The Olympics are coming to Vancouver
This article is a travel topic
It should be read together with the articles of the host cities.
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The games begin February 12, 2010 and the closing ceremonies will be held on February 28. Both the Olympic and Paralympic Games are being organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC).
The 2010 Winter Olympics will be the third Olympics hosted by Canada, and the first by the province of British Columbia. Previously, Canada was home to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
The host cities and venues of the 2010 Winter Olympics
Vancouver is the focus of the 2010 Olympics, but the events are spread across the British Columbia's Lower Mainland.
- Vancouver - The largest city in the region and host of the hockey, curling, figure skating and short track speed skating events.
- Richmond - Suburban city immediately south of Vancouver. It will host the long track speed skating events.
- West Vancouver - Suburban city north-west of Vancouver in the North Shore mountains. It will host the snowboarding and some of the skiing events.
- Whistler - Popular ski resort and year round holiday destination 1.5 hours north of Vancouver. It will host the alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping and sliding events.
VANOC has been releasing tickets for sale to Canadian residents in phases. The next phase starts Nov 14, 2009. Tickets can be purchased online through the Vancouver 2010 website  or through the ticketing call center (1-800-842-5387).
International ticket sales (for anyone living outside Canada) occur through the official ticket agent of each country's National Olympic Committee. A list of official ticket agents is available on the Vancouver 2010 International Ticket Sales site.
Each venue will also have a box office that may have tickets for sale starting on the first day of competition at that venue.
Citizens of some countries will need to obtain a visa before entering Canada. This has to be done in advance, from your home country, as visas cannot be purchased upon arrival at a Canadian airport or land crossing. Further information is available on the Canada page. The Canadian government maintains an informative website  for non-Canadians wishing to travel to Canada.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Vancouver, Whistler and the surrounding area. However, as with any special event, accommodation should be booked well in advance of arriving. Rooms will be scarce and expensive during the Olympic period.
Vancouver will be the main entry point for Olympic visitors with air, road and rail links. For further information, please see the Vancouver article.
If driving across the border from the United States, there are four border crossings in the area that are described in more detail on the Lower Mainland page. If you plan on driving into British Columbia from the United States during the 2010 Olympics be prepared for extremely long border delays (2-3 hour waits).
All the various ways of getting around Vancouver are described in the Vancouver article. This section describes specific transportation issues relating to the Olympics.
Don't expect to get around Vancouver quickly while the Olympics are on. The sheer volume of visitors combined with road restrictions are very likely going to slow down vehicle traffic and public transit. Buses and trains will run more frequently during the Olympics to compensate, but plan ahead and give yourself lots of time to make it to your destination.
If going to an Olympic venue, it is highly recommended to use the Translink  public transit system. In fact, it's almost mandatory. No Olympic venues have public parking available and some venues, like Whistler and Cypress Mountain, will have limited car access. Olympic venues are generally located close to SkyTrain stations and bus stops and some venues will have express shuttles connecting to specific SkyTrain stations.
Olympic Bus Network
Shuttle buses, called the Olympic Bus Network, will run from various pick-up spots in Vancouver, Burnaby and North Vancouver to Cypress Mountain and Whistler. Seats are round-trip and must be booked in advance with tickets for sale on-line from Nov 24, 2009. Round-trip tickets, not including taxes or admin fees, will cost:
- Cypress Mountain - $12 if purchased by Jan 3, 2010; $24 if purchased after
- Whistler - $25 if purchased by Jan 3, 2010; $50 if purchased after
Not all venues have the same pick-up spots, so please be aware of where you need to go to board your bus. Departure spots for the venues are:
- Cypress Mountain - Lonsdale Quay and Capilano University in North Vancouver, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby
- Whistler Creekside - Langara College (100 W 49th Ave) in Vancouver
- Whistler Olympic Park - BCIT (3700 Willingdon Ave) in Burnaby
- Whistler Sliding Centre - BCIT in Burnaby and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver
All departure spots have easy access to public transit. With the exception of Lonsdale Quay, they also have parking available if you wish to drive or carpool.
The Olympic Bus Network is only available to Olympic event ticket holders.
Note that you will have to purchase separate round-trip tickets for each event, even if events are in the same location and/or same day.
Olympic Line Streetcar
From Jan 21, 2010 to Mar 21, 2010, a streetcar will connect Granville Island with the Olympic Village station on the Canada Line. Streetcars will run every 6-12 minutes and will be free.
Whistler Travel Restrictions
Car access on the Sea to Sky highway (Hwy 99) north of Squamish will be restricted from 6AM-6PM Feb 11-28. During these hours, a checkpoint will operate and only residents and visitors with accommodation in Whistler displaying a permit will be allowed on the road. Anyone staying at a hotel in Whistler should receive their permit prior to arrival, if you have not, you should contact the hotel.
If you have a ticket to an event in Whistler, you can use the Olympic Bus Network. Other travellers who want to visit Whistler as a day trip during the Olympics can use one of the bus lines (Greyhound or Pacific Coach Lines) or a taxi/limo service. It's also possible to drive up to Whistler prior to 6AM and after 6PM, but there is very little parking available.
Cypress Mountain, host of the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events
- BC Place, 777 Pacific Blvd (take SkyTrain to Stadium station and head south on Beatty St for two blocks), ☎ +1 604 669-2300. Opening and Closing Ceremonies
- Canada Hockey Place (GM Place), 800 Griffiths Way (take SkyTrain to Stadium station - the arena is across the street). Hockey
- Cypress Mountain, top of Cypress Bowl Rd (take the Olympic Bus Network from Lonsdale Quay, Capilano University or SFU Burnaby Campus), . Snowboard and Freestyle skiing events
- Pacific Coliseum, corner of E Hastings and Renfrew (take SkyTrain to either the Renfrew or 29th Ave station and transfer to the Games Express bus (direct link to the venue)). Figure skating and Short Track speed skating
- Richmond Olympic Oval, River Rd & Hollybridge Way (take Canada Line to Aberdeen or Lansdowne stations and head east towards the Fraser River), ☎ +1 778 296-1400, . Speed skating (long track)
- UBC Thunderbird Arena, Westbrook Mall (take the 99 B-Line bus to the UBC Bus Loop). Hockey
- Vancouver Olympic Centre/Vancouver Paralympic Centre, Dinmont Ave (take the Canada Line to King Edward station, walk two blocks east to Columbia Ave, turn right and follow to Dinmont Ave). Curling
- Whistler Creekside, (events accessed from Creekside Gondola). Alpine skiing events
- Whistler Olympic Park/Whistler Paralympic Park, (from Vancouver: take the Olympic Bus Network from BCIT; from Whistler: take the Whistler Olympic Park Express from various points in town). Ski Jumping, Biathlon, Cross-Country skiing and Nordic Combined
- Whistler Sliding Centre, (from Vancouver: take the Olympic Bus Network from either BCIT or Lonsdale Quay). Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton
See and Do
The events are obviously the main event and take place from Feb 12-28 at the various venues. There are also nightly Victory Ceremonies at BC Place that combine concerts with medal presentations. But there are also a number of free public sites and pavilions that are open to the public and worth checking out.
Many of the municipalities in the Vancouver region have set up free public sites with food, entertainment and large screens so you can watch the events with a crowd.
- GE Plaza (Robson Square), Robson & Howe Sts, Vancouver (about a 2 min walk from Vancouver City Centre Canada Line station and Granville Skytrain station). The GE Plaza is one of the busiest spots downtown. There is an ice skating rink open to public with daily performances from the three Olympic mascots and a Zipline overhead. Zipline and skating are free, skate rental $3.
- LiveCity Downtown, Cambie & Georgia Sts, Vancouver, .
- LiveCity Yaletown, David Lam Park, Vancouver (from Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line station, head south on Pacific Blvd). Daily entertainment including TVs showing the games, live performances and a nightly laser waterworks show in False Creek.
- O Zone, Minoru Park at Granville Ave & Minoru Blvd, Richmond (from Richmond-Brighouse Canada Line station, walk south along No.3 Rd and turn right at Granville Ave and walk west for a block), . Opens 3PM M-F, noon Sa-Su. Food, ice carving contests and and a skating rink set up in Minoru Park.
- Olympic Cauldron, Thurlow St & Canada Place, Vancouver (about a five minute walk west along Cordova St and Canada Place from Waterfront Station). The Olympic flame is on display although it is fenced off so you can't get too close. If you want to see the flame (or take a picture) without the fence in the way, walk down the steps to the west of the plaza and there will be a ramp (and lineup, most likely) leading to the roof of the western most part of the convention center. Free.
- Surrey 2010 Celebration Site, King George Hwy & Old Yale Rd, Surrey (in Holland Park, 5 min walk east of King George Skytrain station), . Open W-Th 3PM-10PM, F 3PM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM. A number of free activities such as a sliding zone (toboggans), skating rink and curling, plus a dog agility show and the RCMP Musical Ride show. Canadian musicians will perform daily. Free (including skate rental).
Most of Canada's provinces and many of the countries participating in the Games have pavilions set up around the Vancouver area. What's on offer varies, ranging from tourist info on the region to local food and drinks to a chance to meet athletes from the country. Almost all are free but some apply a cover charge in the evenings. Many pavilions are popular so expect lineups of at least 15-30 minutes to get in.
- British Columbia Canada Pavilion, 750 Hornby St, Vancouver (4th floor in the Vancouver Art Gallery). Daily 10AM-5PM. Displays on BC tourism, nature and local multimedia companies that do special effects for video games and movies. The second and third floors have displays from BC artists and photographers that look at BC's past and present. Free.
- Canada Pavilion, Cambie & Georgia Sts, Vancouver (in the LiveCity Downtown public site). Daily 11AM-midnight. Displays on Canada's Olympic history, Canadian trivia and virtual games. Free.
- Casa Italia, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver (in the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center, enter off of Pacific Blvd). Daily noon-6PM. Has some tourist info on Italy, displays on Italian sports technology and an Italian team merchandise shop. Wine tastings and food available at select times. Free.
- German Fan Fest, 555 W Cordova St, Vancouver (the tent in the parking lot between Waterfront Station and Steamworks), . Daily 10AM-4PM and 6PM-2AM. Serves German sausages, desserts and beer. There's a large tent with bench seating for eating or watching the latest highlights on the massive TV. Live entertainment nightly. Free until 4PM, $20 cover charge after 6PM. Beer $9, food $5-9.
- Holland Heiniken House, Richmond O Zone site, Richmond. Daily 9AM-2AM. This pavilion has a mixture of Dutch themed stuff -- tourist info, team merchandise, games for various winter sports and some Dutch food. DJs are brought in nightly. There are also free bikes available for day use - but they go quickly. Free. Children under 14 years of age not allowed entry after 8PM.
- House of Switzerland (Bridges Restaurant), 1696 Duranleau St (Granville Island), Vancouver (at the western end of Granville Island, next to the dock for False Creek Ferries), ☎ +1 604 687-4400, . Daily 8AM-2AM. This pavilion is mostly about Swiss food - a chef was brought over from Switzerland and the menu now includes items like raclette pizza, fondues and strudel. Swiss companies, such as Lindt, also have events where Swiss chocolate and cheese are provided. Free entry. Food $8-25.