City break (noun): a short holiday spent in a city, such as when on business travel.
Before there was bleisure travel, there was the city break—the short space of leisure time that grants you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities offer. In this series from TripIt, we explore some of the world’s best cities for planning a quick getaway or extending a work trip.
Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Vancouver.
Where to fly in
Located about 25 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the main airport travelers fly to for domestic and international trips alike.
Once on the ground, you have a number of options for getting to your hotel or vacation rental. A taxi or ride share is likely the quickest and easiest way to get to your destination.
Taxi stands are 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 only recently) available from the airport.
Alternatively, SkyTrain’s Canada Line provides rapid rail service between the airport and downtown Vancouver. Trains depart the YVR station approximately every seven minutes. The trip to downtown Vancouver takes about 26 minutes, stopping in downtown Vancouver at Yaletown, Vancouver City Centre and 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 Centre, 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 a hotel in a prime Vancouver location is what you’re after, look no further than the Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites. The hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the convention center, with convenient access to Gastown, Vancouver’s original downtown. By day, Gastown is a great home base for exploring the city, and accessing many of the must-see and must-dos. And by night? Gastown twinkles, romancing you with its old-timey street lamps, steam clock (pictured above), and light-adorned trees.
Need space for an event? The 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 a variety of options for getting around the city. If you prefer public transportation, take the SkyTrain, Vancouver’s light rapid transit system. There are three lines offering service to downtown Vancouver as well as Metro Vancouver’s suburbs—the Expo Line, the Canada Line, and the Millennium Line.
You can also get around town via bus; many bus stops are located near SkyTrain stations to make connections between the two easy and efficient.
Curious about your micromobility options in Vancouver? Right now, public bike-sharing program Mobi by Shaw Go would be your go-to. In addition, the city announced plans to launch a scooter-sharing program in 2023.
Hailing a taxi or an Uber to traverse the city is an option, too.
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s Navigator feature to search transportation options available to you. It will show you the estimated costs and travel times for each option, so you can decide which works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat, below), Navigator also helps you find the best transportation options for getting to your table. You can find Navigator within your plan details screens.
Where to eat
If you only have time for one upscale meal in Vancouver, book a reservation at L’Abattoir. Request to sit in the solarium if you’re planning a romantic date night; opt for the upstairs seating if you’re a bigger group. The cuisine is primarily seafood dishes with a French twist. The handcrafted cocktails are fantastic, the wine is divine, and best of all, the service is outstanding.
To sample unique, Aburi-style (i.e., flame-seared) sushi, head to Minami Restaurant in Yaletown. These delectable, layered rolls ensure you taste each flavor in every bite.
For Old World pasta in modern digs, head to Di Beppe in Gastown. Or, if you’re in the mood for a locally sourced burger and a locally brewed beer, make your way to Alibi Room, a gastropub also located in Gastown.
Prefer to try some local wine? Pay a visit to Vancouver Urban Winery in the Railtown district. Here you can sample a wide variety of Canadian wines—from sparkling to sweet to bold—and in a gorgeous tasting room to boot. VUW shares its space with Settlement Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, meaning there’s truly something for everyone in your party—even if you’re a party of one.
Last but not least, save room for dessert at BETA5 Chocolates. Known for their artful truffles and chocolate bars, BETA5 lovers also flock there for their limited-release selection of ice cream sandwiches and cream puffs.
What to do on your city break
Love looking for murals on a city break? Same! Start your day with a self-guided tour of Vancouver’s mural scene. Download the map, strap on your comfortable shoes, and explore the many works of public art on foot. Visiting Vancouver in August? You might catch the annual Vancouver Mural Festival—and its many muralists—in action.
Prefer your art on a smaller scale? Head to Pacific Arts Market—Vancouver’s 2,500-square-foot gallery filled with art, jewelry, and crafts made by local artists. Or, pay a visit to the Museum of Anthropology which features art by indigenous peoples from Canada and around the world.
If you’re visiting Vancouver during hockey season, be sure to catch a Canucks (National Hockey League) or Giants (Canadian Hockey League) game. More of a soccer fan? The Vancouver Whitecaps FC play at BC Stadium—the third largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity. You might also be able to catch a BC Lions (Canadian Football League) or Vancouver Canadians (minor league baseball) game, depending on the time of year you visit.
Fortunately, Vancouverites embrace the great outdoors all year long—and so should you. Planning a trip in the winter? Head to Grouse Mountain to snowshoe and ice skate. In the warmer months, head to the city’s picturesque Stanley Park to walk or bike along its seawall. Or, if you want a dose of nature outside the city, head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Try and get there early in the morning before the crowds—you’ll have way less editing to do on your Insta shots.
Note: As destinations reopen around the world, be sure to consult and adhere to all local guidelines and travel restrictions, as they vary widely and will continue to change. One way to stay on top of changing guidelines is to consult the COVID-19 travel guidance feature in the TripIt app 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.