5 things to do in Vancouver if it’s your first visit

March 20, 2020

Vancouver is a beautiful city, located on the west coast of Canada. If this is your first time visiting Vancouver, below is a list of the five things that you must see.

Keep reading until the end for some cool bonus places.

1. Gastown

Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver which started from a single tavern owned by John Deighton also known as Gassy Jack.

This nickname comes from the fact that he was very talkative (not bloated lol).

Gastown is a vibrant neighborhood known for the many restaurants, shops, and cobblestone streets.

Some of the main attractions are the world-famous Steam Clock, the Gassy Jack Statue and the many unique food parlors.

Every hour the Steam Clock releases steam from the whistles that are located on the top, creating a tune which is what people are waiting around to see.

If you want to learn more about Gastown, including more pictures and videos of the clock chiming, check out this blog post which discusses Gastown in more detail.


steam clock, Gastown, clock, Vancouver

The Steam Clock


2. Granville Island 

Granville Island is best known for its Public Market where you can buy a wide range of products such as fresh produce, sweets, sandwiches, etc.

There are many restaurants in the area and a lot of them offer a great variety of seafood.

Granville Island is also home to the Granville Island beer – the brewery is located right beside the Public Market.

Here you can find a ton of small stores, galleries as well as many artesian and street performers. 

If you want to know more about Granville Island, including what restaurants to eat at, check out this blog post.


Granville Island, Vancouver

View towards Granville Island


3. Stanley Park 

Stanley Park is the largest park in Vancouver.

It offers amazing views of the city and the mountains, has very beautiful beaches, diverse wildlife, hiking trails, and historical landmarks.

Most people choose to bike around the park. It will take you about 2 to 3 hours to walk and about an hour or two to bike it.

Some of the major things to see are the Lost Lagoon, the Rose Garden, the Totems at Brockton Point, Girl in a Wetsuit Statue, Siwash Rock and the three beaches.

If you want more information on how to rent a bike and from where check out this blog post.

If you want to know more about what to see and do in Stanley Park then check out this blog post


Stanley Park, nature, biking

View of Stanley Park


4. Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge is situated inside Capilano Suspension Bridge Park located in North Vancouver [about 20 minutes drive from downtown Vancouver].

Keep in mind the park gets very, very busy and I would suggest going first thing in the morning.

Some of the main things to see in the park are obviously the suspension bridge, the amazing rain forest, Treetop Adventure, Cliffwalk, etc.

It will probably take you about 2 to 3 hours to explore the whole park.

If you want to know more about Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, check out this blog post which includes a video of me crossing the bridge.


unicorn, Capilano Suspension Bridge, park, rain forest

Me overlooking the Capilano Suspension Bridge


5. Grouse Mountain 

In order to get to Grouse Mountain, you need to get on the Red Skyride gondola which will take you to the peak.

There are a lot of activities to do there: the World Famous Lumberjack Show, the Eye of the Wind (the only wind turbine in the world that features an observation deck beside the blades), the two Grizzly Bears Lookout and Habitat, etc.

Also, keep in mind the mountain can get very cold so bring a rain jacket/sweater even in the summer months.

If you want to learn more about Grouse Mountain, check out this blog post.


Grouse Mountain, peak, chairlift, forest, Vancouver

Grouse Mountain



Trans Am Totem 

Essentially Trans Am Totem is a tree trunk that has five real scrap cars that are stacked on top of each other.

I know it sounds crazy, but check out the picture below.

The artwork represents our consumer culture of “out with the old, in with the new” that drives our society.

It is located near False Creek, just a bit east of downtown. 


Trans Am Totem, art installation, cars

Trans Am Totem


Close to Trans Am Totem, we stumbled upon a nice place for brunch called Chamber.

The food was good but it was more on the expensive side.

We had the Cassoulet (Chicken, bacon & Manchego sausage, black-eyed beans, fried egg, kale, chimichurri) and waffles with two dip topping: Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater.


Cassoulet, Brunch, Restaurant, Chamber

Cassoulet (Chicken, bacon & Manchego sausage, black-eyed beans, fried egg, kale, chimichurri) from Chamber


Waffles, Brunch, Chamber

Waffles with two dip topping: Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater from Chamber


Digital Orka 

This is another interesting art installation. It depicts a killer whale that looks like it is constructed from Lego (it is not really made out of Lego but it just looks that way).

It is located next to the Vancouver Convention Centre.

You can take a nice photo with the Digital Orka with Vancouver Harbour and the mountains in the background.


Digital Orka, art installation, unicorn, Vancouver

Digital Orka and me (sorry for the weird pose here lol)


Olympic Cauldron 

This landmark is located right beside Digital Orka so you can see both of them at the same time.

It is dedicated to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic winter games that took place in Vancouver.

The Olympic Cauldron is no longer lit but it’s still a very beautiful installation.

It looks like four giant icicles that resemble tree branches organized to build a fire.

Underneath there is a water pool and a small fountain.


Olympic Cauldron , art installation

Olympic Cauldron


Vancouver Public Library

You are probably wondering “Unicorn, why are you suggesting to visit a library?”.

Well for starters, the building that houses the Vancouver Public Library reminds me a lot of the Coliseum in Rome – it has awesome architecture.

Also, it is free to enter whether you have a library card or not. On the top floor, there is a lovely outside terrace with chairs and tables.

From the terrace, you can take some nice pictures of the surrounding area. I am a bit of a bookworm and love to see the libraries in the cities I visit.


Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library terrace


Well, there you have it “5 things to do in Vancouver if it’s your first visit”.  I hope you enjoyed this blog post and the few bonuses in the end.

With this, we conclude the blog posts related to Vancouver and we are moving on to Barcelona, Spain.