Getting to Vancouver
Vancouver is the hub for a wide array of national and international transportation options, ranging from major airline routes to intercity buses and regional ferry and train services. And you can drive yourself – the city is located on main freeway routes from the US and across Canada.
VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (YVR):
- Celebrating its 80th birthday in 2011, YVR (www.yvr.com) is Western Canada's largest airport and the country's second busiest. A gateway for Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region, there are daily flights to and from every continent. Since 1992, when the Vancouver Airport Authority assumed operational responsibility, passenger traffic has increased more than 78 per cent and air cargo has increased nearly 57 per cent. In 2010, the airport welcomed 16.8 million passengers. YVR was named North America's Best Airport at the 2011 World Airport Awards – for the second year running. Routes and carriers: YVR's main carriers are Air Canada (www.aircanada.com) and Westjet (www.westjet.com), while Pacific Coastal Airlines (www.pacificcoastal.com) is an important regional operator. More than 65 other carriers use the airport, servicing 121 destinations in Canada and beyond.
- NEXUS Air: YVR was the first airport in North America to offer NEXUS Air, which makes flying to and from the United States or other international destinations more efficient for low-risk, pre-approved travelers. NEXUS Air complements the existing CANPASS Air program, and both assist program members in bypassing border lineups using cutting-edge bio-metric iris recognition technology.
- CONNECTING TO YVR:
- Taxi: It's a 30-minute taxi ride (up to $35) from the airport to downtown Vancouver. The cabs – which operate around the clock and are avail-able just outside the two arrivals areas – are regulated by the city. Limojet Gold (www.limojetgold.com) offers sedan and limousine services on a 24-hour basis, while Aeroshuttle (www.aeroshuttleyvr.ca) provides a minibus service to select downtown hotels. Every major car hire agency also operates at the airport, including Avis, Alamo, Budget, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
- CANADA LINE: Visitors can beat the traffic by using the Canada Line, SkyTrain‟s newest rapid rail service linking YVR to Richmond and Vancouver. The trip to downtown‟s Waterfront Station is approximately 25 minutes.
- VIA Rail (www.viarail.ca): Canada's national passenger rail service operates a western transcontinental train – The Canadian – between Vancouver and Toronto. Services depart Vancouver's Pacific Central Station on Fridays, Sundays and Tuesdays, and Toronto on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The entire journey takes three days and the train offers two service classes: Economy and Sleeper Touring.
- Rocky Mountaineer (www.rockymountaineer.com): Rocky Mountaineer offers spectacular train routes throughout Western Canada. The “First Passage to the West” train goes from Vancouver to Calgary, stopping in Kamloops and Banff; “Journey through the Clouds” goes from Vancouver to Jasper, stopping in Kam-loops; “Rainforest to Gold Rush” goes from Whistler to Jasper, stopping in Quesnel; and the “Whistler Sea to Sky Climb” goes from Vancouver to Whistler.
- Amtrak (www.amtrakcascades.com): The US passenger train service is part of Amtrak‟s Pacific Northwest network, servicing Oregon and Washington States. Its Cascades service travels twice daily between Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.
- Greyhound (www.greyhound.ca): Regular inter-city Greyhound bus services arrive at Vancouver‟s Pacific Central Station from locations including Seattle, Whistler, Kelowna and Calgary.
- Pacific Coach Lines (www.pacificcoach.com): Frequent PCL bus services arrive at Pacific Central Station from downtown Victoria, via the BC Ferries Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route. The company also runs a popular service be-tween downtown Vancouver and Whistler.
- You can drive to Vancouver from eastern Canada and the province‟s eastern communities via Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway), which snakes into the city along Hastings Street.
- From the US, Highway 99 runs due north from the border at Blaine. After entering Vancouver, it travels up to Whistler and further into B.C. where it eventually meets Highway 97, the province‟s main north-south route. A three-hour drive between Seattle and Vancouver, the border crossing often has line-ups on holidays and weekends.
- The section of Highway 99 between Vancouver and Whistler is also known as the Sea to Sky Highway for its spectacular mountain and waterfront views. The route also includes several attractions, such as Shannon Falls, the Britannia Mine Museum and the West Coast Railway Heritage Park.
- BC Ferries (www.bcferries.com) is the largest domestic ferry service in the world. It offers dozens of daily sailings from Horseshoe Bay (north of Vancouver) and Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver). It takes 90 minutes to travel between Tsawwassen and Vancouver Island's Swartz Bay – the main route for Victoria-bound passengers; 40 minutes to travel between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale on the Sunshine Coast; and 90 minutes to travel between Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver Island‟s Nanaimo. There are also several Tsawwassen services to and from the southern Gulf Islands.
- With the largest floatplane network in the world, B.C.'s spectacular surroundings are often best experienced from the air. Interested in being whisked away for a breathtaking glacier-packed mountain view, followed by a romantic stroll and a gourmet picnic for two? Several Vancouver tour companies offer such romantic retreats. Regular daily services also connect downtown Vancouver and Victoria's Inner Harbour in around 30 minutes and there are also links to Nanaimo, Whistler and additional communities on Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Popular operators include Harbour Air (www.harbour-air.com), West Coast Air (www.westcoastair.com), SeaAir Seaplanes (www.seairseaplanes.com) and Whistler Air (www.whistlerair.ca). Alternatively, Helijet International (www.helijet.com) offers regular helicopter services between Vancouver and Victoria. The company recently welcomed its two-millionth passenger.