Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. When you’re deciding how to spend 24 hours in Vancouver, it can be difficult to know where to start. You won’t be able to see all the city has to offer, so use this quick trip as a chance to see as much as possible, so you know where you’d like to explore further next time. I packed a lot of options into this guide so that you could pick and choose which neighborhoods, meals, and activities suit you best. Let’s get into it.
How to spend 24 hours in Vancouver, BC
Get an early start and explore the famous Vancouver wilderness
Option #1: Early morning hike in Deep Cove, North Vancouver
If you’re up early, and one of those people that have the willpower to work out on vacation, first of all, I envy you, and second of all, you’re in for a treat. Vancouver is a Mecca for outdoor activity.
Since you don’t have a lot of time in Vancouver, I’d recommend a shorter hike with a big reward. Pop over to Deep Cove and get a head start on the day by hiking Quarry Rock, an easy to moderate hike to incredible views.
Details: 25 minute drive from Downtown Vancouver, the hike takes about 2 hours round trip, 25 minute drive back to the city. This hike gets very busy by 9am on weekends, so try to get there early.
Option #2: Hike the Grouse Grind or take the gondola up to Grouse Mountain and see Vancouver from above
One of the best views in the province. You can take your time exploring up there if you wish, but to make the most out of your trip, I’d head back down to Gastown after taking in the views.
Details: 30-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver, budget at least 2 hours for the gondola and exploring, 30 minutes back
The hike is not for the faint of heart, so I only recommend doing the grind if you are physically fit. It takes an average of 1-2 hours to complete depending on fitness level. Take the gondola down.
Brunch & Shopping in Historic Gastown
A few of the best brunch spots in Vancouver are located in Gastown. Local favorites are Catch 122 and Jam Cafe. Jam Cafe always has a line, so if you don’t go hiking, get there when it opens to avoid the wait. Chambar next door is a great option if you can’t get into Jam Cafe. With only 24 hours in Vancouver, you might not want to spend the morning waiting in line.
Tip: If you go to Chambar, order a lavender latte and get a few waffles and raspberry caramel sauce to start.
After brunch, grab a coffee from Revolver and a treat from Purebread and walk around Gastown. Shop at boutiques like Frank and Oak, The Latest Scoop, Örling and Wu, Old Faithful Shop, John Fluevog, One of a Few, Nouvelle Nouvelle, and ARC apparel.
Wander to another popular Downtown district, Yaletown
About a 15-minute walk from Gastown is another popular Vancouver district, Yaletown. The two streets to explore are Mainland and Hamilton street on foot. Pop into a few shops, including The Cross Design and Fine Finds before walking down to the seawall and renting a bike from Reckless Bike Store.
Hungry? Have lunch in Yaletown at either Tacofino, The Greek, or Parlour for some of the best pizza you will ever have (favorites are Goldmember if you like truffle, the Dirty, Standard and the Yaletown. Make sure you get a side of 6-10 sauce).
Bike Ride the Seawall (Budget 2 hours)
The Vancouver Seawall is an absolute must! Even if you are only in Vancouver for 24 hours, I still recommend taking in the sights along this path carved out of the coastline. Start in Yaletown and head West towards Second Beach. Bike through English Bay and stay right when you get to the park with the big open field (you went the right way if you go through a tunnel). Keep winding around Stanley Park until you complete a loop. The bike rental place can give you a map.
Rainy Day option: Take AquaBus over to Granville Island
Take the AquaBus over to Granville Island. If you biked the seawall and have time to spare, there is a stop near Reckless, ask the staff to direct you. While touristy, I still think Granville Island is a fun thing to experience. I go there as a local to pick up fresh groceries. Pick up some souvenirs and snap a few photos before getting in a cab to Main Street.
Feeling Ambitious? If it’s around 5pm or earlier, pop up to Main Street
Main Street has transformed into a hub of activity. Cute boutiques and amazing bars and restaurants line the street. My favorite shops are near Main and 28th street, but there are incredible stores all the way from 19th to 28th. Welks, Little Mountain Shop, Vincent Park, and nineteen 10 are all great. The shops all close around 6 pm, so if you’re short on time skip this part. Grab a happy hour drink somewhere like Sing Sing and then get ready for dinner.
Grab a Late Dinner in Vancouver
Have dinner in one of the districts you haven’t yet explored. Here are my favorites:
Kitsilano: Dinner at Nook, Fable or AnnaLena
Main Street: The Acorn, Anh and Chi
Olympic Village: Nook or Flying Pig
Yaletown: Rodney’s, The Greek, Parlour, Minami
Gastown: Pourhouse, Di Beppe, Mackenzie Room
Commercial Drive: La Mezcaleria
For a full list of the best restaurants in Gastown, check out this post.
There are so many other amazing things to do in Vancouver, including a bike ride brewery tour, exploring the West End, walking around Chinatown, hitting the beach, and taking day trips to Whistler or Vancouver Island. If you only have 24 hours in Vancouver, I suggest you book yourself a subsequent trip to really immerse yourself in the city that has been voted most liveable for a reason! Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram for specific questions.