Vancouver: perfect long weekend break itinerary

Vancouver is not only one of my favourite cities in Canada but it’s up there on my list of top cities in the world. Why you may ask? The city is more open and green, so there are parks everywhere, forests nearby, beaches and ocean to take in, surrounded by mountains, Vancouver is such a beautiful city. A lot of the city can be walked, cycled, or if public transport is used, then the bus is a great way to get around. Like San Francisco, this city is good for your health and a lot of people love to keep healthy. However unlike California, the air in this city is fresher (if that makes any sense) and whilst wandering around, I didn’t feel like I was in a huge city. Because of a lot of natural things nearby, this felt more like a town in a forest or by the sea with the people having a laid-back approach to life. Ok, I stop talking now and start sharing with my readers what is there to do for a long weekend break in this amazing city.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,

Downtown Vancouver

Now I am going to be totally honest , apart from eating out and shopping, I only did a few of the places the city has to offer. This is because of all nature has to offer nearby. One place I regret missing out so far on my three trips to the city is not stopping by at Granville Island (which is not an island but a peninsula) where there are a lot of cafes, restaurants, markets and theatre. Another place is Gastown which is Vancouver’s Old Town, another area full of restaurants. Next trip, fingers crossed I will get to these two areas of the city.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
I start off where 98% of visitors of the city goes too (this is what it felt like to me), the area around Stanley Park. This park is one of the best city parks in the world I have come across and I love doing a run or cycle around here. There are great views of the sea and the mountains to the north of the city. There are quite a lot of see in this mini rainforest with different varieties of trees but for those who want to escape nature for a moment and learn about one of the local cultures here in Canada, then there is the First Nations Totem Poles. The art work on the carvings are totally amazing. However for me it’s just taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and water. A truly amazing place.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Stanley Park
Totem Poles in Stanley Park
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Stanley Park
Marina in Stanley Park

Nearby to the entrance of the park is a little harbour where I took a ride with Harbour Cruises and had a sunset dinner and cruise on a mild summer evening. Leaving the harbour the vessel I was on, the MPV Constitution (which is a paddle-boat, my first and only time I have been on one), took in the northern side of the city, went past Stanley Park, south towards Kits Point and Granville Island before turning around and going back the way route. I think I was on the cruise for over two hours so whilst on the journey, I took in the sunset on a cloudy evening over the sea and had a three-course meal (buffet style) which had a lot of fish and vegetables on offer (so I can’t complain). This cruise is the perfect way to take in the sea and the city views at night.

Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
About to go for a ride on the water
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
On board the MPV Constitution (lower deck)
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
On board the MPV Constitution (lower deck)
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
On board the MPV Constitution
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
Views of Vancouver and the surrounding area from the MPV Constitution
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
Views of Vancouver and the surrounding area from the MPV Constitution
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
Views of Vancouver and the surrounding area from the MPV Constitution
Harbour Cruises in Vancouver
Views of Vancouver and the surrounding area from the MPV Constitution

One of my other favourite eating places is Cardero’s restaurant located in the Coal Harbour Marina. As well as having fantastic marina and mountain views, the food and service here is bloody fantastic (the only way I could sum it up at the time). The starters, the fish meals, the deserts, I couldn’t complain about anything & was one of the best dining experiences I had in Canada. If having a late meal here in the evening, there is also live music to be had.

Carderos restaurant, Vancouver Carderos restaurant, Vancouver Carderos restaurant, Vancouver

To the north of Vancouver

As mentioned, Vancouver for me was like a base and didn’t do much in Downtown (I promise myself this will change on my fourth trip to the city in the near future). It’s outside the city which is really worth checking out and getting up close with nature and taking in the views.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
Mountains and Douglas Fir Trees are just a few minutes drive north of Vancouver

First off is Grouse Mountain where a cable car ride takes visitors to the summit (or to save money, do the 2.9km hike each way). At the top is great dining experiences, see the bears, see a lumberjack show or a bird of prey display or even go up a wind turbine. But for me it’s those breathtaking views over Vancouver and the ocean. One of my favourite city views in all of Canada. Check out my post on Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
A view of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

Nearby is Cleveland Dam on the Capilano River. Ok, so it’s a dam right, however this place is free to visit and is off the main road between Vancouver and Grouse Mountain. The reason I mention is that it’s a great place to go for walks or start a run from here but also another great view is to be had of the mountains.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Cleveland Dam
Cleveland Dam

Also just off the same road (Nancy Greene Way/Capilano Road), is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, where a huge suspension bridge is located over the Capilano River. Also here visitors can walk amongst the treetops, do a cliffwalk, get close to the Douglas Fir trees and see more Totem Poles. The park is beautiful and would totally recommend everyone to come here and embrace the trees and fresh alpine air. Check out my post on Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Capilano Suspension Bridge

Another suspension bridge to check out but to the north-east of Vancouver is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge located in the area known as Lynn Valley. It is free to go to and parking is limited but at the bridge there is a cafe and toilets. From here, walk across the bridge (which is smaller than the Capilano but still breathtaking), and if visitors have enough time, then go for a hike. I did this in the rain (well, the area does have rainforests, so it was good to walk in the rain in the rainforest I guess!), and walked down the hill towards the 30 Foot Pond. Here it was just nice to sit down and relax by the water. It is an easy trail (the name of the trail is Baden Powell Trail) however going back from the pond to the bridge is uphill but it’s a nice gentle climb.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
The hike from the bridge to the river down below

To the south of Vancouver

Into running? As well as the marathon which takes place here in May every year (I will compete in this event one day…fingers crossed!) there is also the Parkrun which I am a big supporter off. This 5km (3.1 mile) event takes place every Saturday at 09:00. It is open to all abilities, people can run fast, steady run, fast walk or walk. It’s about getting out there and being healthy. At the time of writing this, there are three Parkrun courses in the area, one in Burnaby, Mundy but the one I tried is called Richmond Olympic, in Richmond just south of Vancouver. I really did enjoy this run along the Fraser River in the summer and took in the planes as they were landing at the nearby Vancouver International airport.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Parkrun
There is also an option of getting a day or two visit to the nearby Vancouver Island. OK, everyone is not going to visit the WHOLE island in two days but I did do a short break to Victoria and a few neighbouring places. This can be done by car ferry or even take a plane over the sea. The views are amazing! The nature and the ocean here is also fantastic but for me, Victoria has one of my favourite breakfast places in the world. Check out my blog post to find out more.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada,
Victoria, the main city on Vancouver Island

To the east of Vancouver

Still looking for a few day trips whilst in the city? I can recommend going on wine tasting visits in the area. The wine in British Columbia is really up there with some of the rest of the world. There are quite a lot of wineries to choose from but check out my blog post to see which ones I tried and why I recommend them. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
Wine tasting at one of many BC wineries

The area to the east is known as the Fraser Valley with the main towns being Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Hope. There are pretty waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and sights to check out as well as hiking trails. There is even a spa town of Harrison Hot Springs. The Fraser Valley is a great place to check out and is easy to get to via the Trans-Canadian-One-Highway. Here is my post on what there is to do in the Fraser Valley.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Fraser Valley
Bridal Veils Falls

A few tips

Getting to and from the airport. As well as a taxi which costs around $40-$45 at the time of writing, there is also the Sky Train which got me into Downtown in no time and cost $9.25 each way. I would say don’t have car rental if visitors are just checking out the city but if going further afield, then a car is needed. Just remember that parking can be expensive in places and a pain to find a space. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
Vancouver city view from Stanley Park

If looking for a hotel, one place I can recommend which is right by the Vancouver Lookout on East Hastings Street is the Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites. A comfortable stay with modern decor and fantastic service but the breakfast was amazing. Sitting outside on the mini-terrace taking in a city view. A great way to start the day and is in walking distance to some of Vancouver’s top sights. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Breakfast at the hotel with a city view
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
Vancouver

Further afield

Vancouver is a great place to start or finish any trip. My favourite trips are doing road trips and there are so many places to check out if going further afield, like driving along the Trans-Canadian-One-Highway through the national parks of British Columbia and Alberta to Calgary. Or head north towards Whistler and Alaska and check out even more…er….mountains and trees. To the south there is also Seattle in the United States which is another city to check out and has the laid-back vibe. So much to do. Did I say this post was about a weekend in Vancouver? Maybe a fortnight if including all the nearby places (or maybe longer). I really hope this has given my readers an idea on what to do and hopefully I will be back very soon to do downtown Vancouver and maybe the marathon.

Seattle, USA
Seattle

Please note that while I was not working with any of the companies mentioned on this page and that my trips to Vancouver was all paid for by myself. I love Vancouver so much and want to show you the city through my eyes and give you the best advice possible. My reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!

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