Vancouver is located on Canada’s west coast and is among Canada’s densest, most ethnically diverse cities. Despite living in Canada, I had never been to Vancouver up until this year. I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people but domestic travel is expensive within Canada, and given how large this country is, it’s not a place you’d fly to for a short trip either.
With the recent travel restrictions due to the pandemic, I was desperate to plan a trip ANYWHERE and knew domestic travel was probably my best, easiest, and safest bet. I took this time as an opportunity to visit a side of my country I’ve never been to before starting in Vancouver and ending in Banff, Alberta. Given I only had 2 days in Vancouver, I wanted to put together a little guide on how to spend 2 days in the beautiful city of Vancouver.
Depending on when your flight arrives, I suggest heading out on your first full day in Vancouver to catch delicious brunch somewhere. Just like most cities, brunch is definitely a thing here and there are so many great options for it. I had breakfast included at the St. Regis where I was staying but I did go out for brunch at Jam Cafe the one morning as it came recommended to me by so many people. It definitely did not disappoint! We did have to wait in line but it was well worth the wait. They have a location on Beatty St. not too far from Gastown, as well as one in Kitsilano.
Other recos I received for brunch included:
- OEB (Yaletown with new locations coming)
- Belgard Kitchen (East Vancouver)
- The Whip (Mt Pleasant)
- Fable Diner (East Vancouver)
After brunch, head onward to Stanley Park to bike the infamous Seawall. This is a must-do activity in Vancouver when visiting. The bike ride is easy/flat, and you can rent bikes at several places right by the park entrance. I rented at Spokes Bicycle Rentals. You can also pack a picnic, or make some stops within the park at places like Stanley Park Brewery or the Vancouver Aquarium.
After your bike ride, head to Granville Island. This was definitely one of the highlights from my time in Vancouver and you’ll want to go hungry! Granville Island is a peninsula and district in the city and if there’s anything you want to go here for it’s the market! It’s open 7-days a week and is lined with endless food options and vendors. We picked up some baked goods from one of the bakeries, and some pickles from Hobb’s Pickles which were next level. Outside of the market, there are several cute shops in this area to explore as well as a local brewery, Granville Island Brewing. You may also want to stop for a cocktail at the adorable Liberty Distillery.
Once you’ve explored the market and shops, if you have any room for more food, I highly recommend a lunch stop at The Sandbar. Since Vancouver is on the coast, naturally you can get great seafood here which is something we never get in Toronto.
Next head on to Kitsilano Beach for sunset if you are visiting in the warmer months. In this area, grab some buck-a-shuck oysters at Chewies, or pick up sushi to go and enjoy on the beach.
Onto day two! On this day I’m going to give you a bit of a “choose your own adventure” because there are seriously so many things you can do and it’s really dependent on what you’re in the mood for, as well as the weather since it can often be rainy and gloomy in Vancouver.
Option One: Deep Cove & Lynn Canyon
One option you can go for on your second day in Vancouver is to head to Deep Cove. Deep Cove is a community in North Vancouver and refers to a small bay beside a town often referred to as “The Cove” by locals. Here you can shop along their main strip and enjoy the restaurants in the area, or you can soak up the sun on their small beach. You can also do a hike on Baden Powell Trail, and/or opt to do some water sports like kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. This is a quaint, and adorable little town to spend an afternoon exploring in.
Lynn Canyon is also only a 20-minute drive from Deep Cove and is a great area to explore. They have a suspension bridge that is highly recommended, as well as several hiking trails.
Option Two: Capilano Suspension Bridge & Squamish
Another option for your day is to head to the highly popular Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. This bridge is a bit of a tourist trap but is also really beautiful to see. Try to visit on weekdays to avoid the crowds if possible. They also run a shuttle bus from the city if you don’t have a car and want to just opt for seeing the bridge. After walking along the treetops of suspension bridges, head onward to Squamish which is about a 25-minute drive. This drive will be absolutely incredible. You’ll be trying hard not to drive off the road as you admire the mountain views.
Once you reach Squamish, take the Sea to Sky Gondola to the top for some hiking. There are trails of varying lengths and difficulties at the top. We did Al’s Habrich Trail which was very challenging for me. Definitely not for those that are not looking for a full workout, and don’t have proper hiking boots, however, the view was incredible and it was a lot of fun scrambling up the mountain! Pack a lunch to enjoy at the top.
Option Three: Brewery Crawl
Lastly, if you don’t have easy access to a car or you’d rather stay downtown, opt for a brewery crawl in one of the many neighbourhoods loaded with breweries in the city. We did both a tour through the Mount Pleasant area, and the Yeast Van Brewery District. We probably visited over 11 breweries during our short time in Vancouver and barely scratched the surface. You can read my brewery crawl ideas and itineraries here.
Whatever you decide to do with your day, you will end up back in the city where you can enjoy dinner! There are a million fantastic restaurants in Vancouver. We went to Momo Sushi not once, but twice, to really soak up that fresh seafood. It’s a very no-frills sushi spot that was delicious. If you want a bougie option, Miku is highly recommended.
Some other recos if sushi isn’t your jam:
- Meet (Vegan in Gastown or Yaletown)
- Pizza Coming Soon (Japanese in Chinatown)
- Belgard Kitchen (Small Plates & Pizza in East Vancouver)
- Beach House (Seafood in North Vancouver)
- Heirloom (Vegetarian in South Granville)
- Gringos (Mexican in Gastown)
End your night with cocktails at the adorable cocktail bar, The Diamond, in Gastown.
As I always say, 2 days is never enough time to explore any city. However, you can definitely scratch the surface and see some amazing things, eat some great food, and take some of the city in.
What are your recos for Vancouver? Share below in the comments!