You have only 48 hours in Vancouver, BC. What do you do? Don’t tell me you are looking for the “off the beaten path” experience. I know you want to see all the main landmarks and touristy stuff, and this is exactly what I did. Also because Vancouver is awesome. So here’s my advice on what to do if you’re around for just 2 days or so.
Stay with a local.
You have just a little time and you don’t want to miss any opportunity to find out more about Vancouver and feel its vibe. Also, hotels tend to be VERY expensive. I say stay with a local. Try AirBnb (my personal choice on this trip), HomeAway, Wimdu, Couchsurfing, all that. I did so and found myself in the best possible situation – a local who would welcome me to Canada, someone to have breakfast with while looking at the travel guides and maps, someone to give you directions and the best information available. Canadians are well known for being welcoming and polite. I can testify. Go for it. And stay in Downtown! Transportation is expensive and you have little time to move around anyway.
See the north shore.
When I went to Vancouver I thought I would not have enough time to see the city AND the north shore. Truth is that you can do it. My advice is (and here comes the touristy part) to purchase a 2 days pass for one of those hop on-hop off bus services, because it will give you everything you need:
- a free shuttle to the north shore, for the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park
- the ticket for the above mentioned Park
- a tour of ALL Vancouver where you can easily stop anywhere and get on the next bus (usually they run every 20 minutes or so) – including Stanley Park (!)
- all this in 48 hours which is -how cool- exactly the amount of time you need. Go for it!
In order to do so, go to Canada Place (you can’t miss it) and purchase your ticket. There are several different companies for the tours, I personally picked the “Trolley” but you can choose the one you prefer. Then you can ride the free shuttle to the north shore and have all the fun in the world at the Capilano Suspension Bridge (which swings A LOT as you walk on it!) and the Tree Houses (my favorite part!).
Once you’re done with this you can take the bus to the Grouse Mountain Cable Car station (bus #236 – $2,75). From Canada Place there’s also a free shuttle directly to the Grouse Mountain Cable Car station. See? They are so organized!
You should totally go on top of the Grouse Mountain because:
- this way you get to see Vancouver from above (which didn’t happen when I went because we were surrounded by clouds, but it was still cool). There’s a wind turbine with a glass, 360° lift called ViewPOD and nothing can beat that view!
- you can hike beautiful walks up there (hiking up to the top of the Grouse Mountain is also very popular, it’s called “The Grind”)
- you can go ziplining up there
- and of course in the winter you can ski!
For all detailed info, webcams and activities you can check their website here.
So this was the end of the first day. Tired yet? Because if you wish to fill your day with even more epicness (there’s no limit to epic in Canada), once you’re back to Canada Place you can purchase a ticket for the first available Flyover Canada show. Just for your information, it made me cry out of joy.
FlyOver Canada is a breathtaking, family-friendly, flight simulation ride like no other! You will take off into a huge dome screen with the latest in projection and ride technology creating a true flying experience (complete with wind, scents, and mist!) (from the official website)
Day 2: actually use your pass.
On the second day you can relax and stay in the city. We all agree that it’s impossible to see everything in 2 days, but we are at least trying to get a sense of the city, right?
So because we also agreed that you’re staying in Downtown Vancouver, and that you’re staying with a local, you will have a nice breakfast in some cool cafe in Downtown and have a beautiful walk by the water all the way to Canada Place again or to any of the hop on-hop off stations nearby your location.
At this point you can just sit on the bus and let it take you around the city and pick your favorite stops. For instance, I wasn’t too interested in visiting the Stadium or Chinatown, so I ended up with the following selection – but hey that’s up to you.
- Stanley Park – it’s a must. Even if you won’t have time to actually see all of it, which would require days, you have to at least see the totem poles, walk on the water for stunning views of the city, and take your time to meditate in the presence of trees which are hundreds of years old. How to locate them? Well you’re on a touristic bus, remember? They will show you where to find them.
- Granville Island – to walk around the artistic side of the City, visit galleries and shops of handicrafts made by local designers (including totem poles!), find interesting street art, and try all kinds of yummy foods at the markets.
- Gastown – this was where Vancouver actually started developing. The feeling here is historical, cozy and walking around is a pleasure. The uber famous “Steam Clock” is the most photographed landmark in Vancouver and I get it. I’ve never seen anything like that before! So cool. So yeah wait a few minutes and see the magic happen! (click here for the video!)
By now you will have a sense of the city. Do you have more time? Great! You can see more of the areas you are still missing, and go to Downtown for some shopping etc. Is your time over? Great anyway. You couldn’t do much more than this. Great job!
So last but not least, I would like to add that I fell in love with Vancouver at first sight. When I was landing I couldn’t believe my eyes – that scenery reminded me of a mix between, say, the Norwegian Fjords and Halong Bay. It’s a rain forest. Vancouver is so green. I love that there is so much space for walking and enjoying nature, and the city, even with its skyscrapers and all, doesn’t feel imposing over nature. The weather wasn’t great and definitely not photogenic, but I can only imagine how beautiful it must be on a sunny day. I will definitely will be back!
Of course you can do all of the above with public transportation. It will probably end up being slightly cheaper but this was no hassle at all, and having a guide explaining you what you’re seeing is a plus for me.
Oh and there was nothing sponsored in this post. All genuine love. :)