Must-Visit Attractions in Vancouver

The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is one of the citys many must-visit attractions
The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is one of the city's many must-visit attractions | Photo by Don Mackinnon / AFP via Getty Images

Vancouver is one of Canada’s most popular cities, full of fun things to do, places to see and neighborhoods to enjoy. Here are 20 attractions you must visit during your next trip here.
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Stanley Park

One of the biggest urban parks in North America, Stanley Park is almost entirely surrounded by water. There’s plenty to see in and around the park, including its beaches, lagoon and lake with spectacular views from every angle; and its seawall, where you can exercise. Stanley Park is also the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, at 28km (17 mi).

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Gastown is Vancouver’s most historic neighborhood, and it’s located just next door to the downtown area. Highlights in the area – besides the food and drinks – include the steam clock (one of only a few left in the world), Hotel Europe’s Flatiron Building-like exterior and Gassy Jack’s statue.

Metropolis at Metrotown

For shopping lovers, a visit to Vancouver isn’t complete without checking out the stores in British Columbia’s largest mall. Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby (in the Greater Vancouver area) is also the third-largest mall in Canada, with more than 400 stores across four floors. It has shops for everyone on every budget: from Old Navy to Michael Kors and Guess.

Granville Island

A little peninsula over the bridge from Vancouver’s city center, Granville Island is known for its thriving artists’ community, brewery and public market. The market is open every day and features a food court and stalls selling fresh produce, delicious treats and handmade products. Its waterside location makes for picturesque photos, too.

Vancouver Aquarium

Located within Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium is a popular local attraction. As a non-profit organization, the aquarium is “dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through education, research and direct action.” Some of the animals include dolphins, sea otters, penguins, reef sharks, rays (which you can touch) and sealions.

Science World

Science World has hundreds of interactive exhibits inside its interesting geodesic dome exterior, including art displays, hands-on areas, live science shows, puzzles and the Made in Canada exhibition. Another feature is its Omnimax Theatre, great for a 3D cinema experience.

Museum of Anthropology

Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology is located in Point Grey, on the University of British Columbia’s beautiful campus. It’s known for having a fabulous collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art. Its building is an award-winning design by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Hiding in Stanley Park’s shadow is Queen Elizabeth Park. This 53ha (130-acre) park in suburban Vancouver offers fabulous views of the city and its surrounding mountains. It’s perfect to visit in every season, thanks to the ever-changing vista. People can wander the grounds outside, or head inside to Bloedel Conservatory and its indoor tropical garden.

Grouse Mountain

One of three major mountains in North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain has a cable car, which means it’s an accessible place to visit in both winter and summer. Around the holidays, the mountain transforms into the Peak of Christmas, with ice skating, Santa photos, sleigh rides and the usual winter activities. In summer, tackle the Grouse Grind and then enjoy the Lumberjack Show on top of the mountain.

BC Place

Labeled western Canada’s premiere venue for live events, BC Place is a glowing beacon on the city’s skyline. Its retractable roof is the largest of its kind in the world, and it plays host to concerts, as well as Vancouver Whitecaps and BC Lions games. It’s also home to BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery, the largest gallery in western Canada, features both historical and contemporary exhibits by regional, national and international artists. It’s housed in the former provincial courthouse, and its exterior is used in many films and TV shows.

Kitsilano Beach

Known to locals as Kits or Kits Beach, Kitsilano Beach is where you will find a lot of residents in the summertime. There’s ample park space around the beach for picnics, plus volleyball nets and Kitsilano Pool. The 137m (450ft) outdoor pool is Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool, open from mid-May to mid-September.

Commercial Drive

One of Vancouver’s hippest neighborhoods, Commercial Drive’s main hub runs from Venables Street in the north to 13th Avenue in the south. There are more than 400 businesses here, which are predominantly owner-operated. Whether you’re searching for food, locally brewed beers or an unusual boutique, the Drive has it all.

Lighthouse Park

Found in West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is one of the most attractive parks on the West Coast. There are many hikes that take people along the coastline or through forests of Douglas firs, but seeing the lighthouse on the cliff is the best part.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular tourist attraction in Vancouver. Besides the bridge, which is suspended above the Capilano River and the surrounding forest, there’s also a cliff walk, other footbridges, a story center and treetop adventures.

Museum of Vancouver

The Museum of Vancouver’s mission is to “inspire a deeper understanding of Vancouver through stories, objects and shared experiences.” It achieves this through exhibits on the city’s history, plus a First Nations art and artefacts collection.

English Bay

English Bay’s First Beach is the most populated beach area in Downtown Vancouver. Although it’s known for being the place to watch the annual Celebration of Lights festival, English Bay is also at the end of West End’s Denman Street, which is filled with food and drink options. Head here for a sunset you won’t forget.

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout offers 360-degree views of Vancouver and beyond. Its observation deck is 169m (553ft) above Vancouver. The lookout’s UFO-shaped design is the main feature of Vancouver’s skyline.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden is close to Queen Elizabeth Park in suburban Vancouver. Although it doesn’t offer views of the park, VanDusen is a large garden filled with various plants and flowers that transforms into a light-filled wonderland during the holidays.

To discover more amazing things to see in Canada, check out our guide to incredible natural wonders in Canada that will take your breath away.

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