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Getting around Vancouver

Public transport

TransLink (tel: +1 604 953 3333; www.translink.ca) operates Vancouver’s buses, SkyTrain (a driverless light rapid transit system), SeaBus (a ferry connecting Downtown with North Vancouver) and West Coast Express (a commuter rail service).

Fares for the SkyTrain and the SeaBus are based on a three-zone system. Bus journeys use a one-zone fare. Transfers are valid for 90 minutes. Exact change is required on buses, while tickets for the SkyTrain and SeaBus are available from machines. A cheaper all-zone fare is available at evenings and weekends. Books of 10 FareSaver tickets and day passes are available.

Alternatively, you can pay using a reloadable smartcard, Compass. Cards are available from SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express vending machines as well as Compass retailers.

Connecting a number of points on either side of False Creek are tiny passenger ferries operated by Aquabus (tel: +1 604 689 5858; www.theaquabus.com) and False Creek Ferries (tel: +1 604 684 7781; www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca).

Taxis

Downtown, you can hail a taxi or pick one up from a taxi rank or outside any large hotel. Elsewhere, it’s easier to book one by phone. The main taxi firms are Yellow Cab (tel: +1 604 681 1111; www.yellowcabonline.com) and Black Top & Checker Cabs (tel: +1 604 731 1111; www.btccabs.ca). A 15% tip is customary.

Driving

As Vancouver is spread out over a series of islands and peninsulas, the main traffic bottlenecks are the region's bridges. There are no highways in the centre of the city. It is easier to take public transport and/or walk in downtown Vancouver.

Beyond Downtown, north-south roads are named Streets and east-west roads are numbered Avenues. It’s easy to locate addresses on north-south streets by subtracting 16 from the first two digits of the address, to find the corresponding block (for example, 2630 Main Street would be between 10th and 11th Avenues). Ontario Street divides the city into East and West.

EasyPark Vancouver (tel: +1 604 682 6744; www.easyparkvancouver.ca) operates numerous car parks. 

Car hire

All the major car hire companies are represented in Vancouver, including Avis (tel: +1 604 606 2869; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 800 299 3199; www.budgetbc.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 604 606 4711; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

Bayshore Rentals, 745 Denman Street (tel: +1 604 688 2453; www.bayshorebikerentals.ca) and Spokes Bicycle Rentals, 1798 West Georgia Street (tel: +1 604 688 5141; www.spokesbicyclerentals.com) are both worth checking out. 

A highlight for many visitors is pedalling along the seawall, which curls round Downtown, Stanley Park and Kitsilano. Elsewhere, the city has a well-marked system of bike routes. You can download bike maps from TransLink (www.translink.ca).

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Featured Hotels

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Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Meticulously restored Rosewood Hotel Georgia once hosted Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Today's guests are treated to elegant rooms and suites, with delicious nods to the 1920s and 1930s and vast, decadently luxurious bathrooms. You can nip down to dinner at upscale Hawksworth Restaurant, plunge into the saltwater pool, or sip cocktails on the laid-back garden terrace.

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Lavish rooms in this Coal Harbour hotel feature luxurious Stearns & Foster beds, plush linens and roomy marble bathrooms with TV mirrors. The Willow Stream Spa offers nine treatment rooms, a massive fitness centre and an outside deck with meditation pods and private hot tubs. Or you can lounge by outdoor firepits next to the open-air rooftop pool.

Sandman Suites Vancouver - Davie Street

Sitting on vibrant Davie Street in the West End, the Sandman Suites are just a few minutes' walk from the beach and within strolling distance of trendy Yaletown. One-bedroom and studio suites come with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies. Many higher rooms have city or ocean views. In summer, take a dip in the heated outdoor pool.

The Sylvia Hotel

Overlooking English Bay and Stanley Park, this ivy-clad 1912 hotel offers good value for budget-minded travellers. The designated heritage building has been a hotel since 1936 and can lay claim to Vancouver's first cocktail bar, which opened here in 1954. Perfectly situated for exploring the West End, Granville Island and Stanley Park or hanging out on the beach.

The Burrard

This coolly renovated 1950s motor inn offers affordable retro chic with free Wi-Fi bang in the centre of Downtown. There's a lovely courtyard garden with a ping-pong table and free Brodie cruiser bike rentals if you fancy a spin around town. Grab breakie and an espresso in Elysian Coffee, the stylish café.

The Listel Hotel

Priding itself on its commitment to art, this hotel is handy for exploring Robson Street's shops. The rooms on the Museum Floor are fitted out with hemlock and cedar furnishings plus First Nations art. The Gallery Floor suites are more traditional in style, with cherry wood furnishings, chaises longues tucked in bay windows and original Canadian and international artwork.