2 Day Vancouver Itinerary for the Best Food & Scenery

2 Day Vancouver Itinerary for the Best Food & Scenery

Before moving to Salt Spring Island, Ari and I lived in Vancouver for 5 years and today we still consider Vancouver a second home. The city is jam-packed with amazing restaurants, bars, shops and outdoor activities. What makes Vancouver so unique is that it's surrounded by both the mountains and ocean.

We've created this 2 Day Vancouver Itinerary for those who are short on time and want to see the highlights. Your 2 days in Vancouver will touch on the best of the city's food scene, West Coast culture and scenery.

We also include the best neighbourhoods to stay in and our top restaurant, bar and hotel picks to make planning your trip easy.

Outline: 2 Days in Vancouver

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2 Day Vancouver Itinerary

Day 1

Explore Davie Village, take a scenic walk past heritage houses, along the waterfront and through Vancouver's historic old town, and dine in hip Chinatown.

Check into your hotel

View from Fairmont Waterfront

Drop off your bags and get on your way to exploring! For your 2 days in Vancouver, we recommend staying downtown since you will be within walking distance of many sights and can easily skytrain to other parts of the city.

Downtown neighbourhoods we recommend staying in:

Coal Harbour: best for location

Located north downtown, Coal Harbour is an upscale area with easy access to the seawall and Stanley Park. Its central location and proximity to skytrains make it easy to get around from. However, it lacks creative energy and can feel corporate away from the waterfront.

Our top hotel picks in Coal Harbour: Loden Hotel, Fairmont Pacific Rim or Fairmont Waterfront.

The West End: best for a relaxed feel

The West End is a laidback part of downtown with quiet, tree-lined streets and affordable, tasty spots like ramen shops and sushi bars. It's beside Stanley Park and English Bay, a lively beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Staying here offers a great introduction to the local culture, but getting around to other parts of the city takes longer.

Our top hotel pick in the West End: Sonder at Revival

Yaletown: best for mixing with locals

Yaletown, in south downtown, has old warehouse buildings transformed into trendy restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques and salons. Mainland Street and Hamilton Street are lined with restaurants that have outdoor patios. It's a popular spot for locals grabbing business lunches or after-work drinks. Plus, the water taxi to Granville Island is close by.

Our top hotel pick in Yaletown: Opus Hotel

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Browse more stays in Vancouver

Walk through Davie Village and eat a fresh sushi lunch

Take a stroll down Davie Street, Vancouver's lively LGBTQ-friendly neighbourhood with colourful rainbow sidewalks and an eclectic mix of independent restaurants, shops, and bars. It's one of Vancouver's renowned strips.

For lunch, don't miss Tom Sushi, one of our favourite spots for delicious and affordable sushi. Vancouver has one of the best sushi scenes in the world thanks to its Japanese community and oceanside influence.

Cardero Cafe in the West End

Afterwards, meander through the peaceful residential streets of the West End to Cardero Cafe, a friendly neighbourhood spot for an afternoon pick-me-up. The charming heritage houses and tree-lined streets are the perfect setting for a leisurely walk in Vancouver.

Walk along the Coal Harbour waterfront to Gastown

Float plane terminal in Coal Harbour

Continue your walk to Coal Harbour and stroll along the waterfront to Gastown. You'll see stunning views of the mountains, Stanley Park, North Vancouver and float planes taking off. The scenery is especially breathtaking on sunny days when the mountains are sharply defined.

Gastown is Vancouver's historic old town, with cobblestone streets and heritage brick buildings filled with fashion boutiques, vintage shops, home decor stores and trendy eateries. It's a great spot for shopping and exploring Vancouver's past.

Dine in hip Chinatown

Chinatown is one of Vancouver's coolest neighbourhoods, celebrated for its top-notch restaurants and cocktail bars. Our favourite restaurant and cocktail bar are located here: Kissa Tanto and Keefer Bar.

Kissa Tanto mixes Japanese and Italian flavours in a sleek 1960s Tokyo jazz club setting that always impresses. We've dined here countless times, and it never disappoints.

Kissa Tanto was named Canada's best new restaurant by enRoute Magazine in 2016, ranked #10 on Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list this year and even holds a Michelin star. It's wise to book well ahead.

After dinner, head a few blocks to Keefer Bar, a happening spot with an apothecary theme.

Its cocktails are like potions, blending unusual ingredients like medicinal plants and mushrooms to craft their drinks. Ranked #8 on Canada's 50 Best Bars list (2024), reservations are a good idea here too.

Day 2

Eat breakfast at a local hot spot, bike around the seawall, relax at the beach, eat lunch with ocean views, explore Granville Island and try mouthwatering aburi sushi.

Start your morning with breakfast at Cafe Portrait

Grab breakfast at Cafe Portrait, a gem nestled in Vancouver's West End. This art-filled cafe is known for its Turkish breakfast skillets and classics. It's our go-to spot for breakfast in the city and it's always packed with locals.

Bike around the seawall and take in the views at Third Beach

After breakfast, rent a bike from one of the shops on Denman Street to explore Stanley Park. It's even bigger than Central Park in NYC! Ride the 10km seawall loop that wraps around the park, offering incredible ocean and mountain views. It's one of the most stunning city bike rides in the world.

Head northeast on Denman Street until you hit the seawall path, and remember to go counter-clockwise - it's a one-way route.

The trail is smooth and flat, perfect for bikers of any level. Stop at Siwash Rock for photos and unwind at Third Beach with your toes in the sand.

โœ”๏ธ Top Tip: Bring a beach blanket

Enjoy a leisurely lunch overlooking English Bay

Once you arrive at English Bay, have lunch at Cactus Club for its unbeatable beachside views. Their patio is first-come, first-served, but you can easily join the waitlist via text. While you wait, enjoy relaxing on the beach.

Since Cactus Club is on Denman Street, you can easily return your bikes before or after lunch.

Take a water taxi to Granville Island

Granville Island may be touristy, but it's a lot of fun to explore. Situated beneath the Granville Bridge on False Creek, this small peninsula is filled with cute boutique shops, markets, and restaurants.

For a fun arrival, hop on a water taxi from one of the nine dock locations. Fares range from $4 to $12 depending on your starting point.

Explore the vibrant market, but steer clear of the food court - we've eaten there twice and both times have been very disappointing. It feels like a tourist trap.

Instead, treat yourself to a flight of beer at Granville Island Brewing, and then head over to Liberty Distillery for their award-winning artisanal spirits - try their delicious Caesars.

โœ”๏ธ Top Tip: for a scenic route to Granville Island from English Bay, walk down Sunset Beach and catch the water taxi from the Aquatic Centre Ferry Dock.

Try aburi sushi at Miku

Miku Vancouver

One of the most famous sushi restaurants in Vancouver is Miku, which introduced aburi sushi to the region. Aburi translates to "flame-seared".

You have to try Miku's oshi sushi which uses the aburi technique. Each pressed rectangular piece of rice is layered with flame-seared salmon, ebi (shrimp) or mackerel. The salmon and ebi are our favourites - they burst with incredible umami flavours with every bite.

Miku is one of Vancouver's top dining spots, so reserve your table in advance.

Best time of year to visit Vancouver

Jericho Beach

The best time of year to visit Vancouver is from May - June and September when the weather is still warm.

July and August are tourist heavy months so you'll see bigger crowds and higher hotel prices. Another thing to consider is forest fires. Some years the smoky haze can be so bad that it blocks out the blue skies and scenic nature around you. This happens most often between July-August and sometimes September. If you go in May-June, your chances are low.

Best way to get around Vancouver

Dinner in Coal Harbour

If you plan to stay in the city centre, getting around Vancouver is easy with the skytrain, bus system or Uber. In 2020, Uber was finally approved in Vancouver (yay!). It's also a great city for walking or biking.

Getting from the Vancouver airport to city centre

The best way to get from the Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver is by skytrain. The journey is only 22 minutes and costs $9.25 CAD.

Enjoy your 2 days in Vancouver! If you're looking for more restaurant or bar recommendations, see our favourites below.

Our top restaurant picks in Vancouver

  • Miku - Upscale sushi restaurant known for its mouthwatering aburi (flame-seared) sushi.
  • Kissa Tanto - Hip Japanese-Italian restaurant with a sleek interior inspired by a 1960s jazz club.
  • Ask for Luigi - a quaint Italian restaurant located off-the-beaten path. This small corner joint serves exceptional pasta dishes.
  • Yuwa - intimate restaurant with delicious and authentic Japanese cuisine.
  • Published on Main - for contemporary pre-fixe dishes and Michelin-star dining. It's one of Canada's top restaurants.
  • Elisa - a stylish steakhouse with a feminine take that is a happening place to dress up in Yaletown.
  • Nightingale - a buzzing two-story restaurant in a glamorous heritage building serving delectable share plates. The chic spot comes from award-winning chef David Hawksworth.
  • Botanist - high-end restaurant in a beautifully designed space serving Pacific-Northwest cuisine. It's also great for breakfast.
  • Cafe Portrait - for delicious Turkish breakfast skillets in an art-filled space
  • Tacofino - Californian-Mexican fare with the best crispy fish taco in the world.
  • Tom Sushi- a casual spot with fresh and inexpensive sushi.
  • AJ's Brooklyn Pizza - a fun eatery that serves mouthwatering Brooklyn-style pizza in Mount Pleasant
  • Cactus Club in English Bay- for the best beach views

Our top cocktail bar picks in Vancouver

  • Keefer Bar - an apothecary themed bar serving unconventional cocktails
  • Laowai Bar - a hidden speakeasy inspired by 1920s Shanghai located in the back of a dumpling shop. Order "dumpling #7" to get inside.
  • Lobby Bar - a lively lobby floor bar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim serving well-crafted cocktails.
  • Grapes & Soda - a friendly unpretentious bar with well-crafted drinks.
  • Key Party - a dimly-lit speakeasy with 1970s vibes.

Start planning your trip to Vancouver

  • 🌃 Accommodation: Booking.com is our go-to for finding places to stay. Sort by top reviewed.
  • ๐Ÿš  Browse tours with local guides in Vancouver: through GetYourGuide and Viator.
  • โœˆ๏ธ Compare flights: with Skyscanner

Combine Vancouver with a trip to Victoria:

Check out our other BC travel guides:

Don't miss our list of the 17 best getaways near Vancouver.

Save and pin this 2 day Vancouver itinerary for later:

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our list of Unique Cultural Experiences to Inspire Your Next Trip

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