Overflowing with art studios, theaters, restaurants, and kid-friendly activities, Vancouver’s Granville Island is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. The “island”—really a small peninsula—is an ideal getaway from the bustle of city life, with waterfront views, scenic alleyways, and a thriving food and art culture.
The Granville Island Public Market is a definite highlight, with its deli-style stalls and artisan stands full of local specialties. Foodies can discover the freshest and most unique offerings on a walking tour of the market, which includes tastings of homemade culinary delights such as maple-cured salmon, artisanal chocolates, and Canadian cheeses. Beer aficionados can tour the Granville Island Brewing Company, which also offers excellent pub-style lunches, while nature enthusiasts can take to the water on a kayak tour. Art lovers can admire work from up-and-coming artists at the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design and attend shows at the island’s three local theaters, which host afternoon and evening performances year-round. At the Kids Market, families with children can peruse stores full of toys, magic tricks, crafts, candy, and more. Visit on a full-day sightseeing tour of Vancouver to see Granville Island and other city highlights such as Stanley Park, Chinatown, and Gastown.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Plan to spend at least several hours exploring Granville Island, whether you’re visiting independently or taking a walking tour.
- Wear layers—there’s almost always a cool ocean breeze. Comfortable walking shoes are also a must.
- The public market is phasing out plastic shopping bags, so bring a reusable bag if you plan to purchase any souvenirs or marketplace treats.
- Visitor amenities include accessible restrooms, parking lots, water fountains, and ATMs. There are also two playgrounds and a water park on the island.
How to Get There
Since Granville Island is really a peninsula, it’s easy to access by road, as well as on foot. Parking can be limited during peak hours, especially on weekends and during the summer months, when it’s best to use public transportation. You can get to Granville Island via the public bus system and the False Creek ferry (also known as the aquabus). The ferry leaves from several points in downtown Vancouver, and the trip to Granville Island takes only a few minutes.
When to Get There
The best time of year to visit Granville Island is during Vancouver’s brief, yet glorious, summer. Late July and August are especially popular times for families with kids, as these months provide the perfect weather for boat tours, strolling through market stalls, and enjoying local parks. During September, the hugely popular Vancouver International Fringe Festival stages numerous performances in Granville Island’s theater venues.
Things to Do Near Granville Island
Granville Island is centrally located in Vancouver, making it an ideal jumping-off point for visiting other city highlights. There are several attractions nearby: Kitsilano, with its beaches and trendy shops, is a 5-minute drive from Granville Island; Stanley Park is just on the other side of English Bay, a short ferry ride away; and the Museum of Vancouver, located on Kitts Point, is just 10 minutes away by road. To see nearby sights without suffering through rush hour traffic, private tours or boat rentals are both great ways to explore.