Vancouver On A Budget: Best Things To Do That Are Free Or Low Cost

Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com
Planning a trip to Vancouver?

I put together this post with activities to do that is either free or low-cost. Along with my favorites, I asked my local pals for their suggestions to come up with the best things to in Vancouver on a budget.



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Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com

 

Best of Vancouver On A Budget, in no particular order:

Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a favorite of not just myself, my friends, and locals, but also visitors too. The park was voted by readers of Tripadvisor as the best park in the world. Stanley Park is a rainforest within the city and has a seawall for walking, running, or biking that has gorgeous views that you can’t miss. There is an Aquarium, beaches, a water park, restaurants, cultural and historic landmarks within the park. Even during the peak of tourist season, you can still find a quiet zone to enjoy in the park. I always visit whenever I come, each and every single time. I miss it when I’m away.

For more about Stanley Park, head to this post.

Stanley Park - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com

Totem Poles in Stanley Park

Stanley Park Third Beach -Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Third Beach in Stanley Park

Stanley Park -Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Caught a gorgeous sunset from within the park

Stanley Park Seawall | www.rtwgirl.com

I love this seawall so much

Granville Island

Granville Island is another favorite place in the city. I go every time I come home without fail. It’s a peninsula under the Granville Street Bridge that is now a shopping district with a distillery, brewery, market, theaters, restaurants, hotel, and more. It’s free to go and spending is dependent on you. I can go there, grab a coffee, people watch, and window shop.

Granville Island - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

A view from Granville Island

Granville Island - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Granville Island - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Aquabus

The Aquabus is not free but it’s very cheap. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the city when the weather is nice. It’s a cheap water taxi ride but you get stunning views at the same time for under $10.

For more about the Aquabus, head to my post here.
Vancouver Aquabus - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver
Seabus

On the topic of budget boat rides, I do love the Seabus. It is a passenger only ferry that crosses the Burrard Inlet that connects downtown Vancouver with North Vancouver. The Seabus leaves every 15 minutes in the day and 30 minutes at night. I haven’t ridden it from years but am keen to since it would probably give me a great angle to shoot Vancouver’s skyline. The two terminals are Waterfront in downtown Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay in North Van.

Vancouver Seabus - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Photo credit: Flickr

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge And Hiking

There are two suspension bridges on the north shore of Vancouver. There’s Capilano, or there’s Lynn Canyon. I love both but if you’re wanting a free option, Lynn Canyon Park is your best bet. If you can manage to go early in the day during the midweek, you may be able to score a photo like the one below! The park is gorgeous and if you have time for a hike, do it!

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com

Photo credit: Christy from Ordinary Traveler

Deep Cove

If you’re into views and hikes, another place on the North Shore that I love is Deep Cove. Hike up the Baden-Powell trail and go to Quarry Rock for these views! It’s free to hike but I always splurge on a Honey’s doughnut as a reward for the hike haha.

For more about Deep Cove, here

Deep Cove North Vancouver Quarry Rock

The view from Quarry Rock

Deep Cove North Vancouver

Boats on boats on boats in Deep Cove

Lighthouse Park West Vancouver

I haven’t been here for some time but I love going to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. Go for a bit of a hike or have a picnic with the family. Please be aware that there are a lot of mosquitos when the weather gets warmer.

Lighthouse Park West Vancouver

Lighthouse Park West Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park

Everyone loves Stanley Park but my other favorite park in Vancouver is Queen Elizabeth. It was my mother’s favorite park because of its rose garden and proximity to where we grew up. I love coming here in the spring when the cherry blossoms and flowers are in bloom. The park is free and there is even free parking available.

Queen Elizabeth Park - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park Vancouver

Pacific Spirit Park

Located on the west side of the city of Vancouver, the Pacific Spirit Regional Park offers a network of trails contained in more than 750 hectares of forest. The 73km of trails in the park are popular with local residents and accessible year-round. The best way to see the park is to view the park map and determine your own route. However, we will follow a common route that will take you on a 3-hour trip through much of the forest.

UBC Endowment Lands

Photo credit: Kenta Goto

Beaches

You don’t think about beaches when it comes to Canada but Vancouver is on the coast so there are many beaches in the city. They are busy in the summer but always gorgeous to visit anytime for water views. My favorites are English Bay Beach, Spanish Banks, Wreck Beach (a clothing optional beach), and Centennial Beach in Delta (in the suburbs but super family friendly).

English Bay Beach | www.rtwgirl.com

English Bay Beach

Spanish Banks Vancouver

Spanish Banks

Iona Beach in Richmond BC | www.rtwgirl.com

Iona Beach in Richmond. I love going here to watch the planes take off and land

Check Out The City’s Free Public Art

Biennale happens in Vancouver, which is a bi-annual public art exhibit that brings sculptures, new media, and performance works but celebrated and emerging international artists. Often the pieces are donated or purchased and remain in the city.

A-Maze-Ing Laughter in English Bay - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver

A-Maze-Ing Laughter by Yue Minjun Morton Park which is a tiny park across English Bay

Os Gemeos Vancouver

Os Gemeos, Brazilian twin artists pained the silos at Ocean Concrete at Granville Island

Thunderbird Totem Vancouver Biennale - Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com

Trans Am Totem by Main Street Skytrain Station

Olympic Village Birds

Birds (one of them) in Olympic Village

Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesday Night

Every Tuesday night from 5-9pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery, admission is by donation. The amount is up to you but please do remember the running costs of such places. It’s not a huge gallery but it does get some really great exhibits. The last time I went, there was an exhibit by Douglas Coupland.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Gumhead by Douglas Coupland

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery

Rennie Collection at the Wing Sang

The Rennie Collection is a gallery in Chinatown owned by real estate mogul Bob Rennie. All the exhibits shown here are part of his personal collection. The gallery is free but is only open by appointment unless during the exhibit openings or special events. The rooftop is amazing!

Rennie Collection

Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Within Chinatown, there is a beautiful garden called Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Part of the garden is free to enter but in another zone there is an admission. Whenever I am in the area, I pop in to have a moment of zen.

Sun Yat Sen Vancouver

I love seeing the contrast of the old and the new

Sun Yat Sen Vancouver - RTWgirl.com

Tour Guys Free Walking Tour 

The Tour Guys are a free walking tour company that offer tours in Vancouver (as well as in Toronto and Ottawa). The tours are fun, informative, and free. The free tours take you through different areas in the city and the guides will share interesting facts and a bit of history with you. And even though the cost is free, these guys work solely on tips!!!

I took their Chinatown tour when I visiting Vancouver. From our meeting point at the Vancouver Art Gallery, we walked towards Chinatown. Along the way we visited various historical monuments and markers and he told me different facts about the area as well as about prominent figures in the community. As someone who grew up in Vancouver and frequents Chinatown, it was really interesting for me to learn new things about my hometown.

Vancouver Chinatown

Free Movies In The Summer

In the summertime, Fresh Air Cinema plays free movies on Tuesday nights at Stanley Park. While I haven’t been, many of my best friends go and love it. I’ll have to make time the next time I’m home in the summer.

Fresh Air Cinema Vancouver

Photo credit: FreshAir Cinema

Night Markets

I love a good night market! I think it’s the Asian in me. In Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver, are two night markets that are held during the warmer months. The one I frequent the most is the Richmond Night Market. It is next door to the Skytrain Station (so you don’t have to deal with parking) and it goes from  May through October. It’s a couple of bucks to enter and unless you buy a lot, it’s pretty low-cost. I usually just buy food from the vendors and peruse funny items like socks from Asia and random smartphone accessories.

There is another night market in Richmond called the International Summer Night Market and there is one in North Vancouver called Shipyards Night Market.

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Best Things To Do On A Budget In Vancouver | www.rtwgirl.com

I am sure I am missing a ton of places that are must dos for Vancouver on a budget. Please leave yours in the comments! I’ll be sure to update any that I am missing and forgetting!

Arnette

Round The World Girl is a blog by Arnette, a solo female traveler, lover of adventure, coffee, tropical islands, and unforgettable meals. She shares a retrospective of her 19 month, 19 country round the world trip, adventures both near and far, destination guides, reviews, and helpful tips and tricks for travel.

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  • danielle

    HI! I’m from California and am planning a little weekend trip to Vancouver (Friday afternoon & leaving late Sunday night). I planned the trip because I really want to go to the suspension bridges but I’d also like to go to Stanley park – do you think it’s best to rent a car near the airport so we can have it throughout the trip or is public transportation pretty good over there? I usually uber > renting a car but a few 30 minute ubers might end up costing more! Thanks!!

    • Hi Danielle! Thanks for visiting!

      There is public transportation to get to Stanley Park and a free bus from downtown to Capilano Bridge (paid entry) but I don’t recall a bus that goes to Lynn Canyon which is the free bridge. There isn’t Uber or Lyft in Vancouver at the moment so your options are something like Car2Go or Zip Car for short term rentals, public transport, or a rental car. With a short weekend trip, I would probably recommend a car. If you knock out all the things you want to do by car perhaps you can just rent it for one day outside of the airport which will be cheaper if you are looking to save money.

      Hope this helps! Enjoy Vancouver!

      • danielle

        Thank you so much for your insight and for emailing me to make sure I got the information. :) Definitely good to know Uber/Lyft aren’t in Vancouver yet – that lack of information may have caused quite the issue later! Thank you again! :)

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