Beautiful view of a weekend in Vancouver

Weekend in Vancouver (Insiders Guide)

Spending a weekend in Vancouver is an excellent idea for anyone looking for a great, fun-filled weekend in a beautiful city!

As a native Vancouverite and current resident, I’m an expert on what to do on a Vancouver weekend getaway.   I love my city and all it has to offer.  Spreading the word about how great Vancouver is has become my passion 🙂

Whether it’s your first visit to Vancouver or your 21st, there’s always something new to see and something great to eat.  After all, a weekend trip to Vancouver isn’t complete without having a new adventure.

Read on for all the information you need to spend a 48 hours in Vancouver BC and have a seriously good time!

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you click on a link to a product or service I recommend and you make a purchase, I may get a small commission.

Weekend in Vancouver – Where to Stay

I’ve written a detailed article on the best places to stay in Vancouver here.  Click to read more and for a comprehensive review of all the best places to stay in Vancouver in every neighbourhood.

For Vancouver weekend getaways, I recommend staying in downtown Vancouver as it’s closest to many attractions, transportation options and restaurants.

Best Choice For Luxury Hotel in Vancouver

Vancouver Cruise Terminal and Canada Place
Vancouver’s Cruise Ship Terminal

Hands down, my favourite luxury hotel in Vancouver is the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  Directly across the street from the cruise ship terminal, this lovely property is the favourite of celebrities who can often be spotted in the swanky Lobby Lounge.

This hotel is perfect for a romantic weekend in Vancouver.  Some rooms have spectacular mountain and ocean views and the service is simply impeccable.  The Lobby Lounge is the perfect place to people-watch, drink delicious cocktails and have a tasty snack.

Check the price of a weekend stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver.

Best Choice for Mid-Range Hotel in Vancouver

The Opus Hotel is a solid choice for a moderately-priced hotel in downtown Vancouver.  You’ll find the Opus in Yaletown, one of the cool new neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

The Opus is a stylish boutique hotel with a great Italian restaurant – La Pentola.  The Opus Bar has a nice buzzy vibe with live music and great happy hour specials.

Check the price of 2 days in Vancouver at the Opus Hotel.

Best Choice for a Budget Hotel in Vancouver

English Bay in Vancouver, a great spot when spending 48 hours in Vancouver
English Bay in Downtown Vancouver

Budget hotels in downtown Vancouver are a bit rare, but there is one bright spot that I highly recommend – the Buchan Hotel.

This three-story walk-up hotel is perfect for budget-conscious travelers who want something clean, quiet and comfortable.  It’s close to many great Vancouver attractions like Stanley Park and the beach at English Bay, and its located in the heart of the West End.

There’s a good variety of rooms available.   There’s also free wireless internet and the hotel staff are super friendly and helpful.

Check the price of a long weekend in Vancouver at the Buchan Hotel.

Best Choice for an AirBnB Stay in Downtown Vancouver

Staying at an AirBnb in downtown Vancouver is a great choice for a Vancouver getaway.

AirBnb’s can be much more affordable than a standard hotel room and usually offer much more space as well.

What I love about staying at an AirBnB is access to a kitchen and cooking facilities.  Honestly, I don’t often cook when I stay at an AirBnB, but I always use the refrigerator and often the microwave oven.

It can save you a lot of money if you’re not always having to eat out for every meal.  I usually find a local grocery store (this grocery store is a great choice in downtown Vancouver, as well as this one) and stock up on breakfast items and snacks.

This is my favourite AirBnB downtown.  I’ve had several friends stay here during a 48 hour visit to Vancouver and they absolutely raved about it.  It was extremely clean and comfortable and had amazing views of downtown.  It’s very centrally located and the price is right.   There’s even a lovely patio!

Check the price and availability of this gorgeous AirBnB property now.  

Gastown Steamclock in Vancouver - an essential part of Vancouver in 2 days
Gastown’s Famous Steam Clock

Another great AirBnB property in downtown Vancouver is this one.   Located in funky Gastown, this is a stylish loft in a converted warehouse.   It’s super comfortable and cozy and perfectly convenient.  I’ve also had friends stay in this property and they absolutely loved it.  They raved about the super-comfy bed, well-appointed kitchen and walk-in shower.

Located in the Gastown area, this AirBnb is also very conveniently located for access to a wide variety of things to do in Vancouver.

Check the price and availability of this funky converted loft AirBnB property now.

Weekend Trip to Vancouver  – Best Things to Do

With a Vancouver two day itinerary, your list of possible things to do is almost endless 🙂

Vancouver Two Day Itinerary – Winter Ideas

Living in Vancouver as I do, I know a thing or two about how to take advantage of all the great things to do in Vancouver in winter!  Vancouver is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts with great facilities for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snow-mobiling.

Whether you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter or Vancouver at Christmas, Vancouver is a great cold weather destination.

Although Vancouver’s winter can be rainy, you can overcome any trepidation about venturing out in the rain with a great rain jacket.  

What to do in Vancouver in 2 days

Brockton Point in Stanley Park, a great place to visit during a Vancouver two day itinerary

City Tour

If it’s your first time visiting Vancouver (or perhaps even your second or third time), one of the best ways to get an overall sense of all that Vancouver has to offer is to take a Hop On Hop Off tour.

I ALWAYS book one of these tours whenever I’m in a new place and I love it.  They really provide a great overview of what a city is like and gives you a great perspective on what a city is really like.

These tours provide great value too, especially if you’re traveling with a group or with your family.

Vancouver has an excellent Hop On Hop Off tour that I always recommend.   It takes you through the city including Gastown, Yaletown, Chinatown, the Olympic Village, Science World, English Bay beach and a lot more besides.   The commentary is super helpful too.

Check the price of a Hop On Hop Off Tour of Vancouver here.

Private Tour with a Local

Private tours are something I’ve done several times (most recently in Paris), and I absolutely love them.

There’s really something special about seeing a new city through the eyes of a passionate local.  You get to learn insider information about Vancouver to really make the most of your trip.  You get more confident when navigating the city and get great tips on the best-kept secrets of where to eat and what to do.

Check the price of a Private Tour with a Local here.

Asian Food Tour

Dim Sum - part of the delicious food to be had
Chinese Dimsum

The Vancouver area is widely acknowledged as home to some of the best Asian food to be found anywhere, even Asia!

If you’d love to learn more about Asian food and taste some of the best food there is, this is definitely the tour for you.

This tour gets you access to restaurants, food shops and markets that attract Asian food lovers from all over the world.  You get to visit dumpling shops, noodle stands, dim sum restaurants, Chinese bakeries and lots more.  There’s lots of different types of delicacies to try and you’ll get to try them all on this excellent tour.

Don’t miss this one!

Check the price and availability of this Asian Food Tour here.

Vancouver Canucks Hockey Game – Perfect for a Weekend in Vancouver

Seeing Vancouver’s beloved NHL hockey team play – the Vancouver Canucks – is one of the best things to do if you’re visiting Vancouver in hockey season.

Vancouverites absolutely LOVE hockey and seeing the game played live is an experience like no other.  You’ve probably seen a game on TV but if you’ve never seen a game in person you’re really missing out.  Live game action brings the game to life like you can’t imagine!

You can hear the sound of the puck hitting the player’s sticks, hear the players talk to each other (or trash talk!) on the ice and really feel like you’re part of the action.

Season ticket holders make up the majority of Vancouver Canucks fans so the best way (and sometimes the cheapest way) to get tickets is via StubHub, the ticket reseller.

Depending on the team, I’ve seen Vancouver Canucks tickets selling for as little as $32 on StubHub.  Prices are usually higher for more popular teams (such as the Original Six NHL teams) but even then they’re quite affordable.

You never have to worry about the validity of your tickets when you buy through StubHub, so I always feel good about getting my tickets this way.

Check the price and availability of Vancouver Canucks tickets at StubHub

For even more ideas of great things to do on your weekend in Vancouver, I’ve written about some great non-touristy things to do in Vancouver here, and there are even more ideas here.

Vancouver Weekend Getaways – Transportation Options

Vancouver, including the Burrard Street Bridge, part of your transportation options during your 48 hours in Vancouver

There are quite a wide variety of options for making your way around Vancouver during your weekend trip.  Depending on your preferences and choices of activities, one or a combination of options may work best for you.

Public Transit in Vancouver

Vancouver has a excellent public transit system of buses (electric and diesel), Seabus and Skytrain.

Translink has an excellent Trip Planner for navigating your way around Vancouver.  Simply enter your address and destination and it will give you a choice of options for getting where you want to go.  This is a very comprehensive and intuitive tool and very useful for visitors to Vancouver.  There’s even a chat feature for live help.

Seabus in Vancouver

The Seabus is a passenger-only ferry that crosses Burrard Inlet, which connects downtown Vancouver with the North Shore.  Ferry’s depart every 15 minutes during the day.

Taking the Seabus is a very efficient and easy way to get from downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver.   Check here for the Seabus schedule

Vancouver Seabus, one of the ways you might get around Vancouver in a weekend
Vancouver’s Seabus in action

Skytrain in Vancouver

The Skytrain is Vancouver’s rapid transit system.   Don’t be surprised when your Skytrain goes underground! Although most Skytrain lines are elevated, there are lines that also go underground.

Skytrain Canada Line connects downtown Vancouver with Vancouver International Airport.  The Expo and Millennium Lines connect downtown Vancouver with outlying areas of Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.

Skytrain route planning is easily done via the Trip Planner app.

Taxi’s in Vancouver

Vancouver is well-served by a number of taxi companies.  Cars can be hailed from the street but the best way to get a cab in Vancouver is to book one in advance.  

Vancouver Taxi

MacLure’s Cabs

Yellow Cab

Black Top Cabs

Ride-Hailing in Vancouver

Uber and Lyft recently launched in Vancouver, much to the delight of Vancouverites 🙂  We have been waiting for years for our municipal and Provincial governments to approve ride hailing.  I can’t wait to take my first Uber ride in Vancouver 🙂

Check out Uber Vancouver here.

Check out Lyft Vancouver here. 

Rental Cars in Vancouver

Totem Poles in Stanley Park in Vancouver, part of any great Vancouver 2 day Itinerary
Some of the beautiful totem poles in Stanley Park in Vancouver

Renting a car might be a good choice if you’re spending just two days in Vancouver.

Although traffic congestion is definitely an issue in Vancouver, using a car to get around is a great choice if you’re interested in seeing or doing things not amenable to other transportation options.

A great option that I’ve used and friends visiting have used as well is Economy Bookings.  Economy Bookings is a rental car aggregator – they partner with all the major rental car companies (Avis, Discount, etc.) and provide a choice of the best prices and options.

You can pick up a rental car from the Vancouver International Airport or in downtown Vancouver, making is very convenient and easy.

Check the price and availability of rental cars in Vancouver here.

Vancouver Weekend Trip – Where to Eat

Eating out in Vancouver is an experience like no other – seriously!

Vancouver is a foodie paradise and ethnic food-lover’s dream come true.  It’s often said that Vancouver has better sushi than Tokyo and better Chinese food than China 😉

There are excellent restaurant options in every corner of the city whether you’re looking for classic diners, upscale eateries or a family-style restaurant.

Breakfast/Brunch for 48 Hours in Vancouver

I’ve written extensively about the best places to have brunch in Vancouver, divided into neighbourhoods (and including great places in the areas close to Vancouver).   For a complete review of the best places to brunch in Vancouver, check it out.

Cafe Medina

Not to be missed for some of the best Belgian waffles you’ve ever had.  The short rib hash is also to die for.  Located in downtown Vancouver in the Library district, Cafe Medina is an easy walking distance from almost anywhere downtown.

Belgian Waffles at Cafe Medina, part of a great Vancouver long weekend

Northern Cafe

Tucked away in South Vancouver above the Northern Lumber yard is this little neighbourhood gem.  If you Uber or have a rental car, don’t miss this great place.  Jimmy, Raymond and Connie cook up some of the best diner food I’ve ever tasted, including the tastiest French Fries I’ve had in years.

Dim Sum

You can’t spend a weekend in Vancouver without trying this Asian brunch favourite.   One of the best restaurants in downtown Vancouver for Dim Sum is Kirin Restaurant.  The Dim Sum menu changes every month, but local favourite pork and shrimp dumplings are always on the menu.

A great Dim Sum restaurant in Richmond (just south of Vancouver) is Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant.  Chef Tony is a Dim Sum master and he is well known for his top notch pastries and egg-white custard tarts.  Don’t miss the Malay sponge cake.

Lunch Recommendations for Vancouver in 2 Days

While there are plenty of fine restaurants to have lunch in Vancouver, my top recommendation for visitors to Vancouver is to find one our great food trucks.

The food trucks scene in Vancouver is vibrant with food trucks making innovative cuisine easy to access for everyone.  Vancouver has more than 120 food trucks!   If you’re in Vancouver on a warm and sunny day, you can hardly go a block without the scent of a delicious meal wafting by from a food truck 🙂

Vancouver Food Truck - a great part of 48 hours in Vancouver BC

Food trucks are usually operated by restaurateurs wanting to branch out or young chefs with exciting new ideas.    Downtown Vancouver is home to many food trucks but they can also be found at festivals, events or just parked on a busy street.

The best way to find food trucks every day is to consult the Street Food App.  It provides up to date information daily on the location of each food truck, their operating hours as well as the methods of payment accepted.

I’ve never had a bad meal from a food truck, and have had some seriously good ones!

Favourite Vancouver Food Trucks

Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck

Serving classic home style gourmet grilled cheese, soup and comfort foods.

Tacofino Pink & Blue Trucks

Mexican inspired food, with the best fish tacos, chicken karaage, and chocolate diablo cookies.

Japadog

Vancouver’s famous Japanese style hot dogs

and my personal favourite food truck….

REEL Mac and Cheese

THE most delicious mac and cheese.  Look for movie-themed specials like the Slumdog Millionaire.

Dinner Recommendations for Two Days in Vancouver

A delicious meal in Vancouver, something to savour during two days in Vancouver

Choosing where to eat dinner in Vancouver can be really difficult – there are so many good places to eat in Vancouver!

One of the great things about dining in Vancouver is that no one minds if you go straight from cycling the seawall to dinner.  The dress expectations at most establishments is “Westcoast Casual” so don’t worry if you’re in shorts and a t-shirt or cycling cleats.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’ll stand out if you decide to dress the part for fine dining!   Vancouver folks are some of the most relaxed people in the world and won’t look askance at almost anyone or anything.  Go ahead and wear your best cocktail dress or favourite suit or your golf wear.  No one will mind a bit.

The foodie scene in Vancouver is strong with many restaurants endorsing the local food movement.  Seafood is particularly well prepared in Vancouver.  Don’t forget the astonishing number of Asian eateries too.

Vij’s

Vancouver’s favourite Indian restaurant since it opened in 1994 is well known internationally.  Operated by Vikram Vij, (seen often on television and author of many books), he combines traditional Indian foods with local produce from British Columbia.

Try sister restaurant Rangoli if you’re looking for something more casual, and if you’re south of the Fraser River in Surrey, don’t miss My Shanti.

Indian Meal

Kissa Tanto

A critically-acclaimed Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, located in Vancouver’s Chinatown.  Although this combination of cuisine may sound odd, don’t wait to make a reservation as they can be hard to come by!  If you can’t get a reservation, try going a bit later and sitting at the bar.

I love the salmon at Kissa Tanto – it’s pan-roasted and served with leeks and mushrooms.  Delicious!

St. Lawrence Restaurant

This place specializing in Québecois cuisine is getting a lot of buzz since it opened in 2017.   With self-styled haute-country cooking, this restaurant prides itself  on re-imagining the classics of both French and Québecois food.  St. Lawrence restaurant is located in Gastown.

I love eating at the Chef’s counter at any restaurant, but especially at St. Lawrence Restaurant.  I’d love to think I was a chef in another life so watching the chefs at work is particularly captivating.

Vancouver Getaway – Festivals in Vancouver

Vancouver is home to many fun festivals throughout the year and you might want to plan your 2 days in Vancouver BC around some of these great events!

BMO Vancouver Marathon

Runners in a marathon - part of a weekend trip to Vancouver BC

Held on May 3, 2020, this is one of the best destination races in the world and the largest one in Canada.

Runners from more than 65 countries compete in this race in either the full-length marathon, the half, the 8km race or the kid’s run.  The course takes you through some of the most picturesque scenery in Vancouver.

There’s also a great Health, Sports and Lifestyle Expo on Marathon Weekend that includes entertainment, street performers and musical performances.

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Vancouver has more than 40,000 cherry trees lining our streets and thousands of visitors arrive every spring to see the beauty of these trees in bloom.

The Festival includes a great line up of events during the festival like bike rides, cherry blossom viewing tours and traditional Japanese festivities.  My favourite part of this festival is the Bike the Blossoms ride, which is a free group tour that winds through a few of Vancouver’s most beautiful neighbourhoods for cherry blossoms.

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is April 2-26, 2020.

Celebration of Light

Vancouver’s Celebration of Light is an international fireworks festival held every summer in Vancouver.

This festival lights up the sky over English Bay for three nights,  Countries compete to see who can out do each other for the best, brightest and most show-stopping displays.

Hundreds of thousands of people line the shores of English Bay and Kits Beach each year to see these beautiful displays.  My favourite way to go is to take a picnic blanket and a gourmet picnic and camp out under the stars.

The Celebration of Lights takes place in 2020 on July 25, 29 and August 1.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Jazz performers - to be seen during a great long weekend in Vancouver during the Jazz festival

The jazz festival is one of Vancouver’s premier annual events and biggest summer celebrations.

For 12 days in June and early July, Vancouver attracts more than 500,000 jazz fans to hear and celebrate jazz music.

Big name headliners include people like Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Eryka Badu and Buddy Guy.  Depend on hearing the best jazz, funk, Latin, fusion and world music artists.

With more than 1,800 artists and 300 concerts there is definitely something for everyone.

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is from June 19-July 1, 2020.

TED Conference

This annual event celebrating Technology, Entertainment and Design is held annually in Vancouver.

The TED Conference features everything from thought-provoking artistic performances, technological demonstrations and innovative spaces to connect with fellow attendees.  There are also dinners and parties, wellness activities and art exhibits.

Even if you can’t get tickets to the TED conference itself, there are many ways to participate.  The TED talks are streamed at sites set up around Vancouver, and there are TEDx Vancouver events as well.

The TED Conference is being held in Vancouver from April 20-24, 2020.

Vancouver International Film Festival

Vancouver is home to one of North America’s biggest film festivals, with more than 140,000 movie buffs seeing 380 movies in this 16 day festival.

The VIFF is one of the largest showcases of Canadian films in the world and together with the international films from more than 70 countries around the world, this festival has a decidedly international flavour.

If you’re a film lover, don’t miss this great event in Vancouver.

The Vancouver International Film Festival will be held from September 24 – October 9, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions about 48 Hours in Vancouver

Q:  What are some of the best attractions to see in Vancouver?

A:  Most visitors to Vancouver consider these attractions to be among the best:

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Lynn Canyon Park
  • Granville Island Public Market
  • Grouse Mountain

Q:   What are some of the best places to get great photos in Vancouver?

A:    There are a lot of beautiful places in and around Vancouver to take beautiful Instagram shots.  Some of the best are:

  • Cypress Mountain Vancouver overlook:  If you can capture the sunrise here, you’re really in for a treat.
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge Park:  With the rainforest canopy and Cliffwalk, there is no end to great photo opportunities here
  • Stanley Park Seawall:  great views of the Vancouver skyline
  • Lions Gate Bridge:  if you can get a shot with fog in the background, you’ll be golden 🙂
  • Canada Place:  get the photo with Digital Orca Sculpture
  • Water Street in Gastown:  head over to the famous Steamclock, of course.

What is your favourite part of a weekend guide in Vancouver?

22 thoughts on “Weekend in Vancouver (Insiders Guide)

  1. This is a really interesting post for me because Vancouver is my hometown too. This is great guide for visitors. It’s hard for me to imagine it, but I think it would be extremely helpful for first-timers on a short stay. The photos are wonderful – are they your own?
    You didn’t include a seawall walk and Stanley Park. One of our fave walks is from underneath Cambie Bridge to Granville Island.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alison. It means a lot coming from a fellow Vancouverite that you think my guide is helpful 🙂 Some of the photos are mind but some are licensed – I wish I was that good a photographer! I love the walk from the bridge to Granville Island too, especially in warmer months. There’s some great viewpoints along the way and I love the new lounge-type chairs near Olympic Village. It’s so hard to pick and choose what to include in a guide like this!

  2. What a fab post, especially with all the food recommendations! Even though I live here, I fancy the Asian food tour! That sounds amaaazing! I may mostly write about mountains, but I LOVE the food options in Vancouver!!

  3. Vancouver is one of my favourite Canadian cities, and you captured it perfectly. My cousin lives there, so I didn’t get to experience all the beautiful food you listed… but now I really want to go back!

  4. I just moved back stateside after being in the UK for 5 years and am itching to explore more of the Americas! Adding Vancouver to my list 🙂

  5. Oh wow! This is an excellent guide with so many wonderful tips and helpful info. I’ve always wanted to visit Vancouver but even more so now! That’s really cool that a TED conference occurs there too. 😁

    1. Thanks Vanessa 🙂 Vancouver was very excited when we first began to host the TED conference and were thrilled when we became the annual hosts. It’s such a great event.

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