Admittedly there are probably few things less interesting for any prospective tourist than a 3000 word article on Vancouver airport transportation.
But how can you get the fun rolling without it?
With so many options it can get confusing but we’re going to break it down so you can spend more time worrying about hiking, skiing, and eating the world’s best salmon.
Whether you’re going from Vancouver airport to downtown or anywhere else in the city we’ve got you covered – so let’s do this!
- Private Transfers
- Car Rentals
- Car Share
- Hotel Shuttles
- YVR to Whistler Shuttle
- YVR to BC Ferries
- Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver Airport Transportation
First, let’s get oriented.
There are two airports serving the Greater Vancouver area. In this article we’ll be discussing the largest, which is Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
For those who’ll be entering Vancouver through Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) make sure to check out our Abbotsford International page.
Still confused? Get at us in the comments below and we’ll tell you how to do it like a local.
Vancouver Airport to Downtown Train
The quickest and cheapest way to get Downtown Vancouver from the airport is by taking the train. In fact, you can get from YVR to Vancouver City Center Station in Downtown Vancouver in as little 25 minutes.
The airport has its own station called YVR-Airport on the Canada Line branch of the Skytrain: Vancouver’s metro system.
This line offers service from YVR and the suburb of Richmond through Vancouver’s Westside, before entering the downtown core where it terminates at Waterfront Station.
Vancouver Airport Train Times
The train runs every 6 minutes during peak hours, and every 12-20 minutes otherwise. The first and last trains are listed below:
Destination First Last
YVR-Waterfront 5:07am 12:56am
Waterfront-YVR 4:48am 1:05am
Be sure to consult the Canada Line schedule for exact times.
Vancouver Airport Train Prices
The cash fares for tickets purchased at YVR are outlined below:
- Adult: $9.35
- Concession (65+, 5-18): $8.00
- Child (0-5): free
This figure includes a regular 2 zone fare and the YVR Addfare supplement of $5. This figure is not applied for trips from Vancouver that terminate at YVR, when a normal 2 zone fare will suffice.
To get to the train from the domestic and international arrival halls go up the stairs to level three and simply follow the signs saying Canada Line or train to city within the airport.
Fares may be purchased from the ticket machines before entering the platform. They can be paid with cash, credit, debit card, mobile wallet or compass card.
The Compass Card is Vancouver’s comprehensive re-loadable fare card that works throughout the transit system (buses, Skytrain and the Seabus). It offers user slightly discounted travel in addition to increased convenience.
We strongly recommend taking the Skytrain to get downtown if:
- You are travelling alone or as a couple
- Budget is a factor
- You are staying near Vancouver City Center, Yaletown, Waterfront or Gastown
Just keep in mind:
- You may need to take another transport option (bus, taxi etc.) upon arrival if you are not staying near a Skytrain station
- It may be cheaper for a larger group to split the cost of a taxi or airport transfer that will deliver you right to your door
For more information on the Skytrain and the rest of the city’s transportation system we recommend heading over to our Vancouver Public Transport guide.
Vancouver Airport Bus
Due to the relatively cheap cost of the Canada Line, there is no dedicated public bus from the Vancouver airport to downtown during peak hours.
However, the N10 night bus does operate during the hours that the Canada Line is not in service (approximately 1:00am-5:00am) and during service disruptions.
Check out the schedule on the N10 night bus page on Translink.
We would only consider the N10 night bus as an option of last resort in the rare instance that a flight arrives very early in the morning.
In fact, we’d be more likely to recommend a taxi in such an event due to the relatively infrequent schedule and number of stops of the N10.
YVR South Terminal Bus
YVR’s South terminal offers service to small airlines that cater to domestic flights in BC’s North and Interior, meaning it’s rarely used by tourists.
Nevertheless, if you happen to arrive here the terminal is served by the #412 Sea Island bus which connects to the Canada line at Richmond-Brighouse station in Central Richmond.
Just keep in mind there is a free shuttle to the main terminal which will allow you to embark from YVR-Airport station on your way downtown.
For more information visit YVR’s South Terminal page.
Vancouver Airport Taxis
Vancouver taxi companies operate at stands just outside the baggage claim on level 2 of the Domestic and International terminals.
The trip to downtown from YVR by taxi takes around 30-35 minutes, though this number can rise significantly due to traffic during peak hours.
While taxis are slightly slower than the train, they do offer door to door delivery and may end up being cheaper for large groups or families.
Vancouver Airport Taxi Cost
Taxis from Vancouver International Airport operate on a fixed rate basis, meaning fares are fixed within several designated zones. For a look at the fare to your destination, check out the YVR taxi zone map.
*Note that the fixed rates only apply when leaving the airport.
Metered rates apply when returning to the airport from the city, and when going to a zone outside those pictured on the map above.
Make sure to confirm the fixed rates with your driver.
We recommend taking a taxi if:
- You are travelling in a group of 3 or 4
- You are staying in Richmond or South Vancouver
- Cost is not a major factor
Vancouver Airport Ride share
In January 2020 Ride App services finally received approval to operate in the Metro Vancouver Area. Lyft, KABU and Uber have since become authorized providers of Ride App services at YVR.
Simply connect to the complimentary YVR wifi and book yourself a ride. Then follow the Ride App symbol and directional signage towards one of the three designated pick up areas:
- International Arrivals-Level 2
- Domestic Arrivals-Level 2
- South Terminal
For more information check out YVR’s Ride App Services page.
Vancouver Airport to Downtown Private Transfer
If you desire a higher degree of comfort then there are several ultra-luxurious private transfers available to transport you directly to your destination.
While you may write them off as a needless extravagance, they can often be surprisingly affordable for larger groups or families.
Our partners at Viator offer a wide range range of limos, stretch SUVs and luxury sedans to bring you to your downtown hotel in the height of luxury. Going a little further afield? They’ve got you covered too, with options heading throughout the Lower Mainland to Whistler and even Seattle.
The vehicles are located just outside the arrivals level of the Domestic and International terminals. Simply follow the signs to the ground transportation area and you will see your vehicles waiting curb side to transport you to your destination.
Private transfers are the best option if:
- You desire a high degree of luxury, comfort and convenience
- Money isn’t an issue
- You’re travelling in a group larger than 4
So if this sounds like you, why not opt for the full celebrity treatment? You’ll be met at the arrivals gate by a driver holding a sign with your name and head directly to your hotel in style.
Vancouver Airport Car Rental
For the ultimate in flexibility and freedom to explore all of Vancouver’s top attractions the most sensible option is to rent a car.
Remember! Vancouver differs from most tourist destinations in that many of the most popular sites are located outside the city centre.
While the Skytrain is easy and cost efficient, it is predominantly used by suburban commuters heading Downtown to work, so don’t expect the coverage of metro systems in most European and Asian cities.
Consequently we strongly recommend car rental for:
- Families and groups
- Business travellers
- Those who intend to fully enjoy the outdoors
- Travellers who intend to take a side trip (Whistler, Vancouver Island, The Rockies)
Luckily YVR has a variety of car rental options available just steps from the main terminal. The following providers are available onsite:
So head online to you favourite car rental site and compare options. There is bound to be something that fits your needs.
Vancouver Airport Carshare
In addition to the traditional car rental organizations YVR offers a number of car share options for those travellers who prefer the flexibility of their own vehicle, but do not want to be burdened with a rental contract.
These subscription based services allow members to rent cars by the hour simply by scanning the car’s windshield using an app and then driving away!
YVR is serviced by two main car share providers:
Partnered with Avis, Zipcar is the only car sharing option available on the YVR grounds.
The hourly rate is just $10 with the daily rate at $79.
It is important to note, that unlike other providers, Zipcar only offers one way service, meaning that users must return their vehicles to the spot they picked it up.
For more info visit the Zipcar website.
This local car share company has a pick up/drop off location at the Park and Fly on Miller road near YVR that is also accessible via a free airport shuttle from the Main Terminal.
Evo offers two way service for $15.99 per hour and $89.99 per day. No drop off fee is required.
For more information check out the Evo website.
Vancouver Airport Hotel Shuttle
A number of hotels in the vicinity of YVR offer free courtesy shuttles right to their doorstep. Some luxury hotels in Downtown Vancouver also offer a private pick-up service for a small fee. Consult your hotel’s website for more information.
The pick up/drop off location for the courtesy shuttle can be found at the green canopy outside the International and Domestic terminals.
You can place a request for a courtesy shuttle from direct-dial phones located at arrivals level 2 of the International and Domestic terminal and at the shuttle bus pick up area if your hotel offers this service.
The following hotels (mostly right by the airport) offer courtesy shuttles:
- Abercorn Inn
- Accent Inns
- Days Inn Vancouver Airport
- Executive Airport Plaza
- Four Points By Sheraton
- Hampton Inn Vancouver Airport
- Hilton Vancouver Airport
- Holiday Inn Vancouver Airport/Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport/ Express & Suites Riverport
- La Quinta Inn
- Marriot Vancouver Airport
- Pacific Gateway Hotel
- Quality Inn Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Radisson President Hotel and Suites
- Ramada Inn Vancouver Airport
- Sandman Inn Vancouver Airport
- Sheraton Vancouver Airport
- Travelodge Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Westin Wall Vancouver Airport
- Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel
To check out our favourite airport accommodations check out our Vancouver Airport Hotel page.
Long Distance Shuttles
Wanna bypass the city and head straight for the slopes in Whistler? Or maybe you need to get right to the ferry terminal to begin a trek to Vancouver Island?
Well you’re in luck.
There are several transportation options available to get you on your way to your destination without the need to stop in the city.
Vancouver Airport to Whistler Shuttle
Offered by Pacific Coach Lines, the Skylynx provides one way shuttle service to Whistler for $59.00, with return tickets going for $99.00. Children 6-12 travel for half price, while those under 5 are free.
You can get tickets at the Skylynx desk of Pacific Coach located on level 2 of the International Arrivals Terminal. However, for added peace of mind and security I’d recommend booking your ticket online at least three days in advance to secure the best rates. You can view the schedule and book your tickets through our friends at Viator.
It is important to note that Vancouver to Whistler service is also offered from Vancouver City Centre by a number of providers, often at a significant discount to Skylynx rates. Though you will be required to take the Skytrain to the City Centre.
For a complete list of Vancouver to Whistler transport options check out our Vancouver to Whistler transport guide.
Vancouver Airport to BC Ferries
There are two main ferry terminals servicing the Lower Mainland: Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay.
BC Ferries offers sailings to Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, in addition to smaller routes to the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast.
Vancouver Airport to Tsawwassen
The closest of the two terminals, Tsawwassen also offers the advantage of not requiring passengers to traverse rush hour traffic in Vancouver’s busy Downtown area due to its location.
There are two options to get to Tsawwassen from Vancouver airport; public transportation and private coach.
The cheapest way to get from YVR to Tsawwassen Terminal is by using the #620 Tsawwassen bus.
- Follow the signs from the arrivals terminal leading to the Canada Line and purchase a one zone ticket. Take the Skytrain 3 stops and get off at Bridgeport Station
- Proceed down the stairs and follow the signs to the bus loop. At bay 12 get on bus #620. Your fare is still valid
- Get off at Tsawwassen Terminal, which is the last station, and follow the signs to the ticket booth.
You can expect to get to Tsawwassen for $9.00 on weekdays before 6:30 and $7.75 at all other times. The trip takes around 90 minutes depending on traffic.
You will be required to pay BC Ferries walk on rates to continue onto Victoria or Nanaimo ($17.20 for Adults 12+ and $8.60 for children 5-11).
Children under 5 travel free.
Alternatively, for a much more comfortable and convenient option, a variety of private coach options exist linking YVR directly to Victoria.
BC ferry fares and fuel surcharges are included in the cost, no transfers are required, and you’ll proceed directly onto the ferry.
You will then be delivered right on to Capital City Station in Downtown Victoria.
Though slightly more costly, the comfort and accessibility of this service makes it our recommended transfer option between YVR and Victoria, for all but budget travellers.
Rates range from $85-90 for adults and $45-50 for children.
Vancouver Airport to Horseshoe Bay
An alternative option when travelling from YVR to Vancouver Island is to take the ferry from picturesque Horseshoe Bay, located 36 kilometres North of YVR on Vancouver’s North Shore.
You will need to take public transit from YVR, as private coach service favours Tsawwassen due to its closer proximity to the airport.
To get to Horseshoe Bay from YVR:
- Follow the signs leading to the Canada Line from the arrivals Terminal. Purchase a 2 zone ticket from the ticket machine and take the Skytrain towards Waterfront.
- Get off at Vancouver-City Centre Station, the 11th stop
- Walk up the escalator to West Georgia Street and proceed half a block East on the North side of the street (the mountain side) to the bus stop. Take Bus number 257 express onto Horseshoe Bay
Again, you will be required to pay BC Ferries walk on rates to continue onto Nanaimo ($17.20 for Adults 12+ and 8.60 for children 5-11). Children under 5 travel free. The trip takes around an hour and 40 minutes.
Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International is located 12 kilometres South of Downtown Vancouver on Sea Island in the suburb of Richmond, British Columbia.
With 24.2 million passengers served in 2017, YVR is the second largest airport in Canada and your most likely port of entry when arriving in Vancouver.
With a myriad of shopping and dining options and an extensive collection of local First Nations artwork, the airport has become renown for its comfort, ambiance and ease of access.
In fact, it has been named North America’s best airport for eight years in succession!
YVR Airport Layout
Vancouver International is composed of three terminals:
- International Terminal- For flights to/from the USA and overseas
- Domestic Terminal– For flights to/from Canada
- South Terminal– For small regional flights, helicopters and float-planes
The main terminal includes the International and Domestic terminals which are connected, while the South terminal is located in a separate building further South on Sea Island.
And remember, a complimentary shuttle is available for transit between the Main and South terminals.
For a complete Vancouver International Airport map, as well as further information on the various shopping and dining options located throughout the facility checkout the YVR website.
YVR Airport Wifi
Free Wifi is available throughout the terminal! Even better yet, there are no annoying sign up procedures that typically characterize most airport wifi experiences.
How do I get from Vancouver airport to my hotel?
The short answer is… it depends! If you’re still unsure on how please let us know your lodging address and we’ll give you custom advice on how to get there quick and cheap.
Is there a Vancouver airport map?
Yes! We’ve got the .pdf version right here.
What is the distance between Vancouver airport and downtown?
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is 15 km (9 miles) from the principal downtown intersection of Granville and Georgia.
What is the quickest way from Vancouver airport to downtown?
The quickest service would be to take the Skytrain from YVR to Waterfront station in just 26 minutes.
Driving/taxi times range between 20 minutes (off peak) and 30-45 minutes (rush hour).
What is the Vancouver airport train time table?
The first train departing from Vancouver airport to Waterfront (downtown) leaves at 5:07 am and the last one leaves at 12:56 am.
However, if you find yourself heading in the opposite direction the first train leaves Waterfront (downtown) for the airport at 4:48 am and the last one leaves at 1:05.
The train runs every 6 minutes during peak hours, every 12 minutes in early morning, and every 20 minutes late at night.
Do rideshare apps offer service from Vancouver airport?
After years of debate, rideshare companies finally received approval to operate in the Metro Vancouver region in January 2020. Consequently, pick up is now available from YVR at the International and Domestic Arrivals Terminals on level 2, as well as from the South Terminal.
What is the taxi/Uber fare from Vancouver airport to UBC?
Expect to pay $30.00-$34.00.
What are some downtown Vancouver hotels with airport shuttle?
The top ones according to Tripadvisor are Landis Hotel & Suites, Rosedale On Robson, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown.
What is the Vancouver airport transportation to the cruise ship terminal?
The quickest and cheapest option would be to take the Vancouver airport train (Skytrain) to Waterfront station and from here do the quick 10 minute walk to the cruise terminal.
We’ve entered the final approach of our YVR Airport Transportation guide.
But it’s not quite time to deplane yet,
If you’re still confused, leave your lodging and arrival information in the comments below. I’ll get back to you asap with custom directions.
And remember, if you have any other questions, no matter how big or small, we are always here and on the Vancouver Planner Facebook page.
So fire away! 🙂