Vancouver is a great city and it reminds me a lot like London with some differences but definitely has that vibe. There is a lot to do here and if you are a foodie then it has got some ridiculously good restaurants. If you want to venture outside of the metropolis then you can bus, train, cycle, skate, walk or even piggyback it to Stanley park and be transported to another place entirely! Mountains and the ocean are a hard thing to come by in a city.
I wanted to outline the other sites I visited and other things I didn’t do but when the time arises when I return to Vancouver, I will definitely be ticking those things off the list. So I will recap the previous sites and talk abit more about the things I didn’t cover before.
I also want to mention that we stayed in an Airbnb in Burnaby, husband and wife hosts (Travis & May) were really accomodating and treated us like family. Although further out, it was a really relaxing stay and the conversation really flowed.
I have broken up sites into two lists but provided what popular sites you can see in Vancouver in one list for easier viewing.
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Art Museum
- Vancouver Police Museum
- Lion Gates Bridge
- Vancouver Public Library
- Gastown district
- Yaletown district
- Canada Place
- Granville Market
- Dr Sun Yats Classical Garden
- Capilano Bridge
- Museum of Anthropology
- Bloedel Conservatory
- Vancouver Lookout
- Lynn Canyon Park
Yes, it is a bridge. Is it worth going to? Yes, it was worth the visit but it had a hefty price ($42) but there are some pointers. There is a free shuttle going to Capilano daily, look up the schedule but it generally started at 8.30am from Canada place and would have regular 30 minute shuttle services. If you are deciding you want to be a tourist in Vancity then you can purchase several site tickets on Vancouver attractions and it will give you a discount per ticket!
The suspension bridge is the main attraction but it is situated in Capilano park. Upon entry you will get stamped and are free to roam around the park. There is a treetop walkway, nature walk, cliff edge walkway and of course, the Capilano suspensions bridge. Overall we spent around 2 hours there and it was worth it. The park is extremely well preserved and it feels like you are isolated in nature, they provided free tours and there is a café service if you feel peckish. Take your time and enjoy the views.
Dr Sun Yats Garden
I have been to a fair share of oriental style gardens and I thought this would be so-so. It was actually a great site and the upside is that most of the park is free to explore. If you wish to enter the inner grounds of the park then you have to pay a fee. However from what I have heard, it is better to explore the free part and move on, save your money for some poutine. The garden itself has a small reserve and it will only take 20 minutes to explore the garden, after that you might want to go into Chinatown and see where the good grub is.
Museum of Anthropology – Green Tree walk – British Columbia University Campus
The locals recommended the museum of anthropology (MOA) and one of my friends said it was a site not to miss. It is located on BCU campus, where Botanical gardens and Tree walk are also found. There was actually a ticket deal on Vancouver attractions, so if you ordered 2+ sites then you will get a discount on each ticket, however some tickets are seasonal – the tree walk was unavailable and closed for the season but they still are advertising for it online!
You could easily spent half a day in MOA and some may even spend a full day as there is a lot of information and culture on display. The guided tour is included and lasts around an hour, the lady told us about the indigenous people that had lived in British Columbia and how they lived. There was extensive wood carvings and totem poles on display; ceramics and paintings also had their own dedicated areas. I would highly recommend the MOA, even if you aren’t into museums, some of the information and pieces on display will fascinate you.
The botanical garden and Tree walk is about 30 minutes walk from MOA and entry into the garden is free but they advise you give a donation. I would say that going in the winter season isn’t the best idea, as nothing flourishes. Unfortunately the treewalk was closed and so it was abit of anti-climax but it looked extremely similar to the Treetops walk in Capilano park. My advice, don’t book the Treewalk, go walk in the Botanical garden if you’re a gardening diehard fan but if not, then give it a miss.
Lynn Canyon and Bloedel Conservatory
Lynn canyon is located in North Vancouver and is free to visit. There are different ways to reach Lynn Canyon but ultimately the 227 bus will take you to the park entrance, how to get to the 227 bus depot is up to you. As I was travelling from Burnaby, I took a bus to metrotown then a skytrain to Joyce and then bus 28 to Phibbs exchange where you exchange to the 227 – however if you are located somewhere different you can use google maps to guide you or a smartphone app called transit which is a great app.
Lynn Canyon itself is so calming, the trails are straightforward but take your time. The main masterpieces found here are twin falls, 30 foot pool and the suspension bridge. I would say to get there mid morning and have a little picnic out in nature.
Bloedel conservatory houses birds and also beautiful plants and flowers. The price to enter is fairly cheap £4 but the conservatory isn’t huge, so you may only spend up to an hour here.
I was actually thinking “Vancouver lookout i’m coming” so it’s kinda funny they have an observation deck called the Lookout. The cost to enter the lookout is abit more on the pricey side at around $17.50 which allows you to go up its glass elevator and take a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. Although not the best pano-view I have seen in a city, it is definitely a cool site in the night. However, a fellow lodger told me that every Tuesday in March, you could climb the stairs to the top of the tower and experience the panoramic view for only $5 – bargain! So I decided to brave it up 633 steps, although I managed to crawl my way up to the top without suffering a massive heart attack, it was worth the $5.
So poutine is a strange one, I first discovered it when I was watching How I met your mother, I think. It is essentially chips, gravy and cheese curds. The creation is a Quebec/Montreal dish and it is an extremely popular dish in Canada. I decided I would try it and I think if you are to try it, choose a good place to try it. I went to Save-on-Meats which is a classic diner style restaurant and tried the poutine there, it was meh. The thing that was weird for me was that the gravy did not taste like gravy and my first impression of poutine was that maybe its not for me. However, my friend then went to poutine café in Metropolis Metrotown and it was much better there. I then decided I would try it again and went to Mean Poutine and it was ridiculously good. I had the classic poutine for $7 but you can add your choice of toppings, so if you want smoked meat or anything else just pay a few dollars more and make a meal out of it.
I have been to one diner so far which is Save-On-Meats, the atmosphere is very different and the food was moderately priced. Quality of the food was so-so but definitely an interesting experience, I would probably go again to see if they had anything else interesting on the menu. Other diners I am hoping to try out are Bonnies off broadway and Frenchies diner – check out the Instagram to see if I managed to make it.
I also went on a recommendation of a local to try a ramen-house on Robson street – where you can find a lot of different restaurants. The ramen house was called Marutama Ramen and boy it was good! The soup base is chicken based, but the actual flavour and consistency of the soup was more like pork. Another thing I also tried was a Japanese style hot-dog chain called Japa-dog, which combines sausages with various toppings – great idea! Although more of a snack to me, it really hit the spot and was a cheap eat too.
- Invest in a compass card – even though you pay $6 for the card, you do get discounted journeys, so if you are using it constantly it will pay itself back. It will even run into negative if you are trying to get home but are in transit
- Sample the local foods – I am trying to budget but I have tried some places, however if you are visiting on a short holiday then splash out – go to a few diners, seek out famous eateries or chains!
- Don’t need much cash! So I don’t mean that you Vancouver is a cheap place – it is Canada’s London in my opinion and everywhere accepts card. If you are hesitant on taking cash then bring $150 and use your card when you can – if its mastercard then there shouldn’t be a charge but if its Visa then an international fee will be applied.
- Revisit Stanley park – it is one of those places where you will always enjoy a sit down by the beach, walk around the seawall and find new trails. You will find a happy place there!
- Alternative cafes – so my friend really wanted to visit a Cannabis café – I wasn’t even aware they had them in Canada, but as parts of the US have legalised cannabis- it has become more mainstream, where you can find cannabis dispensers and cafes. I walked around while my friend explored new places.
- Look up which sites you want to visit on Vancouver attractions and get a discount
- Don’t get a sim card unless you are staying long term, you can survive on Starbucks Wifi (just stand outside and look busy) – also Vancity has free wifi in certain districts spanning a few blocks.