Vancouver was the first place I ever visited in Canada and one spot I quickly fell in love with. That’s not saying the rest of Canada isn’t great; in fact, there’s a heap of incredible places in Canada to explore but, Vancouver is definitely near the top of that list. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best places to see in Vancouver when you visit; so you can love it, too!
Honestly, Canada has a heap of gorgeous and totally exciting cities; but Vancouver is really special!
My favourite part of Vancouver, of course, is how immersed in nature it is, too. It’s almost hugged by the most epic landscapes you can imagine.
You really don’t have to walk too far before you find some amazing parks, mountain ranges and stunning coastal routes, too.
Okay, enough rambling, take a little look at some of the best places to see in Vancouver. Have the best time.
1.) Stanley Park
Vancouver’s first official green space, Stanley Park, is a massive and stunning spot just north of the downtown area.
Almost entirely surrounded by the sea, it’s one of the best places to see in Vancouver if you fancy a more relaxing time exploring the city. The whole coastal route around the park and the inner trails are totally stunning.
Plus, there are some epic cycling routes and you can head on a Cycle City Tour, as we did. It’s so much fun.
2.) Granville Island
Situated just south of the downtown peninsula, beneath the Granville Bridge, is easily one of the best places to see in Vancouver; Granville Island.
Not on that, it’s a great place to gorge, too.
Now, Granville Island, which was once home to many of the city’s factories and sawmills. Nowadays, they house a Public Market, as well as intimate theatres, indie craft studios, and workshops spaces that are so epic to explore.
The market is the perfect place for finding tasty treats, while the rest of the area is great for finding unique trinkets and speciality foods.
Oh, and the best way of getting to the island is by taking the mini-tugboat ferry that crosses at False Creek.
3.) Chinese Garden
If you want to explore some of the best places to see in Vancouver, then make sure to visit Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
This beautiful and almost otherworldly garden is the first of its kind outside of China, allowing the people of Vancouver a chance to more fully explore Chinese culture.
Built between 1985-1986, the Chinese Garden takes its inspiration from scholars’ gardens of the Ming Dynasty, with both Chinese and Canadian workers helping to create the space. It really is pretty special.
Guided tours are included with the price of admission, and there are always different exhibits available for viewing.
At the end of your visit, enjoy a cup of tea before perusing the wonders of the Eight Treasures shop (Lloyd is a sucker for gift shops).
4.) Capilano Suspension Bridge
Located just north of Stanley Park is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Being around 20-minutes from the very centre of the city, it’s easily one of the best places to see in Vancouver when you’re heading to North Vancouver.
Trust me, this sight from up on the bridge is rather impressive and even if you’re slightly wary of heights, it’s still worth giving this a try. The bridge is 460 feet (140 m) long and sits at a height of 230 feet (70 m) above the river.
Once you’re done crossing the suspension bridge a few times you should definitely pop into the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park to further immerse yourself in that stunning natural Canadian beauty.
5.) English Bay Beach
Just on the edge of downtown, English Bay Beach, also known as First Beach.
Now, whilst beaches might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vancouver, don’t let that stop you from checking it out.
With the Stanley Park Seawall running along its east side, and the beautiful English Bay to the west, the beach is bound to please anyone looking hoping to sunbathe, play volleyball, or even spot whales (albeit perhaps much more so in summer). Just make sure to keep your eyes peeled.
There’s also a heap of little cafes, coffee spots and kayak rentals.
Oh yeah, and if you visit in the winter, try to make it for the Polar Bear Swim that occurs on New Year’s Day.
6.) Museum of Anthropology
Located at the University of British Columbia, the Museum of Anthropology is world-renowned for its displays of arts and culture, particularly those of the First People of Canada.
In the Multiversity Galleries, over 16,000 objects are on display for visitors to enjoy, and the works of Haida artist Bill Reid are also found at the museum.
The focus here is really on the cultures of the Natives of the Pacific Northwest, as visitors can come face-to-face with traditional Haida houses and Musqueam house posts around the museum grounds.
7.) Science World
Anyone with even the slightest interest in science is going to have a blast at Vancouver’s Science World.
The institution has both permanent science displays as well as some pretty epic exhibits that are great for a family visit.
Many of the displays are interactive, and an OMNIMAX Theatre is also on site. Located to the east of downtown and one of the best places to see in Vancouver when travelling with kids.
8.) Vancouver Art Gallery
Just because Vancouver is surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning natural beauty doesn’t mean you should come to expect nothing beautiful indoors too.
The city’s Art Gallery, located in downtown Vancouver, is home to over 10,000 art pieces, ranging from Canadian and British paintings to the photographic works of artists like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Guided tours are always available, but for something both interactive and slightly different, try to make it for a FUSE event, where DJ’s and artists perform throughout the galleries from 8 pm to 1 am.
9.) Museum of Vancouver
For all things truly Vancouver; including the past, present, and future, head over to the Museum of Vancouver.
Here, you can learn all there is to know about the city, starting from the ancient times and lifestyles of the Musqueam people up to present-day city life in Vancouver.
Located in the scenic area of Vanier Park, the museum is easily accessible from downtown and one of the best places to see in Vancouver on a rainy day.
That being said, if you’re not a fan of museums, then give it a miss!
10.) Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain, the closest mountain to Vancouver is only a 30-minutes drive away!
I remember the first time I saw it from the city and after several days of wondering how to get there! Finally, after grabbing a cab, we headed to the cable car to get to the top.
This is how amazing Canada is, while back in town it was t-shirt weather; upon Grouse Mountain, people were skiing and it was actually properly snowing.
Best of both worlds, right?
Grouse Mountain also has North America’s largest aerial tramway, the Skyride, which is the easiest way to get up. The Skyride takes you a whopping 3,700 feet (1,128 m) to the Alpine Station, where you can head of skiing, snowmobiling, or head on the trails, too.
Whether you’re a beginner, pro, or perhaps you just want an incredible view, Grouse Mountain is one of the best places to see in Vancouver.
Despite the slightly odd-sounding name, Gastown is the oldest and one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
Old Victorian houses are the setting for trendy fashion shops, gorgeous boutiques and some of the best food in the city. The neighbourhood can be found on the north side of downtown, between Richards Street, Main Street and Hastings Street.
The cobblestone streets, old buildings, vintage lamp posts and the Steam Clock are all best explored on foot.
Also, whilst you’re here, make sure to check out some of the tastiest restaurants, too. You’ll be spoilt for choice when exploring one of the best places to see in Vancouver… Oh, and stuffed!
12.) Whale Watching
The coast of Vancouver is the perfect place to go whale watching.
There are plenty of options to do so here too! Every year between March and October, whales migrate through the waters near Vancouver, meaning there is a good chancing of spotting one on your trip.
Don’t forget about the other creatures of the ocean! Other than whales, expect to see dolphins, sea lions, sea otters and various birds on your excursion. Honestly, it’s one of the best areas to go whale-watching.