2 Days in Vancouver: Plan an Amazing Weekend in Vancouver

Vancouver is a flurry of activity from dawn until dusk – and then until dawn again. There is far more to experience than can be fit into a weekend, but it is perfectly possible to spend 2 days in Vancouver and tick-off several major highlights.

Downtown is very close-knit, making it easy to flit between the myriad bars, boutiques, restaurants, and underground wonders. On a clear day, the vastness of this major city is still dwarfed by the high mountain ranges and waterways which engulf Vancouver, providing some epic backdrops to your latest city adventure. 

Whenever I visit Vancouver these days, it is usually more of a quick visit. I’ve become really good at cramming in all of the food, drink, and window-shopping that I want to do, followed by a nap on the beach or a leisurely evening stroll. So without further ado, I hope you find this guide to spending a weekend in Vancouver useful!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

When it comes to choosing a place to stay in Vancouver, you’ll want to balance your style (are you looking for nightlife or a quiet place to stay, for example) and budget.

Here are three great neighborhoods that would make a good, central home base for your trip to Vancouver. 

Gastown: Historic and Charming

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest and most charming district, owing to its cobbled streets, brick-lined buildings, and vintage lamp posts which line every sidewalk.

This part of town is perfect for people who want to poke around hidden nooks and crannies, for all those underground gems. Good, honest food, fashion boutiques, and an eclectic assortment of activities await!

  • The Victorian Hotel – This charming hotel is the perfect way to compliment your stay in charming Gastown. The superior rooms feature large bay windows, bright white interiors, and exposed brick walls for a truly elegant feel.

  • Skwachàys Lodge – Immerse yourself in historic First Nations culture at the beautiful Skwachàys Lodge. Canada’s first Indigenous Arts Hotel offers 18 boutique rooms, adorned with visual stories from local Indigenous artists.

Yaletown: Upscale on the Water

Quaint waterways, lush parks, and the city’s brunch patio hotspot – Yaletown is a great place for young professionals and those who like to sip a mid-afternoon cocktail in the sun.

Formerly a railway district, this area is lined with old warehouses which have been revamped into trendy loft spaces and an impressive number of bars, cafes and stores.

  • Hotel BLU – Hotel BLU is a central Yaletown boutique hotel which prides itself on luxury, style and true hospitality. Floor-to-ceiling windows complement the light and bright design of the interior, and provide astounding views of the city.

  • Rosedale on Robson – This hotel is a more affordable option right in the heart of Yaletown. Each suite is clean and stylish, and comes with a kitchenette for those nights you fancy a binge in bed!

The West End: The Best Value in Central Vancouver

Vancouver’s West End is famous for its colorful streets, diverse community, and culinary delights from around the globe. Want to eat sushi at 3am? Party in the heart of the LGBTQ+ scene? Relax on a beach sippin’ on a smoothie? It’s all possible in the West End. This is also the most affordable downtown district and not one to miss.

  • The English Bay Inn – This charming inn has retained its 19th Century character and style. Five unique rooms offer the perfect cozy getaway for a romantic retreat, and a sixth room is furnished ready for a family or business trip with a small kitchen and two queen beds.

  • Blue Horizon Hotel – The Blue Horizon offers some of the best views of any West End hotel, which can be enjoyed from your private balcony. Enjoy watching the sunset over English Bay to the west, or the pink hues of the mountains to the north.

A Weekend in Vancouver: A Complete 2 Day Itinerary

Over the course of your time in Vancouver, you’ll explore the city’s famous market, take a scenic ferry ride where you’ll get a different perspective on the city, and explore some of Vancouver’s best green spaces. Sound like fun to you? Off we go!

Friday Night: Arriving & Dinner and Drinks

Whatever your chosen mode of transport, the chances are you’ll be ready for a casual but delicious meal and a nightcap before bed. Throw your suitcases in your room, take a quick shower and head out for an evening stroll.

Dinner and Drinks in the West End

For a later Friday night, I’d recommend dinner and drinks in the West End. 

The restaurants here are much more casual, so you don’t have to turn up the glitz and glam after a long day of travel.

There are so many incredible foods from around the globe to choose from. I like to just wander down Denman & Davie Street and let my nose decide.

Dinner Options in the West End

La Catrina Tacos – Everybody loves tacos, right? At the southwestern end of Denman Street lies this little gem offering counter-service tacos and other Mexican favorites. It’s super chilled and absolutely delicious. They are veggie-friendly but (I’ve heard) the pork carnitas are delicious for the carnivores, with complimentary salsa to match your tacos as a nice finishing touch.

Davie Dosa Company – Possibly some of the best Indian food you’ll ever eat. If you’ve never had a traditional Dosa before then definitely add this to your Vancouver restaurant must-eats. The portion sizes are very generous and most orders come with a chutney to match. 

Drinks in the West End

The Three Brits Pub – Located right on English Bay, the Three Brits is an excellent choice for a casual Friday night. They have a great selection of draught lagers & ales, wine and in-house cocktail specials, and the friendly bartenders are a lot of fun. You can also grab dinner here if pub grub is your style!

The BaySide Lounge – This is another favorite for evening drinks. Also in English Bay, enjoy the panoramic view of the ocean with the sunset, while you knock back a cocktail or two. The prices were a pleasant surprise, cheaper than I had expected for its location and stylish, retro interior. 

Saturday: Granville Island, Yaletown, and Gastown

Welcome to the first real day of your Vancouver adventure! After a restful sleep and hearty breakfast in your hotel or B&B, it’s time to hop-to and explore Downtown’s finest attractions.

Morning: Granville Island & Yaletown

Spend the morning exploring Granville Island – including the famous Granville Island Public Market – before making your way over to Yaletown by ferry. 

Granville Island Public market
Image Credit: DeymosHR / Shutterstock.com

The morning is my favorite time to visit Granville Island Market, as you can beat the crowds and have ample room to peruse the eclectic mix of gifts, trinkets, and treats on offer. 

I usually spend a couple of hours here, meandering around. I love the buskers and performance artists at Island Plaza – it’s the perfect spot to stop and snack on some deli cheeses and other tidbits from Duso’s Italian Foods.

If you need a mid-morning hit of caffeine then head to the Blue Parrot Espresso Bar for a delicious organic coffee; it has been running on Granville Island since the late 70s! (Yes, you’ll notice that food and coffee are key themes that run throughout my recommendations…)

If you want to make this a full morning, then check out the Splash Park (great for kids!), go Whale Watching, or visit the Inukshuk Gallery for some beautiful First Nations’ artwork.

The #50 False Creek bus cruises the main Downtown streets, starting in Gastown, and runs frequently. Hop-off when you see the large, yellow Granville Island sign.

False Creek Ferry

It’s time to head to Yaletown for lunch and there’s no better way to get there than the iconic False Creek Ferry

With 9 stops along the entirety of False Creek, these quaint little ferry boats are the most scenic and relaxing way to get from A to B. The pilots act as personal tour guides, pointing out all notable and historic scenes along the way.

The ferry leaves from the northern tip of Granville Island and costs only $5 one-way to Yaletown. Ferries run every 15 minutes so there’s no need to rush to a strict schedule.

Patio Lunch in Yaletown

Yaletown is the city’s ex-railway district and is now full of converted brick warehouses sporting cafes, restaurants, fashion boutiques, and the greatest density of patios in Vancouver. Yes, that’s an official statistic.

  • MeeT in Yaletown – A chill spot on Mainland Street offering excellent vegan comfort food and craft cocktails.

  • Per Se Social Corner – A stylish, upscale restaurant with all of your favorite European dishes: pizza, pasta, and tapas.

  • WildTale – For some of the best seafood in the area, head to WildTale and pair your fresh fish with an expertly-chosen wine, beer, or signature cocktail.

Afternoon: Yaletown & Gastown

Explore the Seawall

There’s no better way to digest than a light stroll along a beautiful waterfront. Vancouver’s Seawall is the largest continuous stretch of waterfront at 28km. The False Creek area just south of Yaletown is my personal favorite, as I love to watch the sailboats and ferries bobbing up and down the creek.

The walk connects David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park, which host some excellent public art.

Engine 374 Pavilion

Explore Yaletown’s industrial rail history with a trip to the Engine 374 Pavilion and the Roundhouse Turntable Plaza – especially great for kids. The large steam engine is an impressive sight, and there are a host of interactive displays.

Explore Historic Gastown

Catch the #14 or #16 bus from Granville Street to take you right into the heart of Gastown in just 15 minutes.

Gastown is a small but jam-packed place, and is Vancouver’s oldest district. The charming cobbled streets and vintage lamp posts pay homage to the town named after “Gassy Jack”, who established the area’s first tavern in 1867.

Don’t miss the iconic Steam Clock, which whistles and belches steam at the turn of the hour. Tour the boutique-lined streets where high-end fashion and local wares are packed side-by-side, and stop in at the cozy, urban Timbertrain Coffee Roasters for an artisanal brew.

Evening: Dinner in Gastown

Gastown is probably my favorite area to go out for dinner, because the old-time ambiance really pops as the evening sets in. There are so many gems tucked away in-between the cobble and brick – I haven’t eaten everything yet, but I’m making my way round…

  • The Flying Pig – One of Gastown’s top-rated restaurants, and for good reason. Their impressive selection of seafood, steaks, and delicious entrees make this an excellent choice for meat lovers who like their favorite fine foods cooked to perfection.

  • Pourhouse – This is certainly one of the coolest places to eat. The Pourhouse is an old-fashioned tavern with incredible woodwork interior and an impressively grand bar. The food is affordable, delicious pub grub serving all of the classics, for those who don’t care for a fancy-shmancy restaurant. Ask the bartenders for their recommendation and try the house cocktails – they love what they do!

  • Five Sails – This one’s for the lovers. If you want to treat your significant other to a beautiful date night, then I’d recommend Five Sails on the waterfront, just north-west of Gastown. The incredible panoramic views showcase Vancouver Harbor and the Coast Mountains beyond, which are especially breathtaking at sunset. They have some of the best seafood on offer and pride themselves on their exquisite fine-dining experience.

After-Dinner Entertainment in Downtown Vancouver

  • Granville Street – Downtown’s main party street didn’t get its reputation for nothing. Neon lights glaring, music blasting, high heels clicking: this is the place to be on a Saturday night. Head to The Granville Room for a sophisticated cocktail or two, before hitting iconic nightclubs such as The Roxy or Bar None. Alternatively, check out who’s playing at the Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver’s central music venue and clubroom. It has seen big names such as Bowie, Coldplay, KISS, Lady Gaga and countless others over the past decades, and often showcases up-and-coming local talent.

  • Lost Souls of Gastown tour – If you’re looking for something totally unique and a little bizarre, then head out on one of Forbidden Vancouver’s world-renowned walking tours after dinner. Experience Gastown at night, accompanied by tales of murder, revenge, disease and deadly fires. This is an incredible theatrical performance and totally unique – I can’t recommend these tours enough!

  • Davie Village – if you’d much prefer a night out in Vancouver’s famous gay district, then hail a cab and ride the short journey to Davie Village in the West End. Glitter, DJs, and a host of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs await!

Sunday: Stanley Park & the West End

Today on your Vancouver itinerary, you can enjoy the beautiful green spaces around Stanley Park, and the vibrant streets of the West End before heading home.

Psst: If it’s raining, then head to Kitsilano for its amazing museums instead – listed in the next section.

Morning: Stanley Park

Stanley Park is often considered one of the greatest urban parks there is. An impressive 1000-acre haven minutes from Downtown Vancouver. The park is an easy walk from the West End or Coal Harbor, or you can rent a bicycle and ride the bike-only lane into the heart of the park. The #19 TransLink bus will also take you to the park – hop on in Gastown, Coal Harbor or the West End.

Outdoor Activities

Hike or jog around the Seawall, or criss-cross through the 27km of forest trails; rent a bicycle at Spokes’ and try your skills on some of the park’s dirt trails; take a swim in the chilly waters at Second Beach, or the heated pool just to the north if you can’t handle the cold!

Pro Tip: Lesser-known Third Beach off Ferguson Point is often quieter, perfect if you want to relax in peace on the sandy shore.)

The park’s Pitch N’ Putt is another great way to experience the lush greenery – if you’re partial to a round of golf, then the 18 holes should certainly keep you entertained.

Fun for the Family

There’s a whole host of activities perfect for children (and those adults, like me, who haven’t really grown up yet). The Stanley Park Train is a huge attraction, offering a 20-minute tour on a gorgeous miniature train. 

Explore over 70,000 animals at The Vancouver Aquarium – home to some incredible marine species. Don’t forget the Sea Otter Exhibit or the rescued seals and sea lions from around the BC coast.

The Water Park is a great way to cool down and have fun, splashing under the various fountains, jets and pools. It is right next to the Seawall, close to the train and Lumbermen’s Arch, built in 1952.

Check out the interactive park map to see everything that’s on offer.

Lunch in Stanley Park

The Stanley Park Brewing Brewpub is a personal favorite, located at the southern end of the park. Fries and a nice cold beer for lunch, can’t go wrong!

There are a number of concession stands in the park, situated near the beaches and attraction hotspots. They are great for a bite to eat when you want to picnic on the grass or lounge on a bench and enjoy the ocean views.

Note: If you don’t fancy any of these then head early to the West End for food instead – you can find every cuisine under the sun along Denman & Davie Streets.

Afternoon: The West End

The West End is the perfect place to end your time in Vancouver. Located just south of Stanley Park, it is Vancouver’s most chilled, most diverse and most colorful district.

Tour Roedde House Museum: Quite the unique museum – Roedde House pays tribute to its Victorian Era roots, and the tour around this entire house is a step back in time. I guarantee there are more doilies than you’ve ever seen in one space! (Don’t worry if you had to Google it…)

Visit English Bay Beach: If you haven’t had your fill of the beach, then head to English Bay Beach (also called First Beach) on the western side of the West End. Rent a kayak, swimming raft, or volleyball court; or just chill out and read a book. You’ve earned it.

Explore Davie Village: Davie Street has become popularly-nicknamed “Davie Village”, as it is home to Vancouver’s largest LGBTQ+ community. This street comes alive in the summer with street parties, parades, food stalls and performances. Visit book-stores and boutiques, and grab a photo at the iconic Rainbow Crosswalk.

What to Add with More Than 2 Days in Vancouver?

This 2 day Vancouver itinerary is a whistle-stop tour of Downtown, but here are a few extras you can add if you have a little more time to play with.

Capilano Suspension Bridge. This bridge is easily one of Vancouver’s highlights and it lies a short way out of town, to the north. Take bus #246 or #247 from Downtown (West Georgia @ Seymour Street), and it’s only a 20-minute ride to the jaw-dropping suspension bridge which swings 240ft above the river!

Alternatively, the lesser-known Lynn Valley Canyon and suspension bridge makes an excellent day trip from the big city and is generally less crowded and more affordable. It is slightly further away in northeast Vancouver with a journey time of just under an hour. Take the SeaBus from Coal Harbor across to Lonsdale Quay, then hop on bus #228 or #229 to the park.

Kitsilano Museums. Another popular Vancouver district is Kitsilano, which lies just south of the Downtown peninsula. Featuring another great beach, shopping down West 4th Avenue and three incredible museums: Head to Vanier Park for the Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Center, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. These also make excellent rainy-day activities.

Take a Seaplane Tour. Experience the thrill of flying and see Vancouver in style, in one of British Columbia’s iconic seaplanes. Departing regularly from Coal Harbor Marina with Harbor Air. It is best to reserve in advance during peak seasons. Alternatively, book a longer tour of snow-capped mountains and “secret” alpine lakes with one of Harbor Air’s package deals.

Grouse Mountain. Visit Vancouver’s local mountaintop, just north of the city and a short way from Capilano Suspension Bridge. You can take the Skyride all the way to the top, or opt to hike 3,500 feet up to the summit yourself! The mountain also features several options for dining, a wildlife refuge for grizzly bears and other endangered species, and ranger talks about BC’s wildlife and conservation issues.

Vancouver Lookout. Located in central Gastown, the lookout is one of the best ways to take in Vancouver from on high. Ascend in a glass elevator to over 140 feet above the city and drink in the views. My favorite time is at sunset, when the northern mountains start to glow and the city lights all twinkle on – it’s quite magical!

Where to Eat & Drink in Vancouver

Wondering where to eat, drink, and caffeinate in Vancouver? Here are my picks, in no particular order. 

Eating in Vancouver

Buckstop – I must admit, Buckstop is a guilty pleasure of mine in the central West End. Serving all your Texas classics… basically all of the grilled meat, seasoned to perfection.

The Naam – This is one of Vancouver’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, serving delicious Mexican and Asian cuisine in Kitsilano district – just a short hop from Granville Island.

Le Crocodile – If you want the ultimate French culinary experience then be sure to make a reservation at Le Crocodile on Burrard Street, central Downtown.

Robba Da Matti – A Yaletown favorite for good reason. Cozy interior and a beautiful patio for outdoor dining; close your eyes and you could be thousands of miles away in Rome at this classic Italian restaurant.

Greedy Pig – I loved this rustic restaurant on West Cordova Street for its casual ambiance and great selection of appies. Serving all your classic pub favorites, cooked to perfection.

Sushi Bar Maumi – This place is often touted as some of the best sushi in Vancouver. This authentic Japanese sushi bar is tucked away in the West End, close to Sunset Beach.

Chanco Tortilleria – I had some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten at Chanco in Yaletown. I’d recommend the fresh corn tortillas with the Maciza pork shoulder, or the beautifully-seasoned veggie mix.

Drinking in Vancouver

Here are the best places to get your daily dose of either caffeine or happy hour. 

Coffee & Tea in Vancouver

Ladurée – If you want to experience Afternoon Tea at its very best, then head to the highly-esteemed Ladurée for a sample of delectable macaroons, pastries and – well – tea. But really fancy tea.

Revolver Coffee – A true Gastown gem, Revolver Coffee is a whole world unto itself. They use the best roasts from North America and are constantly refreshing their flavors to shake things up. Certainly a spot for the connoisseurs and appreciators of fine artistry.

Elysian Coffee – Elysian Coffee has become so successful that there are several spots around Vancouver. Head downtown to 5th & Burrard to sip a fresh cup and treat yourself to their delicious selection of breakfast treats.

Granville Island Tea Company – Iced tea, chai, and a host of exotic flavors: Don’t miss this incredible tea shop in Granville Market. The servers are exceptionally knowledgeable and will gladly talk you through the art of brewing that perfect cuppa’. 

Bars in Vancouver

The Narrow Lounge – A hidden speakeasy on the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue. Look for the red light and they will usher you inside for a sample of signature drinks, delectable nibbles and a moody, underground atmosphere.

Salt Tasting Room – Located on Gastown’s Bloody Alley, this backroom kitchen and bar is a great find. Cheeses, charcuterie and a selection of house-made accompaniments, with an expert selection of wine pairings.

The Belgard Kitchen – This Gastown gem is one of the best places to sample local ales. They have a great selection of beers from on-site Postmark Brewery, and an impressive 30+ wines on tap! (I didn’t get through them all despite my best efforts.)

LIFT Bar + Grill – Set on Coal Harbor’s magnificent waterfront, this bistro is one of my favorite spots. The food and drinks are surprisingly affordable given its exceptional views of the inlet and mountains. The two-level terrace is an incredible sunset spot – perfect for a signature cocktail or chilled white wine.

Johnnie Fox’s Irish Snug – Located in central Downtown, this delightful Irish bar is everything you want it to be. Irish beers, raucous tunes, and a whole lot of fun!

The Best Time to Visit Vancouver

Personally, I’d say the best time to visit Vancouver is either in spring (April – June) or fall (September – November), but there’s something to be enjoyed no matter the time of year. Here’s a round-up of each season:

Spring – The city begins to wake up after a cold, winter nap, and the beautiful colors of spring begin to emerge. The distant mountains are still snow-capped, and cherry blossoms line the streets. The temperatures are milder, which makes walking around a city or squeezing into public transport a little kinder, and there are decidedly fewer people here than during the summer months.

Summer – Welcome to the high season! Naturally, summer is the most popular time to travel so you can expect the scene to be busier, which some people love. Everything will be in full-swing: rooftop patios, outdoor cinemas, and late night events which run throughout. Accommodation and tours will likely be a little more expensive, but the difference isn’t too huge. Be aware that wildfire smoke is unfortunately common in July and August, which can impede views and has quite a vivid scent.

Fall – This is my favorite season, as the oranges and reds around the city’s parks and green spaces start to glow. The ocean is warmer – perfect for enjoying Vancouver’s many beaches – and the summer traffic begins to die down. The rain and wind start to be a little more unpredictable, so make sure you pack accordingly!

Winter – This is certainly Vancouver’s low season, as temperatures can plummet below freezing. However, if you love the thought of tucking into a cozy tavern on a snowy eve, or wandering through a winter wonderland at Stanley Park – then you’ll definitely benefit from the lowest prices and lightest foot-traffic of all seasons. Plus, Vancouver is a great staging post for winter sports, if you have a little longer than a weekend to play with.

Getting to Vancouver

Here are your options for getting to Vancouver, either by plane, train, or automobile. 

Travel to Vancouver by Air

Flying is undoubtedly the quickest way to get to Vancouver. Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the airport you should fly into, and there are a good number of flight options coming from the West Coast and beyond.

Vancouver Airport to Downtown Vancouver 

Vancouver International Airport is located about a 30 minute drive from downtown. Taxis can be expensive but are certainly the easiest way to get to your hotel. Rides are metered and will usually fall somewhere between $30-$50, depending on the destination.

I usually use the SkyTrain to get downtown – Vancouver’s overland metro system. The terminal is very easy to find in the airport, and a one-way ticket to downtown Vancouver takes about 25 minutes and costs $15.

It’s totally manageable if you have a small weekend-sized carry-on, but if you have large cases then I’d recommend a taxi for ease.

Travel to Vancouver by Train

If you live in Washington state, then Amtrak could be a great way for you to travel to Vancouver. With a journey time of three hours and tickets as low as $40 from Seattle King Street Station, it’s a great option to save money, if you have a little more time to play with. 

Aboard the Amtrak Cascades route, the views are significantly nicer than driving the I5 and it terminates in downtown Vancouver at Pacific Central Station, just minutes from all of the action.

Remember to arrive at the station at least 45 minutes early to complete the various customs inspections before boarding.

Note: The Amtrak Cascades route runs all the way from Eugene, Oregon but with a journey time of 10 hours it’s probably not the best choice for a weekend. Anything past the five hour mark from Olympia, WA to Vancouver, and you’re probably better off looking into flights.

Pacific Central Station to Downtown Vancouver

If you choose to ride Amtrak or via bus to Vancouver, then your transportation conveniently terminates just minutes from downtown, at Pacific Central Station.

You can either hail a cab and expect to pay $15-20 for a ride downtown, or hop on the SkyTrain at Science World and head west a few stops on the Expo Line. 

Pretty simple!

Travel to Vancouver by Car

Driving is another great option if you live in the Pacific Northwest, just make sure that your hotel in Vancouver includes parking otherwise this can be an expense.

The journey time ranges wildly from Washington and northern Oregon due to the inspection times at the US-Canadian border. Sometimes you fly right by, other times they want to inspect every inch of your vehicle. It’s also a great idea to plan your trip outside of Seattle rush hour times if you can, as the I5 can be crawling. 

On a good day, you can realistically get from Seattle to Vancouver in three-and-a-half hours.

Can You Travel to Vancouver by Bus or Ferry?

BoltBus offers regular routes between the US and Vancouver, but I wouldn’t really recommend it as Amtrak is only marginally more expensive and considerably more comfortable. That being said, if you want to take your chances with a $1 BoltBus ticket then be my guest!

Ferries can be an incredible way to experience this area of the coast, but for a short weekend trip then they aren’t the most direct.

From Seattle, WA you have to first get the Victoria Clipper to Victoria, BC and then another ferry to Vancouver. It’s certainly a scenic route and great if you have a few more days to play with.

Getting Around Vancouver

Public Transportation in Vancouver

Public transportation in Vancouver is pretty excellent. With plenty of bus routes and metro terminals connecting all major hotspots, it is very easy to get around. 

Here’s all you need to know:

  • SkyTrain – An overground metro linking the airport, downtown Vancouver and east Vancouver.

  • SeaBus – A ferry service from downtown Vancouver to north Vancouver, across Burrard Inlet.

  • Public Buses (Translink) – There’s a great network of public buses throughout downtown Vancouver. The schedules are easy to follow and all the major areas are serviced, with the exception of the West End which only has a couple of routes and fewer options. Translink has a great route planning system online and a good number of maps.

The easiest and cheapest way to get around on a short Vancouver stay is to buy a DayPass for $10.50. You can travel on as many buses, SkyTrains and SeaBuses as you like for that day, and they can be bought at any SkyTrain terminal.

If you want to feel like a Vancouver local, then pick up a Compass Card from any transport terminal and load it up.  Here you tap-in and tap-out on a SkyTrain, SeaBus and regular bus and your clever card calculates the cheapest fares for your entire day.

Note: You can’t buy passes or cards if you get on a public bus – the best thing to use here is your contactless Debit or Credit card and tap-in for a flat rate of $3 per journey.

Ride-Sharing in Vancouver

Ride-sharing has become a popular way to get around town in Vancouver. Instead of having the cab to yourself, you’ll be in with other people traveling nearby. It is significantly cheaper than a private cab and is common around downtown Vancouver especially.

Uber and Lyft are by far the most common, and all you need is their respective apps. Lyft is great for downtown Vancouver and has become especially popular with the twenty-somethings and urban professionals in the last two years.

Uber is currently the best rideshare for getting to and from the airport and they can pull right up to the arrivals hall – significantly cheaper than a private cab, too.

Should I Rent a Car in Vancouver?

There’s no need to rent a car in Vancouver if you’re only here for a few days. Downtown is incredibly well laid-out and public transport around the city is excellent and reasonably-priced. 

A long Seawall wraps around the entire downtown peninsula and into Stanley Park, where you can walk, jog and skip to your heart’s content. 

There is also an extensive network of bike paths through all of the major hotspots, and Uber and Lyft are great ways to get back safely to your hotel after a night out. No need for a designated driver!

Tips for Visiting Vancouver

Here are a few tips for visiting Vancouver. 

Currency: If you’re traveling from the US, remember to figure out the best way to exchange US Dollars (USD) to Canadian Dollars (CAD) before you go. Most major hotels, some restaurants, and tour providers in Vancouver will accept USD – but you may not always get the best exchange rate. Do your research in the week leading up to your trip (in case of serious exchange rate fluctuations) and either get CAD in cash, get a good travel credit card, or consider a free, low-rate currency card like Wise (formerly TransferWise). I’ve used Wise for several years to spend in Canada, the US, and the UK and I’ve been very impressed.

Passport: Excuse me for stating the obvious, but please remember your passport when traveling to Canada from the US as it is, shockingly, a different country.

More to Explore in British Columbia

Want to explore the best that British Columbia has to offer? We’ve got plenty of detailed travel guides to help you explore!

Vancouver BC Travel Guides:

Vancouver Island Travel Guides

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