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Things to do in Vancouver alone: A solo travel guide.

Updated: Feb 5

City View of Vancouver
City View of Vancouver

Situated on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia is a vibrant city that marries the best of urban life with the thrill of the great outdoors. This city, cradled between the mountains and the sea, is a veritable playground teeming with things to do and see. Attractions, restaurants and accommodations on this post are the best in the Vancouver area. Come here for a vacation or pick Vancouver as an embarkation or debarkation point for your cruise. Just be sure to stay long enough to enjoy all that Vancouver has to offer. As a solo traveler I never felt alone in this Canadian city.


My trip to Vancouver involved a cruise, where I was a solo traveler, so there will be some cruise information in here as well. Staying in Vancouver for an extended period of time alone was perfectly fine. Vancouver is a safe city, so if you are on a solo trip you will be perfectly fine in terms of safety. In case you didn't know, Vancouver is ranked among the safest cities in the world, with a decline in assaults and robberies. As a solo traveler I tend to look at those statistics and a few reviews before I plan a trip. I am not sure why I look at those more as a solo than when I am traveling with friends, but I always feel it is important to investigate the city you are planning to visit on vacation.


Cruise Critic

Vancouver British Columbia Cruise info.

Picture of my cruise ship in Hoonah Alaska, the cruise ended in Vancouver.
Picture of my cruise ship in Hoonah Alaska, the cruise ended in Vancouver.

What truly sets Vancouver apart as a vacation destination is its unrivaled cruise port. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the cruise port is the perfect place to begin or end your journey. Whether you're embarking on a journey to Alaska or returning from a Pacific Northwest adventure, there's no better place to extend your vacation than in Vancouver. With all the attractions, delightful cuisines, and comfortable accommodations, it's clear—Vancouver, British Columbia is the best place to start or end your cruise!


If you are arriving in the summer months due to a cruise you will have perfect warm weather and the ability to see and do most activities during these months. You will not run into any snow, but you could run into some rain. As the Pacific Northwest is known for having many rainy days, it is always a good idea to have some rain gear or an umbrella, if you are staying a few days after a cruise, or taking a weeklong solo trip to this wonderful city.


Some people feel that the best time to visit is September because there are warm temperatures with less rain. But honestly there is always a chance of rain whenever you visit. Be prepared you might see some snow in the winter months, but that will lead to great skiing nearby.


Vancouver Airport
Vancouver Airport

One of the best things about Vancouver is the Public Transportation. They have buses, ferries, and SkyTrains that are reasonably priced. You do not have to have a car or rent a car in Vancouver to have a good time, especially if staying in the downtown area. Most places are a short walk from each other in the downtown area. If you need to use public transport, stops are conveniently located downtown. I never once felt unsafe using public transportation as a solo traveler. Also, in case you are curious. Vancouver International Airport (YVE) is about 26 minutes away from the downtown area, and easy access when traveling by the SkyTrain. It will cost you less than $10 for the trip from the airport to downtown. That is a great deal compared to a Taxi, Uber or Lyft prices. So clearly public transportation is the best option especially for those of you minding your wallet.

Downtown
Downtown

If you are driving up from the United States via Seattle, you will not have a far drive and it is a safe drive for a solo traveler. Seattle Washington is only 2.5 hours away from downtown Vancouver, and an easy border crossing. Just make sure you have all your documents to cross the border. 


Finding parking in Vancouver is not terrible, but finding free parking near downtown is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. This is typical of any large city that has a great downtown. My suggestion is to pick a hotel downtown and use their parking area even if it has a fee to park your car. You will be surprised how many hotels have parking included with the stay. Street parking in downtown is what you would see anywhere, offering “metered” or paid street parking, with some having limits like 2-hour parking. There are even places where locals have to buy special permits proving they live in the area to be able to park in the area. This is common practice anywhere in the world nowadays.


As for walkability, I feel that downtown Vancouver is one of the most walkable cities in the world. Many attractions are located just a short walk away from each other. A nice feature for walkers who get sore feet and knees from hitting the pavement hard.


I have mentioned a few things already that are important as a solo traveler, but I believe I will give you a short little list of things that I feel are important.

  • Make sure someone knows your itinerary. A friend or family member should be given the basics of your trip, just as a safety precaution.

  • As mentioned already, research everything. From hotels, the city itself, do not open yourself up to a potential issue by not knowing which neighborhoods to avoid.

When traveling be mindful of personal items and avoid reckless behaviour
When traveling be mindful of personal items and avoid reckless behaviour
  • Avoid reckless behavior. One thing that is most important is you never know who could potentially be watching. One of the worst mistakes I have seen being made especially for a woman is having too much to drink. It is ok to have a drink or visit a bar, just monitor your intake and make sure nothing gets slipped in your drink. I am not saying this will happen in Vancouver. This is just a best practice for any city as a solo traveler.

  • Do not pack valuables. I recommend this for any trip, not just solo trips. You do not need to bring your fancy jewelry. Most of these people you are never going to see again, and it will not matter if you are wearing your diamond tennis bracelet. This also goes for valuables, which you must carry like a purse or wallet. Always make sure they are secure.

  • My last tip is to buy travelers insurance. It can come in handy if flights are delayed by more than 5 hours, luggage is lost, or if you have a medical emergency. Travelers' insurance offers so much more than this but gives you peace of mind, that hopefully you will never need to use.



Best Things to do in Vancouver when traveling alone, or with a group:

Solo travelers can have the best vacations wherever you go. You can decide what you truly want to do and not have to worry about what others you are traveling with want to do. This was the case while I was on the cruise and the time after the cruise I spent in Vancouver. If you would like to check out North Vancouver, Main Street or the Vancouver Art Gallery the choice is yours.


From the awe-inspiring Capilano Suspension Bridge to the bustling Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver is full of surprises. With its diverse and exciting attractions, Vancouver British Columbia has something for everyone. I felt perfectly safe walking around and seeing the sights of this city, even at night when visiting Vancouver's nightlife areas. You never feel alone with all the happy people and sights to explore. Here is a list of the best things to see and do.

  • Explore the breathtaking natural beauty of Stanley Park. There is a mini golf course there that is fun. Stanley Park Seawall is also located here, and I will be talking about it in a few.

  • Immerse yourself in culture at the Museum of Anthropology. You can learn a lot about native culture of this area from visiting this museum.

  • Visit the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge – One of the best things to do in Vancouver, an experience you won't soon forget! This bridge is actually quite scary for me, (I do not deal with heights and bridges very well.) If you can handle the walk over a suspension bridge, you should do this one. It is the number 1 attraction in Vancouver.

  • Take a stroll through historic Gastown. This is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver and is full of life, day or night. Gastown began in the early 1800’s from a single pub. Now there are art galleries, restaurants, gift shops and of course more bars in this lively community.

  • Whale watching leaves from the downtown Vancouver docks, and you will have a great time. Some of the best whale watching I have seen have been near Vancouver, So I can almost guarantee you will see whales if you take this adventure.

  • Take a 3-hour boat ride to Granite and Silver Falls. The waterfalls near Vancouver are absolutely stunning.

  • Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour is a great way to see the city and be able to get on and off the bus to explore on your own. I personally have not done this in Vancouver but have in other cities around the world and enjoyed it. 

  • 2 things that are great about the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus are:

  • They are handicapped friendly. They will store your walker, crutches, or even your wheelchair in a storage area. They even will let you drive your motorized wheelchair scooter onto the bus, with a ramp that comes out from under the bus. So when it is time for your stop just climb back into your scooter and back down the ramp the driver has put into place on the outside of the bus. 

  • The other thing I love is the free earphones they give you, so while you are riding on the bus you can listen in on some information about the stops the bus makes and some historical information. This is great for a solo traveler who doesn't want to spend tons of money on transportation or guided tours.

  • Grouse Mountain. This mountain is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a variety of activities such as hiking, and ziplining.

Aquarium fishes
Aquarium fishes
  • Vancouver Aquarium is a fun and friendly place to visit. Considered to be the largest aquarium in Canada and one of the largest in North America. They are Canada’s only marine mammal facility where they can take care of injured or sick marine mammals like sea lions. They have a variety of exhibits like clownfish cove and touch pools. One thing that I thought was interesting is that there are certain days and times each month that are “Sensory Overload Friendly”. I thought I should mention that since I feel that is a very great thing to offer for people/children with anxiety or neuro-disabilities.

  • Vancouver Lookout provides amazing views of the city and neighborhoods. If you are comfortable going to the top of the building that is located in the downtown area. Over 160 meters or more than 500 feet is what you will be traveling if you enter into the glass elevator. If you are not afraid of heights check it out. There is also a self-guided audio tour available.

  • Bill Reid Gallery has everything from art to books and even merchandise for sale, but they also have exhibits. This is the only gallery dedicated to the Northwest Canada local artists. Admission costs $13, and always double check their website for the hours they are open.

  • Granville Island Market is a great place to explore. I have a love of markets in any city I visit, and this is why I put it on this list. What’s great is it is not only the market, but the area as a whole is great for shopping and restaurants.

  • There are several other outdoor places to visit for the nature lover to spend time in also. Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Gardens, Cypress Mountain, Lynn Canyon and many more including the Rose Garden.

  • Plus, don't forget the beaches of this area- Sunset Beach, Spanish Banks, Kitsilano Beach and Wreck Beach. Remember beaches and parks are free.

Stanley Park
Stanley Park
  • Check out the Seawall, also known as the Stanley Park Seawall since Stanley Park is located on the route. This is the perfect spot for a good walk and a long walk around the waterfront. This is the world's largest uninterrupted waterfront path that extends from the Vancouver Convention Center to the Spanish Banks Park. It is 28 Kilometers long, and walking this path by yourself will be perfectly fine if you are a solo. One of the best ways to start the walk is from the downtown area.

  • Olympic Village is a decent palace for a walk that will give you a great view of the city of Vancouver. Located off of False Creek, it is not terribly far from downtown. Habitat Park, Hinge Park, the village dock area and Science World are located in the area and give you opportunities for food and activities. I have read lots of complaints from people who have visited, being that the Olympics happened in 2010, they expected some information about the area or plaques describing what went into building the Olympic Park. This kind of information is missing, but I still feel that it is a great area for a walk.

  • As mentioned above Science World is a science center that is actually a nonprofit organization. They have exhibits and displays that you can visit but are also active in education. You will recognize the building that looks like a big ball. When you spot it you know that it is Science World. Interesting fact, the building was originally built for the 1986 World's Fair.

  • If you are visiting on the weekends during the summer and don’t mind leaving the downtown area. About 20 minutes away, and closer to the airport is the Richmond Night Market. Great ethnic food and cheaper prices are the main focus of this market that offers imported items from China. Both locals and tourists love to take a visit, eat great food and shop. Another thing I have to mention is the River Rock Casino Resort is located next door. If you like to gamble this is a place to stop in or rent a hotel room at the resort.

If visiting in the winter is more of your style, and you love skiing, I suggest staying and skiing at either Grouse Mountain or Cypress Mountain area. Grouse Mountain is the closest to downtown Vancouver and less than 20 minutes away. Cypress Mountain is about an hour and 15 minutes away from downtown Vancouver. 

Rentalcars.com

Best Vancouver British Columbia Accommodations:

Vancouver at night
Vancouver at night

When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay, Vancouver Island has you covered. From luxurious hotels with stunning views of the city skyline and waterfront, to cozy bed and breakfasts nestled in charming neighborhoods – there is something for every budget and preference. So why not make your trip even more memorable by choosing a unique and unforgettable accommodation? As a solo traveler I choose hotels that I feel are safe and in a safe neighborhood. Honestly, I do this for any trip I take, but I pay closer attention when I am traveling as a solo. This is one thing I love about Vancouver; it is such a safe city with plenty of hotels to choose from.


  • Fairmont Waterfront is absolutely wonderful but is a little pricey. Located near the Port of Vancouver, it is a great option for people going on a cruise. Also, this is mentioned in my restaurants section.

Vancouver is a nature lovers dream.
Vancouver is a nature lovers dream.
  • Pan Pacific Hotel is also located near the Port of Vancouver, actually it is the closest. Pan Pacific may be the most expensive in this area. But one thing I do love about this place, they will store your luggage for you for a small fee if you are disembarking off of a cruise and want to explore the city for the day before you get to the airport. You do not have to be staying at the hotel for them to watch your luggage. I absolutely love this.

  • Hotel Georgia is another luxury hotel in my opinion. Opened almost 100 years ago, this place is a classic of Vancouver. They even offer babysitting for the kids. If you are interested in this hotel, check their website, as of right now they are doing an extensive remodel between January 1st- March 31st, 2024. Hotel Georgia is also mentioned in my restaurant section of this blog.

  • Blue Horizon Hotel is one of my favorites, still close enough to the cruise terminal but also located near the convention center, and the amazing downtown life of great restaurants and shopping.

  • The Kingston Hotel Bed and Breakfast is another great option for the downtown area and less expensive. I do like the location and this place is not near as large as some of the others on this list. I like that.

  • Opus Hotel is a charming boutique experience. It is not a commonly picked by cruise travelers, but I love the Yaletown area where you still have a great mix of restaurants, and greenspaces to make your stay in Vancouver great. Yaletown used to be considered the old warehouse district but has turned into an up-and-coming neighborhood that borders some popular Vancouver areas such as False Creek and Robson Street.

If none of this tickle your fancy, don't worry. There are what seem to be a thousand more options to lay your head in Vancouver British Columbia. There are even rentals away from the city with great mountain or water views.

Hilton Honors

Best Vancouver British Columbia Restaurants:

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds in Vancouver – a city known for its incredible culinary scene. From fresh seafood to international cuisines, there is no shortage of delicious options to indulge in. And even world-renowned restaurants too. If you are like me and solo, sometimes dining doesn't feel quite right alone. That happens to me from time to time, but there are no worries here in Vancouver. Enjoy your meal at a fancy restaurant or at a coffee shop. You will see others eating out solo too. Besides being single or solo in a large city like Vancouver you can find others just like you to strike up a conversation with. Here is the list of the best places to get a bite to eat. Some are fancy and some are pocketbook friendly.


  • Botanist is one of those world-renowned restaurants, where you can truly dine like royalty. Located in the Fairmont Waterfront mentioned above in the accommodations area, you will not be disappointed with the fine dining experience here.

  • Hawksworth is another world-renowned restaurant and is also located in a hotel I mentioned above. Hotel Georgia. Definitely wear your best when visiting, but I recommend the crab, it's locally sourced.

noodle dish
noodle dish
  • If you are anything like me, you loved visiting Chinatown and Vancouver's does not disappoint. Check out  Fat Mao Noodles. They also have a location in the downtown area too. There are tons of Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, or in fact all over Vancouver. This one is one of the most loved, and even though I have not been there I hear the Hot and Sour Pork is amazing.

  • As for diners with great breakfast, visit Lucy's Eastside and try the Chorizo Breakfast Poutine.

  • House of Dosas is an Indian Food mash up but with cheap prices. I highly recommend giving this place a chance.

  • Finches Teas House serves more than just tea. Sandwiches, salads, breakfast foods and something for that sweet tooth also. You will not be disappointed.

  • Another fan favorite in the area that the locals love are the food trucks of Vancouver. I love checking these out when I am traveling solo. So, while you are in the area visit Mr. Shawarma, Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck or The Frying Pan.


airalo

With its breathtaking views, vibrant culture, and endless possibilities for adventure, Vancouver truly is a gem of British Columbia. So, whether you're looking for an exciting vacation destination or the perfect end to your cruise journey, this city has it all, and is perfect for a solo traveler. The list of things to do in Vancouver alone is enough to keep you occupied for more than a week vacation. Don't hesitate – come experience the best of Vancouver for yourself. Let its creative, passionate, and fun fusion ignite your imagination and infuse you with enthusiasm. Trust me, you won't want to leave. So why not make Vancouver your next travel destination? You won't regret it.


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Jan 05
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very informative, thank you.

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