Consistently named as one of the best airports in North America, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is known for its cleanliness, fresh architecture, and service. Heading there for a layover? There are many worse places to be stuck at. If you have more than a few hours to spare, stow your luggage at the baggage services and explore the city! The airport is well-connected to the city and will bring you downtown in half an hour’s time. If you’re tighter on time, don’t worry - there are a variety of activities at the airport to make your time there a pleasant one. From spas and massages to art exhibitions and even an aquarium, there are many things for you to enjoy at the airport. Here is a list of 10 things to do in Vancouver Airport.
1. Admire the spectacular marine life at the aquarium
How many airports with aquariums have you been to? YVR has not one, but two aquariums housed within its compounds. With a combined volume of almost 120,000 liters of water, the aquarium is home to more than 5000 marine critters, including a separate exhibit for jellyfish on the fourth floor of the international terminal. The aquarium, established in 2007 in conjunction with the Vancouver Aquarium as part of its conservation and education efforts, is definitely a treat for the eyes. Drop by the aquarium to admire the stunning array of marine creatures and learn more about British Columbia’s diverse and beautiful wildlife.
YVR Airport Exhibit - Ocean Wise
Address: Domestic Terminal, Level 3, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 0A4, Canada
Website: YVR Airport Exhibit - Ocean Wise
Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)
2. Marvel at The Spirit of Haida Gwaii
Installed in 1996, the Spirit of Haida Gwaii, or the Jade Canoe, is also affectionately known as the Heart of the Airport. And for good reason - a popular landmark within the airport, it’s the location of many meeting points, goodbyes and been the subject of countless tourist photos. It’s even featured on the 20 CAD note once. At almost 4 m (13.1 ft) high, the sculpture cuts a pretty imposing figure that’s very much softened by the lore and affection surrounding it. Come by the Jade Canoe to admire this work of art, and maybe rub the Old Mouse Woman’s nose for good luck on your journey.
The Jade Canoe
Address: International Terminal, Level 3, before security, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 0A4, Canada
Website: The Jade Canoe
Opening hours: 24/7
3. Bring a piece of Canada back with you
Browse through the array of souvenirs, including artwork, clothing and leather goods, that were locally produced. These items were made with love by local artisans and craftsmen; as such, each item is unique and no two items are the same. This is your last chance to bring a piece of Canadian culture back with you, and support the local community at the same time.
Address: Domestic Terminal, Level 3, before security, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 0A4, Canada
Opening hours: 5:30am - 9pm (daily)
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4. Relax at the Absolute Spa
Traveling can be a dour, stressful and tiring affair - thank goodness there are not one, not two, but four (including one in the Fairmont in the US Terminal) spa boutiques within the confines of the airport. Offering a variety of packages, you’ll be spoiled for choice for a treatment that suits your time and budget. Treatment at this award-winning spa chain will definitely get you in the mood for a vacation.
Address: Domestic Terminal, Level 3, after security, Gate C47, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 1X9, Canada
Website: Absolute Spa
Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 40 USD onwards
5. Indulge in some Asian cuisine
Soothe your foodie soul with some Asian fare. Head to Toshi Teppanyaki in the International Terminal if you’re craving some teppanyaki - you can even watch them whip your order up. Thai Hang offers fresh Vietnamese cuisine, from a steaming hot bowl of pho to chicken spring rolls and lemongrass chicken. If you’re still undecided, Rice Tales serves a variety of familiar Asian cuisine. They even have gluten-free options here. With a wide selection of Asian fare, you can definitely satisfy your cravings here.
Address: Domestic Terminal, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 1K7, Canada
Website: Rice Talesi
Opening hours: 7:30am - 10:30pm (daily)
Price: Under 10 USD
6. Shop till you drop in the international departures wing
Pick up some last minute souvenirs/travel accessories at the array of shops in the international departures wing. From designer brands (Bvlgari, Gucci, and Salvatore Ferragamo are some of the brands you can find here) to the widely patronized duty-free shops, you’ll definitely be able to find all that you’re looking for here. It’s easy to spend at least an hour browsing through the endless racks of the stores.
World Duty Free
Address: International Terminal, Level 3, after security, 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 1Y7, Canada
Website: World Duty Free
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
7. Pick up some in-flight entertainment at Pacific Coast News
Get your in-flight entertainment here - from books to snacks, Pacific Coast News has everything to keep you occupied during your flight. On-flight snacks are notoriously expensive so make sure to stock up here. Frequent fliers are in for a treat here as well - under the bookstore’s Read & Return program, customers can grab a book and return it within six months for a 50% refund. Say goodbye to long, boring plane rides.
Pacific Coast News
Address: 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V7B 0A4, Canada
Website: Pacific Coast News
Opening hours: 24/7
8. Get your hands on some locally produced leather goods
Here’s your last chance to snag some high-quality leather goods. Roots is a local brand originating from Toronto and prides itself on its high-quality leather goods and trendy leisure wear. Leather products sold include tote bags, handbags, and even shoes. If you’re not a fan of leather, the store sells a variety of casual, everyday wear as well - from chunky oversized sweaters to basic graphic tees.
Address: US Terminal, Level 3, after security, 1000-7899 Templeton Station Rd, Richmond, BC V7B 0B7, Canada
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm; Sun : 10am - 7pm
9. Grab some designer goods at Hermès
Don’t be fooled by its size - the store itself might not be as big as the one downtown, but it still carries a wide array of branded goods nonetheless. You’ll be pleased to know that the store is duty-free, so you can get their signature scarves for a lower price than outside stores.
Address: International Terminal, Level 3, After Security, Gate D70
Opening hours: 5am - 1.30am daily
10. Enjoy a good sleep in the swanky lounges
The Plaza Premium Lounges are available to all passengers, regardless of their flight ticket, from at least USD 30. Considering the array of amenities that this unlocks - from showers, nap rooms, indulgent buffets, and of course, free-flow alcohol - this seems like a worthy investment. If you’ve got a long wait for your flight, might as well wait in style. You can opt to book lounge access online or pay at the door.
Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver (US Departures)
Address: Vancouver International Airport, Near Gate E87, US Transborder Departure Pier E, Vancouver, BC V7B 0A4, Canada
Opening hours: 4:30am - 8pm (daily)
Start your vacation early at Vancouver International Airport
You don’t need to get out of the country to start your vacation. Get some R&R at the spa, enjoy the comforts of First Class flyers’ lounge or shop for some in-flight entertainment at the store - being at the airport is a break in itself.
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