Vancouver Travel Tips: Know Before You Go!
Having lived in Vancouver for the majority of my life and returning several times a year to visit my family, I consider myself to know the city quite well. I thought it was about time I shared some handy Vancouver travel tips to my lovely hometown since many people ask about visiting Vancouver.
Updated April 2019*
Table of Contents
Vancouver Travel Tips
When to go
Every destination says that they are a year-round destination, but Vancouver truly is. If you love winter and snow sports, come from December through March to go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more. If you love warm weather, visit in July through September for sunny days and late nights on the patio (the sun sets around 10 pm in the summer). Spring is a good time if you’re a nature lover. You can see the cherry blossoms bloom in March and in the fall you can see the leaves change colour.
Vancouver’s Spanish Banks Beach in the summer
Look for the best hotel rates in Vancouver here:
Vancouver Travel Tips: Before You Arrive
- If you are coming from another country including the USA, you do need a passport to enter the country and then you will have to go through customs and immigration. Some countries may require a visa so please click here for more info.
- If you are driving in there are a handful of border crossings and there are websites to check the crossing times.
- If you are flying into Vancouver International Airport, you will go through immigration and then pick up your luggage after you have cleared customs and immigration. At the airport, there is money exchange, ATM machines, stores, as well as a 7-11 on the bottom floor.
- If you are not taking a plane or driving, you can come via Amtrak, Rocky Mountaineer (usually May through October) via Washington State or by Quick Shuttle or Greyhound buses. I have not taken the train before but the bus and at the border, all passengers disembark the bus and go through immigration at the border crossing.
- I’ve not arrived via cruise ship so I am not sure what happens but I’m assuming there is some sort of immigration process when coming into the port of Vancouver (apologies for the lack of information).
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii by Bill Reid at Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver Travel Tips: Getting Into City
You can either rent a car at the airport, get picked up, take a taxi, or take the Skytrain (Vancouver’s version of a subway).
- If you are renting a car and you are looking to save money, I would rent away from the airport. I rented a car at the train station and the price difference was over $50 a day during Christmas.
- The best and least expensive way to get into the city is to take the Skytrain from the airport to downtown Vancouver. When you get out of the airport, go out of the doors, walk across the crosswalk, go up the escalator/elevator to the departures level, and follow the sites for Skytrain. It costs less than $9 and takes about 30 minutes. There is a ticket machine that you can buy a ticket from. Be sure to buy tickets, there are random ticket checks on the Skytrain and fines are about $150 from what I hear.
- Taxis into downtown, depending on traffic, range up to $35 or more, not including tip. I believe the taxi companies are doing set fares so ask before you start your ride.
- Uber and other ride-hailing apps like Lyft do not exist in Vancouver (April 2019). So taxis are your best bet or public transportation. Vancouver’s transit system is called Translink, click here for details on fares and schedules.
Skytrain from Vancouver Airport
Vancouver Travel Tips: Getting Around The City
**PLEASE NOTE VANCOUVER DOES NOT HAVE RIDE HAILING APPS LIKE UBER OR LYFT**
If you are renting a car in Vancouver, it’s pretty easy to get around. Parking is fairly straightforward and you can either park in a parking garage, a lot, on the street for free, or metered parking. All parking meters in Vancouver go until 10 pm at night so be armed with coins. Prices vary depending on the neighbourhood. There is an app named “Pay By Phone” which allows you to refill your meter by credit card and entering the parking meter number. It’s the best thing ever but please note you do have to remember your license plate number!!
You don’t have to get a rental car if you plan on staying central. It’s easy to walk around the city since the downtown area is compact and you can get around via taxi, bus, SkyTrain, and/or Car2Go. You can also use Zipcar if you want to just use a car for a few hours. Bus fare is about $2.75 for a single zone and it costs more to go out to the suburbs during rush hour so check the Translink website for exact fare details. If you want to take a taxi, download the taxis apps for Yellow Cab or Blacktop and Checker Cabs.
If you are wanting to cross False Creek from downtown over to Granville Island or Olympic Village, take the Aquabus. It’s fairly cheap and really scenic water taxi.
Vancouver Travel Tips: Miscellaneous Helpful Tips
- It is the same voltage as the USA – 120 V
- You can bring in 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 7 ounces of tobacco; 1 bottle (1.14 litres or 40 imperial ounces) of liquor or 1.5 litres of wine, or 24 355-millilitre (12-ounce) bottles or cans of beer for personal consumption. Anything more and you will be subject to taxes, duties, etc.
- You can bring in gifts with a value of up to $60 Canadian per gift.
And these are some helpful tips for your next visit to Vancouver. I will try to stay on top of these as time goes on and update information as things change. Do you know any helpful tips for travelling to Vancouver? Do you have any specific questions you are wondering? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond!
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