24 Hours in Vancouver

A day in Canada's biggest beach town

vancouver's cafe medina / photo by toque & canoe

Vancouver. A city so rich with culture – good food, happening music venues, beautiful hotels and amazing urban parks – you could never do it all in just one day.

Where do you begin? The Vancouver Art Gallery? The Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Van? Fish and chips on Kits beach? Shopping on Commercial Drive? The possibilities are infinite.

For fun, we’ve decided to knock off a hit list (tough job but someone had to do it) that will give you an invigorating taste of one of our planet’s most liveable cities.

Where to stay

You gotta hang your hat at Opus. This fantastic Yaletown hotel has it going on. Downtown location. Easy access to the seawall. Close to Granville Island. And cozy, stylish rooms with comfy, cloud-like beds. (In case you missed it, check out the photo of Toque leaping onto a bed at Opus in our Hotel Room Confessional post.)


The globally-inspired and always bustling Glowbal Grill is a stone’s throw from Opus. We recently paid Glowbal a visit after a recommendation from a Vancouver foodie friend. No disappointments here. Not with the seriously juicy steaks and impressive wine list or, ahem, the doting, hunky waiters who served us.

Live music

After you’ve noshed and (shamelessly) flirted to your heart’s content, it’s time to hit the The Railway Club – a venue that originally opened in 1931 as a drinking hole for Canadian Pacific Rail workers. Today, The Railway Club has a rep for being a huge indie music supporter: k.d. lang, The Rheostatics, and the Barenaked Ladies played here long before any of them made it big.

A wee nightcap

If you need just one last kick at the can before you head back to your hotel, this is the one. Moscow Mule, Pink Lady, or Isabella anyone? The Diamond – located in historic Gastown overlooking Maple Tree Square – has one of the most imaginative and boozy drink menus in town. And if cocktails aren’t your thing? There’s always beer. Awesome, late-night hang-out.


A little groggy, you wake up the next morning with bacon on your brain. First priority? Breakfast at Cafe Medina. Not only does this gorgeous eaterie distinguish itself with a diverse, Belgium-meets-the-Middle-East style menu, but it boasts the world’s yummiest hand-cut bacon. Drizzled with a reduced balsamic vinegar dressing, this dish will send your salivary glands into overdrive.

Tour the town

…and burn off some of that bacon at the same time. Head back to Opus, grab one of their European-style bicycles and scope out Vancouver’s most famous vistas from the seawall. (Don’t try to do the seawall in flip flops. Been there. Done that. Seriously painful experience.) Take in Stanley ParkLion’s Gate Bridge and Canada’s busiest harbour. Bikes are the only way to travel in this cycle-centric city.

That’s our Vancouver in 24 Hours. What would you do in Vancouver if you only had a day?

Best comment wins a Tourism Vancouver/Toque & Canoe-inspired swag bag.

*CONTEST UPDATE: Congrats to ‘Katherine’ on winning our “24 Hours in Vancouver” contest. Difficult to choose with so many great comments. But from the lavender latte at Cafe Medina to La Brasserie’s buck-a-shuck oysters to a gig at The Commodore (everyone needs to experience their springy floor), Katherine put together a prize-winning – and happily exhausting – 24 hours in one of our fave Canadian cities. Again, many thanks to everyone for your fantastic suggestions. You covered it all!!!

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  1. Amber commented:

    Great round-up Toque & Canoe!

    In my perfect 24-hr Vancouver day, I’d also include lunch at one (or more) of Vancouver’s new street-food vendors (Korean crepes, pulled pork sandwiches, beer-brined chicken on a buttery biscuit..mmmm).

    Check out the new Vancouver Street Food Cart tour offered by Foodie Tour. Michelle takes you to a selection of the top carts, offers interesting background on the chefs, and leaves you with a very full belly.



  2. Sandy commented:

    My perfect day in Vancouver would be simple….A stroll along the beach. I would take in all the beauty and smells of the ocean, and then sit and enjoy watching the waves and listening to the sounds of everything around me.


  3. Timothy Hoey commented:

    24 hours? Places I always try to visit, PD’s Skate Shop, over on West 4th. Vancouver Art Gallery, pint at the Railway Club, hang out with friends and coffee on Commercial Drive, and one of my favourite parts of a road trip to Vancouver is taking the Pacific Coachlines from Victoria right into the old CPR station down by False Creek. Someone else does the driving, you can gaze out the window, and once there, the Skytrain is just a few steps away, no car, no hassle.


  4. Angela Dillon commented:

    24 hours? Not a problem. My 24 hours would slow down to very few things- an early morning run through the Endowment lands- the cedar-filled soil releasing scent with every crunch of your foot underneath. Show up mud-flecked and refreshed from a run at the Naam restaurant in Kits. Be filled with amazing food. Take in the real feel of Kits life, laid back, chilled out and slow. Nourish there, get quiet there. Head down to the water with a cup of tea from 4th. Watch the dogs riot in happy packs. See children examine sand on their palms. Hear the gulls. Rent a bike in English Bay and head down to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Finish at the book store; buy yourself something quirky and new. Drive out to Lighthouse Park and watch the sun go down, sitting on warm rock. End back in Kits at Benny’s Bagels, the best in town- carb up and stroll back to the beach for some star gazing. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a heron in silhouette against the water.


  5. Valerie Fortney commented:

    If it were summer weather, I’d do a swim workout at Kitsilano Pool, lunch at Go Fish just outside Granville Island Market — never miss this place! — and perhaps a bike ride around the Sea Wall. Always love to stroll up and down Granville Street in Kitsilano!


  6. Nancy Spence commented:

    Ok here goes….Breakie at Terra Breads at Granville Island with a great cup of coffee. (not hard to find!) Sea bus across to the beach. Walk to English Bay. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and some of the great shops and eateries there. Grab a cab to Lynn Canyon and do a hike across the suspension bridge and down to the canyon (beautiful!) Cab back to Lonsdale Quay – shop, grab a drink. Back to the city-freshen up. Dinner at Vij’s, drinks at West. Desert at Sweet Obsession – diplomat cake is to die for. If I’m really lucky, back to the beach for fireworks or Bard!!!!


  7. Leigh commented:

    Cycle to Thomas Haas in North Vancouver for a latte and one of his decadent double almond croissants. Then backtrack to the Lion’s Gate Bridge, cycle over while stopping to admire the view, the boats and the float planes overhead. Continue on to the beaches on Spanish Banks, and if time permits check out the Museum of Anthropology. Parking is so much cheaper on a bike.

    Back to Granville Market for a late afternoon lunch picnic style, a quick ride around Stanley Park via English Bay and then back to my hotel wherever it might be – the Opus works for me. Order room service because I’m tired.
    If I revive perhaps a cultural event at the Queen Elizabeth Theater – maybe something by Dance House since I like the modern edgy stuff they often put on.

    A perfect day if you ask me.


  8. Tracy commented:

    Great idea for an article as I often find myself in a city for just a day or two. My daughter loves going to Granville Island and buying the birdseed to feel the local ducks. It’s a very picturesque place and the bill is low.


  9. CMD commented:

    For a die-hard flâneur, such as myself, Vancouver offers so many wonderful and distinct neighborhoods to lose yourself within.

    24 hours is hardly enough time to enjoy all that Lotusland has to offer, but thanks to the newly revamped transit lines and bike lanes, it’s easier than ever to get from one amazing neighborhood to the next. No matter what your interests may be, you will find something to love in my TOP 5 Vancouver neighborhoods to visit in 24 hours: (East to West)
    1. Commercial Drive – From West Broadway to Hastings street you will find the most eclectic mix of shops, independent restaurants and communities in Vancouver.
    2. Main Street – A mecca for the fashionably inclined. Main street is the epicenter of local fashion & design outlets in Vancouver.
    3. Gastown – Old world charm meets new world money. Gastown has it all. Great restaurants, world-class watering holes and stellar boutique shopping.
    4. South Granville – It’s all business in this part of town but nowhere else can you find more art galleries or better views of the downtown core.
    5. Kitsilano – From Granville Island to Kits Beach, up to West 4th. By far the best neighborhood to hop on a bike and explore. Kitsilano defines west coast culture.

    However, if I were to recommend one activity that everyone should do when they visit Vancouver, it would have to be…to jump into the ocean. The water is warmer than you think but colder than you would like. But hey, salt water is great for the skin and nothing else makes you feel more alive. Especially, after hours on a plane,bus, car or ferry. Just don’t forget the towel and a warm jacket for afterwards.


  10. dana commented:

    The last time I came through, I only had 8 hours on the street, so to speak.
    Up early and running into Stanley Park. I had never been, and it was so fabulous it just keep running!
    Along the water, through Totem Park, by the beaches, by the Little Mermaid statue. 10 miles or so later I cleaned up at my hotel and had just enough time to sneak in a stop to see the belugas, take a horse drawn carriage ride and head off to the airport.
    Looking forward to the next visit when I get to stay!


  11. Katherine commented:

    If I had only one day in Vancouver, I’d weep a little first of all, as I love this place and would never want to leave 😉

    I’d stay the night at the luxurious and unique Hotel Le Soleil, making sure I test out every seat in their opulant lobby. After an early rise, I would stroll to Cafe Medina and pick up one of their to-die-for Lavender Lattes and walk towards Stanley Park. At Georgia and Denman, I’d pick up a rental bike and then follow the trails through the park. Being a curious creature, I’d make sure to stop at the totem poles, the lighthouse, and even take a few breathers to see if I can spot any sea otters (I was successful once!).

    By now, I’d be ready for a nosh, so I’d return the bike and head up Davie street towards La Brasserie for a lovely brunch. Whether you fancy their Oeufs du Jour or freshly made quiche, a side of buck-a-shuck oysters is a must (if that’s your liking!)

    A skip, hop and a little boat from the end of Davie will then take me to Granville Island where I will pick up some yummy treats for later and perhaps a bunch of flowers. Watch out for those pigeons though!

    For a change of pace, I’d then head up to Main street, starting at around 27th and walking North. There are loads of independent shops, the perfect area to find something truly unique. By the time I hit Broadway, it’s time for an afternooon pick-me-up from Kafkas. Also stop to pick up a Georgia Straight to see what is on at the theatres or concert venues.

    Back to the hotel for a change of clothes and then off to find some culture. If I luck out, there will be a gig at the Commodore. With it’s springy floors and rich history (not to mention its automated window coverings!), this place always produces the best shows. Surely after all this walking, biking, jumping around to music will tire me out.

    Late night eats? Poutine from Fritz on Davie or perhaps a burger from The Templeton 🙂

    I can think of loads of more places … but this for me, would be a pretty good day 🙂


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