A Near-Perfect 48-Hour Itinerary
You have two days in Vancouver. That’s it. How can two days possibly be enough time to experience this amazing city, you ask? We’ve got a fail-proof way to make the most of your visit in just 48 hours.
Time is short on this trip, so no sleeping in. Grab an early cup of joe at one of the many cafes on bustling Robson Street, which is the prime spot in town for window shopping and people watching. Once the caffeine has kicked in, head over to Robson Square for a stroll through the acclaimed Vancouver Art Gallery. The gallery features more than 9,000 pieces and great travelling exhibits.
The Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch is one of the largest public capital projects ever completed in the city, and it is magnificent. This complex is more than a simple library -- it is an architectural gem in Vancouver. The nine-story structure was built to resemble the Colosseum and features a massive and striking atrium covered by a glass ceiling. There’s a continuous piazza surrounding the complex, which proves to be a gorgeous outdoor public space.
After you’ve spent some time feeding your brain at the library, it’s time to feed your stomach. Don’t settle for an ordinary lunch experience. Try something with a little ethnic flair. Dim sum is a culinary adventure, featuring steamed treats of all types of imaginable ingredients. It can be difficult to find good dim sum, unless, that is, you are in a multicultural mecca such as Vancouver -- and particularly Vancouver’s Chinatown. North America’s third-largest Chinatown, the neighbourhood celebrates more than a century of heritage in the city and features plenty of authentic cuisine, including enough dim sum to hold you over until your next trip to China.
With a great Chinese meal devoured, it’s time for another authentic experience. Blending rock, water, plants and architecture into a serene landscape, the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is reminiscent of a Ming Dynasty-era garden. Its tranquility and beauty have been Chinatown mainstays for almost three decades.
While Robson Street deservedly gets a whole lot of credibility as a shopping destination, the Gastown district, just a short jaunt from Chinatown, holds its own. The pedestrian-friendly district features fashion, galleries, specialty shops, and plenty of dining and drinking options for those who need a break from carrying a dozen bags full of goodies. Plus, there’s the Gastown Steam Clock, which as you may have guessed is a clock powered by steam. It’s one of the few in the world, making it a popular tourist draw.
Finish off the day with a late dinner in another one of Vancouver’s great neighbourhoods, The West End. With more than 40,000 people calling this mostly residential district home, the West End is Vancouver’s most populous area and its filled with numerous eateries ranging from coffee shops to great fine-dining options that are frequented by locals.
Day two of this grand Vancouver adventure begins at Granville Island, which is connected to downtown via its namesake bridge. Wander through the massive Granville Island Public Market, overflowing with fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, and arts and crafts. Stop for breakfast in the food court, take in a few galleries and enjoy the spot that the Project for Public Spaces called “One of the World’s Great Places.” To think, this area was once home to little more than factories, industrial plants and sawmills.
Vanier Park is just a quick ferry ride from Granville Island, meaning it won’t take long to be whisked away to great attractions that tell the stories of Vancouver. The municipal park is home to the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
The thing about sightseeing is it takes some serious energy. Sometimes a break is in order, which is where Kitsilano Beach, or “Kits” Beach to locals, comes in handy. One of the most popular beaches in the area, it faces the Burrard Inlet and is a great place to relax in the sun and take a deep breath of sea-filled air. The beach is also home to an outdoor saltwater pool, Kitsilano Pool, which at 137 metres (85 feet) is the longest pool in Canada. Don’t miss dining at the legendary Boathouse Kits Beach, a delicious seafood restaurant with unparalleled views.
Head back to Granville Island for an evening of live entertainment. Here you can choose from a cluster of community theatres, including The Arts Club Theatre Co., the largest company in Western Canada. Vancouver also has a diverse theatre community extending throughout downtown. Options include the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Firehall Arts Center and Vancouver Playhouse.
After experiencing some of the best of Vancouver for very full two days, we’ll bet that the hotel bed is sounding pretty good. Or you may just be ready to extend your trip another day.