Vancouver Winter Olympics: Five Tips to Travel to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by Amtrak

Vancouver, British Columbia is an ideal location for the Olympic Winter Games.  It is a major metropolitan area with significant infrastructure, close to world-class mountains and in a country that loves winter sports.  The city’s international culture embodies strong elements from both the East and West.

Another feature of this location is its proximity to the United States.  Situated approximately 40 miles from the US/Canada border, Vancouver will be easy to reach by land.  You may wish to consider rail travel as a relaxing and affordable method to travel to the Games.  Given the elevated demand for airline seats into Vancouver around the time of the Olympics, a land alternative may be the most enjoyable way to get to Vancouver.

Here are five tips/hints for effectively traveling to/from the Vancouver Winter Olympics by Amtrak:

One:  You must first decide your gateway city.  Seattle and Portland, Oregon are the logical choices.  Although both cities enjoy great air service, you may wish to take the Empire Builder from Chicago or Minneapolis/St. Paul to either gateway city.  You will experience the vast Northern plains and the scenic Rocky Mountains (including Glacier National Park) along the way.  Alternatively, you can fly into California and take the Coast Starlight north from Los Angeles or Oakland.  Like the Empire Builder, this train has Superliner sleeper accommodations.  Finally, there is Amtrak Cascades service five times a day between Portland and Seattle. 

Two:  Once you reach Seattle, you have multiple means of transportation north to the Olympic Games.  You can travel on one of two Amtrak Cascades trains that include a stop in Bellingham, Washington before arriving in Vancouver.  Alternatively, you can connect to an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach that only stops in Surrey and Richmond, British Columbia before its arrival in Vancouver.  If you really want to explore numerous modes of transportation, you can take the Victoria Clipper high-speed catamaran from Seattle to Victoria, BC and the Pacific Coast Lines bus service from Victoria to Vancouver.

Three:  The next decision is where to stay.  Most people will elect to find lodging in Vancouver.  The Pacific Central Station, Amtrak’s depot in Vancouver, is two blocks from the Main Street – Science World station on TransLink’s SkyTrain service.  Four TransLink and two Coast Mountain bus lines run close to the train station.  You will want your hotel to be close to a transit lines since there will not be any private automobile parking at the Olympic venues.  The good news is that your Olympic event ticket gives you unlimited, free access to the TransLink system on the day of that event and the early morning of the next day.

Four:  Two alternative bases for the Olympic Games are Bellingham, WA and the Whistler, British Columbia areas.  Bellingham is about sixty miles from Vancouver.  Both Amtrak Cascades and Greyhound bus service are available to Vancouver many times a day.  If mountain sports are the focus of your visit, you may wish to stay in the Whistler area.  There is Greyhound Canada Thruway service from Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station to the Pemberton/Whistler area.

Five:  It will be extremely important to make advanced reservations for transportation and lodging to see the Olympic Winter Games.  By buying your transportation tickets and reserving your lodging in advance, you may be able to receive discounted advanced purchase fares or fares for students and seniors.  Finally, US citizens should remember that they will need to present their passports to cross back into the United States from Canada.