Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located in Richmond, 9 miles (14.5 km) from downtown Vancouver. It has two terminals – the Main Terminal for international and domestic flights, and the South Terminal for small aircrafts. The cheapest and quickest way to get to downtown is on the rapid transit Canada Line (a one-time $5 AddFare applies to your journey). Courtesy hotel shuttle pick-up and drop-off areas are at the green canopy outside of Arrivals Level 2 International Terminal and outside the Arrivals Level 1 Domestic Terminal. Car rentals, taxis and public buses also operate from the airport.
Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is 15 miles (24 km) north of Victoria. The airport is serviced by several public buses (No. 70, 72 & 88) and long-distance coaches. The YYJ Airport Shuttle departs every 30–60 minutes for major Victoria hotels and there are also taxis and cars for hire.
The main hub for trains is Pacific Central Station in downtown Vancouver. VIA Rail trains arrive from various destinations all over Canada. The Amtrak Cascades route connects Vancouver to Eugene and Portland in Oregon, and to Seattle in Washington with daily trains.
Greyhound buses arrive from the US and other cities in Canada at Pacific Central Station.
Vancouver and Victoria airports have a range of car rental company booths. In Vancouver airport they are located on the ground floor of the parking garage and in Victoria airport you will find them in the arrivals hall. Reputable companies include Avis, Hertz, and Budget. Insurance coverage for drivers is mandatory in BC. Check your policy to see if it covers a rental car (some credit cards include car insurance coverage).
Washington state’s I-5 connects with Highway 99 at the BC border, leading to Vancouver and Whistler. BC’s main Canada–US border crossing is the International Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington.
A good map or GPS navigation device is essential, especially in Vancouver. Highways 1 and 99 can be very busy at rush hour, and there are no freeways bypassing the city core. Speed limits are posted. Right-hand turns on red lights are legal throughout BC unless otherwise posted.
If you are driving in downtown Vancouver, note that a section of Granville Street is closed to private vehicles; signs direct you to side streets.
TransLink operates the public transit network in Vancouver. To travel, you will need to buy a reloadable Compass Card or a Compass Ticket, which covers all transport on the network for a period of 90 minutes. Children under 5 years of age ride free.
Vancouver’s SkyTrain is mainly an above-ground light rapid transit system. It includes the Expo Line, Millennium Line, and also the Canada Line, which has 16 stations and links downtown to Vancouver International Airport and Richmond. The SkyTrain system has three fare zones, but on weekdays after 6:30pm, and at the weekend and holidays, it reverts to one zone.
TransLink bus routes extend across much of Greater Vancouver. Bus-only travel is a one-zone fare. Bus drivers do not sell tickets or provide change, so if you don’t have a Compass Card or a ticket, pay the exact cash fare when boarding. You will need a Compass Card to switch to the SkyTrain or the SeaBus, which is a catamaran that crosses the harbor in a short 12-minute trip.
Much of Vancouver Island is covered by BC Transit. There are two fare zones in Victoria, and children under the age of 5 travel free.
You can flag down cabs in central Vancouver, but you will need to phone for a taxi in Greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. Bluebird Cabs are a reputable firm in Victoria.
Aquabus and False Creek Ferries have various stops around False Creek and Granville Island.
Operated by Harbour Air, seaplanes cut the journey time between Vancouver and Vancouver Island (Victoria or Nanaimo) down to 30 minutes. They also run services to Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, and other local destinations, and you can book scenic tours of the area.
Vancouver’s bike rental scheme Mobi is ideal for those who want to ride for 30 minutes or less. To cruise around for the day, or bike on Vancouver Island, hire from one of the many bike rental companies. Try Vancouver’s Spokes Bicycle Rentals and Pedaler in Victoria. Cyclists must follow the same rules of the road as drivers. Bikes may not be ridden on sidewalks, and wearing a helmet is mandatory. Bikes are allowed on Vancouver’s SkyTrain and SeaBus in non-peak hours. Many buses in both cities offer bike racks.
Walking is the best way to explore downtown Vancouver and Victoria, and streets are, for the main part, very safe. The Seawall is a fantastic walking path around Stanley Park and on toward False Creek Inlet. In Victoria, the Inner Harbour promenade has views of historic buildings and the harbor.
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