Heading to Vancouver, Canada, anytime soon? Don’t leave home without this list of what to see and what to do. What makes me an expert? Well, not only do I love Vancouver, but I’ve been going there for years! And what a bargain the US Dollar gets right now ($1.00 USD = $1.35 CAD, as of 5/28). I’m going to make some assumptions: that you haven’t been before or at least in a long while, and that you’re staying downtown, as that’s where most of the hotels are. If you drink coffee, I’ll throw in some great cafes to try too. I’m also assuming you’re not renting a car, since it’s not really necessary.
- They don’t have Uber, and taxi from the airport is set by zone, so I always use a taxi into downtown. They do have public transportation, but we still take a taxi from the airport. For two people and given the exchange rate, it makes sense. It’s ~$37 CAD (~$27 USD) from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and takes about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic.
- I stay downtown at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Just in case that’s your hotel chain of choice as well, it’s a terrific property. I feel pretty strongly about this hotel, its location, and its lounge.
These suggestions originate from downtown and here’s what I’d put on the A list. I walk A LOT, so the A list has a lot of walking in it.
1. Stanley Park. No matter what the weather, it’s always a walking city. I’ve been there in the winter with snow and sleet and still walked all over the place. Walk and you’ll feel like a local. The park is huge with many walking routes. If you walk the perimeter of the park all the way to English Bay, it will take a few hours. There are shorter routes to the bay. They are all beautiful.
2. Granville Island. You can walk there from downtown or take a bus. Even if you’ve been to the Pike Market in Seattle, Granville is better and nicer and more fun. Lots of fun eateries. You must have the chai tea from Granville Island Tea Company. It’s my favorite of all chai. They make each cup fresh from scratch.
3. Robson Street is a fun street with stores and shops. Hip and trendy stuff. The real action starts from the corners of Burrard and Robson. Walk Robson west all the way to Denman and then turn left and head to the Bay. Great urban walk.
4. Another fun area to explore is Yaletown. Walk to Davie Street and head east all the way to the water. That’s the Yaletown area. Then you can walk along the water called False Creek.
5. I know TWG readers like challenges, so ask at your hotel about the Grouse Grind. It’s a huge uphill/downhill hike outside the city.
6. Cineplex Odeon. If you’re in the mood for a movie, there’s a terrific art cinema. I go there all the time when I’m in Vancouver.
Food in Vancouver is Asian-based, but I have a few non-asian favorites as well.
- Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna – I go for the great lamb and mussels.
- Baoguette Vietnamese Bistro – I love this place!
- Sura Korean Cuisine – great food!
- Sylvia Hotel – this is a lovely historic hotel on English Bay. The restaurant is quite good and it’s also a great spot to pop in for some drinks.
If you’re staying downtown, I’d recommend two places. One is JJ Bean Coffee Roasters. You’ll find them around Vancouver. The other is Caffè Artigiano, which you’ll also find in various locations. These are the two best cafes.
A GREAT chocolate place is called Mink Chocolate. If you like chocolate, even a little bit, this is a must. If you’ve never tried drinking chocolate, this is the place to enjoy one for the first time!
As for getting out of the city, most people would choose to see Whistler, but this would take a bus and a whole day. I prefer visiting Vancouver in the spring/summer/fall when you can hike. Need any other more specific info, please let me know. Always happy to help! Have a great time.