Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is a hub to all locations throughout the world. But occasionally flight plans go awry: Your first flight is late, causing you to miss your connecting flight, or your connecting flight is cancelled. While traveling may make you feel stressed out, if you’re stuck at YVR, this is your best opportunity to head to downtown Vancouver, and see some of the sights.
Your bags are already checked, and if you want to stow your carry-on luggage, you can head to baggage services on level 2 of either terminal, and check it for the day. From here, head to the outside of the airport, and follow the signs to public transportation. It’s a short bus to the Canada Line Skytrain, and this will take you all the way into downtown Vancouver, It’s about a 34 minute trip in total.
Time may be a factor in your day trip into the downtown Vancouver area. You’ll want to visit attractions close to the Skytrain Station, so you can have plenty of time to return to the airport. While Stanley Park, and the Planetarium may sound great, it’s best to leave these attractions for another trip, when you have more time. You may wish to ask airport personnel if you can leave the airport on an international ticket, but if you’re traveling domestically, or from Canada to US, you can leave the airport, then return in time for your flight.
You may also be wondering whether you have enough time for a day trip into downtown Vancouver. For your own peace of mind, any layovers of six hours or more, are going to give you plenty of time to take transit to Vancouver, have a couple of hours to wander around, then give yourself at least one hour to return, and two hours to get through US customs, immigration, and security again. End your Skytrain trip at Waterfront Station. This is the terminus station where you can get off, and have a short walk to Canada Place, where you can have a great view of Burrard Inlet, a body of water that’s connected to the Pacific Ocean. If you walk to the end of Canada Place, you can visit the FlyOver Canada attraction, where you’re lifted in the air on a simulator facing a huge screen.
There are plenty of places to eat along the waterfront. If you keep walking west, you’ll reach the Vancouver Convention Centre, and Jack Pool Plaza, where the big Olympic cauldron from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics is now permanently installed. If you’re interested in a bit of shopping, you can get back to the Waterfront Skytrain, and take it to Pacific Centre. Here you’ll find the Hudson’s Bay Company, and an entire underground mall, full of shops, boutiques, and stores. If you walk to the south main level of Nordstrom’s, you can exit via Robson Street, where there is plenty of upscale shopping.
If you still have time for sightseeing, before you have to return to the airport for your flight, you can visit Gastown, which is a short walk from Waterfront Station. Here is where the city of Vancouver began. There are dozens of heritage buildings from Victorian times, and plenty of excellent restaurants.
Vancouver is a fun place to visit, but don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you forget to allot extra time to catch your flight back home.