Vancouver: Local Travel Info
A multicultural metropolis with snowcapped crags, city-hugging beaches and waterfront forests
Internal flights and major international airports in Vancouver
If you’re flying to Vancouver, you will almost certainly fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR), situated about 12 kms from central Vancouver. There is another airport in the city, Vancouver Coal Harbour Water Airport (CXH) but this only accommodates light aircraft flying to local destinations such as Vancouver Island and Whistler. Vancouver International airport on the other hand is a mid-sale airport, consistently rated one of the best in North America. Vancouver’s airport has daily international flights to Asia, Europe, Oceania, the United States, Mexico as well as other destinations within Canada.
Getting to and from the airport in Vancouver
There are a number of different transport options linking passengers with Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver. Choices include scheduled coach transfers, taxi, car rentals and the public transit system.
The scheduled airport bus, operating every 30 minutes, can be caught at either terminal and costs $13.75 (8.24 euros) per adult one way. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes. Exact information about departure times and pick-up/drop-off location s can be obtained from Airporter counters within the terminal or at www.yvrairporter.com.
Taking a taxi from the airport into Vancouver is also an option – licensed taxis are available 24 hours a day outside both international and domestic terminals. Vancouver taxi meters start at $2.70 (1.60) and add $1.58 (0.95 euros) per kilometre; the average cost of a taxi from the airport into downtown Vancouver would be approximately $23-26 (13-16 Euros).
Alternatively, there is Vancouver’s excellent public transport system. Bus #424 will take you from Vancouver International Airport to Airport Station. From there you can take the 98 B Line or #496 to downtown Vancouver. Fares vary according to the time of day (see Costs section) but please note that drivers only accept correct change. The journey by bus into Vancouver takes approximately an hour.
Travel costs in Vancouver
Renting cars in Vancouver
Vancouver is an easy city to access without a car; it also has terrible rush-hour traffic. Visitors wishing to explore Vancouver city itself should be fine using a combination of public transport and taxis. However, if you wish to explore further than the Vancouver city limits, taking day trips to Whistler, outlying suburbs such as the trendy White Rock or even just driving up to Grouse Mountain, then a car will come in handy.
There are a number of ways to go about renting. Most major car rental agencies have outlets at Vancouver International Airport as well as offices around downtown Vancouver. Renting a car can range from around $300 (180.50 euros) a week, although it is possible to get a cheaper deal if you book a fly-drive package through your airline.
A popular environmentally friendly alternative to renting from an agency is Zipcar (866-494-7227; www.zipcar.com). Zipcar owns a fleet of small (usually green-friendly hybrid) vehicles that are left at parking spots around ti=own. If you want to rent a car in downtown Vancouver, you can reserve one online at any time day or night for times ranging from an hour to a couple of days. You do have to become a member, but given that their rates are more flexible and generally lower than regular rental agencies this can work out cheaper. Hourly rates range from $9.75 (5.84 euros).
Any type of car rental in Vancouver can be expensive if unlimited mileage is not included in the package – Canada is a large country and if your excursions from Vancouver are going to be wide-ranging (i.e. more than 150-200 kms per day, the usual free mileage allowance) you might end up spending more than you bargained for. Bearing mind that you’ll also pay taxes on top of the initial figure and you should check carefully to see what insurance is included and whether it provides you with enough cover. An additional form of cover not generally included in the standard car rental insurance for Vancouver is the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). This can be expensive, costing around $15 (9 euros) a day, but without it you’re liable for everything down to the most minor scratch, even those that weren’t your fault.
Fuel is another cost to consider when hiring a car in Vancouver. Almost all Canadian vehicles run on unleaded fuel, which fluctuates in price but is usually around 90c - $1 (0.60 euros) a litre.
Parking will also need to be added to the cost of car rental – in Vancouver parking meters are a regular feature. It will cost 25c - $1 (sometimes more) per hour to park, whereas car parks will charge up to $30 (18 euros) a day.
To book car rental in Vancouver online, view our Car Hire section for Vancouver . We offer Ok Alpha users the latest special offers and best rates available for car hire in Vancouver . We advise you book your Vancouver hire car in advance so you can pick it up and drop it off directly at the airport.
Drivers licenses requirements in Vancouver?
In order to rent a car in Vancouver you will need a credit card and a full valid driving license. Vancouver car rental companies will be satisfied with a license from the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand. If you are from a country other than one of these, an international driver’s license is usually required. Generally, to hire a car in Vancouver you need to be over 21 with a full driving license, although some rental companies might refuse to rent to you if you’ve held your license for less than one year. If you’re under 25 expect to pay a higher insurance premium.
Rules for Driving in Vancouver
Rules for driving in Vancouver are fairly straightforward. Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road and seatbelts must be worn by drivers and passengers alike. If you have a child under the age of five, they need to be strapped into an approved safety seat. Drink-driving is not tolerated in Vancouver: it is a criminal offence to drive with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08 percent. One oddity of driving in Vancouver is that it has a four-way stop sign rather than the roundabouts used in countries such as the UK. When arriving at one you need to give way to the cars that arrive first. If two cars arrive at the same time, you must give way to the car coming on your right. You can also turn right at red lights, as long as you’ve come to a complete stop first.
In terms of speed limits, the rule of speed for driving in Vancouver is 50km/h unless you are on a highway, where 100km/h is the limit for a major highway, 80km/h for a rural highway. Around schools the limit is lower – usually 30 km/h. If you are caught speeding you’ll be liable for an on the spot fine. You’ll also be fined for not carrying your license, parking in the wrong place or having someone on board who isn’t wearing a seatbelt. Parking fines range from $30 (18 euros) for a minor offence to upwards of $150 (90 euros) if your car is towed.
Vancouver by Bus and SkyTrain
Vancouver’s public transport network consists of bus routes and the SkyTrain Monorail system, with tickets valid across the network of buses, SkyTrains and SeaBuses. Tickets and passes can be purchased from bus drivers, SkyTrain stations, the Vancouver Touristinfo Centre and some shops, but please note that bus drivers require the exact fare. Transport service starts at around 5am on the busiest routes and runs until about 1am, although you’re advised to check the exact timings of the route you wish to travel on.
The cost of travel by bus and SkyTrain in Vancouver depends on how far you want to travel, what time of day you travel and the period you wish to travel for. Travel is divided into three zones until 6.30pm on weekdays; evenings and weekends are not zoned and passengers are charges a flat fee of $2.50 (1.50 euros) per journey. In peak hours, Zone One is extensive and covers the central downtown area. You’re unlikely to venture further than Zone One unless you’re traveling to the airport in Zone Two. You can either purchase a single ticket, which is valid for 90 minutes of travel, a book of 10 FareSaver tickets, or a day pass. If you’re planning to make more than three journeys in a day it’s usually most economical to buy a day pass.
Fares for travel on bus and Skytrain in Vancouver are as follows:
? One Zone: $ 2.50 Adults / $ 1.75 Concession (1.50 / 1.05 euros)
? Two Zone: $ 3.75 Adults $ / 2.50 Concession (2.25/1.50 euros)
? Three Zone: $ 5.00 Adults $ / 3.50 Concession (3 / 2.10 euros)
? Off Peak (No Zones) $ 2.50 Adults / $ 1.75 Concession (1.50 / 1.05 euros)
? Day pass (all zones) $9.00 / $7.00 Concession (5.40 / 4.20 euros)
? Book of 10 tckets Zone One $19 Adults / $ 16 Concession (11.40/9.60 euros)
Most Vancouver buses and transport are wheelchair accessible. You can recognise accessible buses and bus stops by the international wheelchair symbol.
Vancouver’s buses and other transport run efficiently and frequently. The Skytrain links with the bus network at stations and with SeaBus SeaBus at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.
The transit network is generally safe. Visitors need to exercise the same level of caution when travelling late or alone as they would in any other major city.
Taxis in Vancouver
Taxis in Vancouver are generally a safe and reliable form of transport. Vancouver taxi firms ask their drivers to complete a training programme, which should mean that your driver knows where they are going and are safe to travel with. Taxis can be flagged down in the street and Vancouver taxi meters start at $2.70 (1.60 euros) and add $1.58 (0.95 euros) per kilometre, with a 10% tip as the norm. If you’re having trouble flagging down a cab, it’s worth knowing that they tend to congregate round the big hotels, so head to the nearest one if you’re stuck.
Cycling in Vancouver
Cycling is a good way to get to grips with Vancouver, not least because the enormous Stanley Park is well worth exploring and can be exhausting on foot (rollerblading is also popular for the same reason). The climate is moderate in Vancouver, making it pleasnt to cycle almost all year round (although note well that Vancouver is famous for its rain, so winter might not be the season of choice for the cyclist). Vancouver is cyclist-friendly, having created may bike paths and a network of routes. Tehse are identified by green bicycle route signs placed at intervals. Roads are usually stenciled with identifiers as well.
Cyclists in Vancouver are subject to Motor Vehicle Act regulations and City By-laws. You need to wear a helmet, your bike must have a bell, remember to signal before turning and don’t ride on the pavement unless there is a sign saying you can. Remember to keep your bike locked up if you need to leave it for any period of time - Vancouver is a relatively safe city but property crime is one of its biggest problems.
Hiring a bike is easy in Vancouver; there are a number of shops offering bike and rollerblade hire, such as Spokes Bicycle Rental in Stanley Park. To rent a bike you normally need a form of I.D. and a credit card or a cash deposit. Rental costs for bikes usually range from about $8 (4.80 euros) an hour $40 (24 euros) for a day.
Water Transport in Vancouver
As a city surrounded on three sides by water, Vancouver has always had need of a water transport system. SeaBus is a passenger-only ferry service connecting Vancouver from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore. The crossing of Burrard Inlet takes 12 minutes and offers a truly beautiful perspective of the city and its mountain backdrop. Tickets for the SeaBus water transport are part of the integrated transit ticketing system that also applies to Vancouver’s buses and the SkyTrain.
Apart from the SeaBus, there are a number of small ferries run by rival companies that offer fun, frequent and picturesque services daily. The ferries are tiny, almost comedic boats which take passengers to destinations such as Granville Island, the Yaletown dock and Vanier Park. Tickets can be bought on board and cost $3- 6 (1.80 -3.60 euros) for a single adult fare.
Hitch hiking in Vancouver
Hitch hiking is a reasonably popular method of travel for those heading for Whistler or Vancouver Island. Although you can’t hitchhike within the city itself, it’s not illegal to hitch along popular routes such as the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Hwy99 - Vancouver to Whistler). Where it is illegal to hitchhike around Vancouver or it’s not possible to do it safely, there are clear signs prohibiting hitchhiking.