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Trying to decide how to spend just one day in Vancouver? Here’s a sample itinerary for 24 hours in Vancouver, which includes top things to do, accommodation options and most importantly, foodie recommendations.
In November, I was fortunate to have my aunt and uncle visit me in Vancouver. Although Raincouver wasn’t too cooperative with the weather, we had one cloudy day to see all of the city’s sights. I thought we did pretty well, so I wanted to share our 24 hours in Vancouver itinerary with you. If you only have one day in Vancouver, here are some of the best things to do in Vancouver.
Where to stay with one day in Vancouver
I’ve actually written a post detailing where to stay in Vancouver, no matter your budget. Check it out here. But for fellow budget and solo travellers visiting Vancouver, I recommend Samesun. It was my home for a few weeks when I first arrived in Vancouver for my working holiday.
My one day in Vancouver itinerary
1. Start your one day in Vancouver with an epic breakfast
2. Work off breakfast by going for a walk through Stanley Park
Be prepared to walk off that breakfast in Stanley Park. It’s an urban park that is actually 10% larger than Central Park in NYC. It’s also almost completely surrounded by water. You know what this means – epic views no matter where you are. You could honestly spend a whole day here visiting the aquarium, riding a bike along the seawall or having a picnic. Here is a glimpse of what I got up to on a summer’s day in Stanley Park.
However, for a taster, I recommend starting at Devonian Harbour Park, which has the prettiest leaves in fall. From here you can walk through the park until you reach the other side. This is where you can get views of the Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver. It’s a good taster if you have limited exploration time.
Then you can walk along the seawall or back through the park to our next destination. Don’t forget to stop on the way for a photo of the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza. You can also get excellent photos of the park, the seaplanes and the snowy mountains from here (on sunny days, that is).
Check out this post for the best free (and cheap) things to do in Vancouver
3. Visit FlyOver Canada
FlyOver Canada was the Vancouver attraction everyone told me I needed to do. And when I say everyone, I mean friends in Australia and locals. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you basically spend about 10 to 15 minutes flying over Canada’s beautiful landscapes. It’s incredibly well done and I highly recommend it.
4. Do a spot of shopping
We made a brief pitstop in the Pacific Centre following FlyOver. It has the usual suspects and I honestly hardly go there. But if you want to do a spot of shopping with only one day in Vancouver, then this is where you go in the city. The other two streets with the most shops are Granville and Robson Streets.
5. Have a lunch break
We then continued our walk to the edge of Gastown and Meat and Bread. This was a favourite lunchtime spot during my previous time in Vancouver and I was so happy it was just as good as I remembered. The meal is exactly what the name suggests. However, the combination of pork, crackling and pesto on a warm toasted roll is the best. If it is semi-nice weather, you can enjoy your sandwich outside in Victory Square Park, which is opposite the store.
6. With only one day in Vancouver, ensure you go for a stroll through Gastown
Gastown is such a fantastic neighbourhood, I love it. It’s the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, which is evident in the historic buildings and cobblestone streets. I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see Gastown during your one day in Vancouver.
There are plenty of eateries to enjoy here, so it’s also a good dinner option if you are staying downtown. Don’t forget to get your photo of one of the world’s only remaining steam clocks (follow the crowds) and my favourite – the flatiron building.
7. Head to Granville Island Public Market
I have written about Granville Island before, but it’s a good place to check out when in Vancouver. It’s very close to the city, so you don’t really have an excuse not to visit. The market is the area’s drawcard, but there are also waterfront seafood restaurants, an excellent brewery and entertainment venues calling the area home. We treated ourselves to some afternoon tea from one of the many delectable bakeries inside.
We decided to eat our food outside, but as I went to take a bite of the delicious granola cluster my uncle and aunt bought, a seagull literally stole it from my hand. I’m basically scarred for life now. So please, take care of your food around those huge seagulls or prepare to lose your food (and maybe a finger).
8. Check out the views from Queen Elizabeth Park
Why it took me so long to visit this park, I will never know. But now I have been twice and I will definitely be back again. I think the view would be even better right now, thanks to all the snow we have been getting. Fortunately, the sun finally shone for the first time in days when we got to the park, so we got a great view of Vancouver.
You can simply come to the park for this money shot and leave. Otherwise, go for a walk and enjoy the gardens. There is also the conservatory, which looked very cool at Christmas. But no matter how much time your spend at Queen Elizabeth Park, just make sure you visit during your one day in Vancouver.
Here are the other places I recommend visiting in Vancouver for spectacular skyline views
9. See the sunset
I just have to mention, if you’re after a great place to see the sunset in Vancouver, I recommend revisiting Canada Place. From here, the golden hour glow on North Vancouver is gorgeous. However, you could also get the Seabus over to North Vancouver and see Vancouver’s skyline painted in pink, yellow and orange hues.
10. Dine out for dinner
Are you exhausted yet? I know I am. I can’t quite believe we managed to fit in all of these sights with only one day in Vancouver, but we did. Now, there are so many places you could enjoy dinner. Like I mentioned previously, Gastown is a great option if your accommodation is downtown.
My uncle and aunt were staying at the Hilton next door to Metrotown, so we had dinner at a new restaurant called Trattoria. I am so glad we tried it out because it was fantastic. Sitting at the bar, we actually got to see the chef make our pizzas.
If Vancouver has decided to put on nice weather during your visit, I also recommend having dinner at Olympic Village. It isn’t too far from the downtown area and there are some great restaurants. Craft is all about the beer, whereas Tap & Barrel has the best patio. If you also want to continue the adventure, then head to Main Street.
In case you missed it, here’s my post on the best things to do in Vancouver at night.
Do you have more than one day in Vancouver?
If you have more time or want more ideas for your one day in Vancouver itinerary, check out my post on my favourite day trips. Many of these can be half-day excursions, leaving you time to check out some of the city’s other attractions.
I hope our one day in Vancouver itinerary helps you plan your own brief trip to one of my favourite cities.
I think we did pretty well covering the best of the city with only one day in Vancouver. It is beautiful when it stops raining 🙄. If you missed any Vancouver content linked above, check out my entire Vancouver archive here.