Tips to Visiting Vancouver on a Budget

Vancouver is a popular destination for families and young adults alike. Its scenic views and natural beauty offer a great deal of outdoor activities, no matter if you are looking for relaxation or adventure. However, due to its expensive cost of living, traveling to Vancouver requires a bit more planning. There are still ways to visit this wonderful city on a student-friendly budget, so keep reading for tips on how to plan your trip to Vancouver.

Getting around Vancouver for Cheap

A city bus is stopped on a busy city street

Vancouver is widely equipped with public transit, such as trains, buses, and ferries. Instead of renting a car or relying solely on rideshare, you can save your money by using public transportation. The Canada Line / SkyTrain is an underground rapid transit line that runs from the airport to Downtown Vancouver and Richmond. You can see the metro schedule and fares on the TransLink site. The metro is easy to use, fast, and cheap while also taking you to most of Vancouver’s top attractions. 

Getting around can be really easy using the metro but be prepared to also do a lot of walking in order to explore all the corners of this vibrant city. 

Budget Accommodation in Vancouver

buildings line the waterfront in Vancouver

There are plenty of mid to high-range hotels in the Downtown districts of Gastown, Yaletown, and West End, that are close to major attractions. If you are relying on public transit, staying in these popular districts and spending on a mid-range hotel might be the way to go. If you’re looking for a cheaper stay in the outskirts of Vancouver, consider looking into Airbnbs in North Vancouver or even searching for hostels. 

Things to do in Vancouver

A woman jogging at sunrise in Stanley Park overlooking Vancouver Downtown

Of course, the top tourist spots require ticket or admission fees, so it’s a good idea to fit 1-2 activities into your budget. However, with Vancouver’s natural sights and beauty, you can find many things to enjoy in the city for free. 

Stanley Park is a spectacular stretch of land that captures the wondrous views of Vancouver. The vast backdrop of mountains, luscious green landscape, and striking views of the bay can all be seen from this urban park. A fun way to explore the park is to bike on the Seawall, a paved sidewalk along the waterfront. In the evening, make sure to stop at Third Beach, one of the best places to catch the sunset! 

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is another sightseeing spot known for the iconic wobbly bridge that stands above stunning treetop views. For many, this is a thrilling adventure and go-to spot in Vancouver, but there is a $50 admission fee. A free alternative is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Though not as tall and grand as Capilano, it is still a great location packed with trails, waterfalls, swimming holes, and beautiful views. 

Granville Island is a former industrial neighborhood now home to charming shops, restaurants, and breweries. You can take a stroll through the huge market which is full of fun eats and artisan specialties. Make sure to check out Lee’s Donuts for yummy delicacies!

If you’re looking for a full-day mountain experience, Grouse Mountain is a 15-minute drive from downtown and offers panoramic views of the city. Once you get there, you can take a Skyride tram up the mountain and go hiking, ziplining, and more.

There are plenty of free gardens and parks in Vancouver to explore, as well as great pubs, bars, and shops in the Downtown area if you’re looking for more ways to spend an afternoon. 

Low-cost Places to Eat in Vancouver 

A shop with Public Market on the front on the building

Vancouver is a big foodie scene and is especially known for its ethnic and cultural influences, with hole-in-the-wall stops, food trucks, and affordable restaurants. Low-cost meals in small eateries along Denman St. are great options (Fish and Chips are readily available and inexpensive). Asian cuisine is widely popular and there is no shortage of options in Chinatown or West End whether you are into Banh Mi or Ramen. 

For a filling brunch, Medina Cafe is an awesome spot. For lunch and dinner, try out Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine, Ramen Danbo, or Gringo


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