Vancouver is one of the bustling and vibrant cities in Canada. Located in the province of British Columbia, Vancouver boasts of a lot of sunshine, rain and very little snow! It is also one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Canada and one of the most densely populated cities in the whole of North America. It is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. Vancouver is also located in close proximity with American cities like Seattle, Washington (192 km) and Bellingham, Washington (82 km), which makes it for great options for day trips, picnics or shopping. Read to find out everything that you do in 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary.
We visited Vancouver a couple of times and in different seasons. Once in February, which is off-season and in that year the city was covered snow, which is unusual for Vancouver. On another occasion, we visited Vancouver in August and the weather was fabulous.
How to visit Vancouver:
Vancouver International Airport located on Sea Island in Richmond, is one of the busiest airports in North America (Vancouver International Airport Grant McConachie Way). For Canada it acts as an exchange center and port of entry for many immigrants.
From Vancouver port terminal you can take cruises to Alaska, Mediterranean,etc and also is the same way arrive to the city
Vancouver is well connected by road from all cities in Canada and USA. Driving through the province of British Columbia you can witness the picturesque Canadian Rockies.
48 Hours in Vancouver BC – What to do in Vancouver in 2 days
Day 1 Vancouver Itinerary ~ Visit Vancouver in one day
We arrived very early morning, via Air Canada from Edmonton, Alberta to Richmond, BC. Vancouver’s International Airport is located in Richmond. There are many Vancouver tourist attractions to choose from, when you leave the airport.
Our first tourist sight was Canada Place/Port of Vancouver. To arrive to Canada Place, its about an hour by Vancouver Transit and about 30 minutes by car. We took the transit and the transit network is very good in Vancouver. The trip cost us $7.50 CAD per person. Alternately you can also buy an all-day pass. Check out their website
You can see these iconic sails when you arrive to the Canada Place. It is home to the Vancouver Convention Center, the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver’s World Trade Center, and Fly Over Canada. Many Vancouver sightseeing tours start at the Canada Place (for tourists pick-ups and drop-offs).
This is also a great place for fancy dine-ins or budget eating. We had our morning coffee at a cafe in the Canada Place. Right across the Vancouver Convention Center, you can see the Port of Vancouver. Its a treat to the eye, especially if you like sunsets and sunrise!
Because we were in town for 2 days, we decided to utilize the Hop-on and Hop-off services ($45 CAD per person for 24 hour pass) from Canada Place. Although not a guided tour, the hop-on and off tours took us around the main tourist spots in Vancouver. This way we were able to make the most of the day and also saved on hassles of renting a car or paying for taxi. Vancouver doesn’t have a lot of freeways within the city. If you are looking to book hop-on and hop-off tours, consider booking it here
Port of Vancouver
Port of Vancouver is the third largest port in North America. It is a cargo hub as well as cruise terminus. If you are living or traveling to Western Canada, most likely all of your cruise ships to the Caribbean or Alaska will depart from here. We took a short walk around the port and then boarded the bus for the Vancouver Sightseeing tour.
From Canada Place and the Port of Vancouver, we headed to the Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a popular urban park in the metro city of Vancouver, surrounded by water on all sides (Vancouver Harbor and the English Bay). This park is very organic, in the sense, that only a handful of structures and areas are man-made, rest is Au natural.
You can witness art and architecture in almost every part of the city and Stanley Park is no exception. That’s why this Park always features as “one of the world’s most popular parks”
There are different structures placed at the park in different locations, including the one below.
The tour bus drove us around the park and we also saw a statue of a girl in the bay, similar to the one in Copenhagen, Denmark. The statue is called – Girl in a Wet Suit.
There are Totem Poles located in the Park as well. Significant efforts were put into constructing the near-century-old Vancouver Seawall, which thousands of residents and visitors to the park every day. It was initially created to prevent the erosion of the park’s foreshore. And now it provides breathtaking views of the far seas. It is pedestrian and bikes friendly.
Prospect Point and Lions Gate Bridge
Next on the drive was Prospect Point. We drove through dense forest to arrive at an observation point that let us view the city and this particular bridge, called the Lions Gate Bridge. These areas were heavily forested in the past and access to view from here was almost non-existent. Now you can see some “sneak-through” as you drive along, and that is why the Prospect Point is important as it allows to get an uninterrupted view of the city of Vancouver. The Prospect Point falls in the northern most tip of Stanley Park – also a wonderful spot to spend summers.
From the Prospect Point, you will see a green colored bridge. It is the Lions Gate Bridge of Vancouver. This bridge connects the city of Vancouver to north and west Vancouver. The Lions Gate Bridge refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. It is a designated National Historic Site of Canada. Very often, this bridge is considered an iconic symbol and landmark of Vancouver. Read about the Lions Gate Bridge, completing 80 years in 2018 here
Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district, located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver, under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. It is a great place to eat and shop. You can easily spend a few hours here. A must visit for families too.
We decided to pause our sightseeing tour for some finger-licking Fish and Chips in Granville Island for lunch. Sea-food is very popular in Vancouver.
After lunch, we hopped on to the bus and reached China Town. Vancouver has a huge Chinese community and the Sun-yet Sen Gardens located in Chinatown should not be missed.
Gastown Steam Clock
After China Town, we got down at Gas Town for a stroll. It was evening when we arrived there and it started to rain. Vancouver looks pretty amazing in rain too. Along our stroll, we saw the Steam Clock. This clock is over 40 years old and it whistles to tell the time. You can see the steam coming out from top. Its amazing to see such art when you are strolling and exploring a new place.
Vancouver also has a great coffee and cafe culture. So we decided to hang out at one of their local cafes before calling it a day. We spent 1-2 hours JJ Bean Coffee shop.
After coffee and snack, we walked into the heart of the city to check in to our hotel. We stayed at the GEC Granville Suites. The rooms were decent and clean. Cost of a night’s stay was around $88 CAD, which is steal as it is a Downtown Vancouver hotel. You can check out the hotel and book here
Day 2 Vancouver Itinerary – Capilano Suspension Bridge (North Vancouver)
Our second day in Vancouver started pretty early and we went to Canada Place again this morning to enjoy some breakfast at the waterfront. Our plan for today was to head to North Vancouver and explore the beautiful Capilano Suspension Bridge. This was one of our most wanted items in the Vancouver Bucket-List and we have seen so many amazing pictures of the Capilano bridge, that we had to visit it!
There are free shuttles available from Canada Place to take you to Capilano Suspension Bridge and they operate every 30 minutes. Take a look at their website here.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension bridge was originally built in the late 1800s by a Scottish civil engineer named George Grant Mackay. Back then, the bridge was made up of ropes and a deck of cedar planks. The engineer didn’t like to socialize and so he had his family home built in the vicinity and he used the bridge to cross the forest. After his death, the bridge passed through many owners. And is currently owned by Nancy Stibbard. You can learn about the bridge’s early history from a welcome guide, when you reach the park entrance.
There is an entry fee at Capilano Suspension Bridge. On the day we arrived- a few of their tourist attractions were closed due to safety concerns (slippery surface due to rain and snow the day before). Due to the closure, we were able to get the entrance tickets at 30% discount. So its cost was about $39.99 CAD per person to get access to the bridge, totem poles, guide walk, cliff walk, etc. Tree Tops Adventure, a popular tourist spot was closed during our visit. But we certainly were able to get a glimpse of it.
Here are some images from the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Cliff Walk allows you to take amazing pictures of the Bridge. During winters, the park is decorated with beautiful lights and is a must-visit. There are souvenir stores inside the park. Their coffee shop serves the amazing hot chocolate and it was perfect as it was a little chilly that day.
You can easily spend 2- 4 hours Capilano Bridge Park. Bus services are offered every 30 minutes for return to Canada Place.
Downtown Vancouver (free things to do in Downtown Vancouver) and the Olympic Cauldron
You arrive in Downtown Vancouver by lunch time. On weekdays, the downtown area is filled with food trucks. Vancouver is a foodie paradise so definitely don’t miss out on this. There is a Chocolate Cafe in Downtown Vancouver that I would totally recommend you to visit. It is called Mink and it is located at the heart of downtown and there are lot of creative structures along the way, leading you to the cafe (aka swings, statues and stories)
There are many free things that you can do in downtown Vancouver. As mentioned on Day 1 you will be exploring Canada Place and Vancouver Port. There is an Olympic Cauldron located here as well. Olympic Cauldron is a massive Olympic torch established to commemorate the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
If you are looking to get a 360 degree picturesque view of Vancouver city, then head to the Vancouver Lookout located at the Harbor Center. It is a 553 foot-high panoramic observation deck and is located close to the Canada Place. There is a fee of $17.50 CAD per adult entry. More on fees here
There is a revolving restaurant located here as well – perfect for romantic dinners or brunch.
It is great to just stroll in the downtown area admiring all the skyscrapers. After spending some time in downtown area, we decided to explore Robson Street, a popular place for shoppers and fashionistas. This street is very far-stretched. It starts at the BC Place Stadium and runs past the Vancouver Library square and goes up to the Lost Lagoon, in Stanley Park.
The street is lined with high-end retail stores, varied restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. It is easy to get lost in this street and spend the entire evening here at a nice restaurant or pub.
Vancouver Travel Tips
You might be visiting Vancouver BC for a variety of reasons. This short itinerary is ideal if Vancouver is your stopover to other Canadian cities or if you are just in town for business. With that in mind, these are some handy tips for you to consider before arriving in Vancouver.
Essential Tips for 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary
- Travel Documents
- Canada requires all visa-exempt countries to apply for eTA before arrival. ETA is an electronic travel authorization. More about it here.
- There is no need of eTA for Canadian Permanent Residents, Work permit holders or Visitor visa holders for Canada
- Currency – Canadian Dollars is the national currency. Credit cards are widely accepted in Vancouver. You wont have to exchange currencies as long as you have access to credit cards. Debit machines are available throughout the city.
- Flights To Vancouver BC Canada
- Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Island in Richmond. It is the second busiest airport in Canada.
- For international flights, you will find great connectivity options from across the globe. Once you arrive in the Vancouver Airport, downtown is located about 12 km away. And transit is the best way to reach there.
- For domestic flights, with many low-cost airlines, it is very affordable to fly to Vancouver rather drive. From Edmonton to Abbotsford, you can fly Swoop Airlines for as low as $99 CAD return. From Abbotsford, you can take a bus to reach Vancouver Downtown in 1.50- 2 hours. (1 hour if you drive)
- Best Time to Visit Vancouver – Vancouver is welcoming at any time of the year. But warmer months are the best, that is from April to October. You can expect rains in Vancouver and not so much snowfall, unlike other cities of Western Canada.
- Packing Item to Carry – The number 1 item to carry in your packing list is umbrella or a poncho, for your Vancouver itinerary. A light warm sweater is always a good item to keep as well
Where to stay in Vancouver Canada?
There are no dearth of airbnbs, hostels and hotels in Vancouver BC. For a short 2 day trip or a weekend in Vancouver itinerary, consider hotels in Downtown Vancouver Canada. There is a wide range of luxurious to budget options available here. Here are some of our recommendations
- Fairmont Vancouver Waterfront hotel – This is one of the finest Vancouver waterfront hotels
- Convenient location in Downtown and for sightseeing tours
- This hotel is pet-friendly and offers amazing views of the city, waterfront and mountains.
- Book your stay here
- Rosewood Hotel Georgia – Another finest and vintage Downtown Vancouver hotel
- It was recently renovated to its 1920’s grandeur. Beautiful interiors and friendly staff will make your stay memorable.
- Book your stay here
- Westin Bayshore Vancouver – One of my favorites in Vancouver Downtown
- Part of the hop-on and hop off route – this hotel is stunning.
- You can enjoy a quiet evening by the bay-shore and soak in its breathtaking views.
- This hotel is located only 3 kilometers away from the Granville Island.
- Book your stay here
- GEC Granville Suites – This is where we stayed on your first visit and definitely recommend this hotel
- Located close to Downtown. Access to convenience stores outside the hotel
- This is an apartment hotel, so costs are low as compared to other downtown hotels
- Rooms are specious and clean.
- Book your stay here
Book Hotels in Vancouver BC Canada here
Trips from Vancouver BC
Here are some of the trips that you can take from Vancouver
- Travel from Vancouver to Seattle – Seattle Vancouver trip is one of the most popular add-on travel option from Canada to USA. It takes about 2.50 hours by car to reach Seattle from Vancouver and can be easily done as a day-trip. There are lots to see in Seattle though. But if you are planning a day trip, consider starting early and reach there by 09:00 am and utilize a private tour (book here) or hop of and hop services (book here) in Seattle. In the late afternoon, drive back and spend a few hours at the Outlet mall, if you like shopping.
- Travel from Vancouver to Victoria – Vancouver to Victoria takes about 3 hours by road. It can be done as a day -trip, but you will end up spending 6 hours on the road. Find how you can reach Victoria from Vancouver in 5 different ways find here. Victoria is the capital city of the province of British Columbia and I would recommend visiting it if you have some time in your itinerary.
- Vancouver Round trip Cruise – If you like cruises, then Vancouver is the place to be. Lots of cruise options to choose from and with flexible schedules and tours (number of days, luxury) variations
- Hawaii to Vancouver Cruise – Over 11 major cruise-liners operate from Vancouver to Hawaii with different itineraries. This is one of the most popular cruises from Vancouver
- Alaska Cruise from Vancouver – Another popular cruise is for Alaska USA. This cruise covers the breathtaking waterway route including glaciers and frontier ports.
- Find Vancouver Cruise Schedule here
- Other trip ideas in Western Canada
Exploring Vancouver was one of our bucket-list items for a long time. Its a really beautiful metro city with good weather, food and life! A must visit, when you visit Canada.
Last Update: November 15 2018
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PIN THIS FOR LATER – Vancouver 2 Day Itinerary – Things to do in Vancouver in 2 days