Vancouver Airport Layover Guide – 4 Hours in the International Departures Terminal (YVR)
Layovers can be a total drag when you don’t know what there is to do in the terminal. I once had a late night eight-hour layover in an airport and it was one of the worst experiences ever. I wish I had a guide to inform me of what amenities were available in the terminal.
On my way to Japan, I partnered with the Vancouver Airport Authority to show you how to spend a four-hour layover in the international departures terminal (Level 3) at YVR.
I love the Vancouver Airport and here’s why:
1. Get in some exercise
The Y-shaped terminal takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to walk through. If you have a long flight ahead, get in some exercise and do a loop around the entire terminal. You will be able to shop, check out the aquarium, and appreciate Indigenous art while you get some steps in.
Fun Fact: Near Gate D67, stop and challenge a traveller to a match of Chess!
2. Relax and Unwind
The Plaza Premium Lounge is available for all travelers and is worth the splurge. You can wait in style and freshen up if you need to. There are showers and nap rooms available at your disposal. The lounge has comfortable seating for relaxing or getting some work done. You’ll find a variety of snacks and flowing drinks to savor while waiting for your departing flight.
3. Enjoy a refined meal
Situated next to Gate D67, Lift Restaurant offers an elevated menu consisting of west coast flavours. The versatile seafood focused menu has something for even the pickiest eater. I tried the halibut tacos as well as the salmon entrée. Both were presented beautifully and tasted wonderful.
PRO TIP: Ask to sit near the aquarium.
*Please note that there is also a Starbucks and food court available for affordable grab-and-go options.
4. Appreciate Art
The terminal offers a thoughtfully curated collection of art that reflects British Columbia’s diverse landscape and people. Learn about Indigenous culture as you walk around the terminal to admire and appreciate the beautiful pieces of art scattered throughout. My favourite pieces are ‘The Story of Fog Woman and Raven’ and ‘Orca Chief and the Kelp Forest.’
Fun Fact: The airport is dedicated to supporting emerging First Nations artists through the YVR Art Foundation. I love organizations that give back to the community!
5. Site Sea
Before or after your meal at Lift, make sure you check out the aquarium adjacent to the restaurant. The aquarium houses marine life native to British Columbia and is a collaboration between the airport and the Vancouver Aquarium. You will be able to spot over 5000 creatures including wolf eels, kelp green lings, orange cup corals, and sea stars.
Fun Fact: If you find yourself travelling on a Wednesday, you may be able to see one of the aquarium staff in the tank so be sure to wave hello!
6. Shop till you drop
I had to practice great restraint not to shop during my layover. Major fashion houses such as Cartier and Hermes have boutiques in this terminal so you can certainly do some damage to your wallet while you wait to catch your next flight. If you’re travelling during the end of the season (Aug/Nov), you will be able to score some discounts on your favourite brands. At the moment, several boutiques have thirty percent off select items. Don’t forget that it is duty free so you save on the tax as well! Skincare junkees can rejoice as even the most coveted brands have beauty counters within the terminal; La Mer, Chanel, Dior, and more. I scored a great deal on a Diptyque candle – yes YVR even has a mini Diptyque boutique!
Fun Fact: Did you know you could buy a $65,000 bottle of scotch at duty-free if you wanted to?
I anticipated that a four-hour layover would be cumbersome and boring. Thanks to all the options at the YVR International Terminal, the four hours went by in a flash. I feel like I could have used some extra time to enjoy the lounge but there’s always next time. Layovers don’t need to be a frustrating experience if you take the time to plan them and discover the amenities at your airport prior to departure. I hope this guide will make your next layover at YVR a breeze.
This post was in partnership with the Vancouver Airport Authority. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words and thoughts.