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Perfect Weekend in Vancouver: How to Spend 3 Days in Vancouver in 2024

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Planning the perfect weekend in Vancouver can certainly seem daunting. After all, this amazing Pacific Northwest city is full of adventures to be had! 

Whether you’re a foodie, craft beer enthusiast, or you love checking out the nooks and crannies of this eclectic city, you certainly won’t be bored with your 3 days in Vancouver!

Chris and I went to British Columbia last year and we had to add some time in Vancouver to our itinerary! And thankfully, after spending the weekend in Vancouver, we have come up with the best Vancouver itinerary in 3 days for you!

Let’s talk all about it!

Vancouver Skyline

Perfect Weekend in Vancouver Itinerary Summary

Before we get started, I’m sharing a quick reference Vancouver weekend trip itinerary so you can have a summary of what you’re getting into. For further details, keep on reading below! 

Day 1: Whale Watching and Market Exploring to Kick-Off Your Weekend in Vancouver

  • Enjoy a whale-watching tour to spot orcas and humpback whales
  • Granville Island Public Market for lunch 
  • Explore Granville Island
  • Vig’s Restaurant for delectable Indian food for dinner

Day 2: Stanley Park, Gastown, and Breweries

  • Spend the day walking around Stanley Park
  • Explore Gastown
  • Early dinner at Japadog
  • Brewery tour of Vancouver

Day 3: Sea to Sky Day Trip

  • Full-day trip to the Sea to Sky Gondola and Whistler

How to Spend 3 Days in Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park in Vancouver

Let’s dive into all the details of the perfect Vancouver weekend itinerary! 

Day 1: Whale Watching and Market Exploring to Kick-Off Your Weekend in Vancouver

Pallet Coffee

I recommend getting in the evening before this and getting a good night’s sleep! On your way to your whale-watching tour, grab a quick coffee and pastry at Breka Cafe

As this tour can last anywhere from 3-5 hours, I recommend booking the earlier tour in the morning so you have the afternoon free to explore. 

However, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would recommend a whale-watching tour first thing on your three days in Vancouver trip. 

Whale blowing air with mountain in background

Well, that is mostly because in case it gets canceled, you’ve got another day you can switch to go on the tour. 

This happened to us during our trip to Vancouver in 3 days, and we were luckily able to go on the tour the following day! 

Either way, if you’re visiting Vancouver between April through October, a whale-watching tour is a must! For starters, you get to see the city from the water, which is lovely.

Humpback whale tail in water 11

On your cruise, you have a chance of spotting orcas, humpback whales, seals, and sea lions! The length of the tour honestly depends on the wildlife spotting, as sometimes they’ll have to keep going south to find wildlife.

Seals lying and sitting on a rock

During our whale-watching tour, we spotted 16 humpback whales and got some incredible photos! We also spotted seals and sea lions resting on a giant rock in the water. Sadly, we didn’t see any orcas when we went, but maybe you’ll have more luck!

I will recommend packing warm clothes for this! We visited in September and while it was breezy on land, it was even colder on the boat. I’d wear a waterproof jacket, a scarf, and some layers to keep dry and warm during your tour. 

Book it here!

Humpback whale tail in water 6

After your whale-watching tour, you end up on Granville Island. So this is a perfect opportunity to grab lunch at the famous Granville Island Public Market

This place is very large and full of places to grab coffee, a full meal, or even fruits and veggies. 

Granville Island Public Market sign over the market 2

I particularly enjoyed the warm salmon and clam chowder pies from A La Mode. It was perfect to warm up on a chillier day. 

But you can seriously get anything from Mexican food and fish and chips to coffee and pizza. 

soup at Granville Island Public Market

After browsing and dining at Granville Island Public Market, be sure to head outside and grab a treat at A Bread Affair. This place makes the most amazing puffy cheese pillow pastries and chocolate chip cookies! 

But if you’re walking around with food outside- beware! I was almost attacked by a seagull for my snack! Those guys are ruthless. 

After exploring the market, you can visit more of the fun shops nearby and even the brewery, Granville Island Brewing for a flight of beer to enjoy. 

Beer flight

Granville Island is a great place to explore during the afternoon, and then, to wrap up your day, check out Vig’s Restaurant

This place is serving up some incredible Indian food using local products in British Columbia. And to be honest, it is so freaking good! From the creative cocktail menu to the vegetarian thalia, you’re in for a treat! 

After dinner, it is time to head back to the hotel for the evening. 

Food at Vig's
Ceiling at Vig's

Brekka Cafe Address: Various locations across Vancouver. We went to the location at 855 Davie St, Vancouver, BC. 

Brekka Cafe Hours: 24/7

Whale Watching Tour Meeting Point: 1666 Duranleau St, Vancouver, BC

Whale Watching Tour Cost: $168 per person. Book it here!

Granville Island Public Market Address: Public Market, 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC

Granville Island Public Market Hours: Daily 9 am-6 pm. Closed on Mondays in January. 

Granville Island Brewing Address: 1441 Cartwright Street, Vancouver, BC

Granville Island Brewing Hours: Daily 11 am-9 pm. They are closed for renovations and will reopen in April 2024. 

Vig’s Restaurant Address: 3106 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC

Vig’s Restaurant Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:30 pm. Friday-Saturday 5:30-10 pm. 

Day 2: Stanley Park, Gastown, and Breweries

Siwash Rock in Stanley Park 2

Kick-off day 2 with another stop at a coffee shop. Vancouver does have some pretty great coffee, which is why I’ve recommended some places to enjoy during your trip. This morning, you’ll grab some coffee and a pastry at Pallet Coffee Roasters.

I enjoyed their croissant and flat white while there. Take that with you as today you’re going to be walking a lot! 

Latte at Pallet Coffee

That is because you’re going to be exploring Stanley Park. I feel like when it comes to things to do in Vancouver in 3 days, you’ve got to make a stop here. 

Stanley Park is a huge park that is 400 hectares large and has the best views of the surrounding area as you walk or bike along the famous Sea Wall. 

In the summertime, there are also ample fantastic beaches to sunbathe and swim at!

Totem poles in Stanley Park
Beaver Lake in Stanley Park

Chris and I spent a huge chunk of time exploring Stanley Park, where we enjoyed the Stanley Park Rose Garden, the Stanley Park Rock Garden, the Totem Poles, the Brockton Point Lighthouse, Prospect Point Lookout, Siwash Rock, all the beaches and even made a stop to see Beaver Lake in the middle of the park. 

Vibrant pink rose
Dahlias at Stanley Park Rose Garden'
Kat and Chris in Stanley Park

If you get hungry during your time at Stanley Park, head to Stanley Park Brewing Company for a beer and tasty sandwiches. 

I honestly can’t recommend exploring Stanley Park enough! It is a fun place to enjoy the sights in Vancouver! There are honestly many parts that feel like you’re miles away from the city and in the middle of nowhere until you turn a corner and spot the skyscrapers again. 

Meal at Stanley Park Brewing Company

After your time exploring Stanley Park, it is time to head over to another popular place in Vancouver: Gastown

Here, you can enjoy the Gastown Clock, a steam clock that shoots steam every ¼ hour and every hour the clock will toot from each whistle. 

Gastown Clock 3

It is a cheesy thing to see but still a really cute tourist attraction to spot during your Vancouver long weekend trip. 

After watching the clock, be sure to enjoy the shops and sights around Gastown and grab a quick bite to eat at Japadog before your next adventure.

Japadog for dinner

Japadog is making Japanese hot dogs and fries with super yummy flavor combinations. I loved the yakisoba hotdog, the takoyaki balls, and the seaweed and salt fries. Pair it with a lemonade and you’re going to wish you lived in Vancouver just to be able to eat this all the time!

To wrap up your day, I recommend checking out the beer scene in Vancouver by going on this 3.5-hour tour

Beer in tulip glass

You’ll get to go on a brewery tour, enjoy samples, and have transportation covered. This is a great way to wrap up your second day in Vancouver, especially as there is a local guide to give you tips and recommendations! 

Book it here!

Pallet Coffee Roasters Address: Multiple locations, but we went to 980 Howe St, Vancouver, BC

Pallet Coffee Roasters Hours: This location is open Monday-Friday from 7 am-5 pm. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am-3 pm. 

Stanley Park Hours: Daily 6 am-10 pm. 

Stanley Park Brewing Company Address: 8901 Stanley Park Dr, Vancouver, BC

Stanley Park Brewing Company Hours: Monday-Thursday 12-8 pm. Friday 12-9 pm. Saturday 10:30 am-9 pm. Sunday 10:30 am-8 pm.

Gastown Clock Location: 305 Water St, Vancouver, BC

Japadog Address: Multiple locations, but we went to the one at 530 Robson St, Vancouver, BC

Japadog Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10 am-3 am. Friday-Saturday 10 am-4 am.

Brewery Tour Meeting Point: 901 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC

Brewery Tour Cost and Time: 6 pm for $85. Book it here!

Day 3: Sea to Sky Day Trip

Sea to Sky Highway

After exploring the highlights of Vancouver for the last 2 days, it is time to enjoy a day trip to see a bit more of the area

Start around 8:50 am before heading toward Squamish to Shannon Falls Park to get some fresh air and enjoy the waterfall.

On the way, you’ll be along the Sea to Sky Highway, where you’ll have so many gorgeous views of the mountains, rainforest, and potentially some wildlife!

Sea to Sky Gondola

After that, it is time to enjoy the Sea to Sky Gondola. Spend some time here going up the gondola for some epic scenes of the sea and mountains. Even at the top, you can enjoy the hiking and Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. You have about an hour and a half here to explore this area. 

Once you’re finished at the Sea to Sky Gondola, you’ll be transported to Whistler. This town is very famous for its skiing during the winter. There are ample restaurants, museums, and even spas you can partake in during your free time in Whistler. 

Spa Scandinave is a great idea if you want to relax at a spa that has outdoor pools with amazing mountain views! Or you can fly over mountains and glaciers on this tour in Whistler

Whistler in Canada

After your full day exploring Squamish and Whistler with the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way, you’ll be taken back to Vancouver for the evening. 

Book it here!

Sea to Sky Gondola and Whistler Meeting Point: Various places and they can pick up at certain hotels

Sea to Sky Gondola and Whistler Tour Cost: $160 per person. Book it here!

Yes, you could also do this on your own, but you would need to rent a car. I like checking Skyscanner for great rental car deals! You’d also have to book your own tickets to the Sea to Sky Gondola starting at around $66 CAD for an adult. 

This wraps up your incredible 3 days in Vancouver BC! This Vancouver tour plan includes plenty of sightseeing of the city and surrounding area as well as great food and beer! 

You can’t go wrong with a visit to Vancouver BC, and I have a feeling you’re going to fall in love with this city too. 

If You Have More Than A 3 Days in Vancouver BC Itinerary

Downtown Vancouver

If you have even more time in Vancouver, you’ve got quite a few options. You could certainly stay in the city and explore more of the museums like the Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World, or even the Vancouver Maritime Museum. 

There are honestly several great museums across the city you can visit if you wish whether you love history or art. 

Chris next to a bear statue in Vancouver

Aside from that, you can take a day trip up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Stand way over the Capilano River on the 230-foot-high suspension bridge. Enjoy being surrounded by nature as you wander along the suspension bridges on the Treetops Adventure, or even take in the views from the Cliffwalk.

This is a great way to spend an extra day in Vancouver if you’ve got the time! 

Book tickets here!

You could also take a day trip to see Victoria on Vancouver Island and explore Butchart Gardens. 

And for the foodies, you may want to stick to downtown and go on this epic 3-hour food tour of the Gastown neighborhood

Still hungry? Be sure to make a reservation for the fantastic St Lawrence Restaurant for amazing French fare. Or perhaps you’d enjoy a place like Little Bird for its craft beer and dim sum. 

Where to Stay During Your Vancouver 3-Day Itinerary

Downtown Vancouver 2

Here are some great hotels to fit your budget during your weekend in Vancouver! 

Budget: VRBO or Times Square Suites Hotel

Vancouver isn’t the cheapest city for finding super-budget hotels, but the Times Square Suites Hotel is close to Stanley Park and not too far from other sights in Vancouver. It is an apartment-style hotel, meaning you’ll have a kitchen area if you prefer to make your own meals. 

Book it here!

Mid-Range: Residence Inn by Marriott Vancouver

This is where we stayed on our recent visit and it was great! It was in a perfect location for wandering around the city and even catching the transportation over to Granville Island. 

Book it here! 

Downtown Vancouver

Luxury: Shangri-La Vancouver

Looking to splurge on your 3-day itinerary in Vancouver? Then you’re going to love the Shangri-La Vancouver. This 5-star hotel is in the heart of the city, meaning you’re close to a lot of the main attractions. Plus, you’ll love the spa and health club as well as their rooftop pool and hot tub. 

Book it here!

Best Time to Visit Vancouver in 3 Days

Boat house by Stanley Park in Vancouver

Wondering when is the best time to plan a weekend in Vancouver itinerary? I would suggest summer through early fall, or May through September, specifically. 

The winter sees a lot of rain and overcast days as well as chillier weather. The summer and fall months, especially around July, August, and September, see sunnier days and beautiful temperatures for exploring the city. 

Also, if you want to go whale watching, I’d opt for between April through October when the whale-watching tours are up and fully running! 

Getting to Vancouver

Sea plane over Stanley Park

If you’re coming from most places, you’re going to likely fly into Vancouver’s airport. Vancouver International Airport has flights coming in and out from all over the world! 

You can snag flights for a weekend in Vancouver with airlines like Air Canada, Air France, ANA, Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, EVA Air, Air New Zealand, and even Canada’s discount airline, WestJet. 

If you’re coming from the Pacific Northwest like in Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, you can also opt to drive or take the train. Amtrak Cascades goes from Eugene, Oregon all the way up to Vancouver, BC, making stops along the way in places like Portland and Seattle. 

It is about an 8-hour train ride from Portland to Vancouver and 4 hours from Seattle to Vancouver. 

Getting Around Vancouver

Aquabus in Vancouver

Vancouver has plenty of ways to get around! For starters, once you’re in an area like Granville Island, downtown, or Stanley Park, you can walk around if you wish.

Bikes are a popular mode of transportation as well in Vancouver. In fact, there is a public bike-share called Mobi you can use. 

There is also ample public transportation. There are buses, the SkyTrain, and even the most adorable public mini ferries called the Aquabus. We took this to and from Granville Island and it was a ton of fun to cruise around False Creek on these little bus-like boats. 

What to Pack For a 3 day Vancouver Trip

Chris and Kat smiling in Vancouver

This honestly depends on when you plan to visit. However, you can keep it pretty casual for the most part during the day. I wore jeans, nice tops, and sneakers or water-resistant boots

Just be sure to bring a jacket no matter the time of year, as even the summer days and nights can be a bit chilly. At least bring a 3-in-1 jacket for that. 

And if you plan to go whale watching, you’ll want to layer up and pack a scarf as it can be quite cold on the water with the wind whipping past! 

No matter the time of year, definitely pack an umbrella as it could rain any time! 

And for evenings when we went out to a nicer dinner, I’d wear some cute booties or flats, jeans, and a nicer top. 

For winter trips to Vancouver, definitely bring things like a hat or earmuffs, gloves, wool layers, thick socks, etc. 

Kat and Chris kissing at Stanley Park

For packing your things, I love this Level8 suitcase that keeps my stuff organized, and it is carry-on approved. 

Also, if you’re coming from a country that has different plugs than Canada, you’ll want to bring an outlet adapter too. 

This was such a fun city, and I highly recommend spending at least 3 days in Vancouver, Canada. I never had a bad meal while here, and the experience of exploring Stanley Park and whale watching to wandering Granville Island and Gastown made me fall in love with this epic Canadian city.

Would you spend a weekend in Vancouver? What would you want to do in Vancouver in 3 days? 

Want more travel ideas? Check out these posts!

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