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Vancouver

North America > Canada > Vancouver

See: Why rent a car in Vancouver ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Vancouver?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Vancouver?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Vancouver car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Vancouver with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Vancouver? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Vancouver, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Vancouver is the sort of destination where it would be quite natural to assume that getting a rental car will be the most obvious option, and if that’s already your plan, then we would suggest a few key points.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Vancouver is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Vancouver? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Vancouver between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 8/10

Non car score:4/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Why? Visiting Vancouver using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Vancouver ?


Reasons why you may feel you need to rent a car in Vancouver

  • Essentially for all the obvious reasons, namely to get out into the great western Canadian outdoors!
  • If you are comparing driving with options to go by train or bus, then you will always have much more opportunity to stop and get out with a car than you will with a bus or train.
  • Long distance Canadian rail services tend to operate only 3-4 times per week. Enjoy them as a way to get somewhere, and enjoy the view when you are moving, but they are little use for exploring anywhere near the route, other than around the place where you finally dismbark.

Why not? Visiting Vancouver without a car

Why don't you need a car in Vancouver ?


There are also plenty of reasons why you can visit Vancouver, and much of the state of British Columbia, without renting a car:

  • Don’t underestimate the city of Vancouver – not only is Vancouver frequently rated as being one of the world’s most liveable cities, it also easy enough to get around using a network of bus and urban rail services.
  • The main urban rail system is the Vancouver SkyTrain – the most extensive metro system in Canada, and also the world’s largest automated train network. Needless to say, it’s a pretty good way of getting around the city, with most of the original Expo line being elevated. Since you can also look out of the front of the newer trains, the SkyTrain can be an excellent introduction to the city.
  • Take the Skytrain to King George to get a panoramic view of the modern vertical metropolis of Vancouver, taking in sweeping views across the Fraser River as you cross the hugely impressive cable-stayed Skybridge.
  • Downtown Vancouver has a striking harbour front where many of the city’s best hotels are located, and Vancouver is also a city with many other great neighbourhoods.
  • Vancouver is also reasonably easy (especially by North American standards) to get around on two wheels, with a bicycle network that is slowly expanding, supplemented by a wide range of fantastic greenways and trails.
  • The chances are that you will want to stay longer in the city of Vancouver then you might originally anticipate, and that you won’t really need a car to get around.
  • Having a car might also mean racking up expensive car parking fees, so it’s always worth checking that with your hotel first!
  • There are plenty of resort transfers available to skiing areas around Vancouver, including to the world-famous Whistler. From here, if you aren’t planning on coming to ski in the first place, then you can still take cable cars to the top of many ski slopes and then either go hiking or go downhill on a mountain bike.
  • There are numerous different options for taking to the waters both in and around Vancouver, and even if many of these ferry services also take cars, you can still get around at the other end using local bus services.
  • Finally, and certainly by no means least, Vancouver is a starting point for one of the world’s most amazing train journeys, starting by heading into the Rocky Mountains near Whistler, and then continuing through the clear reflecting lakes of Jasper National Park to Edmonton and beyond.

Ratings: How does Vancouver compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Vancouver, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Vancouver (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Vancouver airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Vancouver car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 4

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 6

Notes:

 

So if we’ve given you a few alternative suggestions and warned you that the costs aren’t always cheap, Do you still need to rent a car in Vancouver? In summary, deciding on Vancouver car hire is not as obvious as it might initially look, and although you should have no major problems getting a car here and driving around, it’s a decision to make on whether or not you fell it’s worth it value wise, rather than whether or not there’s a definite need.

Of course, if you can fill the car with people anyway, it’s going to be a much better proposition. Travelling around the more remote parts of British Columbia without a car means you are confined to relatively narrow schedules. The Rocky Mountain railway trips might be a really good way to see the landscape from an incredibly relaxing and close-up view point, but with a car you can at least make a few stops as you choose.

If you are already of the mindset that you think a rental car is still going to be useful in Vancouver, then I doubt there’s a huge amount that would change that. It’s not that Vancouver is a “marginal” destination in terms of what “most” people might do, we’re simply saying that if you are asking in the first place about whether or not you need a car here, then there are enough reasons to do without one here, despite the

Ratings: How does Vancouver compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Vancouver, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Vancouver (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Vancouver? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Vancouver airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Vancouver car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 4

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 6

Notes:

 

remoteness of many of the locations.

Do you need a car in Vancouver? Verdict – no

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