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How to Spend 24 Hours in Vancouver, Canada

Authored by Robert Tellier

Are your travel plans bringing you through Vancouver this season?  Perhaps you’re catching a flight with a long layover, or are one of those lucky travelers taking an Alaskan Cruise with a 24 hour stop in British Columbia. If so, there are plenty of ways to explore Vancouver without putting a large dent in your pocketbook, and plenty of amazing sites and attractions to fill a day.

Here are a few suggestions for those wanting to take in some of the amazing sites and attractions in downtown Vancouver in a day.

No Need to Catch a Cab from the Airport

Flying into Vancouver? There is no need to catch a cab from the airport. The average taxi fare from the airport to downtown Vancouver is approximately $35 (depending on traffic), and that’s not including a standard tip to the driver. Though Vancouver’s new rapid transit rail link conveniently travels to and from the airport to downtown in just 26 minutes, and a one way typical fare for the journey is only $5.

Once you have entered arrivals at the airport, just follow the signs marked Canada Line or ask any of the airports Customer Care staff wearing red or green vests for assistance.

Cruise Ship Passengers Disembark Downtown

If you are arriving by cruise ship, then you are definitely in for a treat!  Vancouver has one of the most scenic and convenient cruise ship terminals found anywhere in the world.  You are conveniently located right in the center of downtown’s waterfront.  From here, you can easily take a stroll downtown to one of the many attractions such as:

  • The Historic Vancouver Hotel
  • The Harbour Tower Center
  • Historic Gas Town Shopping Mall and Infamous Blood Alley
  • Denman Street for amazing shopping and dining

The stunning Pan Pacific Hotel and Plaza are located right alongside your ship.  Take a walk along the promenade where you can enjoy the fabulous waterfront vistas as well as informal dining options, Imax theatre and much more, without even losing a breath!

Scenic Vancouver

Scenic Vancouver. Walk along the fabulous promenade.

Don’t forget to walk through the Old Railway Station as well; one of Vancouver’s historic landmark buildings (now called the waterfront station), this is where those traveling from the airport on the Canada Line will disembark.

In this beautiful building, you will find shops, restaurants and much more.

Visit Stanley Park

If you have the time, then a visit to Stanley Park is a must.  This magnificent 1,000 acre park is just minutes from waterfront station and the cruise ship terminal.  It can easily be reached by public transit; those traveling on the Canada Line can use their ticket to transfer onto a city bus which will take them directly to the park.

There’s so much here for the whole family to enjoy!  For example;

  • Visit the world famous Vancouver aquarium;
  • Take a stroll or bike the 8 km Seawall, taking in all the natural and scenic beauty;
  • Sit and relax overlooking Vancouver’s Scenic Harbor;
  • Swim, hike, bike, play tennis, enjoy a horse carriage ride and much more!

Renting a bike from one of the businesses located at the park entrance is one of the most popular ways to explore. Locals and visitors alike enjoy taking a leisurely ride around the beautiful Seawall.  A great way to spend a summer day!

Sunset on the seawall Vancouver

Sunset on the seawall Vancouver. Photo CC by colink.

Take the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus

A convenient and affordable way to take in Vancouver’s main attractions, the hop-on hop-off tour bus is a great way to see the city at your own pace and enjoy an audible tour at the same time.

Enjoy some of Vancouver’s most popular areas such as Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gastown, Granville Island and more, and sit back and get ready to learn about what makes Vancouver so spectacularly special with a live commentary as you make your way throughout the city.

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Having worked in the industry for over 35 years, Robert now channels his passion for travel into travel writing, and shares his experiences abroad via his blog, Gr8 Travel Tips.

Gr8 Travel Tips offers tips on travel, health & fitness, camping and much more! You can also connect with Robert on Twitter, Facebook and Google +.


  1. All great suggestions though I would include some of the north shore activities as well.

    • I totally agree with you Leigh, certainly can spend the entire day on Vancouver’s north shore! So many great attractions to see there as well! Robert

  2. We have friends in Vancouver from our London days who we haven’t seen in years. After reading this, we’re even more tempted to surprise them with a visit. Some excellent recommendations here.

    • Absolutely – and there’s no better excuse to travel than to tie in a visit with friends and family! Safe trip :)

  3. I’m going to visit Vancouver in autumn and thank you very much for this tips and suggestions. I’ll probably have no more than 24h in the city, so it fits nicely :)

    • Sounds like Robs article came at a perfect time then! Glad we could help – wishing you a wonderful trip to Vancouver – travel safe!

  4. As Vancouver residents, we can vouch for the Canada Line! It’s quick and fast for getting you to downtown. From there (at Waterfront Station), you can seamlessly connect to the SeaBus (a large passenger ferry) which takes you across to the North Shore, where you can visit Capilano Canyon (and its suspension bridge), beaches, parks and lots of great outdoor sights. If you’re fit, you can even climb the Grouse Grind.

    • Glad to hear! We’re hitting Vancouver in May so were very excited when Rob said he would write for us on Canada. Thanks for the additional tips – we’ve been recommended to climb the Grouse grind – I’ve heard it’s hell on the way up lol but apparently the views are worth it so may just give it a go!

  5. Vancouver seems like a wonderful city, one to enjoy in one day or to explore in a longer stay :)

    • Absolutely! We’re looking forward to our upcoming visit in May!

  6. Sounds like some great tips for maximizing little time. I’ve only heard great things about Vancouver, so hopefully I’ll be able to spend more than 24 hours there whenever I visit :)

    • Hopefully! We have 48 hours there in May, so looking forward to putting Rob’s suggestions into play as well as a few of the recommendations from the comments above :) Can’t wait!

  7. Taking the hop-on/hop-off bus is always tops on our list of things to do in a new city. In our opinion it’s the best way to get an overview of the layout – and sometimes we decide the “must-see” attractions really only need a quick photo from a drive-by.

    • Absolutely, and especially if you’ve only got the one day, they’ve essentially already done the planning for you, and it’s the best way to see everything the city has to offer in the most efficient way :)

  8. Yeah, I love Vancouver. I might be from Montreal but the prettiest Canadian city without a doubt is Vancouver.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • I’ll take that as pretty weighty advice coming from someone from Montreal!!

  9. Excited to be taking Ann’s first trip to Vancouver – and Rob’s first in more than 25 years – this summer! But we’re having a hard time trying to squeeze everything we want to see/do into three days, let alone 24 hours!! Great list, but we definitely need more days off to enjoy!! ;)

    • That is exciting! Hope we were able to give you some great ideas for an amazing trip, totally feel you though it’s tough packing it all in, such an amazing city!

      Have an amazing trip :)

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