How to Visit Vancouver on a Budget

vancouver feature

Home to both soaring skyscrapers and ancient rainforests, Vancouver, Canada is a one-of-a-kind city. Located in the province in British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver offers plenty for both city lovers and nature seekers. Unfortunately, the gorgeous scenery and incredible quality of life have made this city less than affordable. Is it still possible to visit Vancouver on a budget?

While it may be the most expensive city in Canada (with the second most expensive real estate market in the world!), a trip to BC’s capital doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of free activities and cheap eats to keep you busy. Keep reading for our best tips to help you visit Vancouver on a budget!


Vancouver on a budget: Know before you go


They’re dollars, but different

Canada’s currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). 1 CAD = 0.79 USD. Also, don’t toss those coins. Canada has $1 and $2 coins, commonly known as the loonie and the toonie, respectively.


How to get around Vancouver

Take advantage of Vancouver’s impressive transit system by purchasing a Compass Pass. Each day (or month) pass can be used on the bus, Skytrain, and Seabus.


Marijuana use still isn’t a free for all

Despite the cheeky ‘Vansterdam’ nickname – thanks to Vancouver’s more liberal attitude towards cannabis – there are still rules and restrictions that dictate where you can legally smoke cannabis in Vancouver.


There’s free WiFi throughout the city

Feel free to leave your worldwide hotspot or GoogleFi international SIM card at home. #VanWiFi is one of the largest free public WiFi providers in North America and has almost 600 public wifi stations throughout the city.


Vancouver isn’t cold. It’s wet.

Vancouver may have Canada’s most mild winter, but the frequent rain isn’t much fun either. Summer is the driest time to visit but you should still check the forecast before heading out. Hey, they don’t call it the “Wet Coast” for nothing.




Free and cheap things to do in Vancouver


Ride the Seawall at Stanley Park

stanley park

The best urban park in the world? Vancouver locals would certainly say so. Stanley Park is an enormous park – even larger than New York‘s Central Park – located right in the city center. Escape the city hustle and hit the beaches, or rent a bike to enjoy one of the countless trails.

Don’t miss the jaw dropping views from the Seawall. This 13.5 mile pedestrian path encloses the entire shoreline of Stanley Park, winding its way through numerous neighborhoods and parks.  It will take you 2-3 hours to walk or 1 hour to cycle the Stanley Park loop.


Test your fear of heights at Lynn Canyon

lynn canyon

The towering Capilano Suspension Bridge may attract more tourists, but it also costs a hefty $54.95 CAD ($43.55 USD) admission fee. Save yourself a few bucks by visiting stunning Lynn Canyon Park and crossing its suspension bridge for free.


Visit historic Granville Island

granville island

Granville is one of Vancouver’s most unique and historic neighborhoods. The crown jewel here is the Granville Island Public Market, where you can hunt for free samples and indulge in everything from fresh produce to international cuisine.

Beer lovers visiting Granville Island should be sure to go for a tasting or tour at Canada’s first microbrewery – Granville Island Brewing.


Climb Mother Nature’s Stairmaster

stairmaster hike

Most visitors take the gondola up and down Grouse Mountain. However, if you’re feeling fit (or just on a budget) you can take The Grouse Grind, a 1.8-mile trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. You’ll still need to buy a $20 ($15.85 USD) ticket for the gondola ride down, but it’s a cheaper option than the roundtrip ticket, which costs $61 CAD ($48.33 USD).

As the name suggests, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart.  Atop Grouse Mountain, you’ll find more trails, a Grizzly bear refuge, a treetop rope course, and so much more.


Hit the beach


Vancouver is home to some of the best beaches in Canada, with views ranging from rugged mountains to city skylines. Located in the West End near Stanley Park, English Bay Beach is a great way to spend the day in Vancouver on a budget. Go swimming, rent a paddle board, or just relax and take in the scenery. English Bay’s downtown location makes it easy to reach with public transit.

Other top picks include Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, and for the brave, Wreck Beach – North America’s largest clothing-optional beach!


Experience an authentic Asian night market

asian market

If you happen to visit Vancouver during the summer months, don’t miss the Richmond Night Market – the largest of its kind in North America. Inspired by the extravagant night markets in places like Bangkok and Hanoi, the market celebrates Vancouver’s Asian heritage with incredible food, shopping and entertainment.

With over 70 food stalls and 100 retail vendors, you can try authentic Asian street food like mango sticky rice, tornado potatoes, bubble waffles, and more. Best of all, admission costs only $4 CAD!


Where to stay in Vancouver on a budget


Hostelling International Vancouver

This reputable hostel chain has 2 outposts in Vancouver: HI Vancouver Downtown and HI Vancouver Jericho Beach, each loved by travelers from all over.


Skwachàys Lodge

Skwachàys, a mid-range boutique hotel, is Canada’s first Indigenous Arts hotel, showcasing indigenous arts and culture throughout each of its 18 suites.


Samesun Vancouver

Arguably Vancouver’s best-known hostel, Samesun is a trendy spot within walking distance to several of the city’s top attractions.


Blue Horizon Hotel

Another mid-range option, Blue Horizon is a boutique hotel conveniently located on Robson street, the center of Vancouver’s dining and shopping scene.




Cheap flights to Vancouver

Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Vancouver. On average, our members spent $$$ on their tickets and saved over $$$ per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.

New York City (JFK) to Vancouver (YVR)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Boston (BOS) to Vancouver (YVR)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Los Angeles (LAX) to Vancouver (YVR)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$


vancouver eats


Where to eat in Vancouver on a budget


A local mini-chain of food trucks and restaurants, Japadog serves creative, delicious Japanese-inspired hotdogs.


Budgies Burritos

Not your usual fast-casual burrito spot. Budgie’s serves an all-vegetarian Tex Mex menu with large portions.


Chung Chun Rice Hot Dog

One of Vancouver’s most unique cheap eats, Chung Chun specializes in a popular Korean street food – Korean rice dog – coated or filled with everything from cheese to ramen to squid ink


Viet Sub Vietnamese Cuisine

At both of its locations, Viet Sub serves authentic Vietnamese classics like banh mi sandwiches and savory pho in an unpretentious setting.


Lucy’s Eastside Diner

Open 24 hours, Lucy’s special is the All Day and All Night Breakfast, which comes in at less than $10 CAD ($7.82 USD). The menu is full of classic diner fare, including some of the best milkshakes in the city!




Start planning your trip to Vancouver

While it may be the most expensive city in Canada, it’s still possible to visit Vancouver on a budget. Get outdoors and explore the many beaches, hiking trails and islands. There are plenty of fun and free things to do in this West Coast city.

Remember to save this budget travel guide and sign up to receive cheap flight deals, so you can start planning your trip to Vancouver today!

  • Zach Anderson

    Zach was a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helped 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.

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