Vancouver is the biggest city on Canada’s Pacific Coast, and its cosmopolitan vibe and breathtaking natural surroundings make it a popular destination for visitors from around the world. This is a city where you can go skiing in the mountains in the morning and spend the afternoon on the beach before enjoying world-class cuisine in some of the best restaurants Canada has to offer.
If you find yourself on a stopover in Vancouver, there’s no reason you have to wait around the airport. Thanks to its proximity to the city, it’s easy to turn a Vancouver Airport layover into a fun trip. Just drop off your bags at a Vancouver luggage storage and get ready to explore the city for yourself.
6 hour layover in Vancouver
Six hours may not seem like a lot of time to make your connection, but it’s actually plenty of time to get a glimpse of the city. You’ll need to give yourself time to get through customs and pick up your bags, but the Canada Line of Vancouver’s Skytrain Metro system takes you from the airport to Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver in only 30 minutes. Even after dropping your bags off at a Vancouver suitcase storage, you’ll have plenty of time to explore.
Waterfront Station lies right on the edge of Gastown, and this neighborhood is well worth exploring on a short layover. The well-preserved buildings harken back to Vancouver’s days as a frontier town, and the cobbled streets simply ooze charm. Get a photo taken with the famous steam powered clock, go shopping for classic Canadian souvenirs, or enjoy a leisurely meal in one of the many restaurants and bars in the area. You could even take a tour to learn more about Vancouver’s early days and the scandalous stories that took place in the old streets. You could easily spend an hour or four hours exploring, so it’s a great place to visit on a short Vancouver layover.
- Take the Skytrain into downtown Vancouver, disembarking at Waterfront Station.
- Explore Gastown by yourself or on a guided tour.
- Enjoy one of the many restaurants or craft breweries in the area.
8 hour layover in Vancouver
With a longer layover, you can afford to explore a little more of what Vancouver has to offer. In and around Gastown, you’ll find several companies that will rent you a bike. Alternatively, you could use Vancouver’s municipal network of rental bikes. Either way, a bike ride from Gastown to Stanley Park will only take 10 minutes along downtown Vancouver’s extensive network of protected bike lanes. Once you reach this massive oceanfront park, you can bike around the 9 km long seawall that hugs the coast in around an hour. You’ll enjoy expansive views of both ocean and mountain, and if you have some extra time, you can explore further into the park and enjoy its forest trails. It’s a fantastic way to get some exercise on a layover, and by the time you return your bike, you’ll have seen Vancouver’s top tourist attraction and a good portion of its downtown core too.
- Rent a bike and ride to Stanley Park.
- Biking the entire seawall that surrounds the park will take about an hour, or longer if you stop for photos, which you probably will.
- It’s a great way to stay active on a layover.
10 hour layover in Vancouver
With longer to spend in Vancouver, you can spend a little extra time in Stanley Park. Along with its dense coastal forest and impressive seawall, the park is home to the Vancouver Aquarium. The aquarium is a fascinating place to visit, and a world leader in marine animal rehabilitation and research. Take a journey into the sea to meet some of the wildlife that lives in the waters of Canada, including cuddly sea otters and playful beluga whales. There are regular shows and a 4D Movie experience too, so you could easily spend a couple of hours enjoying everything the aquarium has to offer.
- Extend your visit to Stanley Park by visiting Vancouver Aquarium.
- Learn more about Canada’s marine life and enjoy entertaining animal exhibits.
- Plan to spend a couple of hours at the aquarium.
12 hour layover in Vancouver
Heading back to Waterfront Station will connect you again with the city’s Skytrain Metro system. A couple of stops south of waterfront, you’ll find yourself at Olympic Village Station. From there, you can catch a bus or take the fun Aquabus to Granville Island. This former industrial area has been revitalized by the presence of Vancouver’s largest market and a variety of artist studios, theaters, restaurants, and breweries. It’s a quirky place to explore and is well worth at least a couple of hours of your time. If you have a little longer, there are also some excellent restaurants where you can have dinner at the water’s edge and enjoy Vancouver’s excellent seafood.
- Take the Skytrain to Olympic Village and the Aquabus to Granville Island.
- Go shopping at Granville Island Market or explore the artist studios and breweries.
- If you have time, Granville Island is also a great place to eat, especially if you’re a fan of seafood.
24 hour layover in Vancouver
With an overnight layover in Vancouver, you can really enjoy yourself. After dropping off your bags at a bag storage in Vancouver, the city is yours to explore. A long layover really lets you enjoy the best of Vancouver, including its nightlife.
Both Gastown and Granville Street are home to plenty of bars and clubs that get livelier as the night goes on. You can catch a bus to Kitsilano Beach and enjoy the famous sunsets over the water. However you choose to spend your night, you’ll want to make sure you get a good night’ s sleep so that you’ll be ready for more adventures in the morning. For instance, you could take a morning yoga class on the beach, or head across the Lions Gate Bridge to Grouse Mountain, the summit of Vancouver that can be reached by gondola. Up there, you’ll find magnificent views, forest trails, and even a restaurant. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to get back into the city to catch the train back to the airport.
- Enjoy exciting nightlife in Gastown or on Granville Street.
- Experience a stunning sunset on Kitsilano Beach.
- Take in spectacular views of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain.