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Where to Stay in Vancouver: 7 BEST Areas & Hotels (for all budgets!)

Where to Stay in Vancouver: 7 BEST Areas & Hotels (for all budgets!)

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Vancouver, British Columbia is a city best known for its beautiful setting on the west coast between the ocean and mountains and its mild, but rainy, climate. This makes it an outdoor haven, drawing in travelers looking for epic hikes, world-class skiing, or other adventurous activities!

Within the city, you’ll find tons of amazing restaurants and bars, unique sightseeing and culture, and some hidden gems. No matter what your reason for visiting Vancouver is, you won’t run out of things to do here!

With that said, staying in the right area for the type of holiday you want to enjoy is very important. But with so many amazing options, deciding can be hard. And that’s why I wrote this blog!

This is a guide to the best areas of Vancouver to stay in as well as top hotel choices—for every budget. I (once a local) have listed the pros and cons of each neighborhood in addition to some hotel suggestions to choose from. Read on for the ultimate guide on where to stay in Vancouver, BC!

Table Of Contents
  1. The Absolute BEST Area and Hotel in Vancouver (Our TOP Choice)
  2. Where are the BEST Areas to Stay in Vancouver 
  3. Yaletown 
  4. The Best Places to Stay in Yaletown
  5. Gastown
  6. The Best Places to Stay in Gastown
  7. West End
  8. The Best Places to Stay in the West End
  9. Coal Harbour
  10. The Best Places to Stay in Coal Harbour
  11. Kitsilano
  12. The Best Places to Stay in Kitsilano
  13. North Vancouver
  14. The Best Places to Stay in North Vancouver
  15. Richmond
  16. The Best Places to Stay in Richmond
  17. Other Things to do While You're in Vancouver
  18. Getting Around Vancouver 
  19. Thanks for reading!
  20. Renting a Car in British Columbia
  21. Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!

The Absolute BEST Area and Hotel in Vancouver (Our TOP Choice)

Quayside Marina in Yaletown Vancouver at Sunset
Welcome to Yaletown – the best area in Vancouver to stay!

Let’s cut to the chase, the best part of Vancouver to stay in is Yaletown. Yaletown offers everything you could want when searching for accommodations in Vancouver. Its location puts you right in the action, so the top things to do are walkable, along with great restaurants and bars. This is more of an upscale part of the city and all of the accommodations are top-tier, making your stay extremely comfortable.

If I had to choose just one hotel to recommend in Yaletown, it would be the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. While it is more on the luxurious side, you can actually find some really good deals here. I’ve seen prices as low as $250 CAD a night! But, the location and accommodations are worth the price, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing stay in Vancouver!

Where are the BEST Areas to Stay in Vancouver 

Vancouver city on a sunny day
The beautiful Vancouver!

Vancouver can be split up in a few different ways. Often people will use the term “Vancouver” to refer to the greater Vancouver Area, which includes the suburb cities of Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, and others. 

This article will focus mostly on neighborhoods in downtown Vancouver, including Yaletown, Gastown, the West End, and Coal Harbour, in addition to Kitsilano, North Vancouver, and Richmond, which are a bit further away. Staying in any of these areas allows you to be close to major attractions and transportation to easily get around and explore.

At a quick glance, here are some highlights for the best areas to stay in Vancouver:

  • Yaletown: Great location along the Seawall with close access to concert and sports venues.
  • Gastown: Historic area with cobblestone streets, cute boutiques, and trendy cocktail bars.
  • West End: Diverse neighborhood with quick access to shopping, Stanley Park, the beach, and lots of restaurants.
  • Coal Harbour: Luxury hotels with epic views out over the harbor and mountains. 
  • Kitsilano: Laid-back and chill, close to both the beach and great shopping.
  • North Vancouver: The closest you can get to the North Shore mountains for hiking, biking, and skiing.
  • Richmond: Close to the airport with tons of yummy Asian restaurants.

Each neighborhood in Vancouver offers something different and has its own personality! Some areas are better for certain types of travelers, whether you’re on a business trip or backpacking the country. 

Below you’ll read all about each area in detail so that you can decide exactly where to stay in Vancouver!


A view of Yaletown from an highrise apartment
Yaletown as seen from a friend of mine’s apartment! Not a bad place to call home!

Honestly, Yaletown is where you want to stay if you’re traveling through Vancouver! Not only is it the nicest area, but there are ample hotels and restaurants, and tons of things to do in Yaletown.

Yaletown is a trendy and popular Vancouver neighborhood situated on the water at False Creek. The Seawall is one of the main attractions, and there will be people walking, running, and cycling along it all hours of the day, enjoying the gorgeous scenery. 

Residents of Yaletown live in the many upscale high-rise apartment buildings and enjoy the many amazing Vancouver restaurants, bars, and patios. It is also home to Rogers Arena and BC Place, so it’s a great spot to explore if you plan on catching a show or concert. Families visiting Yaletown will enjoy David Lam Park, George Wainborn Park, and the nearby ScienceWorld. 

Mainland Street is a great place to go for patio drinks and a bite to eat. It is a vibrant cobblestone street lined with bars and many of the best restaurants in Yaletown (and all of Vancouver, for that matter!)

Advantages of staying in Yaletown:

  • Quick access to the Seawall to go for a walk, run, or bike ride.
  • Beautiful views out over False Creek. 
  • Access to the aqua ferry, a fun way to get around the city and explore.
  • Great restaurants and bars in the area.

Disadvantages of staying in Yaletown:

  • While there is a close SkyTrain station, it is on the Canada Line, which is not as easily connected to the rest of the SkyTrain routes.
  • Traffic can be bad and parking expensive, especially on nights with concerts and events at the nearby arenas. 
  • Accommodation is overall fairly expensive in this neighborhood.

The Best Places to Stay in Yaletown

Opus Hotel – $$$ 

If you’re looking for luxury and superb accommodations, Opus Hotel is a great choice. It is located in Yaletown near the Yaletown-Roundhouse SkyTrain Station. The front desk staff here are energetic and upbeat and will aim to meet your needs- this is also where you can ask them about their bike rentals.

They have an on-site restaurant with in-room massage services. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, a work desk, and heated floors, while the more premium rooms have large soaking tubs and a gas fireplace. If you want breakfast included each morning it costs an additional $25 CAD. Prices for a standard king room start at $420 CAD.

You can check prices and book the Opus Hotel here.

JW Marriott Parq Vancouver -$$ 

The JW Marriott Parq Vancouver is located right near Rogers Arena, perfect for catching a concert or show. The rooms are spotless and have such comfortable beds so it will be the perfect hotel to get a great night’s sleep. The staff is super friendly and helpful in getting you settled in and the property also has eight different restaurants on-site and a spa to indulge in. You can add on breakfast for $35 CAD per person daily. Prices for a night start at $405 CAD for a double queen room. 

You can check prices and book JW Marriott Parq Vancouver on

Sandman Hotel Vancouver – $

While this hotel is a little bit outside of Yaletown, it is just a few minutes ‘ walk away. The Sandman Hotel Vancouver is probably the most affordable hotel in the area, with rooms starting at around $300 CAD per night. It offers basic and comfortable accommodations and each room includes a desk, coffee maker, and a seating area.

The property has its fair share of amenities including a fitness center, pool and hot tub, a restaurant called Moxies that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a bar on-site. Right next door to the hotel is the popular Shark Club Bar and Grill.

You can check prices and book Sandman Hotel Vancouver on


A beautiful street in Gastown, vancouver where our food tour was
A beautiful street in Gastown, Vancouver!

Stay in Gastown if you like historic buildings or love a night out for some drinks.

Gastown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver and still retains some old-world charm. There are cobblestone streets and Victorian-era buildings, creating a romantic and intimate environment. The iconic whistling steam clock is always surrounded by tourists since it’s a popular spot on Vancouver city tours, but worth a look! 

The area is an eclectic mix of tourist souvenir shops, trendy bars and restaurants, and art galleries. There are some great boutiques and local stores if you enjoy shopping! I actually did a food tour in Gastown and let me tell you, there are plenty of great food options here – there are so many delicious restaurants in Gastown!

Even if you don’t choose to stay in Gastown, I recommend adding it to your Vancouver itinerary.

Overall Gastown is one of the best places to stay in Vancouver for the younger travelers who love the hip atmosphere. I often stay in Gastown myself!

Advantages of staying in Gastown:

  • Historical neighborhood with interesting architecture and cobblestone streets.
  • Tons of trendy bars, cocktail lounges, and restaurants.
  • Cute boutiques and art galleries for window (and real) shopping.
  • Easy access to Waterfront SkyTrain station and cruise ship terminal.

Disadvantages of staying in Gastown:

  • Touristy. It can be busy with tour groups and has a lot of kitschy souvenir shops.
  • Borders the DTES, which has a large homeless population and can be dirty. While it is still safe, most visitors will not want to venture out of Gastown into the DTES.

The Best Places to Stay in Gastown

The Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites – $$

The Delta Hotel by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites is part of the popular and highly regarded Delta Hotels. They offer beautiful and spacious suites and rooms for a higher mid-range price. The location is excellent, just a few blocks from Waterfront Station.

There is a gym, restaurant, and bar to take advantage of during your stay.

Rooms start around $400 CAD per night and each of them includes a desk, coffee maker, and a mini fridge.

You can check prices and book the Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites on

Skwachàys Lodge – $$

Skwachàys Lodge is a mid-range hotel that’s an excellent choice if you want something with a bit of character! It is furnished and decorated with Aboriginal artwork, including a 40-foot totem pole in the lobby. There is a gift shop and art gallery with beautiful pieces from local artists. They even serve bannock (Aboriginal fried bread) for breakfast!

The only con to the location is the area can seem a bit dodgy even though the hotel is perfectly safe and the parking is underground. In general, it just might not be the best place to walk around at night but during the daytime, it should be fine.

The rooms are quaint and cozy and include plush mattresses and robes for your comfort. You can expect to pay $290 CAD for a double room with two beds.

You can check prices and book the Skwachàys Lodge on

The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $

If you’re looking for a budget option, The Cambie Hostel Gastown is the way to go! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver as in some other large cities, but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings, it is a solid middle-of-the-road option in an excellent location.

Prices are around $50 CAD for a bed in a dorm or around $150 CAD for a private room with a shared bathroom. Complementary luggage storage at this hotel is available.

You can check prices and book the Cambie Hostel Gastown on either Hostelworld or

Related Read: No matter where you’re staying in Vancouver, adding on a sunset dinner cruise like this one is something we highly recommend – we’ve done it twice!

West End

Sunset Bay Beach in Vancouver, BC
The gorgeous Sunset Bay Beach on the West End!

Stay in the West End if you want to spend time outside at Stanely Park or the beach.

The West End of Vancouver is sandwiched between the business district, Stanley Park, and the ocean. It’s a great option if you are looking for quick access to recreational options like walking or biking the Seawall or hanging out at the beach.

Nearby are two gorgeous Vancouver beaches called Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach. Both are perfect during a summer trip in Vancouver to enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures.

While this area of Vancouver is mostly residential, there are lots of excellent restaurants in this area with cuisine from all over the world. There’s also lots of shopping to be done on Denman Street.

Davie Village, which is Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ hub, is also on the West End. You’ll be able to spot this area by the colorful crosswalks, buildings, and LGBTQ+ flags! It’s a fun place to hang out.

The West End is an underrated part of the city and staying close to English Bay Beach is perfect for travelers of all ages and interests. I love this area and have stayed here many times before. Head to the Cactus Club for a beautiful lunch overlooking the ocean!

Advantages of staying in the West End:

  • Close to Stanley Park—an iconic and massive park with many walking trails through the forest and a seawall circling the entire park for sweeping views of the ocean. Full of many free attractions in Vancouver like the Totem Poles, Spray Park, Rose Garden, and beaches. There are also lots of Stanley Park tours you’ll be close to.
  • Mostly residential, so quieter and easier to find street parking (free and paid parking is available).
  • Close to Sunset Beach along English Bay. These beaches have the most epic sunsets but are also great for swimming, playing volleyball, or going for a run.

Disadvantages of staying in the West End:

  • Far from any SkyTrain station. You will need to either walk 15+ minutes or take a bus to connect to the SkyTrain.
  • No main highways or thoroughfares, so traffic is stop-and-go and can be bad.

The Best Places to Stay in the West End

The Listel Hotel Vancouver – $$

The Listel Hotel Vancouver is a mid-range hotel and a perfect option if you want to be in the middle of all the action. It’s located on Robson Street, which is famous for both common retail and luxury shopping. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery. Prices are around $250 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the Listel Hotel Vancouver on

English Bay Hotel – $

While the English Bay Hotel is not the prettiest hotel in Vancouver, it is clean, secure, and is in an awesome location! It’s just a few minutes away from English Bay Beach and has all the basic amenities you need.

Another great feature about this hotel is that each room includes a kitchenette so you can save even more money and cook breakfast from your room. The lobby is open 24/7 and they offer free coffee and hot chocolate. Coin laundry is located on the property It’s an excellent budget choice with prices starting at $140 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the English Bay Hotel on

Coal Harbour

Coal Harbour, Vancouver
Coal Harbour is so beautiful!

Stay in Coal Harbour for views of the mountains while watching the bustling marina.

Coal Harbour is the neighborhood with the best views in Vancouver, arguably (the views are pretty good from all over the city!) It holds the Vancouver marina, filled with expensive yachts and houseboats, and is where seaplanes will take off throughout the day.

This area is close to the business district, so there are lots of tall, glass skyrises, which make for an interesting juxtaposition against the natural harbor. There are also views out over the North Shore mountains from Coal Harbour, which are absolutely breathtaking! This is a great neighborhood for a bite to eat on a patio.

I love this area and it’s one of the best in my opinion. Not only are you close to the historic Gastown, but you’re also only a short stroll from Stanley Park with relatively easy access to the beaches on the West End. I don’t stay here though, simply because of how expensive it is. Luxury travelers will love Coal Harbour!

Advantages to staying in Coal Harbour:

  • Amazing views from every corner. 
  • Close to Waterfront Station and the Convention Centre, so perfect if you are visiting for a conference or leaving on a cruise. It is also located near the harbor, where floatplanes take off for trips to Vancouver Island or elsewhere. 

Disadvantages of staying in Coal Harbour:

  • Hotels and restaurants are generally very expensive in this area.
  • Some cafes or shops will close early as they primarily serve businesses during the day.

The Best Places to Stay in Coal Harbour

Fairmont Pacific Rim – $$$ 

If you are looking for modern luxury, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is it! The Fairmont is an upscale hotel with a full-service spa, a massive 4,000 sq ft gym, a rooftop swimming pool, and an outdoor lounge area and terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right on the waterfront.

The location is hard to beat, it’s located just a 5-minute walk from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal.

There are on-site restaurants that specialize in different cuisines from Italian to sushi to sustainable and organic there is something here for every palate. Live music is also frequent among the restaurants. If you want to be served inside your room there is 24/7 room service.

A stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim is not a stay you will regret! Rooms average around $700 CAD a night.

You can check prices and book the Fairmont Pacific Rim on

Pan Pacific Vancouver – $$$ 

The Pan Pacific Vancouver is featured in so many iconic pictures of Vancouver’s waterfront area — it’s the hotel under the white sales next to Canada Place. It’s right next to the cruise ship terminal and has epic views out over the harbor and ocean. The rooms themselves are pleasant (many offering views!) and have a seating area and mini bar and the bathrooms are adorned with marble.

The on-site Oceans 999 restaurant serves Asian fusion cuisine and the Coal Harbor Bar features an outdoor terrace and offers a full-service bar with cocktails. There is also a luxurious spa with a sauna and heated outdoor pool on site. For an all-around delightful stay with impressive views and amenities, you can expect the price for a room to start around $629 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the Pan Pacific Vancouver on

Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront – $$

The Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront is a great mid-range option, as it is close to the waterfront and has some great views out over Coal Harbour. From this area, it is super easy to walk around or bike through Stanley Park and you can even access the SkyTrain easily.

It has an indoor pool and fitness center along with an on-site restaurant. The rooms look pretty standard but all of them have a Juliette balcony and a Keurig. Prices start at approximately $500 CAD a night.

You can check prices and book the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront on


Kitsilano Beach Vancouver
The beautiful Kitsilano Beach Vancouver

Stay in Kitsilano if you are into yoga, the beach, and shopping!

Kitsilano is a neighborhood located just across the Burrard Street Bridge from downtown Vancouver. It’s a trendy neighborhood known for its laid-back lifestyle. There is great shopping in this area and a ton of healthy food options. There are plenty of amazing local restaurants in Kitsilano that you should really check out.

There are great options for outdoor recreation: yoga studios, Kitsilano Beach, or Kits pool. There are some popular cultural attractions, too, like the Vancouver Maritime Museum. And, even though it’s technically not in Kitsilano, Granville Island deserves an honorable mention! This spot has SO much to see and do and is well worth a visit.

I have only stayed in Kitsilano once before in an Airbnb. I enjoyed the area especially if you stay near Kits Point. With that said though, the inner suburbs are a little far from the action so only stay here if you don’t mind using public transport, the Aquabus, or driving.

If you stay on Granville Island though, you’ll love this location!

Advantages of staying in Kitsilano:

  • Access to Kitsilano Beach, which has a large saltwater view. 
  • Awesome mountain views.
  • Excellent shopping along West 4th Avenue.

Disadvantages of staying in Kitsilano:

  • Far away from any SkyTrain station, need to rely on buses for public transportation.
  • There is no highway access, so there can be a lot of stop-and-go traffic, especially along West 4th Avenue. 
  • Further away from other neighborhoods in Vancouver, i.e., it is not within walking distance of most areas of downtown.
  • Mostly a residential area with fewer hotel options.

The Best Places to Stay in Kitsilano

Granville Island Hotel – $$

Technically a bit outside of Kitsilano, but still close enough to walk (25 minutes), the Granville Island Hotel is a mid-range boutique hotel that has everything you need! It is right on Granville Island and has an on-site fitness center, hot tub, and bicycle rentals, making the commute to the beach much easier.

The decor in each of the rooms differs from room to room but all rooms have a mini-fridge, a coffee maker, and free toiletries. For meals, you can dine at the on-site Dockside Restaurants and Bar. The rates per night start at $449 CAD for a king room.

You can check prices and book the Granville Island Hotel on

3-Bedroom Home in the Kits – $$

Because there are not as many hotels in the Kitsilano neighborhood, which is mostly residential, an entire home rental is a good choice. This 3-bedroom home is around a 15-minute walk from the beach and shopping area. If you don’t have a car you may need to Uber if planning to go anywhere else other than the beachside.

It’s a private rental, so you get the whole 3-bedroom house to yourself that sleeps 8 people for $400 CAD a night. While the home is spacious and clean and isn’t necessarily outdated but could use a little bit of updating.

You can check prices and book Hom in the Kits on

Related Read: Check out all the best things to do on Granville Island before you go!

North Vancouver

The views overlooking the water from Quarry Rock, Vancouver
The views overlooking the water from Quarry Rock in North Vancouver

Stay in North Vancouver if you can’t get enough of the outdoors!

North Vancouver is a city—you guessed it—north of Vancouver. It is home to the beloved North Shore Mountains (Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress) which are the perfect outdoor playground for nature lovers. There are year-round recreation options like hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing – some of the best activities in British Columbia

North Vancouver has some popular tourist destinations, like Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Grouse Mountain Gondola, and the famous Quarry Rock – one of the best short hikes in Vancouver! It’s accessible via the SeaBus, which is a fun and affordable way to catch some views of this gorgeous city from the water. 

Overall I love North Vancouver! It’s the place I stay if I want to go hiking, skiing, or just enjoy the great outdoors.

Advantages of staying in North Vancouver:

  • Access to the mountains for hiking and skiing. Very “outdoorsy” population with tons of stores, lots of great Vancouver tours, and events that cater to outdoor recreation.
  • Close to Capilano Suspension Bridge, a must-do attraction in Vancouver.
  • Nearby to the vibrant waterfront area of Lonsdale Quay, which has the BEST markets.
  • Accessible via AquaBus, which is a fun and cheap way to explore North Vancouver. The SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay is a fun place to check out, too.

Disadvantages of staying in North Vancouver:

  • Traffic over the bridge into downtown Vancouver can be terrible, with frequent accidents blocking the lanes.
  • Further removed from other Vancouver neighborhoods, so harder to get around.
  • No access via SkyTrain, and the bus system is not as strong as in Vancouver—a car is an optimal way to move around the city.

The Best Places to Stay in North Vancouver

Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier – $$

The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier is a mid-range hotel in North Vancouver, as it’s right on the Vancouver Harbour. It has great views and is close to the SeaBus terminal for easy access to downtown (a 12-minute ride). Each room includes a desk, fridge, microwave, and a tea and coffee machine. There is a 25-meter (82 feet) swimming pool, fitness center, yoga studio, sauna and steam room, and free bikes to use here as well.

For dinner, you can dine at the on-site restaurant which serves fresh seafood and regional favorites.

Prices are start around $500 CAD a night. You can check prices and book the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier on

Holiday Inn North Vancouver – $

Sometimes chain hotels are nice, as you always know what you’re getting! The Holiday Inn North Vancouver offers clean and comfortable rooms with the basic amenities you need. It’s located just over the bridge off of Highway #1, so it is a good option for guests with a car who are planning to drive and visit areas outside of North Vancouver (i.e., traveling north towards Whistler). Prices average around $270 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the Holiday Inn North Vancouver on


Birds eye view of the Richmond Night Market, Vancouver
The Richmond Night Market is huge!

Stay in Richmond to be close to the airport and stuff your face with delicious food!

Richmond is located south of Vancouver and is where the international airport (YVR) is located. The city has a large Chinese population and is known for its Asian influences, including excellent restaurants, the Richmond Night Market (again, excellent food), and the International Buddhist Temple. 

Steveston, one neighborhood in Richmond, is a historic fishing village that is still active today. It has a great waterfront area to walk, relax, and grab some fish and chips or ice cream! 

Advantages to staying in Richmond:

  • Close access to the airport. The SkyTrain travels from YVR right into downtown Vancouver, making it easy for guests to transit into the city center. 
  • It is connected via highway to other areas of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, including the ferry terminals in Delta, the international border with the USA, or the cities of Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.
  • Excellent and affordable restaurants, especially for Chinese and other Asian cuisines.
  • Good parks and places to go for a walk, like the Iona Jetty or Richmond Dyke Trail.

Disadvantages of staying in Richmond:

  • Far from downtown Vancouver. 
  • Not a very walkable city—a car or public transit is required to get around.

The Best Places to Stay in Richmond

Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal – $$

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal the only hotel located right in YVR, this is the best choice for a layover or if you prefer to be close to the airport to store your luggage while exploring. Like all Fairmont hotels, you can expect luxury, comfort, and world-class service at this hotel! Rooms start at approximately $350 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal on

Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport – $

The Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport is a low-budget option if you want to be close to the airport. You can expect clean but basic accommodations, along with a free airport shuttle and breakfast that typically features a hot continental breakfast that features cheese omelets, eggs, and cinnamon rolls. If you want to visit the River Rock Casino Resort it is under a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

Rooms are average around $300 CAD per night.

You can check prices and book the Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport on

Related Read: Heading to Whistler next? Check out our blogs about the best things to do in Whistler and where to stay in Whistler for all the info you need to know to plan your trip!

Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver

View out the window of a sea plane over Vancouver, Canada
Views from a seaplane are epic!
Bailey sits at the Boatshed Restaurant in Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC
Enjoying the view at sunset from The Boatshed restaurant in Kitsilano.

Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re here, be sure not to miss some of the top attractions and activities:

  • Whale Watching – Without a doubt, the most popular tour in Vancouver is whale watching. Set off from the city on a half-day on the ocean looking for whales. If you’re lucky, you might even see Orcas (also known as Killer Whales.) This whale-watching tour is a ton of fun, and at only about $235 CAD it is good value too!
  • Ride in a Seaplane – One of our favorite memories in Vancouver was riding in a seaplane. Taking off and landing on the ocean is super exciting, and then the views from the air are breathtaking. This seaplane ride lasts for 20 minutes and costs $168 CAD. It departs and returns to Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. The best part is that seaplane tours in Vancouver operate all year round, so even if you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter you can take to the sky!
  • Eat ALL the food! – Vancouver is a foodie destination. Showcasing cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, you really need to make an effort to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-to’s. For Asian cuisine, you can’t pass up Minami for sushi or Danbo for Ramen. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in the area of Gastown.
  • Explore Kitsilano – One of our favorite areas in all of Vancouver is Kitsilano. This suburb is super trendy and has many cute stores, cafes, and restaurants that are well worth checking out. On top of that, Kitsilano Beach is one of the best beaches in Vancouver and the perfect place to relax. It’s also our favorite place to watch the sunset.

Getting Around Vancouver 

Aquabus or Water Taxi to Granville Island in Downtown Vancouver
This is a unique way to get around Vancouver!

Transportation and ease of navigating a new city are super important to consider when planning a trip. It will help you determine where to stay in Vancouver and what you’ll be able to visit while in the city. In Vancouver, there are a few different options for transportation in and around the city.


This is probably the best form of transportation if you want to explore anywhere outside of downtown Vancouver and participate in activities like hiking or skiing, which require getting a bit further away. Traffic in downtown Vancouver can be fairly busy, just like any city center.

There is ample parking available both on the streets and in parkades, though it can be expensive. Some hotels provide parking, so check ahead of time. 

If you can rent a car so you can explore Vancouver with ease! Just be prepared to pay for parking unless your hotel includes it.

Car share

A great option besides renting a car is using a car share service like Modo or Evo. These services allow you to rent a car and pay based on the time it’s used (i.e., pay for 30 minutes, two hours, or the full day, depending on how long you drive for).

You can pick up and drop off the car at specific checkpoints around the city and the best part is they get lots of free parking. This makes it super easy to use a car for just the time that you need it. 

Public transportation

Vancouver’s public transit system is not as extensive as many other major cities, but it is still a good way to get around to main attractions. The SkyTrain provides excellent access to some of the neighboring cities, such as Burnaby, New Westminster, or Surrey, so it offers a good option if you plan on exploring outside of downtown. It also runs from the airport, so again, a good option to get into the city from the airport. 

There are also many buses in the city that run frequently. Note that public transportation options are extremely limited overnight, with only a couple of night buses and no SkyTrian options after around 1:00 am. All public transportation is run by the company TransLink and is fairly affordable – a single trip costs $3.05 CAD, and a day pass costs $10.75 CAD.

Taxis and rideshares

Taxis are available throughout the city, as are Uber and Lyft. These are good options in the downtown core but can get pricey if you are going further outside of that region. For example, the taxi cost from YVR to Vancouver is about $30-50 CAD.


The Aquabus is one of the more unique ways to get around Vancouver. These small boats visit 8 locations in the harbor all the way from The Village to Granville Island. The Aquabus costs $17 CAD for a full day pass or round trip tickets start at $3.85 CAD but prices vary depending on the route you take. You can check out all their routes and prices here.

Walking and biking

Vancouver is a very walkable city, and it is possible to walk just about anywhere in the downtown core.

Biking is also a good option, as there are dedicated bike lanes throughout most of the city. You can rent bikes all over the city and pretty much ride everywhere you want to downtown. I love doing this, especially on a beautiful day!

Related Read: Visiting Vancouver with your loved one? Check out how to plan the most romantic honeymoon in Vancouver!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel from Destinationless Travel in Vancouver, Canada
Thanks for reading!

Vancouver is an awesome city with so much to see and do! There are also a ton of different neighborhoods, each with its pros and cons. I hope this blog about where to stay in Vancouver helped you figure out what the right area is for you to stay in and some hotel options, if you need more specific help, just reach out to us!

I know that whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy your visit to Vancouver so be sure to check out more of our Vancouver blogs including this guide on how to spend 3 days in Vancouver!

33 Fun Things to do in Vancouver in Winter

How to Get from Vancouver to Whistler +18 EPIC Road Trip Stops

21 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Banff: Road Trip Itinerary


Sunday 14th of August 2022

Really impressed by your travel blog, loads of great advice, coming to Vancouver in early September to meet my 2nd cousin who never seen so will be a pilgrimage & an epic 3 week trip, so thank you, kind regards Graham