How to Spend 48 Hours in Vancouver, Canada

Science World from Olympic Village
Science World from Olympic Village | © Hayley Simpson

Vancouver is a bustling metropolis surrounded by both the ocean and the mountains. Thanks to its many tourist attractions and easy access to nature, there’s a lot to see and do in Vancouver, but here is a guide for seeing the Canadian city if you only have 48 hours.

Day 1

Start the day with breakfast at Jam Cafe, known for its large portions, or Café Medina, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu—both popular with locals. Follow up with a visit to one of the world’s best urban parks and one of Vancouver’s biggest attractions: Stanley Park. An average of eight million people visit Stanley Park each year.
Bike the seawall (there are many rental shops nearby), walk through the park to the Vancouver Aquarium, or admire the view of West Vancouver and the Lion’s Gate Bridge. In summer, check out the beaches and public pool on Stanley Park’s south side.
Jam Cafe, 556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 778 379 1992
Café Medina, 780 Richards St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 879 3114
Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 681 6728
Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 659 3474

Coal Harbour view from Stanley Park’s seawall


Relax after an adventurous morning and enjoy lunch in West End. Adjacent to Stanley Park and along Denman Street, this neighborhood offers so many dining choices, it’s almost too hard to choose. Favorites include Vancouver institution Cactus Club Cafe and Score on Davie, which is famous for stacking burgers, onion rings, and even brownies on a glass of Canada’s national drink, the Caesar.
Cactus Club Cafe, 1790 Beach Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 681 2582
Score on Davie, 1262 Davie St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 632 1646
Some highlights in Downtown Vancouver include shopping along Robson Street, visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery, and FlyOver Canada (a virtual flight that soars over some of Canada’s most beautiful sights). A quick walk or bus ride away is Granville Island Public Market, an indoor marketplace that features local produce, sweet treats, and homemade souvenirs. For an afternoon pick-me-up, try the award-winning sweets at Chocolatas.
Granville Island Public Market, 1669 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 666 6655

Granville Island Public Market entrance

If there’s extra time, go northeast towards Olympic Village and Science World—where Tap & Barrel has a patio perfect for enjoying a happy hour drink and soaking up the summer sun—or southwest towards Kitsilano Beach (known as just Kits)—which offers incredible views of Stanley Park and the mountains surrounding the city.
Tap & Barrel, 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 685 2223
Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Vancouver’s Science World from Olympic Village

Spend the evening visiting one of Vancouver’s most diverse and eclectic neighborhoods: Commercial Drive. The strip is filled with bars and breweries, cafés and restaurants, and boutiques. Try Havana for modern Latin dishes, St Augustine’s for beers and burgers, and BierCraft for a late-night drink (it has over 40 local and international beers on tap alone). Be sure to stop by the neighborhood’s unique Rio Theatre—an independent multidisciplinary art house—to see if there’s a concert, film screening, or event happening.
Havana, 1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 253 9119
St Augustine’s, 2360 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 569 1911
BierCraft, 1191 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 254 2437
Rio Theatre, 1660 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 879 3456

Mural on Commercial Drive

Day 2

Step away from Downtown Vancouver—visit Main Street (known for its many locally-owned boutiques and consignment stores, such as Front and Company, 8th and Main and Much and Little) and grab breakfast from The Whip or The Wallflower Diner.
Then it’s time to visit Queen Elizabeth Park, just off Main Street. The views from this park are amazing on a sunny day as the mountains provide a backdrop to the city skyline. It also has beautiful gardens perfect for a morning walk.
The Whip, 209 6th Avenue East, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 48744687
The Wallflower Diner, 2420 Main St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 568 7554
Queen Elizabeth Park, 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 873 7000

Queen Elizabeth Park views

Catch a shuttle from Downtown Vancouver to Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The distance is worth it to walk among the trees and experience the area’s famous natural beauty.
In the summertime, ride a gondola lift to the top of Grouse Mountain, where there are fun events daily; in the winter, why not spend an afternoon skiing, snowboarding, tubing, or snowshoeing at one of the region’s three mountains: Grouse, Cypress, and Mount Seymour?
Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 985 7474
Grouse Mountain, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 980 9311

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and still retains its cobblestone streets lined with circular lamps. It looks best at night due to the lamps and fairy lights adorning the trees. For a classic pub meal (with a side of trivia on Tuesdays), visit Lamplighter Public House. For Carolina-style barbecue, check out Peckinpah. Soft Peaks Ice Cream is a perfect dessert spot and offers Vancouver’s first organic soft serve ice cream.
Lamplighter Public House, 92 Water St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 687 4424
Peckinpah, 2 Water St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 681 5411
Soft Peaks Ice Cream, 25 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 559 2071

Gastown at night

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