Vancouver, the largest city in Western Canada, often tops international lists of the best place in the world to live – and it is easy to see why. Surrounded by dense virgin forest, enviable beaches, and world class skiing resorts, one could be forgiven for thinking that the city itself might be lacklustre, but nothing could be further from the truth. Home to a thriving art scene, renowned chef-driven restaurants and shopping possibilities that threaten the wallet, Vancouver is a destination that is not to be missed.
Many people visit Vancouver at the beginning or end of an Alaskan Cruise or a trip through the Canadian Rockies. While there is enough to see and do to occupy you for a full week (or even longer), we have created the perfect itinerary for a fun-filled single day in Vancouver.
Start your day at 9am with a visit to Granville Island, the most- visited tourist attraction in the country. Granville Island is a reclaimed and redeveloped former industrial estate (and is actually a peninsula) that has been converted into a delightful array of shops, theatres, restaurants and artisan studios. The crowning glory of the area is the Granville Island Market, home to a foodie paradise of both fresh and prepared food. Be sure to stop by the legendary Seigel’s Bagels and have a breakfast of a freshly baked Montreal-style bagel slathered with cream cheese and lox – divine.
Head to the Vancouver Art Gallery Fountain at 11 o’clock to catch one of Tour Guys amazing walking tours of the city. Depending on the day, you could find yourself exploring Chinatown, Downtown and Waterfront or Gastown (the oldest area of the city). The tours are free, but you are encouraged to tip your guide as much as you would have been happy to pay.
Time for lunch! After your walking tour and with some historical knowledge under your belt, head to one of Vancouver’s fantastic food trucks for a delicious ‘hipsterfied’ lunch. Soho Road’s butter chicken naan kebabs, Tacofino’s Baja style fish tacos and Re-Up pulled pork BBQ sandwiches are all highly recommended and located in the downtown core. If you prefer to have a place to sit indoors (in case of rain), we cannot recommend Meat & Bread highly enough – the porchetta sandwich is brilliant.
It’s time to hire a bicycle and experience Vancouver’s Stanley Park like a local. Cycle hire shops are found throughout the city’s West End and Waterfront area, and you can cycle the park’s 10km Sea Wall perimeter in about 90 minutes (or choose a longer 22km route that will take you all the way to Vanier Park along False Creek). Make sure you take time to stop and explore the park itself, home to the phenomenal Vancouver Aquarium (worth a visit in its own right).
After enjoying the Seawall, it is now time to relax with some craft beer. Vancouver is home to many fantastic craft breweries, and the area around Main Street and Broadway is home to four newer brewers serving great pints, not to mention many other pubs and bars. This is a very trendy area, home to great shops and restaurants – it is worth a stroll. Choose one of the many great foodie haunts in the area (Nigella Lawson loved Burdock and Co. when she was last visiting), or head back down to Gastown where you will be spoiled for choice! In Gastown, we recommend The Diamond at Maple Tree Square for modern Vietnamese tapas and cocktails, or Guu for trendy Japanese Izakaya.
Avoid the bars and clubs lining Granville Street: this is the bridge and tunnel crowd. For fun and fresh nightlife, consider a classy burlesque show at The Keefer Bar, a night of dancing at The Biltmore Cabaret or some live music at the Arts Club Theatre Bar – you can’t go wrong!
As you head back to your hotel or Air BnB you can rest assured that you have experienced the best that Vancouver has to offer. Bon Voyage, eh!