Vancouver On A Budget | The Best Guide To Free Or Low Cost Activities In Vancouver
Visiting Vancouver on a budget? No worries my travel friends! Just keep reading to and take notes on this guide for the best free or low-cost activities in Vancouver, Canada.
*Updated Feb 2019*
Best of Vancouver On A Budget, in no particular order:
Table of Contents
Stanley Park is a favourite 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. Whenever I come, I visit each and every single time.
Read more here: Stanley Park, The World’s Best Park
Totem Poles in Stanley Park
I love this seawall so much
Need a hotel? Check out rates with cancellation for your Vancouver hotel here:
Granville Island is another favourite place in the city. Without fail, I visit when I return home. Granville Island is a peninsula under the Granville Street Bridge that is now a shopping district with a distillery, brewery, market, theatres, restaurants, hotel, and more. It’s free to go and spending is dependent on you. My usual visit is to grab a coffee, people watch, and window shop.
A view from Granville Island
The Aquabus is not free but it’s very cheap. It’s one of my favourite things to do myself and recommend to others who are visiting Vancouver on a budget. When the weather is nice it’s a gorgeous ride. It’s a cheap water taxi ride but you get stunning views at the same time for under $10.
Read more here: Aquabus – The Best Vancouver Water Views For Under $10
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 for 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.
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. Both are amazing but if you are visiting Vancouver on a budget, Lynn Canyon Park is free. 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!
That’s me! Photo credit: Christy from Ordinary Traveler
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 buy a Honey’s doughnut (cheap!) as a reward for the hike. Very Vancouver on a budget!
The view from Quarry Rock
Boats on boats on boats in Deep Cove
Lighthouse Park West Vancouver
It has been a while since I have visited Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. Go here for some time in nature and have a budget-friendly picnic with the family. Please be aware that there are a lot of mosquitos when the weather gets warm.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Everyone loves Stanley Park but my other favourite park in Vancouver is Queen Elizabeth. It was my mother’s favourite park because of its rose garden and proximity to where we grew up. If you’re visiting Vancouver in the spring, come to see the cherry blossoms and flowers coming into bloom. The park is free and there are some free parking spots on the edges of the park. Otherwise, parking is paid lots.
Pacific Spirit Park
Located on the west side of Vancouver, you can hike the many trails at Pacific Spirit Regional Park for free. It’s open year round.
Photo credit: Kenta Goto
Most people don’t think about the 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 favourites 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
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 is an amazing cultural Vancouver on a budget activity for all. It’s 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 by Yue Minjun Morton Park which is a tiny park across English Bay
Os Gemeos, Brazilian twin artists pained the silos at Ocean Concrete at Granville Island
Trans Am Totem by Main Street Skytrain Station
Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesday Night
Every Tuesday night from 5-9pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery, admission is by donation. This is the perfect Vancouver on a budget activity if you’re into museums. 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.
Gumhead by Douglas Coupland
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!
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.
I love seeing the contrast of the old and the new
Tour Guys Free Walking Tour
The Tour Guys are a free walking tour company that offer tours in Vancouver (as well as in Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton). The tours are fun, informative, and free. The free tours take you through different areas of 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!!!
One visit to Vancouver, I took their Chinatown tour. Along the route, we visited various historical monuments and markers and my guide 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.
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.
Photo credit: FreshAir Cinema
Markets are one of my favourite things about travelling and I love a good night market! In Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver, are two different night markets that are held during the summer 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 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.
Know of a Vancouver on a budget activity I missed? Leave It In The Comments!
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