Vancouver, all chic and cool on Canada’s west coast has climbed the ranks as one of the best (and most expensive) places to live in North America but what about for visitors? Budget travellers need not worry, we’ll show you how to experience this city completely free.
One of the biggest draws of Vancouver is the incredible nature on its doorstep. With views of the Rocky Mountains, tall-tree forests and a magical rocky coastline, there is endless fun to be had in Vancouver’s parks. First stop is Stanley Park. Stop by the park’s Lost Lagoon Nature House for a free bird-watching tour and explanations on the park’s unique flora and fauna.
Chinatown is the next stop. Say, what? While the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden may charge admission, the park next door does not. Lily ponds spotted with curious turtles, neon-orange koi carp and leafy traditional Chinese gardens are a perfect escape in the city centre.
Nature doesn’t stop by day. At night, head to the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory for a look at the stars. It’s located in Kitsilano it offers Friday and Saturday evening viewings through the half-metre telescope, donations welcome.
There’s more outdoor public art in Vancouver than Tim Horton’s (a good thing) but if you want more than that, there’s also a fine selection of free galleries and museums to visit while on holidays in Vancouver. Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Charles H. Scott Gallery at Emily Carr University on Granville Island
- Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia
- Offsite, the outdoor installation area of the Vancouver Art Gallery
There are two remarkable outdoor art pieces that you should definitely see. The first is at English Bay. It’s a statue of a group of giant laughing figures called A-maze-ing Laughter by Chinese artist Yue Minjun. The second is the largest aboriginal artwork in Canada at the Royal Bank of Canada on the corner of West Georgia Street and Burranrd Street. Take the escalator up one floor and you’ll find an amazing 36.5m-long wood carving by First Nation artists.
Around the city
If you have some energy to burn, head to North Vancouver and tackle the 3km Grouse Grind hiking trail up Grouse Mountain. The trail is well-marked and will make you appreciate the views from the top all the more. If you’re feeling lazy, you can take the Skyride gondola which costs $10 each way.
Lynn Canyon is one of the most popular day trips to do in Vancouver. There are plenty of trails but the highlight is the suspension bridge for its impressive views. Bring your swim suit to cool off in the rivers and lakes after your hike. The park is open year round from 7am to dusk (9pm in summer).
Have you ever visited Vancouver? What’s your favourite city on the west coast? Need some more ideas? Check out Vancouver: 125 years old and counting.