5 romantic things to do in downtown Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a diverse, bustling city on the west coast of Canada in the British Columbia province. It's gorgeous because on the one side you have the ocean breeze and on the other side, the city is surrounded by snow capped mountains. Nature is everywhere here.

The downtown central part of Vancouver is an excellent base for couples to visit, with many highly rated hotels, restaurants and bars. We loved the gay scene of Vancouver, as well as the range of activities you can do during the day. These are our 5 favourite romantic things to do in Vancouver, which we loved, and most importantly, you can do throughout the year.

Evening stroll along the Vancouver waterfront

The waterfront area of Vancouver was our favourite spot. It the perfect place to come for an evening stroll and watch the sea planes take off/land on the water. We also loved the city views here because of the mountain backdrop.

When strolling the waterfront, be sure to check out another favourite landmark of ours – the iconic blue raindrop statue called The Drop. The official explanation of this sculpture is that it is meant to pay homage to the power of nature, particularly water, which surrounds the city. We also love the unofficial explanation by locals that it is more of a celebration of the high amount of rainfall in Vancouver.

Other things to do in Vancouver's waterfront is to visit the virtual flight ride called FlyOver Canada located in the nearby “Canada Place”. This is a simulation ride on a dragon over China and then over Canada. It's impressive and feels so life like. If like us you're a fan of simulation rides like the ones at Universal in Orlando, Florida, you will love the FlyOver Canada ride.

evening stroll waterfront one of romantic things to do in vancouver
Romantic evening stroll along Vancouver's waterfront

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a large green space, which is separated in two by the Capilano River. In 1889, a 137m (450ft) long suspension bridge was built to connect the two sides. It hangs around 70m (230ft) above ground. Depending on your vertigo level, it's a lot of fun/nerve wracking to cross!

On the other side of the suspension bridge is a larger park with 7 smaller suspended footbridges. There are also a handful of cafes and souvenir shops.

Another aspect of the Capilano Park, which we loved is the celebration of the First Nations people, including a mini museum information centre by the entrance and several intricately carved Totem poles.

Capilano Suspension Bridge on of best things to do in Vancouver
Conquering our vertigo on the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Shopping and coffee in Gastown

Gastown is Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhood, with cobblestone streets and restored Victorian buildings. It's one of our favourite things to do in Vancouver because it has several boutique shops as well as a handful of trendy cafes.

One of the most famous landmarks in Gastown is the steam clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. It is powered by a steam engine and produces a puff of steam from its top every hour. It was built in 1977 to cover a steam grate, to harness the steam and prevent homeless people sleeping on it.

Nickelback fans will recognise it as the clock featured on the cover of the 2011 album “Here and Now”.

Gastown stroll one of best things to do in Vancouver
The iconic steam clock in Gastown

Exquisite Chinese gardens in Chinatown

Vancouver's Chinatown is the largest in Canada and the second largest in North America after San Fransisco. The city has the country's largest Chinese population and because of this, Vancouver has been given nicknames like “Hongcouver”. As such the Chinese influence in the city's culture is prevalent everywhere. For example in Italian ice cream shops you can find green tea, lychee and even durian flavours.

We love snacking in the different Asian bakeries here, then going face down in one of the dim sum restaurants.

Nearby, we recommend checking out the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is an authentic representation of China’s Ming Dynastyera garden traditions, with winding covered walkways, beautiful pavilions and even 150 year old miniature trees. It's a very romantic setting as well, great for Instagram. It also makes for the perfect tranquil escape from the busy city life outside.

Chinatown one of best things to do in Vancouver
Enjoying the tranquil atmosphere of the stunning Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Cycling in Stanley Park

Cycling in Stanley Park is one of our favourite things to do in Vancouver, especially on a clear day. Stanley Park is the large 405-hectare (1,001-acre) public green space at the Northern edge of Downtown Vancouver. It is almost entirely surrounded by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.

Stanley Park is nicknamed The Crown Jewel of Vancouver. It is also frequently rated by travellers as one of the best parks in the world, and in 2014, it was even voted as the #1 park in the world by Tripadvisor.

There is a 9km seawall bike path, which you can either walk (2-3 hours), or cycle (1 hour). Much of the park remains as densely forested as it was in the late 1800s, which is part of its charm. It has over 500,000 trees, some of which are hundreds of years old and over 70m (230ft) tall. Other romantic spots we recommend seeking out in Stanley Park includes the Rose Garden, the Lovers Walk with two trees embracing, Prospect Point, Third Beach, and The Teahouse restaurant for a romantic dinner.


⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

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