Vancouver on a budget

Affordable things to do in Vancouver

A big-city adventure doesn’t need to mean big-city spending. With its gorgeous, entry fee-less parks and slew of free attractions, events and museums, British Columbia’s capital favours travellers on a budget. Here’s our breakdown of the best things to do in Vancouver that won’t break the bank.

Free Outdoor Activities

Walk the seawall

Bordering downtown is Vancouver’s sprawling forest playground, Stanley Park. Weave your way around forest paths and embark on the 10-kilometre hike along the seawall for scenic, coastal views, perhaps stopping for seaside snacks at various kiosks on the way.

Hit the beach

Picture the shimmering city at your back, grand mountains in the distance and the Pacific Ocean lapping at your feet. Vancouver’s beaches are not only beautiful, but…totally free! Soak up popular Kitsilano Beach, kayak off Jericho Beach or wander over to the West End’s beaches, English Bay and Sunset Beach.

City strolls

Make the most of your trip and explore the city by foot! Some of our top Vancouver neighbourhoods include trendy, beachside Kitsilano, historic Gastown with its charming Victorian architecture, chic Yaletown, and the waterfront business hub that is Coal Harbour. Look out for celebs—a lot of movies and TV shows are shot here!

Bargain bites

In the market

Looking to avoid splurging at one of the city’s top restaurants? No problem! Stock up on local goods at Vancouver’s many markets. Hop on a colourful ferry to Granville Island and stroll through the stalls of the fantastic Public Market. Come sundown, grab affordable gourmet snacks at the multi-cultural Richmond Night Market.

Chow down in Chinatown

For cheap eats that don’t skip out on flavour, Chinatown is the place to be. Dig into classic Hong Kong-style dishes at the iconic Gold Stone Bakery & Restaurant, or join the line-up at local fave Phnom Penh Restaurant for Vietnamese and Cambodian staples. After your meal, seek serenity (for free) at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park.

Straight to the source

Salmon is a top food source around these parts—one you should definitely try. Before or after you do, learn all about Vancouver’s fave fish at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery where you can hear about their development and even spot them climbing the fish ladder along a “Fishway.” Access to the centre, as well as to Capilano River Regional Park where you can hike, doesn’t cost a penny!

Culture at a steal

Free Museums

You know what they say: the best art is…free! (Right?) Make your way to the Contemporary Art Gallery, or check out Tuesday nights at the Vancouver Art Gallery when admission is by-donation. Meanwhile, entrance is always $0 at The Observatory next to the Space Centre and at the Burnaby Village Museum.

Festival Time

For outstanding free cultural events, you can’t beat Vancouver’s festivals! In June, watch the races at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival or groove on down to the free outdoor shows of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. See the boats light up at December’s Carol Ships Parade of Lights, or join the city’s Chinese community in celebrating their New Year during February’s Spring Festival Celebration.

Free History

Lucky for your wallet, many of Vancouver’s historic sites don’t charge admission, like Vancouver’s oldest church, the gorgeously gothic Christ Church Cathedral. Every last Thursday night of every month, it’s pay-what-you-can night at the Museum of Vancouver, your go-to for a rundown of the city’s past. Alternately, for a bit of recent history, you can also swing by the sites of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics!

Venture to Vancouver for less!