Vancouver is lauded for its enviable mix of laid-back West Coast living and striking skyline, with the snow-capped Coastal Mountains (also known as the Coast Range) as a picturesque backdrop. Located on the Pacific Rim, it is a bustling seaport and major trade and tourist destination known for its ethnically diverse population and cosmopolitan urban core.
Should visitors rent a car in Vancouver?
Most visitors to Vancouver will find that they can easily explore the city without renting a car. On the downtown peninsula, most sights are within a short walk or cab ride, and the city has a good public transit system that can take you around downtown and farther afield.
Should you want to explore attractions beyond the city, such as Whistler or Vancouver Island, you may find it easier to rent a car for the day.
Public transportation in Vancouver
Translink runs Vancouver’s public transit, which includes the SkyTrain subway, buses and the Sea Bus ferry. The transit system is generally fast and efficient, and a single fare (good for 90 minutes in any direction) is valid on all modes of transportation.
Fares are zone-based. Any trip within Vancouver proper is a single zone; if you cross to Richmond, North Vancouver or other cities, you need at least a two-zone ticket. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry — all train stations have self-service ticket kiosks, easy-to-locate maps and a complimentary help line.
The best time to visit Vancouver
Sure, Vancouver is one of the warmest Canadian cities; but it has also been described as having the best climate and worst weather. Much like its southern neighbor, Seattle, the fall in Vancouver can be sunny and beautifully warm one week and show off its dull and gray side the next.
That being said, autumn in Hollywood North can be lovely as the surrounding waters are brimming with migrating whales. Take advantage of your Pacific Rim locale and book a whale watching excursion or a kayak tour around the city.
We also love a good spring trip to Vancouver because it really does offer the best of both worlds. With a moderate climate in the bustling city (daytime temps stay between 50 and 65 degrees) and some of the best skiing known to mankind just a short drive away, you’re free to enjoy the outdoors however you like — just keep in mind that March can be quite rainy.
What to pack for a trip to Vancouver
Vancouver is a casual and active city, so you can leave the formal wear at home. Neat, stylish clothing will suffice most anywhere.
This is also a great place for walking, whether between the downtown attractions or along the waterfront, so you’ll want pack a pair of comfortable shoes. It’s always smart to have an umbrella handy (although most upscale hotels will provide loaners), and you should carry a sweater or light jacket even in the summer months, since evenings tend to be cool.
Depending on the season and your preferred outdoor activities, you’ll want clothes and gear for running, cycling, kayaking, skiing or lounging at the beach. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen, too.
If you decide to hit the slopes but you haven’t packed your parka, don’t worry; you can rent gear and winter clothing at the local mountains.