4.5 hours in Vancouver: Enough time for something fun?
June 14, 2019 10:19 PM   Subscribe

By which I mean, taking the train from YVR downtown?

The family (3 of us, youngest is 15) is flying through Vancouver BC on an international flight, with a 4.5-hour afternoon layover.

The internet reviews of the airport (YVR) are mixed, with some recent SkyTracks members complaining of slow, long lines at customs and security. So... do those of you who have recently traveled through YVR have thoughts on whether it's wise and/or worthwhile to take the train downtown during this layover, to see a sight or two?

Or, if staying at the airport (ugh) is the better option? Thanks in advance!
posted by slab_lizard to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (5 answers total)
Are you making a connection to the USA after? What day of the week, what time of day? Where are you coming from?

The customs hall to get out into the city can be slow, and waiting in that line is no fun. However, if you're flying to the US you may have to pre-clear US customs anyway. In which case I'm not sure whether they'll make you clear Canadian customs first as I've never gone that direction.

Anyway, if you're pre-clearing US customs at YVR you probably should save extra time for that.

If not, up to you whether you want to risk the customs hall - it's really variable and the lines can get really long.

The international terminals at YVR are pretty comfortable.
posted by lookoutbelow at 12:03 AM on June 15, 2019

4.5 hours is getting towards risky, because you will have to clear customs and immigration and then potentially (depending on time of day and destination) pre-clear after your return and the train trip from YVR to the city is a minimum half hour each way. So if you want to get there 1.5 hours in advance, which you really should, that means hopping on a train no later than 2 hours in advance, and allotting forty-five minutes to get through customs and recheck your bags (if necessary), that leaves you under two hours to do things.

YVR isn't wildly exciting, but it's reasonably comfortable. Free wifi, lots of places to charge your devices.
posted by praemunire at 12:33 AM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

YVR notably has a collection of pretty impressive first nations art which is worth taking in even if that may be one of the furthest things on your mind after arriving on a flight.
posted by juv3nal at 12:57 AM on June 15, 2019

IF everything was going well with my trip (on time, no one is cranky and tired) and my connection was domestic, I might consider taking the train to Aberdeen Mall to go to the food court. You have to change trains but if something goes wrong at least you are a very short cab ride back to the airport. But if you are coming from Asia (fairly likely given an international flight into Vancouver) then that's probably not worth it.

I wouldn't try to do anything downtown. If you do, be especially mindful of time of day and the fact that overcrowding during rush hour can mean trains into or out of downtown are packed so full you can't get on them which could add to your travel time unexpectedly.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:43 AM on June 15, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you all! Flying in from the US, out to Europe -- today! Not gonna risk it, after all.
posted by slab_lizard at 6:35 AM on June 15, 2019

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