Lay of the Land: Most of Vancouver's sights and hotels are in the central downtown area, which is bounded on three sides by water: False Creek to the south, English Bay to the west, and Burrard Inlet to the north. The Burrard, Granville, and Cambie bridges lead south from Downtown to the residential neighborhoods of South Granville and Kitsilano, where you'll find many of the city's best restaurants. The Lions Gate Bridge is the city's primary connection to North Vancouver and to local ski hills like Grouse Mountain.
WHEN TO GO
Vancouver's climate is milder than you'd expect for a city this far north (30 miles above the U.S. border)—and this makes it a year-round city. It's warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by mountains, and temperatures are always comfortable, ranging from the high-70s in summer to the mid-40s in winter. That said, November is especially wet, with fog that obscures the mountain views.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air Canada runs direct flights to Vancouver from New York and Los Angeles; United Airlines has direct flights from Chicago. Most other flights from U.S. cities require a transfer in Seattle, about 45 minutes by air from Vancouver.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is a 25-minute drive or train ride from downtown. The airport is practically a destination in itself, with such facilities as a spa offering chocolate aromatherapy chair massages; a nursery, barber shop, dentist's office, liquor store, and dry cleaner; and North America's first pay-per-use lounge (offering showers, a clothes-pressing service, a bar and buffet, and Internet access). We mention this to help you understand the AIF (Airport Improvement Fee), which is automatically tacked onto the price of your airline ticket: It's about $5 if your destination is British Columbia or the Yukon, $20 everywhere else. Taxi fare is around $35 from the airport to hotels downtown, or you can take the Canada Line (see below). Trains leave every seven minutes, and the fare is $8.75 to downtown.
Downtown Vancouver is relatively compact and very walkable; a car is usually more of a hindrance than a help (due to traffic and lack of parking). If you're heading to South Granville to go shopping or hit the restaurants, you can easily take a cab (the fare should be about $10) or a bus. The Number 4 University of British Columbia bus travels from Howe Street downtown across the Granville Bridge to West Fourth Avenue in Kitsilano;.it continues all the way to UBC, home of the Anthropology Museum.
The Vancouver public transit system, TransLink, consists of buses, the SkyTrain (an elevated subway connecting Downtown to the eastern suburbs and the airport), and the SeaBus (a ferry that connects Downtown with North Vancouver). The bus system is fairly extensive and easy to use. Pick up maps and schedules at the Touristinfo Centre or visit the TransLink Web site at www.translink.bc.ca.
The Canada Line, an automated rail-based rapid transit service, carries passengers from the airport to Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, with 13 stations along the route.
Tourism Vancouver's large Tourist Info Centre offers visitors free maps, brochures, and advice. It's at the corner of Burrard Street and West Cordova, near the Canada Place cruise terminal downtown.
Vancouver Tourist Info Centre
200 Burrard Street
Canada V6C 3L6
Tel: 604 683 2000