Getting there & away
Vancouver is easily accessible from major international destinations, via air or sea, and is also a short drive from the US border. Cross-Canada train, bus and flight operations also service the city, which is the main gateway for accessing destinations throughout British Columbia.
Most out-of-town buses trundle to a halt at Vancouver’s heritage, neon-signed Pacific Central Station (Map p77; 604-661-0325; 1150 Station St, Chinatown). The station has a ticket office and left-luggage lockers, and is also the area’s main train terminal.
Long-distance Canadian bus services are provided by Greyhound Canada (800 661 8747; www.greyhound.ca) and, from the US, by Greyhound (800 231 2222; www.greyhound.com). Pacific Coach Lines (604 662 7575, 800 661 1725; www.pacificcoach.com) buses also services routes to Victoria and Whistler from here. In addition, Quick Coach Lines (604 940 4428, 800 665 2122; www.quickcoach.com) operates an express shuttle from Seattle (downtown and Sea-Tac International Airport).
Most trains arrive from across Canada and the US at Pacific Central Station (604-661-0325; 1150 Station St, Chinatown). The station has a ticket office and left-luggage lockers and is also the area’s main bus terminal for out-of-town services.
Operators and services here include the following:
Via Rail (888-842-7245; www.viarail.com) Trains on the Canadian service arrive from Kamloops North (nine hours, three weekly), Jasper (17½ hours, three weekly) and Edmonton (24 hours, three weekly), among others.
Other city train services:
West Coast Express (604-683-7245; www.westcoastexpress.com) Commuter service arriving six times daily Monday to Friday at downtown’s Waterfront Station from Mission City (70 minutes), Pitt Meadows (45 minutes), Port Coquitlam (35 minutes) and Port Moody (35 minutes), among others.
Whistler Mountaineer (604-606-8460, 888-687-7245; www.whistlermountaineer.com) Rocky Mountaineer runs this popular Whistler excursion (three hours, daily May to mid-October), arriving at and departing from a small North Vancouver station. The company also runs additional multiday trundles through the wider BC wilderness from its main Rocky Mountaineer Station. Check www.rockymountaineervacations.com for information on these package tours.
Vessels large and small sail Vancouver’s waterways. Cruise ships are big business from May to September, generating $500 million from 330 sailings annually. Ships dock at Canada Place downtown or Ballantyne Pier to the east. A free shuttle runs between the two terminals.
The new 16-station Canada Line (604 953 3333; www.canadaline.com) rapid-transit train runs from the airport into downtown. The full trip to Waterfront station takes 25 minutes. At time of writing, fares to or from the airport were expected to be at least $7 for an adult ticket.
The Vancouver Airporter (604 946 8866, 800-668-3141; www.yvrairporter.com; one-way/return $13.75/21.50; 5.30am-11.45pm, reduced hrs in winter) shuttle bus delivers passengers to major city-center hotels in about 40 minutes. Pay the driver or buy a ticket at the desk on level 2 of the airport.
Cabs charge up to $35 for the 30-minute trip from the airport to downtown. Follow the airport signs for pick-up points.
International and domestic airlines serving Vancouver International Airport include the following:
Air Canada & Air Canada Jazz (code AC; 514-393-3333, 888-247-2262; www.aircanada.ca)
Air North (code 4N; 800-661-0407; www.flyairnorth.com)
Air Transat (code TS; 866-847-1112; www.airtransat.com)
Alaska Airlines (code AS; 800-252-7522; www.alaskaair.com)
American Airlines (code AA; 800-433-7300; www.aa.com)
British Airways (code BA; 800-247-9297; www.britishairways.com)
Cathay Pacific (code CX; 604-606-8888, 888-338-1668; www.cathaypacific.com)
China Airlines (code CI; 604-682-6777; www.china-airlines.com)
Continental Airlines (code CO; 800-523-3273; www.continental.com)
Delta Air Lines (code DL; 800-221-1212; www.delta.com)
Horizon Air (code QX; 800-547-9308; www.horizonair.com)
Japan Airlines (code JL; 800-525-3663; www.jal.co.jp/en)
Lufthansa (code LH; 800-563-5954; www.lufthansa.com)
Northwest Airlines (code NW; 800-225-2525; www.nwa.com)
Pacific Coastal Airlines Ltd (code 8P; 604-273-8666, 800-663-2872; www.pacific-coastal.com)
Qantas Airways (code QF; 800-227-4566; www.qantas.com)
Singapore Airlines (code SQ; 604-689-1223; www.singaporeair.com)
Thai Airways International (code TG; 800-426-5204; www.thaiair.com)
United Airlines (code UA; 800-241-6522; www.united.ca)
WestJet (code WS; 800-538-5696; www.westjet.com)
Zoom Airlines (code Z4;866-359-9666; www.flyzoom.com)
In addition to airline companies’ own websites, which often offer internet-only deals, a number of travel agents and third-party online operators are helpful in finding flight discounts. Try the following:
Vancouver International Airport (code YVR; 604-207-7077; www.yvr.ca) is the West Coast's main hub for airlines from across Canada, the US and international locales. It’s in Richmond, a 13km/30-minute drive southeast of downtown Vancouver. Linked to the main airport by shuttle bus, the airport’s South Terminal services only British Columbia flights operated by smaller operators.
Several handy floatplane services swoop into Vancouver’s downtown harbor near Canada Place from Vancouver Island and beyond. Operators include Harbour Air Seaplanes (604 274 1277, 800 665 0212; www.harbour-air.com) and West Coast Air (604 606 6888, 800-347-2222; www.westcoastair.com).Helijet(604 273 4688, 800 665 4354; www.helijet.com) operates a rival helicopter service from the terminal on the east side of Canada Place.