Making the most of your Vancouver vacation is a breeze with all the transportation options this city offers. Beyond the typical buses, trains, and taxis, there are pay-by-the-day or by-the-minute bikes and cars dotted around town, too, so you certainly won't be stuck in the same neighborhood as your Airbnb all week if Vancouver's ever-progressive public (and private) transit system has anything to do with it. The jaunt from charming Gastown to the landmark Lions Gate Bridge just got a lot more fun, and probably cheaper to boot.
Trains and Buses
Vacationers who decide against renting a car will have no problem navigating the city by public transit. Vancouver's bus and SkyTrain (the metro) are always reliable and are both operated by TransLink, the city's transportation authority. SkyTrain is perhaps the quickest and most efficient way to travel between metro neighborhoods and out to the suburbs, while the bus might be best for shorter distances. The SeaBus is another option for commuting between Waterfront Station and Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore. Greater Vancouver is divided into three fare zones, although the bus runs on a one-zone rate regardless of distance.
While its grid plan is relatively easy to navigate (save all the one-way streets), driving around Vancouver can be wildly frustrating. Rush hour in the city can lead to stacked traffic and outrageous wait times, which is a surefire way to ruin one of your vacation days. To top it off, parking can be a nightmare. While free street parking does exist, the locals are quick to snag these spots and paid lots and metered spots can be expensive. If you insist on renting a car, download the free Park 'in' Spot App on iOs or Android and, more importantly, know when to be off the roads. One of the primary routes to North Vancouver (where many locals rest their heads) is along West Georgia Street toward the Lions Gate Bridge. Also avoid coming into Vancouver on the British Columbia 99 North in the afternoon, when traffic gets backed up south of Massey Tunnel.
Sometimes, the feeling of freedom a car can bring is just too delicious to resist, but in Vancouver, you don't have to make a huge rental car commitment. Rather, Car2Go lets you pay for a vehicle by the minute. These little white smart fortwo cars are parked all around the downtown area (you can find them via a nifty app) and can be rented on-the-spot or reserved 24 hours in advance. They can be taken up to 300 kilometers outside the Home Area—Car2Go's "home base"—and simply returned to any public parking spot downtown when you're finished. Vancouver's other car share, Zipcar, operates in a similar way, as does the grassroots cooperative car share Modo. These are great ways to get around the city during non-rush hour times.
Biking is a big thing in this green city. Locals and tourists alike use bikes to commute to work or to tour the sites. The buses can carry bikes and there are designated cycle lanes on most downtown streets—even bridges and major thoroughfares. In 2016, the city launched Mobi, a public bike share system. There are more than 1,000 bikes available at 125 stations around the city, so you can take one around scenic Stanley Park and along the harbor on a sunny afternoon. Users can rent them with 24-hour, 90-day, or 365-day passes.
If getting to and from the Vancouver Airport is your primary concern, then consider hitching a ride on the Canada Line. SkyTrain's rapid transit line connects the Vancouver International Airport with downtown in about 25 minutes (and for less than $10 in fare). Stops include Yaletown, Vancouver City Centre, and Waterfront, where Stanley Park, Gastown, and Chinatown are.