Last Updated on January 14, 2024 by Kelly
Planning a weekend trip to Vancouver BC? Vancouver is one of our favorite cities in the world! The food, culture, and natural beauty surrounding the city are unparalleled. Vancouver is known by many names, such as the City of Glass (due to its numerous glass buildings), Rain City (because it rains so much there), and Hollywood North (because it’s the third-largest film industry in North America).
I’ve personally been to Vancouver BC more times than I can count. In this post, I’m sharing the perfect 2 day itinerary for visiting Vancouver BC. This post will help you prepare for an excellent weekend in Vancouver!
2-Day Itinerary for Vancouver for the Perfect Weekend
Before we get started, we created a full map of all points of interest in this itinerary below:.
Evening of Arrival
We’re writing this itinerary assuming that you will arrive on a Friday evening and depart on Sunday. Friday is really a “bonus day” for this itinerary.
Once you get settled into your hotel, you’ll probably only have a few hours to see the city during the first day. We recommend that you spend the evening walking around the city.
Dinner at Japadog
For dinner, we recommend that you check out the food truck Japadog. (There are several downtown locations.) One of my favorite travel writers, Anthony Bourdain, featured Japadog on his show No Reservations. Japadog was created when the only street food allowed in Vancouver at the time was hot dogs. The owners added their own heritage to the hot dogs, and the result was Japadog. Their menu consists of items such as the Terimayo (topped with teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and seaweed), the Yakisoba (topped with Japanese noodles and Arabiki sausage), and the Oroshi (topped with freshly grated radish and a special soy sauce).
Sunset at the Vancouver Lookout
At sunset (before it gets dark), head to the Vancouver Lookout. You’ll get an almost aerial view of the city (553 feet/168 meters high up). The observation deck will give you 360 degree views of the city. It’s the perfect way to get a “lay of the land” before you head into your weekend.
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We recommend that you go to bed early so you can make the most of sight-seeing the next day. (Vancouver also has a reputation for not being the most fun for nightlife, so you might not be missing out on too much!)
Day 1 in Vancouver BC
Start your day off with breakfast at the Jam Cafe. It’s the place to go for brunch! They open at 8am, and we recommend that you get there right when they open so that you can still enjoy brunch while also having the full day ahead of you. Even if your hotel offers free breakfast, one of our favorite things to do while traveling is eat, so you might want to save your appetite for Jam Cafe. They serve dishes like Chicken French Toast and Cinnamon Bun Pancakes.
You can see all our posts about Canadian destinations by clicking here!
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After a hearty breakfast, head straight to Stanley Park for a nice walk. Stanley Park is basically Vancouver’s version of Central Park. The park is located in the heart of Vancouver and is easy to access. There’s tons to see while visiting the park. We wrote a complete post about Stanley Park if you’d like the full scoop. We recommend walking part of the Seawall (which is the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world) and visiting Brockton Point to see the totem poles.
Before leaving Stanley Park, stop by the Vancouver Aquarium. (See our full post on the Vancouver Aquarium.) The Vancouver Aquarium has over 30 exhibits and is a beautiful place to learn about local marine wildlife. Grab a snack here if you’re hungry.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
After the Vancouver Aquarium, head about 9 kilometers north to see one of our favorite places in Vancouver: The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. (If you don’t have a car, consider taking a ride share or public transportation.)
Before crossing the bridge, you’re probably hungry for lunch. The Cliffhouse Restaurant overlooks the cliff and is a beautiful place to dine. (We think it’s better to eat there than at the aquarium. But if you’re hungry while you’re still in Stanley Park, you can also try the Teahouse Restaurant for an upscale meal.)
The main attraction at Capilano is the suspension bridge, which is 450 feet long. Take your time crossing the bridge and looking at the river below. Come back later near the end of your visit for photos, when most tourists have left. Across from the bridge is the Treetop Adventure, which consists of platforms in the tree canopy connected by rope bridges. It’s a unique way to see the forest! The last thing you have to make sure you do at Capilano is the Cliffwalk. The Cliffwalk is a curved bridge that wraps around the cliff face. Be sure to bring your camera, it’s a unique place for photos!
We wrote all about our visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park if you’d like to see more photos!
Gastown Neighborhood in Vancouver
Next, explore the neighborhood of Gastown. This is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver, which was comprised of the Gastown settlement. It’s famous for its food scene, boutique shops, art galleries, and a historic steam clock. We recommend dinner at The Flying Pig Gastown. We’ve had dinner there on two separate occasions, and both times were delicious. Their current menu has things like Westcoast Seafood Paella and Lobster and Prawn Risotto.
After dinner, if you are up for it, head over to Canada Place to see the architecture. It will be lit up at night. If you get there before 9pm, you can also book tickets for the Fly Over Canada experience.
Day 2 in Vancouver BC
Head to the Medina Cafe for breakfast. It’s an extremely popular spot, so get there right at opening or expect to wait in line. (They also accept reservations, so you can help yourself out and book in advance.) Brunch starts at 9am.
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Yaletown and George Wainborn Park
Prior to the city’s expansion, Yaletown was an industrial area filled with brick warehouses. Today, it’s a trendy neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants, and galleries. You might be interested in the Engine 347 Pavilion to see the historic train engine.
George Wainborn Park is located just south of Yaletown and has beautiful views of the Vancouver city skyline.
Granville Island Public Market
Once you are starting to get a bit of an appetite, take the Aquabus (Hornby Street Ferry Terminal) to Granville Island. (The ferry terminal is just a short 7 minute walk from George Wainborn Park.)
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The Granville Island Public Market has over 50 vendors and some pretty incredible foods to try! We wrote all about our trip to the Granville Island Public Market. Be sure to check that post out if you are planning on visiting!
We definitely recommend trying Lee’s Donuts, which is one of the most famous vendors on the island.
We also recommend lunch at Popina Canteen, but feel free to eat anywhere you fancy in the market!
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Before you leave Granville Island, you might also enjoy checking out The Liberty Distillery or Granville Island Brewing for a beverage or two.
Grouse Mountain is located about 30 minutes north of Granville Island. You will have an incredible view of Vancouver from the peak of the mountain, and the gondola ride to the top is so much fun! At the top you can see a Lumberjack Show or complete a Mountain Ropes Adventure. There’s also dining and beverages at the top of the mountain. Walk around for awhile and take in the views of the city and nature.
This concludes the second day of the itinerary in Vancouver BC, assuming you head home that evening. But, if you can stay one more night (and leave the next morning), we recommend that you go out for a night on the town.
Best Places to Eat in Vancouver BC
We provided some of our favorite places built into the itinerary, but there are a few other places that are worth checking out if you have the time!
- Fritz European Fry House: When you’re in Canada, you have to try the poutine (french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds). We think Fritz has some of the best poutine in Canada. The shop is located near Yaletown, so it has a very convenient location. Be sure to stop by here for a snack!
- Nemesis Coffee Gastown: Vancouver is famous for its coffee, and one of the best places to go is Nemesis Coffee Gastown. Their cups of coffees are beautiful… definitely a place to go for latte art!
- Sashimiya: Grab’n’go sushi and sashimi. This is where to go for some high quality sushi.
- Revolver: Ever try an espresso flight? No? Get one here.
- Blue Water Cafe: This restaurant is located in Yaletown and features sustainable seafood.
- Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine: Head to Richmond to get dim sum.
- Pidgin Restaurant: Experience fare that combines Asian flavors with Pacific Northwest ingredients at this Gastown restaurant. They have a prix-fixe tasting menu which is a fun way to sample their menu.
- La Casa Gelato: You will feel like you are in Italy when you walk into La Casa Gelato. Currently they have 238 flavors in their store! It will be hard to choose… be sure to get a unique flavor you can’t get anywhere else! As of 2019, they hold the Guinness World Record for “Most Commercially Available Flavors.”
¿Cómo? Taperia: After having studied abroad in Spain, I have a deep appreciation for authentic Spanish tapas. This restaurant even has incorporated some of the cultural elements of Spanish life, including one free tapas with a drink purchase during happy hour.
Souvenir Ideas for Vancouver BC
If you’re looking to bring back souvenirs for family and friends, here are some ideas:
- Choclates from ChocolaTas (located on Granville Island)
- Maple syrup candy from Grand Maple Gifts
- First Nations art (many galleries located in downtown Vancouver)
- Canuck hockey apparel from the Canucks Team Store in Gastown
- Maple fudge from Rocky Mountain Chocolate
- Smoked salmon from Granville Island Public Market
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
Tip: We always bring a portable charger when we travel! We rely heavily on our phones for navigation and photography, so we don’t want to run out of battery!
Expanding Your Itinerary in Vancouver BC
If you have extra time to spend in Vancouver, you might consider adding the following things to do on your itinerary.
You could easily spend an hour or two at Science World. You might be interested in going just to see the giant ball-shaped building. This museum was built for the 1986 World’s Fair. There are a number of exhibits there that will keep children and adults entertained. If Science World isn’t your thing, though, you might enjoy the Vancouver Art Gallery as an alternative.
Watch a Hockey Game
If it aligns with your schedule, check out the Cancucks play at Rogers Arena. It’s an authentic Canadian experience that you won’t want to miss!
Vancouver hosts Canada’s largest Chinatown. There is so much to see, do, and eat when you visit. Some things to check out are the Millenium Gate, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and the Jimi Hendrix Shrine. Be sure to get some tea and arrive to Chinatown hungry. There are so many great places to eat there.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Spend an hour or two reflecting on the visual arts at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Also the perfect place to go on a rainy day.) The gallery also hosts the Institute of Asian Art. There are a number of exhibitions to see during your visit.
Van Deusen Botanical Gardens
Located south of downtown Vancouver, the Van Deusen Botanical Gardens are a beautiful green space in the city. There are a number of self-guided tours that are organized by month of the year. Be sure to visit the nearby Bloedel Conservatory. The giant dome is filled with exotic birds and plants.
Drive the Sea-to-Sky Corridor
This drive is rated as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. If you have the time in your itinerary, the drive will take you from Vancouver to the mountain town of Whistler.
View the Inukshuk Statue
The Inukshuk statue is located at English Bay. These types of statues were created by the indigenous Inuit people of Northern Canada. This statue became the symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics, so you might recognize it already!
Destinations Near Vancouver
There are a number of amazing destinations located near Vancouver. We recommend that you visit as many as you can!
- Whistler: This ski town is located a couple hours north of Vancouver BC. During the winter, there are all sorts of winter sports. During the summer, there’s tons of hiking. Whistler Village is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and spas. Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, so there’s a lot to see and do there!
- Vancouver Island: Just across the water from Vancouver BC is Vancouver Island. The island is home to the city of Victoria. Be sure to visit the world famous Butchart Gardens and make time for High Tea while you’re in Victoria.
- Seattle: Head a few hours south of Vancouver to visit Seattle, Washington, in the United States. Be sure to visit the famous Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.
- Harrison Hot Springs: Two hours east of Vancouver is a relaxing oasis. The hot mineral springs will help you to relax after a busy trip.
Best Hotels in Vancouver BC
In previous trips, we’ve stayed at the Residence Inn Vancouver Downtown (by Marriott). We really liked this hotel because it was centrally located and walkable to everything. We also were glad to have our own kitchenettes to store food and heat up leftovers.
If you have the budget, one of the best hotels in Vancouver BC is the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The hotel has the nickname “castle in the city”, so you know it’s fancy. The hotel recently completed a $75 million renovation, so it is nothing short of spectacular.
The Pan Pacific Vancouver is a luxury hotel located near Canada Place. The hotel has waterfront views and is still walkable to downtown attractions.
We also recommend that you look into the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. This hotel has a rooftop hot tub with views of the city, a casino, and lots of dining options. We stayed there during our last trip to Vancouver, and the views from our room were absolutely spectacular!
Best Hikes Near Vancouver BC
One of the best things about Vancouver is the ability to get outdoors. If you have time in your schedule, you might want to consider some of these hikes…
- Grouse Grind: This trail is 1.6 miles long and will take you from the base of the mountain up to the top. Treat yourself to a beverage and the gondola ride down as your reward.
- Quarry Rock: This hike will take you up to a large flat boulder where you will have views of Deep Cove. (Currently closed due to covid. We hope it will reopen soon.)
- Lynn Canyon: The suspension bridge here is just as beautiful as Capilano, but much less busy.
- Pacific Spirit Regional Park: There are several trails to choose from in this park. These trails are much more flat and will take you through thick forests.
If you do plan to go hiking, don’t forget to bring the 10 Essentials. Also be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about Vancouver?
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its sleek glass architecture reflects the natural beauty that surrounds the city. It’s a very walkable city with many urban green spaces, one of which is Stanley Park. This park features the Seawall, which is the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world. Vancouver is known for its heavy rainfall, film production sites, and culinary foods.
How far is Vancouver International Airport from downtown?
The airport is located about 14 kilometers from the downtown area. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to travel from the airport to downtown.
When is the best time to visit Vancouver BC?
It’s always a great time to visit Vancouver! Our last trip to Vancouver was in November, and we had a great time. Even if it rains, there’s plenty to do in Vancouver. The climate is also fairly mild, so the winters tend not to get too cold. Our favorite time to visit, though, is probably September. There are less tourists after the summer break, but there is typically still good weather.
What is the perfect itinerary for two days in Vancouver?
Evening of Arrival:
- Japadog for a quick dinner
- The Lookout for evening views of Vancouver
- Brunch at Jam Cafe
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Lunch at Cliffhouse Restaurant
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Explore the Gastown Neighborhood
- Dinner at The Flying Pig
- Fly Over Canada and Canada Place
- Brunch at Medina Cafe
- Explore Yaletown Neighborhood
- George Wainburn Park
- Take the Aquabus to Granville Island
- Granville Island Public Market
- Grouse Mountain
- Dinner at The Observatory
Summary: 2 Day Itinerary for Vancouver BC
We hope this post was helpful in planning a weekend in Vancouver BC. We try to visit Vancouver at least once a year, and each time we discover “a new favorite” in the city. Enjoy your trip!
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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.