Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world for sure, but definitely also one with the most rainfall per year. As beautiful as Vancouver is, you have to keep in mind that there is a good chance for rain at least one day during your visit. So what can you do in Vancouver by rain? If you’re a photographer and like geometry, finding lines for photos, or just playing around with different settings of your camera, a ride with the Vancouver SkyTrain might just be for you.
Although not as wide and beautiful as many other transport systems, a ride with the SkyTrain is a nice way to explore the city outside of downtown, plus you have the possibility to take a ride on the oldest automatic system in the world. No driver will sit between you and a beautiful view of the city, so be sure to get a seat at the very front of the train.
Thanks to being mostly above ground, the tour will offer great views of downtown, bring you to one of my favorite neighborhoods in Vancouver, make you cross the longest cable supported transit-only bridge in the world, and give you the opportunity to play around with different settings on your camera and to practice how to hold your hand still while being on a shaky train.
Guide to Vancouver Skytrain Phototour
All you need for the tour is a valid ticket for the SkyTrain. Keep in mind that you only have to pay for one zone on weekdays after 6:30PM, holidays, and weekends (Saturday and Sunday). The fare for one zone is $2,75 (July 21st, 2014). Translink offers a good overview over all fares on their website.
I started and ended the tour at the Stadium/Chinatown station, which allowed me to complete the tour with one 1 zone ticket only, but you’re going to miss out on the nice views of the tunnel between Waterfront Station and Stadium/Chinatown. Travel time only (without stops/changes) is around 1 hour, the ticket is valid for 90 minutes.
Chinatown and Commercial Drive
From Chinatown the train will take you to Commercial Drive where it’s worth stepping outside and having a look around. If you exit the train station to the west and it’s not TOO rainy you will have a nice view onto the city with Science World in the front. It’s also a great neighborhood with cheap food and nice bars and cafés. Right next to the train station is “St. Augustine’s” which has a good collection of beer, but my favorites are coming up further down. If you’re feeling up for Sushi, “Kishimoto” is a good place to go (be prepared for a waitlist), The “Charlatan” is a nice place for a drink, and $5 dollar burgers are waiting for you at “The Dime”. You can get great pizza to go at “Four Brothers” and awesome pizza in a restaurant at “Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria”. It’s also a nice neighborhood to come back to when the weather is nice to just have a look around and explore.
From Commercial Drive to Metrotown and Scott Road
Taking the SkyTrain further east will take you to Metrotown. If you’re feeling up for shopping or just hanging out in a big mall and maybe having some food at the food court, this is a good place to go. After that, the journey will continue and take you over the 616 meter long Skybridge. Make sure you’re on the Expo Line to King George to cross the bridge. Last stop for changing trains will be Columbia station.
Going Back to Vancouver from Scott Road
Scott Road will be the furthest station east of Vancouver of the tour. Once you’re satisfied with your pictures of the bridge, take the train back to Columbia station where you will change to the Millenium Line going to VCC Clark. Enjoy the views of the city while you’re going back. It’s beautiful in the evening when you can see the sun set behind Vancouver.
To go back to Downtown make sure to change trains at Commercial Drive, switching to Millenium or Expo Line to Waterfront Station. If you have time and feeling up for it, you can also stay in the train and go to VCC Clark, which offers another great view of Downtown from the bridge just above the station. If not, just make sure to change trains at Commercial Drive to go back to Vancouver.
I hope you have fun tinkering around and playing with the different settings of your camera.