What are the Top Vancouver Attractions?
Vancouver is known around the world as both a popular tourist attraction and one of the best places to live, thanks to its scenic views, mild climate, and friendly people. Vancouver is a beautiful city with a lot to offer tourists. If you were asked to name the ten top Vancouver attractions, you'd be hard-pressed to narrow down the list to only ten so we're not going to! Of course, there is always the bucket list of top Vancouver attractions but there are also many equally great less-known attractions that deserve recognition.
The Skytrain Waterfront station is an ideal starting point for your Vancouver downtown exploration. The downtown attractions are walkable, but the Hop On Hop Off bus is always an option for those who prefer not to walk.
View from Stanley Park at sunrise over the city of Vancouver
What can I do in Vancouver?
Canada Place / Fly Over Canada
Occupying prime waterfront space on the shores of Vancouver Harbour, Canada Place is easily identifiable by its iconic white Teflon sails. Take a journey through Canada, from east to west and north to south on the Canadian Trail. The north point of the Canadian Trail affords incredible views of the port of Vancouver, Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains. Many are drawn to Canada Place to experience the multi-sensory film experience of FlyOver Canada. This is one of Vancouver's "Must-see" attractions with visitors strapped into seats while going on a flying adventure over Canada, from coast to coast.
Spectacular 360 views over Vancouver, the North Shore Mountains and Vancouver Island are awarded to visitors taking the 40-second glass elevator ride 533 feet up to a panoramic observation deck of the Vancouver Lookout above the Harbour Centre. Information panels are located at various points around the deck explaining each view. Alternatively, visitors can take a complimentary self-guided audio tour. Your ticket is valid for the entire day so you can visit both by day and by night.
Iconic Sails over Canada Place | Steam Clock at Gastown
A short stroll from Canada Place will have you in the historic Old Town of Vancouver featuring heritage brick buildings, quaint shops and excellent eateries. Gastown was Vancouver's first neighbourhood, named for "Gassy" Jack Deighton who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009. Amongst the interesting sights drawing visitors to the area are Gaoler's Mews, Maple Tree Square, Jack Deighton's Statue, the Flat Iron Building and the Gastown Steam Clock.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden - Chinatown
Gastown's immediate neighbour is Chinatown so, while you are in the area, stop in at the Chinese Garden where picturesque pagodas dot the landscape casting reflections in the ponds. It's the first Ming Dynasty-style garden built outside of China. The Garden is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and an admission fee is charged.
False Creek separates the downtown and West End neighbourhoods from the rest of the city and is full of interesting points of interest. Enjoy stunning views of Vancouver in all directions. Notable sites include Granville Island, the H R McMillan Space Centre, the Museum of Vancouver and the False Creek Seawall. Mini harbour ferries go up and down the waterway dropping passengers at tourist sites along the way.
Granville Island is popular year-round. The public market draws people to an eclectic range of shops and stalls selling everything from fruit, fish, cheese and pastries to unique artisan products. Granville Island is also 'home' to fishing charter companies, a waterpark, boat rentals and other attractions.
Science World, False Creek, Vancouver - Photo Destination Vancouver/Vision Event | Granville Island Public Market - Photo Destination Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic
Located close to downtown Vancouver, Science World is easily accessible by Aquabus or by Skytrain. Science World is a not-for-profit attraction featuring interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits along with feature exhibitions and amazing live science demonstrations.
BC Place Stadium
Home venue for the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team and the BC Lions CFL football team, BC Place Stadium features a retractable roof allowing for both indoor and outdoor sports events along with other non-sporting events.
Robson Square has been a gathering place for locals and visitors alike since it was completed in 1983. Located at the corner of Robson and Howe Streets in the heart of Vancouver, it's a hive of entertainment in both summer and winter. It's a great place to 'people watch' and in summer you'll see street entertainers, artists selling their work and free Sunday Salsa lessons. Festivals take place here year-round and from December through February you can enjoy free ice skating. Robson Square is close to the up-market stores on Robson Street with many brand-name stores and boutiques.
Dr Sun Yet-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver | Buskers in Robson Square, Vancouver - Photos: Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehring
If you decide to walk to these attractions in the order they are listed, the approximate walking distance is 11.5km. The route will bring you back to the Waterfront Skytrain Station.
A little further afield ...
Stanley Park Sightseeing
If you're still into walking, you can continue on to Stanley Park on foot, either via the Seawall Trail or following the streets. The Park is a haven for outdoor activities. Public transit is also available to the park or, if you have your own wheels (RV included!), there are parking lots dotted all over the park. Note if travelling by RV, one ticket is valid for all parking lots within the purchased time limit.
Top attractions in the Park include:
The Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park was Canada's first public aquarium. Since opening in 1956, the aquarium has hosted more than 40 million people who come to view and learn about thousands of ocean species and aquatic life. The sea otters will enthral you. Hourly capacity is often limited and advance purchase of tickets or online reservations are strongly recommended.
The most-visited attraction in Stanley Park is the Totem Poles. They are unique to the north west coast of BC and lower Alaska and are a striking sight at Brockton Point where they were moved from their original locations. Some of the Totem Poles are replicas, the originals having been damaged by time and weather. Each carving on a Totem Pole has a meaning and tells a story of a mythical event from the past.
Vancouver Aquarium - Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout | Horse Drawn Tour in Stanley Park - Photo: Destination Vancouver/Coast Mountain Photography
Stanley Park Horsedrawn Tours
For a different sightseeing experience in Stanley Park, step aboard an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage and meander in comfort through the Park. Your tour guide will entertain you as you pass by various points of interest in the park. This tour stops at the Totem Poles, the Girl in a Wet Suit Statue, the Empress of Japan Figurehead and the Rose Garden. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the Park.
Walk the Seawall
Vancouver boasts the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. The Seawall is open to both walkers and cyclists and extends from Stanley Park around English Bay and the False Creek area to Kitsilano Beach.
Hire a Bike
With Vancouver's great climate, biking is a popular pastime. There are numerous bike rental companies from which you can rent both e-bikes and regular bikes if your preference is to explore Vancouver on wheels.
Biking at Kitsilano Beach - Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout | Sunseekers enjoying English Bay Beach - Photo: Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehring
In a harbour city as beautiful as Vancouver, beaches are a big draw. Head out to English Bay where you'll find most of Vancouver's best beaches including Kitsilano Beach. The area is a magnet for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Nearby you'll also find the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Museum of Vancouver
Located in Vanier Park, the Museum of Vancouver is the largest civic museum in Canada. The Museum's collections feature First Nations, Asian and Egyptian antiquities along with many objects related to the history of Vancouver, including an extensive collection of neon signs. The Museum shares an entrance with the H R McMillan Space Centre & Planetarium. Also in Vanier Park, separated by green space, is the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
What Top Vancouver attractions can I see in West Vancouver?
If you prefer not to drive from downtown Vancouver to West Vancouver via the Lion's Gate Bridge, you can get there by public transport. The two main tourist attractions on Vancouver's West side are:
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Capilano Canyon
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of Vancouver's most-visited attractions. Capilano's roots date back to 1889 when a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks was strung across the Capilano River to enable the original owner of the land to access his cabin on the other side. After that owner's death, the hemp rope bridge over the canyon was replaced by a wire cable bridge. That bridge was completely rebuilt in 1956 with the cables being encased in concrete at either end. Today, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is much more than just a bridge. Plan to spend between 2 and 3 hours here. Experience the Cliffwalk and the Treetops Adventure. The park also features a store and dining facilities.
The Park also runs a free shuttle to and from Canada Place and their location. Check their website for information.
Capilano Suspension Bridge - Shutterstock
Vancouver's original ski area, Grouse Mountain, draws visitors year-round. Summertime attractions include lumberjack shows, a birds of prey demonstration with several species of birds, scenic chairlift ride, disc golf, mountain biking, zip lining, tandem paragliding, helicopter tours and guided ecowalks. Grouse Mountain is home to Grinder and Coola, two orphaned grizzly bears living in Grouse Mountain's Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. If you're feeling energetic and enjoy challenges, you might like to take the 2-2.5 hour hike up the mountain known as the Grouse Grind. Be sure to purchase a ticket to ride the gondola back down as downhill hiking isn't permitted.
West Vancouver is also the gateway to the famous Sea to Sky Highway which winds through spectacular coastal scenery en route to the towns of Squamish (Sea to Sky Gondola) and Whistler.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Travel south-east towards the city of Richmond where the VanDusen Garden provides a serene escape from the busy metropolis of Vancouver. Jointly managed by the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association, this 22 acres of garden is home to an extensive collection of native British Columbia plants as well as a variety of species from around the world.
VanDusen Botanical Garden - Photo Destination Vancouver/
People also ask ... "Can I drive my RV into downtown Vancouver?"
First-time visitors to Vancouver should leave their CanaDream RV at their campground and take public transit into the city to tick off the many attractions close to the downtown area.
Most people visiting Vancouver for the first time will ask "What can I do in Vancouver". As you have read, Vancouver attractions are many, and our list has just touched the surface. Many of the Vancouver attractions featured in this blog are members of our CanaDream Club program. When you book an RV through CanaDream, you automatically become a CanaDream Club member giving you access to discounted rates with hundreds of CanaDream Club partner attractions and campgrounds. Download our CanaDream Club app to view all partners or go to canadream.com/club.
CanaDream has RVs for rent in Canada from seven locations. There's an RV to suit your lifestyle and budget, ranging from small campervans sleeping up to two people to family-size RV rentals sleeping seven. Call, email or online chat with us for more information.