I had the opportunity to go on an amazing trip to Vancouver with one of my roommates right after our finals and we were both thoroughly happy and impressed about the city. Here are some of the places I would recommend going to, as well as a few tips. We went for a total of five full days which was plenty enough for us to visit all the major attractions!
Richmond Night Market
If you’re in Vancouver around May to October, definitely check out the Richmond Night Market which is the largest night market in North America. A must-visit for foodies and anyone who is hungry really. More here: ☆
We didn’t have a lot of time on Victoria and didn’t have a car (it takes approximately 1hr and 25 minutes to get the the major stops), we were only able to visit Inner Harbour. Although we weren’t able to visit the famous Butchart Gardens, there were plenty of flowers around, especially in the Fairmont Empress gardens. Try to catch the earliest ferry from Vancouver so you have plenty of time to explore! See below under “Tips” for the ferry schedule link!
Points of Interest:
- Butchart Gardens: An extensive and beautiful variety of gardens. One of the most famous tourist spots on Victoria and the British Columbia region; website: ☆
- Inner Harbour (Downtown Victoria)
- British Columbia Parliament Buildings
- Fairmont Empress (The Empress): One of the oldest hotels on Victoria. Try their famous afternoon tea which requires booking and formal attire; website: ☆
When in Vancouver, you definitely have to visit Stanley Park-a large public park connected to downtown which features a wide variety of attractions.
Directions: Bus 19 to Stanley Park Loop near the aquarium or Stanley Park Drive (Pipeline) near Lost Lagoon.
Points of Interest:
- The Seawall of Vancouver: take a long walk or ride a bike along the city’s seawall. It takes about two hours to circle but you can always go to other attractions from there.
- Bicycle rental: ☆
- Totem Poles: a look at the traditional art and culture of the First Nation
- Prospect Point: a short but steep hike up to the peak of Stanley Park which allows to get a panoramic view of the English Bay.
- Vancouver Aquarium: definitely come here if you have children or for a fun time and to learn about the changes that have happened to marine life over these years. Bring a student ID card if you have a valid one for cheaper tickets; website: ☆
- Lions Gate Bridge: a short walk down from Prospect Point.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Since we weren’t able to go to the Butchart Gardens on Victoria, we decided to go to Queen Elizabeth Park which hosts a wide array of gardens and art. It’s a peaceful and scenic area.
Directions: Bus 15 towards Olympic Village, 33rd Avenue.
Points of Interest:
- Bloedel Conservatory: the only part of the park you have to pay for with an adult ticket at $6.75. The conservatory features a wide range of plants, from tropical, subtropical, to desert and many varieties of birds.
- Quarry Gardens: right outside Bloedel Conservatory and the perfect place to spend a nice Vancouver afternoon.
- Sculptures: found to the east of the conservatory.
A great place near downtown to pick up souvenirs and after-lunch snacks. Read more here: ☆
Packing: My roommate and I set off for Vancouver right after our Spring Quarter finals so it was the beginning of June when we visited. A few days beforehand, we had checked the weather which had-to our disappointment- predicted rain for all five days we would be there (although the sixth day, when we would take the plane home…was sunny). We packed clothes anticipating windy NorCal rain and some summer clothes as well (since we’re from SoCal and weather changes by the hour, we hoped it would be the same in Vancouver).
- Usually, Vancouver summers are around the nice 70F range but there may be light showers especially in early summer.
- Pack comfortable shoes. I packed a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals (I have weak ankles and sneakers get too heavy). My roommate packed a pair of boots and a pair of sandals.
- Bring at least one pair of jeans and a light jacket.
Transportation: Since both my roommate and I were under 25, renting a car was more expensive for us so we opted for public transportation. Vancouver’s public transportation is very well organized and extensive and I suggest this route if you truly want to experience the city life.
- We originally wanted to get a DayPass which is $9.75CAN per day but we saw that it was inconvenient to get one everyday and that we might not even need to spend $9.75 everyday on transportation. The DayPass covers all zones. More information can be found here: ☆
- We ended up with a Compass Card which is the main transportation card for the Vancouver area. There was a refundable charge of $6 for the card and we used around $30 over five days. More information can be found here: ☆
- For Victoria Island, there is a DayPass available for $5 which can be purchased on the bus (exact change only). More information here: ☆
- BC Ferries to Victoria: If you have a car, you should definitely book a spot for the ferry. For passenger only (walk-on), tickets can be purchased up to fifteen minutes before the ferry sails but I suggest going an hour earlier (better early than late). Plan around the ferry schedules!
Accommodations: My roommate and I opted for an Airbnb since it was cheaper (poor college students). There are plenty of nice options in downtown but if you want cheaper options, definitely book closer to the YVR airport (in Vancouver of course, not in Richmond). There are many bus routes to Downtown Vancouver so its not a problem to get to where you want to go. Our Airbnb had access to three bus routes and the Canada Line Marin Drive Station.