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Things To Do In Vancouver In One Day

Vancouver was an unplanned trip and what was supposed to be a 1-day stopover on the way from Iceland to Seattle turned into a strange adventure that leads me to 4 days of exploring Vancouver on the extreme budget side of things.

If you’re looking for a post about things to do in Vancouver where you do lots of activities that you spend money on then this isn’t for you. But if like me, you travel on a budget and want to see the city without spending much, but having fun, this is for you.

Indeed I ended up sleeping at Vancouver airport for 4 nights! The airline, which I won’t shame here as they gave me decent compensation at the end, had lost my bag between Iceland and Vancouver.

Now normally you could find out within half a day to a day what has happened, but in this case I went everyday for 4 days, being told to come early morning the next day to the lost baggage counter, we should know by then.

Budget hotels and hostels in Vancouver are not cheap and I was planning a backpacking trip to Alaska to wild camp everywhere. So the airport staff understood my situation and let me crash at the airport on a bench. Not the best of sleeps but it was free!

Everyday I would go to the kost baggage counter, be told they didn’t know anything yet, and then take the train from Vancouver airport to the centre of the city for a day of exploration.

Anyway, here are the things to do in Vancouver that I got up top when there. I walked everywhere and saw a lot of the city and different neighbourhoods.

A Walk In Vancouver

Walking. The budget travellers best friend and the best way to see a place.


When I realised I may be stuck in Vancouver a while the last thing on my mind was to hang around at the airport.

Taking the train service from Vancouver Airport into the centre of the city early morning every day, I would get out and walk for hours.

Thankfully Vancouver has some great neighbourhoods, parks, and a waterside you can walk forever.

I would head straight to the waterfront and walk along until reaching Coal Harbour, which is a slightly fancier area but great for strolling along and watching seaplanes taking off.

Coal Harbour Vancouver

Continuing further on you get to Stanley Park which is one of my favourite parks in Vancouver and is in fact rated one of the best parks in the world.

It’s very chilled out and has monuments for the native American tribes of the region.

You can stroll around for hours here, either by the waterside, or head into the forest trails. I would go there everyday for my exercise. This is a great place to see Vancouverites out and about in nature.

Third Beach is a nice beach to relax for a while on your walk around the park.

Vancouver park
Part of Stanley Park.

After taking a walk around Pacific Spirit Park head into the city and take a walk to Granville Island for a bite to eat.

Granville Island is famed for its art scene and food and is a nice place to relax after lots of walking.

Vancouver Granville Island
Granville Island.

Once you’ve got some energy in you it’s time to check out some more of Vancouver.

Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Vancouver has some very cool neighbourhoods to explore. If at this point you’re getting a bit tired of walking then just take a public bus between soe of the bigger distances.

I walked absolutely everywhere though.


Gastown Vancouver
Be sure to check out the Gastown Steam Clock.

Gastown is interesting to walk around and is packed with boutique stores and eateries. Perfect for a stop to have a drink or keep on going until you get to Commercial Drive.

Commercial Drive

Commercial Drive is one of the best places for eating and drinking in Vancouver.

Go there hungry and leave full!

Granville Street

Vancouver street at night - things to do in Vancouver
Granville Street.

Granville Street is where I would head at night for a stroll around the shops and bars.

This is the fun area if you want to have a drink or hit up a club and has a slight alternative vibe in places. I would get cheap beer from a supermarket and stroll around taking it all in.

And after an epic day of walking and taking in Vancouver I would head back to the airport to sleep, with very tired legs! And maybe a bit tipsy…

Useful Links For Vancouver Travel

So there you go. If you have the energy you can see a lot of Vancouver in one day and not spend much at all, except food and some drinks.

If you have more time and money then there are plenty of other stuff to do in Vancouver when there.

Eventually, the airline found my bag one month later and it eventually got posted to me from Vancouver to where I was in Alaska.

Side note: Take travel insurance! Things can go wrong like lost luggage etc and they can help cover costs. I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

I didn’t use a guide for Vancouver as you would have guessed by the tone of the post of writing. I relied on asking for information from people on the streets.

However if I was to go back and have money to spend I would use one of these guides:

Lonely Planet Pocket Vancouver

Lonely Planet Vancouver and Victoria

Fodor’s Vancouver and Victoria

If you liked this article about things to do in Vancouver a share would be cool!

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