How to: Visit Vancouver on a Budget

by  Teresa Bitler | Jun 2, 2014
Vancouver / :MJ_Prototype/iStock

City forests, trendy neighborhoods, and a formidable dining scene make Vancouver one of Canada’s most popular travel destinations. It isn’t the cheapest, though. Without a strategy, you could easily overspend in this seaport city. Here’s how to visit Vancouver on a budget without scrimping on experiences.

Find Cool Digs
An average downtown room can run 250 CAD to 400 CAD ($184 to $369), but you can get great value for your money if you know where to look. Recently renovated, The Burrard (200 CAD) features 72 chic, mid-century modern rooms within walking distance of the Vancouver Art Gallery and Sunset Beach Park. If you prefer something more historic, check out The Sylvia Hotel (190 CAD). This 1912 hotel sits on English Bay and is a short stroll from both Granville Island and Stanley Park.

For a boutique experience, try the Victorian Hotel (120 CAD), an 1898 redbrick building with original hardwood floors and period furniture. The less expensive rooms have shared baths, so if privacy is a must, upgrade to a king room on the first floor (200 CAD). Or, try the St. Regis Hotel (220 CAD). Although the rooms are a little more expensive, you get complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, and excellent service.

Eat like a local 
Vancouver is a haven for foodies. You can sample anything from gourmet granola to hearty soups at Granville Island Public Market, head to Chinatown or Little India, or order fresh seafood, all without breaking the bank. Save on Meats has served breakfast and burgers since 1957. Try the patty melt (10.95 CAD) or the roast (11.95 CAD). Or get adventurous with currywurst (8 CAD) at Bestie, a German eatery that has cold beer on tap to go with its sausage and fries.

If you want to try something upscale, Bistro 101 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts offers three-course lunches (20 CAD) and dinners (26 CAD), featuring entrees such as maple glazed duck breast, pan seared Arctic char filet, and Alberta beef strip loin. For lighter lunch fare, the school’s Bakery 101 sells scones and muffins (three for 5.50 CAD) for breakfast and soup and sandwich combos (7.75 CAD).

Finally, track down one of Vancouver’s food trucks. Popular trucks include Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, Japadog, Fresh Local Wild, and Feastro The Rolling Bistro.

Get Outside
Most of of Vancouver’s outdoor activities tend to be budget-friendly. Hikers won’t want to miss The Grouse Grind, aka “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” The climb up is free, but you’ll need 10  CAD to ride the gondola back down. For a less strenuous option, hike to the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge at no cost. Also free of charge: meandering through Stanley Park, the city’s first and largest park, a spot also prime for biking and rollerblading.

A former industrial site, Granville Island now boasts a farmers’ market, brewery, theaters, restaurants, and art galleries. You can spend a small fortune here on souvenirs and food, but it doesn’t cost anything to browse. Don’t miss Granville’s street performers, some of the best in the world. Other great shopping neighborhoods include Gastown and Robson Street.

If you just want to relax and unwind, though, pack a picnic lunch and head to one of Vancouver’s beaches. Or, end your day watching the sunset at English Bay.

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