Vancouver is one of our favourite cities in Canada, it has everything one could possibly need: the ocean, mountains, a laidback lifestyle, good food, a lot of cafés, and great shopping. While we highly recommend staying in Vancouver for a least a week, here are some tips on how to spend 48 hours in Vancouver – in case you need a fun little getaway before spending more time in the city.
Go to Timbertrain Coffee Roasters on W Cordova in Gastown and if they have hazelnut croissants, buy one. Actually, buy two or three. They are double baked and have a Nutella-like spread inside, and OMG it is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.
TIMBERTRAIN COFFEE ROASTERS • 311 w Cordova Street • open 7:30 am to 6:00 pm
GO! NOW! Okay, are you back? Did you need a cigarette after that croissant? Yeah, you’re welcome. Now it’s time to start exploring Vancouver.
The Three Most Popular Suggestions for 48 Hours in Vancouver
I’m not saying that those places should be skipped, they shouldn’t, hell, I go to all of these places. I hit up Granville Island at least once when I visit Vancouver; usually to buy some Pizza Bianca or Stecca from Terra Breads, ferocious garlic butter from Stock Market, sausage from Oyama, and maybe some fresh cheese and fruit.
If I’m in need of a new notebook, I’ll quickly stop by Paper-Ya to buy one, and then I leave the island – which is not really an island. If it’s your first visit and you’re a beer lover, then maybe pop by Granville Island Brewing for a tour and tasting, but unless you love hanging with the other tourists, leave the island and hit up the next place on your list.
Kitsilano is it’s trendy, but also quiet. There are times when I’ll stay at the hostel near Jericho Beach, then take a bus downtown, or wander around Kits on foot.
West 4th Ave is the main street in Kits, lots of shopping and great cafés like Parallel 49, a few good restaurants as well. If you have time, wander down Yew Street to Kitsilano Beach for views of the Vancouver Skyline. A fab spot.
What can I say about Stanley Park… if it’s a nice day consider walking around the seawall, stop by the Aquarium, or explore some of the hiking trails in the park? In summer there are outdoor movies in the park which are pretty cool.
And if you’re short on time you can always do an old-school trolley tour through the park. Personally? I walk part of the seawall, do a hike, and watch the sunset from English Bay.
My Favourite Ways to Spend 48 Hours in Vancouver
Now that we’ve covered the three most popular suggestions, let’s get into the good stuff. My favourite ways to experience Vancouver. For me it’s about the ‘hoods, exploring the various parts of the city that make Vancouver, well, Vancouver.
While I should write about Chinatown in this post, I’m not going to. It’s not because I think you should skip it, it’s because I think it deserves its own post.
Day One: Gastown, SoMa & Commercial Drive
Gastown is one of my favourite foodie ‘hoods in Vancouver. There are so many quaint cafés and delicious restaurants. I don’t do a lot of shopping in Gastown, many of the shops cater to tourists looking for souvenirs.
I go to Gastown to work from a café (like Nelson the Seagull), or eat at restaurants like Salt Tasting Room, Tacofino, Tuc Craft Kitchen, or Save On Meats. And the architecture in this area is pretty good as well.
For shopping, I prefer heading up to SoMa, or South Main Street as it is also known. SoMa is part of the ‘hood of Mount Pleasant, and a perfect place to explore and get lost. Look for local art, check out antique shops, or shop at locally owned boutiques. SoMa has a lot of hidden gems!
Of course, if you’re up by SoMa, then head further up and check out the eclectic quirkiness that is Commercial Drive. This is most definitely not a boring area of East Vancouver. It’s young. It’s hip. It’s a global culinary oasis.
Seriously, you could travel the world and never leave The Drive. Personally, I go up there for the Indian food, and sometimes a cheap greasy pizza slice. Oh, and people watching. Great people watching along The Drive.
It’s easy to do Gastown, SoMa, and Commercial Drive in a day. They are connected by bus, as well as Skytrain. It makes logistical sense to do it this way, instead of crisscrossing the city.
Day Two: Yaletown, Granville Island &
You’ve explored the East side of the city, now it’s time to check-out downtown. If you want to squeeze Granville and Stanley Park into this day, it’s doable.
Kitsilano is a little further out, but you can take bus #4, see some of the ‘hood, then come back downtown.
Yaletown is filled with Vancouver’s young trendy crowd, there are plenty of bars and gourmet restaurants here, and there are some impressively large yachts in the harbour. You can also catch the aquabus to Granville Island or the Village (Olympic Village) from the Yaletown marina.
If you’re craving seafood, which I almost always do when I’m in Vancouver, then I highly suggest going to YEW at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown.
The menu has a lot of variety, good prices, and simple dishes. It is my new go-to spot in the city, and I can promise you I will be dining at YEW when I’m in the city next month.
After devouring seafood, you can check out the Vancouver Art Gallery, try a food truck, or go shopping on Robson. If art and shopping are not your thing, then head down to the waterfront and walk along to Coal Harbour, from there you can rent a bike and cycle around Stanley Park, or walk up Denman and into Davie Village, Vancouver’s LGBT community.
Both are good options and if you have lots of time, you can cycle through Stanley Park, and visit Davie Village afterwards (walking down Denman from English Bay, rather than up from Coal Harbour).
Whatever you do, make sure you’re in English Bay at dusk, sitting on the beach for sunset is an absolute must when visiting Vancouver. Seriously.
At night, head over towards Granville Street and back to Yaletown to do some bar-hopping, there are quite a few options to choose from.
There are so many things to see and experience, 48 hours in Vancouver is not nearly enough time. If you’re thinking of adding a day to your itinerary, think about taking the water ferry over to North Vancouver and checking out Capilano Bridge, Lyn Canyon, and Grouse Mountain.
If you’d like a day trip outside of Vancouver, head up to Squamish for some hiking, or go Whistler for a day, both are fabulous choices.