Image: Whistler
Randy Lincks  /  Corbis file
In two years, Whistler will host the Winter Olympics' alpine skiing events (downhill, GS, slalom, etc.), Nordic events (cross-country skiing, biathlon, jumping, etc.) and sliding events (bobsled, luge and skeleton).
updated 9/8/2008 11:09:44 AM ET 2008-09-08T15:09:44

Getting tickets
Despite the weak buying power of the U.S. dollar in Canada, the Winter Olympics will be relatively affordable. A large chunk of the 1.6 million-seat pool for sport event tickets is priced under $100 each, including all luge, bobsled, and biathlon competitions—and some freestyle skiing races. Even the most popular events, such as giant slalom and speed skating, will offer back-of-the-venue seats for under $100.

Even better: Over 100,000 tickets carry a face value of just $25. No, these seats aren't in the inner circle, but you won't feel like you're viewing the action from Mars, either. Vancouver's largest Olympics competition venue, Canada Hockey Place, has about 18,000 seats, making it far smaller than Beijing's 91,000-seat behemoth, National Stadium. In addition, about 800,000 tickets will be available for ceremonies and cultural events at affordable prices.

The Vancouver Games kick off in February 2010, but the first round of ticket orders will be placed on October 3, 2008. It is a ticket request lottery, but it's not as random as it sounds, because you can pick the events you prefer to see. Snub the official Games Web site (, which only sells to Canadians. Americans should place ticket orders through two authorized sellers: Jet Set Sports (908/766-1001, and its sister company, CoSport (877/457-4647,, which also provide full lists of events to help you choose your favorites. The lottery favors early birds, so be ready with your choices on October 3. The date when remaining tickets will go on sale hasn't been announced yet, but it is expected to fall between early and mid-2009. The second round is not a lottery; buyers will purchase seats directly, at face value, on the Jet Set and CoSport Web sites.

As with any Olympic Games, it's best to keep an open mind about events. Even watching a less glamorous round of preliminary contests live in Vancouver (for between $25 and $80 a seat) will still be more thrilling than watching an Olympic sports event on TV.

Key events
Vancouver will have two Athletes' Villages: one in Vancouver proper and the other at the Whistler Blackcomb Resort, two hours north along the scenic Sea to Sky highway (Route 99). Events will be split between the two locations: The opening and closing ceremonies, freestyle skiing and snowboarding, ice hockey, and figure and speed skating take place in Vancouver and in Richmond (a city roughly a half-hour drive south of Vancouver), while many other events (such as alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, and ski jumping) are in Whistler.

Getting there
If you intend to fly directly to Vancouver, book early. Airlines start selling fares about a year in advance, so plan to start looking in February 2009. You could fly to Seattle on a discount airline (Virgin America, JetBlue, and Southwest), and drive three hours to Vancouver, but we don't recommend it: Border-control delays are notoriously unpredictable, and heavy restrictions on roads and parking during the Games will make it a liability to have a car. Other options include Amtrak, which connects downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver on a roughly four-hour train route that typically costs between $60 and $92 roundtrip. Buses connect Seattle airport with downtown Vancouver ( and, recently about $100 roundtrip).

Getting around
As we noted, forget about driving to—or in—Vancouver during the Games. Even now, this environmentally minded city is pushing its citizens out of cars and onto bicycles, buses, and mass transit including the SkyTrain and a new rapid transit system, The Canada Line (, opening in 2009. Don't stress: Vancouver's public transportation system is comprehensive.

Forget staying on the U.S. side; it's simply too far. Seattle, for example, is about 140 miles away, and border-control delays amplify the distance. Greater Vancouver is a major metropolis with nearly 24,000 hotel rooms, offering a variety of lodging choices. But don't wait too long to book. Many hotels will begin taking reservations in early October after tickets go on sale. Act before travel agencies and tour providers book up blocks of rooms.

You can cut your costs by staying outside of the city in a neighborhood linked by public transportation. Consider finding a hotel, inn, B&B, or apartment in a suburb such as Burnaby, Horseshoe Bay, or Richmond, which are near Olympic venues. For a greater list of serviced suburbs, check the official public transport site ( Some private homes will be offered for rent through traditional travel agents, while others will be rented out via online sites like

If you don't want to bother with ticket lotteries, pay a little more for a package that includes tickets and a hotel stay. For example, Sports Traveler, a Chicago-based sports tour operator, provides accommodations ranging from two to five stars, but it won't release its 2010 packages until next year (888/654-7755; CoSport hasn't announced its package prices for the Games in Vancouver yet either, but they'll probably be similar to prices for previous Olympics. Consider that for the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, packages that covered four nights of lodging and tickets to one event, but not airfare, started at about $2,700.

Passport procedures
Before the Winter Games commence, the Canada-U.S. border crossing rules will change, and documents such as a birth certificate and an ordinary driver's license will no longer be sufficient for authorities. The simplest, most surefire strategy in 2010 will be to bring your passport. If you need to start from scratch and apply for a new passport, know that it currently costs $100; you may prefer to apply for a passport card, which costs only $45. For more info on passports and passport cards, visit the Department of State Web site ( By 2009, some states, such as Washington and New York, will be offering enhanced driver's licenses that will be about as cheap and effective as passport cards. You will be able to use a passport, a passport card, or an enhanced driver's license to enter and exit Canada by car, bus, rail, or cruise ship. If you fly between here and Canada, you'll need a passport.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

Photos: Vancouver, B.C., 2010

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  1. Vancouver, British Columbia, played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Albert Normandin / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A couple strolls through Stanley Park on a spring afternoon near the city's main boat marina. One of the city's most visited parks, visitors can also enjoy the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center and zoo at the park. (Joe Mcnally / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Rowers glide past a line of yachts at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.It is said that in Vancouver, it is possible to ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and take a sunset dip in the Pacific. (Mary Peachin / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Planning to soak up some art while in town? Consider staying at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is located right behind the Vancouver Art Gallery. The hotel is located on the VIA Rail route for those who plan to travel to the city by train. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Granville Island Public Market is perhaps the most well-known market in Vancouver. Dozens of vendors offer food-loving tourists and locals produce, seafood, meats, sweets and European speciatly foods. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The steam-powered Gastown clock blows out clouds of steam during its hourly sounding of Westminister Chimes. Gastown is located in the northeast corner of Vancouver, and is known as the birthplace of the city. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is "acclaimed for its spectacular architecture and unique setting on the cliffs of Point Grey," its Web site proclaims. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Totem poles and other artifacts are on display at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The museum, founded in 1949, is world renowned for its collections. (Kevin Arnold / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. While in the city, check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The bridge spans 450 feet across and is situated 230 feet above the Capilano River. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A totem pole decorates Stanley Park in Vancouver. The park covers about 1,000 acres, and offers residents and tourists a wealth of options, including walking, running or biking the 5.5-mile seawall path, a pitch-and-put golf course and more. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A young girl interacts with a sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium. Tickets for adults cost $22, $17 for seniors (65+) and youths (13-18), $14 for children (4-12) and kids get in free. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pedestrians walk by Aritizia on Robson Street, the famous shopping street in Vancouver's west end. In the stretch of three blocks, tourists looking for retail therapy can find stores specializing in shoes, clothes, lingeri, candy, souvenirs and luggage, not to mention hair salons, currency exchanges and restaurants. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The Library Square building in Vancouver houses the city's public library. (Danniele Hayes / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Patrons eat in the dining room of Six Acres, a pub and restaurant located in Gastown. Six Acres is "tucked in the oldest brick building in Vancouver," its Web site claims. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A traditional pagoda sits on the shore of a pond in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the downtown area of Vancouver. Though Canada's third largest city, Vancouver has historically been thought of as the "terminal city," the end of the line and the last remote town before the continent comes to an end at the Pacific Ocean. (Ross Barnett / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Granville Entertainment District is an area in Downtown Vancouver known for its vast assortment of bars, danceclubs and nightlife. The entertainment district is centered on a seven-block stretch of the Granville Mall and immediately surrounding streets. (Tourism Vancouver) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre was built in 1968, and was a gift from the lumber magnate to Vancouver's citizens. If you're visiting Vancouver on a Friday or Saturday night, you can catch laser shows to music from Green Day, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Olympic rings are illuminated in the harbor outside the Vancouver Convention Centre. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver is set on the waterfront of Vancouver. (Stephanie Lamy / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The Richmond Oval, located south of Vancouver, served as the long-track speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Games. (Ben Hulse / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Skiers and snowboarders gather on top of Whistler Mountain. Whistler was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Games. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Norway's Johan Remen Evensensoars through the air during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup skiing event in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2009. The venue was the site of ski jumping events during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. (Darryl Dyck / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Cypress Mountain hosted the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth zooms around a corner during the sixth training run for the World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., in 2009. (Frank Gunn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Vancouver skyline, Burrard Inlet and Lion's Gate bridge is pictured at sunset. The Lion's Gate Bridge connects North and West Vancouver with downtown. The suspension bridge is 5,890 feet in length. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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