Today I want to bring you my Vancouver and Seattle itinerary. These cities on the west coast of North America are known for everything from their waterfront areas to their natural beauty and great restaurants. In this feature, I’ll show you what it’s like to spend 4 days in Vancouver and Seattle on either side of a cruise to Alaska.

Vancouver and Seattle Itinerary

Vancouver and Seattle Itinerary

I’ve traveled to North America for a 7-day Alaska cruise that will start in British Columbia and end in Washington state.

I’m spending 3 days in Vancouver before I depart, and a day in Seattle after I arrive. I’ve flown here with a media group of digital content creators and journalists, and we’re excited to experience the best of both cities.

We arrive in Vancouver the night before our itinerary begins. We’re staying at the Shangri-La, a 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of the downtown area.

My room is spacious, with calm natural tones and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the surrounding skyscrapers. It’s a great base for my time in BC.

Vancover Hotel Room

Day 1: Vancouver

After dinner at Nightingale with a local friend and a good night’s sleep at the Shangri-La, my Vancouver and Seattle itinerary begins with a day of sightseeing.

I’ve been to the city three times, but I’m excited to see some new-to-me attractions on this trip.

At the recommendation of the friend I had dinner with the night before, I walk over to have breakfast at Cafe Medina before my official itinerary starts. It’s a popular place, and I arrive before it opens to wait in line.

It’s worth the effort. My smoked salmon with egg and cream cheese on foccacia goes down a treat.

Vancouver Restaurant

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Back at the Shangri-La, my group boards a mini-bus that takes us to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s Vancouver’s oldest attraction. Built in 1889, the 450-foot (137-meter) bridge sits 230 feet (70 meters) above the Capilano River.

Around it is everything from a series of suspension bridges built up in the trees to suspended cliff-side walkways jutting out from a granite face, First Nations carvings, a gift shop, and other entertainment.

We spend a couple hours walking across the bridge and exploring the area. I love the way the trails immerse us in nature and make us feel like we’re a million miles from the city. The views of the river and the waterfalls in the distance are awe-inspiring, too.

Capilano Suspension Bridge


Leaving the bridge, our Vancouver and Seattle itinerary continues with lunch at Cardero’s Restaurant in Coal Harbour. Perched over the water, Cardero’s offers views of the mountains and Burrard Inlet from its dining room and outdoor terrace.

The menu has everything from grilled fish to steaks and wood-oven pizzas. We tuck into a feast of seafood starters, burgers, and wild BC halibut as we take in the waterfront surroundings.

It’s a great way to relax after our morning’s adventures and recharge before the afternoon’s activities. The carrot cake makes for a sweet ending, too.

Restaurant in Vancouver

E-Bike Tour of Vancouver

Next on our itinerary is an e-bike cycling tour of Vancouver with with a city tour company. They offer guided bike rides around Vancouver at a relaxed pace.

After getting e-bikes at their shop downtown, we go on The Stanley tour. It’s a three-hour guided ride that takes us through the city’s famous Stanley Park.

We cycle along the seawall, stopping at the Totem Poles, the Girl in a Wetsuit sculpture, and Beaver Lake as we take in the water and forest surroundings.

Stanley Park cycling tour

The tour is a fun way to see Vancouver and a great way to get outdoors in one of its most beloved green spaces.


After returning our bikes, we head to dinner in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Gastown district. Monarca Cocina Mexicana offers modern Mexican and Latin-American fare in its chic dining room.

We sit down and order a feast of spicy margaritas, fajitas, shrimp tacos, and chicken enchiladas as the room buzzes around us.

Vancouver restaurant interior

Day 2: Vancouver

The next morning our Vancouver and Seattle itinerary continues with gardens, shopping, food, and some of the best views of the city.

After grabbing a quick bite at a local coffee shop called JJ Bean, I meet my group in front of the Shangri-La to start our day of sightseeing.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Our first stop is the VanDusen Botanical Garden. This 55-acre (22-hectare) outdoor oasis is home to over 7,500 plant species from all over the world.

VanDusen Botanical Garden tulips

It has everything from a hedge maze to waterfalls, gazebos, flower beds, and lakes. There’s also a restaurant, cafe, visitor center, and gift shop on the grounds.

We spend time walking along the paths, taking in the seasonal blooms, and getting lost in the maze. The sun is shining and it’s a great day to be outdoors.

Bloedel Conservatory

Our next stop is Queen Elizabeth Park, where we walk over to tour Bloedel Conservatory. There are more than 100 exotic birds and 500 types of tropical plants under its large dome.

Bloedel Conservatory

Outside we spot everything from fountains to gardens and sculptures as we take in the views of Vancouver from a vista point in the park.

Main Street

We’re running ahead of schedule, so our Vancouver and Seattle itinerary continues with an impromptu stop on Main Street. This road is lined with vintage clothing shops, hip boutiques, and popular cafes and restaurants.

We spend an hour browsing the stores and taking in the street art as we make our way from Riley Park to Mount Pleasant. It’s a fun way to spend the early afternoon, and it gives us a good feel for Vancouver’s local areas.

Vancouver Street Art


From Main Street we head to lunch at Miku. Known for its signature Aburi-style sushi that’s lightly seared and infused with savory sauces, its menu offers everything from Sumiyaki-grilled meats to desserts created by a Kyoto-trained pastry chef.

We settle into a table with a view of the cruise ships in the port. We order one of the restaurant’s set menus and enjoy everything from miso soup to sashimi, rolls, grilled fish, nigiri, and a delicious dessert. It’s my favorite meal of the trip.


Seaplane Ride in Vancouver

From lunch we walk over to take a scenic seaplane tour over Vancouver with Harbour Air. The ride showcases some of the best views of the city and its natural surroundings.

From islands to coastline and the Vancouver skyline, we soar over this part of British Columbia as we take in the sweeping panoramas. It’s spectacular.

Vancouver seaplane view


After the seaplane ride we freshen up back at the Shangri-La, then head to dinner at Five Sails in the Canada Place Convention Centre. This fine-dining restaurant offers West Coast fare with waterfront views.

We sit in the bright, contemporary dining room with floor-to-ceiling views of Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, Vancouver’s North Shore, the Lions Gate Bridge, and the ski resorts in the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

Our 4-course tasting menu features everything from tartare to scallops and halibut. A dessert sampler and excellent wine pairing round out the meal.

Beet Tartare

Day 3: Vancouver

The next morning our Vancouver and Seattle itinerary continues with a day of free time. I start with a leisurely morning at the Shangri-La spa.

The outdoor pool and hot tub are great places to relax and soak up the views of the skyscrapers in downtown Vancouver, and the steam room is a treat.

Granville Island

Afterwards I know exactly where I’m going: Granville Island. It’s one of my favorite places in Vancouver, and I can’t wait to visit it.

Granville Island Ferry

I walk through town to get to the ferry at the Aquatic Centre, then hop on board for the quick ride to the island.

Once there, I head straight for the Granville Island Public Market. This covered number is buzzing with stalls selling everything from fresh produce to prepared foods, pastries, and crafts.

I browse the goods, picking up a croissant as I take in the colors and scents of the market. There’s an energy here, and it’s a great place to spend a day in Vancouver.

Granville Island Public Market

Outside, I walk around to explore the rest of Granville Island. There’s everything from boutiques to workshops and breweries. I pop into a few, checking out the wares and browsing for gifts.

When I’m done exploring, I head back to the Shangri-La, check out of my room, and meet my group to board our cruise to Alaska.

We spend 7 days visiting everything from Juneau to the Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, and Ketchikan before arriving in Seattle.

Space Needle

Day 4: Seattle

We disembark early in the morning. There’s a full-day itinerary planned for us, and I can’t wait to experience it.

Some of my relatives lived here when I was growing up, so I’ve been visiting this city in the Pacific Northwest my whole life. It’s good to be back.

Fisherman’s Terminal

My group boards a mini-bus for the first part of our day. We head to Fisherman’s Terminal on the south side of Salmon Bay. When we arrive, we take in the boats in the marina and check out the local restaurants and surrounding area.

From Fisherman’s Terminal it’s a short walk over to Caffe Appassionato in the Magnolia neighborhood. This place is known for its high-quality coffee. We order espresso drinks and pastries to fuel us for our day in the city.

Seattle coffee shop

Fremont Troll

Leaving the coffee shop, we drive through Fremont. This bohemian area on the north bank of the Lake Washington Ship Canal is full of independent shops, hip bars, and cool cafes.

Eventually we reach the Fremont Troll, a large sculpture under the Aurora Bridge. Created by Steve Badanes in 1990, it’s now a local landmark. We pose for a group photo here, then depart for Queen Anne.

Fremont Troll

Queen Anne

Queen Anne is one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Seattle. It’s packed with pretty houses fronted by beautiful gardens.

We drive through the area, then stop at Kerry Park. Located near the top of Queen Anne Hill, this small green space is known for its sweeping views of the Seattle skyline.

We hop off the bus to take pictures of everything from the Space Needle to Elliott Bay. Clouds obscure the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier, but if they were absent we’d be able to see the peaks.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle Center

From Kerry Park our itinerary continues with a drive to Seattle Center. This place is home to famous landmarks like the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).

We’ve each been given a complimentary Seattle CityPASS, and we’ve used them to pre-book tickets to the three attractions.

We take in the panoramic views from the top of the Space Needle, admire the art at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, and get inspired by Frank Gehry’s whimsical architecture at the MoPOP.

View of the Space Needle from Chihuly Garden and Glass

Pike Place Market

When we’re done, we walk over to Pike Place Market. This 9-acre (3.6 hectare) public market in downtown Seattle is known for its delicious produce, fresh flowers, and fish throwing (yep, the vendors throw fish here). The first Starbucks is on site, too.

Considered Seattle’s original farmers’ market, Pike Place is a great place to get into the city’s soul.

We walk up and down the narrow passages, taking in the scent of fresh seafood, the sight of colorful flowers, and the sound of the vendors shouting over the crowd.

When we’re done, we pick up lunch from a local shop called Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. It goes down a treat as we watch cheese being made in a giant vat in a glassed-in room in front of us.

Pike Place Market

Sky View Observatory

From Pike Place Market, I walk through downtown Seattle towards Pioneer Square to get to the Sky View Observatory.

Along the way I pop into a few shops and enter the Seattle Central Library. I’ve always loved the latter’s cool contemporary design, and I can’t help taking the elevator to the internal viewing platform at the top.

Once at the Sky View Observatory, I meet up with my group and enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline. 73 stories above ground, it shows off Seattle’s skyscrapers, residential neighborhoods, port, stadiums, and the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and Lake Union.

Seattle view from Sky View Observatory

We enjoy canapes and cocktails as we watch our cruise ship depart for its next voyage to Alaska.

Seattle Waterfront

After descending back to ground level, we drop a few members of our group off at The Alexis Royal Sonesta Hotel, then drive over to the waterfront to experience a couple more of the city’s attractions.

The first is the Seattle Aquarium, where we use the Seattle CityPASS to gain entry. We explore the hands-on marine exhibits, admire fish and jellyfish in the glass tanks, and say hello to the seals outside.

Seattle Aquarium exhibit

Afterwards we walk over to Miner’s Landing. Located on Pier 57, this place is home to Wings Over Washington. It’s a flying theater experience that transports visitors on an aerial tour over the Evergreen State.

From the Olympic National Forest to Mt. Rainier, the San Juan Islands, Snoqualmie Falls, Walla Walla Valley, downtown Seattle, and Elliott Bay, we see the highlights of Washington.

Vancouver and Seattle Itinerary

From Miner’s Landing we board our bus and head to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport for our flight home.

Seattle Ferris Wheel

We’ve enjoyed our Vancouver and Seattle itinerary, and seeing more of the region on Wings of Washington has whetted our appetites to come back and discover more of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

If you’re interested in going on a similar tour, you can take a look at excursions in Vancouver and Seattle here. Happy travels!

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Vancouver and Seattle Itinerary

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