A First Timer’s Vancouver Itinerary for 7 Days
If you need the perfect little Vancouver itinerary for one week or 7 days, then this guide is for you! I think I did a pretty good amount of travel around one of Canada’s most famous cities, so hopefully this post gives you a bunch of ideas for your own trip.
My trip to Vancouver was SO much fun. It was also the first time in a while that I’d basically done all travel with very little downtime for work. I went to visit two of my friends, Maggie and Nathalie, and because I’ve never been to Canada before, Vancouver seemed like a great city to start with. Never mind I’ve grown up on the East Coast, so you’d think I’d have made it to Niagara Falls or Toronto beforehand!
Anyway, here’s my full Vancouver itinerary for 7 days!
How to Spend 7 Days in Vancouver
Day 1: Arrival + Dinner
I flew from Providence to Toronto to Vancouver and arrived around 6 pm. So, this is a bit of a cheat day because my itinerary starts quite late!
Check In: HI Vancouver Central
I checked into HI Vancouver Central, a popular hostel chain. I chose it because I knew I’d do a lot of sightseeing and walking around in downtown Vancouver for my first two days, and I wanted to be as central as possible. This city is pretty expensive, so the hostel was still about $150 CAD for two nights!
The HI hostels were the nicest I found for the best price, and I still shared a 4-female room and had a shared bathroom. For a hostel, it’s good but still quite small. I’m also getting to that age where sharing a dorm with strangers and sleeping on the top bunk is not my idea of restful. Check here for prices & availability
If you have a better budget than I did, try these hotels in Vancouver:
I met Maggie and her boyfriend, Dustin, at the subway station and we walked over to Wingz for dinner. We basically got to catch up, see a bit of Granville Street at night, and I got to try my first poutine in Canada!
Since my biological clock was 3 hours ahead, I went back and passed out by 9 pm.
Day 2: Granville Island, Gastown, & Yaletown
Breakfast: Elbow Cafe
My hostel’s breakfast was pretty simple — cereal, toast, coffee, tea, etc. I don’t mind this, especially when it’s “free,” but the line at 8:30 am was long and the area was crowded! Instead I just looked up nearby breakfast places.
The Elbow Cafe popped up and looked fun and quirky, so I went there, and it turned out to be such a fun place! The “rules” made me laugh, and everyone was super nice and friendly. My waiter taught me some Mandarin curse words as he gave me some tea haha.
I also wanted some coffee to go, so I #basicbitched and got a pumpkin spice latte from a nearby coffee shop that I found out later was a chain called Blenz Coffee. It was kind of chilly/rainy out, and I wore sandals, so I needed something warm!
The first thing on my list for the day was Granville Island — mainly because I didn’t want to get caught in the rain! You have to take the False Creek ferry over to Granville, and it’s $5.50 CAD round trip and takes maybe 10 minutes with ferries running super frequently (the sign says every 5 minutes).
Once upon a time, Granville Island was a dumping grown for industrial waste, but over the last fifty years, it’s transformed into a cool public area for the city. The big thing to do is walk around the Public Market and see all the vendors. Try a market tour like this one to learn more.
But the island is pretty fun to roam around. I just walked and checked out the different industrial-esque buildings and popped into a few shots. There’s a really nice park called Parc Ron Basford that was lovely to just sit and admire Alder Bay.
I ended my Granville trip with a salted caramel ice cream sandwich and house-made ginger ale from The Bread Affair. Loved the ice cream sandwich, wasn’t crazy about the Ginger Ale.
This was one of the days I spent a few hours doing work as I had some emails to send and client work to catch up on. Plus it had started to rain on my way back from Granville, so I wanted to sit and warm up before going back out again.
I’d read that Gastown was a bit like New York City, so I thought it might be nice to visit with it being so rainy and cloudy! The big landmark is this fun, whistling Steam Clock and Gastown’s version of a flatiron building.
It was actually Vancouver’s original settlement and is considered it’s first downtown. The name comes from “Gassy” Jack Deighton who was a steamboat captain and barkeeper. Today it’s full of the kind of trendy shops and restaurants you’d expect from neighborhood known for its similarities to New York City.
If you want to know more about Gastown, try this walking food tour.
Dinner: Misslam Tacorea
After a quick walk around Gastown, I went to meet Maggie and Nathalie for some dinner at Misslam Tacorea in Yaletown. It’s a super yummy Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant that was also kind of the perfect reunion spot since I met both of them in Korea!
I got there when it was dark and rainy, so I didn’t spend much time actually seeing Yaletown. However, if you do have the time, it’s know for being a hip place to get drinks!
Bonus: There’s a place called Uncle Tetsu’s that’s famous for this fluffy cheesecake from Japan. Apparently, you always have to wait in an obnoxiously long line for it. Whelp, this place has that same cake, and it’s just as good if not better depending on which local you ask! Plus, there’s no line.
Day 3: Gastown, Stanley Park, & Chinatown
I woke up a little late since I was still getting over a bit of jet lag, and I decided to venture down to Revolver for breakfast. I had bookmarked it my research and Maggie had recommended it, so I figured why not! It also meant another little trip to Gastown, this time in sunnier weather.
Revolver was lovely, especially if you’re into that minimalistic decor. I had an iced latte and chocolate almond cake, which were both delicious. There’s not a lot of seating, though, so it got kind of crowded pretty quickly at 10 am on a Friday. If the cafe is too crowded when you try to go, two other nearby recommendations are Nemesis Cafe and Pure Bread Bakery.
Before meeting Maggie for lunch, I decided to check out one of Vancouver’s most famous spots – Stanley Park! It’s pretty easy to grab a bus from Gastown to the entrance of the park. From there, I could walk along the seawall.
The park borders downtown Vancouver, Burrad Inlet, and English Bay and is pretty massive at over 1,000 acres. Originally settled by Indigenous peoples, it was colonized during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858. Then it became a park of the city in 1886. Its name comes from Lord Stanley, who was Governor General.
Maggie said she and her parents would sometimes come to the park to bike along the seawall, so if you have the time to do that, I’d look into renting a one or doing this guided bike tour.
Lunch: Phom Penh
Of course, I didn’t do anything super extensive in Stanley Park as I had to be in Chinatown to meet Maggie for lunch. We met at Phom Penh, which is apparently a huge local favorite and often packed. Like even during the week after the big lunch rush, we still had a 10-minute wait.
But I highly recommend. Like, I’m writing this post a year later, and I’m still thinking about how good those chicken wings were.
Afterwards while we were walking around, I got these cute little macarons from Crackle Creme:
Almost too cute to want to eat!
Okay, so this part of my itinerary you probably don’t really want to copy because it’s nothing special in terms of sightseeing! Maggie had an errand to run downtown, and then we decided to get our nails done. Mine were ragged, and she had a wedding that weekend, so we figured why not!
We then got my luggage from my hostel and went to Maggie’s house in the outer Vancouver area. Dinner-wise, I think we had pizza with her family, so you’ll want to check my Vancouver food guide for actual restaurant recommendations!
Alternative Things to Do on This Day:
Obviously, you’ll probably want to spend your afternoon doing different things! Take advantage of the hop-on, hop-off bus, go back and see more of Stanley Park, or do the Vancouver Lookout. Something tells me you’re not going to want to get your nails done or drive to Maggie’s house haha.
You could also do this nice evening tour of Vancouver, which lasts about 90 minutes and goes through Stanley Park, Prospect Point, Queen Elizabeth Park, and Gastown. Or for something even more relaxed, there’s this sunset cruise that goes through English Bay and Howe Sound.
Day 4: Hiking to Lindeman Lake
We had a more relaxing afternoon on Day 3 mostly because we knew we’d have a more adventurous Day 4. From Maggie’s place, Lindeman Lake in Chilliwack was around a 2+ hour drive. Nathalie came with Dustin to pick us up around 10, and we decided to still go despite there being rain off and on.
I first saw Lindeman Lake on either Nathalie or Maggie’s instagram. It’s this beautiful blue lake that you have to hike over 3km to get to, and I figured it’d make a great little excursion with the fall foliage!
Whelp, this easier hike was a bit more difficult as it turned out to be a miserable day weather wise! What started out as gray skies turned into cold rain during our hike. Shout out to those three for still going through with the hiking because we got pretty soaked and disgusting by the time we got back to Nathalie’s car!
Lunch: Boiling Pot
We were all pretty beat after all the driving and hiking in the rain, so we got lunch at a place called Boiling Pot to warm ourselves back up. Mmm nothing like a nice warm stew to get you feeling normal again! Afterwards, I moved my stuff to Nathalie’s.
She actually indulged me, and we went to see Crazy Rich Asians at her local theater so I could FINALLY SEE IT! Guys, it’s so cute and fun. If you haven’t seen it, and you like romantic movies, watch! I obviously made all my friends watch it and even went to Singapore for a quick weekend a few months later!
Alternative Things to Do:
Anyway, I’m sure you won’t want to go to the movies on your trip! If you’re still staying in downtown Vancouver, you can head back and check out another restaurant or some other fun things to do in the city like the Vancouver Art Gallery or Museum of Vancouver. Just know both close by 5pm!
You could also stick around the area of Chilliwack and see what there is to do up there! If you have better weather than us, you could even bring camping gear to stay overnight by Lindeman Lake and do a bit of digital detox.
Day 5: Day Trip to Mayne Island
Did you know Vancouver has its own islands?! I did not, which is kind of a geographical failure on my fault, but I blame it on my public school education. They’re known as the Gulf Islands. The Southern Gulf Islands include Galiano, Mayne, North and South Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, Penelakut, Thetis, Valdes, Gabriola, Anvil, Gambier, Keats, Nelson, Pasley, and Thromanby. The Northern Gulf Islands include Denman, Hornby, Lasqueti, and Texada.
They even have a thing called “island life,” which is as cute and charming as it sounds for someone who loved Anne of Green Gables too much as a preteen.
We spent the full day on Mayne Island, and it was so lovely, I want to visit all of them. Nathalie drove, and we went to the different bays while I just took in the views all day. Don’t miss the lighthouse at Georgia’s Point, Bennet’s Bay, or the Japanese Garden! As for where to eat, we got a late breakfast/early lunch at Sunny Mayne Bakery and dinner at Bennett Bay Bistro.
Don’t forget that you need to reserve ferry tickets ahead of time.
If the islands aren’t your thing, you may like one of these day trip options instead:
Day 6: North Vancouver + Lynn Canyon
Morning: Attempting to Find the Cafe from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Nathalie and I decided to spend the day around North Vancouver to see some different things I had written down. The first stop was to visit the cafe from the movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which should explain to you the level of extra I’m capable of.
It turned out to be a total bust because the cafe was closed down! I already knew the exterior wouldn’t be as cute as the movie because I looked up photos before, but we couldn’t even enjoy the inside! They were completely shut down with a sign that said: “Under New Management.” The windows were boarded up and you could hear some construction going on inside.
Anyway, since we could get lunch at the cafe, we stopped got lunch elsewhere on our way to Lynn Canyon.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to North Vancouver, which is actually its own city separate from Vancouver! Deep Cover and Quarry Rock Hike should be nice for warm weather while Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge are a quite a popular attraction for the area (get tickets here).
Lynn Canyon Park
We skipped Capilano mostly because $50 CAD to enter a park seems ridiculous. Maybe I’ll go back and pay it another time! Instead we went to nearby Lynn Canyon Park which has its own cool suspension bridge for free.
We also did some hiking! There are a number of trails which are part of the huge Barden-Powell Trail, which is 48km that goes from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cover. The Twin Falls Loop Trail will take you over two waterfalls while the Thirty Foot Pool Trail goes to, well, a natural pool where you can go swimming.
Seymour Mountain Lookout
Afterward, we decided to go over to Seymour Mountain. We were originally going to hike a little on the trail, but we didn’t have a ton of time before meeting Maggie and Dustin for dinner, so we drove towards a lookout point on the road towards Seymour Resort!
Dinner: Tsuki Sushi in Gastown
Then we drove down to the city and met Maggie and Dustin in Gastown for some good sushi and ice cream. Get the oshi sushi, it was so good!
Later, we got some ice cream at Soft Peaks Ice Cream, where they use all organic milk, and I said goodbye!
Nathalie then dropped me off at my last accommodation switch, Marpole Guesthouse, which is fairly close to the airport. I checked in, showered, and organized my life before my final day! The guest house was really lovely, more like renting a room in someone’s home. Check prices & availability here
Day 7: Day Trip to Whistle & Shannon Falls
For my very last day, I decided to do a full on day trip. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to spend my last day doing, and I saw on Get Your Guide, there was a nice trip up to Whistler, so I thought why not!
I thought I’d get to go up in the cable cars but unfortunately they were closed for construction. However, our guide made it up to us by taking us to all these different waterfalls on the way!
You can book the tour I did here
Day 8: Fly out
I then checked out of Marpole quite early and flew to New Orleans for the next leg of my 2-months of travel!
For more travel in and near Vancouver, read these next
Have you been to Vancouver? What would you add to your itinerary, let me know!
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