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Vancouver, BC Itinerary Help

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Looking for some suggestions from anyone who has cruised out of Vancouver, BC. The cruise will go out in September and we will pick a hotel near the cruise port.

With that in mind, if we went into Vancouver 3-4 days in advance what sites would be the best to see taking advantage of that timeframe?

Also, I have a sister that lives in Seattle and will likely fly into Seattle to visit first for a few days. What would be the best way to get from Seattle to Vancouver - car? train (where would train arrive relative to cruise port)? Border crossing a pain with Canada?


Just looking for some suggestions for an itinerary to research and then can decide relative to budget and time. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

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If you fly to Seattle, I would recommend that you take the Amtrac Cascades Train. My parents LOVED this as the scenery was stunning.


We stayed at the Pan Pacific, so embarkation was a breeze. The hotel is beautiful, well situated and offers great views. The restaurant is great too.


We walked all around the area, Gastown and Stanley Park were easy walks. The area felt safe and had a lot to offer. If you have the time, a trip over the island would be fantastic. Buchart Gardens are beautiful and a photographers dream. You could also arrange to go to Whistler, which is more beauty. Vancouver is a more than a cruise port destination in my opinion, and offers many different options. I could easily spend well over a week there and not be bored.


Have a great trip!

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In 2014 we flew to Seattle. I found it was significantly cheaper to fly into/out of Seattle compared to Vancouver. Of course the difference was spent on hotels in Seattle., LOL.


After we were done visiting Seattle we took AMTRAK to Vancouver, early AM departure. I thought it was great. Stunning scenery and very relaxing. We booked the business class (?) instead of the regular fare and found it worth while for better seating and less standing in line.


The Vancouver train station is a quick taxi ride to downtown Vancouver (I don't remember the fare but it wasn't bad). Pan American is the place to stay pre-cruise. We found the hop on hop off bus a good way to see and explore part of the city.


After the cruise we we boarded a bus (in the cruise terminal) that took us to SEATAC, it was about a 3 hour trip. Easy customs at the border. I think it was Quick Shuttle.


Worked very well for us and would do it again.

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I live in Vancouver. The Amtrack train is very scenic but there are only two trains a day and it is a taxi ride to any hotel. There is a shuttle bus that is awesome. It picks you up at the airport and drops you off right at most major downtown hotels.




I would not rent a car because parking downtown is expensive and you could wait at the border for up to three hours during a busy day.


Most downtown hotels are walking distance to the pier. The Pan Pacific is right at the pier and the Fairmont Waterfront is right across the street. You can stay in Richmond by the airport and use Translink/Skytrain to go downtown. Hotels are cheaper there and it's only 20 minutes by train.


Whatever you do, this is a gorgeous city so enjoy!

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Wagges has given some good suggestions. With 3 or 4 days you have lots of options of things to see.


You could rent a car and drive up I-5, then you could go to Vancouver Island as has been suggested.


You can also go from Seattle by Bolt bus or Quick Shuttle




The train is very scenic but only goes twice/day.



Yes, Pan Pacific is wonderful being right at the pier but it is expensive. Marriott Pinnacle is nearby and the Fairmont Waterfront is across the street from the pier. I would google for hotels in Vancouver as you know your budget.


Don't miss Granville Island. It is a market with shops all around also and street entertainment in the summer. A great place to snack or just sit and have coffee and people watch. Stanley park is wonderful but I wouldn't want to walk around it because it is very big. The seawall is delightful in the summer.


Capilano Suspension Bridgeand the Fish hatchery nearby is another place people love to go, also Grouse Mtn skyride.


Chinatown might interest you and there are some great restaurants there.


We cross the border once or twice/week and the falling Cdn $ has really shortened the time to cross. Not so many any more. Of course, that could change by next Sept. I would think it would not be 3 hours to cross in Sept esp if you cross on a weekday.


Others will help with suggestions. You will not be bored in Vancouver.

Edited by TeaBag
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If you can make the train work for you, in my experience it is far easier crossing the border on the train than at the airport. No standing around in long lines or anything. They just come on the train, walk through the cars and look at everyone's passports. Painless.


I would highly suggest a day trip to Whistler. The scenery on the trip is absolutely stunning.

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I'm sure the fact that everyone above is recommending the train is telling enough, but here's another vote for it! Already alluded to - but the border crossing benefits alone make it worthwhile IMO, let alone the fact that it's more scenic, more relaxing, and you can buy booze on-board unlike the buses, rental car etc. options... You don't stop at the border, but go through immigration/customs when you arrive at Pacific Central station in Vancouver.



Depending on your hotel a taxi could be barely $10, poss $15 if you're way down near Stanley Park as Pac Central is just to the east of the downtown core. There's a Skytrain station right next door, but I always recommend NOT using it when you're departing as the trains are for commuters, with nowhere to put large suitcases. Arriving on Amtrak you could use Skytrain without annoying other patrons and simply leave your suitcases on the floor next to your seat (it's pretty quiet on Skytrain when Amtrak arrives c.11am/11pm) but departing you'll be mixing in with commuter rushhour and suitcases blocking seats/aisles earns you bad karma.


Things to do - I'd assemble a list that works for your party but not lock in specific days & times for anything outdoors. Even in the middle of Summer it's possible to get some rain or a lot of cloud, and it sucks to be up Grouse without being able to see anything or wandering around Stanley Park with wet feet.


Vancouver is a legit 'world class city' in every aspect except high culture and really old architecture - we don't have much in the way of opera, ballet & large-scale theatrical productions and personally I find the Vancouver Art Gallery to have a seriously weak-sauce collection of what I like from art (old school European). But for ANYTHING else, you can probably find multiple options to visit - and there are very few cities anywhere that even come close to the quality of scenery and outdoorsy stuff to do we have here.


That makes it hard to recommend things for YOU that will work - as I know nothing whatsoever about you except you can type in English and are currently based in Florida (if your profile is up to date). All the Floridians I know who've been here enjoy our mountains - it's a very different view than normal - but who knows, maybe you're terrified of heights!? I haven't met anyone who didn't like Stanley Park and the Seawall - but some folks are happy to just drive a quick loop, sanp a pci or two and then go shopping while others want to spend a whole day wandering our 'urban oasis.'


Provide a bit more info about you & your travel companions (age range & interests, tolerance for using transit, ability to walk/cycle short or long distances, preferred foods, budget?) and you'll get much better quality recommendations...

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Bus or train is the best way to get to Vancouver... If coming by car.... avoid weekend evening crossing where the border waits can be an hour or more.


Another scenic approach is Orca whale watch your way to Vancouver...



3 or 4 days? You can spend 3 or 4 weeks and not have enough time...

Move Vancouver ideas...

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Mmm, Mink's dark chocolate bar is the best I have had in my entire life. Incredible.


OP, this board has a lot of information on Vancouver hotels; you can use the "Search this forum" function back on the main page and pull up a number of threads. I just did it and got 6 pages of results. :)



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Below is my list of fun things to do in Vancouver


Info on Vancouver from a local!


My favorite must do attractions are


1) Grouse Mountain – http://www.grousemountain.com – this is a wonderful scenic mountain only about 15 mins from downtown Vancouver. Ride the airtram to the top for lots of fun activities that include a loggers show, birds of prey show, 2 movies (1 about the Vancouver area and 1 about the 2 Grizzly Bears who make their home on Grouse Mtn) ride a chair lift higher up the mountain to visit the wind turbine that generates approximately 30% of the power required for Grouse Mountain Resort and visit with 2 live Grizzly Bears. Thrill to a 2 hour Zip Line Tour. Enjoy a meal in any of the restaurants. Caveat only spend the money to go up on a clear day.

2) Capilano Suspension Bridge – http://www.capbridge.com – this is Vancouver’s oldest tourist attraction and I still enjoy visiting it! Located on Capilano Road just before you reach the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Walk across a suspension Bridge over the Capilano Gorge, wonder the trails thru the rain forest, walk thru the treetops on the new Tree Top Adventure, traverse a Cliff Top walk, visit the trading post for a huge selection of souvenirs, watch native weavers and/or carvers at work.

3) Capilano Fish Hatchery is also located on Capilano Road and is a great place to view salmon jumping up the fish ladders to get around the Cleveland Dam. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capilano_River_Regional_Park

4) Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge – http://www.lynncanyon.ca - is also located in North Vancouver and is much less touristy than Capilano but it also is not as spectacular. The bridge is slightly higher above the water but much shorter in span. Located in a Provincial Park this bridge comes with some nice hiking trails and you will find an ecology centre in the park as well as picnic tables and a food concession outlet. Should you choose to enjoy the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge always cross the suspension bridge first and then hike down the trail to the lower (Twin Falls wooden) bridge to cross back over the Lynn Valley River and return to your car – that way you are hiking downhill rather than uphill. It is also free to visit this suspension bridge!

5) Stanley Park – http://www.vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley/ - is the crown jewel of Vancouver's parks. As one of North America's largest urban parks, covering over a 1000 acres and offering an abundance of activities. Enjoy the totem pole collection near the Brockton Point Light House, hiking trails, beaches, water parks for the kids (young & old), rose gardens, miniature train, petting zoo, aquarium –http://www.vanaqua.org – many view points, and several restaurants.

6) Vancouver Aquarium – http://www.vanaqua.org – is Canada’s largest aquarium and is committed to the conservation of marine life and education. Located in Stanley Park this is a fun place for the family to visit.

7) Fly Over Canada incorporates state of the art technology in an Imax theatre to show you supernatural Canada, Fly from coast to coast taking in breath stealing views of Niagara Falls, Lake Louise, The Rockies & more. Spectacular! http://www.flyovercanada.com

8) Gas Town – the location where Vancouver originated. The name is derived from a very colorful character named Gassy Jack who was one of the first settlers in the area and a salon keeper – while in Gas Town don’t miss your photo op with the statue of Gassy Jack and by the Steam Clock.

9) At the start of Gas Town is the Harbor Centre Tower http://www.vancouverlookout.com a great spot to start your tour of Vancouver with a birds eye view of the city. Either take the elevator up to the lookout level or go to the top and enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant.

10) China Town is only about 6 blocks over from Gas Town and is the largest China Town north of San Francisco. While in China Town enjoy a visit to the Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com and also make sure you visit the world’s thinnest building it is only 6’ wide!

11) Granville Island – http://www.granvilleisland.com – is a huge public market area which not only sells fruit & veggies but you can also buy frozen fish to be shipped to your home. Many artists make this their home and you can watch them at work in their studios – making this a great place to buy unique souvenirs. The Granville Island Brewery is also located here and you can stop in for a free tour & tastes. There are theatres for live performances and many fine restaurants. A fun way to get to Granville Island is via the Aquabus – http://www.theaquabus.com

12) Burnaby Village Museum – http://www.burnabyvillagemuseum.ca – is an open air museum with over 30 restored homes, shops, school, church and a 1912 carousel situated on 10 acres

13) Gulf of Georgia Cannery – http://www.gulfofgeorgiacannery.com – is a restored fishing cannery located in the historic fishing village of Steveston (part of Richmond). Here you see exhibits that showcase the history of the fishing industry in British Columbia. Once finished in the museum it is great fun to walk along the fishing docks and see the fishing boats which are selling their catch. There are also some excellent restaurants located here.

14) The Vancouver Maritime Museum located on the shore of English Bay is fun for the whole family with lots of hands on exhibits for the kid in all of us. Here to you will find the ship St Roch which the RCMP sailed from Vancouver to Halifax via the Northwest Passage and then completed the return journey in 1944. You actually get to tour this ship. http://www.vancouvermaritimemuseum.com

15) Queen Elizabeth Park http://www.vancouver.ca/parks/parks/queenelizabeth The 130 acre (52 hectare) park is one of the most beautifully maintained public parks in the world. Second only to Stanley Park in annual visitations, it receives nearly 6 million people a year who marvel at its superior standard of garden plantings.

The park was originally quarried for its rock which served to build Vancouver's first roadways. In 1929 the Board proceeded to acquire the property which had become an abandoned eyesore but still served as the site for two holding reservoirs for the City's drinking water. Dedicated as a park by King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth (the present Queen's mother) on their much lauded visit to Vancouver in 1939.

16) Fort Langley is the restored wooden fort built by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a trading post. It is the origin of British Columbia and was the first capital. This Fort is operated by the Federal Parks Board. http://www.fortlangley.org

17) If you are a wine lover you might want to rent a car and spend a day visiting a few of the many excellent wineries located in the Fraser Valley only about a 1 hour drive from your hotel. Almost all of the wineries offer free tastes & tours. Two of the wineries have excellent restaurants on the premises. This makes for a very fun and relaxing day. Check out the Fraser Valley Wine Association web site for a map of winery locations and a brief description of each winery http://www.fvwa.ca

18) VanDusen Botanical Garden is a scenic 55- acre garden of international renown – a living museum of plants collected from around the world and artistically displayed amidst rolling lawns, woodlands and five tranquil lakes, all in the heart of Vancouver and just 15 minutes from downtown.

Due to Vancouver’s mild climate, plants bloom at the Garden year-round. This same climate creates a unique environment where plants from varying climate regions thrive and grow – at VanDusen you will see plants from the southern hemisphere, tropical areas and the high Arctic tundra along side native species. The Elizabethan Maze (one of only six in North America) provides year-round fun.

19) UBC Botanical Garden located at the University of British Columbia covers 110 acres and includes an Alpine, Asian, Native, Food, and Japanese Gardens. http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org There is also a treetop walk which is great for “fit” explorers who are not afraid of heights – however I would not recommend it for anyone who has any mobility issues. Also these gardens are not as well maintained as I would expect a botanical garden to be!

20) Enjoy a FREE walking tour of Vancouver. The Gastown tour starts in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery and ends at the statue of Gassy Jack in Gastown. The Downtown tour starts at the Vancouver Art Gallery and ends at the Olympic Cauldron. The China Town tour starts at the Vancouver Art Gallery and ends at the Chinese memorial statue. All of these tours start at 11am. The Granville Island Tour starts at 3pm at the bus stop just at the entrance to Granville Island. Check these tours out at http://www.tourguys.ca The Tour Guys have added an afternoon walking tour of Granville Island and 2 evening tours….

21) A new addition I have just found for the FOODIES in the gang! Check out 2 companies that offer food tasting tours http://www.foodietours.ca and http://www.offtheeatentrack.ca – both offer an excellent tour http://www.foodietours.ca visit much more high end restaurants in the heart of the west end of Vancouver while http://www.offtheeatentrack.ca concentrates on more casual eateries in the historic original section of Vancouver! (Gastown)

I just enjoyed Foodietours “Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour” and was very impressed with the organization, quality of restaurants & refreshments, guides knowledge of foods and the eateries we were visiting as well as the area we were walking in. Felt it was excellent value for the money provided you did not spend the extra $20. For the alcohol! This company also offers a tasting tour on Granville Island Public Market and of the Vancouver Street Food Carts.

As for Off the Eaten Track - this company offers culinary tasting tours of various areas of Vancouver. This company has now expanded and offers a brunch tour and a dinner tour. I did the Railtown Urban Eats tour and it was Fabulous! This tour would blend well with the free walking tour offered by http://www.tourguys.ca … you could easily do the free walking tour and then meet up with this tour company for this tour for your lunch - the food is plentiful & wonderful you will not leave this tour hungry!






Vancouver has a bunch of hop-on hop-off buses







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BCHappyGirl...Thanks so much for that comprehensive list of places to visit. We will be disembarking in Vancouver in early June and are spending almost 3 full days touring the area (we're taking the late train on the 3rd day to Seattle).


One question: We won't have a car and are planning on taking the free shuttle to get to the Capilano Bridge Park but would also like to see Grouse Mtn. Can we easily get from the bridge park to the mountain?

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Wow, BCHappyGal! Thanks to your suggestions, I've just added another couple days to our planned post-cruise time in Vancouver, May 2016.


And, martincath, along with your helpful hints and description of what the city ISN'T, I'm much better prepared (and excited) for what IS. Thanks to you, too.



Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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One question: We won't have a car and are planning on taking the free shuttle to get to the Capilano Bridge Park but would also like to see Grouse Mtn. Can we easily get from the bridge park to the mountain?
This is what I would do....

  • Walk to Canada Place and catch the Grouse Mountain shuttle.
  • When leaving Grouse, ask the driver for the optional stop to Capilano. If the shuttle driver refuses.... take the regular public transit bus or taxi to the Cap suspension bridge from the Grouse parking lot.
  • Return to Canada Place on the Cap Bridge shuttle.

Do to crowds and location... it's easier to get to Cap bridge AFTER going to Grouse. Going Northbound you need to wait for an empty shuttle (difficult) or space on the public transit bus to go North to Grouse.



Edited by xlxo
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BCHappyGirl...Thanks so much for that comprehensive list of places to visit. We will be disembarking in Vancouver in early June and are spending almost 3 full days touring the area (we're taking the late train on the 3rd day to Seattle).


One question: We won't have a car and are planning on taking the free shuttle to get to the Capilano Bridge Park but would also like to see Grouse Mtn. Can we easily get from the bridge park to the mountain?


The local bus #236 runs past Capilano Bridge on the way to Grouse if you're unable to grab the shuttle. $2.75 for a one zone fare. You can actually use it to get all the back to downtown if you want ride it to Lonsdale Quay, and grab Seabus from there (it becomes a 2 zone $4 fare if you do this)

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In reading this section the tour called foodie (www.foodietours.ca) peaked our interest and when searching the site you can purchase advanced tickets. Is it necessary to do so for the last weekend in June this early or wait until we arrive into Vancouver.

I'd suggest waiting until the week before, when weather forecasts become reasonably accurate - all the food tours go rain or shine but schlepping around in the rain definitely detracts, especially if any of the food experiences are 'grab and go' like, for example, every single stop on the Food Truck tour (which incidentally I find HORRIFICALLY poor value - some of the stops on other tours are impossible to replicate cheaper as the restaurants of course do not sell tasting portions of most dishes, so unless you can gather half-a-dozen friends and split one dish you'll end up spending more to do them ad hoc. Items from food trucks are usually around $7 a pop, and you certainly don't visit seven trucks - just wander around them yourselves, split one dish from any you like the look of, and two of you will likely spend $30 total for a filling lunch compared to the $49 per person price of the tour. Happy to recommend particular trucks if you give an idea of what kind of foods you love/hate/haven't tried but want to).


It's certainly possible for tours to sell out, but the website booking engine shows how many remaining spaces so it's easy to start a booking and see if there are still spaces.

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BCHappyGirl...Thanks so much for that comprehensive list of places to visit. We will be disembarking in Vancouver in early June and are spending almost 3 full days touring the area (we're taking the late train on the 3rd day to Seattle).


One question: We won't have a car and are planning on taking the free shuttle to get to the Capilano Bridge Park but would also like to see Grouse Mtn. Can we easily get from the bridge park to the mountain?


In reading this section the tour called foodie (http://www.foodietours.ca) peaked our interest and when searching the site you can purchase advanced tickets. Is it necessary to do so for the last weekend in June this early or wait until we arrive into Vancouver.


I would definitely wait and book closer to your date

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If you fly to Seattle, I would recommend that you take the Amtrac Cascades Train. My parents LOVED this as the scenery was stunning.



Last year we stayed in Seattle first and caught the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver. It leaves just after 7am and takes 4 hours. The scenery is stunning. Ask for a seat on the left hand side as thats the best scenery.


Hotel wise, the Pan Pacific is right at Canada Place which is fine if your cruise is leaving from Canada place but if it goes from the next dock along its not so close. Last year we stayed at the Ramada Vancouver downtown but it was small and very hot, although a quaint hotel. This year we picked the Delta Vancouver Suites as they are in a great location just two blocks from the Pan Pacific and Canada place and much cheaper than the pan pacific.


You are walking distance (5 mins) to Gas town where there are some great restaurants to eat in.

I recommend the Vancouver Trolley Bus which leaves from Canada Place too and takes you all around Vancouver, through Stanley Park, English Beach, Gas Town, China Town and more. Well worth it. Stay on it at first, takes about 1hr 45 mins and decide where you want to get off. It stops at Dr Sun Yat Sen gardens too which is well worth the visit. Lots of TV shows/movies are filmed here too.


You can also get a bus from Canada place to Capillano Suspension bridge and grouse mountain. The bus is free. Grouse mountain is about 8 miles out of Vancouver and Capillano not much different. Both worth a day trip.


Hope that helps.

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