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a couple enjoys one of our favourite cheap things to do in vancouver.

12 Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver Right Now

Looking for a list of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver? Well, you’re not alone! Unfortunately, our city has a reputation for being a little hard on the wallet.

But not to worry. From exploring scenic parks to immersing in vibrant cultural hotspots, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without compromising fun and adventure.

So, let’s take a closer look at a few of my favourite inexpensive things to do in Vancouver.

Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

A family bikes around Vancouver’s Seawall

Go Biking Around Stanley Park

With its mild weather and picturesque scenery, it is no surprise that Vancouver is one of North America’s most bikeable cities. And where better to start than Stanley Park? Its iconic Seawall serves as Vancouver’s ultimate outdoor gym, offering the perfect way to explore the park’s beauty. 

As the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the Seawall acts as a transportation corridor and a hub for outdoor recreation all at once. This makes it a highlight of many top Vancouver city tours and a can’t-miss stop for visitors.

Whether walking, rollerblading, or cycling along the park’s nine-kilometre stretch of Seawall, you’ll have access to some of Vancouver’s finest beaches and a chance to admire significant First Nations artifacts, including the renowned Stanley Park Totem Poles at Brockton Point.

runners hiking up the grouse grind in vancouver bc canada

Climb the Famous Grouse Grind

Are you an active traveller visiting Vancouver who’s looking for an experience that’s high on thrills and low on dollars? Well, the famous Grouse Grind should be at the top of your list of affordable things to do in Vancouver.

Known as “mother nature’s stairmaster,” the Grouse Grind is a 2.9 km trail that takes you straight up the face of Grouse Mountain. Once you arrive at the top, you’ll have access to a host of Grouse Mountain summer activities.

With a whopping 2,830 steps and an elevation gain of 853 meters, it’s definitely a physical challenge. But the panoramic views of the city at the top? Absolutely worth every drop of sweat!

The Grind is typically open from May to October, but the season varies due to weather conditions. And the best part? It’s free! Check out the official Grouse Grind website for more info.

Go on a 3-Hour Street Art Tour + Vancouver Brewery Tour

Looking for something a little less taxing? Discover the dynamic cultural fusion of Vancouver’s street art and craft beer scene with the 3-Hour Street Art Tour + Vancouver Brewery Tour.

This captivating walking tour takes you through Mount Pleasant, a vibrant neighbourhood known for its stunning Vancouver Mural Festival and local street art hot spots. But that’s not all! The tour also stops at popular breweries like Faculty Brewing Co. and Electrical Bicycle Brewing so that you can sample some local brews.

It’s the perfect combination for those seeking an immersive and diverse cultural experience, blending art appreciation with delicious craft beer exploration in one of the best Vancouver sightseeing tours.

outside view of the vancouver aquarium in vancouver bc canada

Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

Situated within the renowned Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium has flourished since its establishment in 1956, becoming Canada’s largest aquarium

Boasting an impressive 166 aquatic displays, the facility holds a staggering 9,500,000 litres (2,500,000 gallons) of water. 

vancouver whale tour banner

The facility is home to a diverse range of exhibits replicating various marine habitats around the world – with a particular focus on Canada’s west coast.

It is now home to an extensive collection of over 70,000 animals, making it one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions and educational destinations for visitors of all ages.

Go on a Historic Walking Tour

Do you consider yourself a history buff? Well, you can embark on the Forbidden Gastown Walking Tour to uncover Vancouver’s intriguing history as a pioneer outpost. 

Led by an expert guide, you’ll explore Victory Square and Gastown, immersing yourself in tales of bootlegging, rum-running, and the darker side of the city’s history

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

From corrupt politicians and mob bosses to vibrant showgirls, learn how Vancouver evolved from a frontier outpost to a cosmopolitan hotspot while visiting historic landmarks

The tour concludes in Gastown, where chic restaurants and hip bars now replace speakeasies and gambling dens. You’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for the city’s captivating transformation.

outside view of vancouver art gallery in vancouver bc canada
Courtesy: Vancouver Art Gallery

Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery

Outside Western Canada’s largest art gallery, you’ll find Robson Square, the city’s largest public square. Here, you’ll find an intriguing mix of buskers, food trucks, indigenous carvers, and office workers lounging in the sun.

Vancouver Art Gallery itself was constructed in a beautiful Art Deco style, which is quite unique for the area. The best part? The gallery is bang, smack in the middle of Downtown Vancouver – making it easy to reach for visitors regardless of where they’re staying.

Once inside, you’ll find an impressive collection of 11,000 works from around the globe. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch one of the world-class travelling exhibits that come through town.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the works of renowned post-impressionist painter Emily Carr, marvel at Baroque masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, and indulge in a diverse range of captivating temporary exhibitions.

Instagram: @bloedel_conservatory

Visit the Bloedel Conservatory

I’d be willing to bet that you didn’t expect to visit a tropical rainforest on your trip to Canada. But indeed, it is possible! Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory offers a unique indoor experience that transports visitors to tropical, sub-tropical, and desert climates within its microclimate dome

Acting as both an aviary and botanical paradise, the conservatory boasts an impressive collection of over 500 plant varieties and hosts around 120 free-flying birds

Located in Queen Elizabeth Park, it’s the perfect destination to enjoy the company of parrots and marvel at coffee plants, cacti, and orchids in a serene and picturesque setting.

And don’t forget, it’s located at the city’s highest point. So, the views of the Vancouver skyline and North Shore Mountains are some of the best around.

Hit Up the Granville Island Public Market

Do you consider yourself a foodie? Well, I’ve got just the place for you! The Granville Island public market is a food lover’s paradise that offers a delightful culinary adventure with its diverse array of precious produce, local seafood, and captivating coffee options, catering to all tastes and preferences. 

With over 50 food vendors at the market, there is bound to be something for everyone. Trust me, Granville Island showcases Vancouver’s diverse cultural melting pot, simmering away sweet and savoury treats to entice every palate.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, visiting Granville Island guarantees a delectable experience that will satisfy the foodie in you. And window shopping is free! So it is an easy choice for our list of cheap stuff to do in Vancouver.

the porchetta sandwich at meat and bread gastown vancouver bc canada
Instagram: meatandbread

Visit Gastown For Some Cheap Eats

Still hungry? Then how about heading to Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhood to discover an abundance of Vancouver’s best restaurants? If you look hard enough, you can find both affordable prices and exceptional dining experiences. 

The area is a hidden gem for food enthusiasts, boasting a variety of culinary delights without breaking the bank. Your gastronomic adventure in Gastown is sure to be a delightful journey of flavour and value.

Here are some of the best restaurants in Gastown that are budget-friendly:

Looking to grab some drinks? Check out our article on the Best Gastown Bars.

riders laughing as they fly over the canadian landscape at the flyover canada ride in vancouver bc
Courtesy: Flyover Canada

Try Flyover Canada

Experience the exhilarating FlyOver Canada Simulated Flight Ride, where you can embark on a thrilling 4D flight simulator journey across the country in just 8 minutes. 

The ride features a 20-foot dome screen with immersive effects like mist, wind, and scents, making you feel like you’re soaring above the clouds. 

As you travel, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Canada’s most iconic sites, complemented by the educational Uplift experience, offering a 25-minute exploration of the country’s beauty and diversity.

Visiting Vancouver during Christmas? Or maybe you’re experiencing your first Vancouver Halloween? The attraction also holds a number of seasonal events that are perfect for the entire family.

Items outside a Chinatown Apothecary

Check Out Vancouver’s Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown offers a unique and bustling cultural experience, with a variety of shops selling traditional Chinese goods, herbal remedies, and souvenirs. The district’s crowded and chaotic atmosphere adds to its charm, and visitors are encouraged to haggle while shopping. 

The most popular stop with tourists is the stunning urban oasis known as the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This unique scholars’ garden was the first of its kind built in North America, making it an integral stop for visitors to the area. Neighbouring Sun Yat-Sen Park is free if you’d prefer to avoid paying admission.

In addition to exploring exotic storefronts and savouring delicious street food, Chinatown has become a hub for up-and-coming chefs, mixologists, and retailers, contributing to the area’s renewed vibrancy and appeal.

Cheap Activities Vancouver FAQs

Vancouver is a treasure trove of activities that are light on the wallet but rich in experience. Here’s a quick look at some of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver:

  • Stroll Through Stanley Park
  • Explore Granville Island
  • Hit the Beach
  • Tackle the Grouse Grind
  • Take a Walking Tour
  • Wander the Seawall
  • Check out a Museum or Gallery

Vancouver is a vibrant city with a unique mix of natural beauty and urban sophistication. But unfortunately, the costs can quickly add up.

Hotels downtown can be on the pricier side, but there are also budget-friendly hotels and hostels available if you book in advance. The same is true for bars and restaurants.

In short, many will find Vancouver on the pricey side compared with most similar-sized North American cities. But compared with cities like New York, London, San Francisco, Paris, or Hong Kong, you may find it relatively affordable.

Even if you find Vancouver to be on the expensive side, many of the best things to do in Vancouver are free. The best free places to visit in Vancouver include:

  • Stanley Park: This iconic park is vast and offers scenic views, totem poles, and lovely walking or biking trails.
  • Granville Island: While the market has purchasable goods, just wandering around and enjoying the atmosphere is free.
  • Beaches: English Bay, Kitsilano Beach, and Spanish Banks are just a few where you can relax without spending a dime.
  • The Seawall: Stretching from Coal Harbour to Spanish Banks, the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path offers endless free activities for active travellers.

Vancouver’s public transit, which includes buses, the SkyTrain, and the SeaBus, is efficient and affordable. And if you purchase a Compass Card, it can make fares even cheaper.

But remember, Vancouver’s downtown core is relatively small and surprisingly flat. So unless you’re heading to one of the city’s more disparate attractions, you may be able to get by on foot (or bike).

Vancouver hosts several free festivals and events throughout the year. But the summer festival season brings a wide variety of options that should be light on the wallet, including:

  • The Vancouver International Jazz Festival
  • Celebration of Light fireworks competition
  • The Vancouver Pride Festival
  • 4/20
  • Greek Days
  • Italy Days
  • Vancouver International Children’s Festival
  • The Richmond Night Market

Are you looking to get off the beaten path? Check out our guide to the top Vancouver Hidden Gems.

Still Looking for Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver?

There is no denying it can be a little pricey. But there is a wide array of inexpensive things to do in Vancouver for those on a budget. 

From exploring the city’s beautiful parks, beaches, and mountains to going on exciting adventures. Vancouver’s natural beauty ensures you don’t have to break the bank for a good time.

Don’t be afraid to hit us up in the comments below for more money-saving tips during your visit. But until then, enjoy our list of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver.

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