A Vancouver itinerary of 4 days can be the best 4 days of your vacation! Vancouver, British Columbia is one of best travel destinations in the world. Not only is it chock-full of breathtaking mountains and gorgeous ocean views, it is also an exciting city to explore.
As a visitor to Vancouver, you’re probably wondering how long it will take to see the highlights. You’ll want to really get a feel for the city. As a native Vancouverite, I can say with certainty that 4 days is the ideal amount of time! If you have more time, I would suggest a romantic getaway on Vancouver Island!
Don’t worry if you’re in Vancouver for longer than 4 days! There’s more than enough to see and do around Vancouver to keep you occupied for weeks! But, if you’ve only got 4 days or so, this is your ideal itinerary to maximize your time in this beautiful city.
Do you need information about where to stay in Vancouver? Check out this comprehensive guide to the best hotels at each price point in different areas of the city.
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Day 1 of 4 Days in Vancouver
It’s your first day in beautiful Vancouver! It might feel a little overwhelming at first and you might think that you don’t know where to begin. That’s why the first thing I recommend that you do in Vancouver is to take a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour.
A Hop On Hop Off bus tour is the perfect way to begin our 4 day Vancouver itinerary! It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the city. You’ll become a little bit streetwise and learn the layout of the city. It will be good to get your bearings and get an excellent overview of what Vancouver has to offer.
Hop On Hop Off Bus tours are a really flexible way to see Vancouver. If you see something you really want to spend more time at, you can hop off and do exactly that! When you’re ready to see something else, there will be another Hop On Hop Off bus coming by soon! You’ll be back on your way to the next beautiful sight.
The Vancouver Hop on Hop Off bus is a vintage clear-top or a heritage San Francisco-type Trolley. There are 3 different routes you can choose from which highlight the best of Vancouver’s major attractions and points of interest.
Hop On Hop Off Bus tours are really affordable too! They are a great way to see Vancouver’s highlights for a lot less than what you might pay otherwise. Hop On Hop Off tours are a great way to spend day 1 of your Vancouver itinerary in 4 days!
Pro tip: Bring a light jacket and wear good walking shoes on your tour.
Don’t Miss Vancouver’s Chinatown during 4 Days in Vancouver Itinerary
One of my favourite stops on the Vancouver Hop On Hop Off tour is definitely Chinatown. Vancouver has one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, with buildings dating back to the 1880’s Vancouver was settled in the late 19th century by Asian immigrants from Asia coming to work on Canadian railroads. The Wing Sang Building is one of the oldest buildings in Chinatown, built in 1889. Vancouver’s Chinatown is designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
When you Hop Off in Vancouver’s Chinatown, don’t miss the China Gate on Pender Street. It was donated to the City of Vancouver by the government of the People’s Republic of China following the Expo ’86 World’s Fair in Vancouver.
Chinatown is also a great place to stop for lunch! There are many amazing Asian restaurants in Chinatown. Try Sai Woo on Pender Street or Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Keefer Street.
Day 2 of Vancouver Itinerary in 4 days
Start off your second day in Vancouver with a great brunch! Now that you’ve got a full belly and a good sense of what Vancouver is all about, it’s time to dig a little deeper into Vancouver’s major attractions!
Morning – Stanley Park
Following your delicious breakfast, you might want to take a walk to begin exploring this beautiful city on foot. There’s no better place to start than Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is a gigantic park in the middle of Vancouver. At 405 hectares, it’s one of largest city parks in the world! Almost entirely surrounded by water, the park is an oasis in the middle of the city. There is a seawall loop that circumnavigates the park. If you’re feeling energetic (or maybe you over-indulged at breakfast?) you can take in the beautiful 9 kilometre walk and enjoy all of the gorgeous Vancouver scenery. The seawall is divided into two sections: one for walkers or runners and one for cyclists and skaters.
Stanley Park Features
There are also many trails within Stanley Park featuring wide, bark-mulched paths. Many of the paths were previously used as “skid rows”, where loggers pulled the trees they felled to the nearest sawmill. There are also old monument trees along some of the trails, specifically Siwash Rock Trail, Third Beach Trail and north of the Beaver Lake on Lake Trail.
There’s a great Pitch ‘n Putt golf course in Stanley Park, picnic areas, tennis courts, playgrounds, water parks in summer, a large outdoor pool, several beaches and so much more! Don’t forget about the Christmas train in Stanley Park in December 🙂
One of things I love about Stanley Park is the First Nations art and totem poles. Carved out of red cedar, the totem poles welcome visitors to the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people. There are 9 totem poles at Brockton Point. They are the most visited tourist attraction in British Columbia! The totem poles were first installed in the park in the 1920’s and the poles that can be seen today are modern replicas of the original poles. The original totem poles have been sent to various museums for for preservation.
Where to Eat in Stanley Park
Finish off your time in Stanley Park with lunch at one of the great eateries in the park. You’ll want to make sure that your Vancouver itinerary in 4 days includes some great meals, too!
Prospect Point Bar & Grill is a popular choice in the park and it has a great gift shop too. The views from the cafe are amazing and the food is pretty good too! It was just reopened in April 2019 and is freshly renovated.
Other choices in the park include Stanley’s Bar & Grill, located in the Stanley Park Pavilion near Malkin Bowl. This is a great choice if you’re lucky enough to get tickets to Theatre Under the Stars (shows in July and August). The Teahouse Restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a Vancouver sunset, and is a great choice if you’re looking for a beautiful atmosphere and amazing views.
There are also concession stands throughout the park where you can get a quick snack or a coffee on the go.
Other Options for Enjoying Stanley Park
A really interesting and fun option for exploring Stanley Park is to take a walking nature tour with one of Vancouver’s indigenous people to learn how the First Nations of Vancouver harvested each plant for food, medicine and technology. You’ll interact with nature in a way you never have before. Learn the story of each plant and tree in this opportunity to explore this iconic park.
The guide for this tour will be a member of the local Indigenous community and the surrounding region and will share ecological practices, ancient and contemporary history, stories, legends and indigenous ways of living.
Don’t miss this great tour!
If you’re more athletically inclined, you can take in Stanley Park via bike on this great bike tour! This is a 3-hour guided tour. You’ll cruise by Lost Lagoon, see the beautiful Totem Poles at Brockton Point and learn more about the First Nations of the area and learn about Vancouver’s origins as a logging town. A professional guide and a well-maintained bike is included! If you’d rather use an electric bike for the tour, those are available too (I love e-bikes 😉
Afternoon – Gastronomic Gastown Walking Tour
After your vigourous morning in Stanley Park get ready for a completely different experience in the afternoon!
Gastown is a lively and bustling area of downtown Vancouver, known for its Steam Clock and interesting mix of souvenir shops, Victorian buildings, cobbled streets and hipster vibe. It is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, named for “Gassy Jack” Deighton, who established a tavern here in 1867.
Gastown is now the heart of Vancouver’s famous foodie scene. This tour is not-to-be-missed! You’ll see all of the charm of Gastown, together with an excellent sampling from some of the best restaurants in town. Learn about the neighbourhood from a very informative guide while you sample some classic Canadian foods and some excellent Canadian beer.
This tour is 2.5 hours long and you’ll spend most of your time sampling culinary delights, starting with appetizers and finishing up with something sweet for dessert. You’ll sample the food from 9 unique restaurants and shops and learn all about Gastown’s colourful history.
If you need recommendations for some great places to eat in Vancouver, check out my picks here.
Day 3 – Vancouver Itinerary in 4 days
After breakfast, take the Aquabus over to Granville Island Public Market. Taking the Aquabus is a local favourite and is one of the great non-touristy things to do in Vancouver! You can catch the rainbow-coloured Aquabus at a number of different docks in downtown Vancouver and it will take you directly over to Granville Island.
It’s hard to describe Granville Island in just a few words! As described on Granville Island’s website, the Public Market is the jewel in Granville Island’s crown. The indoor market has an amazing assortment of food and produce stalls with many handcrafted products and unique gifts. From fresh fish to local produce, to gourmet cheese and mouth-watering baked goods, you’ll see and smell it all at the Public Market.
Granville Island is also home to many artisans who work on site and within view of the public. You can see basket-makers, broom-makers, candle-stick makers, First Nations crafts people, fine-art painters, bead-makers and workers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, sculptors, a circus, specialty kids stores, sail-makers and boat builders! I don’t even think I’m listing them all!
Pro tip: most small retailers on Granville Island take credit cards so you don’t have to carry cash.
Granville Island is also home to a wide variety of great restaurants for both lunch and dinner. My favourite is Bridges Bistro with great indoor and patio seating as well as Edible Canada. There are plenty of fast-serve restaurants and coffee bars as well.
Granville Island is open from 9am to 7pm daily so you’ll have plenty of time to take everything in.
If you’d prefer a guided tour of Granville Island, there’s a great one available that will take approximately 2 hours. You’ll get the opportunity to taste some amazing cheese and wine as well as charcuterie and sweets! The guide will tell you all about the history of Granville Island and will show you the spots that the locals love best. This tour is limited to small groups so you’ll get lots of personalized attention.
Afternoon – Day 3
Take the Aquabus back to downtown from Granville Island and make your way to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest in Western Canada and is housed in the beautiful former provincial Courthouse in downtown Vancouver. The steps of the Art Gallery is a regular gathering spot for protests and demonstrations. It’s also a popular meeting spot for Vancouverites and a favourite place to downtown picnic on a sunny summer day! No Vancouver itinerary in 4 days is complete without a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery!
Great Variety at Vancouver Art Gallery
There are frequent touring exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, with the latest being an exhibit of French Modernists – Monet to Matisse.
The Gallery has a very impressive collection of Emily Carr works as well as a significant collection of photographs. The Vancouver Art Gallery also has an important collection of Indigenous art from the Vancouver region including model poles, masks, frontlets, feast dishes and hats. Modern first nations artists are also represented the Gallery’s collection including Bill Reid and Robert Davidson.
There’s an excellent restaurant in the Gallery, the Gallery Cafe. You’ll feel well satisfied with your cultural and art education after spending an afternoon at the Vancouver Art Gallery :-).
Day 4 of 4 Day Vancouver Itinerary
Your 4th day in beautiful Vancouver is the day to take in some of the breathtaking natural scenery Vancouver is famous for!
There are some options for your sightseeing. You can rent a car from many of the car rental dealers downtown and make your own way to these sights. However, if you’re unfamiliar with Vancouver and concerned about parking and directions (parking can sadly be in short supply!), my suggestion is to take advantage of one of the great tours available.
Breathtaking Scenery for a 4 Day Vancouver Itinerary
My favourite is the tour that takes in both Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – two star attractions for the price of one. 🙂 This tour is a very good price too given that it includes your transportation, an expert local guide, and your entry and admission fees to both attractions.
Pro tip: If you decide to drive yourself to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, go quite early: parking is very limited!
You’ll be picked up from your hotel downtown and taken over the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is an amazing place with both a 460 (!) foot long suspension bridge and access to Tree Tops Adventures. Tree Tops Adventures is a series of 7 suspension bridges attached to ancient Douglas Fir trees. You’ll get to walk among these 250 year old trees on a guided nature tour in a unique rainforest setting. It truly is an exceptional experience and really completes your Vancouver itinerary in 4 days.
There’s also other things to do at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. My favourites are Cliffwalk, a story centre, Raptors Ridge (where you can see a live raptor show!) and places to eat and drink.
Next stop will be Grouse Mountain, the peak of Vancouver. Your tour fee includes a ride up Grouse Mountain in a gondola to the very top, where you will see the most amazing views of Vancouver.
Grouse Mountain has many activities available including mountain ropes adventure, visiting with the resident grizzly bears (no, I’m not even kidding. There really are resident grizzly bears!) , ziplines, restaurants and more.
I hope you really enjoy your visit to Vancouver! If you can stay for a few more days, check out the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway roadtrip, where you can experience even more of beautiful British Columbia!
Interested in going on a guided tour to Banff National Park? See all the details here! If you’re interested in driving from Vancouver to Banff, I’ve got all the information you need to plan your trip here. A backpack on wheels is the perfect way to pack your bags for your trip to Vancouver. This comprehensive guide will help you choose the right one for you.
What are your favourite things to see and do in Vancouver?
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