10 Awesome Things to Do in Vancouver Without a Car
Updated: December 05, 2023
AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
On your next trip to Vancouver, skip the rental car and parking fees—it’s easy to visit some of the most popular places in the city using only buses, bicycles, boats and your own two feet. If you’re wondering how to get around, check out these recommendations for fun things to do in Vancouver without a car (including a few hikes and a day trip).
Get to and from the Airport on the SkyTrain
Sure, you can take a taxi or shuttle from Vancouver International Airport (YVR), but a faster and cheaper option is the SkyTrain, a rapid transit system that connects YVR with downtown Vancouver and the waterfront (near the Canada Place cruise ship terminal). Travel time from the airport to the waterfront is around 26 minutes on the SkyTrain, and the trip fare is cheap—it’s less than $10 each way.
Take a Ferry to Granville Island
Hop aboard a passenger-only ferry to make the scenic (and quick) trip across False Creek to Granville Island, a man-made island filled with cute shops, cafés, restaurants, art studios and the bustling Granville Island Public Market food hall. Two private ferry companies—False Creek Ferry and Aquabus—offer sightseeing tours and regular ferry service to Granville Island. One-way fares average $3.50, and an unlimited day pass is cheap, too (around $16).
Pedal the City
An extensive network of protected bike lanes and multiuse paths makes it easy, safe and fun to get around Vancouver on two wheels. One of the most popular cycling destinations is the Stanley Park Seawall, an uninterrupted waterfront path that extends 9 kilometres (6 mi.) around Stanley Park. Bike rentals are available from vendors near the park entrance or from one of the many Mobi bike share stations scattered throughout the city.
Explore Stanley Park by Foot or by Horse
Take a walk through Stanley Park to get a closer look at the flora and fauna. You’ll have no trouble getting to the park without a car—it shares the peninsula with the downtown business district and is accessible by foot, bike or public bus using route #19 (Stanley Park/MetroTown). Once inside you can explore a network of hiking trails, foot paths and the Seawall. If you get tired of walking, consider a carriage ride with Stanley Park Horse-drawn Tours.
Shop for Souvenirs in Mount Pleasant
A haven for young professionals and creative types, the Mount Pleasant neighborhood just south of downtown offers independent shops, music stores, vintage boutiques and breweries galore. You'll find all sorts of unique souvenirs and shops along Main Street and West Broadway. To reach Mount Pleasant from downtown, take the SkyTrain’s Canada Line to Broadway-City Hall, or catch bus route #19 (Stanley Park/MetroTown) or #8 (Fraser/Downtown) eastbound.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Cambie St. & W. 33rd Ave.
Seek out the highest point in the city at Queen Elizabeth Park, where you’ll find picturesque views of the Vancouver skyline and the North Shore mountains. The grounds include gardens; the indoor Bloedel Conservatory, which houses plants, birds and fish; and Seasons in the Park Restaurant, a fine dining establishment open for lunch and dinner. To reach the park from downtown, take bus route #15 (Cambie/Olympic Village Station) or SkyTrain’s Canada Line to the King Edward or Oakridge-41st Avenue stations.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
5251 Oak St.
You could easily spend a few hours wandering the lush grounds of VanDusen Botanical Garden, located minutes away from Queen Elizabeth Park. There is something in bloom at VanDusen no matter the season, with rose gardens, rhododendrons, camellias, flowering cherry trees and even an Elizabethan hedge maze. It’s also where you’ll find Shaughnessy Restaurant At VanDusen Garden, an upscale choice for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. From downtown, take bus route #17 (Downtown/Oak) to W. 37th Avenue.
HR Macmillan Space Centre
Museum Hop at Vanier Park
Three popular Vancouver museums lie just across the water at the west end of the Burrard Street Bridge. It’s a short ride by bus or False Creek Ferry to reach the museum complex, which includes the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (where you can see moon rocks and a great planetarium), the Museum of Vancouver (covering all things history) and the Vancouver Maritime Museum (with old sailing vessels and schooners you can explore). From downtown, take bus route #2 (Macdonald/Downtown) to Cornwall Avenue near Vanier Park.
Visit the Rugged North Shore
It’s easier than you may think to reach the forested wilderness that lies north of Vancouver on the rugged North Shore, where you can find mountain biking, hiking, ziplining and other adventurous things to do. Two popular attractions— Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain—offer free shuttle transportation from downtown Vancouver in summer (an admission ticket is required). You can also reach North Vancouver using a combination of the SeaBus passenger-only ferry and bus route #236 (Pemberton Heights/Grouse Mountain/Lonsdale Quay).
Day Trip from Vancouver to Victoria
Consider taking a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island. Stately parliament buildings, manicured gardens and stunning harbor views characterize this walkable, tourist-friendly city. Take the SkyTrain’s Canada Line to Bridgeport Station, then catch bus route #620 to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. From there it’s a 90-minute ride via BC Ferries to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island, where you can transfer to BC Transit’s bus system to reach downtown Victoria.
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AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
Katie Broome is a AAA Travel Expert.