Free things to do in Vancouver


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From its stunning forests and rugged mountains to its vibrant and bustling city life, Vancouver is one of Canada’s most diverse cities. The West Coast seaport in British Columbia is known for being a filming hotspot, as well as offering a dynamic art, music and theatre scene.

But a visit to this exciting city doesn’t have to come at a price; there’s plenty to do day and night that won’t cost you a cent. From ice-skating to outside yoga, read on to see what amazing Vancouver activities and attractions are free for the public to enjoy.

Go Ice skating on Robson Square

If you’ve booked your flight to Vancouver in the winter, wrap up warm in a scarf and hat and head down to Robson Square for a skate on their annual ice skating rink.

The history of the ice rink is one that’s close to home for the people of Vancouver, with the hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games playing a part in its success and popularity.

A spokesperson for the Robson Square Ice Rink told us: “In preparation for the Games, the ice rink was revitalised, a new ice plant was installed as were two new glass domes, LED lighting and skate rental facilities.

“During the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Robson Square became the unofficial site for Canadians and international visitors alike to celebrate medal performances and share in the spirit of the Games.

“With this in mind following the Games, the Robson Square Ice Rink committed to re-opening the ice rink every December through to February to relive the spirit of the Games all over again.”

Enjoy some Outdoor Yoga


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If you’re in Vancouver in the summer and find yourself in need of some zen, why not come along to one of Mat Collective’s free classes? They are held in a range of locations, including Main Street, Kits Beach, The Vancouver Art Gallery and more.

“Mat Collective started out as a yoga mat recycling program, accepting unwanted yoga mats from across Greater Vancouver, BC,” says the Mat Collective website. “Soon after the roots for the recycling program were laid out, we started offering yoga classes.”

But why are the classes free? Quite simply, founders Rebecca Holgate and Selina Pechlaner want yoga to be something that anyone and everyone can take part in. They said, “In an increasingly unaffordable city, we want people to be able to have access to yoga and fitness classes no matter their income bracket.

“You will find both long-term residents and newcomers to the city. Everyone, no matter their race, age, religion, gender, or sexuality is welcome, and we truly hope to see you there.”

Do some stargazing at the Observatory


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If you fancy doing something a little different during your visit to Vancouver, why not check out the Gordon Macmillan Southam Observatory at the Macmillan Space Centre? The observatory is technically free, however, they do ask for a small donation or you can enter as part of your admission to a planetarium show at the centre.

We asked a spokesperson for the Macmillan Space Centre what makes it such a unique attraction: “People are fascinated by space – this combined with the unique experience of being able to look through a large telescope and having knowledgeable staff who can talk to people about the exciting discoveries in space make this experience stand out from other local attractions.

“Visitors are always amazed when they look at planets, the moon and stars through our 1/2m Cassegrain telescope. Through it, we’ve seen Saturn with its rings and moons, the Orion Nebula and our moon.”

Admire the art at the Vancouver Art Gallery


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As Vancouver is so well-regarded for its art scene, we couldn’t leave out one of its most prominent attractions for art-lovers! Similar to the observatory, the Vancouver Art Gallery is free by donation on Tuesday evenings between 5pm and 9pm.

“As the largest public art museum in Western Canada, and the fifth largest gallery in Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a must-see for those interested in groundbreaking contemporary and historical art,” a spokesperson for the art museum told us. “Situated in the heart of Vancouver, in a heritage building designed by the architect Francis Rattenbury, retrofitted by Arthur Erickson, the Gallery’s history and design make it one of the city’s most significant cultural hotspots.

“In addition to major international exhibitions, at any given time, visitors can find a selection of rare and important artworks on view from the Gallery’s permanent collection of nearly 12,000 works. Visitors will also find a multitude of ways to engage with the artworks of the Gallery’s exhibitions through thought-provoking events, workshops, lectures and more.”

Watch the fireworks at the Celebration of light festival


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As mentioned, Vancouver is known for its thriving music scene, so if you’re visiting the city in the summertime around the end of July, you’ll definitely want to attend Vancouver’s annual Celebration of Light Festival.

“The Honda Celebration of Light truly lights up Vancouver by bringing people together with those they love to enjoy a festival of music, food and culture throughout the day leading up to the breath-taking fireworks each night. The energy is electric throughout the three days,” said Paul Tilbury and Heather Owen, joint co-chairs of the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society.

“Fireworks, family and fun just naturally go together,” says Heather. “What could be better than sharing this not-to-be-missed experience with the people you love the most on a Vancouver beach under a summer night sky?”

Explore Capilano River Regional Park


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Get back to nature and enjoy the foliage in Capilano River Regional Park. The area is well known for the suspension bridge and treetop walks nearby, and while these aren’t free, the regional park itself is open for all the public to enjoy.

The park is loved by joggers, dog walkers and all kinds of nature lovers, and is based along Capilano Road in North Vancouver making it easy to get to in a moment’s notice. Explore the canyons, find cliff jumping locations, stumble across film sets and watch the fish at the salmon hatchery.

It’s true what they say: the best things in life are free. So, if you’ve got a trip to Vancouver booked, you have a wealth of things to see and do that encapsulate the heart of Vancouver – that won’t cost you a pretty penny! Where will you start? Check out our Vancouver holidays to find out more.

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