city break (noun): a short vacation spent in a city, such as during a business trip.
Before the adventure travel, there were city breaks—short spaces of leisure time that give you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities have to offer. In this series on TripIt, we explore some of the best cities in the world to plan a quick getaway or extend a work trip.
Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Vancouver.
where to fly
Located approximately 25 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the main airport passengers fly into for domestic and international travel alike.
Once on the ground, you have many options for your hotel or vacation rental. A taxi or ride share is probably the fastest and easiest way to get to your destination.
The taxi stand is located on level 2 once you exit the terminal. Note that taxis use a zoned rate fare and the cost will vary based on your destination.
Uber is also (but recently) available from the airport.
Alternatively, SkyTrain’s Canada Line provides rapid rail service between the airport and downtown Vancouver. Trains depart from YVR station approximately every seven minutes. The trip to downtown Vancouver takes approximately 26 minutes, stopping at downtown Vancouver Yaletown, Vancouver City Center and the waterfront.
For maps, schedules and additional fare information, visit the TransLink website.
Where to stay during your city break
It’s hard to resist booking a room with a view in Vancouver – and why should you? Hotels like The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver and the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel offer views of the harbor as well as the North Shore Mountains.
If you’re attending an event at the Vancouver Convention Center, you can’t beat the convenience of the Fairmont Waterfront. The hotel and convention center are connected by a covered walkway, so you can easily bounce between the two without a second thought about the weather.
If you want a hotel in a prime location in Vancouver, look no further than the Delta Hotel Vancouver Downtown Suites. The hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the convention center, with convenient access to Vancouver’s original downtown Gastown. By day, Gastown is a great home base for exploring the city, accessing must-sees and must-dos. And at night? Gastown twinkles, romancing you with its old-timey street lights, steam clocks (pictured above), and light-decked trees.
Need space for an event? Hyatt Regency Vancouver offers 45,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Vacation rentals like those booked through Airbnb are also available in Vancouver.
How to get around
Travelers have various options to get around the city. If you prefer public transportation, take the SkyTrain, Vancouver’s light rapid transit system. In addition to downtown Vancouver, there are three lines in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver which are the Expo Line, the Canada Line and the Millennium Line.
You can also get around the city by bus; Many bus stops are located close to Skytrain stations making the two easy and efficient connections.
Curious about your micromobility options in Vancouver? Right now, Mobi, the public bike-sharing program by Shaw Go, is your go-to. In addition, the city announced plans to launch a scooter-sharing program in 2023.
Hailing a taxi or Uber to get around town is also an option.
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s navigator feature to explore the transportation options available to you It will show you the estimated cost and travel time for each option, so you can decide which one works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat below), Navigator helps you find the best transportation options to get to your table. You can find the navigator within your plan details screen.
where to eat
If you only have time for one fine dining experience in Vancouver, book a reservation at L’Abattoir. If you’re planning a romantic date night, request to sit in the solarium; If you are a large group, opt for upstairs seating. The cuisine is primarily seafood with a French twist. The craft cocktails are great, the wine is divine and above all, the service is outstanding.
To sample unique, aburi-style (ie, flame-seared) sushi, visit Minami Restaurant in Yaletown. These delectable, layered rolls ensure you savor every flavor in every bite.
For Old World pasta in modern digs, head to De Beppe in Gastown. Or, if you’re in the mood for locally made burgers and locally brewed beer, head to the Alibi Room, a gastropub located in Gastown.
Fancy trying some local wine? Visit Vancouver Urban Winery in the Railtown district. Here you can sample a wide range of Canadian wines—from sparkling to sweet to bold—and in a gorgeous tasting room to boot. VUW shares space with Settlement Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, meaning there’s something for everyone at your party—even if you’re a party of one.
Last but not least, save room for dessert at BETA5 Chocolate. Known for their artisanal truffles and chocolate bars, BETA5 lovers also flock there for their limited-edition selection of ice cream sandwiches and cream puffs.
What to do on your city break
Love looking at murals in a city break? The same! Start your day with a self-guided tour of Vancouver’s mural scene. Download the map, lace up your comfortable shoes and explore the many works of public art on foot. Going to Vancouver in August? You can catch the annual Vancouver Mural Festival—and its many muralists.
Prefer your art on a smaller scale? Visit the Pacific Arts Market—Vancouver’s 2,500-square-foot gallery filled with art, jewelry and crafts made by local artists. Or, visit the Museum of Anthropology which features Aboriginal art from Canada and around the world.
If you visit Vancouver during hockey season, be sure to catch a Canucks (National Hockey League) or Giants (Canadian Hockey League) game. More of a football fan? Vancouver Whitecaps FC play at BC Stadium – the third largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity. You may also be able to catch a BC Lions (Canadian Football League) or Vancouver Canadiens (Minor League Baseball) game, depending on the year you visit.
Fortunately, Vancouverites embrace the great outdoors year-round—and you should too. Planning a trip in the winter? Head to Grouse Mountain to snowshoe and ice skate. In the warmer months, take a walk or bike ride along the seawall in the city’s picturesque Stanley Park. Or, if you want a dose of nature outside of the city, visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Try and get there early in the morning before the crowds—you’ll have a lot less time to edit your Insta shots.
Note: Be sure to consult and comply with all local guidelines and travel restrictions as destinations around the world reopen, as they vary widely and will continue to change. One way to stay on top of guideline changes is to consult COVID-19 travel guidelines TripIt app features for destination-specific information, including testing and vaccination requirements, current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, and other information you need to know before visiting the area.