Vancouver has always been a great holiday destination but its reputation was elevated to worldwide status when it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. The city itself is relatively new but its fascinating and somewhat oddball history (it was named after a barkeep after all) dates back thousands of years when the first natives from Asia settled in the island. Vancouver is also a city rich in diversity. In addition to the aborigines, there are descendants from Europe and Asia who also call the city home. There’s gorgeous scenery, great food, and activities all-year round to keep even the most discerning traveler interested. If this is your first visit, consider these best Vancouver sights and attractions.
Top Vancouver Attractions
What’s there not to love about Granville Island? There’s fresh food, entertainment, knockout views, and its own brewery! It’s practically a small town within a city. The Public Market sells fresh meat, fish, and produce as well as a number of local specialties like salmon jerky. Theatres like the Revue Stage and the Granville Island Cultural Society have shows that feature some of Canada’s most prestigious theatre companies like the Arts Club Theatre or the Vancouver Theatresports League. Not to mention that every summer, thousands flock to the island to participate in the International Jazz Festival.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Adventure seekers shouldn’t miss a visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Its biggest draw is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the simple wooden suspension bridge that goes back to the late 1800s. The bridge is 460 feet long and 230 feet above the ground. The park also features hiking trails, elevated bridge crossings in the midst of the park’s Douglas fir trees collectively known as Treetops Adventures, and Cliffwalk, a narrow path that hangs from a granite precipice and overlooks the Capilano River.
Vancouver’s most famous urban park has plenty of notable places of interest starting with the collection of original totem poles made by the First Nation People. These towering wooden structures have striking designs and tell a lot about the history of the tribes who created them. The Vancouver Aquarium is also worth visiting. It features animals from the Arctic, the Pacific Coast habitats as well as the Amazon Rainforest.
The oldest neighborhood in Vancouver certainly has its charm. Cobblestone streets, popular local restaurants, and fashionable boutiques are just a few of its draws. Gastown is also a popular spot for music and nightlife. There are a number of pubs around the area such as Clough Club that feature local artists. If you fancy a bit of live jazz, check out the calendar at the Pourhouse.
Museum of Anthropology
This unique and fascinating museum is one of the best Vancouver sights and attractions. It sits inside the beautiful University of British Columbia campus and focuses on world arts and culture, particularly of the First Nations Peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the museum highlights include a yellow cedar sculpture and totem poles from Haida and other First Nations from British Columbia.
Vancouver Gallery of Art
Vancouver Gallery of Art is Western Canada’s largest art gallery. Located right in the heart of downtown, the neoclassical style building has a heritage designation from the National Historic Site of Canada. Its permanent collection includes Dutch baroque paintings from the 17th century, French impressionists, and Canadian artists. Highlights include paintings by Marc Chagall, Emily Carr and Jeff Wall. The museum has free admission on Tuesday nights.
Walking Tour with Tour Guys
Orient yourself to Vancouver by participating in one of the Tour Guys’ walking tour. The duo offers three types of tours. The most popular one is the Downtown and the Waterfront, followed by Granville St and Gastown. There’s also one on Chinatown and Strachona. The guides are known for their extensive knowledge of the neighborhoods and their hilarious anecdotes.
Outdoor adventurers and enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Grouse Mountain. Located just north of the city proper, it serves as one of the best Vancouver sights and attractions. Mountain activities include downhill skiing, snowboarding, mountain zip lining, and hiking. There’s also Skyride, the gondola ride that crosses the North Shore Mountains and provide spectacular views of Vancouver. Kids will enjoy the wildlife sanctuary that feature Grizzly Bears and Alpine wolves.
For tips on planning your next Vancouver holiday, including information on Vancouver hotels, restaurants, and daytrips, check out this more comprehensive Vancouver travel guide.