Food,  Travel

Vancouver Itinerary: A Perfect Weekend for Foodies

We spent 2 nights in Vancouver BC with one mission… find great food!

I had heard a few times that Vancouver was a foodie city, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that it made the Condé Nast Traveler list of best food cities in the world. Safe to say, I had pretty high expectations going into this trip.

And I’m happy to report that our mission was beyond successful. I was actually blown away, and even had one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever tasted.

This trip was all thanks to my brother who lives in Bellingham, Washington, not far over the US/Canada border. He visited Vancouver a few times and knew I would love it, so he convinced us to book a flight (FREE minus fees of course thanks to our Southwest travel hack).

He plotted and planned out the best Vancouver itinerary for us! It was great to sit back and not have to do all the planning. I knew we were in great hands because we have the same taste in food and restaurants. And it did not disappoint.

This post is all about a perfect Vancouver itinerary as a weekend getaway for foodies.

Vancouver BC Waterfront view from Granville Public Market

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Planning Your Vancouver Itinerary

Getting to Vancouver BC

The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the best way to travel into Vancouver BC. From there, it’s about a 25 minute drive into downtown Vancouver. Or you can use the super convenient Canada Line metro train which also takes about 25 minutes and departs every 10 minutes from the airport.

For this trip we flew into Bellingham, WA and spent some time with my brother before driving up to Vancouver. The drive took about 90 minutes and was really pretty! Crossing the border by car can be a little slow depending on the day and time (you can check current wait times online). But it’s also fun to cross the border by car.

To learn more about how I fly nearly free, check out my blog post How to Fly Free.

Getting Around Vancouver

Because we drove from Bellingham, WA, we did have a car throughout the weekend. But I definitely think you COULD experience this itinerary without one.

Downtown Vancouver BC is very walkable. It reminded me a lot of Portland, Oregon. We rarely drove and actually paid $25+ dollars per night for parking, so Ubering might make sense if you fly in and don’t want to rent a car.

The only thing we probably would’ve skipped without a car was our scenic drive around the park. But the rest you can easily walk or Uber.

Downtown Vancouver BC

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Fairmont in Downtown Vancouver, which I snagged from a Priceline Express deal the day prior to arrival for a great price. It was pure perfection!

The hotel is rated 4.5 stars and everything about it felt luxurious. Gold accents, fresh flowers, Nespresso in the room, and great service. The location is PERFECT. We spent the whole weekend walking around downtown, and it was super convenient.

Fairmont Vancouver Downtown Hotel Exterior

Working out in the gym was actually one of the highlights! I felt so spoiled drinking the refreshing lemon water and resting in the sauna.

We loved the room and comfy beds. In fact, the bed was so comfortable that my watch recorded it as the best sleep I’d had in over a month! Highly, highly recommend staying at the Fairmont Downtown, and I can’t wait to come back again.

Vancouver Fairmont Hotel Room

3-Day Vancouver Itinerary

Here’s your 2-day itinerary for an absolutely perfect food-filled walkable Vancouver weekend. This is all thanks to my brother who planned and plotted out the best spots.

It was nice to sit back and enjoy this trip without doing all of the research and planning. We both have the same palate and travel style, so I knew we were in great hands. And it turned out amazing!

DAY 1

Breakfast at Medina Cafe

A long line is usually a good sign. And that was definitely true for Medina Cafe, a cafe in the Library District with a Mediterannean-inspired breakfast and lunch menu. We slept in about and might have had better luck arriving earlier. But still, it was only about an hour for the 4 of us to be seated on a weekend. We ordered coffee and a waffle while we waited and made the best of it. 

The restaurant is elegant, but very homey. The staff were amazing, and so friendly.

The highlight for me… the milk chocolate lavender sauce! I literally drank the extra sauce from the ramekin that came with the waffle. It was divine! I’m still dreaming about it.

Cafe Medina Waffle

We ordered the Jamaquita Lemonade with hibiscus + eucalyptus, lemon, and sparkling water, and a few dishes to share. EVERYTHING was delicious. It was so hard to pick favorites. I met a local in the waiting area who made me promise to order the Fricassée, and she led me to a gem. We were talking all weekend about how delicious the tomato sauce was.

The smoked salmon dish, Saumon Fumé was really flavorful. My mom loved the Breakfast Paella. And as someone with a shellfish allergy, I appreciated that I could finally have paella for once! It’s made with orzo, tomatoes, chorizo sausage, roasted vegetables, grano padano, avocado, an egg, and a delicious spicy charred tomato salsa.

I could go on and on… Definitely add this to your list!

Menu Highlights: Fricassée, Liege Waffles, Milk Chocolate Lavender Mocha and Sauce, Breakfast Paella

Walk Around the Gastown District

The Gastown area is an iconic part of Vancouver, and definitely worth checking out. I particularly liked the brick pathways and old glass globe lamp posts lining the streets. From Cafe Medina, it was an easy 10-15 minute walk toward the waterfront.

Gastown Vancouver BC

The Gastown Steam Clock

On the corner of Water Street and Cambie St, you’ll find the famous Gaston Steam Clock. This is a rare treat, because not only is it one of the few steam clocks that exist in the world, but it’s also the very first. Every 15 minutes, the steam clock shows off with whistles and steam shooting out of the top. And every hour the larger whistle goes off.

Gastown Shopping

We walked around a few different stores in Gas Town that were filled with Canada goods and plenty of maple syrup.

Lunch at Haifa 

After a rich and filling breakfast, something on the lighter side for lunch was a nice touch. Haifa is closer to the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown, where we were staying for the weekend, which made for an easy walkable lunch.

Haifa Vancouver Restaurant

We happened to arrive during happy hour, which made it a pretty cheap meal! The happy hour special cocktail was super refreshing and delicious. I don’t remember the name of it, but it had gin, lemon, and mint. The espresso martini “Café Douma” was also delicious with cold brew and dates!

Cocktails at Haifa

Also from the happy hour menu we ordered the falafel and hummus. From the regular menu, we got the Labneh Brulée, and it was the highlight for sure. 

Stanley Park

You could easily spend hours soaking in the beautiful Stanley Park. But since it was raining, we decided to take a scenic drive around the park loop instead. Stop at the Prospect Point Lookout for a quick walk and some fresh air since the rain had subsided. The scenery was beautiful.

On a nicer day, I’d recommend a picnic or possibly renting bikes!

Dinner at Ozu Izikaya

My brother is smart. He booked a reservation for us in advance at Oku Izakaya, and thank God he did! This place is newer, it’s small, and you’ll definitely need a reservation especially in the colder months when their patio is closed. We watched them turn away a handful of people just while we waited a few minutes to be seated. 

We ordered the Super Premium Assorted Sushi plate to share and Deep-Fried Edamame with Garlic Black Pepper. But no question, the Spiced Chicken Karaage and the Smoked Black Cod were insane. The cod was probably one of my favorite fish dishes I’ve ever had, next to Mama’s Fish House in Maui

The only downside is that it was dark and I couldn’t get any photos to show you the deliciousness!

Staff were great, so friendly and helpful. This spot is a must-try. Grab a reservation!

Drinks at The 515 Bar

On our way back to the Fairmont, we stopped for drinks at The 515 Bar. It’s a bit unassuming from the outside, but the interior is charming and fun. It’s on the smaller side, but we didn’t wait long for a table, even on a Saturday night. 

I can’t recall if all the drinks are served up in tulip glasses, but everything we ordered was! It was kinda fun to all be sipping from tulips but having completely different drinks. 

The 515 Bar

DAY 2

Breakfast at Notch 8

Notch 8 is not your typical hotel restaurant. In fact… we ended up here a total of 4 times during our 2-day stay at the Fairmont. 

They have an impressive gourmet breakfast buffet that looked incredible. The decor is fancy, with big bright modern chandeliers, and the staff were all awesome too. 

We weren’t terribly hungry so we opted for lattes by the bar before we headed out for the day.

Granville Island

We had much better weather on day 2, so it was perfect for exploring Granville Island. There’s so much to see as you wander around – from quirky boutique shops like an alpaca store to amazing art galleries. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the Kids Market with all its fun interactive exhibits.

But of course, we gravitating to the food in the Granville Public Market. This popular market in Vancouver is home to over 50 vendors, with a good variety of fresh produce, meats, seafood, bakery items, and unique dishes.

Fresh Bagels at Granville Public Market

We got a cup of creamy smoked salmon chowder to share from The Stock Market. It wasn’t my favorite soup, and lacked flavor, but the bread was delicious and fluffy.

We also tried a few types of chocolate at Roger’s Chocolates just outside the market entrance, which were delicious.

Lee’s Donuts

After I spotted several bright yellow boxes, I had to know what the hype was all about. FOMO is real. And that’s when I saw a decent size line for Lee’s Donuts, and I knew I wanted them. You know my motto…. A long line is a good sign!

We shared a box of a few flavors and brought a few back to Washington to my brothers for breakfast the next day. The apple fritter was HUGE. Just check out the size compared to my adorable mama.

The fritter was my favorite. We finished the whole thing in one sitting. We also got a lemon cake donut, chocolate cake donut, mango-filled, raspberry-filled, and maple-iced. Delicious!

Surprise Filming

While hanging out Granville Island, we saw the filming of The Amazing Race Canada! Several teams were competing and running all over the island looking for clues. It was really fun to watch the camera crew hustling to follow them and see it all in action! Such fun energy!

Dinner at CinCin

What’s a vacation without pasta? Not one I wanna be on.

Tucked away up a stone stairway you’ll find on Robson Street, CinCin is a cozy, quaint Italian restaurant with a wood-fired grill and delicious pasta dishes. They make their pasta in-house daily.

CinCin also focuses on craft cocktails, a grappa collection, and an award-winning wine list. We ordered the Bankok Butterfly with gin, butterfly pea flower syrup, yuzu, and a delicious citrus vanilla foam. The foam was so good, we went over to chat with the bartender to find out the secret to making that foam so amazingly foamy. A hint of gelatin!

The Sasarecce with Spicy Chorizo Sausage was a favorite at our table, along with the Scallops with Ricotta Gnocchi and the Dungeness Crab Linguine. Even the bread service for the table was delicious.

Drinks at Jungle Room

The Jungle Room was a fun spot for a late night drink and party energy. They had a DJ, and it was just all around a really fun vibe.

I love a tropical, jungle theme any day. And when you add in the gold accents, and delicious cocktails, I’m a happy, happy lady.

The cocktail menu is really playful and unique. It took a while for us to order because there are so many choices and all very intriguing. But I think we settled on the Meet Me in Mito and The Fascinator.

Cocktails at The Jungle Room

They have a great happy hour from 5-6pm, and late night from 10:30pm – close with food and drink specials.

Extra Credit: Notch 8  

Remember when I said we visited Notch 8 four times? Both nights we found ourselves in the bar late night for a slice of their delicious layered OMG Chocolate Cake and a side of fries. It was the tangy, semi-sweet cassis gel sauce that they served with it that we fell in love with. You can also order the same cake via room service.

Vancouver Foodie Tours in Vancouver BC, Canada

If you have extra time or prefer to explore the food scene with a tour guide, here are a few fun ideas for food tours in Vancouver BC!


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Vancouver Itinerary: Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Gastown Steam Clock located?

The Gastown Steam Clock is located on the corner of Water Street and Cambie Street in downtown Vancouver BC.

When is the best time to visit Vancouver BC?

The best time to visit Vancouver BC is spring (March to May) or early fall (September to October). November and December are notably more rainy and cold. While the summer months have better weather, it is peak season with more crowds and likely higher accommodation costs.

How many days do you need in Vancouver?

You should plan for 3-4 days to experience a fun-filled Vancouver itinerary.

Can you visit Vancouver without a car?

Yes. Vancouver is known for being a walkable city, with plenty of attractions and dining downtown. Convenient public transportation is available to and from the airpot via the Canada Line.


Ready to Plan Your Vancouver Itinerary?

Truthfully, there were a lot of other great spots that looked amazing! I’d love to go back and explore Vancouver again soon.

If you have any favorites that I missed, drop me a comment below and I’ll add it to my next Vancouver itinerary.

Happy travels!

-Hannah

This post was all about a perfect Vancouver itinerary as a weekend getaway for foodies.

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Plate & Compass is a food and travel blog written by Hannah Falkosky. After quitting her job and spending 8 weeks in Europe on just a few thousand dollars, she found her love for budget travel and sharing tips to help others explore the world. She also spent 15 years working with award-winning chefs and developed a love for artful food and cocktails. Hannah is now based out of Los Angeles, and when she’s not traveling she makes it her mission to explore the best restaurants and cocktail bars while living life to the fullest.

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