Travel to Vancouver
Flying to Vancouver
Airlines operating direct flights to Vancouver from the UK include Air Canada, Air Transat, British Airways and WestJet. Carriers flying to Vancouver from the USA include Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta, United and WestJet. Fares are higher over Christmas and in summer. October and January are good months to bag cheap deals.
From London - 9 hours 35 minutes; New York - 6 hours; Los Angeles - 3 hours; Toronto - 5 hours; Sydney - 14 hours 10 minutes.
Travel by road
Roads are of good quality, traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 16 years. Use of an electronic device while driving is prohibited. Children under nine require a car seat or booster seat.
Maximum speed limits are 80-120kph (50-75mph) on highways and 50kph (31mph) or less in built-up areas. It is legal to turn right at a red light. You may drive on your national driving licence for up to six months, and third-party legal liability insurance is required.
Although there is very little snowfall in Vancouver, it can be heavy throughout the rest of the province in the winter, so snow tyres (and chains in mountainous regions) are a necessity if you plan to travel beyond the city.
The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) offers travel planning, insurance and other services to motorists (tel: +1 888 268 2222; www.bcaa.com).
Emergency breakdown services
BCAA (tel: +1 888 268 2222; www.bcaa.com).
The Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) passes through the Rockies on its way from Calgary and the rest of Canada. From Seattle, Interstate 5 becomes Highway 99 at the border; north of Vancouver, Highway 99 is known as the Sea to Sky Highway and follows the coast from Whistler to the city.
Ferries from Vancouver Island arrive at Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay ferry terminals, which are linked to Vancouver via Highway 99, to the south and north of the city respectively.
Pacific Central Station is the main coach station and is within the same building as the railway station at 1150 Station Street.
Greyhound Canada (tel: +1 800 661 8747; www.greyhound.ca) runs services within the province (including from Whistler) and further afield.
Pacific Coach Lines (tel: +1 800 661 1725; www.pacificcoach.com) operates services to Victoria and Whistler.
Cantrail Coach Lines (tel: +1 877 940 5561; www.cantrail.com), Quick Shuttle (tel: +1 800 665 2122; www.quickcoach.com), US-based Greyhound (tel: +1 800 231 2222; www.greyhound.com) and its low-fare subsidiary Boltbus (tel: +1 877 265 8287; www.boltbus.com) offer services from Seattle.
Time to city
From Whistler - 1 hour 45 minutes; Victoria - 3 hours 15 minutes (including ferry crossing); Seattle - 3 hours; Calgary - 10 hours 30 minutes.
Travel by Rail
The infrequent rail services are generally reliable, and standards within the carriages are high. A large number of passengers choose rail for the scenic trip, rather than to get from A to B. Pacific Central Station is the terminus for the main transcontinental lines. It is located at 1150 Station Street, adjacent to the main coach station.
VIA Rail (tel: +1 888 842 7245; www.viarail.ca) is the national rail service provider and operates the transcontinental Canadian service. This train passes through Winnipeg, Edmonton and Jasper on its four-day journey from Toronto, running twice a week in winter and three times a week in summer.
Amtrak (tel: +1 800 872 7245; www.amtrakcascades.com) provides a daily service from Seattle.
The privately run Rocky Mountaineer (tel: +1 877 460 3200; www.rockymountaineer.com) offers tourist services from Banff and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops so that the entire rail journey through the scenic Rockies is in daylight. The service runs from late April to mid-October.
From Seattle - 4 hours; Toronto - 4 days; Winnipeg - 2 days; Edmonton - 27 hours; Jasper - 20 hours.
Travel by boatVancouver is one of the busiest ports in North America. Port Metro Vancouver (tel: +1 604 665 9000; www.portmetrovancouver.com) looks after its marine terminals. Although most of the traffic is cargo, a dozen or so cruise lines operate trips to Alaska.
The port contains two passenger terminals. Downtown, Canada Place terminal offers restaurants, hotels and left-luggage facilities, while Ballantyne terminal, about 2km (1.2 miles) to the east, has fewer facilities, with food and drink concessions.
BC Ferries (tel: +1 888 223 3779; www.bcferries.com) offers scheduled services from Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast.
The major routes from Vancouver Island are Victoria-Vancouver, with ferries sailing between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen (journey time - 1 hour 35 minutes), and Nanaimo-Vancouver, with ferries arriving at either the Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen terminals (journey time - 1 hour 40 minutes or 2 hours, respectively).
Canada Place terminal is a short walk from Waterfront SkyTrain Station and the main shopping and hotel districts. Taxis are readily available at Ballantyne terminal and all westbound buses on Powell Street and Hastings Street (a few blocks south of the pier) lead to Downtown.
From Tsawwassen, foot passengers can book a seat on Pacific Coach Lines coaches (tel: +1 800 661 1725; www.pacificcoach.com) to the main bus terminal (you must buy tickets and board the coach on the ferry). Public transit is available on bus 620, which leads to Bridgeport Station where you can transfer to the SkyTrain to head downtown (total journey time - 60 minutes).
From Horseshoe Bay, express bus 257 (journey time - 40 minutes) and bus 250 (journey time - 55 minutes) both travel directly to downtown Vancouver.