When I found out that I had less than 48 hours in Vancouver, British Columbia I thought – what can I do in less than 48 hours in Vancouver? Well let me tell you, I fitted quite a bit in.
Vancouver, British Columbia is a lovely city, set at the foothills of a temperate rainforest on Canada’s West Coast. Air New Zealand operate a daily service from Auckland directly to Vancouver and this flight takes around 13 hours.
I made my way from Vancouver Airport to downtown Vancouver on the Vancouver Airport Skytrain, this train is both above and below ground and will cost you around CAD $9.50 from the Airport to downtown or CAD $5 in the opposite direction. This 25 minutes ride takes you from directly outside the airport terminals into 1 of two downtown train stations (City Centre or Waterfront).
Did you know that you can ski, play golf and whale watch all in the same day in Vancouver? Because of Vancouver’s geographical location you are with easy reach of the ocean, ski fields, golf course, hiking and mountain biking tracks, to name but a few things that you can do.
If you are short-on-time in Vancouver, like I was, then a great way to see the city is by doing a 5-hour City Tour. You will visit places like Stanley Park - with its 9km seawall walk, rose gardens, totem poles and beautiful views looking back across the harbour towards Vancouver city - Chinatown, historic Gastown, Granville Island - with its public markets, shops, eateries and galleries along the water front.
But the highlight of my city tour would have to be the visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, located in North Vancouver, across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. This is the oldest tourist attraction in Vancouver. The suspension bridge is 72 metres above the Capilano River and is 140 metres long. I’m not normally scared of heights but I must say it did take a bit for me to get used to the swaying of the suspension bridge but I was rewarded with spectacular views of the gorge. There are two other parts to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – the Treetop Adventures where you wind your way up walkways into the trees and over suspended walkways between trees, so that you are walking in amongst the canopies and the Cliffwalk – a cantilevered walkway clinging to a granite cliff, high above the Capilano River.
I found Vancouver is a very walkable city as it is quite condensed, you can visit art galleries, museums, cafes and bars or simply just shop. It was an easy 20-minute walk from my hotel to the Vancouver Lookout where you can experience 360 degree views over Vancouver for around CAD $17.50 per adult. In summer the Vancouver Lookout of open until 10.30pm.
One of my most memorable experiences in Vancouver was on the Flyover Canada experience. This fully immersive 4D ride is set on the water front at Canada Place. While soaring from the West Coast to East Coast across some of Canada's most spectacular sights from the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountain, prairies and rivers you will feel the wind in your hair, spray on your face and even smell the dirt in the air.
Another great option, if you have time is to go on a day trip to Victoria, Vancouver Island or even spend a couple of days there. You can go whale watching (seasonal), visit Butchart Gardens, do wine tours, go cycling or kayaking. You can get from Vancouver to Victoria by either ferry or seaplane.