16 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Vancouver
Vancouver is one of those amazing cities that people are always leaving. Every time I visit it I get to see something else I've never seen before, like Granville Island.
As with many major world cities, there's plenty of history to see in Vancouver. Much of it is concentrated on the appropriately named "Downtown" district.
For those who want to get out of the city, Canada's westernmost point (Grouse Mountain) is only 25 minutes away by bus or car. In the north are spectacular forests, and up in the Fraser Valley wineries are taking root.
Vancouver's new (and open) Stanley Park offers 2.5 miles of beautiful beaches and trails, and is also home to its own rainforest.
Explore our list of the top attractions in Vancouver to find everything you're looking for.
Granville Island (population: 6,000) is located in the heart of Granville Harbour and is Vancouver's main artists' destination. Its brick and concrete warehouses are stacked with art-school student projects, as are the numerous bars, restaurants, and stores that line the cobblestone streets. Each season brings a new crop of concerts, theater performances, and art exhibits, as does the Island's own performing arts festival (late September). It's a peaceful and quiet place that's also the only Vancouver Island ferry terminal, providing a stop-off point for travellers traveling to Vancouver Island.
Science World, one of Canada's most popular science and technology museums, is one of Vancouver's major tourist attractions. Spanning 6,300 square meters, it contains 250-plus interactive exhibits, educational programs, and a 26,000-liter aquarium. There's also a shopping arcade of many of Vancouver's top stores, as well as the Science World Planetarium, Science World Theater, the 360-degree Virtual Reality Adventure, and a gem and mineral gallery. Visitors can spend from 90 minutes to over a day at Science World.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
In Vancouver's Stanley Park is the western hemisphere's longest pedestrian bridge. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is 1.5 kilometers in length, and has been the center of many tourist attractions since it opened in 1889. Its three-quarter kilometer-long suspension span makes it one of the city's most visited attractions. Walk or drive over the bridge from the east and the view of the city is impressive with mountains in the north and the ocean to the south. The bridge is supported by 48 steel girders. In summer, the bridge is packed with pedestrians and cyclists, but in winter it is best visited during the less busy times.
Cliffs plunge into a stormy, scenic sea. Squamous Mounts reach into the clouds. Timber houses sit in grassy fields, not houses. A cool breeze scatters sun rays into cascades on a stone-lined stream. Where are you? If so, you're in Stanley Park. This 442-acre temperate rainforest is home to innumerable sights and smells. It has lush hills, craggy peaks, ravines and waterfalls. It has famous Stanley Park totem poles, a museum, a zoo, a panoramic, interpretive and performance theatre and a bookshop. It is home to many birds, mammals and reptiles, too. But what about the people, the residents of the town of Stanley Park, British Columbia? What do they think of their city's natural surroundings?
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is a gallery in Canada devoted to contemporary art. While many art collections have gone to museums around the world, the VAG has managed to avoid that fate. Built to hold its vast collection, the VAG is large enough to accommodate exhibitions spread over many, many rooms, yet not so large that it feels overwhelming or boring. To purchase tickets, visit the Art Gallery website. While you can usually find tickets for the VAG's exhibitions at the same price, they sometimes offer special exhibitions and discounts online at the VAG's website.
Grouse Mountain is one of the world's highest ski resorts. It is an ideal location for hiking and other outdoor activities in the great outdoors of the Canadian Pacific (C.P.) mountains, located about 125 km (80 mi) north of Vancouver. It has a number of ski runs and is the site of the annual Grouse Mountain Adventure Race. Grouse Mountain is located between Whistler and Squamish in British Columbia (BC). If you are visiting British Columbia from the United States (US), consider arriving via Canada's C.P. hub, Vancouver, rather than through Seattle. With Sea-Tac airport, Seattle-Vancouver is the same distance. Traveling between Canada's West Coast and the east requires a connecting flight.
On a warm summer evening in Vancouver, Vanier Park's maze of dark-tipped red trees, swirling walkways, and lush greenery often catch the attention of visitors, especially the flower-filled "Cathedral of Trees." Created in 1910, this 2,500-acre park surrounds the beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral in downtown Vancouver. There is a variety of landscaped walkways and a handful of parking lots scattered throughout the park that provide ample options for visitors to explore. The park is often closed on the hottest days of summer and is located at the base of Grouse Mountain, which offers beautiful views of the city.
This truly unique British-style garden features fountains, waterfalls, azaleas, hundreds of exotic trees, roses and other plants. The garden is situated on 11.5 acres, and features both indoor and outdoor displays of botanical varieties. To get to Butchart Gardens, use the SeaBus which stops right in front of the gardens or take the SkyTrain. The gardens are open daily and free of charge.
Chinatown's small size belies its past as a regional center and historical international port. The area has changed enormously in recent years, but remains a haven for Asian culture and commerce. Some of the best places to eat in Chinatown include Bakfattan - a classic Canadian restaurant, serving dishes such as poutine (fries and cheese topped with gravy), and K-Way, famous for its Vietnamese-style meat pie and Vietnamese noodle soup. Chinatown is also home to the world's only Asian supermarket, T & T Supermarket, which sells a wide variety of foods and attracts many shoppers from out of town. The Musqueam First Nation's heritage center has exhibits about traditional Musqueam practices and gives an inside look at the historic Musqueam camp at the base of Black Mountain. You can also experience Musqueam culture at the Sasamat Cultural Centre, which hosts pow-wows, powwows, and amateur music concerts on a regular basis. A 20-minute boat ride from downtown is English Bay, a serene sandy beach with sunbathing and swimming spots and recreational activities such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking, as well as boat tours of Stanley Park and the Gulf Islands.
Nestled on top of a 300-foot cliff in downtown Vancouver, Mount Seymour's views are fabulous and easily accessible from the downtown area. There are two main lookout points on the mountain, but most visitors find it hard to beat Seymour's End - a 120-step staircase cut into the cliff face that overlooks Stanley Park, English Bay, and the city. While the staircase and view are the main draws, a steep trail and boardwalk lead to the summit. The trail is wheelchair accessible and the boardwalk is accessible by several different means including a special transit service provided by the Vancouver Park Board.
Tourist heaven for downtown Vancouverites and visitors alike, Canada Place offers a range of sights for shoppers and sightseers, including a lush tropical garden, a waterfront boardwalk, a range of unique shops, and a 500,000-piece replica of the Peace Tower at the heart of Confederation Plaza. In addition to a range of restaurants and cafés, Canada Place is home to a movie theater, the first and only space in Vancouver to screen IMAX movies. This is the most recent renovation of the complex and dates back to 2006, when the original venue was built in 1972.
In Gastown, Vancouver's historic downtown shopping and commercial district, enjoy baroque facades, half-timber buildings, picturesque streetlamps, and cobblestone streets. Although most of the storefronts are set back from the sidewalk, numerous tourist shops, cafés, and restaurants line the main thoroughfares. This city is also full of art galleries, museums, and historic churches, where you can find out about the development of Vancouver and learn about its changing climate. And don't miss the chances to relax in the city's many parks.
Harbour Centre is the world's tallest cruise ship terminal. To get there you'll need to either take a shuttle bus, take the SkyTrain (which goes close to the terminal) or travel by taxi. The terminal is home to various high-end shops and restaurants, hotels and an elaborate museum. In addition to a number of cafes, bars and restaurants that are open around the clock, the centre has a number of nice hotels that range from small and cheap to boutique luxury and resorts. Hotel guests can hop on to a free shuttle bus to the Waterfront station, Vancouver's railway hub that takes you to a variety of attractions. It is also home to Vancouver's most popular aquarium, Science World, with more than 11,000 animals from across the world on display. It's a lot to fit into a shopping center, but if you love animals and natural history this is the place to visit.
Vancouver Museum is in a new, state-of-the-art building in the heart of downtown Vancouver and houses an impressive collection of artifacts. In addition to displays covering the B.C. Indigenous population and the history of the area, the museum also features exhibitions of nature, art, science and technology, and a delightful garden. Outside is a whimsical multi-tiered sculpture-of-a-dinosaur, surrounded by multiple exhibits and reflecting pools. The Museum also features an interactive children's area, several excellent cafes, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
The large Pacific Centre shopping mall in Vancouver offers a variety of places to eat, drink, and shop. Most well-known in Canada, the mall caters to locals and tourists with a wide variety of retail shops and dining options. It also contains a variety of event spaces including the Venue restaurant and coffee shop, as well as a luxurious British pub, the Keg Room, and a vintage clothing store, Silk. Because the mall is mostly air-conditioned, it is a popular spot in the hot months, as are some of the outdoor spaces including the summer-long Train Garden, a cool and peaceful landscaped garden on the plaza at the front of the mall.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
It is fortunate that the downtown Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), located in the heart of the city, offers the benefit of a knowledgeable, friendly, helpful staff as well as a wealth of quality exhibitions. Designed by internationally renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, the building is a modern, neutral-color building that was constructed in 1963. Visitors have an interesting collection of fine arts from China, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, and the United States. We had a lively time viewing Russian, Indian, Chinese, and aboriginal art as well as the first steps of Maya art.