5 Great Backpacking Hostels in Vancouver

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Canada is a top destination for backpackers, and Vancouver is easily the most popular city in the country for the budget traveler. With great weather, a huge range of activities, and a welcoming attitude, Vancouver is a fantastic choice – and it has an excellent selection of backpacking hostels to match.

Party animals: Same Sun Hostel-Granville St.

Granville street

The Same Sun hostel is situated right in the middle of Downtown, and offers easy access to the pubs and night clubs nearby. With an in-house bar and very reasonable prices, it’s a great choice for backpackers who like to party all night without breaking the bank.

Within Walking Distance:

  • Granville Street: This lively street is famous for its nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants. You can find everything from trendy cocktail bars to live music venues.
  • Yaletown: A historic neighborhood known for its brick warehouses converted into trendy shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
  • Gastown: The birthplace of Vancouver, Gastown offers a charming atmosphere with cobblestone streets, Victorian architecture, and a steam clock that whistles every 15 minutes.
  • Waterfront District: Home to Canada Place, a stunning waterfront complex that houses a convention center, hotel, and ferry terminal. You can also explore the Vancouver Aquatic Centre or take a scenic seawall walk with beautiful views.

Short Public Transport Ride:

  • Stanley Park: Vancouver’s crown jewel, Stanley Park is a 1,000-acre green oasis offering hiking trails, beaches, gardens, totem poles, the Vancouver Aquarium, and the Seawall for walking or biking. It’s easily accessible by bus from Granville St.
  • Granville Island Public Market: A must-visit for foodies, Granville Island Public Market offers a vast selection of fresh produce, seafood, international foods, and artisan crafts. Take the bus or hop on the False Creek Ferry for a scenic journey.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery: Located downtown, this art gallery showcases historical and contemporary art exhibitions. Free admission on Tuesday evenings makes it a budget-friendly option close to the hostel.
  • Robson Street: A major shopping district known for its trendy clothing stores, department stores, and international brands. Window shop, people-watch, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes or restaurants.
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: While not directly in downtown, this popular attraction is accessible by public transport (around a 45-minute journey).

Chill Seekers: Cambie Hostel-Seymour St.

For those looking for a slower pace, the Cambie Hostel is a better choice. This smaller hostel has plenty of discounts and is situated only a block from the Granville Skytrain station, giving very ready access to the greater Vancouver area. The complimentary breakfast is muffins only, however, so be prepared to shop a little!

Walking Distance:

  • English Bay Beach: A beautiful sandy beach with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, or watching the sunset.
  • Davie Village: A vibrant and LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhood known for its trendy shops, cafes, restaurants, and lively nightlife scene.
  • Robson Street (part of it): While the heart of Robson Street is a little further, the eastern end is within walking distance. Explore some shops or grab a coffee.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery (part of it): Similar to Robson Street, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a bit of a walk, but the eastern edge is reachable on foot if you’re feeling energetic.

Short Skytrain Ride (Granville Station):

  • Stanley Park: Just a few stops away on the Skytrain, Stanley Park offers endless possibilities for exploring nature. Hike trails, beaches, gardens, and the Seawall await.
  • Granville Island Public Market: A quick Skytrain ride and a short walk or bus ride lands you at this foodie paradise. Stock up on fresh produce, international treats, or grab a delicious lunch.
  • Yaletown & Gastown: While not the closest Skytrain stop, Yaletown and Gastown are a manageable journey using a combination of Skytrain and walking (around a 20-minute walk from Yaletown-Roundhouse Station). Explore the historic charm and trendy shops.
  • Waterfront District: Similar to Yaletown and Gastown, the Waterfront District is reachable via Skytrain and walking (around a 25-minute walk from Waterfront Station). See Canada Place, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, or enjoy the scenic seawall.

Other Attractions:

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: Similar to Same Sun Hostel, this attraction is not in the downtown core but can be reached by public transport (approximately a 45-minute journey).

Upscale backpackers: Hostelling International-Burnaby St.

Burnaby St

This excellent hostel, Hostelling International, is situated near Davie St, one of the city’s most vibrant and exciting neighbourhoods, and boasts a rooftop patio and library. It’s a little more expensive than other hostels, and makes for a more upscale experience for backpackers willing to splurge a bit.

Walking Distance:

  • Davie Village: Right on your doorstep! Immerse yourself in the lively energy with trendy shops, cafes, restaurants, and a prominent LGBTQ+ scene.
  • English Bay Beach: Similar to Cambie Hostel, English Bay Beach is within walking distance for a relaxing day at the beach.
  • Kitsilano Beach: A bit further than English Bay, but still reachable on foot for the adventurous traveler. Kitsilano offers a beautiful beach, a popular pool, and a great atmosphere.
  • Vanier Park: This lesser-known gem boasts stunning views of the city and the North Shore mountains. Explore the gardens, Second Beach, or grab a bite at the Vanier Park Restaurant.

Short Bus Ride:

  • Granville Island Public Market: A quick bus ride takes you to this foodie paradise. Explore the vibrant market atmosphere, stock up on fresh produce, or enjoy a delicious meal.
  • Yaletown & Gastown: While walkable for some, a bus ride can be a convenient option for reaching these historic neighborhoods. Explore the converted warehouses, trendy shops, and charming Gastown streets.
  • Waterfront District: Similar to Yaletown and Gastown, the Waterfront District is reachable by bus. See Canada Place, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, or enjoy the scenic seawall.

Skytrain Options (Short Walk to Stations):

  • Stanley Park: A Skytrain ride and a short walk from either Davie Street Station or Burrard Station lands you at Stanley Park. Explore the vast green space, visit the aquarium, or walk/bike the Seawall.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery: Head to Burrard Station and take a short walk to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Enjoy the art exhibits, or take advantage of free admission on Tuesday evenings.
  • Robson Street: A Skytrain ride and a walk from Burrard Station puts you in the heart of Robson Street’s shopping district. Explore trendy stores, department stores, and grab a bite to eat.

Sports fanatics: YWCA Hotel-Beatty St.

This hotel is a must for real sports fans, being only a block away from the Rogers Arena and the BC Place Stadium. Staying here will also give you access to the nearby YWCA health and fitness facilities. Its price puts it close to the budget hotel range rather than a hostel, but its air-conditioning, TV and mini fridges in every room could be worth the extra expense.

Walking Distance:

  • Stadium District: You’re right next door to the action! Catch a game at Rogers Arena (home to the Vancouver Canucks) or BC Place Stadium (host to various sporting events and concerts).
  • Yaletown: A short stroll takes you to Yaletown’s trendy shops, art galleries, and converted warehouse restaurants.
  • Yaletown Roundhouse: This historic landmark, once a railway roundhouse, now houses restaurants, shops, and a community center.
  • Robson Street (part of it): While the heart of Robson Street is a bit further, the western end is within walking distance for some shopping or grabbing a coffee.

Short Public Transport Ride:

  • Granville Island Public Market: A quick bus ride lands you at this foodie paradise. Explore the vibrant market atmosphere, grab fresh produce, or enjoy international treats.
  • Davie Village: Head a little further east on the bus, and you’ll find yourself in Davie Village, known for its LGBTQ+ scene, trendy shops, cafes, and lively nightlife.
  • Waterfront District: Take a bus or the Skytrain to Waterfront Station for stunning views of the harbor, Canada Place, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, or enjoy the scenic Seawall.
  • Stanley Park: A Skytrain ride and a short walk from either Stadium Station or Burrard Station gets you to Stanley Park. Explore the vast green space, visit the aquarium, or walk/bike the Seawall.

Distance to Specific Attractions:

  • Granville Island Public Market: Roughly a 4 km journey – easily accessible by walking or taking a bus from the hotel.
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: This attraction is not directly in the downtown core but can be reached by public transport (around a 40-minute journey – involving a combination of walking and Skytrain). Due to its location being slightly closer than the other hostels mentioned, it might shave off a few minutes from the travel time.

Budget conscious: C&N Backpackers Hostel-Main St.

For the extremely budget-conscious traveler, this hostel should be top of the list of possible places to stay in Vancouver. The heart of Downtown is a 20-minute walk away, but with a bed in a dorm room starting at only $39, the location shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Consider researching nearby bus routes and planning your day trips in advance to optimize travel time.

Within Walking Distance (limited options):

  • Local cafes and restaurants: While not a major attraction, having access to cafes and restaurants within walking distance is important. Explore the surrounding streets for local eats.

Public Transport Required:

  • Granville Island Public Market & Downtown Area: A bus ride will be necessary to reach the vibrant Granville Island Public Market or explore the heart of downtown Vancouver. Expect a journey time of around 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and chosen route.
  • Stanley Park & Other Attractions: Similar to Granville Island, Stanley Park and many other popular attractions like the Vancouver Art Gallery or Robson Street require public transport. Plan on a bus ride or a combination of walking and public transport, taking approximately 45 minutes to an hour or even longer depending on your final destination.
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: Like the other attractions, Capilano Suspension Bridge is not close by. Expect a public transport journey (bus and Skytrain) of around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Our top tips for backpacking in Vancouver

Free Fun in Vancouver

Vancouver offers a wealth of free activities to keep your wallet happy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Art Enthusiasts: Take advantage of free admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesday evenings (from 5 pm).
  • Beach Bums: Soak up the sun and explore the variety of beaches like Kitsilano Beach, English Bay Beach, or Jericho Beach. All offer stunning views and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Festival Fanatics: Check local event listings for free festivals happening during your stay. From music and food festivals to cultural celebrations, there’s always something going on.
  • Park & Explore: Stanley Park is a must-visit. Hike or bike the Seawall, explore the totem poles, or simply relax in the beautiful gardens.
  • Free Walking Tours: Get oriented and learn some history with a free walking tour. These tours typically operate on a tip basis, so you pay what you feel is fair.
  • Window Shopping & People-Watching: Head to Robson Street, a major shopping district, and browse the trendy stores or people-watch at a sidewalk cafe.

Food on a Budget

Vancouver has a diverse food scene, and backpackers don’t have to break the bank. Here are some budget-friendly options:

  • Granville Island Public Market: A foodie paradise! Explore the market for fresh produce, international snacks, delicious baked goods, and even grab lunch at one of the many vendors.
  • Food Trucks: Keep an eye out for food trucks scattered around the city offering a variety of cuisines at reasonable prices.
  • Budget-Friendly Restaurants: Many restaurants offer lunch specials or affordable options. Consider ethnic restaurants like Thai, Vietnamese, or Indian for delicious and budget-conscious meals.
  • Self-Catering: If your hostel has a kitchen, consider stocking up on groceries from supermarkets like Save-On-Foods or No Frills for affordable meals.

Getting Around

Vancouver’s public transportation system, TransLink, is efficient and affordable. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • System: TransLink operates a network of buses, SkyTrain (rapid transit), and SeaBus (ferries).
  • Tickets & Passes: Single fares are purchased using Compass Cards (reusable cards) or paper tickets bought from vending machines at stations. Consider purchasing a Compass Card DayPass or Compass Card Weekly Pass for unlimited travel within designated zones during the validity period. These can save you money if you plan on using public transport frequently.
  • Costs: Single fares vary depending on distance, while DayPasses and Weekly Passes offer a fixed price for unlimited travel within specific zones. Check the TransLink website ( for current fares and pass options.
  • Mobile App: Download the TransLink app for real-time schedules, trip planning, and fare information.

Safety First

Vancouver is known for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals. However, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Here are some safety tips:

  • Stick to well-lit areas: Especially if you’re exploring at night, stay on main roads or well-lit paths.
  • Let someone know your plans: If you’re heading out for a hike or exploring a new neighborhood, tell a friend or hostel staff where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Trust your gut: If a situation feels off, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to walk away or ask for help.
  • Carry a personal alarm: While not essential, it can provide some peace of mind.

Lighten Your Load

Many backpackers travel light, but if you have larger bags and don’t need them while exploring the city, Vancouver has luggage storage options:

  • Bus Station Lockers: Both Pacific Central Station and the Richmond-Brighouse Bus Terminal offer secure lockers for a daily fee.
  • Train Station Lockers: Vancouver’s main train station, Waterfront Station, also has luggage lockers available.
  • Hostels with Luggage Storage: Some hostels offer luggage storage for a small fee, even if you’re not staying there.

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