Vancouver’s Iconic Sights in 24 Hours

Make the most of the time you have in Vancouver

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So little time, so much to see … but with this one day itinerary, you’ll hit Vancouver‘s top sights and iconic high points.

Getting Around Vancouver

Vancouver is arguably one of the most beautiful, safe and easy walking-cities on the planet. Bicycle rentals are plentiful (it’s deservedly popular to tour Stanley Park’s seawall) and if you get tired, a 10-minute cab ride will get you from point A to point B within the downtown core. Hailing a cab isn’t like in London or New York. You may get lucky with one passing by but your best bet is to call Yellow Cab or Black Top Cabs, or cozy up to a restaurant or hotel entrance where cabbies congregate. If it’s raining, cabs seem scarcer than hen’s teeth.

As in many cities, Hop On-Hop Off tours can be winners. Check out Vancouver Trolley (a covered, open air trolley bus) or West Coast Sightseeing (a traditional tour bus). The entire circuit takes a couple of hours. Getting off at key destinations such as Stanley Park and Granville Island means you can fit an itinerary into the time you have. However, cruise ship passengers (May through September) can fill HOHOs to capacity, making independent choices a better option.

Morning: Canada Place to Stanley Park

Canada Place, with its iconic five-sail architecture, is designed to look like one of the many ships it hosts during the Alaska cruise season. Its pier juts out a half mile into the water, providing a unique view of the city’s busy harbor and North Shore Mountains — not to mention an up-close-and-personal look into the cruise ships themselves. Walk to the end for Fly Over Canada, a unique perspective on the largesse and beauty of the country.

It’s a 25-minute stroll from Canada Place along the winding seawall to Stanley Park, the city’s proudest jewel.

The seawall is part of a 28km Seaside Greenway around much of the city’s perimeter, and includes the 9-km/6-mile shoreside path around the park. Travel past totem poles at Brockton Point (this is First Nations Coast Salish territory), up to Prospect Point overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge and North Shore Mountains, and around to English Bay in the West End, a leafy, residential and historic neighborhood.

Vancouver Trolley Bus offers an exclusive Stanley Park circuit, or you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage tour. Whether by hoof or motor, all tours are narrated.

Stanley Park’s Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is another wow and well worth the price of admission.

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Lunch: English Bay

Located at the end of Denman Street and its many eateries, English Bay is a prime people-watching place. Grab a souvlaki wrap and sit on a driftwood log, get a beachside table at Cactus Club, or enjoy a craft ale at the Three Brits Pub.


Afternoon: Granville Island

Once an industrial wasteland, Granville Island’s success as an eclectic, artsy and foodie’s paradise now welcomes more visitors annually than Niagara Falls. Locals make up the majority of visitors who shop at the large indoor market, meander cobblestone streets and frequent the island’s one-of-a-kind restaurants, arts, crafts, working studios, and theaters. Its industrial roots are still alive and well – from colorful cement trucks to marine-based activities. Kayaking the surrounding waters is a favourite pasttime.

Dinner: Gastown

Although gussied up and a bit kitschy, Gastown is where Vancouver began. By day its souvenir stores, coffee bars and heritage buildings are delightful to explore, as are its alleyways and mews.

Check out the Steam Clock. Gastown is prettiest by night when fairy lights sparkle alongside lively restaurants and pubs. The Irish Heather provides the absolute best Irish Whiskey experience in North America (the Guinness is pretty darn good, too). Water Street Café, L’Abattoir and Bauhaus restaurants are popular venues.

Gastown Water Street

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