Your Perfect 2 Days in Vancouver Itinerary (By an Expert!)

The fresh air, lush greenery, and snow-capped mountains are just a few of the many remarkable traits about Vancouver you’ll notice upon your arrival.

Located in Western Canada, Vancouver is a seaport situated on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Because much of its land meets water, this coastal city merges aesthetic pleasure with recreation, the key formula for first-class experiences.

The year-round mild climate, sustainable infrastructures, and diverse culture support Vancouver’s consistently high rankings as one of the most livable cities and one of the best cities in the world

Having lived in Vancouver for nearly nine years, I’m lucky to have been able to call this city my home and I’m thrilled to take you on a scenic, multicultural adventure through Vancouver.

This 2 day Vancouver itinerary will guide you through the history and culture of what makes Vancouver the city it is today.

Your trip will focus on exploring downtown but you will also venture to other main attraction points throughout the city, including its surrounding suburbs.

There will be no shortage of views on this trip—you’ll be feasting your eyes on beautiful scenery and mouthwatering food. Welcome to an authentic journey through Vancouver!

Weekend in Vancouver Itineray

Day 1: Dive into Vancouver’s trendy food scene, learn about the local culture, and marvel at the city’s views

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Note: You can get around on your first day by foot and by using Vancouver’s transportation system. More information about using transit in Vancouver can be found at the end of this itinerary.

Wake up to coffee, donuts, and art

Begin at the intersection of E King Edward Ave and Main St. and take your time as you walk down South Main into the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Main St. has everything. Boutiques house many of its local artists and designers’ crafts, accessories, and clothing. Cozy coffee shops, pubs and breweries, and large chain to small independent grocery stores can also be found here.

If you’re like me and you experience extreme indecision when it comes to deciding what to eat, Mount Pleasant is the place to be when you need a variety of dining options to choose from.

Every summer, Vancouver celebrates the local culture and history at its mural festival, allowing artists to create large-scale public murals throughout the city.

More than 250 murals exist throughout various neighborhoods of Vancouver, and Mount Pleasant exhibits nearly 100 murals alone.

Download the printable map available on their website here, and check out the variety of impressive murals during your walk, plus downtown skyline views.

Make sure to stop by 49th Parallel Café & Lucky’s Doughnuts at the corner of E 13th Ave and Main St. As they’re made from scratch daily, their donuts have become one of the locals’ favorites and are a must-have during your visit.

The Peanut Butter and Jelly and their Old Fashioned are my favorite, and of course, accompanied by their freshly brewed coffee—it’s the best combination. 

Just make sure to leave some extra room in your stomach so you can try the other locals’ favorite, Cartems Donuts, located further down Main St. at E 6th Ave.

They carry a range of classic and unique flavors, and they offer both yeast and cake donuts as well as vegan and gluten-free options. They’re a little more on the pricy side (about $1.50 to $4 CAD per donut), but it’s worth trying at least one!

Tour Vancouver’s Chinatown 

One of the reasons why I love Vancouver is because of how easy it is to navigate around the city. You can easily travel between most neighborhoods whether by foot, public transit, or car.

Hop on the #3 or #19 bus toward downtown, or, if you prefer traveling by foot, continue walking into Chinatown. The difference is a 15-20-minute bus ride or a 25-30-minute walk. 

As you enter Chinatown, you’ll immediately notice the difference in architecture with its fusion of eastern and western style buildings, many constructed by brick. The streetlamps are painted red while its distinctive black street signs include both the English and Chinese names.

Chinese immigrants have played a fundamental role in defining the culture and heritage of this community, and besides English, Cantonese is the common language spoken by locals here.

If you’re interested in learning about Chinese history and culture, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the place to visit.

It became the first full-scale Chinese classical garden outside of Asia after its construction in 1986. An abundance of history and symbolism is embedded in the architecture of the garden’s courtyard and bridges, as well as the other features of the garden such as its rock formations, pond, and plants. Admission prices, tickets, and visitor information can be found here

Next door is the Sam Kee Building, which has been recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the most narrow commercial building in the world with the ground-floor depth measuring only 4 feet 11 inches. There is a $15 entry fee, but you can still admire this unique building from the outside and save your money. 

At this point, you’ll be face-to-face with the grand Chinatown Millennium Gate, which signifies the entrance to Vancouver’s Chinatown. This gate represents the entrances similar to those found in southern Chinese villages, with three ornate arches adjacent to each other and the center arch being the largest.

Inscribed at the center of the arch are the Chinese characters that read, “remember the past and look forward to the future.”

This gate is just one of many interesting sights to see in Chinatown, so if you’re interested in checking out more of Chinatown’s architecture and historical landmarks, follow this map that guides you around all attraction points in roughly one mile. 

Grab a snack at New Town Bakery

By now you’ll likely be hungry for lunch, and you’re in luck. You’re only a half block away from New Town Bakery & Restaurant where you’ll catch a whiff of the freshly baked savory and sweet steamed pastries wafting out their door.

Besides the pastries, this family-run restaurant also serves Hong Kong-style food. However, I suggest skipping the restaurant food and indulging in the assortment of baked goods instead, because there are much higher quality Chinese food restaurants that I will suggest later in this Vancouver itinerary. 

Although they’re often busy, the service is fast. Grab a ticket number from the dispenser at the front to get a spot in line to order and make sure you have cash or debit on hand to pay.

I highly recommend their coconut buns, pineapple buns, steamed buns, BBQ pork buns, and egg tarts—basically, anything your heart desires at this point because once you see, smell, and taste how delicious one baked good is, you’ll want to indulge in all the rest. 

Grab lunch at one of the best Chinatown restaurants

Still hungry? Or want to try something else? Here are my top favorite dining spots in Vancouver’s Chinatown:

  • Phnom Penh: The line to eat at this Vietnamese-Cambodian restaurant is always long, but the food is worth the wait. It’s rated highly among locals and tourists and has won awards year after year. You have to order their most famous and addictive Marinated Butter Beef and the Phnom Penh Deep-Fried Chicken Wings.
  • The Ramen Butcher: I used to eat out at ramen places a lot in Vancouver for the reason that it has never once disappointed my taste buds. The Ramen Butcher is just one among the many on my list of favorite ramen shops. Their broths are packed with flavor, and it’s the perfect meal to eat when you’re craving something warm and comforting (especially on a rainy or overcast day in Vancouver).
  • Virtuous Pie: I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian, but I’ve found myself coming back to this plant-based pizza restaurant more than once. They serve individual-sized (10-inch) thin-crust pizzas, which are all made from scratch, in-house. The Superfunghi and Pesto CBR are my favorite.
  • Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato: It’s hard to believe their ice cream is dairy-free because of how creamy and smooth the texture is. They have a large menu of unique flavors, and I guarantee you’ll wish you had a bottomless stomach so you could try every single ice cream flavor—it’s that good!

See the Gastown Steam Clock

Walk about 10 minutes to the corner of Cambie and Water Street, and you’ll see Gastown’s famous antique steam-powered clock.

It’s one of the few working steam clocks left in the world, and every 15 minutes, the clock whistles to tell the time.

The Steam Clock was built in 1977 over a steam grate located above the city’s underground heating system of steam pipes, which was purposed as both a monument and for keeping homeless people from sleeping on the street where heat emits through the grate. 

After checking out the steam clock, wander around Gastown to appreciate the charm of its cobbled streets and historic architecture.

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and walking through this district feels like you’re walking backwards through time. Casual pubs, upscale wine bars, farm-to-table restaurants, souvenir shops, and trendy boutiques also line the streets, so there’s a lot to see and do here. 

Note: The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (on E Hastings St., and especially the blocks closest to Main St.) hosts a number of complex social issues, including a large homeless and drug-using population. If you’re not a city dweller or seasoned traveler to have ever encountered communities with concentrated poverty, this note is more of a heads up of the sights you may see than it is a warning about your safety.

Regardless of where you are, it’s always important to be street smart and remain aware of your surroundings when traveling. Generally, people will leave you alone if you don’t bother them, but if anything, I recommend staying on the cautious side and avoid walking through this area.

Soak in the sweeping downtown skyline views from the waterfront

Just a few minutes away, and you’ll be at Vancouver’s Waterfront.

This part of Vancouver is absolutely breathtaking, and no matter how many times I came here, I never became sick of the views.

Located inside Harbour Centre is the Vancouver Lookout, which will present you with 360-degree aerial views of the stunning downtown skyline.

Nothing beats a birds-eye view of the windows of the city’s skyscrapers glinting beneath the sunlight or the illuminating city lights reflecting against the harbor at night—the sights are magical! At this time, the Lookout is currently closed to walk-in visitors, but you can book reservations here.

Since you’re already at Harbour Centre, it’s worth it to check out the rest of this unique complex as itis a favored spot among locals and tourists. This multifunctional building serves students, shoppers, customers, and working professionals, as it is home to a university campus, a mall, a food court, and businesses. 

Another notable feature of Harbour Centre is the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant.

Yes, you read that correctly, it’s a revolving restaurant. At 553 feet high, you can simultaneously enjoy fine dining and panoramic city views. Every hour, the restaurant completes one revolution, so you don’t ever have to get up from your seat to see the city from different vantage points.

The main courses from the dinner menu range from $36-$95 CAD, so if you aren’t looking to splurge, just skip this.

Check out the beautiful Waterfront Station

Across the street from Harbour Centre is Waterfront Station. Although it’s a public transportation facility, it stands out from all other stations in Vancouver.

You’ll immediately notice from its exterior its grandeur design. It boasts classical-style white columns along the exterior and interior. It’s also the terminus station for Vancouver’s trains, SeaBus, and helicopters.

It’s pretty impressive for a transit station, so take a minute to drop by and take a look inside. 

Wander past Canada Place

Continue walking along the perimeter of Waterfront to see the colossal size of Canada Place.

Canada Place houses the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver’s World Trade Centre, and FlyOver Canada.

Large public and private events are often held inside, including celebrations during holidays like Canada Day and Christmas. Luxury cruise ships also dock here from time to time.

Check out FlyOver Canada

Did you know you can fly across Canada in eight minutes?

Well, of course not literally, but FlyOver Canada offers a simulated adventure that takes you on an east-to-west journey through Canada.

On this short amusement ride, you will be immersed in a large display of the extraordinary Canadian landscapes. Through its impressive special effects, you will feel as though you are actually flying.

The entire experience lasts about 30 minutes (you will watch a pre-show before your actual flight “takes off”). Tickets for this attraction can be found here

Stroll the Canadian Trail

Finish up your Waterfront tour by exiting Canada Place and walking around its outside perimeter that borders the harbor.

The path of this promenade is called the Canadian Trail, and throughout your walk, you will see that the ground is marked with the names of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories (time to brush up on your Canadian geography!).

This is also a great spot for taking pictures of the waterfront views!

Explore Downtown Vancouver

Head up Granville Street, and you’ll be submerged in the bustle of downtown with its premier retail stores and endless dining options.

Pacific Centre is one of the busiest malls in Canada and it contains a blend of high-end department stores to popular North American retailers. If shopping is not your thing while you’re traveling, feel free to skip this.

Otherwise, if you’re like me and you’re on a budget (and you aren’t an impulse buyer), you can also window shop. I find it really interesting to see the differences among retailers in different cities because it reflects in the fashion culture of locals. 

Grab a unique hot dog from JAPADOG

After checking out some stores, turn left from Granville St. onto Robson St. and walk three blocks over to JAPADOG.

It was once a food stand but has since evolved into a restaurant, which specializes in hot dogs that include elements from Japanese cuisine like okonomiyaki, teriyaki, and tonkatsu.

If you’ve only ever had an American-style hot dog, of course seeing yakisoba noodles or dried seaweed atop your hotdog will catch you off guard, but it’s an absolute must-have here as part of Vancouver’s food scene.

The hot dog combinations are genius and I guarantee that your first bite will be an explosion of flavor!

If you’re not feeling adventurous, you can opt for a plain sausage without toppings, but I strongly recommend trying their specialties.

While you’re here, please try the Age Ice, which is a deep-fried bun filled with ice cream and the Butter & Shoyu flavored fries. I’m salivating just thinking about it!

Wander the beautiful Central Public Library

Walk two more blocks toward Homer St. and you’ll arrive at Vancouver’s Central Public Library. You don’t have to be a bookworm to go here; it’s enough to just gander at the sight of the library’s palatial design.

You’ll notice the architecture resembles a roman amphitheater. It’s a beautifully built library that has a sustainable green roof and public rooftop garden.

Besides its expansive collection of books, there are nine floors that include exhibition spaces dedicated to art installations, a family theater, meeting rooms, a reading room, and an eating lounge. Feel free to roam the floors or just take a peek at its beauty from the outside.

Stroll around Robson Square

Head back onto Robson St. toward Howe St. and on your left will be Robson Square.

If you’re here in Vancouver in November through February, you can skate here at this outdoor ice-skating rink—a perfect winter activity.

You can also rent skates if you don’t have a pair of your own. The square is also a great open space to take a seat and rest or socialize with friends. 

Enjoy the art scene

If you’re into discovering Canada’s artwork, to your right is the Vancouver Art Gallery (the front entrance faces the next street over on W Georgia St.).

Featuring Canadian and international art, this gallery draws attention to the achievements of First Nation artists and art from the region of the Asia Pacific. It’ll take you around one hour to tour the entire gallery.

Ticket information can be found here.

Watch the sunset at English Bay Beach

Before you enter the beach (near the corner of Morton Ave and Denman St.), you’ll see some expressive human-like sculptures called the “A-maze-ing Laughter” that inspires cheery and playful interactions among visitors.

Once you enter the beach and are facing the water, on your left across the sand is a six-meter tall, human-made stone sculpture called “Inukshuk” that symbolizes the Inuit culture. To your right, you’ll likely see many bikers and pedestrians on a pathway, which is the English Bay Seawall that takes you into Stanley Park. 

After you’ve moseyed the beach, take a seat on one of the logs placed along the sand. As the sun begins its descent, you’ll be mesmerized by the sky’s gradual transformation from a brilliant crimson color into twilight. 

Have dinner and dessert in Vancouver’s West End

Further down Robson St. to Denman St. is Vancouver’s West End neighborhood.

You’ll find more clothing stores, souvenir and coffee shops, and a variety of restaurants. Nearly every type of cuisine exists here—there’s North American comfort food, classic Italian pastas, Japanese tapas, Korean street food, and the list goes on.

Because of the abundance of food, I can’t pick only one restaurant to recommend. So, here’s some of my top favorite restaurants in the West End:

  • Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House (Their dishes are more expensive, but the food is high quality and delectable! Visit during their happy hour from 3-6pm and order their fresh shucked oysters and other happy hour menu items.) 
  • Zefferelli’s or CinCin Ristorante + Bar (Both top notch Italian restaurants with handmade pastas that are located right next to each other.)
  • Sura Korean Royal Cuisine (Their portions are large, filling, and they don’t compromise on quality and flavor!)
  • Marutama Ra-Men or Kintaro Ramen (Located across from each other, both ramen shops have amazing ramen with rich, flavorful broths.)
  • Dinesty Dumpling House (You can’t eat here unless you order their steamed pork soup dumplings! All of their other dumplings are some of the best I’ve had, and their other dishes are exceptional too. I’ve never been disappointed by their food.)
  • Nook (Another incredible Italian restaurant with superior pasta and pizza.)
  • Guu with Garlic (Known as the first Izakaya/Japanese tapas restaurant—perfect for trying a variety of reasonably-priced high-quality small dishes enjoyed with sake or Asian beer.)
  • Espana (Spanish food packed with flavor in every bite. The Chorizo Scotch Eggs and the Daily Paella are a must-order here.)
  • Cactus Club Cafe (Between casual and upscale Canadian fare, you can order anything from sushi, grain bowls, deluxe salads, burgers, pasta, and steak. This restaurant is located on Beach Avenue right on English Bay Beach—you really can’t say no to oceanfront views during your meal!)

Here’s some of my favorite dessert places in the West End:

  • Bon Crepe (Try their Japanese-style crepes, matcha soft-serve, or parfaits.)
  • Nero Waffles (Serves delicious Authentic Belgium waffles.)
  • Breka Bakery & Café (Has an assortment of fresh pastries and baked treats, and it’s open 24/7!)
  • True Confections (This place is my guilty pleasure, and I’d come here late at night whenever my sweet cravings started to kick in. It specializes in cakes, cheesecakes, and pies. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure.)

See Granville St. come alive at night

By now, you might be tired from walking around downtown, so if you want to give your legs a break, hop on the #5 bus by Denman St. and Morton Ave., and it’ll take you down Davie St. eastbound to Granville St. 

Although you were on Granville St. earlier this afternoon, this is a very different side of Granville that you have yet to experience.

At night, Granville wakes up by lighting up its many massive neon-lit signs that show the names of the bars, clubs, and theaters along this street. Take in the view as you walk up Granville toward W. Georgia St. The energy here is refreshing, fun, and carefree, and it’s the perfect place for a street photo op.

Grab a beer and let the scenic night views inspire you

Take the Canada Line train from the Vancouver City Centre station on W. Georgia St. and ride two stops (about four minutes) to Olympic Village. 

A couple worthy spots for enjoying great beer in Olympic Village is Craft Beer Market (a large venue with over 100 beers to choose from) and Tap & Barrel (a small but cozy pub with patio views and a smaller but good selection of craft beers).

End your night in peace and comfort by gazing out across the waters of False Creek. To your right, the Science World dome will be glowing, and straight ahead, the roof of BC Place will be illuminating in vibrant hues. At the center of this cityscape, the still waters capture and reflect the dazzling city lights, producing a gentle luminescence.

Get inspired and luxuriate in this breathtaking scene for as long as you want—the rest of the night is yours.

A few notes:

  • During the day, you can rent single and tandem kayaks from Creekside Kayaks located at the Olympic Village dock and paddle along False Creek.
  • Science World is a science museum with interactive displays and exhibits catered to youth, so it’s great for family visits. Unless you’re traveling with children, I suggest skipping this.
  • BC Place is Vancouver’s 50,000 seat stadium that hosts major events like soccer and football.

Day 2: Start your morning at one of the world’s most beautiful city parks, then journey into Vancouver’s outskirts

Note: Since you’ll be starting off your day today covering more distances and exploring more of Vancouver’s southern suburbs, I recommend using a car today to travel between destinations.

Go for a morning bike ride, walk, run, or drive through Stanley Park

Free to enter, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest park that is made up of the Vancouver Seawall (a 17-mile uninterrupted path bordering the water), beaches, wildlife, historical landmarks, restaurants and cafes, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Whichever way you explore Stanley Park, you will be blown away by the sights and the endless amount of activities you can do here.

If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, you can complete the 10km-loop around Stanley Park. Otherwise, you can go on a leisurely drive around the park and stop at the marked lookout points to take some pictures.

You can also capture some photos of the iconic Lions Gate Bridge at the midpoint of the Stanley Park loop. You’ll actually walk beneath the bridge itself, which sets up some great photo opportunities of the bridge. The alternative is that you can park at the lot by the Prospect Point Lookout to check out the bridge from there.

A few notes:

  • Unfortunately, the Vancouver Aquarium is temporarily closed to the public as they are remodeling and there is no reopening date set in place at this time. More information about this can be found here.
  • If you want to bike around the park, I suggest either renting bikes at Coal Harbour at EzeeRiders Bike Rental Seawall, Seawall Adventure Centre, or any of the bike rental shops located on Denman St. near Alberni St. You can bike along the Seawall into the park. If you tire easily, I suggest renting an electric bike. It’s a great option for when you need a break from pedaling, and you can also travel a lot faster.  
  • Directions and transit information can be found here
  • Parking information can be found here.
  • A map and guide of Stanley Park can be found here.

Visit Granville Island 

Granville Island and its Public Market are a must-visit on your two-day Vancouver itinerary!

The Granville Island Public Market is a renowned fresh and specialty food market. It also sells many unique crafts from local artisans.

Outside of the Public Market are seafood restaurants with waterfront views, gift shops, local clothing boutiques, performing art theaters, art galleries, and its very own brewery: the Granville Island Brewing Company.

After your adventure in Stanley Park, you’re likely starving. So take this opportunity to refuel with some coffee or tea (try JJ Bean Coffee Roasters) and try a variety of foods from the different vendors inside the Public Market.

For some of the best baked goods, try A Bread Affair, Lee’s Donuts, or Terra Breads. If you can manage to practice some self-control here, try not to overstuff yourself because I will be taking you to lunch next—and you will be satisfied!

Granville Island is small enough that you can walk around the entire perimeter of the island. A few places worth stopping at to check out is the Sea Village with its tiny boat homes and the Giants Murals—concrete plants with colorful giants painted on the entire exterior. 

Located at the back of the Public Market on the dock beneath the Granville Street Bridge is the Aquabus dock. You can take a short ferry ride around the creek on the Aquabus, and also get off at certain stops around downtown. This ferry ride is one of Vancouver’s quintessential experiences—you can’t skip this!

Tickets and route information can be found here.

Feast on dim sum for lunch

With about 27% of Vancouver’s population being of Chinese ethnicity—and this percentage is likely higher now as this data is taken from the last available census in 2016—Chinese, and specifically, Cantonese cuisine has long been an integral part of Vancouver’s food culture.

If you’ve never had dim sum before, you’re about to experience something very special. If you’re like me and enjoy eating a variety of foods in one meal, dim sum is the perfect choice!

Trust me, your tastebuds will thank you for introducing them to so many different flavors and textures.

Traditional dim sum is served family-style, with tea, and includes a large range of small savory and sweet dishes such as shrimp dumplings, rice noodle rolls stuffed with pork, and steamed buns filled with sweet custard. 

Because the dish sizes are traditionally small, you might think that it’s not enough food. This is au contraire at Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant as they serve larger than usual pieces of dim sum items.  They don’t skimp out on the fillings, which is an essential component to dim sum. 

Spend the afternoon at the park

You might be wondering, why would I go to the park while traveling?

It sounds mundane, but the parks in Vancouver are unlike any other city parks I’ve seen in my lifetime. There are more than 230 parks in Vancouver, and my favorite is the stunning Queen Elizabeth Park.

Just a few minutes away, and you’ll see that this park is more than just a stretch of lawn.

Inside the park is the Queen Elizabeth Quarry Gardens, an enormous and colorful garden with a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees—all perfectly arranged. There’s really nothing like being in a majestic setting such as this. 

The park is free to enter (besides a parking fee if you choose to park at the lot located at the top of the park), and contains art sculptures, a dancing fountain, outdoor sports courts, an upscale skyline-view restaurant, and a conservatory filled with exotic plants, flowers, and birds. 

Queen Elizabeth Park is also the highest point in Vancouver, which is just another reason why this park is worth visiting, since it’s one of the best views of Vancouver!

Trust me, the elevated views of downtown are spectacular from this park. 

  • Directions and parking information can be found here.
  • Ticket information for entry into Bloedel Conservatory can be found here
  • Dining and reservation information for the Seasons in the Park restaurant can be found here.

If you have time, I also recommend visiting the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

While there is an entry fee, this is another gorgeous park in Vancouver that is worth checking out for its lake, tranquil meditation garden, and maze that you can walk through. It’s only a 4-minute drive away from Queen Elizabeth Park.

  • Admission fee information can be found here.
  • Hours and ticket information can be found here.

See more stunning skyline views from Kitsilano Beach, Jericho Beach Park, or Spanish Banks Beach (Optional)

Another reason why I love Vancouver is because of how many opportunities there are to see the skyline from different angles.

You saw the beauty of Vancouver yesterday at English Bay, but Kitsilano Beach, Jericho Beach, and Spanish Banks Beach are also incredible spots for hanging out at and admiring the city and mountain views. 

If you don’t have time, skip this and move onto the next destination. But if you can, at least stop by one of the beaches.

Visit the Museum of Anthropology 

Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the First Nations at the Museum of Anthropology.

The First Nations collectively make up the different groups of Indigenous people who are the original inhabitants of Canada, and their cultures span over thousands of years.

The Museum of Anthropology represents Canada’s West Coast through its displays of artifacts, crafts, and gigantic sculptures. The museum itself is also physically beautiful, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer a view of the inlet, neighboring islands, and mountains in the distance.

I recommend spending at least a couple of hours here to get a fulfilling experience.

While you’re here on the campus grounds of the University of British Columbia (UBC), you might have already noticed how beautiful the campus is.

Vancouver is a popular setting for movie and TV show directors, and UBC is the 9th-most popular filming location in the world. The movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the TV series Supernatural have both been filmed on campus. Feel free to roam around and check out the campus!

Have dinner and bubble tea in Richmond

About 30 minutes, and you’ll arrive to the south suburbs of Vancouver: Richmond. Richmond has the highest immigrant population in British Columbia, and over half of its population is Chinese.

The food culture is undoubtedly strongly influenced by the Chinese, making Richmond renowned for having some of the best Chinese food. 

There are over 800 restaurants in Richmond, which means I would be doing a disservice to Richmond if I only shared one recommendation. This was difficult, but I’ve narrowed my list to five of my favorite Chinese restaurants in no particular order: 

  • Shanghai River: Serves Shanghainese food (which comes from Shanghai, China’s largest city by population)—You must order the soup dumplings! 
  • HK BBQ Master: Vancouver’s best Chinese-style soy sauce chicken, barbeque duck, and crispy roast pork.  
  • Xi’an Cuisine (Located inside the Richmond Public Market): If you are craving noodles, this is where you get your fix. Plus, it’s extremely affordable. Just make sure you have cash on you as it is cash only.
  • R&H Chinese Food (Located inside the Lansdowne Centre): Large, hand-made, delicious dumplings. You’d never expect food court food to be this good.
  • Kirin Seafood Restaurant: It’s a little pricier, but it has high-quality, authentic dishes like braised fished and slow-cooked meats. You must order the Peking Duck! Table reservation information can be found here.

You haven’t completed your Richmond experience without boba, or as it’s commonly called by Vancouverites, bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a tea-based, sweet beverage filled with chewy tapioca pearls. There’s usually a seemingly endless menu of flavors to choose from, and the fun part with most bubble tea shops is that you can adjust the drink to your liking.

Whether you want it less sweet, blended with ice into a slush, or with the addition of other tasty toppings, it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling too full.

Here’s are my top three recommendations for bubble tea in Richmond:

  • Tiger Sugar: Order the Brown Sugar Milk Tea!
  • Mr Mustache Bubble Tea: It might sound bizarre, but this is just one of those things where you can’t knock it until you try it—Order your tea with cheese foam. It combines salty and sweet flavors, kind of like salted caramel. 
  • The Bubble Tea Shop: I know this was strictly for bubble tea recommendations, but besides quality bubble tea, this shop also serves delicious bubble waffles.

Wind down in Steveston

South of Richmond is Steveston, a quaint fishing village notable for its Fisherman’s Wharf where you can buy fresh catches of fish.

It’s also known for the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site where you can walk through and learn about the preserved and restored community of canneries, shipyards, and stores dating back to the 1800s. 

Draw your evening to a close by going for a serene stroll around Garry Point Park. Although you won’t see the downtown skyline views from here, you will behold a delightful contrast in scenery with the park’s vast open lands and fishing boats gently teetering in the harbor.

Even in the suburbs away from the city, Vancouver’s trademark peaks can still be seen in the distance. The mountains are an embodiment of vitality, adventure, and beauty—all of which you’ve absorbed in the past two days. This is the true Vancouverite experience!

Additional Points of Interest in Vancouver: Itinerary Extras

Since this is a 2 day Vancouver itinerary best suited for a weekend trip, I had to leave out other visiting points as it would require more time to travel to and get the most out of these places.

They’re technically not part of Vancouver since they’re further away, but they’re still worth checking out while you’re in Vancouver. If you are visiting for longer than two days, I highly recommend visiting the following places:

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: It’s not the cheapest, but it’s something worth doing at least once to cross it off your bucket list. The suspension bridge will take you across the Capilano River and through the forest. If you’re afraid of heights, this may not be for you because you will be 230 feet high up among the treetops.
  • Grouse Grind at the Grouse Mountain: This is not for the faint of heart. If you love exercise and physical fitness challenges, the Grouse Grind will take you up the steep face of Grouse Mountain in 1.8 miles. It’s not a long distance, but the incline is the challenge, as there is a total of 2,830 stairsteps you must climb up to reach the peak. Alternatively, you can ride the gondola up to the top to explore the attractions and other mountaintop trails that are less difficult.
  • Whistler: If you’ve ever seen the town of Banff, Canada, you’ll notice the striking resemblances it has to Whistler. Whistler is a popular destination for winter activities and has the largest ski resort in North America (it also held the 2010 Winter Olympics). To get to Whistler, you drive up the BC Highway 99, also known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The drive to Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky Highway is like the Canadian version of road tripping through California’s coastline on the Pacific Coast Highway—it has endless spectacular ocean views. Even during the warm summer season, there are still plenty of outdoor activities you can do in Whistler.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Because I lived in Vancouver, I never had the need to find a hotel. But my visiting friends and family had almost always chosen Airbnb as the more affordable option. 

The bulk of hotels in Vancouver are located downtown, while some are located in Richmond near the airport. For this itinerary, either downtown or near the YVR airport in Richmond are ideal locations for completing this itinerary.

Here are a few suggestions!

  • Chic Downtown Condo: This spacious loft-style one-bedroom Airbnb is a fantastic choice for those who want to be in the heart of it all. Gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows allow in tons of natural light and offer sweeping Vancouver views, while being easily walkable to all points downtown.
  • Gastown Converted Loft: This open, spacious space has serious Brooklyn loft vibes. Complete with a modern kitchen, high ceilings, exposed brick and other lofty details, and a cozy private bedroom, this is a great choice for people who want some hipster flair to their accommodations while sticking to a budget. There’s also a rooftop lounge area! In the heart of Gastown and close to so many attractions!
  • Two-Story Richmond Townhouse: For a stay in the heart of Vancouver’s hip (and delicious) Richmond area, this duplex is a fantastic choice. It’s budget-friendly and spacious (over 1000 square feet) with an outdoor patio space for relaxing. Close to all public transit, but also close to the international airport in case you are flying in and out of the city for this Vancouver weekend itinerary.

Weather in Vancouver

Vancouver is known for its year-round rainy weather, but the temperature is moderate as it rarely gets unbearably cold or hot (the temperature averages between 42 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit).

For this itinerary, I recommend visiting during the summer months when it’s the sunniest, warmest, and rains the least—from July to August. 

Whether or not you visit Vancouver during the drier months, I recommend packing layers like a waterproof and windproof jacket, rain boots, and comfortable and supportive walking shoes. And don’t forget your umbrella!

Safety in Vancouver

As mentioned throughout this Vancouer itinerary, the city is incredibly accessible.

It’s a safe city, despite having a few rough patches, and the transportation system here is reliable and easy to use.

I recommend familiarizing yourself with Vancouver’s Translink system by reading through their Rider Guide found on their website here.

Saving on Your Vancouver Itinerary

Vancouver is one of the more expensive cities to visit, but there are ways to make the most out of your trip even when you’re on a budget.

This is why I included many free activities and more reasonably priced places to eat at throughout this itinerary to make your trip more affordable! 

Staying at an Airbnb will also help to reduce your overall travel costs.

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