Photo credit: Anthony Maw | Flickr
With a favourable exchange rate for U.S. and international visitors, a slew of free or nearly-free attractions, a walkable downtown core, and lots of parks and gardens, seeing Vancouver can definitely be done affordably. This Vancouver itinerary can be done in one day or over several. Either way, by the end of it, you'll get a decent cross-section of Vancouver at its best - and most budget-friendly.
Grab breakfast and coffee at Granville Island's famous Public Market, one of Vancouver's most popular places to satisfy foodies. The choices are seemingly endless: Fraser Valley strawberries, cured deli meats, the finest brewed coffee and loads more, all for reasonable market prices. Grab a spot overlooking quiet False Creek and enjoy the fresh morning air. After breakfast, you can really dive into the Granville Island experience. Browse galleries and studios for one-of-a-kind artworks and hand-crafted designs. Families will love the Kids Market, filled with toys, games, candy and crafts of all sorts, and as the street performers come out of the woodwork, it's hard not to catch a strain of that bohemian spirit.
The Stanley Park Seawall
Visitors on a budget shouldn't pass up a stop at the Stanley Park Seawall, a 10-kilometre (6.2 mile) paved path where cyclists, joggers and in-line skaters enjoy the beauty of Vancouver's scenery. The views of English Bay are free of charge and postcard worthy.
Combine your love for window-shopping and people-watching on Robson Street, perhaps the best- known shopping neighborhood in Vancouver. Take a seat on a street-side patio and check out the latest fashions as Vancouverites and visitors alike strut by.
Christ Church Cathedral
Swing by Vancouver's oldest church, built between 1889 and 1896, for a look into the city's spiritual side. The Gothic-style structure is awe-inspiring, as are its stained-glass windows with scenes from the Old and New Testament. For a real treat, walk the labyrinth and enjoy a choral performance by the church's choir.
This mixed-use facility hosts a number of free activities, such as outdoor yoga and movies during the summer, and Canada Day festivities. Even when these events aren't going on, Canada Place is still a place to wander and explore. The complex extends four city blocks, its five Teflon-coated sails as its most recognizable feature. Along the western side of the landmark, you’ll find interpretive signs and activities celebrating Canada.
Discover North America's oldest Chinatown to experience one of Vancouver's most dynamic communities. Authenticity is the key word here, and the neighbourhood has all the things you might expect from a bustling Chinatown. Herbal shops, bakeries and lanterns line the streets, while the distinctive architecture harkens back to Canton. Stop by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden after browsing the shops. The intimate garden was the work of 52 artisans from China and is a representation of an authentic Ming Dynasty-style garden.
Make a stop in Gastown and check out the neighbourhood's Victorian-style streets. The atmosphere here is distinctly old school: cobblestone streets, Italian tilework, Victorian streetlamps. Make sure to stop by the Gastown Steam Clock, the world's first steam clock, which chimes every quarter hour with a steam whistle. Tucked in among the traditional souvenir stores are a growing number of hip fashion boutiques, high-end décor stores, and quirky gift galleries, making the window-shopping here highly recommended.