Vancouver from Above: The Best Views for First-Timers

Vancouver is beautiful. Vancouver from above is tenfold better. Even first-time visitors agree with it. 

Last Updated: June 18, 2020

Vancouver from Above: The Best Views for First-Timers

Vancouver look absolutely stunning from above. Its incredible views of white and silver skyscrapers with majestic mountains in the background are irresistible. No one can visit Vancouver without admiring the city from above at least once.

With just a few days in British Columbia, our chances to enjoy these splendid views were close to zero. But it seemed that the city itself wanted to impress us. Somehow we stumbled upon our first spot with the awe-striking views over Vancouver within a few hours of your arrival. The rest was history. With that being said, grant me the pleasure to present to you our top picks on the best views over Vancouver for the first-time visitors.


Most of the time we travel on a budget and try to stick to it as much as possible. Thus, I’ll start our overview of the best places to see Vancouver from above with the most inexpensive and gradually move to the pricier options.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Among ample parks in and near Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park stands out as one of the most favorite spots to observe the spectacular city from above. There is no secret behind it. Naturally, the location of the park plays a crucial role in attracting millions of visitors, wishing to see Vancouver from above.

As the highest point in Vancouver (170 feet above sea level), the horticultural public garden offers the incredible views of the park, the city, and the mountains on the North Shore. Two viewpoints guarantee different vistas of one of the world’s beautiful cities and its surrounding areas. The first, along the back side of parking lot, looks straight down at Burnaby, the third-largest city in the province. The second observation point is difficult to miss. Head in the north direction from the Bloedel Conservatory and enjoy the awe-striking vistas of Vancouver.

The second popular park in the city is free to visit apart from parking fee. Typically, it ranges from $2.60 CAD per hour or $7.10 CAD per day from October 1 to April 30. From May 1 to September 30, the parking fee is $3.60 CAD per hour or $13.10 CAD per day. Not a big price for a place with such extraordinary vistas.

Vancouver from Above - Roads and Destinations,
The City of Vancouver in Fall

Vancouver Lookout

Have you ever seen “flying saucer” inherent in majority of images of downtown Vancouver and wondered what it is? Allow me introduce you to Vancouver Lookout – your go-to place for a 360º aerial view of the city. Your journey to the remarkable vistas at 553.16-feet above sea level starts with a 40-second elevator ride. Slowly then faster and faster, the glass box moves skyward unveiling tall downtown building before taking you to a famous observation deck. It’s a place where the panoramic vistas of bustling Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean in the distance, world famous Stanley Park, the epic North Shore Mountains, and the Olympic Peninsula Mountains become a reality.

Even though, the use of the elevator is free, the entrance to the iconic “flying saucer” is limited to those who, upon request, can show stamps with the words “Vancouver Lookout” on their wrists. For less than $20 CAD you can get your own lucky imprint on the first floor of the building. However, make sure not to wipe out your hands clean after leaving the tallest tower in the city. Since the tickets are valid all day long, you have the right to come back and enjoy Vancouver from above as many times as you can only handle and afford considering your busy itinerary as a first-time visitor.

Vancouver from Above - Roads and Destinations,
Views from Vancouver Lookout 

Grouse Mountain and Grouse Mountain Skyride

Grouse Mountain is better known as a world-famous ski resort. But when is comes to finding the best views of the city from above, this North Vancouver‘s jewel is certainly one of the first places to consider. The stunning views of the downtown, Coal Harbor, Stanley Park, and the surrounding mountains unfold themselves the moment you step on observation deck at the Peak Chalet on Grouse Mountain located about 3,700 feet above sea level.

The best way to reach the Peak of Vancouver is via Skyride, North America’s largest aerial tramway system.  For over 25 years, this incredible attraction has been enabling millions of visitors to admire the breathtaking vistas of the city, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf Islands, and snowy peaks of the mountains. The Skyride operated 365 days a year. A round trip to Grouse Mountain costs about $60 CAD. Discounts for seniors, kids, and families are in effect.

As an alternative, you can hike the Grouse Grind, a 1.8-mile trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. On your way back, you can still take the Skyride. It saves lot of money and gives an opportunity to stretch your legs. However, at the same time, on the way up, you risk to miss the gorgeous views of the city that you could otherwise see from the Skyride.

Vancouver from Above - Roads and Destinations,
Views of Downtown and Stanley Park from Grouse Mountain

Vancouver Helicopter Tour

The ideal way for the first-timers to see Vancouver from above is to join one of dozens of helicopter tours. The unforgettable views of the city from above are guarantied! However, with all thrill and excitement, the flying tours come around as expensive adventures. A 15-minute helicopter ride costs almost $400 CAD per person. Consider that minimum two passenger booking is required, and you are faced with about $800 CAD for the admission. This is almost as much as we paid for two adult and one infant-on-lap round airplane tickets from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

On That Note

Seeing Vancouver from above is one of the most epic ways to explore the city. Just reviving those images in my mind makes me want to go back and enjoy the scenic vistas over and over again. You can skip the most expensive options, like we did, but be sure to add Vancouver from above in your itinerary.

Canada - Roads and Destinations,
The city from above.

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