Things to do in Vancouver
Vancouver international airport to Vancouver Downtown
The best and fastest way that we found out to get to downtown Vancouver was taking the Sky train. On arrival at the airport you go to the departure hall and exit the airport. You will run into the sky train straight away as there will be plenty of signs showing you where the public transportation is located at. Buy a ticket at one of the vendor machines near the station itself. Costs +/- 7 CAD (depending on the amount of zones you travel through).
Where to stay in Vancouver
Vancouver is a very beautiful city that has plenty to offer. Beaches and seaside, forests and parks and even mountains are only at a short distance of this marvelous city. It truly has much to offer too tourists. We found that it doesn’t really matter where you will stay in Vancouver and that even if you find a cheap place you will still end up paying way too much for a place. Air Bnb prices tend to be pretty high as well! One option we that we found to be ideal and ‘cheap’, was a hotel in downtown center and we end up paying 466 CAD (did not include 10% taxes!) for 4 nights. The hotel was clean and suitable for us and was named Kingston hotel. It has a great location in downtown Vancouver.
Keep in mind that certain places in Vancouver have a higher population of homeless people. We noticed that in Gastown, when wandering around certain edges of the neighborhood, that you could see many homeless people gathering together. Most of these people are friendly but if you aren’t keen on maybe experiencing a weird situation, then preferably stay in downtown Vancouver.
Food tips Vancouver
If you end up spending too much money on accommodation then a good tip for you is to save some costs on your food consumptions while visiting Vancouver. A great way to eat some nice food at a cheap price is to use one of the many street food stalls. You can have a delicious hotdog with all kinds of toppings for as much as 4-6 CAD.
Sim cards in Canada
There are various good sim card providers in Canada. For this you can just do a quick google search and do all the research yourself. If you don't like doing this than I will recommend you the results out of our own research:
Virgin Mobile will be the best phone provider for you when traveling around Canada for a longer period of time (up to a month or longer). After looking at different providers that covered the most area's of Canada, almost none of them included a lot of internet. We needed internet because of our business and our blogging so having a lot of DATA is important to us. Keep in mind that certain providers won't allow you to use your phone as a DATA hotspot and you won't be able to use your laptop in this case!
Virgin Mobile offers packages ranging from 1 GB up to 9 GB. We took a monthly prepaid sim and paid 75 CAD (sim and package) for a 6 GB package and 85 CAD for a 9 GB package. This includes your sim card and the possibility to hotspot your phone so you can use your data on your laptop.
While traveling around Canada, we also noticed that there will be plenty of solid wifi locations, some of these are Starbucks, Walmart and Mc Donalds. Keep in mind that in case you only need wifi every once in a while to stay up to date, then this won't be such of a big problem for you after all :)
Free activities Vancouver
There are plenty of FREE activities that you can do to have a more budget solution on your visit in Vancouver. You do not have to compensate, because the best things in this beautiful city are actually all free and very fun as well!
1. Walk or cycle through Stanley Park
Roughly a 40-minute walk from downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park will provide you with a break of the busy city center. It is a great escape into the local wildlife. Stanley park is actually a small island where you can cycle or walk through local vegetation and see some wildlife as well. The park is completely free and you could easily spend a couple of hours visiting here.
There are authentic totem poles and there is even a local lighthouse to visit on top of the beautiful landscapes. In the middle of the park lies the Vancouver aquarium and also some local restaurants for your daily lunch.
Tip: Rent a bicycle and venture through the park. This allows you to explore more than on foot since the island is quite large to walk around.
- Vancouver is expensive. Save budget and eat street food only.
- You pay taxes in Vancouver EVEN as a tourist. Keep all receipts and declare them when you're back in your home country.
- The fastest and cheapest option from the airport to Vancouver downtown is the Sky train. +-7 CAD/pson.
- Great free activities: Stanley park, Gastown, Secret climbing tree, Elisabeth park, Lynn canyon
- Must do in Vancouver: whale watching, drink local brewed cider
- When visiting Canada -> BRING BINOCULARS to spot the various wildlife!(bears, moose...)
2. Visit Gastown the oldest neighborhood of Vancouver
Gastown is located next to the busy city center. There are many good local restaurants, cozy bars and authentic buildings in the neighborhood. Don’t forget to stroll around in this great place while visiting!
Sightseeing Tip: If you go to the alley between Hastings and Corova from Richard’s to homer street, you will cross some amazing graffiti and some fantastic art with Pacific Northwest flare. There is more to see so get off the beaten tracks and venture through the small alleys in Gastown!
3. Steam clock in Gastown
While in Gastown you will, without a doubt, cross the famous steam clock that was built in 1977 by horologist Raymond Saunders and metalwork specialist Doug Smith.
Underneath Vancouver, runs a series of steam pipes connected to a generating plant at Georgia and Beatty Streets. The system provides heat to most of the downtown core, and provides the steam for the whistles of the Gastown steam clock.
Every quarter-hour, the two-ton Steam Clock shows off a bit, whistling and shooting steam from its five whistles in its version of the Westminster Chime. On the hour it marks each hour with a toot from each whistle.
4. Elisabeth park Vancouver
Another beautiful park that is definitely worth your visit is Elisabeth park. The park became more famous because of the ‘Secret climbing tree’ myth (more about this below). Many people visit the park looking for the secret location of the climbing tree. The park also offers various sorts of flowers and has a small dome on top that you can visit for a small fee.
5. The secret climbing tree Vancouver (and location)
There is a glorious big and old tree located somewhere around
Elisabeth park. It’s actual location is secret because of all the
littering from tourists visiting this unique location in the past.
It’s a lot of fun to look for this tree while in Vancouver because
once you actually find it, you will be truly impressed by the
massive size and beauty of it. The tree is also popular because
it allows you to climb on it to the top where you will enjoy the
view over Vancouver city. We started climbing but thought it to
be a bit dangerous with our shoes so we did not continue until
If you are more of the adventurous type and if you like a good
treasure hunt, then try to find the tree yourself. We will not
disclose the location to further protect this beautiful location but
we will not leave you disappointed either!
Check out our tips below:
Tips to find the secret climbing tree:
1.) The tree is more a king than a queen
2) The tree is around Elisabeth park
3) Start heading south if you come from King Edward station
5. Whale watching in Vancouver
This will not be the cheapest activity you will find in Vancouver but we include this one for a good reason. Whale watching in Vancouver has a very successful rate of actually noticing whales. We found a company called ‘Vancouver whale watch’. This company offers tours twice a day starting at 9 AM or 14 PM. They have a 90% success rate in finding whales for you to enjoy from a distance because they cooperate with other sea ships and companies and cover a big area while on the lookout at sea. They have a shuttle service that can pick you up from your local hotel and if you are renting a vehicle or an RV as we did, you have free parking location near the shop. You'll have a big chance of seeing humpback whales or orka’s. Most of the time you either see one of the two on one specific tour, as they do not occupy the same area at the same time. There has also been reports of dolphins swimming in the area and occasionally sea lions as well.
The main reason why we like this company is that they are animal friendly and also give you a free voucher to come back for FREE should you not see any whales on your trip. This voucher is valid for a LIFETIME.
Price: 100 CAD/Per person
A little video for you to get an idea how amazing this was:)!
Lynn canyon Vancouver
A bit outside of Vancouver city (road to Whistler and Squamish) but still not far away to the north of Vancouver lies Lynn canyon. The park is free and there is plenty of parking allocation for your RV or vehicle.
The suspension bridge was very crowded in the high season so should you want to make stunning pictures of this, then I recommend visiting here very early. We arrived in the late afternoon and it was very busy in general. There are a couple of waterfalls to enjoy and you can stroll around on some marked walking trails.
You will see some people actually wanting to dive into the pools but be aware that many people have died over the past couple of years going off the beaten tracks and risking their lives to free jump into the pools from the cliff sides. There are many danger signs and it is hard to see the rocks in the water so please do not do anything dangerous while you’re there!
Cheap food in Vancouver
1. Prado café in Gastown
They have glutenfree cakes and cookies and also great coffee. This is an ideal place to take a break and do some work if needed.
2. Meet in Gastown
This restaurant is very well suited for vegetarians and vegans and even has many possibilities in gluten-free dishes. We loved the vibe and food so even if you eat meat, pay them a visit.