How to Spend 3 Perfect Days in Vancouver

According to one Vancouver local, this jam-packed itinerary will help you make the most of your three days in the city.

Aerial view of Vancouver, British Columbia

6min read

Published 26 June 2023

Flight Centre Author


Kaitlyn Funk



According to one Vancouver local, this jam-packed itinerary will help you make the most of your three days in the city.

Trying to see, do and experience all that Vancouver has to offer is no easy feat. I’ve lived in the city for nearly a decade and still have so much to discover. But that's what makes this destination so great — and why so many travellers choose to visit it each year.

So, what should you do if you only have a mere 72 hours to spend in the city? It’s hard to narrow things down, and no two people will recommend the exact same activities. But here’s what I think can help you make the most of your three days in Vancouver. Fair warning: I’ve come up with a jam-packed itinerary, so be ready wake up early and head to bed late. I promise it’ll be worth it!

Biking the Stanley Park Seawall is a must-do Vancouver activity
Biking the Stanley Park Seawall is a must-do Vancouver activity
Biking the Stanley Park Seawall is a must-do Vancouver activity

Day 1: Downtown Core

8:30am | Go for a bike ride in Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a major tourist destination in Vancouver — and for good reason! This sprawling 1,000-acre park, located right next to the downtown core, offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains, sea and sky. One of the best ways to explore is by renting a bike and cycling the Stanley Park Seawall, a 10km loop that takes you around the perimeter of this urban oasis.

Head east from the park's entrance, past the Vancouver Rowing Club, Brockton Point Lighthouse and totem poles toward Prospect Point. If you're in town during whale watching season (March to October), keep your eyes on the water as you make your way underneath the Lion's Gate Bridge — pods of orcas have been spotted here before. Then, continue past Third Beach and the iconic Teahouse in Stanley Park restaurant. 

Along the way, you can detour through the park’s interior trails and gardens. But keep in mind that staying on the Seawall will provide the quickest route to the next stop on the itinerary while still allowing you to take in Vancouver’s natural beauty.

10am | Dive into the Vancouver Aquarium

There’s something for everyone (kids and the young at heart!) at the Vancouver Aquarium. This amazing facility in Stanley Park is home to thousands of aquatic species, including otters, sea lions and seals; frogs, toads and salamanders; stingrays, sharks and jellyfish; an octopus and so much more. 

Enjoy an interactive and educational experience, and rest easy knowing the animals are being properly cared for. The Vancouver Aquarium not only prioritizes the wellbeing of its species, but also rescues, rehabilitates and releases 150+ marine animals every year.

12:30pm | Hunker down for brunch in Gastown

Return your bike and make your way over to Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. You’re probably hungry after all that cycling and aquarium-ing — and there are a ton of unique spots to eat here. I’d opt for a casual brunch at either Nelson the Seagull or The Birds & The Beets. Both make their own bread in-house, meaning the toasts and sandwiches are at a level above the rest. 

Pro tip: grab a cookie on your way out the door! You won’t regret it come snack time. 

3:30 | Walk and shop around Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods

Spend a few hours wandering the streets of Gastown and Chinatown. These two neighbourhoods are rich in history and culture, boast impressive architecture (including gorgeous heritage buildings) and are chock-full of specialty stores. 

Need a photo for the ‘gram? Grab a shot of these iconic landmarks:

If you have a bit of extra time to kill, consider heading over to Robson Street for more shopping. You’ll find everything from luxury stores to souvenir shops in this commercial area. 

8pm | Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant

Vancouver has long been known as a foodie destination — but even so, it was only recently (October 2022) that the Michelin Guide released ratings and recommendations for the city. You’d be remiss not to make a reservation at any of the eight establishments that ended up receiving one star: AnnaLena, Barbara, Burdock & Co, iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House, Kissa Tanto, Masayoshi, Published on Main and St. Lawrence.

From contemporary tasting menus to Japanese-Italian fusion dishes, these restaurants will give you a true taste of Vancouver.

Start your morning in Vancouver by going for a walk at Kitsilano Beach
Start your morning in Vancouver by going for a walk at Kitsilano Beach
Start your morning in Vancouver by going for a walk at Kitsilano Beach

Day 2: Kitsilano & Main Street

8am | Rise and grind (and refuel) in Kitsilano

Kitsilano (or “Kits”) is a relaxed neighbourhood where outdoor and fitness enthusiasts flock — it is the birthplace of yoga brand Lululemon, after all. So why not kickstart your morning like a true Vancouverite? 

If you prefer to ease into things, go for a stroll at Kitsilano Beach and enjoy the views of the North Shore Mountains. Or, if you’d like something more intense, sign up for a session at TurF. The fitness studio offers everything from heart-pumping cardio workouts to strength-training classes. Afterwards, grab a smoothie from their in-studio café or hop across the street to Their There for a more substantial meal — the egg and tomato jam breakfast sandwich is my personal favourite. 

11am | Shop at the Granville Island Public Market

No trip to Vancouver is complete without a visit to the Granville Island Public Market, where you can shop for fresh produce, seafood and specialty food items; locally made art and jewellery; books and paper goods; home décor; clothing and accessories; kids toys and games; and so much more. Don’t miss Paper-Ya, The Postcard Place or the Granville Island Hat Shop.

Does shopping make you hungry? Grab a lobster roll from Popina Canteen and then line up for a sweet treat from A Bread Affair, Lee’s Donuts or À La Mode Pie

2pm | Enjoy the views at Queen Elizabeth Park

At 125m above sea level, Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest point within Vancouver. And as such, there’s no better place to get a view of the city. In addition, the park is home to beautiful gardens and the Bloedel Conservatory — a domed building where a colourful array of exotic flora and fauna (over 100 free-flying birds and more than 500 plants) thrive. 

At this point, I would choose to keep the fun going at the Queen Elizabeth Park Pitch & Putt or Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club — but I’ll understand if you’d rather head back to your hotel for a quick rest. You’ll need some energy for the next item on this three-day Vancouver itinerary.

7pm | Root for the home team at Nat Bailey Stadium

If you’re visiting between April and September, take the opportunity to attend a minor-league baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium (otherwise known as “The Nat”). Watching the Vancouver Canadians, a farm team for the Toronto Blue Jays, score home runs is super fun — but it’s certainly not the only reason to go. The dancing grounds crew and sushi mascot race make this a truly unique sporting event.

10:30pm | Have a nightcap in Mount Pleasant

Why not end the night with a drink or two? From the stadium, head down Main Street to find a bar that suits your tastes. There’s something for everyone in the eclectic Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Seriously. Within a stretch of approximately 15 blocks, you can sip everything from flaming punch bowls (The Shameful Tiki Room) and Cuban-inspired cocktails (Tocador) to craft beer (Sing Sing).

A person walking across Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver
A person walking across Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver
A person walking across Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver

Day 3: North Vancouver

8:30am | Take a water taxi to Lonsdale Quay

After grabbing a coffee and pastry near your hotel, make your way to Waterfront Station (next to the Canada Place cruise ship terminal). From here, you can catch the SeaBus — a passenger ferry that crosses the Burrard Inlet — to Lonsdale Quay. It’s a short 12-minute ride that lets you get a different perspective of downtown Vancouver.

9am | Explore the great outdoors in North Vancouver

It’ll be tempting to wander the streets of Lower Lonsdale when you arrive on the North Shore, but now’s not the time. In fact, you’re going to completely ignore this part of the city for the moment and head straight to the mountains. There are two incredible options that you can get to within 30 minutes using public transit — though it shouldn’t be hard to hitch ride with Uber or Lyft, if you’d prefer.

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: Rainforests canopies, Indigenous stories and adrenalin-pumping activities collide at this “naturally thrilling” park. Take your time exploring the treetops, learning about First Nations peoples and getting your heart rate back to normal after crossing the 450-foot suspension bridge.
  • Grouse Mountain: Getting to the peak of this North Shore Mountain is half the fun. The gondola offers breathtaking views of Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf Islands. And once you’re at the top, there’s plenty to see and do — from lookouts and hikes to Ranger Talks, Lumberjack Shows and Mountain Ropes AdventureTM courses.

12:30pm | Break for lunch in Lower Lonsdale

Make your way back down to the neighbourhood known as Lower Lonsdale, where you can choose from a wide selection of restaurants for lunch. Popular chains, including JOEY, Tap & Barrel and Burgoo (it serves the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich, in my opinion) are all within blocks of each other. 

Of course, there are tons of local spots, too. Stop by Catch 122 Bistro for west coast brunch fare, Black Kettle Brewing Company for pub classics or one of many sushi restaurants in the area. We’ve got a thing for seafood on rice here.

Just make sure you leave room for Earnest Ice Cream. This Vancouver institution got its start as an ice cream tricycle at farmers markets. Today, it has four scoop shops that churn out whiskey hazelnut, rhubarb oat crumble, vegan tahini brownie and other creative flavours.  

3pm | Get cultured at the Shipyards

Spend the rest of your afternoon meandering through the Shipyards District. Filled with shops and public spaces, it’s a lively area — one where you can usually find an event or performance to attend.

Alternatively, you can make your way to the Museum of North Vancouver or The Polygon Gallery. At the former, you’ll find exhibits about BC’s history and Indigenous artists. At the latter, you can contemplate photography and media-based art in a modern building designed by an award-winning architecture firm (bonus: admission is by donation).

7pm | Watch the sunset (and get a slice!) at Cypress

Wood-fired pizza? Check! Local brews? Check! Epic scenery? Check! The Shed on Cypress Mountain is the perfect place to cap off your three days in Vancouver. The mixed-use space attracts bikers, hikers and just about anyone else who appreciates good food and panoramic views. Place your order, take a seat on the grass (or grab a spot on the heated patio) and watch the sun set on your last evening. 


Ready to make the most of your three days in Vancouver? Check out our flight and vacation options, or get in touch with a travel consultant. 

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