If you are planning a visit to Vancouver for one of our events, it is an easily accessible city from destinations around the world. Additionally, once you’ve arrived in the region, downtown is quite easy to get to as well.
Getting to and from YVR Airport
The Vancouver International Airport is easily accessible by Skytrain or by taxi. The airport is often referred to on maps and signs by its airport code, YVR, and the code has become ubiquitous in the Metro Vancouver area in names of individuals, groups, and events. The Canada Line Skytrain station at the airport is YVR-Airport.
Via Public Transportation:
The Skytrain system is the cheapest and often fastest way to get around Vancouver. YVR is connected to downtown Vancouver via the Canada Line Skytrain, an infrastructure legacy of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Canada Line operates from about 5:00 a.m. in the morning to 1:00 a.m. at night everyday. The YVR Skytrain Station is above the parking garage located between the International and Domestic Terminals. Once there, buy a card/ticket at one of the Compassmachines to Yaletown-Roundhouse Station downtown. The Compass Card system will allow you to purchase single-fare, day pass, or stored value on a Compass Card or short-term use Compass ticket. On Skytrain only, before 6:30pm a 2-zone card/ticket from the airport to downtown costs $4, after 6:30pm the fare is reduced to $2.75. In order to leave the airport, however, keep in mind that there is an additional $5 YVR Airport Improvement Fee ‘AddFare’ in addition to the standard fares to downtown. The total at the vending machine at YVR will be $9 before 6:30pm, $7.75 after with the additional AddFare.
- After purchasing your Compass card/ticket, head through the turnstiles of YVR-Airport Station and board the next train to Waterfront. You are now on the Skytrain Canada Line, heading north.
- Disembark the train at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, the station empties onto Davie Street. Immediately east of the exit (Pacific Avenue side), the #6 DAVIE bus westbound runs the length of Davie Street and will drop you off across the street of the host hotel (Thurlow Street stop is the closest to the host hotel, Sandman Suites on Davie, 1160 Davie Street). Simply swipe your transit pass on the Compass reader as you board the bus; there is no additional fee.
- There is also a cabstand to the east of the exit of the Yaletown-Roundhouse station.
When heading back to YVR: Note that the ‘AddFare’ does not apply when returning to the airport. Board the Canada Line Skytrain at Waterfront, Vancouver City Centre, or Yaletown-Roundhouse Station for the standard fare rates and take a YVR-Airport Skytrain (that is every second train that comes through the tunnel; the alternate one ends at Richmond-Brighouse Station in Richmond, but you have the option to switch to the next train by Bridgeport Station if you end up on the wrong one).
Taxi is the simplest but most expensive way to get around town. It costs about $35.00 to go downtown from the airport. Signs in the airport direct you to the taxi stands. For more information, see the airport’s taxi page.
On your return to the airport, your hotel is able to call a taxi for you. WE HAVE NO UBER….yet.
Other Modes of Transport
Arrival by BC Ferries
For our Vancouver Island and Olympic Peninsula buddies, you can get to downtown Vancouver by the Swartz Bay – Tsawwassen route from Victoria or the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route from Nanaimo. If you don’t have a car:
- Swartz Bay – Tsawwassen route: at Tsawwassen, take the #620 Bridgeport Express bus to Bridgeport Station and then transfer to the Waterfront-bound Canada Line Skytrain, and follow the same public transportation routes to the hotel as your flying brethren.
- Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route: at Horseshoe Bay, take the #257 Horseshoe Bay Express bus right into downtown Vancouver down Georgia Street. Get off at Burrard Street or Granville Street, take one of the many available southbound buses to Davie Street and head west to the host hotel.
Check the BC Ferries website for schedules and real-time route statuses.
Arrival by Train/Motorcoach
Downtown Vancouver is served by both domestic and international trains and motorcoaches.
Amtrak Cascades and VIA Rail Canada call at the Pacific Central Station. West Coast Express is a commuter rail service that runs in and out of downtown Vancouver during rush hours from Mission and calls at the Waterfront Station. The Pacific Central Station is directly across Station Street from the Main Street/Science World Skytrain Station, which will take you downtown (get off at Granville Station to take the #6 Davie bus to Davie Village). The Waterfront Station is basically located at Granville Street and Cordova Street (Canada Place), and is the hub for all Skytrains, North Shore Seabus ferries, West Coast Express, seaplanes and cruise ships in downtown Vancouver.
Should I Drive?
There is no need to bring a car. The events are close and easy to get to. Vancouver has very good mass transit if you need it. Taxis are also a good option. Sadly, there is no Uber option….yet.
Let it be known that driving and parking in downtown Vancouver is a futile, expensive, emotional experience….you’ve been warned. We got rid of our expressways decades ago.
If you do decide to drive, most hotels do charge a daily rate for parking. Please check with your specific hotel for details. Also, because of the neighbourhood setting and the city of Vancouver’s mandate to reduce car congestion in the city centre, street parking is often difficult to find and during the day is a two-hour maximum until 10pm in most spots.
Additional Travel Information
On a Budget?
Here are some things you can do to save money:
- Share a room with friends.
- Eat breakfast or lunch in your room.
- Eat at the Capital on Davie – all meals are $5
- Bring alcohol with you from the states to drink in your room. your own alcohol will not be permitted into our events, this would be illegal.
- If you don’t have a local phone plan, put your phone in Airplane Mode to avoid roaming charges. Most venues have wi-fi.
- If you need to exchange foreign currency, it is our opinion that VBCE is reputed to have the best rates and lowest fees.
- Poppers cannot be bought in Canada, it is illegal to sell them so we can’t buy them. You are allowed to bring 3 bottles across the border for you personal use. This will make you popular.
If you’re driving from the U.S.:
- Buy duty-free alcohol and tobacco at the border, where it is much cheaper. Coming from Washington State, you will have to take the Truck Route, Exit 275 off Interstate 5 (not the Peace Arch) because it is the only crossing with a duty-free store into Canada. Once in the store, you will need your passport and your car’s license plate number. See the official Canada Border Services web site for more information. Each person 19 or older has an duty-free alcohol allowance of one of the below after a stay of 48 hours:
- 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
- a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
- up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.
- 200 cigarettes.
- Buy gas near the border in the U.S. where it’s much cheaper than in Canada. BC Carbon Taxes make the litres in Canada not such a great deal!
Vancouver has an excellent bus, ferry, and Skytrain system called TransLink. A few things of note:
- COMPASS is the new reloadable, electronic fare card system. There is the option of buying adult Compass cards, or single trip/day pass Compass Tickets.
- Due to challenges with Compass implementation, all travel on buses only is One-Zone travel. Any travel that is on Skytrain or Skytrain/bus/ferry combination still adheres to the Multi-Zone scheme where depending on where you’re going, how far it is, and what time of day, you will be paying One-Zone, Two-Zone, or Three-Zone fares. Generally, as long as you’re staying in Vancouver city proper without crossing into Burnaby, North Vancouver, or Richmond, you’re going to be okay with paying a One-Zone fare.
- Buses take exact coins or a prepaid Compass card/ticket.
- Remember to keep your card or validated ticket to use as a transfer ticket.
- Using your card or ticket, you may transfer between buses, ferries, and trains for up to 90 minutes without an additional fee by swiping the ticket or card at the Compass readers on Skytrain, buses and ferries.
For more information, see the TransLink website.
If you’re ambitious, you can order a Compass card here.
Everyone is required to have a passport (or equivalent) to enter Canada and to return home. U.S. citizens are not required to have a visa for stays of less than 6 months. U.S. citizens arriving by car at the Canadian border are also allowed access with an Enhanced driving license. Check your home government website for your own entry requirements.
These buildings and modes of transportation are accessible for all different types of mobility:
- Skytrain Canada Line
- Skytrain Expo and Millennium Lines
- Translink Buses
- Translink Seabus
- BC Ferries
- West Coast Express
- Sandman Suites on Davie
- Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson
- Pumpjack Pub
- Celebrities Downstairs
- Junction Pub
- Steamworks Baths
- Other specific venue information will be made available prior to a scheduled event. Please email Rubbout for any particular questions you might have about accessibility requirements.
Metro Vancouver, the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia are English-speaking, eh!
Currency & Debit/Credit Cards
Most international credit and debit cards are widely accepted at stores and banks in Vancouver. However, recently some local ATMs have started to require that cards have a chip embedded in them for extra security. Since most U.S. cards are not chipped, they will not work in these ATMs. If you need to exchange foreign currency, VBCE is reputed to have the best rates and lowest fees, though there are many exchanges around town.
Canadian currency ($CAD) includes a $1 coin called a ‘Loonie’ because it bears the image of a loon. In satirical Canadian style, the $2 coin is called a ‘Toonie’ (with a polar bear on it). Canada started rolling out polymer currency in 2011, and now has a plasticy, vibrantly coloured $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 bill series. We don’t do pennies anymore!