 1

Day one in our guide on how to spend 4 days in Vancouver is all about discovering the city’s origins.

By sundown, you’ll be an expert on its pre-colonial aboriginal history and live British Columbia’s growth from a backwater logging spot to a place fit to host the 2010 Olympics.

And all of this visiting Vancouver will be done with delicious food and a few drinks thrown in.

Get Caffeinated Downtown

Get to downtown Vancouver by taking the Skytrain from the airport and getting off at Vancouver City Centre Station.

Conventional advice would suggest legendary Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons: ask for the ‘double double’ (two sugar, two creams) to sound like a local.

For my money, though, I’m doing Fabourg. This local Parisian-style cafe has bountiful brew and the baked goods to match – you’re doing four days in Vancouver, so you should start as you mean to go on!

Take a left outside the cafe, and in quick walking distance, we find:

a gold bracelet at the bill reid gallery vancouver bc

The Bill Reid Gallery

It’s fitting to start any Vancouver trip itinerary at the Bill Reid Gallery: Canada’s only public gallery dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Art of the Northwest Coast.

It’s one of the best things to do in Vancouver, and it’s named after Haida artist and sculptor Bill Reid.

The mandate here is to create an awareness of Indigenous culture and values and bridge gaps between first nations and settler populations.

Highlights include Reid’s 8.5-meter-long bronze masterpiece Mythic Messengers and a full-scale totem pole featuring Wasgo, the Haida seawolf.

Just 30 seconds up the street, we move ahead a bit in Vancouver’s history to:

hotel vancouver façade with sun peaking through trees in summer

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

This luxury Châteauesque hotel was Vancouver’s tallest building for over 30 years – and is arguably the city’s fanciest hotel to this day.

The light green copper-pitched roof is emblematic of the prosperity brought west to British Columbia by the Canadian Grand Railway. Famous past guests include Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill.

You should go into the lobby and stand under its great chandelier.

It’s said that here is the exact city center – so imagine that the original 1888 incarnation of the hotel used to be considered a ‘foolish location’ due to its location between two forests!

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

Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery

Right across the street from the Hotel Vancouver is the northern end of Vancouver’s largest plaza.

The 1,300,000 square foot square is bookended with the Vancouver Art Gallery to the north and the British Columbia Law Courts to the south.

Local architect Arthur Erickson’s vision was the foundations of society (law and art) at either end with people in the middle – so go be people in the middle!

This is a super fun place with a waterfall, a beautiful garden pathway, and even an ice rink (winter, free admission) which hosts salsa/ballroom dancing events in warmer months.

The VAG Food Truck Scene

Vancouver’s best restaurants are great, but we’re on a mission to move to as many places as possible while visiting Vancouver – so we need quick bites.

Right outside the Art Gallery, you’ll find a dozen food trucks catering to all tastes.

My go-to trucks are Mom’s Grilled Cheese for the classic sourdough with pickles and Japadog for its Japanese-inspired hot dogs (go for the ‘terimayo’).

You can get the full list with Streetfoodapp.com.

The view of Burrard Inlet from Vancouver Lookout
Instagram: @vancouverlookout

The Vancouver Lookout

I know, in a city so praised for natural beauty, I’ve done nothing in this Vancouver itinerary post but force you to visit galleries, admire man-made chandeliers, and eat pork products.

That ends here – 551 feet above the city at the Vancouver Lookout.

The glass elevator takes you up to this observation deck and rotating restaurant for a 360-degree view of the city, harbour, and North Vancouver and its mountains.

Keep in mind that your tickets are valid if you come back at night!

the gastown steam clock chiming in gastown vancouver bc canada


Gastown is a lively neighbourhood full of art galleries (like Coastal Peoples Fine Art Gallery) and edgy fashion studios, arguably the city’s cultural heart.

The city’s most photographable object is the massive antique Steam Clock which goes off every hour on the hour to the sounds of the ‘Westminster Quarters’ – you can’t visit Vancouver without it.

Near here is also the site of one of Vancouver’s best souvenir shops: Hudson House Trading Co.

Here you’ll get great some of Vancouver’s best shopping, like Fluevog Shoes, a progressive art-deco brand from Vancouver. One of a Few is a great shop for curated women’s collections.

Gastown Happy Hour

Gastown is full of great bars, and the prices don’t get any greater than between 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Expect to pay around $6.00 for a beer and $8.00 for wine.

When it’s warm, and you want to sit outside and watch Vancouver go by, I suggest the stone-clad heritage building Water Street Cafe.

If you want trendy but old-timey, head for the Clough Club and their craft cocktails and elevated South American tapas with local ingredients.


If you’re staying downtown, it may be wise to go back to your hotel and freshen up a bit, but either way, I want you in Gastown for the evening meal.

Some of the amazing restaurants in Gastown should not just be tasted but experienced.

I love opting for the Quebecois-influenced French restaurant St. Lawrence. Trout amandine is the signature dish.

On a budget? There’s great value to be had at Kito No Donburi, with high-end Japanese rice bowls at fast food prices. Plus, their sushi is great.

The bartender serves a cocktail at the Keefer Bar

Cocktails at Chinatown’s Keefer Bar

Just next to Gastown is Vancouver’s legendary Chinatown. It’s North America’s second largest and the cultural heart of the city’s thriving Chinese population.

For the full effect, walk through the Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate before getting to Keefer Bar.

The Asian fusion lounge also has an oddly sleek medical equipment decor.

Keefer Bar’s mixologists are some of the best in the city. Just talk to them and establish a taste profile and let them make you a custom cocktail – no menu needed!

Now after a full day, I’m sure you’re ready to hit the hay. But not to worry, there’s plenty left on our list of how to spend 4 days in Vancouver.


How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver – Day 2

After a fairly urban start, I want to transition you slowly to some of Vancouver’s more outdoorsy sites – that’s what we’re famous for, after all!

I’m mapping out the day using bikes, but it can easily be adapted for walking or even public transport.

So let’s get started on the second day of our guide to how to spend 4 days in Vancouver.

Breakfast at Catch 122 Bistro

Day 2 of our 4-day Vancouver itinerary starts back in Gastown at Catch 122.

Even if you’ve stayed out late, you’ll be happy to know that you can grab some of the best breakfast in Vancouver – or brunch, whatever you want – served daily at Catch 122 until 3:00 pm.

The salmon toast with dill mustard sauce is my favourite, but the pork shoulder eggs Benny and Liege waffles are also delectable.

Already have a hotel breakfast? Skip ahead because it’s just a short walking distance to:

the five sails at canada places vancouver bc canada

Canada Place

We can walk over to Canada Place, Vancouver’s iconic sail-shaped convention centre and cruise port, in just 10 minutes.

What was originally a Rail Canada pier has now become one of the city’s most active meeting points. There’s a great view of the water and mountains, as well as the popular Flyover Canada attraction.

That said, we’re going to look for two monuments here: the 2010 Olympic Torch and local author Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca.

If you’re visiting around noon, keep your ears open for the 12 O’clock Horn – which plays the first four notes of our nation’s national anthem, ‘O Canada.’

This is also a common starting point of many of the best Vancouver city tours.

Related: Best Walking Tours in Vancouver

Bike Rental at Waterfront Station

I’ve got a car that’ll make things quicker, but there’s still no way I’d rather do it than discovering Vancouver by bike.

We wanna be able to get into all the nooks and crannies of the city without circling the block looking for parking and blowing $8.00/hour for a spot.

It’s also the best way to explore day two’s piece de resistance, the world’s longest urban/seaside bike path: The Vancouver Seawall. This is an absolute must for active travellers wondering how to spend 4 days in Vancouver.

We rent bikes with a 5-hour package, turn our backs to Canada Place, and point our tires west on the seawall.

coal harbour blue glass towers contrasting a grassy knoll at the vancouver convention centre

Coal Harbour Contrasts

Look left for Vancouver in a nutshell.

It’s in this residential neighbourhood that Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass moniker for our city comes to life in a forest of towering green glass skyscrapers.

Look right for nature’s ravishing rebuttal.

The mountains book end us into the path perfect for panorama photography and understanding the city’s nature – just make sure to stay in your lane!

This 5 km portion of the seawall also offers lush greenery and a marina.

The Seawall runs past Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Still wondering how to spend 4 days in Vancouver? To put it simply, no Vancouver travel itinerary can be considered complete without a visit to Stanley Park.

Just 15 minutes from the chaos of downtown Vancouver we arrive at the entrance of a location so heralded that TripAdvisor named it the world’s best park based on visitor reviews.

But this park wasn’t carved out by some landscape architect or urban planner.

It’s an old-growth forest whose half a million trees (some as high as 250 feet) have been standing in the area since before anybody knew Vancouver by name.

The first stop is at the First Nations totem poles. These gigantic monumental carvings are British Columbia’s biggest tourist attraction.

Keep following the path for the Brockton Lighthouse and the Girl in a Wetsuit monument (just offshore on the right, look out!).

a canada goose feeding on the shoreline at stanley park with lions gate bridge

Lions Gate Bridge

Us Vancouverites falsely believe our epic harbour-traversing suspension bridge can compete with San Francisco, but you’ve gotta see it anyway.

Lions Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, and the original owners were the Guinness Family (yes, the stout!) of Ireland. The original toll was just 25 cents for a car or horse/carriage.

You’ll see it famously destroyed in the movie Final Destination 5.

In all, it’s just a great photo opportunity with compelling contrast to the mountains.

If you’re walking or driving, there’s a great vantage point of the bridge and harbour from up at Prospect Point.

The seawall passes Siwash Rock

Siwash Rock

Continuing along the sea wall, we start curling our Vancouver trip itinerary back around toward downtown and one of the first landmarks telling us this is Siwash Rock.

This 59-foot-high rock outcropping has a vague resemblance to a bowling pin sticking out of the sea.

The 32 million-year-old sea stack is the only one in Vancouver.

Local aboriginal legend has it that a man was turned into the rock as a monument to ‘clean fatherhood.’

From here, it’s just 7-8 minutes to our next stop.

sunbathers relax while swimmers walk into the water at second beach stanley park vancouver bc canada

Second Beach

It’s one of Vancouver’s best beaches, so if you’re visiting Vancouver in summer (May-Sept), I hope you’ve brought your swim trunks.

This wild sand beach gives you the option to take a dip in the ocean or even in a heated outdoor pool (Second Beach Pool).

There’s also a great picnic spot at Ceperley Meadow to have a quick snack, top up the fluids, or recharge your legs if you’re not used to all that cycling.

In off-season, it’s still nice to park the bikes and go for a little walk.

stone inukshuk monument at second beach west end vancouver bc canada

The Inukshuk at English Bay Beach

Even further up the sea wall, we’re back into downtown Vancouver and stop at this grey granite structure you’ll see with sunsets in every Vancouverite’s Instagram.

The piled rocks look like they could collapse into the Pacific Ocean at any moment.

Inukshuks are actually traditional Inuit navigation aids representing friendship and hospitality.

Amateurs try to recreate mini versions of them using rocks all along the waterfront – give it a try and leave your mark!

entrance sign to granville island in vancouver bc canada

False Creek Ferry and Granville Island Public Market

We find a False Creek Ferry stop at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

Feel free to board with your bikes! It’s just a quick 10-minute ride over to visit Vancouver’s arts and culinary hub: Granville Island.

It’s time to lock up the bikes and head straight for the food market. Nobody should be leaving without trying the double-smoked or maple-candied salmon from Longliner Seafoods.

We grab lunch at the food court or nibble our way through the market stalls and their fresh fruits, charming cheeses, and delicious deli meats.

Take another hour to explore the galleries and artisan shops of the area.

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

Downtown Shopping

The ticket back to the Aquatic Center leaves us back on the downtown peninsula with two options: get some afternoon rest or go shopping.

Either one requires us to get up to the bike-friendly Hornby Street.

The path back to Canada Place and the bike rental shop, and our hotels is straightforward.

If we’re going shopping, though, we’re stopping short at Robson Street. In taking a left here, we’re thrown right into Vancouver’s main shopping street.

All the big brands are here, so knock yourself out.

a waitress serving a prawn and mushroom appetizer at cioppinos vancouver bc canada
Instagram: @cioppinosyaletown

Dinner in Yaletown

This formerly industrial area was once Vancouver’s warehouse district.

Today Yaletown is one of our amazing city’s most densely populated neighbourhoods. The urban regeneration here is quite remarkable – it’s now a spot for high-end restaurants and headquarters for lots of cool local startups.

If you’re going all out, make sure to have a drink at Yaletown Distillery, then go for dinner at Blue Water Cafe (seafood) or Cioppino’s (Italian) – and that’s 2 days in Vancouver done.


How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver – Day 3

It has been an intense 3 days in Vancouver, hasn’t it?

I’m going to reward you by loosening the leash a bit and letting you migrate to a few areas outside the city center that are popular with us locals but a bit off the beaten tourist path.

The best part of all… you can sleep in!

Getting the Hell Out of Downtown

We’ve spent most of our Vancouver 4 day itinerary in downtown Vancouver so let’s change that in a hurry by hopping on the #2 bus (‘Macdonald’).

We cross the Burrard Street bridge and get off at the first stop, dipping into Vancouver’s bohemian beachside district: Kitsilano.

Vancouver spelt in neon lights
Instagram: @museumofvan

The Museum of Vancouver

I like using the largest civic history museum in Canada as a way to supplement knowledge already learned. The exhibits come alive after spending a few days in the city.

At the Museum of Vancouver, you’ll find the Ćəsnaʔəm ‘City Before the City’ exhibit, which details life in the area before European settlement.

Most of the other exhibits are broken down by decade; of particular interest is the 1950s Gallery and its focus on Vancouver’s legendary neon signs.

The Wild Things showcase also has valuable information on local wildlife.

people suntanning at kits beach in vancouver with downtown and mountains

Kits Beach & Vanier Park

Just outside the museum is Vanier Park, the site of many summer festivals in the city, like Bard on the Beach and the Children’s Festival.

We head to the water and trace a path west until reaching the throngs of Kitsilano Beach, the city’s most popular swimming and people-watching waterfront.

This path is part of the same Seawall we rode two days before in Stanley Park.

The beach is also home to Canada’s longest swimming pool, so a nice dip in summer is always welcome.

Shopping in Kitsilano

Up the road about 8-10 blocks is the locally famous 4th Avenue.

Between Burrard and Larch is a commercial area famous for locally made, sustainable activewear shops and high-end fashion boutiques.

If you’re so inclined, I’d suggest taking a wander around there. It’s about a 12-minute (slightly uphill) walk from Kits Beach.

Peaceful Restaurant

I may take some heat for this simply because it was on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, but I’m going to suggest eating at the top of my list of Chinese restaurants: Peaceful Restaurant.

Handmade blade-sheared noodles and premium Northern Chinese food are great ways to experience Vancouver’s Chinese culture.

Get the beef rolls: you’ll thank me later.

old totem poles on display at the museum of anthropology vancouver bc canada

Museum of Anthropology

From Peaceful, we can grab the 99 B-line bus (‘UBC’) to the Museum of Anthropology.

Here we get one of the premier collections of Northwest Coast Indigenous sculpturestotem poles and artifacts anywhere.

Of the 535,000 archaeological objects, the Bill Reid masterpiece Raven and First Men is the most popular by far.

Many tourists have told me this was the highlight of their trip.

Plan to spend two hours here – there’s that much to see.

Downtown’s Entertainment District

We’ll be back downtown with plenty of time to round out our Vancouver 4-day itinerary with some of the city’s premium entertainment offerings like:

It’s been four days in Vancouver, and you’ve got a feel for the city, so it’s really up to you. That said, if you’re not in the mood for a big-ticket night out, I’m gonna give you a second option.

Related: Best Vancouver Festivals

Instagram: @bar_corso

Commercial Drive

From downtown Vancouver, you can get on the Skytrain and get off at Commercial-Broadway to access our city’s cultural heart.

Commercial Drive is an area officially known as Vancouver’s Little Italy. It’s full of quirky bars, enotecas, and thrift shops. Beer lovers can hit some tasting rooms in the nearby Yeast Van Brewery District, the beating heart of Vancouver’s craft beer scene.

It’s a fun place but with a residential feel, and this is what I want you to get on the last day – a true local neighbourhood where Vancouverites live their day-to-day.

My favourite bar here is Bar Corso, and the pizza at Via Tevere is fantastic.

Spend the evening drinking and eating here, and that’s four days in Vancouver, done!

🍺 Big on beer? Check out the best brewery tours in Vancouver.

⚠️ Think you need longer already? Check out my Vancouver 7 day itinerary.

Before You Arrive in Vancouver

Before planning your trip to Vancouver, make sure you read the following:

Figured out how to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver?

There you have it – you should be locked and loaded for 4 days in Vancouver. That said, it may not be how you would do it.

So feel free to tell me your vision, and I’ll add some custom advice to get it all planned. You can reach me in the comments below or via the Vancouver Planner Facebook page.

Whether it’s about how to spend 4 days in Vancouver or anything else, we’re always here for all your BC travel needs.

Happy planning!


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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