Traveling to Vancouver for the first time can be an exciting experience. To make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth visit, here are the top 10 tips for travelers:
Decide What You Want to See: The first step to making the most of your time in Vancouver is having an idea about what you want to see and do before arriving. This will help avoid feeling overwhelmed or lost while exploring this wonderful city. Make a list of places you want to see or things you want to do. Then you can build your itinerary and accommodations around that list.
Decide How Many Days You Will Spend in Vancouver: Vancouver can be enjoyed in a day or in a week. Many who are coming to Alaska to cruise will either spend a few days before the cruise or after (or both) to really get a feel for the city. Some come for a week and enjoy one of the best cities in the world. Others use it as the start of a road trip and just take a small taste of what the city has to offer. Some places to start are: 3 days in Vancouver, Vancouver
What Time of Year Will You Visit: Vancouver has mild (but wet) winters. It has hot and (usually) dry summers. When you decide on the time of year you want to visit, check out what is going on in and around the city each month to take in some local events!
Pack for Variable Weather: Vancouver’s weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for rain at any time of the year. A waterproof jacket and comfortable walking shoes are essential. I highly recommend Vessi running shoes! They look cute and keep your feet dry!
Currency and Payment: The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Even most markets accept credit cards and other tap forms of payment like ApplePay. Some places do not take cash! Even most parking meters use cards or apps. If you want to get cash, there are ATM’s all over the place, even in grocery stores and gas stations. If you try and pay with USD most cashiers will look at you sideways unless you are in a tourist shop.
Public Transportation: Vancouver has an excellent public transportation system, including buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus. Consider purchasing a Compass Card for easy and cost-effective travel around the city.
Explore Neighborhoods: Vancouver is made up of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. Explore areas like Gastown, Granville Island, and Yaletown to get a sense of the city’s vibrant culture. If you want to know where to stay, there are hundreds of options. I always suggest staying in Coal Harbour. It is a great location for those who are cruising to Alaska and is walkable to Stanley Park, shopping, and plenty of restaurants. Pan Pacific is one of our favorites. If you are traveling with kids, check out this list of Vancouver Hotels with pools. I find a pool is one of out family hotel musts!
Try Local Cuisine: Vancouver is known for its diverse culinary scene. Don’t miss out on trying local specialties like Pacific salmon, poutine, and fresh seafood. Explore local markets like Granville Island Public Market for a variety of food options.
Outdoor Activities: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. Vancouver offers numerous outdoor activities, from hiking in Stanley Park to biking along the seawall. Don’t forget to bring comfortable outdoor clothing and proper footwear.
English and French: While English and French are Canada’s official languages, you will find very few Vancouverites who speak french. Over 50% of those who call Metro Vancouver home are not native English speakers. You will find Pubjabi, Hindi, Mandarin, Tagalog and plenty of other languages spoken by many Canadians.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Vancouver. In restaurants, it’s common to leave a tip of around 15-20% of the bill, depending on the service. Tipping for other services, like taxis and tour guides, is also common.
Safety and Security: Vancouver is generally a safe city for travelers. However, like in any city, be cautious of your belongings and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight.
Time Zone: Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone (PST/PDT) which is the same as Seattle and Los Angeles. It is three hours behind Toronto (EST).
Bonus Tip: Sustainability: Vancouver is environmentally conscious, so bring a reusable water bottle. Tap water is safe to drink all over Vancouver and most of British Columbia. You will also want some kind of shopping bag as plastic bags are almost impossible to come by and most stores now charge for bags.
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!