One Day In Vancouver, BC: The Ideal 1-Day Vancouver Itinerary

One Day In Vancouver, BC: The Ideal 1-Day Vancouver Itinerary

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Tucked between mountains and ocean, Vancouver is one of the most scenic cities in the world. It will easily keep you entertained for a week – but what if you only have a day in Vancouver? Well, then we created this 1-day Vancouver itinerary just for you. It’s not packed with everything worth seeing in Vancouver, because you won’t have time for everything, and we want to leave you time to actually enjoy the sights you end up visiting.

But we picked the very best things to do in Vancouver in a day for you, after spending quite a number of days in the city. (We called it home once, for a bit more than a year.)

First of all, is Vancouver worth a visit?

View of Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

When you think of Vancouver, do you think of the 2010 Winter Olympics? Do you think of all the skiing, hiking and other outdoor activities this city is so famous for? It’s surely a paradise for outdoor lovers.

But Vancouver is also the biggest city in the province of British Columbia, and the third-largest city in Canada. Sightseeing in Vancouver means combining exciting urban activities with natural attractions which are inseparable from the city.

Well, we make sure you see the best of Vancouver in one day, and then you’ll get back for more – how about that?

Vancouver 1 day itinerary overview

What to see in Vancouver in one day in a nutshell:

  • Morning: English Bay Beach and Stanley Park
  • Lunch: Granville Island
  • Afternoon: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Vancouver Lookout
  • Evening: Canada Place and Gastown

Do you have more than one day? Check out our other Vancouver itineraries: 3 days or 7 days in Vancouver.

One day in Vancouver itinerary details

Getting to Vancouver Downtown

Vanier Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

If you only have 24 hours in Vancouver, you likely get to the city center from the airport. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy. You either take a taxi (or Uber or Lyft) or the SkyTrain’s Canada Line. This automated train takes you all the way to the Waterfront Station in about half an hour.

The Waterfront Station is close to Gastown, Canada Place and, well, no surprise, the Waterfront neighborhood. This is where you’ll arrive if you visit by a cruise ship.

But my recommendation is to start your day in English Bay and finish in Gastown. So get off the SkyTrain at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station in the morning, then take a bus towards English Bay. 

Morning: English Bay Beach & Stanley Park

How to get to English Bay?

8 – 9 am: Have breakfast at English Bay

English Bay Beach, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Start your day with a coffee and a breakfast at English Bay Beach. Denman Street and Davie Street are right behind the beach, and they offer a great selection of cafés and eateries. My recommendation? Go to JJ Bean Coffee Roasters on Bidwell Street, get a coffee and choose from their tasty selection of donuts, muffins, cookies, scones and pastries. Ask for a takeaway, then walk to English Bay Beach, pick a bench with scenic views and enjoy your breakfast.

English Bay Beach is a nice, sandy beach where you can stroll and listen to the music of the waves. Locals swim, too, even in the winter months (I don’t mean myself, I wasn’t born Canadian, so I guess that’s why I’m not able to adapt to the Vancouver ocean temperatures).

9 – 11 am: Bike the Stanley Park Seawall

view of Vancouver from Stanley Park, BC, Canada

English Bay Beach is also called First Beach, which means the first beach in Stanley Park – and that’s where you continue your day, preferably by bike, because it’s a giant park.

Rent a bike (English Bay Bike Rentals on Davie Street is the closest) or sign up for an electric bike tour – this one is a 4-hour long tour which includes not only Stanley Park, but also the False Creek Seawall and Yaletown.

Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Stanley Park is one of the coolest urban parks we’ve ever seen! It’s located on a peninsula, surrounded by ocean waters of the Burrard Inlet and English Bay. The 10 km long scenic Stanley Park Seawall runs around the peninsula, and there are walking paths weaving through the rainforest in the midst of the park.

We recommend biking the Stanley Park Seawall loop. It takes about 1.5.-2 hours, and you’ll enjoy views of both Downtown Vancouver and the North Shore, beaches, lakes and maybe wildlife, as well. 

Brockton Point Lighthouse, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Don’t miss the exciting rock formations at Siwash Rock, Second Beach and Third Beach, Prospect Point for a great view of Lions Gate Bridge and the North Shore Mountains and Brockton Point for a wonderful downtown skyline view.

You can even stop for a swim at one of the beaches in the summer if you fancy. However, swimming in the ocean is not for everyone. The average ocean temperature in July is 17°C, and it can warm up to 20°C during very hot periods in July and August. Second Beach has a heated outdoor pool, as well, with ocean views.

Third Beach, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Visit the Totem Poles. These beautiful works of art offer a way to connect with the history and culture of the First Nation. They tell you stories – stories of a family, a person or a nation.

Lunch: Granville Island

11 – 12 am: Take the water taxi to Granville Island

After your bike tour in Stanley Park, stroll along the coastline to the Aquatic Centre Ferry Dock. Taking the water taxi is the most scenic way to arrive at Granville Island. Keep your eyes open for seals on the way.

False Creek, Vancouver, BC, Canada

water taxi dock on False Creek

12 am – 2 pm: Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island is the best place to have your lunch in Vancouver. It’s not a real island, but a peninsula connected to Vancouver. It was once an industrial district which was turned into a quirky, lively, colorful neighborhood, with restaurants, shops, parks and skyline views. Well, and it’s home to the Granville Island Public Market, the most well-known public market in Vancouver. It offers a wide selection of fresh and baked goods, fruits and sweets.

Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

You can wander around the Granville Island Public Market and grab something at one of the food stands for lunch. But there are also lots of restaurants nearby if that’s your preference. Beer lovers, don’t miss the Granville Island Brewery.

There’s an excellent 2-hour guided food walking tour of the Granville Island Public Market, with regional food tasting, like aged cheese, local wine, truffle salami or donuts, and stories about the local food vendors.

Sutcliffe Park on Granville Island has lots of cherry trees and flowerbeds. Don’t miss it if you visit during cherry blossoms. And the Granville Island Water Park is a cool summer attraction for families.

Afternoon: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Vancouver Lookout

2 – 5 pm: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

snow is rare at this elevation, but it makes Capilano Park even more magical!

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most iconic Vancouver attractions, even though it’s actually on the North Shore (in North Vancouver).

It’s home to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, stretching 137 meters (450 feet) across the Capilano River Canyon, connecting both sides of the park. But the treetop walk with several smaller suspension bridges, and the dramatic cliff walk are just as astonishing. Walking through the canopy of an amazing West Coast rainforest is an authentic Vancouver experience, anyway.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is an expensive attraction, but it’s one of a kind. There are lots of breathtaking natural attractions on the North Shore which are completely free to visit. However, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is the mix of an adventure park and a wonderful natural attraction.

How to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park?

5 – 6 pm: Vancouver Lookout

Once you get back to Canada Place, walk to the nearby Vancouver Lookout. It’s open between 10 am and 6 pm, and the last elevator that will take guests up is at 5:30 pm.

Vancouver Lookout, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Vancouver Lookout offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. A glass elevator takes you up to the viewing deck at 168 meters. Watching the sunset here is very special, but it’s only possible in the winter months due to the early closing hours.

Evening: Canada Place and Gastown

6 – 7 pm: Canada Place

Once you have had enough of the views from the Vancouver Lookout (and it closed its doors for the day, anyway), walk back to Canada Place. It’s home to the convention center and the ferry terminal, but it’s much more. The iconic building looks like a giant sailboat, and you can walk The Canadian Trail on its west promenade. It offers pretty views of the North Shore, Stanley Park and the Burrard Inlet, and it also gives insight into the history of Vancouver.

Vancouver Convention Centre, Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Marvel at the landing seaplanes and docking cruise ships, and enjoy a 4D journey through iconic places in Canada in the FlyOver Canada film experience.

7 – 11 pm: Gastown

The best place to be after dark is Gastown. It’s the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver, with cobbled streets and Victorian architecture. It’s known for its busy nightlife, amazing restaurants and bars, tons of galleries, boutiques and souvenir shops. And the Gastown Steam Clock.

Victory Square, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Gastown Steam Clock is one of the few functioning steam-powered clocks in the world, and it whistles and blows steam every 15 minutes.

A food tour is probably the most delightful way to get to know Gastown – the food and the history. But you can do bar hopping on your own, as well.

Best Vancouver city tours

Do you prefer exploring Vancouver on a guided tour? A knowledgeable local guide can make all the difference in your sightseeing experience.

False Creek, Vancouver, BC, Canada

For an active sightseeing day: this 5-hour long bike tour includes the most iconic sights of Vancouver: Stanley Park, English Bay, Chinatown, Gastown, the False Creek Seawall and the Olympic Village. The group is kept small, and you’ll have an opportunity to get your own lunch at the Granville Island Public Market.

For a luxurious, leisurely sightseeing day: this full day private tour includes whatever your interest is. You’ll be taken around the city in a Mercedes Benz van, and your custom itinerary can include up to 16 stops. Hotel or cruise ship pickup and drop-off included.

Do you need a car for one day in Vancouver?

Vancouver, BC, Canada

No, you don’t. Getting around Metro Vancouver, going hiking or skiing is the most convenient by car, but this Vancouver one-day itinerary is easily doable without a car. A car would actually cause a bit of a headache because of the limited and expensive parking in the city center.

Public transport is quite good in downtown, and getting to the airport from Downtown Vancouver is also quick and easy. The TransLink Vancouver DayPass is valid for 24 hours, and it allows you unlimited travel over all three zones. It costs 11.25 CAD for an adult, and 8.85 CAD for a concession fare. DayPasses are available from ticket machines in SkyTrain and SeaBus stations.

False Creek, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The only attraction outside of downtown in this itinerary is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. But it has a free shuttle connection to Canada Place. You can choose to take a taxi, Uber or Lyft to get there quicker.

How to spend half a day in Vancouver?

Rent a bike and cycle around the Stanley Park Seawall, then take a Gastown food tour.

What is the best time to visit Vancouver?

Canadians would probably tell you that Vancouver is a wonderful year-round destination. Granted, it has the mildest winters you can ever find in Canada. In addition, Vancouver, hugged by the ocean and the coastal mountains, is beautiful, no matter the weather.

False Creek, Vancouver, BC, Canada

However, let me give you my non-Canadian opinion. In a nutshell: if you don’t mind spending all of your time in Vancouver in the pouring rain, don’t let winter keep you away. Winter – the time between November and May – is extremely rainy. (Remember, Vancouver has rainforests.)  

It’s not to say you can’t enjoy Vancouver in the winter. You might get lucky, or maybe you don’t mind the rain. Temperatures are rarely freezing in the city, but there are chilly days, especially when it gets windy on the coast.

Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

spring vibes in Vancouver

But our absolute favorite season in Vancouver is summer. July and August are very different from the rest of the year, they feel like a different world. It’s a real summer, with hot, dry and sunny weather. You can enjoy the beaches and lakes, wear shorts and a T-shirt (I know, Canadians wear it all year). 

You have a good chance for nice weather between May and September, too. They can be warm and relatively dry, but they can also have rainy and fairly cool periods in certain years. Food trucks, concessions at the beaches, farmer’s markets, street performers, parks full of picnicking people and all the colorful hustle and bustle are present mostly from May until September. July and August are the busiest months both for locals and visitors, the rest of the year is quieter.

Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Cherry blossoms in mid-April can be magical, but April weather can also be whimsical.


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