34 Things to Do in Vancouver

jana meerman stanley park (10)

Vancouver: one of the most vibrant, exciting and all-experiences-included cities in Canada. Situated idyllically on the west coast means that this bustling metropolis is just steps from the ocean, the forests, the beach and the mountains. All year round, Vancouver is bursting with activities and experiences. Here is my Vancouver Bucket List, featuring 34 of my favourite things to do.

1. Bike or walk around the Stanley Park Seawall

Home to some of the best views of the city and also named the world's number one park, renting a bike for a few hours and cycling around the Vancouver Seawall is a local favourite. Stop at the various beaches and lookout points along the way, and time it so you can catch the sun dipping below the horizon at English Bay.

jana meerman stanley park (10)

2. Wander through thousands of tulips at the Abbotsford Tulip Festival

If you're here in the springtime, make the drive out to Abbotsford to see the Bloom Festival, where fields upon fields of thousands of brightly coloured tulips provide the perfect setting for beautiful photos.

jana meerman abbotsford tulip festival

3. Explore Granville Island

The little artistic niche of Granville Island is chock full of culture, good food, live street performances and quirky artisan boutiques.

jana meerman granville island

4. Wander through Chinatown and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens

Known as the first authentic Chinese garden outside China, these beautiful gardens offer a quiet afternoon in the heart of Canada's largest Chinatown.

jana meerman chinatown vancouver

5. Take part in free outdoor ice skating at Robson Square

If you're here in the winter, there's free skating at the rink in the middle of Robson Square and a $4 charge to rent skates. Magical date night or what?!

jana meerman robson square ice skating

6. Catch an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Always showing exceptional work from around the globe, my suggestion is to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery on a Tuesday night when entrance is by donation.

jana meerman vancouver art gallery

7. Visit UBC's Museum of Anthropology

Located on the end of the UBC campus surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Spirit Forest, the MOA houses a stunning collection of world arts and cultures, with a specific focus on the works of the First Nations whose land UBC is built upon.

jana meerman moa ubc

8. Head down the stairs to the nudist Wreck Beach

A nudist hippy beach in the summer and a cold haven in the winter, Wreck Beach lies at the bottom of almost 500 wooden steps through Pacific Spirit Forest on UBC's campus.

jana meerman wreck beach ubc

9. Walk through the Japanese Nitobe Gardens at UBC

UBC features a 2.5 acre Japanese garden, one of the most authentic in North America established in honor of Japanese diplomat Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933). The gardens are stuning all year-round and provide a quiet place on campus to read in or to wander through.

jana meerman nitobe gardens ubc

10. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

A state of the art rehabilitation and research facility, VanAqua is located in the heart of Stanley Park downtown Vancouver and offers an educational insight into the beauty of the undersea world.

jana meerman vancouver aquarium

11. See the Christmas lights at Van Dusen Gardens

If you're in Vancouver during the winter, stop in at the exquisite Van Dusen Gardens all lit up with thousands of twinkling lights for the holiday season. If you're here the rest of the year, the gardens are still an exquisitely maintained collection worth a wander.

jana meerman van dusen lights

12. Take in the views of the city from the Vancouver Lookout

The elevator whisks you up to the Harbour Viewing Centre where you can take in 360 degree views of the city. There is also a revolving restaurant where you can enjoy a meal as all of Greater Vancouver moves past the floor to ceiling windows.

jana meerman vancouver lookout

13. Explore the historic Gastown

Featuring one of the world's most overrated tourist attractions in the shape of the Steam Clock, Gastown is a quirky little neighbourhood downtown Vancouver featuring cutting edge fashion and decor as well as some of the greatest foodie spots in town.

jana meerman gastown vancouver

14. Battle your way up the Grouse Grind

Considered one of Vancouver's most popular hiking trails, the Grouse Grind is a challenging, virtually vertical set of stairs up to the top of Grouse Mountain. Time yourself to see if you can beat the current record of 24 minutes...I took an hour.

jana meerman grouse grind

15. Explore the seaside town of Steveston

Indulge in the salty smells of the marina, complete with some of this city's best fish and chips and ice cream. Steveston is also the home of the filming locations of the TV show Once Upon a Time.

16. Cross over Lynn Canyon Bridge and swim in Twin Falls

Forget the overpriced Capilano Suspension Bridge and visit its free neighbour, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, complete with the most stunning glacial waterfall in Vancouver.

jana meerman lynn canyon
jana meerman twin falls

17. Choose from any number of gorgeous hiking trails

You're in a city bursting to the seams with yoga pants and kale smoothies, so take it a step further by venturing out to the North Shore for a number of stunning Vancouver hikes, or further up into Squamish and Whistler for longer, more challenging mountain hikes.

Check out all my Canadian hiking guides here!

jana meerman joffre lakes

18. Hit Granville Street for a night out

This street comes alive at night and is home to a large portion of Vancouver's clubbing scene.

jana meerman granville street

19. Head up to Whistler

If you're here for a bit longer, take a day trip up to Whistler. In the summer there's ample hiking and outdoor activities, and in the winter it's a world-class ski resort.

jana meerman whistler

20. Eat!

Vancouver is home to some of the world's greatest cuisines. You can find just about anything you're craving.

jana meerman oru fairmont

21. Visit a Vancouver beach

Vancouver has it all - skyscrapers, mountains, the ocean, forests, parks and beaches, right here on our doorstep. From English Bay to Spanish Banks, Kitsilano to Second Beach, Iona to Crescent, the beach options are in abundance, each featuring their own special characteristics.

jana meerman english bay sunset

22. Take the ferry over to Vancouver Island

Explore BC's capital city of Victoria and take in the culture of the parliament-city. Or go further up the coast to Nanaimo for laid back island food and hiking. There's the ski resort of Mount Washington. Or there's the surf town of Tofino. Really, it's all here.

jana meerman victoria

23. Take the 15-minute ferry to Bowen Island

BC is home to a stunning array of islands just off the mainland. Bowen Island is just outside the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver and the little cafes and hikes around the cove make for a beautiful day out. If you're here in the summer, take part in a typically Canadian activity and try out paddle-boarding.

jana meerman killarney lake

24. Go night-skiing on Cypress Mountain

For a discounted price, you can grab a lift ticket and ski under a blanket of stars at the Cypress Winter Olympic ski resort just a short drive north of the city.

jana meerman cypress

25. Walk the pier at White Rock Beach

An iconic pier juts out from this southern beach. Across the horizon you can spot the United States. A massive white rock (albeit painted) sits on the beach, the namesake of the town. The strip is bustling with fish'n'chips and ice cream. What more could you want??

jana meerman white rock beach

26. Cheer on the Canucks

Given that hockey is basically what Canada is known for, you should get yourself out to a hockey game to cheer on the Canucks and witness what true Canadian sport is all about. Whether they win or lose, the atmosphere is something to experience - and you can get super cheap tickets up in the nosebleeds with an excellent view of the entire arena!

jana meerman canucks

27. Marvel at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum

My parents and I went to The Mermaid, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s wildly popular fairytale, performed by the full orchestra at the Orpheum by guest conductor John Storgards. I was absolutely captivated the whole way through. Tickets are available for all shows through the Vancouver Symphony Box Office.

jana meerman vancouver symphony

28. Go boating on Vancouver Harbour

One of the most incredible and unique things about the city of Vancouver is it’s diverse environment. The nicest way to take it all in – from the skyline views to the vastness of the ocean and the majestic mountains as your backdrop – is to head out on the waters of the Vancouver Harbour.

jana meerman vancouver harbour

29. Visit the Greater Vancouver Zoo

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is out in Langley so as to provide ample space for the animals. Walking around the zoo, I was impressed with how beautifully kept the enclosures were. None of the animals looked miserable or like they were lacking space. In fact, the upkeep was obvious and high standards were visible everywhere.

jana meerman vancouver zoo

30. Watch sunset from the Lions Gate Bridge

Park at Stanley Park’s Prospect Point and trek out to the Lions Gate Bridge to watch an incredible sunset over West Vancouver and Stanley Park.

jana meerman lions gate bridge

31. Hike the Stawamus Chief

One of Vancouver's most iconic hikes, the Chief has three peaks, each with stunning views over the Sea-to-Sky and Howe Sound in Squamish.

jana meerman stawamus chief

32. Visit the lighthouse of Lighthouse Park

The gorgeous Lighthouse Park juts out south of Horseshoe Bay, you can take in wonderful views towards the city and the University, while exploring the beaches around the Lighthouse that the park is named after. There are some easy hiking trails winding through the park.

jana meerman lighthouse park bc

33. Go paddle-boarding in False Creek

Rent a paddle-board from a local English Bay shop and head out on the calm waters of False Creek towards Granville Island.

jana meerman false creek vancouver paddleboarding

34. Watch the sunset in Coal Harbour

A beautiful city sunset can be found at Vancouver's incredible waterfront. Bring a picnic and set yourself up on one of the concrete blocks adorning Coal Harbour's Jack Poole Plaza and get ready for the show!

jana meerman coal harbour
Jana Meerman

Hi! I’m Jana, a British-Dutch-Canadian with a dream of seeing every country in the world. I am a storyteller, photographer and adventurer passionate about documenting and sharing my travels.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. 18 May 2017 / 5:09 pm

    What a great list! Will definitely check some of these out the next time we are in Vancouver. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 28 February 2016 / 11:10 am

    I loved reading this and has helped me focus on the things I still need to do whilst living here! I just wondered, where is the photo taken of you standing in front of the green lake? Is this close to Vancouver or further out towards Pemberton?

    • 28 February 2016 / 1:50 pm

      Ah! I’m glad you enjoyed this! The photo under #17 is Joffre Lakes, which is just past Pemberton! It’s a bit of a trek, but so so worth it x

  3. 21 February 2016 / 5:03 am

    It’s been dream to move here for a while now. I hear the nature is absolutely gorgeous and the winters are mild. The only hesitation is the cost of living ????

    • 21 February 2016 / 3:23 pm

      That’s the hesitation for us all, it’s crazy. But the weather is ideal (save for the rain which can get out of control sometimes, hence ‘Raincouver’) but with access to the mountains, the ocean, beaches, hiking and everything a major city has, it’s been a treat to live here xx

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