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Where To Find The Best Views Of Vancouver

Distant views of Vancouver from the chairlift at Grouse Mountain

The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, has many beautiful sights that will leave you breathless. However, if you’re looking for the best views of Vancouver, I’ve got you covered. While heights and mountains offer amazing views, some low-lying places offer great city shots too.

Vancouver is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque cities in Canada, and after one visit, you’ll totally agree.

Nestled against the lush rainforest with a backdrop of rugged mountains, it’s hard not to capture a good photo of the Vancouver skyline.

Vancouver is such a photogenic city both day and night. So if you’re spending a weekend in Vancouver, take time to admire the skyline during the day and after the sunset.

This metropolitan city is bustling both day and night, and there are many things to do, and plenty of places to see in Vancouver.

While downtown offers breathtaking scenic Vancouver views everywhere you look, consider some of the sky-high and mountainous lookouts too.

The best views in Vancouver come from the ground, up high, and from the air. But how you choose to see Vancouver, is up to you.

Science World and an Aquabus ferry in False Creek, Vancouver

For those who want stunning shots from above, these are the top places to view Vancouver from above.

Grouse Mountain, Best Views Form A Mountaintop

Just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Vancouver, is Grouse Mountain. Located in North Vancouver, the gondola ride to the peak offer amazing views of metro Vancouver, Burrard Inlet, and Stanley Park.

On a clear day, you could also enjoy distant views of Vancouver Island. Once you arrive at the top, take the small chair lift to the very top of the mountain.

The views there are out of this world. If the weather is favorable, patiently watch the parasailers as they jump off the mountaintop and sail gracefully to the ground below.

If you want to enjoy some unique views from Grouse, try the Eye of the Wind. This unusual and revolutionary wind turbine allows visitors to view the surrounding scenery from a glass pod adjacent to the rotating blades, high in the sky.

Also, the pod has a glass floor so you can look down if you dare.

Eye of the Wind at Grouse Mountain offers amazing aerial views from a sky high pod
The Eye of the Wind on Grouse Mountain

Cypress Bowl Lookout

If you’d rather avoid the cost of riding the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain, the Cypress Mountain lookout offers amazing views of the Vancouver skyline for free. Now, who doesn’t like free?

In order to get there, take Highway 1 in West Vancouver to exit 8 which is Cypress Bowl Road. Drive the switchback road to the higher view lookout, where you’ll find plenty of free parking and fantastic views of the city.

This is a fantastic spot to see the city lights at night. For those who prefer a bit more adventure, continue the drive to Cypress Provincial Park and ride the Cypress Eagle Coaster. 

Fairly new to Vancouver, the exhilarating ride offers a fun way to enjoy the views of Vancouver and the mountains too.

Next to Cypress Mountain, Mount Seymour also provides scenic vistas of the city.

Harbour Centre Lookout, Best Vancouver Views From A Building

The Harbour Centre downtown offers the best view of the city and Stanley Park. Looking at the Vancouver skyline, it’s the tall building with the flying saucer top located at 555 W. Hastings Street.

It has been an iconic landmark since its construction in 1977. While similar in design to the Seattle Space and CN Tower, it’s not quite as spectacular as the latter.

However, for CAD 18.25 per person, the views are pretty epic, and the displays are informative about the surrounding historical buildings.

Unlike the CN Tower, there is no glass floor, but the glass 40-second ride elevator is amazing.

The slanted glass windows allow visitors to see amazing views of Gastown, Stanley Park, False Creek, and Olympic Village as well as distant views all the way out to Burnaby mountain.

This is undoubtedly one of the best places to take pictures in Vancouver. Being an avid cruiser, I took plenty of shots of the cruise terminal at Canada Place.

Canada Place and Burrard Inlet from Harbour Centre Lookout
Enjoying the view from the Harbour Centre Lookout

Should you choose to take in the views at the Vancouver Lookout, remember to keep your ticket because it’s good for all day.

So, why not take in the views by daylight and pop back after sunset, to see the city lights? Even in the rain, the views of Vancouver are amazing.

After you’ve enjoyed your skyline views, take the elevator to the top. The building is renowned for having a revolving restaurant in Canada. If you’re looking for a little romance in Vancouver, this is the place to be.

Having a candlelit dinner with your loved one with killer views is one of the most romantic things to do in Vancouver.

If you prefer to keep your feet planted on the ground, these next places offer the best views. While the views are free, you will need to pay for parking at some venues should you travel by car.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park has always been known to provide fabulous views of Vancouver and all for free (except parking).

Located on an old quarry, on the highest point in Vancouver, this beautiful vantage point will delight gardeners with its colorful gardens, spectacular trees, and picturesque fountains.

While the park is large in size, it’s best to park near the Bloedel Observatory for a short walk to the Queen Elizabeth Park lookout.

While the views of Vancouver will be from a distance, the views of the city and surrounding mountains and water are just breathtaking. Visit after sunset for the best Vancouver night view.

Prospect Point, Stanley Park

Views of the Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver from Prospect Point, Stanley Park
Views of the Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver from Prospect Point, Stanley Park

No visit to Vancouver BC is complete without a day in the world-renowned Stanley Park. At over 1,000 acres, it’s considered one of the world’s best urban parks.

Stanley Park has numerous forest trails, a picturesque seawall, dense rainforest, and plenty of natural beaches.

The Stanley Park seawall provides a great outlet for those wanting a little exercise and some fresh air. So grab your walking shoes or a bike, and head to the seawall.

As you circle the park, you’ll see north and west van, the Pacific Ocean, Siwash Rock, English Bay, and Jericho Beach.

Stanley Park seawall
Stanley Park seawall

One of the best viewpoints of the Burrard Inlet, north shore mountain, and Lions Gate Bridge comes from Prospect Point.

Prospect Point is at the northern tip of Stanley Park and offers a small coffee shop and amazing views of Vancouver’s iconic bridge.

In the early evening, this is the ideal place to watch large ships sail under the bridge as they cruise to Alaska from Vancouver.

Lonsdale Quay Market

Located on the north shore, Lonsdale Quay Market’s address is 123 Carrie Cates Court in North Vancouver, across the Lions Gate Bridge.

Not only does the quay market offer a great selection of locally grown produce, fresh baked goods, and unique giftware, but the boardwalk showcases the ocean and city skyline from a picturesque setting.

Grab a latte or espresso from a nearby coffee shop and enjoy your surroundings outside as you sip your coffee while taking in these amazing views.

While the multi-storied car park charges a fee during the week, it’s free to park in select spots on the weekend.

Granville Island

Granville Island is an Instagram paradise with the waterfront, Vancouver backdrop, and a food lovers’ market that has something for everyone.

From the water, you can admire the views of English Bay to the far left as well as the interesting architectural buildings to the north across the waterway.

Burrard Bridge and downtown from Granville Island
Burrard Bridge and downtown from Granville Island

While at Granville Island, try visiting one of the top restaurants in Vancouver. If you prefer a casual meal, grab a tasty lunch at one of the market food stalls. If it’s warm, sit outside and enjoy the bustling vibe of the area, while savoring the city views.

Burnaby Mountain

At just over 1,000 feet, Burnaby Mountains offers amazing views of the Vancouver skyline without the crowds. Home to a collection of totem poles, the parks give visitors westerly views of Burrard Inlet and Vancouver.

During the Celebration of Light (Vancouver’s firework show), Burnaby Mountain provides great distant viewing without having to struggle with traffic congestion in downtown Vancouver.

Ambleside Park

Located in West Vancouver, Ambleside Park is adjacent to a lovely boardwalk that follows the waterfront. Visitors can park for free and enjoy a couple’s stroll or watch a perfect sunset.

The park provides scenic views of the Lionsgate Bridge, Stanley Park, and downtown. It’s an ideal place to walk a dog or hang out on a warm summer evening.

Coal Harbour

If you walk the waterfront along Coal Harbour, you can watch the seaplanes come and go. It’s undoubtedly one of the nicest places to see Stanley Park and the north shore.

If you walk from the cruise terminal westwards, you can see the Digital Orca, a large black and white sculpture reminiscent of Lego bricks, and the 2010 Olympic Cauldron.

Walking path along Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour

If you prefer not to walk, nearby shops offer inexpensive bike rentals. Since the pathway continues onto the Stanley Park sea wall, you can turn your outings into a fun adventure.

Ride The Aquabus

An inexpensive tour on the Aquabus provides scenic views of False Creek Harbour from the water. With multiple docks on False Creek, you can hop on and hop off whenever you want.

While the colorful boats don’t offer commentary on the surrounding buildings and sites, locals are happy to name them if you inquire.

These little boats sail often so you won’t need to wait long to join one. Sites to see include Olympic Village, Science World, Rogers Arena, BC Place, and more. There are several places to get off and enjoy a patio lunch next to the water.

For the not-so-faint of heart, consider viewing the city from high in the sky. Plenty of companies offer excursions by plane, floatplane, or helicopter.

While I have yet to experience a floatplane, I have done both helicopter and small plane tours over Vancouver.

Helicopter Tour

What better way to view a city skyline than from the sky? Sit back and relax as you enjoy an amazing flight-seeing tour of the downtown area.

Helicopter tours are available from downtown Vancouver near Canada Place, from the top of Grouse Mountain, and Pitt Meadows airport.

There are a variety of tours from a short 8-minutes for the first-timer, to an hour or longer. If you’ve never been in a helicopter, it’s incredibly smooth but noisy, so you’re required to wear a headset.

The headset cuts out the noise and allows you to communicate with the pilot and other passengers during the flight.

Places to take a helicopter tour:
Sky Helicopters
Vancouver Harbour Heliport
455 West Waterfront Road, Vancouver, BC, V6B 5E8
Tours vary from 15-minutes to 30-minutes. There is also a 30-minute sunset tour option for viewing an amazing sunset from the sky.

Grouse Mountain Helitours
Only available during the summer months at the Peak of Vancouver. Tours start at 8-minutes to a 20-minutes.

I recently took a Grouse Mountain Helitour on my day trip to Grouse Mountain. I took the 15-minute tour which flew me over Lions Peak, and Horseshoe Bay, and circled back to see downtown Vancouver.

Undoubtedly, this helicopter ride offered the best mountain views in Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver from a helicopter
Metro Vancouver from a helicopter

Seaplane Tour

If a helicopter ride scares you silly, how about a seaplane excursion? Located right in the heart of downtown, Harbour Air offers views of the iconic city from a float plane.

Like the helicopters, the flight is noisy, but the sights from the sky are amazing.

Harbour Air is located on the waterfront, in Coal Harbour to the west of Canada Place. You can literally hear the planes take off as you approach the area.

If you’re new to seaplanes, you may enjoy the introduction tour to floatplanes. This tour is a 20-minute excursion that includes a 10-minute flight.

For extensive views of Vancouver and an additional trip up the Sea to Sky Highway, consider the longer Vancouver Extended Panorama tour which is 45-minutes with 35-minutes of flying time.

While all of the above offer the skyline’s best views, don’t forget about the downtown hotels. Hotels with the best views in Vancouver include the Pan Pacific Hotel (300 – 999 Canada Place), Fairmont Pacific Rim (1038 Canada Place), and the Westin Bayshore (1601 Bayshore Drive).

With so much waterfront, there are picturesque views of the ocean too. Further out of the city, the Coquitlam Crunch trail offers spectacular vistas of Mount Baker in Washington State on a clear day.

Happy travels ~ Karen

Views of False Creek in Vancouver, Canada