Travellers regularly flock to Vancouver, British Columbia, to discover its stunning architecture, bustling markets and fantastic outdoor pursuits. Upon arriving, they also discover the city’s incredible food and craft beer scenes. With so much to see (and eat), signing up for a guided tour is a great way to pack the most sightseeing into your trip. After consulting traveller opinion and expert input, U.S. News determined these 17 tours to be the best available in Vancouver.
See some of Vancouver’s famous local wildlife along this 90-minute inflatable boat tour through English Bay. Though the highlight of the tour is the local seal colony, you’ll also catch sightings of Kitsilano Beach, Yaletown, Granville Island and more. Tour-takers say guides are adept at navigating the boat and providing the history of the landmarks seen during the ride. Tickets start at CA$59 (about $42), and participants must be at least 4 feet tall. Tours depart daily at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Vancouver Water Adventures offers a variety of boat and kayak tours.
Vancouver Foodie Tours – Granville Island Market Tour
Discover Granville Island’s bustling public market, which is filled with bakeries, cheese shops, butchers and other food producers, on this two-hour guided tour. The walking tour, which hosts up to 16 participants, includes more than 20 tastings along with information about the foods and their makers. Along the way, you could sample locally produced wine, elk salami, doughnuts and maple salmon candy, among other delicious tastings. Participants say they enjoy trying the different food and learning about the history of the peninsula from knowledgeable foodie guides. Tickets cost around CA$70 (about $50) for patrons 13 and older and CA$60 (about $43) for children 12 and younger. Tours run daily at 10:30 a.m. Vancouver Foodie Tours also operates a tour of the Gastown district’s restaurants and a tour about Chinese food in Richmond, a city just south of Vancouver.
Harbour Cruises – Vancouver Harbour Cruise
Sail through the Burrard Inlet past many of Vancouver’s top landmarks during this hourlong boat excursion on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. From the boat’s open-air decks or its cozy interior, you’ll see spectacular views of the Vancouver skyline, Stanley Park and the mountains. The tour is also fully narrated. For an extra treat, grab a drink from the onboard bar. Tour-takers say they enjoy the views and that the commentary is helpful. Many cruisers even spotted seals. Tours run daily at 11 a.m. and 12:15, 1:30 and 2:45 p.m.
Tickets cost approximately CA$40 (about $43) for adults 18 and older, CA$35 (about $25) for children ages 12 to 17, CA$12 (about $8.50) for ages 5 to 11 and are free for those 4 and younger. The company also offers a variety of lunch and dinner cruises.
Landsea Tours & Adventures – Victoria & Butchart Gardens
If you’re looking for a day trip from Vancouver, consider this 13-hour excursion with Landsea Tours & Adventures, which takes you by ferry to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital. In Victoria, you’ll have time to explore downtown, the Inner Harbour and the Fairmont Empress Hotel, before making your way to the 55-acre Butchart Gardens. Tourgoers say the excursion is well organized with plenty of time to spend at the gardens. Tours depart at 8 or 9 a.m., depending on the time of year. Tickets start at CA$225 (about $161) for participants 13 and older and CA$115 (around $82) for ages 3 to 12. Prices include round-trip transportation from select Richmond or downtown Vancouver hotels. Landsea Tours & Adventures also operates seaplane tours, hop-on, hop-off tours and outdoor adventure excursions.
Vancouver Bike Tours – Towers & Totems
Travellers say this tour is a family-friendly way to explore the city. They also regularly describe the guides as accommodating and informative. During the 3 1/2-hour ride, you’ll bike about 11 miles around Vancouver to see several key landmarks, including Stanley Park. In addition, you’ll learn about the Coast Salish people and see a collection of totem poles. Tours depart daily at 9:30 a.m., and tickets cost approximately CA$65 (about $46), including the bike rental. The company also offers a Dragons & Steam tour, which rides through Chinatown.
Toonie Tours Vancouver – Street Art & Craft Beer Tour
This walking tour introduces visitors to Vancouver’s craft beer scene as well as Mount Pleasant, an area known for its many street murals. Participants begin the three-hour expedition with a brewery tour of Main Street Brewing Company and enjoy beer samples (plus a snack). Afterward, guides lead participants through Mount Pleasant to see the diverse street art. Reviewers say that guides have a great knowledge of both the art and the artists. Tourgoers also enjoyed the beer stop and describe the tour as educational. Tickets cost approximately CA$65 (around $47). Tours run several times a week, but specific days vary by season; tours depart at 4:30 or 5:30 p.m. Toonie Tours also runs a free walking tour of Vancouver and a bike tour of Stanley Park.
Cycle City Tours – The Grand Bike Tour
Riders say this tour is a great way to see the city and that guides are engaging and knowledgeable. The five-hour bike tour offers riders a broad overview of the city. Highlights include cycling through Stanley Park, past the beaches of English Bay, taking the ferry to Granville Island for lunch at the market, and pedaling through Chinatown. Tickets cost approximately CA$90 (about $64) for adults 18 and older and CA$80 (about $57) for youths ages 10 to 17; prices include the cost of bike rental. For families with children younger than 10, the company asks that you schedule a private tour. Tours are available daily at 10 a.m. Though the tour lasts five hours, you’ll only be riding bikes for about two hours. Cycle City also offers night tours and rides atop e-bikes.
Gray Line Westcoast Sightseeing – Vancouver City Tour + Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
An ideal option if you have a limited amount of time to sightsee, this half-day trip combines a guided city tour to sights like Chinatown, Stanley Park and the Granville Island Public Market with a visit to North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. After exploring the city, you’ll get to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and explore the surrounding temperate rainforest. Reviewers praise this tour, saying they see quite a bit of the city in five hours and that they particularly enjoy the stop at the bridge. Tickets start at CA$129 (about $92) for ages 13 and older and CA$65 (about $46) for ages 3 to 12 and includes round-trip transportation from select area hotels. Tours are available daily at noon. The company also offers tours to Grouse Mountain and daytrips to Whistler, among other options.
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours – The Lost Souls of Gastown Tour
Discover the macabre side of Vancouver on this theatrical walking tour, which recounts tales of smallpox outbreaks, the Great Vancouver Fire, murder mysteries and other haunting stories about the city. This 90-minute outing offers great storytelling alongside plenty of Vancouver history, tourgoers say. Tours generally operate Monday through Saturday from May through November, though trips in late spring and late fall run on a limited schedule. Tours depart at 8 p.m. Tickets start at CA$29 (about $21) for adults and CA$26 (around $19) for students and seniors. The company says the tour is designed for adults only and does not recommend it for children younger than 14. Forbidden Vancouver also offers an art deco-themed tour that includes a chocolate tasting and a tour about the city’s LGBT history.
Tourgoers praise A Wok Around Chinatown for its informative, kind guides and “immersive” experience. During this four-hour tour, participants will explore Chinatown to discover where local chefs shop for their foods and see area landmarks, such as the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The tour concludes with a dim sum lunch, which travellers say is delicious. Tours operate at 10 a.m. daily, and tickets cost about CA$80 (about $57), including lunch. The company also offers a foodie tour of Granville Island.
Prince of Whales Adventures – Half-Day Whale Watching
Marine mammal experts guide this half-day excursion and share information about both humpback and orca whales throughout the five-hour catamaran cruise. Travellers regularly rave about this tour and recount multiple wildlife sightings. Tours run daily from April through early November; specific times vary depending on the month, but you can expect to depart at 8:30 a.m., noon or 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at CA$170 (about $122) for participants ages 18 and older, CA$130 (around $93) for ages 13 to 17, CA$105 (approximately $75) for ages 2 to 12 and are free for children younger than 2. In the event that you do not see whales, your next excursion is free. The company offers several other boat tours, as well as tours that combine boat rides and seaplane flights.
Vancouver Food Tour – Richmond’s Dumpling Trail Tour
Richmond, a city just south of Vancouver, is often praised for having some of the best Asian food in North America. On this three-hour walking tour, you’ll sample some of the area’s best dumplings, stopping at five area eateries for tastings, tea and one beer pairing. Dumplings include those stuffed with pork, shrimp and more. The tour is limited to 12 people. Tour-takers praise guides’ insider knowledge and say that the dumplings are delicious. Tickets start at CA$60 (about $43) per person. Tours depart Wednesday through Sunday at 11 a.m. Vancouver Food Tour offers a variety of excursions, including foodie tours of Gastown, Chinatown and local breweries.
Harbour Air Seaplanes – Vancouver Classic Panorama
Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Vancouver on this seaplane tour. The 20-minute flight soars over the city’s downtown skyline and over popular sights like Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge and English Bay. Participants describe the experience as an incredible way to see the city and say they felt safe during the entire flight. Tickets start at CA$135 (about $97) for ages 12 and older, CA$75 (about $54) for children ages 2 to 11 and are free for infants. Flights depart multiple times daily from about 8:45 a.m. to around 6:45 p.m. If you want more time in the air, consider the 35-minute version of this tour.
Tour Guys Vancouver – Downtown Waterfront Architectural Tour
Architecture buffs will want to sign up for this free milelong walking tour of downtown Vancouver, which visits several architecturally significant buildings, including Christ Church Cathedral and the Marine Building. And while you’ll hit the main sights, each tour is unique because guides take patrons to their personal favourite buildings during the tour.
Travellers will also learn about the city’s history and its street food scene, among other aspects of local culture. Reviewers say they enjoy their guides and that the tour is a good way to get your bearings in the city. While the two-hour outing is free, the company asks that you tip guides at the end if you enjoyed the tour. Walks depart daily at 2 p.m. and reservations are recommended. The company also offers a free tour of Gastown.
Vancouver Brewery Tours – Vancouver Brewery Tour
Sample a wide variety of locally made beer during this three-hour van tour. Each outing includes stops at three different breweries for facility tours and a flight of the company’s beers. You’ll also enjoy an introduction to the beer-making process as well as a free beer glass and a journal to record your favourite brews. Patrons rave about the beers sampled during the tour and complement the guides on their expertise.
Tickets cost about CA$85 (around $61) for those who are drinking and CA$60 (about $43) for those who are not. Prices include transportation between breweries and all beer sampled. All participants must be at least 19 years old and bring a photo ID. Tours run Wednesday at 6 p.m., Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at noon and 4 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Breweries visited depend on the day and time of the tour.
The company runs multiple other craft beer tours in different areas of the city as well as private tours.
Taste Vancouver Food Tours – Gastown Food Tour
Eat your way through the historic Gastown area of Vancouver on this 2 1/2-hour walking tour that’s limited to just 16 participants. Indulge in a variety of foods, including pulled pork, beer-battered fish, chocolate from Canada’s oldest chocolate shop and more sweet and savoury delights. Tourgoers say the food is delicious and that their guides are friendly and knowledgeable. Tours run at 2 p.m. daily from June through September; excursions leave Wednesday through Sunday only October through May. Tickets start at CA$89 (about $64) per person, regardless of age. All food, plus two alcoholic beverages are included. The company also offers food tours of Little Italy and Vancouver’s North Shore.
Wild Whales Vancouver takes passengers off the coast into English Bay to search for humpback and killer whales as well as other local wildlife. Trips can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on if the boat has to travel farther from Vancouver to spot wildlife.
The company says 90% of their trips see whales, but if your outing has no animal sightings your next trip is free. Travellers report seeing lots of whales and describe guides as insightful and friendly.
Departure times vary depending on the season and vessel type selected; tours depart from April through October only. Tickets start at CA$150 (about $108) for participants 13 and older, CA$100 (about $72) for ages 3 to 12 and CA$30 (about $22) for ages 2 and younger.