Vancouver, located on the southwest coast of Canada, is one of the country’s most beautiful and diverse cities. Many visitors spend all their time downtown, which I believe is a huge mistake! North Vancouver, which is actually a city of its own, is highly accessible and well worth a visit. With multiple suspension bridges, great restaurants, several parks, and beautiful hiking trails, North Vancouver is a city built for outdoor enthusiasts.
With a fantastic mix of nature and urban development, it’s no wonder why Vancouver is considered one of the most liveable cities in the world. It offers the convenience of a big city while also presenting a fantastic gateway to the great outdoors.
North Vancouver is my personal favourite part of the Metro Vancouver area. Fortunately for those of us who make the trip, it is often skipped by tourists making it quieter and more laid back than downtown.
How to Get Around
There are a few options to travel around North Vancouver, but my recommendation would be by e-bike. The bike lanes are fantastic and it gives you the most freedom and flexibility. If you choose to stay in North Vancouver, you can rent a bike there and cruise around. You can also easily rent one near your hotel downtown and make it to North Van in only 20-30 minutes.
If you are not a bike person, no problemo! They have also got great public transit and it is much easier to drive and find parking here than downtown. Basically, any way you would prefer to get around North Vancouver should work just fine.
Where to Stay
If you are looking for a more laid-back, outdoorsy vibe, stay right in North Vancouver! You can wander the local shops, explore the pathways, and avoid the majority of downtown’s hustle and bustle.
If you would like to visit North Vancouver for a day or two, but also plan to spend some time downtown, I would recommend staying in the west end, Yaletown, or Gastown.
All of these areas will allow you to walk or take public transportation almost everywhere you need to go. They will also keep you close to the best restaurants and the beautiful Stanley Park. As mentioned earlier, you can easily bike or take public transport to North Vancouver from most places downtown and in the west end.
Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s get into the good stuff! Without further ado: the best things to do in North Vancouver.
Visit The Capilano Suspension Bridge
A trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge is another iconic thing to do in Vancouver. Along with the picturesque suspension bridge, they also offer a treetops adventure area, a stunning cliff walk, and a series of pathways that are lit up during the winter months. The entrance fee is $59 CAD for adults.
From North Vancouver, it is a 15-minute bike ride up Capilano Road to get there. To reach it from downtown, you have a few options available to you. You can choose to drive, take an Uber, or take public transit. You can also take advantage of their free shuttles that run every 15-30 minutes from Canada Place. This is extra convenient if it is close to where you’re staying!
The last option, and the one we chose, was to rent e-bikes and combine your visit to Stanley Park with The Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is very doable in a day, the bike lanes in Vancouver are fantastic, and it allowed us to spend a ton of extra time outdoors. Win/win/win!
Have Lunch in Deep Cove
Deep Cove is a charming little community located in North Vancouver. Easily accessible by vehicle, bike, or public transport, I would highly recommend making the trip! In Deep Cove, you will find cute cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and a waterfront park that you could easily spend a few hours enjoying.
If you are up for a little hike, you can access the Quarry Rock hiking trail directly from Deep Cove. At only 4.2km round trip and 215m of elevation, this stunning coastal pathway is certainly worth the effort. One you reach Quarry Rock, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the ocean, downtown Vancouver, and the surrounding mountains.
Hike at Lynn Canyon
Lynn Canyon is a gorgeous natural area with peaceful pathways and picturesque waterfalls. Here, you can wander through the forest, cross a stunning suspension bridge, and catch views of the cascading waterfalls below. Unlike Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is free to enter and can be accessed from multiple different trails in the area.
We rode our e-bikes here and really enjoyed walking the trails and admiring the massive forest. If you plan to go on a weekend, I would highly recommend going early in the morning as the park gets very busy in the afternoons.
Stop in at Lonsdale Quay Market
This trendy little spot in North Vancouver gave me mad Granville Island vibes. Lonsdale Quay Market, located on the north side of Vancouver Harbour, is a short Seabus ride away from downtown.
In this market, you will find vendors selling fresh produce, food, and local products. There are also several restaurants surrounding the market if you are looking for more of a sit-down meal. This is a great place to stop on your way to or from downtown for a bite to eat.
Explore Grouse Mountain
Located just north of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain is an iconic year-round destination in North Vancouver. From the base of the mountain, you can either take a gondola to the top or hike the Grouse Grind. This trail is no joke with 771 meters of elevation gain over 2.6 kilometres. Please note that this is a one-way trail. If you hike up, you will need to buy a ticket to take the gondola down for $20 CAD.
If you chose to take the gondola both ways, it will cost $69 CAD (2022) and give you access to a plethora of activities at the top. These include a wildlife refuge, grizzly bear habitat, zip-lining, shopping, dining, hiking, disk golf, and more. Make your way up in the morning so that you have the majority of the day to explore!