The Ultimate 3 Days in Vancouver Itinerary

What to see in Vancouver in 3 days

Looking for the perfect 3 days in Vancouver itinerary? You’re in the right place!

Submersed in nature and surrounded by ocean and mountains, Vancouver is packed with outdoor experiences, from snowboarding and mountain biking to river rafting.

🚌 Do you want to visit the highlights of Vancouver? Book this Vancouver City Tour including Capilano Suspension Bridge and discover the best of the city!

The beautiful cosmopolitan city lies in the heart of British Columbia, and it’s one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Canada.

Visiting Vancouver, you’ll have a selection of luxurious restaurants and exciting markets to visit, plus an assortment of splendid clubs to showcase the city’s active nightlife.

Having visited Vancouver several times, I know that it can be difficult to choose what to see and what activities to include in your Vancouver itinerary.

In this article, I’ll give you a tour of the top things to have on your Vancouver itinerary for 3 or more days.

Let’s explore the highlights of the city and its surroundings with this 3 days Vancouver itinerary!

The Ultimate 3 Days in Vancouver Itinerary

While Vancouver needs more than three days to fully absorb its endless fun activities, this is my recommended 3-day Vancouver itinerary:

  • On the first day, get to know the city by exploring the Downtown area—the heart of Vancouver together with the nearby Stanley Park.
  • On day two, it’s time to get into nature and explore what is—in my opinion—the most spectacular part of the city: the mountains and the ocean. From downtown Vancouver, it’s easy to reach the harbor and the Grouse Mountain.
  • On the final day, you can drive one of Canada’s most beautiful routes, the Sea to Sky Highway, and see the breathtaking Garibaldi Lake.

What to Do in Vancouver in 3 Days

Day 1 – Begin your 3 Days in Vancouver by Explore the Core of the City

On your first day in the city, start exploring its core in Downtown Vancouver. The area is small and easy to see on foot.

Starting at the Waterfront station, I would visit sites in the order below:

Stop 1: Canada Place

Canada Place is part of the Vancouver Convention Center. The building is world-famous for its architecture, designed in the form of a giant sailing ship.

Canada Place Vancouver at sunset

Many of Vancouver’s visiting cruise ships dock there, and it’s interesting to see these massive ships up close. 

If you’re interested in something more fun, you can always sign up for the FlyOver Canada film experience

It’s a multi-sensory theatre where visitors can watch a film about Canada while being strapped into seats for a virtual flight over the country! The film takes you from coast to coast with wind and water splashing for effect. ▶️ Book the tickets here.

The Canada Place deck is also a good place to walk with views of the ocean and the North Shore Mountains. Besides, the Olympic Cauldron is located close by, which is one of the most popular cultural landmarks in the city.

Canada Place deck Vancouver

Stop 2: The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG)

Housed in the former provincial courthouse building, the VAG is one of the largest art galleries in Canada. It’s situated in Downtown Vancouver next to Robson Square, and it’s a great visit for rainy days in Vancouver.

Hosting more than 10, 000 pieces with rotating exhibitions and 200 major artworks, this is the city’s leading gallery.

There are often several exhibitions going on in the gallery, and you can always check out the top floor showcasing Emily Carr paintings, with plenty of nature-themed works from BC’s favorite historic artist.

On Tuesday evenings, the admission fee is by donation.

Stop 3: Gas Town

Gas Town is one of the oldest parts of the city, named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire steamboat captain who arrived in 1867.

This area is a must-see if you’re visiting Vancouver in 3 days. It’s known for its trendy food and drink scene, including chic cocktail lounges and hip restaurants.

Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver

This is the place to stop for gourmet sandwiches and a variety of great local seafood for lunch.

Gas Town is also home to a mix of contemporary fashion and tourist-oriented businesses like souvenir shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and indie art galleries.

Not to mention, it hosts one of the only functioning steam-powered clocks in the world, the Gastown Steam Clock, which is a major tourist attraction.

The clock whistles and blows steam every 15 minutes, so make sure to wait until you see it!

Stop 4: Visit Vancouver’s Chinatown

After Gas Town, go for a walk through Vancouver’s Chinatown.

It’s the largest Chinatown in Canada, established in 1890—a great place for authentic Asian cuisine and souvenir shopping.

It also hosts the tranquil Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, where you can go for a walk.

Based upon the Ming Dynasty’s private scholar’s gardens, it’s the first of its kind built outside of China.

Stop 5: The Vancouver Aquarium

The popular Vancouver Aquarium is located inside Stanley Park.

It’s the largest aquarium in Canada and home to more than 70,000 creatures, housing a huge diversity of marine creatures and reptiles. It includes dolphins, anacondas, eels, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles, and more.

It’s the perfect stop if you have 3 days in Vancouver with kids.

» » Don’t miss this skip-the-line offer to Vancouver Aquarium « «

Following the aquarium, you can step out and start exploring Stanley Park.

Stop 6: Stanley Park

This huge park is surrounded by Vancouver Harbour and English Bay and has a total of about 27km (17 miles) of trails winding through the forest—perfect for a great hike.

The Stanley Park Seawall also loops around Stanley Park and is one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver.

The seawall path all the way next to the ocean is a favorite place for hikers, runners, bikers, and rollerbladers. A lot of tourists go there for a swim.

Explore the park and city by bicycle with this Vancouver Bicycle Tour – Rent bicycles outside the park and cycle the seawall, a 5-hour cycling tour of Vancouver including Stanley Park, Gastown and Granville Market is available.

Day 2 – Continue Your 3-Day Itinerary in Vancouver by Exploring the Mountains and the Ocean

Surrounded by ocean and mountains, Vancouver has some spectacular natural scenery to explore during your trip, and taking the Gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain or a Harbor cruise is a great way to do this.

If you’re up for adventure sports, this is the place to be! Ocean lovers can rent a kayak, go surfing, scuba diving, or dive with seals.

Meanwhile, Grouse Mountain offers fantastic terrain and facilities for snow sports in the winter and hiking in the summer.

Stop 1: Grouse Mountain

The 1250-meter (4100-foot) high Grouse Mountain rising above the city is often called ‘the Peak of Vancouver.‘

The beautiful mountain is located only 15 minutes by public transport from downtown Vancouver. It’s open all year with a range of activities on the top.

Grouse Mountain Skyride aerial tramway

The easiest way to get to the top is with the Skyride aerial tramway. It’ll take you to the top of the mountain in about 10 minutes with spectacular views. 

There is a lot to do on top of the mountain, such as a grizzly sanctuary, zipline, bird of prey demonstration, a lumberjack show, and more. Besides, up there at the Grouse Mountain Chalet, you can buy a ticket for the Gondola ride.

During the summer, the Grouse Grind is a very popular, grueling 2.9 km (1.8 mi) hike, with an elevation gain of 853 m (2800 feet) up Grouse Mountain. It has been nicknamed “Mother Nature’s StairMaster.“

The average time it takes to hike the mountain is 1h30min to 2 hours.

However, it’s worth noting that the Grouse Grind is a one-way trail, so hiking down is not allowed. If you want to hike down, it is possible to hike down on the BCMC trail.

Grouse Mountain, hiking the Peak of Vancouver

Other popular summer activities in the area are disk golf, chairlift rides, and paragliding.

If you are visiting Vancouver in winter, you can try Grouse Mountain skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or snowshoeing.

The mountain is a top-quality venue for skiing and snowboarding with ski lifts, 33 ski and snowboard runs, as well as 6 snowboarding terrain parks.

🚠 Personally, I recommend you book here your Grouse Mountain Admission Tickets in advance.

A General Admission ticket for Grouse Mountain includes a return transfer from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver to Grouse Mountain.

Stop 2: Ocean activities

Whale watching is the most popular ocean adventure in Vancouver.

If you choose the right time between March and October, you can watch as thousands of whales migrate through the area.

Whale Watching Vancouver

Different whale species you can expect to see are humpbacks, orcas, minke, and grey. You may also see other animals, including dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds.

The whale-watching season in Vancouver is from May until September with half and full-day tours available. These tours leave from the centrally located Granville Island.

For ocean enthusiasts, there are plenty of activities to explore. You can rent a kayak or a stand-up paddle board and enjoy a ride through English Bay Beach, Granville Island, or Kitsilano Beach.

Kayaking Vancouver

There are also mini-ferries, kayaks, dragon boats, and yachts around. And if you want to get wet, you can book a trip to go scuba diving or snorkeling with the seals and sea lions.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have stunning views of Vancouver’s downtown area from the ocean, and you may be able to spot wildlife like harbor seals, cormorants, and even whales.

Stop 3: Granville Island

Granville Island is a fun place to walk and shop. However, it’s not a real island. It’s a peninsula connected to Vancouver and is a very popular shopping district and a hotspot for tourism and entertainment.

Since many of the ocean activities operate from there, it’s a good time to visit since you’ll be in the area.

Granville Island in Vancouver

You can enjoy plenty of buskers performing in the streets all day and a huge variety of excellent treats for sale.

The public market is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.

Day 3: Finish your 3-Day Vancouver Itinerary by Driving through the Sea to Sky Highway and Hiking to the Garibaldi Lake

On day three, I would drive part of the Sea to Sky Highway, one of the most beautiful drives in BC, and hike to the spectacular Garibaldi Lake.

If you want to stay in the city, seeing the Capilano Suspension Bridge and exploring Deep Cove is a great alternative.

Buy here the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Tickets or explore this amazing bridge and enjoy all its activities with this self-guided tour.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver

If you have 4 days in Vancouver, I’d include the road trip from Vancouver to Garibaldi Lake. You’ll love it!

Stop 1: Drive the Sea to Sky Highway

The Sea to Sky Highway is a 121 km (75 miles) stretch of Highway 99 connecting Vancouver to Whistler.

The highway has amazing views and goes past several of Canada’s most beautiful sites.

The best time of the year to drive the route and go for a hiking trip in the area is June to September.

After the drive, you’ll only have enough time to visit the Sea to Sky Gondola or Garibaldi Lake.

Sea to Sky gondola above Howe Sound

Stop 2: Sea to Sky Gondola

This is one of the most popular attractions between Vancouver and Whistler and the perfect day trip from Vancouver! 

The Sky gondola takes passengers from near the highway, up high above Howe Sound.

You can also hike up to the top via the challenging Sea to Summit Trail climbing 900m over 7km. At the top, there are viewing platforms, a suspension bridge, and the Panorama Trail.

Stop 3: Garibaldi Lake

The beautiful Garibaldi Lake with turquoise glacial waters is located in Garibaldi National Park at an elevation of 1450m. Offering exquisite views, the lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and alpine meadows.

Hiking to this beautiful lake in Garibaldi Park is a great day excursion from Vancouver.

Garibaldi Lake at the Garibaldi National Park

However, it’s not an easy walk. You need a good fitness level to do the 18 km out-and-back hike to the lake. It’s uphill all the way, gaining about 900m elevation, and it’ll take you around 6 hours to finish.

The trailhead in the Rubble Creek parking area can be reached by public transport from Downtown Vancouver using the Parkbus. They give you more than enough time to complete the trail, so you don’t have to worry about missing your ride.

If you have more time to spend in Vancouver, take a look at these Vancouver weekend getaways. You’ll love them!

Things to do in Vancouver in 3 days on a Map

If you are a more visual person, don’t worry! I created this Vancouver 3-day itinerary map so you can visualize the places you’re about to visit and how far they are from each other!

Where to Stay in Vancouver

⏳ Short on time? Book the best hotels in Vancouver here:

✔️ Best Budget option: Samesun Vancouver

✔️ Best Midrange option: Moda Hotel

✔️ Best Luxury Option: Georgian Court Hotel

One of the first questions you start asking when deciding to visit Vancouver is where to stay. 

As a frequent Vancouver visitor, I recommend Downtown Vancouver for your short stay. It has plenty of great accommodation options, and it’s close to everything. Besides, most sites nearby are within walking distance, so you’ll be saving money on transportation. 

Here you have other great accommodation options in Downtown Vancouver:

If you’re not a fan of Downtown Vancouver, you can check any of the surrounding neighborhoods with great VRBO options. Public transport in Vancouver is great, so you’ll still be able to get around just fine.

If you want to read more on the topic, here’s my guide on Where to Stay in Vancouver with the top places to stay in Vancouver, BC.

▶️ Check Rates for Hotels in Vancouver on

How to Get Around During Your 3 Perfect Days in Vancouver

Luckily for tourists with no cars, Vancouver has a great public transport system consisting of the Skytrain, Seabus, and bus routes.

Using these, it’s easy to get anywhere in the city without running through your trip money.

You can book transportation for one day, one ride, or a variety of other options.

Skytrain Vancouver

For the Skytrain, you can buy tickets from vending machines in the stations using cash or a card. If you’re paying in cash, the machine will give you your change.

On the other hand, if you’re taking a bus, you’ll have to pay when you ride, and you’ll need to have the exact change.

The SkyTrain’s end of the line is at the Waterfront station. From there, you’re close to the SeaBus terminal, where you can catch a sea bus (boat) over to the North Shore. 

It’s worth noting that the SkyTrain ticket is valid for 90 minutes, so if you make it in time, the SeaBus ride will be included!

It’s a nice 15-minute boat ride with good views.

What Is the Cheapest Time to Visit Vancouver?

The cheapest time to visit Vancouver is during the winter because that’s when the hotel rates are at their lowest.

On the contrary, summer is the busiest season in the city, and it’s when the hotel rates take a sharp rise to accommodate the influx of North Americans visiting for exciting outdoor activities.

During the spring, the hotel rates are reasonable if you manage to book early enough. Meanwhile, when September comes around and the fall starts showing its colors, the summer hotel rates start to fall, and you can find some great deals during this time.

Where to Eat in Vancouver

Vancouver has an amazing assortment of restaurants, bars, and street foods not to miss. If you’re residing in Downtown, Mount Pleasant/Olympic Village isn’t far, and it has a huge variety of restaurants close to one another.

You’ll want to start with Poutine, which is a very popular dish only found in Canada. It’s basically french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy.

You’ll find Poutine on any market or takeaway place in Vancouver, but for something special, try Fritz European Fry House on Davie Street.

What to eat in Vancouver Canada

A Japadog stand is also something not to walk past. These hybrids between a hotdog and Japanese cuisine are very popular and delicious.

If you’re up for something different, you can enjoy Vancouver’s thriving craft beer scene with this award-winning Vancouver Craft Brewery and Food Tour.

The 4-hour tour includes all beer samples, a full meal, a free beer glass, transportation, and more!

Day Trips from Vancouver

With your trip to Vancouver coming up, you may be stressing about how many days you need in Vancouver. Or you may be asking, is 3 days enough in Vancouver?

Like most cities, the answer depends on what type of trip you are looking for.

Best day trips from Vancouver

There are so many wonderful day tours that you can take from Vancouver if you don’t want to drive, like this 7.5-Hour Sea to Sky Tour that takes you along the Sea-to-Sky corridor, visiting Horseshoe Bay, Shannon Falls, and the famous Sea to Sky Gondola.

On this Half-Day Whale Watching Tour from Vancouver, you will see several types of whales, as well as sea birds and other marine species; and you’ll enjoy the views of the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, and Howe Sound.

If you’re spending a week in Vancouver, you can explore Tofino, Victoria, or the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island.

Many tours in Vancouver also pick you up from your hotel, which is a wonderful option.

🚌 Do you want to visit the highlights of Vancouver? Book this Vancouver City Tour including Capilano Suspension Bridge and discover the best of the city!

Read next: What is the Best Way of Traveling Around Canada?


I asked my friend Campbell and Alya of Stingy Nomads to help me with this article that covered the top things to have on your Vancouver itinerary for 3 or more days. 

Best Things to Do in Vancouver in 3 Days

Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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