Vancouver is a city that I got to visit multiple times in the last year. Unfortunately, all of these trips were on weekends and lasted less than 3 days. How do you visit such a big city in just three days do you ask? The answer is, you probably won’t see everything, but get a walking map right now and start highlighting what you really want to see. And if you are not sure what you should see, here is a short list of what not to miss in Vancouver.
Canada Place is a huge white building and dock where the cruise ships anchor while in the city. It is also a conference center. If you are not attending any of the conferences, it might seem pointless to visit, but you will also find Fly Over Canada, a 4D movie where you get to see all of Canada’s best sights, as well as the Vancouver Olympics medals and podium. And if all of that doesn’t interest you in any way, it is also one of the best spots to take pictures of the mountains and the bay on a clear day.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Located in Chinatown, the garden is an escape from the traffic and noise of the city. Part of it is open to the general public, but you can also pay a small fee for a guided tour of the whole garden and learn about the tradition of Chinese gardens and their meaning. If you get the chance, go during the Chinese New Year and see it all decorated with lanterns.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 140m bridge that rests 70m above the Capilano River. The park is located approximately 30 minutes away from downtown Vancouver, but free shuttles depart from Canada Place every 15 minutes. Although entrance to the park is pretty expensive (43 CAD) it includes the suspension bridge, hiking trails in the rainforest, the treetops adventure where you can walk on bridges from tree to tree, history and nature tours and, if you visit during the holidays, the park will be decked out in Christmas lights. For more information, visit the official website here.
Stanley Park is a huge metropolitan park (about the same size as the downtown area of Vancouver). It is surrounded by water and has a great view of the city, the bay and the mountains. Its main attraction is the seawall, a 10-kilometer pathway that surrounds the park and attracts thousands of tourists and locals each day. The seawall is so popular that it was extended to 22 kilometers and now continues to Kitsilano Beach, way outside of Stanley Park. The park also features hiking trails, beaches, lakes, the Vancouver Aquarium and many view points.
Gastown was the original settlement that evolved to becoming Vancouver. It is the oldest part of the town and is now a National Historic Site of Canada. Today, Gastown is a neighborhood full of trendy boutiques, cute restaurants, technology companies, art galleries, etc. all in the original buildings to preserve the architecture. It is also the location of the Gastown Steam Clock, a popular landmark of the neighborhood. It uses the city’s heating network to power the clock’s mechanism and whistles.
whistler and road 99
If you have time for a little road trip while in Vancouver, I recommend going to Whistler. Even if you aren’t really into skiing, you will love the city of Whistler and its free-spirited community. While driving to Whistler, make sure to stop at every viewpoint to take in all of the beautiful scenery of this area.
The city of Vancouver was one of my favorites of the last year. I loved how it offered all the activities and services of a big city while still being close to nature and having hiking trails, mountains and free water easily accessible. I am not usually attracted to cities and often feel overwhelmed in them, but I would love to live in Vancouver.
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