Vancouver is an expensive place to live, but there are still hundreds of affordable, cheap and even free ways to enjoy the Lower Mainland on a budget.
Affordable Vancouver Activities
Vancouver’s best places on a budget include the region’s beaches, parks and free attractions. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, Vancouver can still be an amazing place to visit.
Below is a list of some of Vancouver’s best things to do on a tight budget and, as you’ll see, some of these are also ranked as best places even if you do have lots of money!
Special Seasonal Things to Do
- See any of Vancouver’s Best Places in Autumn, including dozens of free parks.
- Check out the salmon and nearby forested trails at the Capilano River Salmon Hatchery in North Vancouver.
- Family Favourites Movies – $2.99 movies on Saturday mornings at select Cineplex theatres from October 8 to December 10, 2016, as well as on January 7, 2017.
- See Free Activities in November for a list of free and almost free things to do every day in November.
- Christmas Craft Fairs – Vancouver’s Christmas craft fair season runs from early November until the middle of December. Some of the fairs are free and many cost only a couple of dollars.
For other seasonal free things to do, see the Festivals & Events Calendar. Some festivals have admission costs, but most are free.
Half Price Show Tickets
Want to see a live show at a discount? Check out Ticketstonight.ca as they often sell last minute tickets on the day of the show for half price.
Best Places on a Budget
The following are some of the best places in the Lower Mainland that don’t cost anything to visit, or only very little.
- Beaches: English Bay, Kitsilano, Jericho, Spanish Banks and Stanley Park (Second and Third Beaches)
- – this is an attraction you would expect to have to pay money for, and you did have to up until recently, but now it’s free. It’s a great place to bring the family. (Note: open only seasonally and in the summer.)
- Coal Harbour – a great area for walks, jogs and cycling along the seawall.
- Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden – the classical Chinese garden isn’t normally free, except for BC seniors every third Wednesday of the month. It is half price during the last 30 minutes of each day for everyone, however, and Sun Yat-Sen Park right next door includes some of the same views and is free.
- Gastown – the old part of town with lots of interesting shops and restaurants, which makes it a great place to just look around.
- Granville Island – it’s got lots of art shops and a market to explore, plus amazing views of the city and False Creek. Even the parking is free (or at least some of it).
- Grouse Mountain – it’s normally expensive, but if you like brutal treks up stairs you can walk up the Grouse Grind in the summer and then pay a reduced rate for the Gondola back down.
- H.R. MacMillan Space Centre – the Space Centre’s observatory is open Saturday evenings from 8 pm to midnight by donation. It’s just the observatory with admission by donation, not the Planetarium, but it’s an affordable way to see the stars on a clear evening.
- Lynn Canyon Park – want to cross a free suspension bridge and climb hundreds of stairs through the forest at one of the region’s best parks, then visit Lynn Canyon. It’s comparable to places you pay a lot of money for.
- Museum of Vancouver – admission is by donation on the last Thursday of each month in the evening, from 5 pm to 8 pm.
- Nitobe Memorial Garden and UBC Botanical Garden – entrance to both is usually by donation from November until mid-March (so it might not be the prettiest time to visit, but it will be the cheapest).
- Rice Lake – a beautiful lake for walking around in North Vancouver.
- Queen Elizabeth Park – one of Vancouver’s largest and most famous parks.
- Stanley Park – this is one of Vancouver’s most famous tourist sites and it’s free to explore.
- Vancouver Maritime Museum – the most affordable time to visit this museum is Thursday evenings, from 5 pm to 8 pm, when admission is by donation.
Places on a Budget WITH A CAR
The following are some of Vancouver’s best places to visit if you’re on a tight budget, but you also have a vehicle to get you there as they aren’t so accessible otherwise.
- Alice Lake – a great place to spend the day and an excellent place for affordable overnight camping up the Sea to Sky Highway.
- Mount Seymour – this is a great place in the winter if you have a vehicle (as it’s a bit expensive to get to otherwise) and your own pair of snow shoes (which will make the trip really cheap as there are free snow shoe trails in the provincial park right beside the ski hill).
- Stawamus Chief – a great place for some semi-serious mountain climbing located halfway up the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway.
- Shannon Falls – just minutes from Squamish and the Stawamus Chief (see above), this park has gentle walking trails and a beautiful waterfall (which is especially striking in the spring or after a major rainfall).
Other Best Places on a Budget
- Robson Square offers free ice skating – but you’ll need to rent skates if you don’t have your own – from mid-November until the middle of February, weather permitting.
- The Vancouver Flea Market is a good and interesting place for bargains, knickknacks and secondhand shopping. Admission is no more than $2.
- IKEA isn’t really a “best place” to visit, unless you’re looking for home furnishings, affordable cafeteria food and a place with free child care while you shop.
Entertainment Coupon Book Places
Got one of those Entertainment coupon books? Got kids of your own or grandchildren? Don’t like paying full price for stuff? Wondering which coupons are worth using? Click Entertainment Book Deals for Kids for a list of best places in the Lower Mainland to take your children at a discount.