I absolutely love Vancouver, and I can tell you that within 5 days in this beautiful British Columbia city, you too can fall in love. So if you’re wondering what to do in Vancouver to enjoy every part of it, keep reading my experience.
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What To Do In Vancouver – Day One
It’s a Sunday; just a note, Vancouver is a late starter on Sundays, so don’t bother getting out and about ’til after 11:00 AM as most things will be closed.
Visited one of the premier malls in Vancouver, Pacific Centre. Stocked up on some cute Winter gear you usually see on Pinterest. Then, a stroll down the road, past the Art Gallery of Vancouver and down Burrard St, you will find the famous food truck – Japadog! Combining the all-time favourite hot dog with the typical tastes of Japan, what a match made in heaven!
The only clouds in this sky were weaving between the mountains surrounding Vancouver – bliss!
With sore feet and tired minds laying out our first trails around Vancouver city, we head to the local Irish Pub to watch the local hockey team, the Canucks.
What To Do In Vancouver – Day Two
If you’re in town for a special occasion or have a bit of money to spare, you don’t want to miss out on dining at The Top of Vancouver. I was surprised by lunch in this 360° panoramic restaurant, making all the moves. This was where I first laid eyes on Mt Baker towering over from the US border; this mountain is something ferocious looking.
From a bird’s eye view, you can look down on Gastown district, a famous part of town known for its range of bars, food trucks and dining options for all types of travellers. We headed into Gastown later that night to enjoy the specials at La Casita. By specials, I’m talking specials, $3.00 Margarita’s and $4.00 Burritos. Sitting by the bar in this highly decorated restaurant, the Tequila and Mezcal were flowing along with free tortilla chips and salsa, and so were the conversations with a Canadian couple across the bar.
To finish the night with my new-made Canadian friends, we head to a local AND backpacker bar, The Cambie. Where the two combine. This is what most backpacking bars that cater to travellers should achieve. Jugs of beer here start at $10.00. Be there.
What To Do In Vancouver – Day Three
After a night out, what better way to stretch the legs and open the lungs than with a walk through Stanley Park, you can rent bikes an hour at a time in case you want to track the park quicker on wheels. Walking along the foreshore, you will take in another unique view of the city skyline nestled above a collection of yachts until you make your way to the Totem Poles of the First Nations. After discovering what each carving represents, head across the park to take in the Westside and the Lion’s Gate Bridge, another picturesque view.
I swear you could collect views like this, just as long as you remember to put the camera down for a moment and take it all in.
After walking multiple kilometres through the park and the seabed, you could finish off at the Teahouse within the park if you are willing to spend a little more coin. But for the purposes of the backpacker in me, head up Denman Ave just at the entrance to the park, and you will have a selection of places to eat. There are plenty of picks from lines hugging the Ramen cafes, dining in an authentic Vietnamese cafe, or All You Can Eat Sushi. We went with Vietnamese. Outside of Asia, Vancouver is a well-known hub for Asian cuisine, so we eat it well when we eat Asian in a Canadian city. Hence the Japadog!
What To Do In Vancouver – Day Four
While so far we have gotten around Vancouver entirely by foot, to get to the other side of Lion’s Gate Bridge and visit Capilano, you can take a free shuttle. Who doesn’t love free transportation? There and back!
My visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park was both exhilarating, refreshing, and, to be honest, life-changing. This might sound cliche, but up until this point, I was tracking the city suburb by suburb without pushing the limits. This journey itself has been a test for me to face my fears and get out of my comfort zone but venturing across a swinging suspension bridge 230 feet above a flowing river was not on my ‘what to do in Vancouver’ list. But I made it! You can feel every shake and vibration of the person in front or behind you. All the while, you are trying to take in the beautiful nature surrounding you. The bonus point with this is the amount of rainforest you can breathe, and the air has a particular taste to it.
I walked this park first shaking in my boots, and the first time I crossed the bridge, I didn’t let go of the cable or even stop to take a photo. I made a vow not to hold onto the cable walking on the way back. And I did it, except to take a picture or let people pass.
From here, you can catch a $2.50 public bus to Grouse Mountain and then back to hop on the free shuttle back into town. Unfortunately, we stayed a little longer at Capilano, so we didn’t make it up the mountain, so track your time if you want to do both in a day.
Heading into town, we took out cameras and walked to Cambie Bridge to take some incredible photos of another view of the city skyline. Best at sunset if you do it yourself, on a clear day, you will be joined by other photographers as well as the local worker on their commute home or on their evening jog. Makes you feel a part of it.
What To Do In Vancouver – Day Five
With nearly every part of Vancouver city covered, we have a visit to one of Canada‘s most popular attractions, Granville Island. Just under the Granville Bridge, you will find a public market like no other with selections of seafood, fresh organic vegetables and fruit, deli and cheese, as well as local creations, including some of the best North American baked goodies! You can taste, sample, and buy what you fancy.
If you want to be like a local who works on the docks, I can suggest something a little more tempting just outside of these markets. Hidden near the loading docks, so you would hardly believe it existed, is a place called Go Fish. Go There! Here is where I had the most delicious fish and chips I have ever tasted.
A stroll further around, and you will land at Vanier Park and Kitsilano Beach for yet another view of the Vancouver city skyline. Vancouver is truly a stunning city to work your shutter magic on a clear or overcast day if you are a photographer.
What to do in Vancouver to get a local feeling: Go to The Famous Warehouse
To finish off our last day in Vancouver, we discovered a little place where the meals on the menu were ALL $4.95 by a friend living in the city. This place is on Granville St, and before arriving, I thought it was a local spot for the panhandlers cashing in the money on the street to get a feed. This is an unfortunate but well-known part of Vancouver; there is a severe homelessness issue. Not just in pockets of the town, like the main strip of Granville, but you will come across many people with no fixed address all over. Don’t be discouraged; they will open doors for you, help you find where you need to go and sing for you in designated areas. They add to the charm of what is known as Hollywood of the North. We were surprised by The Famous Warehouse; the meals were really all $4.95 and were incredibly delicious, but just a spot for the local student or backpacker.
With this being my second visit to this city, I fell in love this time around, maybe because I reached all four corners of this metropolis. Or perhaps the weather really turned it on and showed me the beauty of this place. I discovered beautiful places to eat and saw the beauty of where nature meets man, which somehow blends so well together.
A city I felt like was my own. Thank you, Vancouver, for allowing me to experience your beauty by starting my journey with a mixture of experiences and emotions.