The beautiful mountains, clear air, and rich culture are all on display in the Canadian city perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. An international population leads to a wide array of food and experiences you can have, from bike riding, hiking, beer drinking, beach-going and more. Read below for some general overview tips and a suggested itinerary.


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What do I want to do?

• STAY ACTIVE: Rent a bike or just put on comfy shoes and explore the great trails, amazing views, and outdoor artwork of Stanley Park.
SEE FIRST NATIONS ART:  Check out the Museum of Anthropology or Bill Reid Gallery downtown. Or check out the galleries along Water Street in Gastown.

LEARN SOME HISTORY: Take a walking tour (or ghost tour?) around the oldest neighborhood in the city, Gastown

WALK A SUSPENSION BRIDGE OVER NATURE: Capilano is a quick ride north (they offer shuttles) and is the more touristy one. For smaller crowds and cheaper fares, check out Lynn Canyon

GET OUT ON THE WATER:  Take an aquabus along False Creek, which stops on the eating/shopping hub of Granville Island and the picturesque Kitsilano Beach. Or head north to Deep Cover and rent kayaks in the serene bay.

DRINK CRAFT BEER: Vancouver is known for their thriving beer scene, and the East Side near Hastings Street is a great place to do a mini-brewery tour.


Important Tips

Things to keep in mind while planning your vacation (solo or otherwise)!


Rain is frequent throughout the year. Check the weather, but assume it will rain or mist a few times while you’re there - the coastal climate is similar to Seattle. While the winter gets cold, the temperate coastline means it generally doesn’t snow in the city - though there’s plenty in the mountains directly north! However the rain will be more frequent in the winter, so definitely bring shoes and jackets that can handle it.


Vancouver has had a housing crunch for years. You’ll see it in the large number of high-rise construction projects along the waterfront (mostly being bought up by Asian investors). The cost to stay within the city, whether hotel or airbnb, will be a bit higher here than in other cities in Canada or in the Pacific northwest. Look to the suburbs to the north, east, and south if you’re looking for a more affordable place to stay - the downside being, you may need to rent a car.


For those coming from the States, you’ll find Canada much more credit-card friendly. I took out $100 CAD when I arrived for my 5 day trip, and found difficulty using it, as credit cards were preferred in most places. At restaurants, servers will often carry the card readers to swipe your card at the table. Gratuity is between 15-20%, and is often added to your bill.


Recreational marijuana was made legal as of late 2018 in Canada. If you are 19 years or older, you can purchase weed from a handful of dispensaries around the city. Just remember not to take it back on the plane with you! Smoking of either weed or cigarettes, however, is illegal both in public indoor spaces and in public parks and beaches.


Itineraries and More



  • Language: English

  • LGBT-Friendly: Yes

  • Female-Friendly: Yes

  • Timezone: PST (GMT -8)

  • Best Time of Year: Unless you’re here to ski, go in the Fall or Spring, when the weather is mild and the prices lower.

  • Price: $$

  • Suggested Itinerary: 4 days

  • Transportation: Walk, Metro, bike, or rental car

  • Currency: Canadian Dollars

  • Credit Card-Friendly: Very

  • Wi-Fi Friendly: Yes


Scenic Bus Route- No need to take an expensive hop-on hop-off tour. Bus #250 will go through Stanley Park, across the Lions Gate Bridge, and up to the ferry terminals at Horseshoe Bay.

Stanley Park from above - definitely do a trip around the Seawall

Stanley Park from above - definitely do a trip around the Seawall

Getting around in Vancouver

Metro - Translink trains, buses and ferries are on a zone-based fare. You can buy a single fare starting at $3 one-way for one zone) or get a Compass Card to store value or day passes. Trains and buses run from about 5am - 1am, with some limited night buses running all night. After 6:30pm, transit operates on a flat one-zone system.

Bike - Vancouver, as a flat city, is very bike-friendly. The mayor, a bike aficionado himself, has seen to it. You can download a map of the bike routes around town.  Keep in mind, however, the frequent rain much of the year that might put a damper on your biking plans. But on a clear, crisp day, it’s a great way to get around.

Walking - See the flatness mentioned above - definitely take a stroll along the waterfront while you’re there, and also partake of some of the walking tours available in town.  

Cab - Cabs are easily found downtown, and can be called and ordered elsewhere. The price can get a little high depending on how far you’re going. Luckily, they will all take credit cards.  Ubers and ride shares were just approved to start pilot programs in the city as of late summer 2019, so while those are an option, they may not be as plentiful as other places.
Drive - If you’re staying mainly within the downtown area, I wouldn’t rent a car. Parking and traffic can both be a nightmare. However, if you’re staying further away, or plan on heading up to the mountains for some hiking (which I recommend) a car would be helpful. Rentals aren’t too expensive at the airport. Zipcar operates in Vancouver if you just want a car rental for a day

In Vancouver…. sometimes you just have to chill

In Vancouver…. sometimes you just have to chill

Tips for Solo Travel in Vancouver

Yes! Vancouver is a great place to go as a solo traveler. As an English-speaking country with a great metro system, it’s easy to get around on your own. The high rate of international residents means you’ll be in good company in exploring the city. There are a few neighborhoods to the east that can get a little dicey, and you might run into the occasional aggressive (and probably mentally ill) homeless person downtown, as Vancouver is unfortunately plagued by the same problems of housing scarcity and income inequality that many large cities are grappling with. However, if you’re following basic safety protocols - know your surroundings, don’t leave drinks or purses unattended, take cabs home if uncertain about the streets - you’ll be fine.

Given the large international population (35% of the city’s residents were born somewhere else), and the university students, you’re definitely not going to stand out as a tourist in Vancouver! I find food and drink tours are great ways to meet other travelers in a relaxed, fun, and sometimes educational setting. It also helps to give you any tips about the local dining scene, as well as local customs for ordering, tipping, etc. In bike-friendly Vancouver, there are also biking tours of Stanley Park that would be great for solo travelers. Also seek out meetups and facebook groups for international travelers based in Vancouver, many of whom have weekly or monthly gatherings.

If you’re planning on hiking while in Vancouver (and you should!) check out trails that will be popular enough to pass other travelers regularly, but not so crowded that you can’t find moments of silence. Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, northeast of the city, is a fantastic hike. Nearby Lynn Canyon has both some great hikes and a less-visited (and less-expensive) suspension bridge compared to the more famous Capilano. There are plenty of sites online that will list hikes nearby and note their popularity with both other people and instagrammers. Please be a responsible hiker and follow Leave No Trace principles!

And pin this guide for later!

An overview of what to see and do in Vancouver British Columbia, including sites, neighborhoods, tips for planning, and insights for solo travelers #canada #vancouver #travel #solotravel