Vancouver is really one of those cities that you have to visit to see the beauty that it holds within its borders. It’s one of the reasons why I love visiting Vancouver. This visit was my first time back to this beautiful city in almost a decade and I enjoyed every moment of it. The weather in Vancouver was absolute perfection during my stay; sunshine and blue skies every day. The people that we met were an absolute delight. I also discovered that I have a real love for lavender flavoured ice cream. I love Vancouver. I love the atmosphere of the city. I love the diversity and energy of its people. I got to spend the long weekend with one of my oldest friends, exploring one of the most gorgeous cities on planet Earth, all in all, it was a pretty spectacular weekend.
Downtown Vancouver is a very navigable city, whether you’re on foot, in a vehicle, a bike, or on the water. Personally, I took advantage of all four of those different modes of transportation. It allowed me to explore the city in ways that I had not had a chance before and was an adventure each time. I do not have a great sense of direction so a lot of course-correction occurred but because the city is as navigable as it is, I didn’t get lost, too often. (Thank god for Google Maps!)
Walking – Downtown Vancouver is a very walkable city. The streets are laid out nicely and easy to navigate and pretty clean. Walking is a great way to explore the city and see all the different sights and sounds and sometimes smells that the city has to offer. If you choose to do some walking, which I did, having a good pair of walking shoes is a really good idea. Your feet will thank you at the end of the day.
Vehicle – Vancouver has an excellent cab system, which I used extensively during my stay in the city. Vancouver is not an Uber city. Most rides across downtown Vancouver will cost between $10-$12 CAD. A ride from Vancouver’s International Airport into downtown Vancouver costs about $40 CAD. Vancouver is also a Car-to-Go city, so if you’re a member it’s also a great way to get around town. The public transportation system goes all around the city and is another viable option with buses and Skytrain crisscrossing this metropolis.
Biking – Biking is also an excellent, efficient, and relatively priced way to get around the city. Mobi is Vancouver’s bike sharing system with different stations scattered around the city that allows you to pick up and drop off the bikes as needed. There a numerous bike rental shops all over town too. Downtown Vancouver has a relatively well thought out bike lane system alongside its major streets making biking easier and a lot safer. Take a bike and go for a ride in and around the city’s coast, especially around the seawall in Stanley Park.
Water – Boats, ferries, and yachts are plentiful in and around Vancouver and a good way to get around if you choose to do so. The Aquabus, which costs around $5 CAD/ride is a great way to get to and from Granville Island, with multiple stops in downtown Vancouver. If you choose to head over to Victoria, like I did, the BC Connector ferry is a good option. (You might even spot some orcas in the water like I did on my way there and not have to pay a good chunk of change to go whale watching.)
Where to Sleep
Sleep, especially on vacation is something to be prized and cherished and Vancouver offers a lot of options at different price points when it comes to places to rest your head at the end of the day, or the middle of the day. The hotel route was what I went with during this visit to Vancouver and I’m quite happy with my choice to do so. The hotel, which I stayed in, was on the higher-end scale but with only three nights spent in Vancouver, comfort was key.
AirBnBs – AirBnBs are a good way to really get into the nitty-gritty of Vancouver and allow you to feel like a local and explore the city even more. Most condos in downtown Vancouver aren’t big fans of AirBnbs so many hosts will ask you to remain quite discreet during your stay. My advice is to book early to get a good AirBnB and locking in a not so extortionate price for your stay.
Hotels – Hotels are plentiful in and around downtown Vancouver and have a number of different price points depending on how much you are willing to spend. You’ve got high-end hotels, which can cost between $250 to $350+ CAD/night and many reasonably priced ones as well. Putting in a little work and looking for a good price as well as using possible Air Miles and professional association discounts can also help to lessen the price of hotel stay in the city.
Hostels – Hostels are another and cheaper alternative to an Airbnb or hotel for your stay in Vancouver. There are a few around downtown Vancouver. I would suggest researching which is the best before booking a reservation for your stay.
Where to Eat
I can honestly admit that my entire visit to Vancouver revolved around eating lots and lots and lots of delicious food. I mean when you have ice cream for breakfast on Day Two of your vacation really says it all. Vancouver is a hub of restaurants, pop-ups, cafes, and other delicious establishments to satisfy your appetite, whatever you’re craving, especially if you’re craving seafood. Here are some of my recommendations.
Café Medina – Prepare yourself for a wait to get into this beautiful brunch spot, it is wholeheartedly worth the wait, though. Located on Richards Street, in walking distance to Vancouver’s Central Library, Café Medina is in a very central location and pretty easy to find. (Especially if you spot the line coming out of its front door.) The café has a gorgeous interior with one magnificent espresso machine. It’s quite gorgeous and the colour is c’est magnifique. The food is also quite delicious! The lavender lattes are heaven, the skillet dishes are delicious and from what I’ve heard so is the French toast. If you’ve still got room left in your belly after all that mouth-watering food, definitely grab one or three of their signature waffles with dipping sauces. The white chocolate pistachio and passion fruit were my favourites. If you’re not willing to wait, grab a latte and some waffles to go!
Chambar – What can I say about Chambar? It’s FREAKING AMAZING! It’s arguably one of the best restaurants that I visited while in Vancouver if not all of Western Canada. The staffs are knowledgeable and really friendly. The interior is gorgeous! But the most important part, the food, is what makes Chambar a standout amongst so many others. The mussels and frites are a dish that I still dream about. Try the Congolaise mussles and frites! (Definitely order a side of bread to mop up the delicious stew that the mussels come in.) If you’re a fan of tequila like myself then also order an El Chupacabra with your order! (Thank you so much, Andrea for this amazing recommendation!)
Mister – If you find yourself in Yaletown and hunkering for some ice cream – I mean who isn’t? – then check out Mister. Mister is a nitrogen ice cream parlour that focuses on flavorful, fresh, and local ingredients in their heavenly ice cream creations. You also get a little bit of a show since they make your ice cream order right in front of your eyes, mixing together the different ingredients and nitrogen right in one of their multiple Kitchen Aid stand mixers. Definitely give their crème brûlée ice cream a go. Made with real egg yolk, vanilla bean, and an actual sugar torched crust, it is like heavenly clouds in a cup and definitely drool worthy.
What To See
Vancouver is really a traveller’s paradise, with hundreds of different spots to see and explore, it’s really up to you and what you want to do. Whether it’s taking a walk through Stanley Park, which takes about three hours to complete, or exploring your taste buds on Granville Island, braving a walk on Capilano’s famous suspension bridge, sunning yourself on Kitsilano Beach, or exploring many of Vancouver’s eclectic neighbourhoods, it’s all up to you. You certainly will not be alone. I definitely wasn’t as the summer is prime tourist season in Vancouver.
Capilano – Capilano is located north of downtown Vancouver and does have an admission fee of about $40 CAD/adult to enter. Luckily, getting there doesn’t have to cost you a penny if you hop onto one of Capilano’s many free transport buses that have stops all around downtown Vancouver and some of its major hotels. Capilano is a natural wonder, not just because of the suspension bridge but it’s treetop and cliff top walk and ice cream shop. (Did I mention that I ate a lot of ice cream during this trip? I did and suffered the consequences later but it was worth it!)
Stanley Park – Stanley Park is a must see when visiting Vancouver. The views of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay are worth the three-hour walk alone. If you don’t want to walk, biking and rollerblading are also a great option, especially since biking has its own dedicated lane along the seawall. Located within the park are Vancouver’s world famous aquarium, beaches, forest trails, and lakes. Stanley Park is an absolute wonder and a sight to behold, take an afternoon like I did and just soak it all in. You won’t regret it!
Downtown Vancouver – From Chinatown to Gastown to Yaletown and everything in between and around, downtown Vancouver has a lot to see and explore. Grab yourself a map and just go. If you enjoy a more structured tour of downtown Vancouver, you can, of course, hop on to the plentiful hop-on-hop-off tour buses that litter the city. These buses are not free and do require a ticket that you can pick up at different vendors or on the actual bus itself. Keep your eyes wide and let your senses guide you.
Victoria – Located on Vancouver Island, is British Columbia’s capital, Victoria. Whether you fancy a day trip, like I did, or a few days in Victoria, it’s very easy to get to from Vancouver. One of the easiest ways is to book your tickets via BC Ferries Connector in advance. The transport bus picks you up at your location and drives right onto the ferry and then drives you right into downtown Victoria. The ferry ride itself is about 80 minutes long and has multiple levels, including an open air viewing deck at the top of the ferry. Victoria is much calmer compared to Vancouver’s hustle and bustle and a great city to visit. I wholly suggest spending more than just a day in Victoria to really get a chance to explore it.
I really enjoyed my time in Vancouver and cannot wait to return. It is truly a spectacular city to visit. Have you visited Vancouver before? What’s are your favourite things about the city? What places do you love and would return to? If you haven’t visited Vancouver, I would definitely add it to your wanderlust list. Thanks for reading! 😘