If you only have one day in Vancouver, this itinerary offers a whirlwind tour of the city's cultural scene and natural beauty. Kick off your 24 hours with breakfast in hip Yaletown, then explore the artsy district of Granville Island. In the afternoon, head into the nearby rainforest to traverse the Capilano Suspension Bridge, then wrap up in Downtown Vancouver with dinner at one of the city's best restaurants. This short-but-sweet itinerary promises a sampling of both the city life and natural wonders that make this Canadian city so captivating.

Start the day in Yaletown: A Blend of Historic and Contemporary

Enjoy breakfast options at Small Victory Bakery

Begin your day in Vancouver with breakfast at Small Victory Bakery in the historic-yet-hip neighborhood of Yaletown. This popular local spot is well-known for its selection of artisanal pastries, freshly baked bread, and other breakfast items. Enjoy some treats and a cup of coffee on their outdoor patio, and relish the lively atmosphere. 

Post breakfast, take some time to explore Yaletown, from its chic boutiques and modern art galleries to its red-brick warehouses and modern condos. As you wander, be sure to visit the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, which celebrates the district's railway past. Along the way, you may stumble upon a local artisan market or even a pop-up yoga class.

Leave Yaletown behind for the tranquillity of False Creek, a seawater inlet flanked by beautiful waterfront promenades, and take in the marinas and skyline views. Keep an eye out as you stroll along the waterfront for local wildlife before boarding a ferry to Granville Island.

Granville Island: A Blend of History, Art, and Food

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island, despite its name, is actually a peninsula. Located under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge, this vibrant urban oasis has a rich history that adds to its charm. In the early 20th century, the Island was an industrial area home to factories, sawmills, and warehouses. In the 1970s, the Canadian government transformed it into a thriving cultural district.

Granville Island is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, filled with craft stores, art galleries, and performance spaces. The Island's industrial past is still visible in the form of renovated buildings that now serve as charming boutiques and eateries.

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One of the area's highlights is the Public Market, a food lover's paradise. Here, you can find a plethora of stalls selling everything from fresh produce and gourmet foods to baked goods. After a morning of exploration, treat yourself to a delicious lunch at the market, with a diverse array of food options to choose from.

Make sure you save room for a stop at Lee's Donuts. This iconic establishment has been serving some of the city's best doughnuts since 1979. Their soft, fluffy confections, glazed with various delectable toppings, have garnered a loyal following over the years. Their signature Honey Dip doughnut is a must-try, but the other flavors (including the seasonal specialties), are equally delicious.

Afternoon Adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

While you could easily spend the rest of the afternoon in Granville Island, it's time to experience a different side of Vancouver at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Take a bus from Granville Island to Canada Place, the pick-up point for the bridge's shuttle service, then enjoy the comfortable 20- to 30-minute ride from the heart of the city to this natural sanctuary.

On arrival, you'll find yourself trading the cityscape's skyscrapers for towering cedar trees and crisp mountain air. The Capilano Suspension Bridge, perched high above the Capilano River, offers great views of the surrounding temperate rainforest.

Venture along the cliffside walk, which takes you through the rainforest on a series of cantilevered and suspended walkways jutting out from the granite cliff face. Then, explore the Treetops Adventure, a series of seven suspension bridges attached to eight 250-year-old Douglas firs.

Dine in Downtown Vancouver

Stroll the streets of Gastown after dinner at PiDGiN

Return to the city for a well-deserved dinner once you've had your fill of exploring the forest. Vancouver's downtown boasts several outstanding restaurants. For a unique dining experience, consider PiDGiN, known for its fusion of Asian and Pacific Northwest cuisines. If you prefer farm-to-table dining, head to Burdock & Co., offering dishes crafted from organic, locally-sourced ingredients. For those seeking an upscale dining experience, Hawksworth Restaurant delivers contemporary Canadian cuisine in an elegant setting.

Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Aug 3, 2023