Vancouver Travel Guide

Canada  #2 in Best Family Vacations in Canada
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Getting Around Vancouver

The best ways to get around Vancouver are on foot, by bike and via public transportation. Many major attractions and popular neighborhoods are located within walking distance of one another in this condensed city. However, if you feel your feet growing weary, the Translink system – which includes the SkyTrain, the SeaBus ferry and numerous bus routes – is both manageable and affordable. Getting into town from the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is also easy: you can use the Canada Line rail system or you can hop in a cab. Taxis fares from the airport to downtown Vancouver cost roughly CA$28 to CA$36 (about $22 to $28). The airport is located about 6 miles southwest of the city center. If you've chosen to fly into the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA), you'll find plenty of car rental companies there, too. You can also take a shuttle from Sea-Tac to several locations in Vancouver: Round-trip tickets cost $99 each.

On Foot or Bike

Central Vancouver is very easy to navigate on foot, because it is so condensed and the streets are aligned on a grid. You could also take a bike to the paths that weave throughout the city. There are plenty of bike rental shops downtown, and prices average between CA$30 and CA$40 per day. Just be aware that helmets are mandatory and biking on the sidewalk is illegal. Popular bike rental companies include Spokes Bicycle Rentals, English Bay Bike Rentals and Vancouver Bike Rental. Vancouver also has a bike-share program, Mobi by ShawGO. There are stations clustered all around the downtown area. A standard day pass, which allows you to take as many rides as you want, with the first 30 minutes of every ride at no charge, starts at CA$9.75 (about $7.50).

Public Transport

Vancouver's public transportation is both efficient and convenient. The Translink system includes buses, the SeaBus ferry and the SkyTrain (light rail), all of which are ecologically friendly, reliable and inexpensive. Regular service runs from about 5 a.m. to around 1 a.m. every day. One-way adult fares cost CA$2.85 (about $2.20); children's one-way fares cost CA$1.80 (less than $1.50). These fare prices are for traveling within the zone 1 limits of the city's public transit system. (Most of Vancouver's top attractions reside within zone 1; prices increase when traveling outside the city center to spots like Richmond or North Vancouver, for instance.) Day passes cost CA$10 (around $7.75) for adults and CA$7.75 (about $6) for children ages 5 to 13 and seniors, and include unlimited rides on all buses, SeaBus ferries and the SkyTrain. You can buy tickets and passes from any authorized retail location, such as 7-Eleven, Safeway or London Drugs. Keep in mind that you will need exact change to purchase a one-way ticket.

Car

Vancouver is easier to navigate by car than most major cities, but heavy traffic tends to slow things down. Keep your eyes peeled for downtown's one-way streets, as they can cause confusion. If you do decide to bring a car, keep in mind that gas is sold by the liter rather than the gallon and tends to be more expensive than in the U.S. The average city speed limit is also a little slower; 50 kmph (or roughly 30 mph). You might also want to stock up on Canadian change, as parking meters in the downtown area do not accept U.S. dollars. To make it easier to find and pay for parking in the city, consider using the EasyPark smartphone app. Several rental car companies are located at Vancouver International Airport and throughout the city.

Taxi

When you need to get somewhere fast, taxis are a good option. However, you might want to call ahead of time since it can be difficult to hail a cab from the street if you're not in the downtown area. The meter starts at CA$3.20, with each additional kilometer (about 0.6 miles) costing around CA$1.85. Popular taxi companies include Vancouver Taxi, MacLure's Cabs and Black Top & Checker Cabs.

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