Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada. It’s a great place to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter, or mountain biking, boating, or hiking in the summer.
Here’s what you need to do about travelling to Vancouver:
Getting Around The City
Vancouver is a fairly large city with many areas to explore, and moving from place to place is made easy by the plethora of travel methods offered by the city! Below are the best options for a tourist:
Transit: For cheap, efficient travel, we recommend taking the bus or Skytrain. The public transit system is run by Translink. With routes that can take you to even the most remote areas of the city, transit is used by tourists and locals alike. There are three main Skytrain lines: Expo Line (which runs on a northwest-southeast route from downtown Vancouver to Surrey); Millennium Line (which runs east-west from Vancouver to Coquitlam); and Canada Line (north-south from downtown Vancouver to Richmond, where the airport is). Transit is frequent and accessible in all high-traffic areas. To find out what bus to take, here’s Translink’s convenient trip planner.
Biking: The city of Vancouver is extremely cyclist friendly, with multiple bike lanes and parkways that take you safely across the city. There is a large bikeshare program in the city called Mobi with bikes all around the core of the city.
Car Rental: Multiple car rental services including Enterprise and Hertz available at the airport.
RideShare: Want the freedom of renting a car without the expensive rental rates and hidden fees? Apps such as Evo and Car2Go offer low rates that cover all expenses while giving you access to cars all over the city! Simply boot up the app and nearby available cars will be shown to you on a map!
Taxi: BC has only recently (in fall 2019) permitted the entry of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft, so these networks are still in their infancy. Traditional taxi cabs are still fairly common – but be warned that this is typically a rather expensive option, and we wouldn’t recommend it if you can avoid it.
The province of British Columbia is internationally renowned for it’s natural beauty, and the city of Vancouver itself is jam-packed with a ton of attractions, both natural and manmade. We’ve chosen a few to highlight below!
Stanley Park: Located adjacent to the downtown core, Stanley park spans 405 hectares and is surrounded by the waters of the Burrard Inlet and English Bay. It’s one of the largest urban parks in North America, containing everything from old-growth forests to Vancouver’s aquarium. The totem poles in the park are arguably the most famous spot for pictures in Vancouver.
Perfect for people of all ages, there are a number of different activities to do within the area – but we think the best way to enjoy it is to rent a bike and cycle around the seawall. If you’re looking for someone to bike with you through the park, Our friends Sofia and Rafael are both offering! Or maybe you’re not happy with just taking a picture by the famous totem poles, and want to figure out what they actually meant to Native Canadians – our friend Candace, an ambassador for the Squamish Nation, has an educational tour for that too!
Granville Island: A cultural destination in Vancouver known for it’s shopping and entertainment, the Granville Island area is a must see for tourists. The public market, open from 9am-7pm every day, is home to an incredible selection of food, arts & crafts, and more – and hosts entertaining acts on a regular basis! At night, head to the TheaterSports League for a great night of improv or try a selection of locally-brewed beer at one of the island’s great eateries. We have lots of experiences featuring Granville Island – go to our search page and filter by landmark to find some!
Suspension Bridges: There are 2 suspension bridges located in North Vancouver that span two majestic canyons, which you can walk across on foot. Capilano is the more famous one, but it’s becoming a bit of a tourist trap – if you’d like a more laid-back experience, check out Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. It’s in a public park, so it’s free to get in – and there are plenty of hikes you can do in the area to enjoy the BC forests, climb some mountains, or see stunning waterfalls. We have some guided tours for that too.
Food & Drink
Vancouver has a culturally diverse population, with almost half of the residents of Vancouver being immigrants from other countries. This means you can try authentic food from many cuisines around the world! Here are some foods you absolutely should try in Vancouver:
Sushi and Sashimi: As a coastal city, fish and seafood is a local favourite, especially salmon. There are hundreds of sushi restaurants in the city, ranging from budget to high end. Budget sushi restaurants are commonly run by Chinese or Korean immigrants, but on the higher end there are a number of sushi chefs from Japan, including Hidekazu Tojo (Tojo’s) and Sada Hoshika (Octopus’s Garden) who offer omakase (fixed menus chosen by the chef). Tojo claims to be the inventor of the “inside out” crab-and-avocado California roll, and has been granted the highest culinary honour of the Japanese government – however his claim has been disputed by Ichiro Mashita, a Los Angeles-based chef. You can learn more about the debate here, but honestly, who cares who the “real” inventor is? Just enjoy the dish!
For a really down-to-earth Japanese food experience, visit Hi Genki in south Burnaby! It’s located, of all places, in the cafeteria of a seniors’ home. The story behind it is that a sushi chef’s parents moved into the home, and the chef decided to open a new restaurant so his parents could continue enjoying his food! Before lunch, you can also stop by the Nikkei Museum (which explores the history of Japanese immigrants in Canada) – where our friends at the museum offer a 45-minute historical tour.
With over a quarter-million Chinese immigrants living in Vancouver, you can find lots of great dim sum and other Chinese offerings. In fact, the New York Times recently wrote that Vancouver has the best Chinese cuisine in North America! If you’d like to delve deeper, our host and Chinatown expert, Judy, is running a Chinese food class.
There are also many people of South Asian descent in Vancouver, particularly Sikhs who trace their origins to the Punjab region in India. Our friend Arshdeep (who just happens to be the reigning Miss Canada Globe winner) especially recommends Apna Chaat House in Surrey for a taste of authentic Indian street food. Don’t know what to order? Let her tell you!
Poke Bowls: Often thought of as a sushi salad, this Hawaiian dish has seen a spike of interest across the city as a replacement to traditional fast-food. Consisting of raw fish, rice, and your choice of vegetables and other toppings, there is something for almost everyone with this healthy option. Today, you can find a Poke restaurant on almost every block – so don’t miss an opportunity to try this delicious dish.
For more restaurant suggestions, check out our Vancouver food videos!
Are you a big sports fan? Vancouver has a large selection of amateur and professional level games for all sport-lovers. The Vancouver Canucks (NHL: ice hockey) are the most popular sports club in the city, and boasts an estimated 1 million supporters. Other clubs in the city include the BC Lions, who play Canadian football in the CFL; Whitecaps FC, who play the “other” football (aka soccer) in the MLS; the Vancouver Warriors, who play indoor lacrosse in the NLL; and the Vancouver Canadians, a minor league baseball team.
Further, Vancouver was home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and many of the facilities continue to be in operation. You can visit the BC Sports Hall of Fame at BC Place (site of the ceremonies). The Richmond Olympic Oval (speed skating venue) is now an all-purpose recreation facility which also includes fitness gyms, courts for basketball or badminton, and is open to the public. And of course, Cypress Mountain and Whistler Blackcomb resorts (the skiing venues) are great places to ski or snowboard. If you’re new to skiing or snowboarding, our friend and certified instructor Johnny offers private lessons!
We felt that there was so much information that didn’t fall into the categories above that we felt would be important to share! We’ve listed them below in order to make your time in Vancouver easier!
Clothing: For the majority of the year, Vancouver sees a huge amount of rainfall. Even if you plan on visiting during the dry/warm season, it’s good to be prepared by bringing a good raincoat or umbrella. Walking/hiking shoes are also recommended if you plan on doing a lot of your trip on foot.
Helpful People: The people of Vancouver are extremely friendly and helpful – if you’re ever looking for directions or a suggestion, chances are people would be willing to help you out! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a local and ask for their opinion.
Winter Activities: If visiting Vancouver during the winter, you can find a multitude of options for skiing, snowboarding, and other such activities at local mountains such as Grouse Mountain or the famous Whistler Mountain.
Our Vancouver experiences are available now! Check out all our experiences here: