24 Hours In Vancouver: The Best Itinerary For A Perfect Day
Perhaps you’ve got a work trip and only have a day to yourself in Vancouver. Maybe you have a stopover en route to another city. Whatever your schedule is, you only have 24 hours in Vancouver. I got you!! I grew up in Vancouver, spent most of my life there, and go home for return visits several times a year. Sometimes I go home for months at a time. Friends and other travellers going to Vancouver will often ask me for tips and recommendations so I wanted to share what would be my ideal day in the city.
Now! For the best 24 Hours In Vancouver!
7 AM – Coffee
I’m an early riser so I need my caffeine pronto! Coffee culture is improving in Vancouver after many years of Starbucks running the show. I have a handful of favourite cafes in different neighbourhoods and have written about them below.
Morning coffee at Matchstick
8 AM – Breakfast
If I was having my perfect day I would go for breakfast at Cafe Medina. It’s pretty popular so I haven’t been in a while because of lineups. If you do happen to go, order a waffle with some dipping sauce, a lavender latte, and their tagine with merguez sausage. YUM!
Other go-to breakfast venues:
- Yolks on Hastings in East Vancouver or if you’re in a hurry, go to their food truck
- Belgard inside the Vancouver Urban Winery
Cafe Medina’s waffle!! OMG!
9 AM – Stanley Park
Stanley Park was voted the best park in the world by users of Tripadvisor. I think it’s the best too!
I recommend renting a bike on Denman Street (try spokes) and cycling around the seawall. Stop at the totem poles for photos. Stop at the Brockton Point lighthouse. Continue and then stop at Prospect Point to take photos of Lionsgate Bridge. On the seawall take a photo of Siwash Rock. Then cycle to English Bay for a photo with the “inukshuk”. Return the bike. You definitely need to add Stanley Park into your 24 Hours in Vancouver itinerary whether a few hours or even a quick drive. It really is amazing.
Stanley Park’s totems
The Stanley Park Seawall
11:00 AM – Gallery / Museum
By now I’m craving a bit of culture. I recommend visiting a gallery or museum for a few hours. Vancouver Art Gallery is not huge but it usually has a really great visiting exhibit. Tuesdays in the evenings are by donation but I’m a museum nerd so I’ll pay for admission.
Other go to galleries or museums:
- Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art – He’s a prolific Canadian and First Nations artist
- Museum of Anthropology at UBC – loads of First Nations art and a beautiful venue but it’s far away at the University of British Columbia
12 AM – Coffee + Snack
Time to re-up coffee. There’s a great hidden cafe in the West End Called Green Horn or there’s JJ Bean behind Robson Street on Alberni and Bute.
1 PM – Aquabus
Make your way to Yaletown from Stanley Park. Yaletown is not my favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver (it’s Yuppie-Ville) but there is an Aquabus stop here. The Aquabus is an adorable water taxi that’s cheap, gives you great water views of the city and will bring you to my next recommendation.
Cheap yet gorgeous cruise on the water!
1:30 PM – Granville Island
Granville Island is home to a public food market, theatre, restaurants, an art school, a brewery, a distillery, artisans making everything from rice grown in BC sake or handmade brooms, retail shops, and more. The public market houses row after row of vendors selling produce, seafood, meat, baked goods, and gourmet food. It’s a popular place for locals and visitors to come. I always visit Granville Island when I go home. Always. You’ll probably snack your way through the market so you may not be hungry for an official lunch. If you are there are tons of great places to eat on Granville Island, I personally like Go Fish for fish and chips.
I always visit Granville Island when I go home. Always. You’ll probably snack your way through the market so you may not be hungry for an official lunch. If you are there are tons of great places to eat on Granville Island. I really like Go Fish for their fish and chips.
3 PM – Walk To Olympic Village And Mount Pleasant and Riley Park
Olympic Village has changed in the last few years since…..the Olympics. There are restaurants, shops, and condos galore. I like to walk the Seawall and make my way to Mount Pleasant.
The Birds sculpture by Myfanwy MacLeod (one of them anyway)
Mount Pleasant gets a bad rap from some Vancouverites. It can be a bit hipster but what can you do. I’m a fan of the craft breweries in the area. My favourite is Brassneck on 7th and main. If you like donuts, next door is Cartems Donuterie. It’s so good. If you are hungry, there’s usually a food truck parked outside of Brassneck. If you walk south or up the hill there are some cool shops along Main Street if you keep walking toward Riley Park.
I’ll take a craft beer flight, thank you very much!
A delicious donut from Cartems
5 PM – Early Dinner in Gastown or Chinatown
After hanging out around Mount Pleasant, head to Gastown for dinner and then drinks. There are several restaurants that I recommend but I’d go for some Mexican at Tacofino Bar if you’re not from California and have plentiful taquerias near you. There is also Guu for Japanese tapas, Nuba for Lebanese (vegan-friendly!) or head over to Bestie in Chinatown for some sausages and beer!
7 PM – Bella Gelateria
Bella’s gelato is life! There are two locations, one in Yaletown or one over in the Fairmont Pacific Rim and near the Convention Centre. They tend to be very busy but it is the best gelato in the city. Award-winning, no joke!
8 PM – Cocktail Time!
I love ending my night with a cocktail. A few places I like to go for drinks are Hawksworth and Boulevard. Both are a bit ritzy but they have incredible drinks. I’m also a big fan of hotel bars. I love Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel. It’s sort of an old man bar…FYI. If you’re looking for a bit of a party place, my friends opened a new bar/club called Alexander in Gastown. I went once and DJ Questlove was spinning.
A whiskey sour at Boulevard
And there you have it!! That would be my ideal 24 hours in Vancouver. Of course, you can sub in different activities. Everyone is different and has different interests. If you’re keen on more outdoor activities, I would head to North or West Vancouver. If you want to be near the water, head to Lighthouse Park in West Van. If you want to see one of Vancouver’s suspension bridges, there’s Lynn Canyon which is free or Capilano which has an admission fee. There’s also Deep Cove for a bit of a hike to the Quarry Rock viewpoint. I wrote about that here.
What are your recommendations for the best 24 hours in Vancouver?
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