They say the best things in life are free, and that's certainly true in Vancouver. You don't need to spend money to enjoy the best parts of Vancouver: finding free things to do in Vancouver is easy!
Use this list to find the best free things to do in Vancouver, whether you're looking for family fun, time to yourself, or a unique way to spend the day.
Bike the Seawall at Stanley Park
There isn't a more famous place in Vancouver to bike, jog, walk or rollerblade than Stanley Park's Seawall. This paved pathway loops around the park and into downtown Vancouver, and its route--with views of the city, northern mountains, and Lion's Gate Bridge--includes some of our city's most beautiful scenery.
Learn more about Stanley Park's free activities: Stanley Park Top 10.
Visit Chinatown's Historic Sites
All of Chinatown's most historic sites are free to visit, and touring the sites makes an ideal, free day-in-the-city. Take your own walking tour of this famous neighbourhood and see landmarks like the Millennium Gate, the world's narrowest building, and the free portion (the Park) of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden & Park.
Smell the Flowers at Queen Elizabeth Park
From lawn bowling to the famous dancing fountains at its peak, Queen Elizabeth Park has lots of free things to do and see, but its hard to top a trip to its beautiful quarry gardens. Queen Elizabeth Park's two quarry gardens are horticultural delights, with pathways, bridges and mini waterfalls set amongst hundreds of plants and flowers.
Garden lovers can also check out the equally free Stanley Park Gardens.
Get Wet at the Beach
Vancouver beaches are some of the best in the world, boasting soft sand, thrilling mountain-and-city vistas, and lots of chances for outdoor sports and adventure. Whether it's a hot summer day and you're looking for fun in the sun, or a cool autumn afternoon and the family wants the perfect barbecue spot, Vancouver's gorgeous beaches are a perfect free getaway.
Stretch Your Legs with a Great Vancouver Hike
If you love exercise and the great outdoors, hiking can be one of the best free things to do in Vancouver. Vancouver is blessed with a variety of great hiking trails, from the difficult-but-popular Grouse Grind up Grouse Mountain to less strenuous hikes and nature walks that are great for kids.
See the Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is the largest art gallery in western Canada and one of downtown Vancouver's most important landmarks. VAG hosts two to three large, international exhibits every year, plus 10 - 12 exhibits of its own extensive collections, and you can see the current exhibits by donation every Tuesday, from 5pm - 9pm.
Cross the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Located just north of Vancouver, Lynn Canyon is the free alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Not only does Lynn Canyon have its own free suspension bridge, it boasts waterfalls, mini hikes and a swimming hole for summer.
Learn more: Guide to Lynn Canyon Park.
Explore Granville Island
There's so much to see on Granville Island that just visiting is a great way to spend the day--no need to spend any money. You can stroll around the waterfront, window shop at the boutiques, explore the Public Market, and enjoy street performers. In summer, from May 31 - September 6, there's also a free Kids' Water Park.
Spend the Evening at a Summer Night Market
Kicking off on Victoria Day weekend and running through September, summer night markets are a Lower Mainland tradition that recreates Asian night markets right here in our backyard. One of the Top 10 Things About Summer in Vancouver, the two huge night markets in Richmond have over 300 vendors, tons of food, live entertainment, and attract nightly crowds of thousands. It's not technically free--admission is $2--but that's low-cost enough to warrant a spot on this list! That said, you wil spend money on the food: who can resist hurricane potatoes, sui mai and sno cones?
Learn more: Vancouver Summer Night Markets
Enjoy a Free Festival or Event
Every month Vancouver has free festivals, events and multicultural celebrations--events like June's International Jazz Festival, July's Celebration of Light Fireworks Competition, April's Vaisakhi Parade, and December's Christmas at Canada Place--that offer free fun for people of all ages.
Use these monthly event calendars to find the free festivals, events or celebrations happening this month:
BONUS: Vancouver Inspiration Pass
Launched in November 2012, the Vancouver Inspiration Pass is a program from the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) that lets families and kids "borrow" a Pass for free general admission to many Vancouver attractions and activities. Any Vancouver resident 14+ with a VPL library card can place a "hold" on one of the VPL's 120 Vancouver Inspiration Passes and then "borrow" the pass (like a book) for two-weeks.
Learn more: How to Get & Use the Vancouver Inspiration Pass.