What to Do in Vancouver On a Budget

Enjoy this West Coast city for less 

Photo by Albert Normandin/Tourism Vancouver

Vancouver is one the most expensive places to live in Canada—and it can pinch visitors’ wallets as well. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the sights. Here’s where to save in the city.

Stay Tucked away in a residential area of downtown’s West End, The Buchan Hotel is close to lively Denman Street, English Bay Beach, and Stanley Park. The three-storey walk-up houses 61 no-frills rooms at prices that are hard to beat. Rates start at $109 per night during high season (May through September).

Eat Vancouver is full of cheap sushi, but inexpensive, good-quality sushi is another matter entirely. For the latter, head to Juno Bistro between Yaletown and the Granville Entertainment district. Roll combos start at $8 at lunchtime; take your sushi to go for a picnic at Emery Barnes Park across the street.

Drink In the heart of downtown, just off of busy Robson Street, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar celebrates Happy Hour with an extensive menu that includes Negronis and glasses of Okanagan wine for $6 each from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, along with buck-a-shuck oysters. At Tap & Barrel, craft beer lovers can soak up the sun on a spectacular waterfront patio at any of its four locations, or at one of its two new TAPshack Eatery offshoots. Order a flight to sample the latest from local breweries ($10.50 for five 5-ounce tasters). 

Shop Arguably the best of the suburban night markets, Richmond Night Market is as close as you’ll get to Asia in Vancouver. (It’s also three Canada Line stops from the airport.) This year’s “Magical Dino Park” theme will entertain the kids, while adults can browse the stalls of bejewelled cellphone cases, kitschy socks and authentic Asian street food. Bring cash and your appetite. Admission is $3.25 for adults; free for seniors and kids under 10.

Watch After frolicking in the open-air Kitsilano Pool (family admission $2.95 per person) head to the adjacent Kitsilano Showboat for your evening entertainment. From youth jazz dancers to a full-piece orchestra, this free outdoor community theatre is a summer tradition. The vista from the bleachers may be the city’s best sunset ocean view.

Cruise Teeny weeny False Creek Ferries ply the waters to nine locations that include The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, Granville Island and Science World; a day pass ($15) lets you boat amid the yachting folk. Alternatively, hop on the SeaBus passenger ferry that connects downtown with the North Shore—the 12-minute Burrard Inlet crossing goes for the price of a public transit ticket ($2.75 and up) and offers stellar Stanley Park views.