Are you planning on visiting beautiful Vancouver this summer or fall? Then check out my Vancouver Itinerary: 4 days of the best the city has to offer! Believe me – you will fall in love with Vancouver after following my 4 day Vancouver Itinerary. Read on…
Vancouver on Canada’s west coast is a dynamic city that is culturally diverse, stunningly beautiful and home to incredible food and beer scenes. So it’s basically my dream city.
I have previously spoken in detail on this blog about my love for Vancouver, here and here and here, so I really don’t need to bore you all by confessing my undying love for this city again.
What I will say is that after living in Vancouver for five months in 2009/2010 and visiting another seven times since then, it is still firmly my favorite place in the world.
And summer is the best time to visit Vancouver – that’s why I wrote this 4 day Vancouver Itinerary, focusing on summer in the city, although it could certainly be used for other seasons in Vancouver too.
One of the reasons I love Vancouver is because of the massive amount of things to do there, and of course the massive amount of incredible things to eat – after all, Vancouver has some of the best food in Canada.
You know that quote ‘If you are tired of London then you are tired of life’? Well, I think it is very apt for Vancouver too.
Although you could spend weeks in Vancouver and never get bored, I know a lot of visitors don’t have that long, so I wrote this Vancouver 4 day itinerary which will give you a great overview of the best of Vancouver.
Maybe it will give you some ideas for when you visit. Because believe me, you must visit this city!
The Best 4 Day Vancouver Itinerary for Summer
Day 1: Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Kitsilano and Beaches
Start your 4 days in Vancouver with a hike in Pacific Spirit Regional Park or visiting one of Vancouver’s excellent museums, followed by lunch and a stroll around Kitsilano, then relax on one of Kitsilano’s beautiful beaches in the afternoon. Grab dinner at a Kits icon to complete your day.
Escaping the City in Pacific Spirit Regional Park
After grabbing breakfast in Kits at Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe, 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters and Lucky’s Doughnuts, or Beaucoup Bakery, it’s time for a hike at Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
Located at the far western edge of Vancouver near the University of British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional Park encompasses 763 acres of forest and foreshore.
There are a number of hiking trails on offer, and you can join a few together to do a loop through the old-growth forest of the park. It’s also worth visiting the Fraser River Exploration Monument, which has a great view over the mouth of the Fraser River.
The park is a peaceful spot for a wander, and to be surrounded by old-growth temperate rainforest so close to a busy city is one of the reasons why I love Vancouver so much.
Learn More About Vancouver at a Museum
If you are more into museums than hiking (or if you have more than 4 days in Vancouver), then don’t miss visiting one of Vancouver’s excellent museums.
The absolute best is the Museum of Anthropology on the UBC Campus not far from Kits, which is home to a large collection of arts and cultural pieces with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples.
If maritime history is more your style, the Vancouver Maritime Museum is located not far from Kits Beach and is an interesting place to spend a couple of hours.
Exploring Beautiful Kitsilano
Kitsilano, or Kits, is Vancouver’s beachy suburb and one of my favorite places in the city.
Kits was a hippy enclave back in the 1960s and 70s – it’s where Greenpeace was founded – and you can still find traces of that in the stores and eateries along West 4th Avenue and Broadway today.
Cozy bookshops, health food stores, eclectic eateries, cute boutiques – browsing the shops in Kits is always fun.
There are also miles of coastline to walk along, white sand beaches, leafy streets lined with colorful wooden homes, and lots of parks, some with views over the harbor to the mountains north of the city.
I love the nature and the relaxed vibe in Kits and if (when) I live in Vancouver again, this is where I want to be. It’s the perfect spot for a summer in Vancouver.
Relaxing at One of Kitsilano’s Beaches
Beaches may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Vancouver but there are actually a lot scattered around the city, with Kits being home to some of the most beautiful.
The large logs placed along the beaches are very iconic Vancouver and are great to lean against to read a book before going for a dip. The water is warmer than you would think.
In my opinion, Jericho Beach in Kits is the best as it is a beautiful sandy crescent with some of the cleanest water, and it has great mountain views.
Spanish Banks Beach next door is also a beauty, and if you are looking for action, then head to busy Kitsilano Beach where there is also an outdoor pool.
Eat at a Kitsilano Icon for Dinner
Finish your day by eating at a Kits icon. It’s hard to beat The Naam for wholesome and delicious vegetarian dishes in a 24-hour restaurant that has been operating since 1968!
Other Kits favorites that you should consider for dinner or lunch are East is East for Afghan cuisine, Chewies for killer Cajun cuisine and seafood, Peaceful Restaurant for authentic North Chinese food, or for something more casual – grab a slice or two from Uncle Fatih’s or Nat’s New York Pizzeria.
Day 2: Stanley Park, Gastown, Chinatown, East Van
Today will mostly be spent around Vancouver’s city center, spending the morning walking or biking the gorgeous seawall in Stanley Park, then exploring historic Gastown, interesting Chinatown, and finishing in hip East Van for shopping, dinner, and drinks.
Walking or Biking the Seawall in Stanley Park
Stanley Park with its seawall is probably the most well-known tourist attraction in Vancouver and with good reason.
Walking or biking the nearly ten kilometers of sea wall with the ocean on one side and pristine BC Coastal rainforest on the other is pretty special, even when you have to share the path with hundreds of others.
The last time I walked it I had a playful seal following me most of the way and I have also seen river otters, raccoons, and bald eagles while doing this walk.
The views are spectacular the whole way around with beaches, rainforest, ocean, rocky foreshore, and mountains always in sight.
The totem poles are worth checking out and lots of wild blackberries grow along the path which is perfect for a snack. If it’s a hot day, stop at gorgeous Third Beach for a dip with mountain views.
You can do this walk any time of year, even in wet and cold winter – it is spectacular whatever the season. But to really see it at its best? Walk or bike it during summer in Vancouver.
And, if you are wondering what to see in Vancouver in one day if that is all you have, walking or biking the seawall is it.
Cobbled Streets and Great Restaurants in Gastown
After finishing your walk or bike around the seawall, walk along the waterfront to Gastown, passing by Canada Place on the way.
Gastown may be touristy but I have a bit of a soft spot for it. You can’t deny it’s pretty with its colorful flower pots, cobbled streets, and old-fashioned gas lamps. It even has a smaller version of New York’s Flatiron Building – Hotel Europe.
There are also some great restaurants in this area and for lunch, I recommend Tacofino for iconic fish tacos or Finch’s – a tea house with old-world charm and really good teas and baguette sandwiches.
Check out the iconic Steam Clock and do some shopping before heading to your next stop – if you want tasteful souvenirs then Gastown is the place to shop for them.
Pass under the Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate into Chinatown. If you haven’t eaten already – or if you can eat more – don’t miss getting some dim sum at Jade Dynasty, or grab a sweet treat from one of the many Chinese bakeries.
If you are a garden aficionado, then make sure to visit the tranquil Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden – the first Chinese garden built outside of China.
Exploring Edgy East Van
East Van is basically east of Main Street in downtown Vancouver and is an edgier, funkier part of the city that is definitely worth spending at least a couple of hours.
Start your East Van exploration by checking out the shops along East Hastings Street in Hastings-Sunrise, before turning down Commercial Drive which is one long road of amazing restaurants, bars, and retail.
Make sure to sample beers at Biercraft, and have dinner at Sula for outstanding Indian food or Havana for Cuban cuisine and Cuban cocktails.
If you are a beer lover, it’s not too far to excellent Strange Fellow’s Brewery for a few craft beers to finish off your night.
Day 3: Lynn Canyon, Granville Island, and Mount Pleasant
Start Day 3 of your Vancouver Itinerary by visiting lovely Lynn Canyon Park to check out the suspension bridge and do some hiking, followed by a visit to Granville Island Market and finish in exciting Mount Pleasant for some brewery hopping and dinner.
Hiking Through Temperate Rainforest in Lynn Canyon
Located on the North Shore of Vancouver, Lynn Canyon Park is the free alternative to the pricey Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It still sees a lot of tourists around the suspension bridge, but within five minutes of leaving that behind and taking one of the trails, the crowds quickly die away.
Numerous trails that are punctuated with wooden boardwalks are shaded by stands of giant hemlocks and cedars, with ferns and moss growing prolifically over the dead trees and detritus on the forest floor.
On a hot day during summer in Vancouver, the crystal clear water of the numerous water holes along the river are perfect for a refreshing dip.
Food and Art on Granville Island
One of my absolute favorite spots in the city, Granville Island is home to a fantastic covered Public Market with loads of fresh BC produce and food stalls where you can grab lunch.
If it’s a beautiful day during summer in Vancouver then I sit at one of the seats on the wharf outside to eat lunch and watch the street performers, or if it’s a drizzly day then upstairs in the food court is a cozy spot to admire the beauty of the rain-drenched harbor.
There are also numerous art galleries and interesting shops to browse once you are done with eating, and if you want to get your hands on some original BC and First Nations Art then Granville Island is the perfect place to do so.
Granville Island is surrounded by parks and if you like float homes, there is a colourful float home village right beside where the public market is.
Don’t miss the blueberry and white chocolate bread from Terra Breads, grab a flight and maybe do a tour at Granville Island Brewing, and get fish and chips for lunch from Go Fish – the best fish and chips in Vancouver. It’s just a short walk along the coast from the market.
Brewery Hopping and Dinner in Mount Pleasant
Vibrant and eclectic, the fast gentrifying suburb of Mount Pleasant is one of my favorite places to do a little brewery hopping, and it’s a great spot for dinner too.
I am a massive craft beer fan and I especially love the inventiveness of the brews in Vancouver. With a lot of the breweries located in East Van/Mount Pleasant, you can put together a bit of a brewery hop, sampling the wares at some of the best.
My favorites around this area are Brassneck, 33 Acres, Red Truck Beer Company, R&B Brewing Co., Main Street Brewing Company, and Electric Bicycle Brewing.
Mount Pleasant is also one of the best places to eat out in Vancouver, with so many options it will make your head spin.
Grab Mexican at El Camino’s, inventive donuts at Cartems, awesome diner fare at Lucy’s Eastside Diner, or Thai food at Bob Likes Thai Food.
There is always a buzz in Mount Pleasant and it is infectious.
Day 4: Day Hike Near Vancouver
Day 4 of your 4 day Vancouver Itinerary will not actually be spent in Vancouver – today you should take a day trip to do a hike nearby and enjoy the incredible mountain scenery that surrounds the city.
There are numerous trails outside the city that are easy to do on a day trip. Garibaldi Lakes, the Lions Binkert trail, and the Stawamus Chief are a few of my faves.
To get to the best trails you will need to rent a car. It’s easy to do a car rental from Vancouver Airport which tends to be the cheapest option, or from locations downtown.
If you aren’t too keen to do a big hike on your last day, there are so many fabulous day trips you can do in and around Vancouver. Consider a day kayaking at Deep Cove, visit Bowen Island by ferry, do a seaside stroll and some brewery hopping in Port Moody, or get naked at hippie Wreck Beach.
Whatever you decide to do during a beautiful summer in Vancouver, you really can’t go wrong. Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Have you been to Vancouver yet? What other places would you add to your Vancouver 4 day itinerary?
Planning Your 4 Days in Vancouver
How To Get Around in Vancouver
Vancouver is a really walkable and bikeable city, so my favorite way to get around is by hitting the streets on foot, or renting a bike for longer distances.
There is also excellent public transport in Vancouver with the Skytrain, ferries, and an extensive network of buses.
I recommend getting a Compass Card which covers trains, ferries, and buses – you can load money on it and just tap it when you board. Make sure to also tap off for ferries and the Skytrain.
You can purchase a Compass Card at Skytrain stations, SeaBus terminals, and various retailers.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
If you want to splurge on a beautiful and historic hotel in a great location in Vancouver, you can’t go past one of the Fairmont hotels – the Fairmont Waterfront and the Fairmont Pacific Rim look incredible!
For a solid mid-range option in Vancouver, I would recommend The Burrard Hotel with its retro vibe and pops of color.
If you want your own space then a vacation rental is a great option. Here are my picks for the most affordable, highly rated, and centrally located vacation rentals in Vancouver:
- Modern Luxury Loft in Gastown Heritage Building
- Newly Renovated Condo in the Centre of Downtown
- Quiet Garden Suite Near Commercial Drive
- Elegant One Bedroom Downtown Apartment
- Luxury Suite Near Granville Island and Kitsilano
- Sunset Beach Apartment With Sea Views
- Affordable One Bedroom Apartment by Granville Island
If you are on more of a backpacker budget, HI Vancouver Downtown is an excellent choice. It’s located in the quiet West End but is close to the city center and the Seawall. There is a free breakfast offered every morning and it is a friendly but quiet hostel.
If you want to stay in beautiful Kitsilano, the HI Vancouver Jericho Beach is located right by the beach and is within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants on Broadway and West 4th Avenue.
The Best Insurance for Your 4 Days in Vancouver
If you are not Canadian, make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with.
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, check out some of my other Canada content:
- How I Traveled Through Canada on $30 Per Day
- Crypt Lake Hike: One of the Best Hikes in Canada
- Life in Field, BC: The Best Mountain Town in the Canadian Rockies
- How to Spend a Weekend in Revelstoke, Canada
- The Sunshine Coast, BC: Canada’s Most Underrated Destination?
- Revisiting Victoria: Canada’s English Themed City
- What to Do in Summer on Denman Island, Canada
- Garibaldi Lake Hike: The Best Vancouver Day Hike
- Why you Should Visit Vancouver in the Fall