Nestled between vast valleys and lush rainforest, Vancouver is truly a paradise for travelers. It is also consistently on the list of the most livable cities in the world. Boasting of hundreds of parks and campsites, hiking trails to trek, and countless rivers and lakes to explore, nature lover or not will definitely fall in love with Vancouver’s natural beauty. With an endless list of things to do and experience, you might go back home without a single penny in your pocket for spending on things you can actually enjoy at no cost. Give your wallet a break on your next visit to the largest city in British Columbia by adding a few of these 10 things to do for free in Vancouver, Canada into your itinerary.
1. Relax in the lap of nature any time of the day
Traipse under the umbrella of cherry blossom trees during spring or breathe in the summer breeze while having a picnic on the grass in this park surrounded by stunning floral display ideal as a backdrop for wedding photos. Marvel at the sights of the city and the mountains on the North Shore while taking advantage of its high elevation, offering a nice setting for stargazing. With all of nature’s gifts that you can enjoy in the geographical heart of Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park is also filled with diverse recreational offerings such as tennis, lawn bowling, and pitch and putt for every age to enjoy.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Address: 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2Z1, Canada
Website: Queen Elizabeth Park
Opening hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)
2. Hike a mountain
Hike the Grouse Grind Trail of the popular Grouse Mountain and shed the extra weight you’ve just gained after the night of partying around the busy districts of Vancouver. Know if you’re in good shape and wear the right clothing and footwear before taking this challenging hike complemented with a trail made up of natural and wooden stairs, rocks, and thick tree canopy. Reap the fitness rewards and celebrate by taking in the view at the summit offering the best panorama of Vancouver. There is no fee to climb the Grouse Grind Trail but for safety concerns to all the hikers, a descending climb is not permitted; you should opt to take the Skyride back down for 15 USD.
Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9, Canada
Website: Grouse Mountain
Opening hours: 6:15am - 7pm (daily)
3. Bike or jog around a magnificent green oasis
Choose wellness and enjoy a day with the scenic views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees around you in the most beloved urban park of Vancouver. Discover a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages and interests, as you walk the kilometers of trails and beautiful beaches along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall. Enjoy biking, skating, or just a simple walk to the Lionsgate Bridge viewpoint while admiring the natural beauty of this magnificent green oasis with sightings of herons, seals, and the busy harbor. Don’t miss the many famous landmarks and monuments including the First Nations totem poles or visit Canada’s largest aquarium if you have some dollars to spare.
Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada
Website: Stanley Park
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
4. Get your dose of vitamin 'sea' and hit the beach
Enjoy the sun and get that sun-kissed golden tan you wish to achieve while hitting the beaches of Vancouver. With about 18 kilometers (11.18 miles) of beautiful sandy outdoor space to sunbathe, swim, play sports, and have a picnic, you will never go wrong heading to any of the waterfronts in this part of Canada. Offering panoramic views of downtown and taking advantage of the Seawall that runs alongside the beach, Kitsilano is definitely not to be missed on your beach-hopping activity for a guaranteed refreshing plunge. Remember that beaches are for everyone to enjoy so do your part of keeping it clean.
Address: Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Website: Kitsilano Beach
Opening hours: Open 24 hours (daily)
5. Enjoy night shopping with live music in the background
Make your way to this traditional night market while in Vancouver and shop till you drop for the freshest local produce, gastronomic treats, and handcrafted items from various artisans perfect for souvenir buying. Happening every summer, which generally starts on the month of May and ends in September, night markets draw crowds of thousands of people, locals and tourists alike, every weekend–and not just for shopping but also for live entertainment. Fill your Friday nights with great food and beverages, art, music, entertainment, and shopping as you come down in Shipyards Night Market that is equally lively as the one in Richmond, less the admission fee, for it is always has been free.
Shipyards Night Market
Address: 15 Wallace Mews Road, North Vancouver
Website: Shipyards Night Market
Opening hours: Fri: 5pm - 10pm (May to September)
Walk across the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and enjoy the views of the nature surrounding Lynn Canyon Trail. Take delight of the sturdy suspension bridge that is not very long and was not too scary to look down offering a good opportunity to be amazed with the rushing water of Lynn Creek below. If you still have the energy after crossing, you can take a few walking tracks with many good wooden steps leading you to the pools. Don’t forget to wear proper footwear and stay on the well walked paths or ask fellow hikers for help if you are not sure where you are for the trails are not marked with signs and break up into different trails.
Nature Walk and Photography
Duration: 5 hours
Give your Vancouver trip a twist and spend a day touring around Granville Island that is brimming with quaint shops, cafes, and bookstores. Meet local artisans and vendors as you explore every nook and cranny of this posh neighborhood while browsing through stalls bursting with colorful produce and handcrafted goods. After spending time hopping between stores, grab some quick bites and reward yourself with fresh local delights such as truffle salami, fluffy doughnuts, cheese, and wine perfect for a fun picnic near the water. Leave with a better understanding of Canadian food culture and local life in Vancouver plus some Instagram-worthy shots.
Small-Group Granville Island Market Tour
Duration: 2 hours
8. Enjoy the Celebration of Light in the night sky
Join the fun and watch the breathtaking pyrotechnic competition over the forever beautiful English Bay and Sunset Beach during the Honda Celebration of Light happening every summer. Complete with incredible music, food and more, wrap your day of touring the city with the majestic combinations of flashes of color choreographed perfectly to accompanying music that will surely bring delight to your kids. Join the “oohs” and “aahs” of the cheering crowds while enjoying the dazzling show hundreds of feet up in the sky. Arrive early and enjoy the “Shorefest” for a free concert from Canada’s top acts offering non-stop entertainment for everyone until the fireworks display starts.
Honda Celebration of Light
Address: English Bay, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Website: Honda Celebration of Light
Opening hours: 10pm (Jul 27, Jul 31, and Aug 3)
Marvel at the contemporary art at the Vancouver Art Gallery, one of North America’s most exciting and innovative visual arts institutions. Discover hallways and gallery spaces displaying an incredibly beautiful mix of art styles and offering something of interest to everyone including kids. Located conveniently in the downtown area, this place is definitely a great way to spend a few hours in an afternoon with some quick bites from the cafe serving delicious treats. Though not totally free, take advantage of visiting on a Tuesday evening, starting from 5pm to 9pm, when admission to the gallery is only by donation.
Vancouver Art Gallery Admission
Duration: 1 day
Spend time wandering around one of the city’s top cultural destinations while learning the rich history and culture of Vancouver’s Chinatown. Visit local monuments, restaurants, and hidden corners of the area including heritage buildings and herbal medicine shops surrounding this bustling neighborhood started by Chinese immigrant laborers of the 1880s. Take time visiting the Chinese Cultural Center and the adjacent Sun Yet Sun Classical Chinese Garden which is the largest Ming era-style Chinese garden outside China. Enjoy a true cultural experience as you discover many great shops or have a gastronomic tour to taste some of the authentic flavors of Asian cuisine after walking around the community.
Private Walking China Tour
Duration: 2 hours
You won't need too much to enjoy Vancouver
You don’t need to break a bank just to have fun even in one of the most expensive countries to live in. Plan your itinerary and take advantage of these things to do for free in Vancouver, Canada for guaranteed cheap thrills while giving you a chance to spare some cash for your travel funds. Whether you have the means or not, there’s nothing wrong about saving more and experiencing things for free once in a while.
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