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Vancouver, officially the City of Vancouver, is the most populous city in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
The 2011 census recorded 603,502 people in the city, making it the eighth largest Canadian municipality. The Greater Vancouver area of around 2.4 million inhabitants is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country, the second largest city on the United States–Canada border, and the most populous in Western Canada. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city. The City of Vancouver encompasses a land area of about 114 square km, giving it a population density of about 5,249 people per square km (13,590 per square mi). Vancouver is the most densely populated Canadian municipality with over 250,000 residents, and the fourth most densely populated such city in North America behind New York City, San Francisco, and Mexico City.
The original settlement, named Gastown, grew up on clearcuts on the west edge of the Hastings Mill logging sawmill's property, where a makeshift tavern had been set up on a plank between two stumps and the proprietor,Gassy Jack, persuaded the curious millworkers to build him a tavern, on 1 July 1867. From that first enterprise, other stores and some hotels quickly appeared along the waterfront to the west. Gastown became formally laid out as a registered townsite dubbed Granville, B.I. ("B.I" standing for "Burrard Inlet"). As part of the land and political deal whereby the area of the townsite was made the railhead of the CPR, it was renamed "Vancouver" and incorporated shortly thereafter as a city, in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and Europe. As of 2014,Port Metro Vancouver is the third largest port by tonnage in the Americas (displacing New York), 27th in the world, the busiest and largest in Canada, and the most diversified port in North America. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry. Major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Greater Vancouver and nearby areas into one of the largest film production centres in North America, earning it the film industry nickname, Hollywood North.
Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, and the Economist Intelligence Unit acknowledged it as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world's most liveable cities for five consecutive years. Vancouver has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, UN Habitat I,Expo 86, the World Police and Fire Games in 1989 and 2009; and the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics which were held in Vancouver and Whistler, a resort community 125 km (78 mi) north of the city. In 2014, following thirty years in California, the annual TED conference made Vancouver its indefinite home. Several matches of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup were played in Vancouver, including the final at BC Place Stadium.
|POPULATION :||• City 603,502 |
• Urban 2,135,201
• Metro 2,313,328
|FOUNDED :||Incorporated 6 April 1886|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone PST (UTC−8)|
• Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
|LANGUAGE :||English (official) , French (official)|
|AREA :||• City 114.97 km2 (44.39 sq mi)|
• Metro 2,878.52 km2 (1,111.40 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||0–152 m (0–501 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||49°15′N 123°6′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.63%|
• Female: 50.37%
|AREA CODE :||604, 778, 236|
|POSTAL CODE :||V5K to V6Z|
|DIALING CODE :||+1 604|
|WEBSITE :||City of Vancouver|
Vancouver occupies a pretty enviable spot in the world. Blessed with miles of coastline, lush vegetation and crowned by the North Shore Mountains, it's hard to be there and not stop at some point and be amazed by what you see.
But scratch beneath that setting and you find a cosmopolitan city of many faces. It's a bit of old and a lot of new, a stopping place for immigrants that have infused the city's neighbourhoods, festivals and food. On one hand, it's the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, the second biggest destination for visitors to the country and the economic hub of British Columbia. A modern city of glass towers with a variety of festivals, cultures and attractions, it has also been host to world events like the 1986 World Exposition and the 2010 Winter Olympics. To others, it's Vansterdam, the laid-back socially progressive city with the laissez-faire attitude to marijuana. With its Asian heritage and relative proximity to China and Japan, some see it as the gateway to Asia. And with all that nature minutes from your door, Vancouver is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It's one of those rare places you could ski in the mountains, hit the beach and play a round of golf all in the same day.
All of this makes it easy to be a local. Walk the Seawall. Spend a day in one of the parks. Indulge in food and treats from around the world at a neighbourhood restaurant. Or just grab a spot at the beach or on a patio and watch it all go by -- Vancouver is, after all, one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
- Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre, 200 Burrard St (Plaza level, Burrard & Cordova), , fax: . 8:30AM-6PM. Offers maps, brochures and other information for visitors.
Archaeological records indicate the presence of Aboriginal people in the Vancouver area from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. The city is located in the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tseil-Waututh (Burrard) peoples of the Coast Salish group. They had villages in various parts of present-day Vancouver, such as Stanley Park, False Creek, Kitsilano, Point Grey and near the mouth of the Fraser River.
Exploration and contact
Europeans became acquainted with the area of the future Vancouver when José María Narváez of Spain explored the coast of present-day Point Grey and parts of Burrard Inlet in 1791 – although one author contends that Francis Drake may have visited the area in 1579. The city takes its name from George Vancouver, who explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet in 1792 and gave various places British names.
The explorer and North West Company trader Simon Fraser and his crew became the first known Europeans to set foot on the site of the present-day city. In 1808, they travelled from the east down the Fraser River, perhaps as far as Point Grey.
The Fraser Gold Rush of 1858 brought over 25,000 men, mainly from California, to nearby New Westminster (founded 14 February 1859) on the Fraser River, on their way to the Fraser Canyon, bypassing what would become Vancouver. Vancouver is among British Columbia's youngest cities; the first European settlement in what is now Vancouver was not until 1862 at McLeery's Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam in what is now Marpole. A sawmill established at Moodyville (now the City of North Vancouver) in 1863, began the city's long relationship with logging. It was quickly followed by mills owned by Captain Edward Stamp on the south shore of the inlet. Stamp, who had begun logging in the Port Alberni area, first attempted to run a mill at Brockton Point, but difficult currents and reefs forced the relocation of the operation in 1867 to a point near the foot of Dunlevy Street. This mill, known as the Hastings Mill, became the nucleus around which Vancouver formed. The mill's central role in the city waned after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the 1880s. It nevertheless remained important to the local economy until it closed in the 1920s.
The settlement which came to be called Gastown grew up quickly around the original makeshift tavern established by "Gassy" Jack Deighton in 1867 on the edge of the Hastings Mill property. In 1870, the colonial government surveyed the settlement and laid out a townsite, renamed "Granville" in honour of the then-British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Granville. This site, with its natural harbour, was selected in 1884 as the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway, to the disappointment of Port Moody, New Westminster and Victoria, all of which had vied to be the railhead. A railway was among the inducements for British Columbia to join the Confederation in 1871, but the Pacific Scandal and arguments over the use of Chinese labour delayed construction until the 1880s.
The City of Vancouver was incorporated on 6 April 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived. CPR president William Van Horne arrived in Port Moody to establish the CPR terminus recommended by Henry John Cambie, and gave the city its name in honour of George Vancouver. The Great Vancouver Fire on 13 June 1886, razed the entire city. The Vancouver Fire Department was established that year and the city quickly rebuilt. Vancouver's population grew from a settlement of 1,000 people in 1881 to over 20,000 by the turn of the century and 100,000 by 1911.
Vancouver merchants outfitted prospectors bound for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. One of those merchants, Charles Woodward, had opened the first Woodward'sstore at Abbott and Cordova Streets in 1892 and, along with Spencer's and the Hudson's Bay department stores, formed the core of the city's retail sector for decades.
The economy of early Vancouver was dominated by large companies such as the CPR, which fuelled economic activity and led to the rapid development of the new city; in fact the CPR was the main real estate owner and housing developer in the city. While some manufacturing did develop, including the establishment of the British Columbia Sugar Refinery by Benjamin Tingley Rogers in 1890 , natural resources became the basis for Vancouver's economy. The resource sector was initially based on logging and later on exports moving through the seaport, where commercial traffic constituted the largest economic sector in Vancouver by the 1930s.
The dominance of the economy by big business was accompanied by an often militant labour movement. The first major sympathy strike was in 1903 when railway employees struck against the CPR for union recognition. Labour leader Frank Rogers was killed by CPR police while picketing at the docks, becoming the movement's first martyr in British Columbia. The rise of industrial tensions throughout the province led to Canada's first general strike in 1918, at the Cumberland coal mines on Vancouver Island. Following a lull in the 1920s, the strike wave peaked in 1935 when unemployed men flooded the city to protest conditions in the relief camps run by the military in remote areas throughout the province. After two tense months of daily and disruptive protesting, the relief camp strikers decided to take their grievances to the federal government and embarked on the On-to-Ottawa Trek, but their protest was put down by force. The workers were arrested near Mission and interned in work camps for the duration of the Depression.
Other social movements, such as the first-wave feminist, moral reform, and temperance movements were also instrumental in Vancouver's development. Mary Ellen Smith, a Vancouver suffragist and prohibitionist, became the first woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada in 1918. Alcohol prohibition began in the First World War and lasted until 1921, when the provincial government established control over alcohol sales, a practice still in place today. Canada's first drug law came about following an inquiry conducted by the federal Minister of Labour and future Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. King was sent to investigate damages claims resulting from a riot when the Asiatic Exclusion League led a rampage through Chinatown and Japantown. Two of the claimants were opium manufacturers, and after further investigation, King found that white women were reportedly frequenting opium dens as well as Chinese men. A federal law banning the manufacture, sale, and importation of opium for non-medicinal purposes was soon passed based on these revelations. These riots, and the formation of the Asiatic Exclusion League, also act as signs of a growing fear and mistrust towards the Japanese living in Vancouver and throughout B.C. These fears were exacerbated by the attack on Pearl Harbor leading to the eventual internment or deportation of all Japanese-Canadians living in the city and the province. After the war, these Japanese-Canadian men and women were not allowed to return to cities like Vancouver causing areas, like the aforementioned Japantown, to cease to be ethnically Japanese areas as the communities never revived.
Amalgamation with Point Grey and South Vancouver gave the city its final boundaries not long before it became the third-largest metropolis in the country. As of 1 January 1929, the population of the enlarged Vancouver was 228,193.
Depending on who you talk to, or perhaps,when, Vancouver's climate is either much maligned or envied. Late fall and winter are typically damp with clouds smothering the sky like a wet grey blanket (there's a reason Vancouver is sometimes referred to as the "Wet Coast"). But there are benefits to all that rain: it's usually not snowing (unlike most of the rest of Canada) and it leads to a gorgeous display of colour with the start of spring in early March. And that's where Vancouver really shines -- the spring and summer. Springs can still be wet, but it gets warmer and the shrubs, blossom trees and flowers put on a pretty show. Summer days are long and usually sunny with little humidity.
Daytime highs from mid-June to early-Sept are mostly comfortable in the low to mid-20s (70-80°F). Overnight temperatures are usually in the teens (55-70°F). Spring and fall are cooler and wetter, so a packing a mix of cool and warm weather clothing is recommended. If visiting Vancouver between Nov and March, be prepared for wet weather and cool temperatures. Daytime highs are typically around 5-8°C (40-50°F) while overnight lows will get close to zero (32°F) and sometimes colder. December and January are the coldest months, with the most rain and a chance of snow. While Vancouver's winters are not as harsh as those in other major Canadian cities, the city does get a few days of snow in the winter months every year.
Climate data for Vancouver
|Record high °C (°F)||15.3|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.9|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||4.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||1.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||−17.8|
|Source: Environment Canada|
Located on the Burrard Peninsula, Vancouver lies between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. The Strait of Georgia, to the west, is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. The city has an area of 114 km2 (44 sq mi), including both flat and hilly ground, and is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8) and the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. Until the city's naming in 1885, "Vancouver" referred to Vancouver Island, and it remains a common misconception that the city is located on the island. The island and the city are both named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver (as is the city of Vancouver, Washington in the United States).
Vancouver has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Stanley Park, which covers 404.9 hectares (1,001 acres). The North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape, and on a clear day, scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in the state of Washington to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and Bowen Island to the northwest.
With its location on the Pacific Rim and at the western terminus of Canada's transcontinental highway and rail routes, Vancouver is one of the nation's largest industrial centres. Port Metro Vancouver, Canada's largest and most diversified port, does more than C$172 billion in trade with over 160 different trading economies annually. Port activities generate $9.7 billion in gross domestic product and $20.3 billion in economic output. Vancouver is also the headquarters of forest product and mining companies. In recent years, Vancouver has become a centre for software development,biotechnology, aerospace, video game development, animation studios and television production and film industry. The city's strong focus on lifestyle and health culture also makes it a hub for many lifestyle-brands with Lululemon, Kit and Ace, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Herschel Supply Co., Reigning Champ, and Nature's Path Organic Foods all founded and headquartered in Vancouver.
Vancouver's scenic location makes it a major tourist destination. Many visit to see the city's gardens, Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden and the mountains, ocean, forest and parklands which surround the city. Each year over a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations, often bound for Alaska.
Vancouver is the most stressed in the spectrum of affordability of housing in Canada. In 2012, Vancouver was ranked by Demographia as the second most unaffordable in the world, rated as even more severely unaffordable in 2012 than in 2011. The city has adopted various strategies to reduce housing costs, including cooperative housing, legalized secondary suites, increased density and smart growth. As of April 2010, the average two-level home in Vancouver sold for a record high of $987,500, compared with the Canadian average of $365,141.
Since the 1990s, development of high-rise condominia in the downtown peninsula has been financed, in part, by an inflow of capital from Hong Kong immigrants due to the former colony's 1997 handover to China. Such development has clustered in the Yaletown and Coal Harbour districts and around many of the SkyTrain stations to the east of the downtown. The city's selection to co-host the 2010 Winter Olympics was also a major influence on economic development. Concern was expressed that Vancouver's increasing homelessness problem would be exacerbated by the Olympics because owners of single room occupancy hotels, which house many of the city's lowest income residents, converted their properties to attract higher income residents and tourists. Another significant international event held in Vancouver, the 1986 World Exposition, received over 20 million visitors and added $3.7 billion to the Canadian economy. Some still-standing Vancouver landmarks, including the SkyTrain public transit system and Canada Place, were built as part of the exposition.
Vancouverites broadly split their city into three: the Westside, the Eastside (or East Van) and city centre. This split is simply geography: everything west of Ontario St is the Westside, everything east is East Vancouver and everything north of False Creek is the city centre. Each of these areas have their own attractions and neighbourhoods, so time permitting, explore as many as you can.
The financial, shopping and entertainment centre of the city. It has many of Vancouver's most notable landmarks and easy connections to other parts of the city and the Lower Mainland. With its multitude of accommodation and restaurant options, it is the ideal, if pricey, place to base yourself for exploring the city.
|Stanley Park and the West End|
One of the most popular places to hang out in the Vancouver, with its beaches, Stanley Park and lots of little shops and eateries.
The original townsite of Vancouver. Gastown is a mix of kitsch, heritage and urban chic. Chinatown is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.
Reclaimed industrial land that is now modern trendy neighbourhoods with some fantastic views along False Creek. The district hosts Vancouver's major spectator sports and is home to the Athlete's Village from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Outside the city centre
|Kitsilano & Granville Island|
The very popular Kitsilano Beach, art studios, the famous Granville Island Public Market and fantastic urban style shopping - particularly 4th Avenue, 10th Avenue and Broadway where chain stores mix with unique independent shops.
The University of British Columbia campus has a number of attractions, including two sets of gardens and the acclaimed Museum of Anthropology. Nearby is Pacific Spirit Park, and further east in Point Grey, are two large beaches, Jericho and Spanish Banks. The UBC campus is also home to the popular clothing optional beach, Wreck Beach.
|Mt Pleasant-South Main|
Main Street is an up and coming artsy part of the city filled with unique shops. Nearby is Queen Elizabeth Park, which is the highest point in Vancouver and has some excellent free gardens.
|Commercial Drive-Hastings Park|
A mostly residential area of the city. Commercial Drive has many ethnic restaurants.
In case of an Emergency, dial 9-1-1 from any public phone for free. Be advised, however, that with the rise of cell phone use, many public phones have been removed, and can therefore be hard to come by (especially in the suburbs).
A good travel tip to remember: Dialing 1-1-2 from a cell phone automatically connects you to the nearest cellular network and calls the emergency number, regardless of its combination (ex. 9-1-1, 1-1-2 etc.) Please note that 1-1-2 will work only on GSM cellphones in Vancouver. While GSM cellphones are very common worldwide, PCS/CDMA cellular phones through Telus Mobility are more common in Vancouver, and Telus doesn't support 1-1-2 on its cellular network. To be safe, dial 9-1-1 for emergencies if you are anywhere in North America.
The area codes for phone calls in Vancouver and the surrounding area (known locally as the Lower Mainland) are 604 and 778 (these area codes overlap). Vancouver has ten-digit calling, so when making a local call you must include the area code. Calls outside the Greater Vancouver region (i.e. east of Langley or north of Squamish, including to Whistler) are toll calls from Vancouver. To call these numbers you need to add a "1" before the area code, i.e. "1-604" or "1-778".
Local calls at pay phones costs 50 cents per call. They are not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. Note that downtown pay phones are often broken. Working pay phones are almost always available at all of the downtown SkyTrain stations.
Internet cafes are not as popular as they once where, having been replaced by free wireless found in many hotels, cafes and restaurants; However, there are still many around the Vancouver area and are generally quite reasonably priced; typically $2-5 per hour with all-day passes common.
In addition, there is free internet available at Canada Place. Bell has some free standing room stations set up in the main concourse of the convention centre. Also, the Apple Store in the Pacific Centre Mall has free wifi.
For those who have brought a laptop, free wireless points are abundant in the downtown area (including Waves Coffee and every branch of Blenz Coffee and Tim Horton's), and reasonable paid service is also available in a pinch.
Prices in Vancouver
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.90|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$13.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$32.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$55.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$81.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.90|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$5.40|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$4.60|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$15.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.14|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$9.70|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.00|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$57.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$40.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$87.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$2.10|
55 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
229 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR) is located immediately south of the city of Vancouver. It is the second busiest airport in Canada, and serves as the hub airport for Western Canada with frequent flights to other points in British Columbia, major cities across Canada and the U.S., Asia and several to Europe. The majority of Canadian flights are with Star Alliance member Air Canada and WestJet. U.S. destinations are served by United Airlines, Alaska Airways, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific (JFK) and WestJet. International flights are serviced by Air Canada, KLM, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, and Air New Zealand to name a few.
YVR's three terminals are: Domestic for jet flights within Canada, International for flights outside of Canada and South, which is the base for prop, small jet, and seaplane service to 'local' communities in B.C. and Yukon. The domestic and international terminals are connected and you can easily walk back and forth between them. The South Terminal is not attached and requires separate transportation to get to it.
The International Terminal has two boarding areas -- Transborder and International. The transborder area (Gate E) services all U.S. bound flights and has U.S. customs on site. Travellers leaving Canada to fly into the U.S. must clear customs before you board the plane, so give yourself some extra time to check-in when you leave Vancouver for U.S. destinations. [Note: In the summer season when the Alaska cruises are operating to Vancouver, the afternoon flights are filled with Alaskan cruisers disembarking at Vancouver; give yourself even more extra time to get through the long customs line.][Note 2: The exceptions are Cathay Pacific to New York City and Philippine Air to Las Vegas; due to these being continuing legs of international flights, they are serviced from the international area and US Customs clearance happens on arrival.] The remainder of the international terminal (Gate D) has all other customs and immigration services, and has a sophisticated layout complete with native scapes of the B.C. terrain and sights. Construction is currently taking place to expand the international terminal and refurbishing and expanding the domestic terminal.
There is a range of restaurants, services and shops if you are hungry or want to kill some time before or after a flight. The airport has a policy of “street pricing”, obliging retailers and restaurants to sell at the same prices in the airport as in the city to avoid customer gouging. Typical fast-food restaurants are located before the security check-ins in the departure areas. For a nice meal, a Milestone's restaurant is located in the domestic terminal just outside the security check-in. In the international terminal, the upscale Fairmont Hotel has a nice view and some reasonably priced choices on their menu. Duty-free purchases may be made both before and after you clear customs in the airport, up to your personal exemption limit. ABM machines are scattered throughout the terminals. Currency exchange counters are located on both sides of security in the international terminal.
There are a number of ways to get into town from the airport. Prices and directions below are for getting into downtown Vancouver.
- SkyTrain - The Canada Line provides the only direct rapid transit public service downtown, in 25 minutes. The fare from YVR to Vancouver is currently $9.00, which includes the two-zone base fare of $4.00 plus a $5 surcharge (the "YVR AddFare") incurred on departures from the airport. The $5 surcharge only applies on tripsstarting at the airport, not on trips going to the airport. It does not apply to passes loaded on a Compass Card, including DayPasses and monthly transit passes.
- Taxi - Taxis line up just outside the baggage claim areas. Fares for a taxi ride intoVancouver or Richmond are fixed and vary depending on which part of the city (or "zone") you are going to. For example, a fare to Kitsilano, Granville Island, Yaletown and most downtown hotels will cost $31. Canada Place, Waterfront Station and the waterfront hotels will cost $35. Fares to UBC and Point Grey are $34. The YVR Taxis page has more details about the zones and rates, including a map. If your destination is outside of Vancouver or Richmond, the fare will be metered. The fixed rate fares only apply to rides leaving the airport; all trips to the airport are metered. There is a $5 fee on top of the fixed rate if you want to stop along the way. All taxis that serve the airport are required to accept credit cards. The typical travel time from the airport to downtown is about 20-30 minutes.
- Limousines - Limojet Gold offers comfortable sedan and limousine options for getting into town. Rides into the city centre cost $70-75 depending on where you are going and whether you are in a sedan or limo.
- AAA Vancouver Limousine Service offers comfortable stretch limousine and Stretch SUV Limos options for getting into town.
Floatplane and heliport
There are floatplane facilities located both in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver (IATA: CXH) and at Vancouver International's South Terminal. Floatplanes operated by Harbour Air, Salt Spring Air, West Coast Air and Seair fly frequently from downtown Vancouver and/or YVR to Victoria's Inner Harbour, Vancouver Island, the scenic Southern Gulf Islands and other local destinations. Some float plane operators also offer spectacular tours of the central city and nearby attractions starting at about $80-100 per person... a great way to see a panoramic view of downtown. A quick search of Google will bring up websites for most of these float plane operators.
Finally, Helijet operates helicopter service from the downtown heliport next to Waterfront Station, providing quick and convenient connections to Victoria and YVR.
Abbotsford International Airport
Abbotsford International Airport (IATA: YXX), located about 60 km (37 mi) east of Vancouver in Abbotsford, is Vancouver's alternate airport. It handles mostly domestic flights and, with an arranged ride, you can be in and out of this airport in under 10 min (with no checked in baggage).
The best way to reach Vancouver from Abbotsford Airport is by car: take the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) west. The drive will take 45–90 minutes, depending on traffic. There is no public transit link between this airport and Vancouver, so if you don't have access to a car, it is highly recommended that you fly into YVR instead. Car rentals are available at the airport.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Flying in and out of Seattle, particularly for US destinations, and then using the bus, train, or car rental for travel to and from Vancouver city can be a (dramatically, and frustratingly) less expensive option than buying a direct flight from YVR or YXX. A U.S. visa may be required and could take some time to procure. For budget travellers, you may wish to consider checking flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The bus or train ride takes about 4h+ one way and driving time is approximately 2.5-3h. Allow extra time to clear customs at the border.
Bellingham International Airport (IATA: BLI) is only an hour from Vancouver (plus border time), and serves mainly as a launching point for budget-minded Canadian travellers vacationing in the U.S.: excellent service from Hawaii and Las Vegas, but few other useful connections. Shuttle buses to Vancouver run as low as $39 round trip.
Taking the train to Vancouver is unlikely to be the cheapest option, but it is a scenic one. Rail options include:
- VIA Rail has the Canadian which runs from Toronto to Vancouver with three weekly departures.
- The Rocky Mountaineer operates routes between Vancouver and Banff, Calgary and Jasper three times a week from April to October.
- Amtrak runs a service between Seattle and Vancouver called Amtrak Cascades. Trains depart Seattle daily at 7:40AM and 6:40PM, arriving in Vancouver at 11:35AM and 10:45PM respectively. The return trips leave Vancouver at 6:40AM and 5:45PM.
All trains arrive at Pacific Central Station, located at 1150 Station Street (east of downtown off Main St). From there, it is a short taxi ride into the central business area, or you can pick up the SkyTrain at the Main St/Science World station two blocks away.
If you have the time and money, travelling to Vancouver by train can be an excellent way to see the Canadian Rockies. This is discussed further at the Rocky Mountaineer.
Vancouver is well served by bus service. There are a number of different bus lines providing service to various cities near and far. Here are a couple of examples:
- Greyhound (USA) connects Vancouver to the USA via Seattle.
- Greyhound Canada connects Vancouver with many cities such as Calgary and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in Canada.
- Quick Coach connects Vancouver with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington.
- BoltBus connects Vancouver with Bellingham, Seattle and Portland.
- Pacific Coach Lines connects Vancouver with Victoria. Scheduled service follows the BC Ferry service from Tsawwassen to Victoria (Swartz Bay). This is hourly in the summer months, and every two hours in the off-season.
- Perimeter Transportation connects Vancouver with Whistler and Squamish.
- Cantrail connects Vancouver with Seattle's King Street station. Service also stops in Richmond and Surrey before crossing the border.
The main highway into Vancouver from the east is Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway). This road skirts the eastern edge of Vancouver, so if you want to get into the city, you will need to exit off it at Grandview Highway, 1st Avenue or Hastings Street.
From the U.S./Canada border south of the city, Highway 99, which links up with U.S.Interstate 5, runs north to Vancouver. Note that the freeway ends after the Oak Street Bridge, turning into Oak Street heading north. Drivers with a downtown destination will need to get onto Granville Street (parallel to Oak St to the west), or Cambie Street (parallel to the east), in order to get on the Granville Street or Cambie Street bridges which cross False Creek into the downtown peninsula.
If you are coming from the North Shore or other points further north, the only way into Vancouver is by bridge. Your options are the Lions Gate Bridge (Hwy 99) which brings you into Stanley Park and Vancouver's West End or the Second Narrows Bridge/Ironworkers Memorial Bridge (Hwy 1) which brings you into the neighbourhoods of East Van.
There are two ferry terminals serviced by BC Ferries in the area, although neither is within the city of Vancouver itself.
- The Tsawwassen terminal in Delta has routes to Nanaimo and Victoria on Vancouver Island and to the Southern Gulf Islands.
- The Horseshoe Bay terminal in the West Vancouver services Nanaimo, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.
Both terminals are far enough from the city core that you will need to travel by car, taxi or bus to get into town from them (and vice-versa). In terms of bus transportation, the various coach services are recommended over public transit. Public buses to and from the ferry terminals are fairly easy and direct. From Vancouver downtown, you take Canada Line (Skytrain) from downtown to Brighouse Station. From Brighouse Station, take the 620 bus which takes you directly to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.
By cruise ship
Port Metro Vancouver is the home port for the popular Vancouver-Alaska cruise. From May-Sep, more than 3/4 million visitors pass through the two cruise ship terminals in Port Metro Vancouver. Check with your cruise line as to which terminal your ship is using, especially if you are embarking at Vancouver.
- Canada Place Terminal, located on the waterfront and a few minutes' walk to the heart of downtown Vancouver or Waterfront Station, is the primary cruise ship terminal. Canada Place was built originally for Expo86 and is recognized by its dramatic rooftop that looks like five white sails. A full range of ground transportation, excellent hotels, shopping, dining, entertainment, and attractions is available at Canada Place.
- Ballantyne Pier Terminal, located on the waterfront 2 km east of Canada Place, is the secondary cruise ship terminal and accessible by a 15-min taxi ($12) to/from downtown or by a shuttle provided by some of the downtown hotels or some of the cruise lines. Travellers to Ballantyne have access to Ballantyne Cruise Terminal via Clark Drive or McGill St Overpass only. There is no access to travellers via Victoria Dr and Heatley Ave. There is no public transportation and no rental car kiosks at Ballantyne.
US passport holders may be able to participate in "Onboard Check-in” and “US Direct" to streamline processing at the cruise ship and the airport. US Direct allows passengers arriving at Vancouver Airport (YVR) to transfer directly to a same-day-departing cruise ship by participating in expedited immigration and customs clearance process.Onboard Check-in allows passengers arriving on a cruise ship and flying out of YVR on the same day to transfer directly to YVR by participating in an expedited immigration and customs clearance process.
These programs do not apply to passengers who are planning a pre- or post-cruise stay in Vancouver. Not all cruise lines participate, so check with your cruise line to see if you can take advantage of the Onboard Check-in/US Direct program.
Transportation - Get Around
Vancouver is one of the few major cities in North America without a freeway leading directly into the downtown core (freeway proposals in the 1960s and 1970s were defeated by community opposition). As a result, development has taken a different course than in most other major North American cities resulting in a relatively high use of transit and cycling, a dense, walkable core and a development model that is studied and emulated elsewhere.
By Public transit
Metro Vancouver’s public transit is an integrated system of buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain & Canada Line) and ferries (SeaBus) covering the city of Vancouver and all of the municipalities that make up Metro Vancouver. It stretches as far north as Lions Bay, south to the U.S. border and east to Langley and Maple Ridge. It can be very useful for getting around the city of Vancouver and the inner suburbs, and, despite some high profile SkyTrain breakdowns, it is generally efficient.
Translink is the regional transportation authority and their website and customer information line (+1 604-953-3333) both offer trip planning and information about fares, where to buy tickets and the refund policy. A regional transportation map is widely available at convenience stores and on Translink’s website.
Fares and zones
Translink breaks Metro Vancouver into three fare zones; your fare depends on the number of zones you travel in. The standard adult fare is $2.75 for all bus trips across Metro Vancouver and SkyTrain travel within the City of Vancouver (Zone 1). It also covers all travel system-wide at off-peak times: weekends, holidays, and weekday evenings after 6:30pm. Travel out of Vancouver on the SkyTrain or SeaBus crosses fare zone boundaries and costs $4 to $5.50 on weekdays before 6:30pm.
After paying fare, you can transfer or re-board for free for 90 minutes. Compass Card and Compass Ticket users have no restrictions on transferring between modes of transit. Bus riders paying cash fare can only transfer to other buses.
|Number of Zones||What it covers||Adult Fare||Concession Fare|
|1 Zone||Travel within the city of Vancouver||$2.75||$1.75|
|2 Zones||Travel between Vancouver and North Vancouver,West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond||$4.00||$2.75|
|3 Zones||Travel between Vancouver and all other destinations||$5.50||$3.75|
Fares paid by Compass Card (see next section) are discounted and cost between $2.10 and $4.20 for an adult fare (if you're familiar with Vancouver's pre-Compass system, the discount is equal to the rate given on the old FareSaver tickets).
Concession fares are available for children aged 5-13, Vancouver high school students and seniors (65+). If you're a student, you must carry a TransLink GoCard to receive the reduced concession fare. Children age 4 or younger are free.
Paying for your fare: Compass
Compass is the electronic fare system for buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and the West Coast Express that replaced the old paper tickets and honour system in late 2015. Buses still accept cash when you board, but fare gates at SkyTrain and SeaBus station only accept Compass. There are two Compass choices:
- Compass Ticket — A white ticket that is good for one trip. The DayPass — unlimited travel on bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus across all zones for one day — can also be purchased as a Compass Ticket; and
- Compass Card — A reusable smart card that can store value, load passes and offers discounted fares. Blue cards are for adult fares, orange cards are for concession fares. See the infobox for more information.
Compass Tickets and Adult Compass Cards can be purchased from the Compass Vending Machines in SkyTrain and SeaBus stations and select London Drugs locations. All types of Cards and Tickets may be purchased over the counter at some 7-11, Safeway, London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart locations, as well as the Compass Customer Service Centre at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain station. Translink's website has a handy map showing the locations of Compass retailers and Compass Vending Machines. The vending machines accept cash, debt card and credit card.
The initial purchase of a Compass Card requires a $6 deposit. The deposit is refundable if you return your Compass Card to or mail a Refund Request form to the Compass Customer Service Centre.
To use your Compass Ticket or Card, tap in at the start of every trip on any vehicle, and tap out every time you exit through a fare gate. Bus riders do not tap out. Doing this lets the system calculate the right fare.
If you're travelling in a group, Compass Tickets and Cards cannot be shared between group members. Each person will need their own ticket or card to tap in and out of the fare gates.
Passes and Stored Value
If you are going to make heavy use of the transit system, passes can be loaded onto a Compass Card.
- A DayPass is a money-saving option for travellers who will use public transit heavily for one day. For $9.75 (or $7.50 concession), it offers unlimited travel across Metro Vancouver on bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus until the end of the service day, late at night.
- Monthly passes can save you money if you will be using transit almost daily for a month. They cost between $91 and $170 (or $52 concession) depending on the number of zones.
The bus service covers the widest area and travels along most major streets in the city. A few express bus lines called B Lines crisscross the city. When boarding, passengers must either tap in with their Compass Card or Compass Ticket, buy a ticket with cash (exact change required, coins only), or present a ticket to the driver.
Cash fare on any bus to anywhere at any time is a flat $2.75. Because of this, Compass Card users only tap in when boarding the bus, and never tap out when stepping off, unlike with all other modes of transit.
Every bus stop in Metro Vancouver has a unique five-digit bus stop number (the yellow number at the top of the bus stop sign). Send an SMS with that stop number to 33333 to get the next six scheduled bus arrival times. Standard text messaging rates apply.
The SkyTrain is a mostly elevated, fully automated rapid transit system connecting downtown Vancouver with some of its suburbs to the south and east.
- The Expo Line runs through Burnaby and New Westminster to King George Station in Surrey.
- The Millennium Line follows the Expo Line to New Westminster, and then loops back through Burnaby into Vancouver again, ending at VCC-Clark.
- The Canada Line goes south to Richmond and Vancouver Airport.
Key SkyTrain stations include:
- Commercial-Broadway - accesses restaurants and shopping on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver
- Burrard and Granville - the most central stations in the central business district
- Waterfront - meeting point for all SkyTrain lines, the SeaBus, numerous commuter and rapid bus routes, and the commuter rail West Coast Express. It also accesses Gastown and is right next to the Canada Place Convention Centre/Cruise Ship Terminal facilities.
The fare on SkyTrain depends on how many zones you travel through and what time you're travelling. The City of Vancouver is Zone 1. Close-in suburbs like Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, and North Vancouver are Zone 2. Farther-out suburbs south of the Fraser River or east of Burnaby are Zone 3. At peak times, Compass Card users pay between $2.10 and $4.20, and riders paying cash fare pay $2.75 to $5.50. At off-peak times, passengers pay one-zone fare.
Compass Card users tap in and out each time they pass through the fare gates. If you forget to tap in or out, you will be charged the maximum fare. People choosing not to use Compass Cards can buy single-use Compass Tickets instead.
The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that connects Waterfront Station downtown to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It generally runs every 15 minutes except in the evening and on Sundays.
During peak times, two-zone fare is required. That is $3.15 for passengers with Compass Cards and $4 for those with Compass Tickets. At off-peak times, passengers pay one-zone fare.
By ferry across False Creek
A quick trip across on a cute little-boat-that-could ferry can be the most fun, traffic-free, and convenient way to get between various points on False Creek:
- Maritime Museum in Vanier Park on the south shore,
- Aquatic Centre at Sunset Beach on the north shore,
- Hornby St on the north shore,
- Granville Island and its famous Public Market on the south shore,
- Yaletown/Davie St. on the north shore,
- Stamp's Landing/Monk's and Spyglass Place on the south shore,
- Plaza of Nations and Edgewater Casino on the north shore, and
- Science World, the geodesic dome at the east end of False Creek.
Service is offered by False Creek Ferries with little blue boats and by Aquabus with little rainbow boats. The two ferries run slightly different routes, and their docks on Granville Island are on either side of the Public Market. Current prices for adults start at $3.25 for short routes to $6.50 for long routes.
Vancouver's road network is generally a grid system with a "Street" running north-south and an "Avenue" running east-west. Arterial roads follow the grid fairly well (although not perfectly), but side streets frequently disappear for blocks at a time and then reappear. Most of the "Avenues" are numbered and they always use East or West to designate whether it is on the East side or the West side of Ontario Street. Some of the major avenues use names rather than numbers (Broadway would be 9th Ave, King Edward Ave would be 25th Ave).
Downtown Vancouver has its own grid system and doesn't follow the street/avenue format of the rest of the city. It is also surrounded by water on three sides, so most of the ways in and out require you to cross a bridge. This can cause traffic congestion, particularly at peak times (morning and evening commutes, sunny weekend afternoons, major sporting events), so factor that into any driving plans, or avoid if possible.
One of the best ways to avoid traffic congestion is to listen to traffic reports on AM730. This station reports only about traffic and can be quick to report any accidents and congestion, as well as B.C. ferry reports, bridge and tunnel updates, border wait times, and other information pertaining to getting around the city and its many suburbs. It also posts frequent weather updates and local news.
A unique feature of Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia is intersections with flashing green traffic signals. These do not indicate an advance left turn as it would in many other parts of North America. Instead, a flashing green light indicates a traffic signal that can be activated only by a pedestrian or a cyclist on the side street, but not by a motor vehicle. When the signal turns red, traffic stops as at any traffic signal. Any side street traffic must obey the stop sign on the side street and must yield to any pedestrians crossing the side street, even if traffic is stopped on the main street.
Parking downtown generally costs $1-2.50/hour or $12-20/day. Commercial areas will typically have meter parking on the street, with meters accepting Canadian and American change only (American coins accepted at par value). Residential streets may allow free parking, but some will require a permit.
Easy Park lots (look for an orange circle with a big "P") rank as the most affordable of the parkades, but generally the cost of parking will not vary greatly among parkades within a certain area. Most will accept payment by credit card, as well as coins. Beware of scammers hanging around in some parkades, trying to sell parking tickets for less than their face value — typically, they have purchased the tickets with stolen credit cards. Also be careful parking overnight, as vehicle break-ins are not uncommon.
City meters and parking regulations are enforced regularly. Meter-related offenses will result in fines. Violations in private lots are generally unenforceable, but may result in your car being towed. If your vehicle is towed on a city street, you can recover it at the city impound lot at 425 Industrial Ave.
Yellow Cab +1 604 681-1111 Richmond Cab +1 604 272-1111 Maclures Cabs +1 604 831-1111
The city of Vancouver is a very bicycle-friendly city. In addition to the extremely popular seawall bicycle routes along Stanley Park, False Creek and Kitsilano, there are a whole network of bicycle routes that connect the whole city. The City of Vancouver provides a map of the bicycle routes that is available at most bike shops or online. Also, all buses have bicycle racks on the front to help riders get to less accessible parts. North American visitors will find that drivers in Vancouver are more accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists than many places.
Bicycles are available to rent by the hour, day or week. Many places also rent tandem bikes. Some bicycle rental locations:
- Bazooka Bikes , 1531 Robson St.
- ezeeRIDERS, 1823 Robson St.
- Stanley Park Cycle, 768 Denman St.
- Bayshore Bike Rentals, 745 Denman St.
- Spokes Bicycle Rentals, 1789 W Georgia St.
- Reckless Bike Stores, 1810 Fir Street at 2nd Ave & 110 Davie St at Pacific.
- JV Bike, 955 Expo Boulevard, also rents electric assist bicycles to make the hills a little easier.
Alternatively, buy a used bicycle and either sell it on or donate it to someone in more need of it at the end of your stay.
Hosted Bicycle Tours are available from a number of suppliers. These tours are educational and cover many of the interesting areas and attractions of Vancouver.
- Cycle Vancouver, . Several guided cycling tours, group or private. Offers tour routes and online booking.
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Tip - There are two local taxes that are charged on the vast majority of goods, the 7% PST (Provincial Sales Tax) and the 5% GST (Goods and Services Tax). These were replaced with a combined HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) of 12% but due to a recent referendum, the tax was returned to the PST/GST system as of April 1, 2013. The PST does not apply to restaurants, motor fuel, food (including non-alcoholic drinks), vitamins, books, newspaper, magazines, bicycles, and children's clothing.
- Robson Street in the City Centre is home to many touristy shops. Although not technically part of the street, the neighbouring Alberni intersection is home to a variety of high-end shops such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
- Pacific Centre has more than 150 shops, restaurants and services if you want to walk in an underground shopping centre. The shopping centre begins at a flagship Nordstrom store on the north end at Robson Street, and stretches all the way to Pender Street. There are many floors in the mall depending on where you are, and notable merchants include Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, GAP, H&M and Apple Store; the mall is connected to the Bay (at Georgia and Granville streets), and Vancouver Centre (a small mall mainly consisting of a lotto centre, London Drugs, and a food court underneath Scotiabank).
- Gastown. Is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver but is being reborn as a fashion and modern urban design district. Historic buildings house hip restaurants, galleries, and interior design and high-fashion shops.
- Yaletown is also popular for its non-mainstream fashion boutiques and high-end salons. A few Popular Yaletown Shopping Streets are: Mainland St., Hamilton St., and Pacific Blvd.
- Granville Island is an interesting place to go if you fancy the arts. The area boasts a Public Market, an art school (Emily Carr University of Art + Design), shops, a world music instrument store, restaurants, theatres, galleries, a hotel, boat docks and more.
- Kerrisdale is the area centred around 41st, between Maple St and Blenheim St, consisting of roughly a hundred or so boutique-like shops, restaurants, and stores (chain or otherwise) in an affluent neighbourhood.
- Commercial Drive, especially the stretch between 3rd Avenue and Venables St. in East Van, is great for people-watching, produce (Santa Barbara Market), cheese (La Grotta del Formaggio), sausage (JN&Z Deli), etc.
- Main Street, south of Broadway stretching to around 30th Avenue, has a vibrant and expanding collection of independent restaurants, cafés, high-end niche clothing stores and small boutiques.
- East Hastings between Renfrew and Clark offers some of the best hidden delights in the city. There are many eclectic produce stores (Donald's Market). Sausage and salami producers here are some of the best in the city (Moccia's Italian Market).
- Chinatown around Main and Pender, and westwards down Pender from Main, is an old historic landmark with grocery and herbal medicine markets that mimic the ethnic flavors, sights and sounds of Eastern Asia. Other modern Chinatowns have sprung up around 41st Ave. and Victoria Drive, also in Richmond and Surrey.
- Punjabi Market around Main, between 41st and 49th Ave. Good, cheap Punjabi food along with some Punjabi fashion; street signs are correspondingly in Punjabi.
There are some unique shopping areas in Kitsilano and East Van. In Kits you can visit the first store of Vancouver-born and based athletic retailer,Lululemon Athletica, sporting popular yoga-inspired apparel. Gore-tex jackets are ubiquitous in Vancouver and the best place to buy them is at Mountain Equipment Co-op, Taiga Works or one of the other outdoorsy stores clustered together on the east-west main drag called Broadway (equivalent to 9th Avenue, running between 8th and 10th) between Cambie St. and Main St., just east of the Kitsilano area.
Where to begin? There is something for everyone in this cosmopolitan city, and the variety of cuisines and price points have been described as a foodie's delight. In particular, you will find many different kinds of Asian food available. If you fancy sushi many places offer "all you can eat" lunches for $12, which offers food of a wildly varying quality. In general, the city is up there with some of the best cities in North America when it comes to food. If you can do without alcohol, you can usually have a pretty reasonable meal for under $12, and at one of the more expensive restaurants in the city, $70 will get you a four course feast with exquisite service.
The highest density of restaurants is in Kitsilano or the West End. The central business area has many of the high end restaurants either along Robson Street or associated with the many hotels in the downtown area. East Van tends to have many authentic ethnic restaurants.
Vancouver is also famous for its dim sum restaurants. Because of the big Chinese population, the price and quality of dim sum here is among the best in the world. One of the consistently highly ranked dim sum restaurants by local magazines is Sun Sui Wah, at 3888 Main St. Also, check out Floata in Chinatown on Keefer St, or the Kirin at Cambie and 12th; reservations recommended. There are many restaurants on Victoria around 41st Ave (or Kingsway and Knight) which offer cheap dim sum ($2.75/plate), albeit with less class and more oil. In Burnaby, try Fortune House in Metropolis Shopping Complex. The city of Richmond, with a majority of its inhabitants being of Chinese descent, will have a plethora to choose from. Restaurants are all over the place on No. 3 Rd, Westminster Hwy, Alexandra Rd, and on the many side streets just east of Richmond Centre.
Many Vancouver restaurants recommend you have a reservation, the majority of them use OpenTable, or other similar software; however, some require you to phone. Check on the restaurants website or Yelp page before you go to be sure you will be seated in a timely manner.
For budget travellers, pick up a Georgia Straight (a free local paper available all over the place), and clip two for one coupons from the food section.
Every January, the city holds a food festival with over 270 local restaurants, which offer prix-fixe menus for both visitors and locals. The program, Dine Out Vancouver, runs over 17 days and includes the cities new eateries, neighbourhood favourites and award-winners. In 2017, to will be held from January 20 to February 5.
Be advised that although the vast majority of stores around Vancouver accept credit cards, small family-owned Chinese businesses and restaurants, more often than not, accept only cash.
- For coffee, there are perhaps more Starbucks per capita in Vancouver than anywhere else. On Robson and Thurlow, until recently there were two Starbucks kitty-corner to one another. Starbucks is the most dominant of the three coffee shop chains found in Vancouver. The others, Caffe Artigiano and Blenz, are found throughout downtown. JJ Bean is favoured among the locals and it's a great place to spend a few minutes to a few hours nursing a coffee and one of their ginormous muffins; there are ten locations scattered throughout the city. Bean Around the Worldis a popular coffee house chain with ten locations. Waves Coffee is popular with students for its 24-hour operations, and free Wi-Fi internet. For independent chains try Mario's on Dunsmuir and Howe; they have a unique feel and a slower pace than other coffee shops. Make sure not to miss Trees' cheesecakes and its roasted on-site organic coffees.
Vancouver has seen a rise of new independent coffee shops in the past three years, most of which focus on single-origin beans and a simpler approach to delicious coffee devoid of syrups and flavourings. Examples include:Matchstick, Kafka's, Revolver, 49th Parallel.
Bubble tea (or boba tea) is also a popular drink among the Vancouver youth. There are countless tea houses throughout Vancouver, the most notable being Dragon Ball Tea House on West King Edward Ave and Oak St.
Food safety inspection reports are available online from the local health authority, Vancouver Coastal Health.
Sights & Landmarks
While Vancouver is still a young city, it has a variety of attractions and points of interest for the visitor. Many of the city's landmarks and historical buildings can be found downtown. Canada Place, with its distinctive sails, the Vancouver Convention Centre located just beside it, the intricate Art Deco styling of the Marine Building and the old luxury railway hotel of the Hotel Vancouver are in the central business district. Stanley Park (the city's most popular attraction), along with its neighbouring Coal Harbour walkway and the Vancouver Aquarium are in the West End and Gastown, the original town site of Vancouver, has a number of restored buildings and its steam clock is a popular spot to visit. Modern architecture worth visiting also includes Shangri-La, currently the tallest building in the city, and the Sheraton Wall Centre. Another popular city landmark, the bustling markets and shops of Granville Island, is just to the south of downtown in South Granville.
If you're looking to learn a little about the people of the Northwest Coast and some of its history, one good spot is the impressive Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, which houses several thousand objects from BC's First Nations. The museum is also home to significant collections of archaeological objects and ethnographic materials from other parts of the world. The Vancouver Art Gallery, located downtown combines local with international through a variety of exhibitions and a permanent collection that focuses on renowned British Columbia artist, Emily Carr. The Vancouver Public Library, located downtown at Homer and Robson Sts, is modelled after the Roman Colosseum, and houses the city's largest library. Another downtown sight is the small Contemporary Art Gallery on Nelson Street, which features modern art. Also located nearby, on the east side of False Creek is the shiny geodesic dome of the Telus World of Science (commonly known as Science World), which has a number of exhibits, shows and galleries aimed at making science fun for kids. Another great spot to check out is the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum located at Gate A of BC Place Stadium. The BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum preserves and honours BC's Sport heritage by recognizing extraordinary achievement in sport through using their collection and stories to inspire all people to pursue their dreams. There are also some smaller sights in Kitsilano, including the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Museum of Vancouver, and H.R. Macmillan Space Centre.
The city has a wealth of parks and gardens scattered throughout. The most famous is Stanley Park at the tip of the downtown peninsula. Its miles of trails for walking and cycling, beaches, magnificent views and the attractions (including totem poles) within the park gives it something for everyone. The most popular trail is the Seawall, a paved trail that runs around the perimeter of Stanley Park and now joins with the seawalls in Coal Harbour and Kitsilano, totalling 22km in length. The Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park. Other notable parks and gardens include VanDusen Botanical Garden in South Vancouver and Queen Elizabeth Park near South Main, the Nitobe Memorial Garden (commonly known as the Nitobe Japanese Garden) and UBC Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown downtown.
Admission to Vancouver's various attractions can range from $10 to up to $30 per person. There are a variety of attractions passes available that help visitors save on retail admissions such as the See Vancouver Smartvisit Card.
Finally, a trip to Vancouver wouldn't be complete without a glimpse of theskyline and the Coastal mountains rising above the city (clouds permitting, of course!). Popular spots to view it include Stanley Park and the Harbour Centre downtown, Spanish Banks and Jericho Beaches in Point Grey and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Other interesting views can be seen from City Hall at 12th and Cambie, Queen Elizabeth Park and East Van's CRAB Park.
Museums & Galleries
Libraries and museums
Libraries in Vancouver include the Vancouver Public Library with its main branch at Library Square, designed by Moshe Safdie. The central branch contains 1.5 million volumes. Altogether there are twenty-two branches containing 2.25 million volumes. The Vancouver Tool Library is Canada's original tool lending library.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has a permanent collection of nearly 10,000 items and is the home of a significant number of works by Emily Carr. However, little or none of the permanent collection is ever on view. Downtown is also home to theContemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver). The CAG showcases temporary exhibitions by up-and-coming Vancouver artists.
In the Kitsilano district are the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Vancouver Museum, the largest civic museum in Canada. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is a leading museum of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations culture. A more interactive museum is Science World at the head of False Creek. The city also features a diverse collection of Public Art.
Things to do
If you want to orient yourself in the city, there are a variety of tours -- bus, walking, hop-on, hop-off -- based out of the City Centre that will regale you with Vancouver lore while taking you to many of the main attractions.
Vancouverites love the outdoors and one of the most popular things to do is to walk, jog, bike or rollerblade the Seawall. It starts at Canada Place downtown, wraps around Stanley Park and follows the shoreline of False Creek through Yaletown, Science World and Granville Island to Kits Beach in Kitsilano. The most popular sections are around Stanley Park and along the north shore of False Creek. Bike and rollerblade rentals are available from a few shops near the corner of Denman & West Georgia if you prefer wheeled transportation over walking. If the weather's nice, go out to Granville Island, rent a speedboat and take a boat ride on the waters around Stanley Park and Coal Harbour. Golf courses are also abundant in the city, along with more cost-conscious pitch-and-putt courses.
If you'd rather lie in the sun than play in the sun, Vancouver has a number of beaches. While certainly not glamorous and lacking waves, there's sand, water and lots of people on sunny summer days. Kitsilano has a string of beaches, the most well known being Kitsilano Beach, Jericho and Spanish Banks. Kits Beach is the most popular and has beach volleyball, Spanish Banks is a bit quieter and popular with skimboarders. There are a few beaches on the south and west sides of downtown, with English Bay Beach (near Denman & Beach) being the largest and most popular. Finally, no discussion of Vancouver beaches would be complete without mention of Wreck Beach at the tip of Point Grey in UBC. As much rock as it is sand, it holds a place in the Vancouver identity and is the only city beach where you can bare it all.
For many, Vancouver is synonymous with skiing and snowboarding. While there are no ski hills within the city itself, there are three "local" hills (Cypress, Grouse Mountain and Seymour) across the harbour on the North Shore. And of course, Vancouver is the gateway to Whistler, the biggest and one of the most highly rated snow destinations in North America.
When you tire of doing stuff outdoors, or prefer that someone else do the hard work, you can always grab a seat and take in the local sports teams.
The biggest draw in town is hockey (the variety played on ice, not a field) and the local professional team is the Vancouver Canucks. The team plays at Rogers Arena in the City Centre and the season lasts from October to April (and possibly longer when they make the play-offs). Tickets are pricey and the concessions are even worse, but it's a good game to watch live. The local junior hockey team, the Vancouver Giants, offer a cheaper but no less exciting experience. They play out of Pacific Coliseum in East Van.
The BC Lions, the city's Canadian Football League team (think American football with 12 players a side, three downs, a slightly larger field, and much larger end zones) plays during the summer and fall at BC Place downtown.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the third team to bear the "Whitecaps" name, began play in Major League Soccer in March 2011, becoming the second MLS team in Canada (they have since been joined by a third Canadian team). They have played at BC Place since September 2011, when that venue reopened after post-Olympics renovations. The Whitecaps initially planned to build a new stadium of their own near the waterfront, but local opposition led the Whitecaps to make BC Place their long-term home.
The Terminal City Rollergirls are Vancouver's first female roller derby league and are members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. Created in 2006, the league now has four full teams (Faster Pussycats, Bad Reputations, Public Frenemy, and Riot Girls) as well as an All-Stars team made up of the best players in the league. The players are a diverse group of women, from nurses to construction workers, graphic designers, television producers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, PhD students and aspiring rock stars. The bouts are exciting and fun (there is usually an entertaining half-time show), and you may even see some hard hits that show up on the League's Hall of Pain. If you're thinking about attending a bout and know nothing or very little about flat track roller derby, check out the 'How Derby Works' section on the TCRG website. Bouts are generally held April to September and at various arenas around Metro Vancouver, although the PNE Forum in East Van has been a popular venue.
Vancouver has a single A baseball team, the Vancouver Canadians, who play out of Nat Bailey Stadium in South Vancouver.
The two major universities in the Vancouver area both have comprehensive athletic programs, though not at the high profile of similar institutions south of the border:
- The Simon Fraser Clan represent Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. The Clan sponsor teams in seven men's sports and nine women's sports. Notably, SFU is the only Canadian school that's a member of the U.S. NCAA, though they are in Division II, competing with mostly smaller, regional U.S. institutions. Also worthy of note is that SFU's football team, as an NCAA member, plays under American rules and not Canadian.
- The UBC Thunderbirds represent the University of British Columbia, located in the University Endowment Lands at the west edge of the Point Grey peninsula. The Thunderbirds field teams in 15 men's sports and 14 women's sports. Unlike SFU, UBC is a member of Canada's governing body for university sport, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
Festivals and events
Culture and festivals
Vancouver isn't all about the outdoors. It offers a variety of theatre, concerts and other cultural events. There are symphony and opera venues downtown and much of the city's live theatre can be found in South Granville, particularly on Granville Island with its thriving arts scene.
The city's Chinese heritage comes alive during Chinese New Year.Chinatown, in the east side of downtown, is awash in colour and has many festivities, including a parade. June sees the annual Dragon Boat Festival on False Creek.
There is no shortage of festivals around the city, with many local ones particular to a neighbourhood. The festival that draws the largest crowds is the HSBC Celebration of Light, a four-night extravaganza of fireworks over English Bay in late July and early August. Countries compete with 20-30 min displays choreographed to music. The fireworks start at 10PM and are best viewed from Sunset Beach in the West End or Kits Beach/Vanier Park in Kitsilano. It is strongly recommended to take public transit and to get there a few hours early as the crowds are huge. Roads in the vicinity of English Bay are typically closed from 6PM onwards.
EAT! Vancouver - The Everything Food + Cooking Festival takes place every May. In 2014, the festival takes place May 30 - June 1, at BC Place Stadium. Celebrity chefs, popular local restaurants, wineries, food & beverage manufacturers, cookbook authors, retailers, artisans, & many others from the culinary world will come together for a 3 day public extravaganza. EAT Vancouver encompasses unique food experiences, opportunities to learn behind-the-scenes culinary magic from professional chefs, dynamic entertainment through celebrity chef cooking demonstrations & intense culinary competitions, diverse food, beverage & cooking related exhibits; & of course fantastic shopping opportunities.
Other notable festivals include the Vancouver International Film Festival that runs in Sept-Oct; the Fringe Festival that presents live theatre in a variety of styles and venues; Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival that runs May - September at Vanier Park in Kitsilano; and the three day Folk Fest on the beach in Kitsilano that features a large selection of current and upcoming folk, roots and world music acts. Another notable event is Vancouver's annual Vancouver Pride Parade , for 2013 held on 4 August, which attracts over 600,000 spectators.
Most of the nightclubs are located in the central business district, especially along the Granville Street strip, south of Robson and along Water Street in Gastown. There are a number of good local pubs in the various quieter neighbourhoods of the city, such as along Main Street or Broadway. Closing times for most of these pub-like establishments begin at 1AM; nightclubs close between 2AM-3AM with a very small number operating after-hours. Nightclubs with music, a DJ and a dance floor usually charge an entrance fee. Be aware that many nightclubs often have long lineup queues on weekends, which are usually self-imposed regardless of whether or not the establishment is near capacity to attract business. Flexibility and willingness to go early is key should nightlife become part of your travel plans.
Note that liquor stores at the latest close by 11PM, while many are closed by 9PM, and there will exist no other legal options apart from drinking at an establishment beyond this time.
Vancouver offers a number of destinations for beer drinkers. The largest is the Granville Island Brewery on Granville Island (tours are available). Other microbreweries are housed in brewpubs, popular ones include the Yaletown Brewing Company in Yaletown and Steamworks at the entrance to Gastown. The Alibi Room, near Gastown, specializes in beers by Northwestern microbreweries as does the Cascade Room in South Main.Portland, also located in South Main, is another craft beer venue that specializes in beers by Oregon based microbreweries.
Safety in Vancouver
Safety ( overall) - Very High /8.5
Safety ( day) - Very High /9.2
Safety ( night ) - High/6.6
Vancouver is a great place to visit if you use common sense like keeping an eye on your possessions, knowing where you are going and avoiding alleys and unfamiliar areas at night should keep you out of trouble. Unless involved in illegal activities (such as the drug trade), it is highly unlikely you will fall victim to any sort of violent crime. If you need emergency help, dial 911.
Like any major metropolitan city, Vancouver has areas that should be travelled with caution. The most notable is the Downtown Eastside (specifically Hastings Street between Abbott and Gore). This neighbourhood is infamous for homelessness, drug-use, and prostitution. As a result of these conditions, violence is quite a common problem. If you do accidentally stroll into the Downtown Eastside it is not difficult to find your way out, but if you get lost or feel uncomfortable the best thing to do is approach a police officer. Tourists exploring Gastown and Chinatown can easily wander into the Downtown Eastside unwittingly.
It's also wise to exercise caution in the Granville Mall area downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. As Vancouver’s bar and nightclub district, the sheer volume of people combined with alcohol consumption make disorderly conduct and rowdy behaviour fairly common. But this shouldn't act as a deterrent - if you're not looking for trouble, you probably won't find it, and there is a strong police presence. The streets at night in the Granville Mall area are usually (and quite literally) clogged with people at night time. Such an enormous mix of people and alcohol can be a dangerous mix if you are not cautious.
Some parts of the city have high rates of property crime. Theft from vehicles is especially problematic and parked cars with foreign or out-of-province plates are frequently targeted. The best thing is to not leave any money and valuables in plain view. Many of the locals use steering wheel locks to prevent vehicle theft.
Panhandling is common in some parts of downtown, but is unlikely to pose a problem. Don't be rude, as there may be negative consequences.
Marijuana is illegal in British Columbia, and throughout Canada, except for medical use by doctor's prescription. In summer 2015, the Supreme Court ruled all forms of medical cannabis legal, including edibles and extracts.
Despite illegality, Vancouver has a reputation for tolerance, even celebration, of marijuana. There are numerous dispensaries that routinely offer in-house consultations, where even foreign tourists can obtain the diagnosis and prescription needed to buy medical cannabis products at the dispensary. But be aware that these dispensaries operate in a legal grey area, and customers are not guaranteed the legal protection afforded to medical marijuana patients with federally sanctioned prescriptions.
Vancouver's police and the justice system tend to turn a blind eye to minor possession and use of marijuana. If you are caught with a small amount (7 grams or less) in Vancouver, it is extremely unlikely that you will be charged. If anything, usually the police will simply ask you to move somewhere else that's out of sight to finish up.
Nonetheless, if you use marijuana illicitly, you do so at your own risk. It goes without saying that there are severe penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana.