Skip to main content
Header image
Editor Pick

9 Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver

Updated: March 18, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

Wondering if it’s possible to travel to Vancouver on a budget? It is, as long as you know where to find the cheap things to do in Vancouver. Check out our list. There's event a few free things to do!

Whether you have a few days in Vancouver before or after a cruise, trying to plan the perfect trip to Vancouver, our list of things to do in Vancouver that will save you quite a few loonies (Canadian one-dollar coins).

1. Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Location: 639 Hornby St.

Admission to the Bill Reid Gallery is free on the first Friday evening of the month, 2-5 p.m., at this downtown Vancouver museum dedicated to indigenous art of the Northwest Coast. Inside you’ll find a permanent collection of bronze sculptures, gold and silver jewelry and other creations by Bill Reid, a Canadian artist with Haida roots whose works inspired countless indigenous artists and First Nations peoples.

2. Breka Bakery & Cafe

Location: 812 Bute St.

One of the local restaurants that won’t break the bank is Breka Bakery & Cafe. A location just off Robson Street is convenient for shoppers and offers doughnuts and pastries (many under $5) as well as light snacks, sandwiches, soups and espresso drinks. Additional perks: they’re open 24/7 and offer free Wi-Fi.

3. Granville Island

Just south of downtown under the Granville Street Bridge

If you’re looking for fun things to do on a Saturday, take a trip to Granville Island. A pleasant way to get to the island is by ferry — the two main companies are False Creek Ferry and Aquabus — and round trip fare from downtown Vancouver is less than $10. You’ll find plenty of cheap eats and free stuff to do on Granville Island, from browsing the goodies at Granville Island Public Market to popping in and out of shops and art galleries along Railspur Alley and Johnston Street. There’s even a free water park in summer.

4. Lynn Canyon Park

Location: 3663 Park Rd.

Those in search of adventurous things to do will find them at Lynn Canyon Park, a 250-hectare (618-acre) nature park in North Vancouver where there are hiking trails, waterfalls and swimming holes in addition to a free suspension bridge that hangs 50 metres (164 feet) above a creek. There is a small parking fee, but it’s a cheaper alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

5. Public Art

Location: Various locations

Take a self-guided tour to experience Vancouver’s public art scene—it’s one of the cheap things to do in Vancouver that doesn’t require too much planning. If you’re at the waterfront near the Vancouver Convention Centre, you’re close to “Digital Orca,” a pixelated depiction of an orca whale, as well as a thought-provoking art piece constructed on the exterior of the AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. Morton Park in the West End is where you’ll find “A-maze-ing Laughter,” a group of bronze figures whose joyful expressions make for a unique photo op.

6. Public Transportation

If you’re visiting Vancouver on a budget, you’ll want to take full advantage of the city’s public transportation network for the many things to do in Vancouver without a car. Trains, ferries and buses link most neighborhoods and tourist destinations around the city. For cheap travel to and from the airport, ride the SkyTrain, a light rail rapid transit system; fares are less than $10 each way on the Canada Line. To get across the Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver, take the SeaBus passenger ferry; fares are under $5 each way. Buses are easy to use and find; single fares cost $3.15 and allow unlimited transfers for 90 minutes.

7. Rent a Bike

Location: Various locations

For short one-way trips around the city or to get from one tourist destination to another, consider renting a bike. Mobi by Shaw Go is the city’s public bicycle-sharing system, which has more than 2,500 adult-size bikes at 250 docking stations around the city. A day pass costs less than $20 and includes unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less. For leisurely rides and kid-size bikes, you’ll want to find your wheels at a bike rental shop. There are plenty of outfitters near the entrance to Stanley Park on Denman Street and in other touristy areas.

8. Stanley Park

Location: 7500 Stanley Park Dr.

Beaches, forested trails, scenic views and cycling paths—these are just a few of the many fun things to see in Stanley Park that won’t cost you a Canadian dime. In addition to the free activities, there are free events held in this massive nature park, too. Every Tuesday night from early July to late August brings outdoor movies to a massive screen at Second Beach. Parking fees are relatively reasonable ($3.75-$4.25 per hour), or you could catch a bus, ride a bike or even walk into the park.

9. Vancouver Art Gallery

Location: 750 Hornby St.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is among the cheap things to do in Vancouver's downtown if you visit on the first Friday evening of the month 4-8 p.m. Come in evening to marvel over historic and contemporary works by regional and international artists. The museum boasts the largest collection of landscape paintings and sketches by Emily Carr, a well-known Canadian modernist painter.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

More Articles


Travel Like an Expert with AAA and Trip Canvas

Get Ideas from the Pros

As one of the largest travel agencies in North America, we have a wealth of recommendations to share! Browse our articles and videos for inspiration, or dive right in with preplanned AAA Road Trips, cruises and vacation tours.

Build and Research Your Options

Save and organize every aspect of your trip including cruises, hotels, activities, transportation and more. Book hotels confidently using our AAA Diamond Designations and verified reviews.

Book Everything in One Place

From cruises to day tours, buy all parts of your vacation in one transaction, or work with our nationwide network of AAA Travel Agents to secure the trip of your dreams!