Backpackers Guide to Vancouver – Canada

Vancouver ariel shot

Vancouver is my ABSOLUTE favourite city. If you’re coming to Canada, you must put Vancouver onto your itinerary now. Vancouver is a bustling city with a relaxed and friendly vibe, hosting Canadas most ethnically diverse population. Despite being in a downtown metropolis, you feel so close to nature with the mountains and sea surrounding the city, offering many outdoor pursuits. The city is full of art galleries, museums and music scenes. There really is something for everyone.

Vancouver ariel shot

Photo from here

What to do

Explore Stanley Park: Stanley Park is my favourite location to explore… hire a bike for the day and explore the massive National Park. Some of my favourite spots in Stanley Park include Prospect Point, Beaver Lake and Second Beach.

Lions Gate Bridge:Prospect Point Vancouver

Stanley Park Biking

Grouse Mountain: The trip to Grouse Mountain is amazing in itself.  Catch the ferry across the harbour and ride the bus up to Grouse Mountain where you can ski/snowboard, zip line, watch Grizzly bears frolic or you can simply just enjoy the view.If your up for it, take the Grouse Grind, a 1 hour hike up Grouse. Short but steep.

Grizzly Bears Grouse Mountain Vancouver

Grizzly Bears Grouse Mountain

Lynn Canyon: Nestled on Vancouver’s North Shore. Check out the FREE suspension bridge, cliff jump in the canyon and hike to waterfalls. I highly recommend Lynn Canyon due to its amazing scenery, fun variety of activities and the fact that it is free.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Vancouver

Cliff Jumping Lynn canyonCapilano Suspension Bridge: Hangs high above the Capilano River on Vancouvers North Shore. The suspension bridge offers amazing views and is a tourists favourite, but I prefer Lynn Canyon as it is free and less crowded.

Vancouver Aquarium: A world-renowned leader in Marine science. If you love Marine animals… check it out.

Vancouver lookout tower: Enjoy views of cosmopolitan Vancouver, historic Gas town and bustling Coal Harbour.

Yale Town: Yale town is a beautiful part of Vancouver. The area is more residential and quieter than Downtown. I recommend walking to Yaletown and catching the Aquabus across the water to Granville Island.

Granville Island: A tourist hotspot, shopping district and entertainment center of Vancouver. Check out Granville markets while you are on Granville Island. 

Explore Downtown: You could spend a full day walking around Downtown Vancouver without getting bored, it is such a beautiful and vibrant city with so much to see.

Places to shop

Robson Street, Pacific Centre on Granville Street and Granville Markets.


Summer: June – August, however it is warm up until late September.

Winter: December – February

I recommend visiting between June- September.

 Recommended trip length

7 days. Vancouver is my absolute favourite city so I recommend spending at least a week. If you are short on time, a few days should satisfy before heading straight to the rocky mountains. See my other Canadian Destination Guides here

Getting around Vancouver

If you arrive at Vancouver Airport, there are a number of ways to get downtown.

Taxi: $34-36

Sky Train: Takes you directly from the airport to downtown for $5-7.

Arrange a transfer: Aeroshuttle provides a transfer service for $14.00 one-way (not including a tip).

If you don’t have lots of luggage I recommend taking the train. Otherwise, arrange a transfer and save $$.

If you arrive via Greyhound your options are:

Bus: you can simply walk across the street to the bus stop and catch one of the buses leaving frequently. The bus costs approximately $1.50 and circles the city. Ask the driver to let you know when your stop is.

Taxi: Taxis wait out the front of the bus station and cost around $15 to get downtown.

When in Vancouver, I find that most places are within walking distance. However,there are public bus services to help get around. 

Where to stay in Vancouver

For budget travellers, there are a number of hostels available:

Samesun Hostel: Located on Granville Street is my personal favourite.

Hosteling International: There are three HI Hostels in Vancouver. HI Vancouver Downtown is a clean and quite hostel located close to Granville Island. HI Central is on Granville Street in a great location amongst the pubs and clubs and HI Jericho Beach, which I have personally never stayed at.

Search for cheap accommodation options here.

See more from Canada here. 

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