Category Archives: Canada

47+ Things to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC

Katherine Lake | Sunshine Coast BC

From water sports to winter trails, craft beer to getting crafty in the community, there are so many things to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC! A mere 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver to the Coast, a must on every Canadian, expat and visitor’s bucket list. This guide details a mix of attractions and events from Langdale to Lund. 


» You may also like: Our guide to the Sunshine Coast – location by location


Marina Gibsons BC | Sunshine Coast

Gibsons Marina in winter

What to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC

Gibsons  

1. Ride the Ferry From Horseshoe Bay 

Your adventure on the Sunshine Coast in Canada’s British Columbia all begins with the 40-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver. The views are majestic. Take a top deck seat to enjoy them. 

2. See The Beachcombers Fame

Once you dock at Langdale, hop on the bus and check out the memorabilia of the hit 70s TV show, The Beachcombers, at Molly’s Reach restaurant. 

3. Drink Craft Beer

Keeping with The Beachcombers theme, Persephone Brewery is a rustic hideaway great for lazy Saturday sunny afternoons. Persephone was the name of a boat in the TV show! 

Gibsons craft scene has exploded since we lived there. Now 101 Brewhouse and Tapworks are located in the town and the beer doesn’t just stop flowing when you leave this town… 

… Townsite Brewing is found on the upper coast at Powell River. 

4. Try the Tough Kegger Challenge 

Get prepared for the Persephone’s annual 8km adventure challenge. 

5. Enjoy Crazy Views 

Climb nature’s Stairmaster to enjoy these views of Keats Island and Vancouver Island from Soames Hill/Knob Hill (Gibsons). 

6. Shopping in Gibsons 

Listen to music and enjoy some local food at the six-day public market in Gibsons or browse the independent stores in town. 

7. Listen to Jazz

Each year Gibsons puts on a lively jazz festival in June. 

8. Dine on Oysters 

At Smitty Oyster House at Gibson’s Marina. 


» Read more: Gibsons top attractions


Soames Hill | Gibsons BC Sunshine CoastSoames Hill, Gibsons

Dakota Ridge 

10. Ski in BC

Winter wonderland on the Coast starts at Dakota Ridge. Enjoy the ski, board and snowshoe trails when the snow falls. 

Roberts Creek 

11. Paint a Mandala 

Every summer, for one day only, the community in Roberts Creek paints over the town mandala so locals and visitors can create a new one. 

12. Grab a Beer, Go to the Pier 

Buy a beer at Roberts Creek General Store and head down to the beach to watch the sunset over the pier. 

13. Kayaking in the Creek

Roberts Creek beach is an easy launch point. Perfect for kayaking fans. 

14. Yoga By the Sea 

Catch one of the daily public classes in the Creek. One of the nicest yoga studios I’ve been to. 

15. Farm Gate Market 

Every Wednesday local producers sell their goods. Hot food for sale too. 

16. Order Food In 

Soul Kitchen (Korean) and Curry in the Creek are food vendors on the Sunshine Coast which put on ‘order and collect’ nights in Roberts Creek.

17. Cliff Gilker Park

Go chasing waterfalls at  Cliff Gilker Park. Easy trail hikes under 2km. 

18. Hit the Trails 

Upper Tubes is one of the first biking trails on the Coast! 

19. Dance the Night Away 

At the Roberts Creek Legion, Community Hall or The Gumboot Restaurant (more chill). 

20. Swing in a Hammock 

Nurse the hangover at Up the Creek Bed and Breakfast, the most lovely patio with hammocks. 

21. Eat Fresh Fish and Chips Supper 

At Sharkey’s Fish Locker. 


» Find out more: What to do in Roberts Creek


Farm Gate Market stalls and people in Roberts Creek_

Sechelt 

22. Go Fishing 

Fish at Davis Bay, just before you reach Sechelt. We were lucky enough to watch a whale put on a show at sunset here. You just can’t make up the kind of magic that happens on the Sunshine Coast! 

23. Sechelt Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market

Largest outdoor market on the Coast running from spring until fall. Does not shy from the rain either!

24. Take the Plunge 

Secret Cove is a short hike in Sechelt with pools of water you can jump into. Chilly though!

25. Watch the Seaplanes Land

The Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt is the perfect plane watching spot. Dine, drink and listen to live music too. 

26. Kayaking and Paddleboarding 

Hire a board or boat at Sechelt Inlet for tranquil water sports. 

27. Catch a Movie

See popular films at the air-conditioned Raven’s Cry Theatre.  

28. Indoor Climbing 

Hike inside on the walls at Straight Up Rock Climbing. 

29. Coast Gravity Park 

Five-star purpose-built mountain bike park on the Sunshine Coast, BC. 

30. Frozen Bellinis

Enjoy a chilled cocktail at Shift Kitchen. Team it up with brunch. 

31. Drink Bloody Mary Clamato

Tomato juice concentrate, sugar, spices, dried clam broth (!) and vodka. Not for me. You? 

Saw so many locals with the drink and was like ooo, what’s that. Nope!


» Want to know more? Here’s our guide to Sechelt


Hammock Sechelt Inlet

Halfmoon Bay 

32. Beachin’

Pack up the car for the day and chill at Halfmoon Bay beach. Enjoy the views of Vancouver Island. 

33. Coopers Green 

Launch your kayak at Coopers Green.

34. Bike Trails 

Take to the trails in Halfmoon Bay. 

35. Smuggler Cove This Provincial Park

Enjoy the short 20-minute trail to Smugglers Cove from Brooks Road. Climb the rocks and trees to snap this view. You might see some beavers dens as you walk!

You may also like | 80 sunshine quotes to brighten up your day

36. Chase a Waterfall 

At Tuwanek (Upper/Lower Falls)! 

Pender Harbour

37. Boat Tour

Muse of the water mansions at Madeira Park as you take a boat ride around Pender Harbour. Read all about our boat tour here.

38. Play Golf 

Swing at the 9-hole golf course at Madeira Park or just have lunch while the others play.

Slocat Harbour Tours Pender Harbour

39. Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park

Just leave me here! 200m (650 ft) of shoreline. Bliss. 

40. Jump into Garden Bay Lake 

Family-friendly beach area with a T-shaped pier for jumping off. 

41. Sunbathe at Katherine Lake 

My ultimate fave lake on the Sunshine Coast. Sandy beach area as well as a grassy area for sunbathing on. 

There are so many lakes on the Sunshine Coast. I love the lake life!

42. See Skookumchuck Narrows 

Skookumchuck means ‘strong waters’ and they are not lying. 

Sechelt’s rapids can be found after an easy 50-minute walk through a shaded forest area. 

Skookumchuck Narrows ‘goes off’ 2-3 times per day at varying levels of force and viewing the rapids is a popular thing do on the Sunshine Coast. 

You might even catch a daredevil kayaker! 

Powell River

43. Farmers Market 

Every weekend, local produce is sold at Powell River Farmers Market. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk3769tgmOr/

44. See a Movie 

The cute Patricia Theatre has been standing for decades, in its various forms. Cheap night is Monday night. Cash only.  

45. The Hulks 

These incredible bulky ship carcases were used to manipulate the water flow. Now they sit in the water as a historical landmark.  

46. Inland Lake Provincial Park

Hike or bike the trail which connects around the full lake (3/1.5 hours) and camp for the night in nature. 

And finally…

The Sunshine Coast Trail

Hike the 180km of the Sunshine Coast to see all the things to do in this British Columbian have for nature, nice people and naughty food.  


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This is How You Spend One Day in Vancouver

Vancouver skyline

Vancouver, the Britsh Columbia city with everything. Mountains, parks with beaches, friendly people, great summers, actual seasons (read; rain), food to satisfy even a fussy eater (Craig) and cool neighbourhoods waiting to be explored. So, with all this potential activity, what do you do with one day in Vancouver?


» Visiting Vancouver in winter? Here’s the ultimate list of things to do 


A One Day Vancouver Itinerary

Morning – Gastown/Downtown

Fresh off the bus, plane, car or even boat? The first stop on your Vancouver bucket list is breakfast.

For a throwback breakfast under $10, head to Smile Restaurant on West Pender Street. For a trendier option, hit Purebread on West Hastings (vegan-friendly).

Rather start the day on the go? You have to try the famous Canadian Tim Hortons coffee and grab a pastry to compliment it.

Since there is so much to do and you are so short on time, consider the Vancouver Hop On/Off bus.

I did it with visiting friends and it covers a lot of ground you’d struggle do yourself with just 24 hours in Vancouver.

It stops at 29 of the main Vancouver attractions and also includes a boat ride to Granville Island. The captain had a one-eyed dog on our boat!

Don’t fancy the hop-on/off bus quite yet? Wander through a mix of old and new at the Gastown neighbourhood popular for its Victorian buildings.

What’s everyone taking photos of? That’s the Gastown Vancouver Steam Clock.

The Steam Clock blows its load throughout the day. Excellent Boomerang material.

Next, head to the needle in the skyline and take the 40-second elevator ride 167 metres high to the top of the Vancouver Lookout. Enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views of the city. Reserve your all-day admission ticket here.

If you happen to be visiting on a Sunday, you can enjoy ‘all you can eat’ brunch in the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant!

For a budget lunch, pop into Canary Wharf Shopping Centre at Canada Place or grab a slice at Freshslice. There are pizza windows everywhere in Vancouver, and the slices are sizeable.

If you can hold off, your next stop is foodie heaven.

Other Vancouver Activities Near/In Downtown

  • Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. I love this place for tranquillity in the city. Spot the koi carp in the pond and take a picture of the city poking through in the background.
  • Play games over pints at Pub 340 Pinball Arcade on Cambie Street.
  • Shopping at Canary Wharf Mall.
  • Boat Tour of Vancouver Harbour.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery. 

» This is a great but expensive area to stay in. Read our advice on where to stay here


Steam Clock Gas Town


Lunch – Granville Island

All hail the delicious Granville Island Public Market food stalls!

An institution in Vancouver, Granville Island Market is where locals and visitors alike grab lunch and people watch.

Seafood, meat, baked goods, pizza, bagels, ice cream, candy, you get the picture! Go with a hungry belly and leave with a happy one.

There are boutique shops dotted around Granville Island too. We actually chose my temporary engagement ring there. Craig proposed in Vancouver on Halloween under the fake stars of Macmillan Space Centre. You can read the full soppy story here.

Sidenote: I spotted Santa in a sidecar at Granville Market. Guess who was driving? Rudolph!

Cake from Granville Island Market_


Afternoon – Stanley Park

A walk (2-3 hours), cycle (1 hour) or skate around Stanley Park is when you realise, there is no city quite like Vancouver.

Pick up your choice of wheels on Reckless Bikes on Davie Street (if you wish to speed the stroll up) then start your journey around Stanley Park Seawall (9km).
There is a dedicated trial so you will be keeping good company with runners too. 

The park is 400-hectares, so possibly at this stage, you may be wishing you did the hop-on/off bus tour!

Remember to pack your swimming gear so you can enjoy the beaches at First and Third.

Vancouver has nine beaches! Beach life is one of the best things to do in Vancouver during summer, and one of the most popular.

Expect to see locals playing outdoor sports in the sunshine too.

If you want to learn more about the Coast Salish people, head to Brockton Point Visitor Centre. Look out for the Totem Poles, one of Vancouver’s most visited attractions.

Stanley Park view of city green grass, blue skies_


Alternative Afternoon – Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 

At only 15 minutes from Downtown, Capilano Suspension Bridge is the most popular tourist attraction in BC.

The bridge itself is 70m above the ground, which sometimes includes rivers and canyons. It is not recommended for people who do not like heights as the bridge moves and moves more as you get to the middle. It is surprisingly long too (137m) and unsurprisingly busy with two lines of traffic going either way.

Nestled amongst the park you can find First Nations artwork, boardwalks and cafes.

Be warned, Capilano Suspension Bridge is busy all year round, especially during the dry months and even more so at Christmas time when the Canyon Lights are switched on.

I personally found it unbearably busy during December. 

Reserve your ticket and bus journey to and from the Bridge before you go at GetYourGuide, provided by the official Capilano Suspension Bridge Park team. Ticket includes free cancellation up to 24 hours before your trip. 

How to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge

1. Take the free shuttle bus leaving from Downtown Vancouver locations like Canada Place.
2. Pay for a public bus 246 which goes over the Lions Gate Bridge or the 236 which includes a short boat ride. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bya2huPB4ts/


Other Afternoon Options

  • Lynn Valley, North Vancouver – a less busy, and free, Capilano Bridge. 
  • Grouse Mountain – Grouse Mountain Skyride or endure Grouse Grind 4,100 feet up into nature. 
  • Kitsilano (Kits) Beach – Trendy, yoga, acai bowls, yummy mummies (we lived here in summer/autumn). For a cute lunch experience, check out Neverland Tea Salon
  • Commercial Drive (The Drive) – Hipster bars, ethnic cafes, where cool people live.
  • Main Street Shopping – Vintage clothes (bought my yellow wedding dress here), brew bars (home for winter). Try Bob Likes Thai Food, delicious. 
  • Davie Village Drinks – Rainbow Crosswalk, pink bus shelter, LGBT+ district.


Evening Itinerary

Well, haven’t you packed a lot in?

For the evening you have the option to explore any of the above-named neighbourhoods for dinner and drinks and/or check out the below options and read this post* for full details.

Things to do in Vancouver at Night

  • Granville Street Partying.
  • Live Music in Van at the Commodore Ballroom, Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Imperial.
  • Movie at the Rio Theatre was initially built in the 1930s, it has all the mod cons of the 21st-century movie house.
  • Outdoor movies at Stanley Park in summer.
  • Richmond Night Market is a summer food market, very busy.
  • Go ice skating at Britannia Rink on Napier.
  • Go night skiing at Cyrpus during winter.
  • Watch football at BC Place Stadium. 
  • Catch an ice hockey game at Rogers Arena.
  • Weekend night market at Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver. 

» Read more: Things to do in Vancouver at night – in detail, by season


Getting to Vancouver from Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

There is a direct train connecting the city and the airport. It takes around twenty minutes. 

What a surprise to be greeted by a man in a kilt on stilts playing the bagpipes on Granville!

Getting Around Vancouver

The city is built on a grid system so it is very easy to navigate. 

Vancouver has a great transport system including buses, SesBuses Skytrains and taxis.

One of the really appealing aspects of Vancouver Translink is that the fares last for 90 minutes so you can get across town without paying double. 

You may also like my friend Laura’s handy Vancouver infographic travel guide.


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Final Words

I hope my admiration for Vancouver has come across. 24 hours in the city isn’t enough to really explore the best things to do but it is a teaser! Tell me in the comments below what you get up to. 

12+ Easy Weekend Getaways From Toronto

Weekend Getaways from Toronto, Niagara Falls

Have you exhausted the city and looking for an easy weekend getaway from Toronto? This guide to the best Toronto day trips details not only where to go but also things to do and how to get there. Let’s showcase the best Ontario and beyond has to offer including Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Blue Mountain. An exciting mix of nature, culture and of course, wine!


» Don’t miss our Toronto itinerary – top attractions, food and tips


Day Trips from Toronto

1. Toronto Island

If you’ve not taken the easy day tour to Toronto Island do it now!

Things to do on Toronto Island

Local, and my friend, Maddie, recommended a visit to this unique community during my visit to the city and the trip did not disappoint for three reasons.

Firstly, the scenery. You take a quick boat ride over Lake Ontario to Toronto Island, with the skyline disappearing as the boat sails to one of the three stops on the island (Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point).

The second reason is nature. Toronto Island is just like a big park with beaches and attractions! You can walk at your own pace or hire a bike in Downtown and pedal around (I cycled, really lovely thing to do).

The third reason is curiosity. Ward Island is home to a special community of 100 beautiful old houses. The islanders claimed their house by adding their name to a list. There was no bidding for properties like we are normally accustomed to!

Grab a bite to eat at family-owned Island Cafe and admire the pier, lighthouse and fairground on Centre Island.

How to Get to Toronto Island from Toronto

Boats leave frequently from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in Toronto and the journey lasts around 20 minutes. You can buy online or at the ferry terminal.


» You may also like: Toronto’s unique things to do – discover the less touristy spots!


Toronto Island, trees, lake Ontario, Toronto skyline

2. Niagara Falls

Hands down the most popular day trip from Toronto has to be Niagara Falls.

During your trip to Niagara Falls you are actually getting three Falls for the price of one! From the Canada side you can get up close to the Horseshoe Falls and admire the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls over the other side in the USA. Neat, eh?

Viewing Niagara Falls from the Canada side is free and there is a viewing platform at Table Rock Welcome Centre.

Naturally, many Niagara Falls visitors want to get as close to the Falls as possible and the best way to do that is to take a boat ride. Prepare to get wet!

Frequent boats sail close to the Falls which results in messy hair, lots of noise and free botox. Tours provide free ponchos but I would recommend wearing a waterproof jacket too.

You can still get great views but stay dry at the Skylon Tower which is 233 meters (775′) high.

Stick around at night to see the Falls illuminated. A popular night activity is a helicopter ride over the lit up waterfalls.

If you plan to enter Niagara Falls via the American side you will need your passport and visa waiver.

Other Things to do at Niagara Falls

Although predominantly about the Falls you can also dine and drink at Niagara Falls, play games at The Great Canadian Midway, visit Niagara Falls History Museum and make a splash at The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.

Toronto to Niagara Falls: Bus, Train and Tours

There are many ways to get to Niagara Falls.

Both Megabus and Greyhound Toronto to Niagara Falls have bus routes. The journey takes under two hours. Tickets can be bought online for under $20 CAD.

VIA Rail Canada operates from Toronto Union Station to Niagara Falls Station. It takes just under three hours and tickets can be bought online for under $25 CAD.

One of the fun ways to get there is to book one of the Niagara Falls tours from Toronto. This was my prefered option.

Why Book a Niagara Falls Tour?

  • Central pickup location.
  • A comfortable bus ride from Toronto.
  • Knowledgeable and funny tour guide (ours was anyway).
  • Snack/scenery stop at the cute Niagara-on-the-Lake (get ice cream!)
  • Ice wine tasting at one of the popular Niagara Falls wineries (so delicious).
  • Ample time at Niagara Falls to take a boat trip and even a helicopter ride.

→ Check the best prices here.

Niagara Falls tours from Canada


3. Niagara-On-The-Lake

Niagara-On-The-Lake is often called the ‘loveliest town in Ontario’ and rightfully so. This cute town has had a long past, playing home to military bases, shipbuilding industry, and now a gem of a tourist spot.

Niagara-On-The-Lake

We bought cakes and ice cream and mooched about the shops nestled amongst the flowers. Niagara-On-The-Lake is a well-loved town and it shows.

Visitors can also enjoy Fort George and the Historical Society Museum, the Shaw Festival and is three theatres, the marina and golf course.

The town puts on many events during summer such as quizzes, ghost walks and BBQs with wine, of course.

If driving, head along the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls coined “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” by Winston Churchill. Not driving? Consider a Niagara Falls tour to avoid missing this scenic road.

Niagara-On-The-Lake Wineries

There are over twenty wineries in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada’s number one attraction for food and drink.

Wineries differ in size from large estates to small boutiques which adds a bit of flavour to your day trip!

Top of the list of things to try is ice wine. This delicious sweet wine is a dessert wine produced from frozen grapes.

Niagara On The Lake Red Wine


4. Hamilton

There may be an unlimited amount of things to do in Toronto but the greatest thing about Toronto arguably has to be the number of great day trips you can take from it and none is better than Hamilton.

One Day in Hamilton

Hamilton is an up and coming city that provides a great combination of things to do. It’s known as the city of waterfalls and with over 100 waterfalls to choose from it definitely lives up to its name.

It’s also a university town, an up and coming foodie city and one with many options for exploring the history of the place.

If you’ve only got a day in Hamilton you do have to dedicate part of it to nature.

One of the most popular hikes in the area is Dundas Peak. It’s a 20-minute hike (each way) up to a cliff that gives you a great view of the area.

As it is extremely popular so you have to pay for a shuttle there now which will cost you $10/car and $5/person.

Right by Dundas Peak, you’ll also find Webster Fall (within walking distance of each other) so make sure to check that out as well!

Another quick hike worth checking out is Tiffany Falls. It’s a short 10-minute walk each way from the parking lot but it’s one of the waterfalls you can walk right up to which makes it a great place to take some pictures.

Once you’ve had your fill of nature there’s plenty of other things to do in town. The HMCS Haida National Historic Site* is a must do. It’s a giant ship that participated in World War II and the Korean War for the Canadian Navy.

You can enter the ship and walk through the different floors to see the inner workings of the ship and to see how those who were stationed on the ship lived. Admission to the ship is $3.90/person.

Another must-do in Hamilton is Dundurn Castle*. It’s a giant 40-room villa that’s incredibly well maintained and shows a great perspective of what living in the mid-1800s was like. Admission to the castle will cost you $12.

Once you’ve had your fill of history and culture you should spend the remainder of the day detouring down into the side streets for some great street art and popping into some of the super unique stores the downtown core has to offer.

If you’ve got some extra time, a walk around the McMaster campus is also a great activity to check out in Hamilton!

Hamilton has seriously become a foodie destination for those day tripping there.

There are dozens of options to choose from and you really can’t go wrong. If you’re visiting for the day I suggest waiting until you get into town to have breakfast and once you get in make sure to head to the Jet Cafe.

It isn’t much to look at but the portions are giant and the prices are super fair. You may have to wait for a table but it’s totally worth it!

For lunch and dinner, you’ve got a ton of options but I highly recommend Mahal Indian for some great Indian food or The Mule for some absolutely great tacos.

You, of course, have to make sure to leave some space in your stomach for the absolutely fantastic donuts at Donut Monster.

Make sure to bring your camera because you’ll want plenty of pictures and comfortable shoes for walking around all day. If you’re planning on hiking any of the waterfalls I’d recommend bringing a water bottle as well.

How to Get to Hamilton from Toronto

Hamilton is located about 70km west of Toronto which will take about one hour to drive.

Since some of the best things to do are located on the periphery of the town, having a car will give you the freedom to explore as you wish and to take your time doing so.

There is plenty of street parking in Hamilton and most of the well-known waterfalls/sights will have lots of space to park in, so that isn’t the main concern when bringing your car!

If your preference is to take public transit you can either take the bus or the train from Toronto to Hamilton. GO bus* is the easiest option. The return trip will cost $27.20 (taxes included) and it runs every 30 minutes so you’ll have no issues getting there.

You can also take the GO Train for a similar price which runs about every hour. The train with Via Rail costs about $30 (taxes included) for the round trip but runs much less frequently.

All of the public transit options will take roughly one hour and 15 minutes from Toronto to Hamilton.

Hamilton waterfall in Canada


5. Buffalo

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Buffalo is growing into something beautiful, and you won’t want to miss it.

One Day in Buffalo

Although a day trip is barely enough time to get a feel for Buffalo, it’s just enough to take in the two things that set Buffalo apart from many other cities: an industrial waterfront turned playground and incredible century-old architecture.

Start your day by exploring Buffalo’s history. A hundred years ago, Buffalo was one of the wealthiest cities in America (and it shows!). Art deco architecture is easy to find downtown, and visitors can take free tours inside City Hall or hit the streets with Explore Buffalo on an affordable walking tour to learn more. The Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House is another prime example of life in Buffalo during its heyday.

Afterwards, head along the river to check out a great example of Buffalo’s physical transformation. Riverworks is an old industrial site that’s now a great afternoon out. You’ll find an indoor ropes course, roller rink, curling/ice rink (in season), and brewery.

On a nice day, head outside to zipline between abandoned grain elevators or rock climb the silos. Nearby there are also boat and paddleboard rentals to hit the water.
While you’re in town, make sure you taste some iconic Buffalo foods.

The chicken wing is most famous and can be found at practically every bar and restaurant in the city.

A local favorite is Gabriel’s Gate, in the Allentown nightlife district (they’ve also got a great beef on weck sandwich you won’t want to miss).

Other good options are Roost’s monthly rotating menu or the locals-only crowd at Smoke on the Water, which although outside of town is practically on your drive back to Toronto. Wash everything down with a cold drink; you’ll find craft brewers and distillers in the Larkin District, another historical spot turned modern.
Buffalo’s a friendly, laidback city; just don’t forget your passport!

How to Get to Buffalo from Toronto

By far, the fastest way to get from Toronto to Buffalo is by car. The 100-mile (160 kilometer) journey can be covered as fast as 90 minutes at the right time of day. To cross the border, make sure your auto insurance is valid in both Canada and the USA.

Megabus is your next fastest option, at a little over two hours and $15 each way, though schedules are infrequent and not conducive to a day trip.
Greyhound and Amtrak are also public transport options, though they take twice as long as driving due to stops and lengthy border delays as they process everyone onboard.

Buffalo USA zipline, blue sky


6. Blue Mountain, Ontario

The year-round resort region of Blue Mountain in Southern Georgian Bay is one of the best day trips from Toronto when it comes to scenery and outdoor activities.

One Day at Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain is Ontario’s most popular ski area, but spring, summer and fall are ideal for adventures off the slopes, and it’s a growing destination for mountain biking. Whatever the season, picturesque Blue Mountain Village is your go-to point for day trips to the area, and it’s where visitors should start their day.

This alpine-style resort village has plenty of restaurants, shops, hotels and cafes, and there are always events going on.

To sign up for outdoor activities such as electric bike tours or zip-lining, head to Activity Central at the foot of the ski slope in the village.

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping things to do in Blue Mountain you’ll be spoiled for choice with family-friendly options such as the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, the Wind Rider Triple Zips or Timber Challenge Ropes.

Once you’ve exhausted your energy, you can wander through the village and choose from the many restaurants there. Kaytoo has a patio overlooking the scenic Mill Pond, while the Copper Blues generally has a good crowd. For a drink try the Northwinds Brew Pub.

There should still be time in the day to venture beyond the village, and with all this gorgeous nature around, it would be a shame not to.

For adults, a tranquil way to experience the richness of the surrounding forest is at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain, a soothing circuit of outdoor pools, saunas, and restful lounges. ($65 pp.)

How to Get to Blue Mountain from Toronto

The nearby Scenic Caves at 260 Scenic Caves Rd is another unique way to connect with the environment. You’ll want to budget a couple of hours to explore the ancient caves, lookout spots and 420-foot-long suspension bridge. Don’t miss Ekarenniondi, a standing limestone rock that was sacred to the First Nations people who made southern Georgian Bay their home. (Entrance from $17.50.)

Driving is the best option to get to Blue Mountain. It’s about 2.5 hours north of Toronto, though the roads get crowded on weekends and can slow you down. In the winter there is a daily shuttle for the ski crowds.

Blue Mountain Canada, houses, lake


7. Wasaga Beach to Toronto

Wasaga Beach is a place where most locals in the Greater Toronto Area go for a weekend getaway. It is definitely worth the drive from Toronto and is the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends.

One Day at Wasaga Beach

During the summer, there are lots of people that go for a quick dip in the waters or a tanning session by the shoreline.

Other than the parking fee and some gas cost, Wasaga Beach is practically free.

Bring a beach towel, some sunscreen and a cooler full of drinks and snacks if you intend on staying the day.

Otherwise, you can head to Catch 22 for some seafood at $20/person or Maple Diner and Smokehouse for a quick brunch at $10/person.

How to Get to Wasaga Beach

Public transportation isn’t the best choice when trying to get to Wasaga.

You can grab a greyhound to Wasaga Beach East and take a taxi to the main beaches.

The entire trip will take 3 hours and cost around $30.

The best option is to drive up as this will only take an hour and a half.


8. Prince Edward County

If you want to experience a region known for sandy beaches, pristine nature, and local wineries, then Prince Edward County is for you!

One Day in Prince Edward County

This expanse of green agricultural land right on the shores of Lake Ontario is a great spot for campers, bikers, wine-tasters, and day-trippers alike.

There are plenty of things to check out in Prince Edward County. The main draw to the area is the local PEC wineries and breweries.

The area is known as the “up and coming” wine region in Ontario. Many operations are family-run, meaning the wine is typically done in smaller batches. This makes for a unique taste from season to season.

Check out Sandbanks Estate Winery for their famous Baco Noir!

There are a few smaller towns – Picton and Wellington – which you can also check out.

Each one has a number of shops for Canadian-made goods and restaurants that specialize in serving local ingredients.

Check out Parson’s Brewing Company in Picton for a great taste of local craft beer.

Costs in Prince Edward County are generally lower than in the big city and wine lovers can do a few wine tastings for much less then you would in the Niagara wine region.

It’s always a good idea to layer and bring a wind/rain coat because even in the summer the cool wind off the lake can make for cooler temperatures. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and/or a hat since many establishments let you taste outdoors!

How to Get to Prince Edward County from Toronto

The easiest and most convenient way to get to the County is by driving.

You leave Toronto heading east on Highway 401 and then just get off around Belleville, following county roads into the County. It’ll cost you a tank of gas, but this drive only takes about two hours one way (more with bad Toronto traffic!).

Just be sure to plan ahead with a designated driver if you plan on consuming a few beverages!

Dining in Prince Edward, nacho chips and dip with beer on table


9. Grand Bend

In under three hours you can drive from Toronto to Grand Bend to enjoy a day at one of the best beaches in Southwest Ontario.

This beach town is located in Southwest Ontario and is a super busy spot during the summer months.

The beaches in Grand Bend have crystal clear blue waters that you will almost think you are in the Caribbean, minus the palm trees. Grand Bend is one of 26 beaches in Canada to have earned an official Blue Flag status for its strict water quality and safety criteria.

One Day in Grand Bend

With only one day in Grand Bend you can choose to lounge by the beach all day or take part in some water activities with Xtreme Watersports such as:

  • Jet ski and Seadoo rentals starting from 1/2 Hour – $65.00 per single driver.
  • Jet Boat charters starting from 1 hour – $240.00.
  • Flyboarding starting from 1 hour – $150.00 ~ 1/2 Hour – $80.00.
  • Water trampoline starting from one person on a trampoline – $20 each per 1/2 hour.

The main beach area is equipped with a splash pad, a playground and easily accessible to the many shops and restaurants on the main strip.

Where to Eat in Grand Bend

  • Smackwater Jack’s Taphouse 71 River Rd, Grand Bend
    This is a great option to dine and located right off the strip. They have indoor seating and a covered patio with water views. They have a diverse menu with locally grown menu items. Try the perch tacos as it is the local fish and their french fries are addictive.
  • Midori Sushi 29 Main St W, Grand Bend
    If you are craving sushi then you must stop at this newly renovated sushi restaurant located on the main strip in Grand Bend. They have a large outdoor patio area with bar swings. Try the Mango salad, Tuna Poke Bowl and the Green Dragon Roll.
  • Dark Horse Winery 70665 B Line, Grand Bend

If you love visiting wineries then you must head to Dark Horse Estate Winery. It is about a 10-minute drive from the main strip of Grand Bend. Join them on the patio for pizza and wine tasting.

Things to Pack

Beach chairs, beach towels, sunblock, swimsuits, change of clothes, cooler with snacks and drinks.


» Don’t miss our essential road trip packing list!


How to Get to Grand Bend From Toronto

The best way to get to Grand Bend from Toronto is by car on King’s Highway 401. It is approximately 220km or 136 miles. There is no regular, direct public transportation to Grand Bend.

There are five paid parking lots in Grand Bend.

Parking tickets can be purchased for $3-$4 per hour or a full day from $15-$20 depending on the lot. The closer to the beach, the more the parking is.

Get there early as parking tends to fill up quickly in the summer months.

By Diana Becevello | Diana’s Healthy Living

Grand Bend Canada lighthouse, water, women posing


10. One Day in Bobcaygeon

As the lyrics of Canadian band Tragically Hip’s haunting ballad illustrate, Bobcaygeon, a clear starry-skied town in cottage country, a short jaunt from Toronto, has Ontarians flocking by the camper and canoe to experience its serenity, relaxation, local flavours, and ultimate beachy ambience every summer.

A 90-minute to two-hour drive East on Highway 401 from Toronto, located within the beautiful Kawartha Lakes region, Bobcaygeon brings travellers steps away from some of Ontario’s most crystal lakes, shops, local eats, secret fishing spots, and iconic National Historic Sites.

Enjoy some of the best fish and chips and peanut butter pie you’ll ever eat at Just for the Halibut, rent a boat or take a day cruise through the historic Trent Severn locks, or pick up a locally-designed tee at Douglas + Son before inflating your unicorn floaty for a relaxing afternoon on Sturgeon Lake.

Have a sweet tooth?

You cannot miss the opportunity to devour a Kawartha Dairy mega ice cream cone. Churned right here in the Kawartha Lakes region, Kawartha Dairy brings Ontario’s favourite ice cream treats to visitors in a variety of flavours.

One or two scoops will have you going for a while, but for the ultimate challenge, try a triple scoop in a waffle cone.

Bobcaygeon has everything for the perfect day trip from Toronto, a relaxing weekend getaway, or even a week’s staycation away from the city bustle.

So pack your bathers, camera, fishing rod, and appetite, for a memorable and exciting road trip. It truly is an incredible summer escape.

How to get to Bobcaygeon from Toronto

The best way to get to Bobcaygeon is by car.

The journey takes up to two hours to drive via Highway 401 from Toronto.

  • By Janine Good | Fill My Passport

Bobcaygeon, water, boat


11. Bruce Peninsula

The Bruce Peninsula stretches between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron and is home to a wealth of outdoor activities. One Day on the Bruce Peninsula could go in a multitude of ways. There are dozens of hiking trails along the Peninsula, including Ontario’s famous Bruce Trail. And one of the best places to hike is in the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Bruce Peninsula National Park is part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Park is home to some of the best hiking trails on the Bruce Peninsula. Trails lead to epic cliff-top views of incredible crystal blue waters and the Park’s famous Grotto. A day parking pass to the park is $11.70.

If hiking isn’t your jam explore the charming small town on the Bruce Peninsula’s tip – Tobermory. Here you can browse local shops, enjoy the harbor and grab something to eat and drink at the Crowsnest Pub – which has great food, a rooftop patio, and live music. You can also enjoy a cruise from one of the handfuls of cruise companies. Enjoy a cruise through Fathom Five National Marine Park, take in shipwrecks, or check out Flowerpot Island. Cruises range from $40 – 55.

How to Get to the Bruce Peninsula from Toronto

The Bruce Peninsula is approximately 300 kilometres north-west of Toronto. The best way to visit is by car. And the drive takes anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours.

  • Stephanie Mayo | The World As I See It

12. Toronto to Rochester, New York 

Crossing the border on a day trip? It’s easier than you think! 

One Day in Rochester

Roughly 3 hours from Toronto lies Rochester, New York, also known as the “Flower City.” I recommend visiting in the summertime when everything is in full bloom.

Those who go in May will find the largest lilac festival in North America. Other year-round attractions include the George Eastman House, a tribute to the late founder of Kodak, and the Memorial Art Gallery, hosting $5 Fridays that are jam-packed with events.

This is a great base if you want to explore the nearby wine and cheese trails of the Finger Lakes. Don’t leave without sampling a Garbage Plate — a mix of traditional barbecue foods piled high on your platter, from beef to macaroni salad. 

How to get to Rochester from Toronto 

Canada shares a border with 11 U.S. states, including New York, allowing you to check off two countries for the price of one. If you already have a visa waiver for Canada and are driving to New York you do not need to apply for a separate waiver online, you just need to fill out the correct form at the border. Note that non-Visa Waiver Program countries will have different requirements, as will anyone traveling by air or cruise ship. The drive itself is quick and easy, mostly on highways. 

By Jen, Jen on a Jetplane

Girl in dress, walking in garden


Final Words

Whether you are looking for an idea for weekend trips from Toronto or to book a tour to extend your city experience, do tell us which day trip you take in the comments below.

Toronto Destination Guides 
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Toronto in 24 hours
» Off the beat things to do in Toronto
» Affordable accommodation in Toronto
» How to get to Niagara Falls (cheapest ways)

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Cheapest Niagara Falls Tours from Toronto

Niagara Falls I Wine and Waterfalls I Niagara Falls, Ontario

Short on time, strapped for dollars but still want to experience the most visited tourist attraction in Canada? No stress, our guide to the cheapest Niagara Falls tours from Toronto will get you to the most powerful waterfall in North America without breaking the bank.

You wouldn’t go to Paris with seeing the Eiffel Tower or NYC without catching a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty so don’t let your budget stop you for seeing this loud and impressive wonder! In every budget guide, we have to consider a couple of factors. Sure we want the lowest price but we have to balance this with reviews, what is included and, alternative but related options. 


» You may also like: 24 hours in Toronto – the best of the city


Cheap Niagara Falls Bus Tours from Toronto 

Niagara Falls Overview

Niagara Falls is actually a set of three waterfalls so you are getting more bang for your buck! The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls can be found on the USA side and Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three, is found on the Canadian side.  

The brink is 2600 feet/792.4 meters in length, the noise can be overwhelming! Naturally, the best views are in the water, from a boat tour so you want to ensure that the affordable Niagara Falls tour that you choose has either a boat ride included or time of a ride when you get there.

Let’s dive into the most affordable Niagara tours from the city of Toronto. 

The American Falls and The Bridal Veil Falls I Wine and Waterfalls I Niagara Falls, Ontario


Tours to Niagara Falls from Toronto

From Toronto: Niagara Falls Day Tour $

As Rhiana says, this is what we came for! What she didn’t say, this is your cheapest Niagara tour from Toronto option online. 

This nine-hour Niagara tour from Toronto starts with a central downtown pick up then a comfortable drive to Niagara Falls. 

Your driver will provide commentary about the Falls and also the sites you pass during the journey. 

An added bonus is that you get to stop at Niagara-on-lake and enjoy a 45-minute break to grab an ice cream and look around the cute historical town. I’m glad we had this stop as I wouldn’t have thought about coming here independently. 

Again, another attractive factor is the wine tasting stop. I fell in love with Ontario’s Icewine during our Niagara day tour. 

You also get to drive along Niagara Parkway which Winston Churchill coined “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.”

For an additional fee (choose that option at checkout), your tour guide fast tracks you to the famous Hornblower Niaraga boat cruise, you get a fashionable waterproof poncho and then you ride!

Visiting in winter? The Falls boat cruise change to a Skylon Tower tour. 

Tours are small and transportation is a small bus/van. 

Check availability and the best prices here.

Niagara Falls, Ontario ponchos boat cruise


Toronto: Niagara Falls Day Trip with Optional Boat Tour $$

Similar features to the tour above but this one is with a certified tour which bumps the price up by $10.

The boat cruise is an optional add on like above (except in winter). 

Consider this Toronto to Niagara tour if the above is sold out. 

Check availability here


Getting to Niagara from Toronto 

There is the option of taking public transport from Toronto to Niagara. This could work for those who are not restricted by time. 

There are bus routes with Megabus and Greyhound from Toronto to Niagara Falls. The journey takes around two hours. Tickets can be bought online for under $20 CAD.

VIA Rail Canada leaves from Toronto Union Station to Niagara Falls Station. It takes just around three hours and tickets can be bought online for under $25 CAD.

Once you arrive in Niagara you can join your cheap tour.


Niagara Tours 

Niagara Falls: Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour with Funicular $$

Once in Niagara, you can hop aboard your pre-arranged boat tour. The tour takes around twenty minutes and heads to the base of Horseshoe Falls, a close encounter! 

Get wet and enjoy the panoramic views of the Falls from the boat or stay dry in the comfort of the inside viewing areas. 

This ticket allows you to purchase online and skip the line. 

The bonus with this tour is that you also get a ticket to the Niagara funicular ride.  

  • Check availability and reserve your spot here.

Niagara Falls Zipline $$

If you don’t like boats (it can get choppy out there) but still want to experience the Falls, why not fly over them?

Adventure fans should check out this zip line over the Falls tour which suspends you at 67 metres above the famous Niagara River Gorge!

While this was not an option when we visited, I have zip lined in other countries around the world like Bolivia. It is a real thrill.


Niagara Sky Wheel Ticket $

This is the cheapest option in Niagara. The Sky Wheel is like a Ferris wheel, offering views for days over Niagara. 

The ride lasts eight minutes and there is an optional audio guide in the cart. Click to reserve your spot and check today’s prices. 

Niagara Falls I Wine and Waterfalls I Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wet-o-Metre

You don’t get too close to the falls but close enough to feel the fresh spray if you so wish.

If getting damp is not your style, stick to the middle of the boat but be prepared to have tourists wearing giant pink condoms in your photos. 

Check out Wandering Wagar’s review of ‘the other side’ in the USA at exploring Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Packing Guide

  • A raincoat (although the poncho keeps most of the water off)
  • Camera plus waterproof cover
  • A video action cam with a waterproof cover

Niagara Falls at night with colour

Other Activities Near Niagara Falls

There is a tacky, stuck in the past, arcade centre with crazy golf and fast food outlets aplenty.

The restaurant closest to The Horseshoe Falls (and with stunning views) added a touch of sophistication, it cost $45 for two soups, a shared sandwich and two drinks.

Niagara Falls History Museum is also close and you can make a splash at Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.

On the way to Niagara Falls, you may choose to visit the town Niagara-on-the-Lake or taste some of Ontario’s wine at the vineyards!

Going with the family? Check out Jamie’s, The Daily Adventures of Me advice on Niagara Falls with children.

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Best Cheap Hostels in Banff from $25

Hostels in Banff Canada

Picture this; breathtaking mountain scenery, the Rockies in all their glory, stunning waterfalls and lakes, incredible wildlife such as elks and bears and finally the magnificent Banff National Park in Alberta. There’s so much to do in this Canadian region that you’ll need a good night’s sleep and this guide to hostels in Banff details where you can get it.


» Don’t miss our guide | Banff versus Jasper!


Affordable Banff Accommodations

HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel – 9.7 Review Rating on Hostelworld $

Blissful peace and quiet with fantastic views, this is how to describe HI Mosquito Creek in a nutshell. Located 29km north of Lake Louise and 6km south of Crowfoot Glacier – it’s practically in the middle of Banff National Park.

The cabin – which is exactly what this hostel can be described as – is ideal for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. In the summer, you can indulge in biking, climbing, and hiking. In the winter; skiing and snowboarding. There’s even ice climbing for the most adventurous!

The hostel states it is ‘off the grid’. There are no phones, no electricity, and no running water. This means no showers or flush toilets, although there are outhouse toilets available. Be prepared for basic but clean accommodation, making it one of the most unique places to stay in Banff.

The hostel has a communal kitchen and living room with a cozy wood burning fireplace to socialize around. There is purified water for cooking and propane lights and heating. There is a sauna provided for the ultimate wind down after a long day exploring.

Night skies are a must see out here.


  • Pros: clean rooms, all linen provided, free guest parking.
  • Cons: hostel reception closed during the day, not suitable for disabled travelers.
  • Best for budget backpackers and outdoor types.
  • HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel Address: Highway 93, c/o PO Box 1358, Banff, Alberta.

» » Book here « «

HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel

YWCA Banff Hostel – Excellent Location $$

YWCA Hostel is inclusive of all travelers – not just women. The hostel warmly welcomes families too.

The hostel is only a 15-minute walk from the Greyhound bus station or a $6 taxi ride. It is very central to Banff for organizing car rental and tours.

The hostel is located right on the Bow Valley trail; a beautiful walk around the river to some waterfalls. I wholeheartedly recommend this walk, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A clean and comfortable range of rooms from privates to dorms, with a ‘home away from home’ feel.

There is a large communal kitchen, living room with a roaring fire and shared dining area. Kitchen and laundry are both well equipped. There is even a book exchange too.

The views from some of the rooms are simply spectacular with the mountains looming in the landscape.

[x_icon type=”bolt”] Don’t forget an extra memory card for your camera!


  • Pros: central location, all linen provided, free guest parking.
  • Cons: guest complain of mattresses too creaky, the blankets provided were too thin, reports of free wifi being intermittent.
  • Best for families and travelers.
  • YWCA Banff Hotel Address: PO Box 520, 102 Spray Ave.

» »Book here « «

YWCA Banff Hotel Canada


» You may also like: our guide to hostels in Vancouver


Samesun Banff Hostel – Helpful and Sociable Hostel $$

Samesun is a chain of hostels in Canada known for its fun factor and this hostel is no different. The guest ratings for the Samesun Hostel are exceptional with compliments about the staff, cleanliness and the great location.

There are superb views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains within the heart of Banff.

The hostel has roomy female and mixed dorm rooms.

The onsite Beaver Bar hosts nightly events, karaoke, live music, and quizzes so you can socialize easily with your new found friends.

The staff are happy to help travelers with ski lift passes in the winter and transportation for local favorites such as Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Banff Hot Springs and more. With so many outdoor activities, it will be hard to choose how to plan your vacation!

An absolute bonus to this hostel is the free daily breakfast with eggs, pancakes, pastries and fresh fruit available. Stock up on food fuel for your busy day ahead.

There is a fully equipped guest kitchen, laundry room, TV room and lockers available for each guest.

[x_icon type=”bolt”] Pack a padlock.

Guests cannot praise this hostel enough and it’s very easy to see why.


  • Pros: central location, free guest parking, free wifi, free breakfast.
  • Cons: must be over 18 to stay here so not suitable for families, can be a bit noisy.
  • Best for young/socializing travelers.
  • Samesun Banff Hostel Address: 433 Banff Avenue.

» » Book here « «

Samesun Banff Hostel Canada


» Click here to see our Whistler budget accommodation guide


 HI Banff Alpine Centre – Simple and Clean Hostel $$

HI Banff Alpine Centre has a stunning exterior log cabin feel to it. It is located close to the center of Banff with free bus passes available to explore the local areas.

With onsite pub ‘The Storm Cellar’ there are events on each night such as Jam Night, karaoke and of course cheap beer! There is also free pool, foosball and darts to help you meet other travelers.

Each dorm bed has a locker with outlets inside to lock and recharge your device. There are two commercial kitchens, both fully equipped for guests to use with ample seating and even a walk-in fridge.

There’s free wifi that is promised to be super fast.

HI Banff Alpine Centre offer a job seekers package for people wanting to stay in Banff long term – including 14 nights shared accommodation, bus pass, and a free Hostelling International membership.


  • Pros: central location, child-friendly, no curfew, free basic breakfast.
  • Cons: complaints of private rooms being very small with thin walls.
  • Best for socializing travelers.
  • HI Banff Alpine Centre Address: 801 Hidden Ridge Way.

» » Book here « «

HI Lake Louise – Ideal Hostel for All Travelers $$$

This HI hostel has everything you need with its great location, helpful staff, and superb cleanliness.

The hostel is situated minutes from Lake Louise Mountain resort offering world-class skiing. I can personally recommend skiing, it was out of this world!

There are many hiking trails close by from full-day hikes to short walks along the Bow River.

The hostel offer trips to the Kicking Horse River to experience the rapids or activities to guests in the summer include horse riding and biking.

There is something for everyone to take part in.

The hostel has an outdoor patio for the summer months. When it gets colder, there are indoor open fires. There is also a relaxing sauna to wind down in after your explorations.

There is a fully equipped kitchen or you can enjoy on-site Bill Peyto’s Cafe serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A sure hit with the locals.

A variety of private rooms, family rooms and dorm rooms are available to guests with a maximum of six people to a dorm.


  • Pros: good location for sports, family-friendly, no curfew.
  • Cons: complaints of no power points for top bunks, the restaurant can close unexpectedly.
  • Best for couples and outdoor types.
  • HI Lake Louise Address: Village Road, Box 115 Lake Louise.

» » Book here « «

HI Lake Louise Banff


» Others also liked our guide to hostels in Toronto


HI Rampart Creek – A Real Wilderness Hostel $

HI Rampart Creek is another ‘off the grid’ hostel. Please don’t let the no electricity, no phone, and no running water put you off.

There is so much to see in this area of Banff, the stunning scenery is definitely worth it.

There is real wilderness with hikes to canyon waterfalls or cliff top edges with a chance of seeing the grizzly bears roaming the forest areas closeby.

Incredibly, during winter there are 150 ice climbs within a 30-minute drive of the hostel. Even if you are not an ice climber yourself, it is worth seeing the landscape for yourself.

The rustic hostel offers a full communal kitchen, communal living room with a wood-burning fireplace and a sauna. A perfect way to end your day.

Purified water for cooking and propane lights and heating are provided. All bed linen is supplied too.

The hostel is very popular in both winter and summer so best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.


  • Pros: good location for hiking, free parking, friendly atmosphere.
  • Cons: complaints of beds being too short, not suitable for disabled people, check-in not until evening.
  • Best for travelers and outdoor types.
  • HI Rampart Creek Address: Highway 93, PO Box 1358.

» » Book here « «

Banff International Hostel – Located in Downtown Banff $$

The Banff International Hostel is situated only three blocks from the downtown area and is convenient for visiting Banff attractions, bars, and restaurants. Ideal for stocking up on supplies before any road trip.

The local bus can take you to Sulphur Mountain and Banff Upper Hot Springs for a day trip. In the winter months, there are buses running to three ski hills close by to the hostel.

The hostel caters for both short-term and long-term travelers who are wishing to work in the town. There are weekly and monthly rates in the winter season.

The lobby is open 24 hours a day with computers for guests to use at their leisure. There is a TV lounge and an outdoor courtyard to relax in when the weather is sunny.

Guests can book tours and trips at hotel reception where staff are happy to help with any inquiries.

All rooms have ensuites and there is free wifi. However, some customers state that the hostel can be quite noisy.

[x_icon type=”bolt”] Don’t forget your noise-cancelling earplugs.

A continental breakfast is also included with free tea and coffee provided all day too.


  • Pros: central location, lockers, outlets, and privacy curtains were a big plus in dorms.
  • Cons: can be a bit noisy, outdated decor.
  • Best for travelers and outdoor types.
  • Banff International Hostel Address: 449 Banff Avenue.

» » Book here « «

Banff International Hostel Canada

HI Castle Mountain – Basic Rustic Hostel $

The Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel is located between Banff and Lake Louise surrounded by plenty of wildlife in the forest. The hostel provides nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts a base from which to delve into hiking trails or skiing.

The hostel offers a common room to meet other travelers with large windows looking out onto the scenery and a cozy fireplace. Single-sex dorm rooms are available with 14 beds in each room.

An added luxury is that the hostel has hot showers and flushing toilets which other wilderness hostels may not have.

Laundry is available as well as a fully equipped kitchen.


  • Pros: clean and well organized, location ideal for exploring, the sauna was a bonus.
  • Cons: Check-in only between 5-10pm, closed Wednesdays between October and April, not suitable for disabled people.
  • Best for travelers and outdoor types.
  • HI Castle Mountain Address: Box 1358 (Banff National Park).

» » Book here « «

HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel
There are many choices for backpackers on a budget in Banff, including within Banff National Park. We understand the choice can be overwhelming but hopefully this guide has helped you decide where to stay in Banff as I researched the best and cheap hostels.

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Where to stay in Banff on a budget, best hotels in Banff, best hostels in Banff, accommodations in Banff for under $25, best things to do in Banff on a budget, Banff travel tips, budget travel in Banff, Canada.

Author – Karen is a school teacher who enjoys both long and short-term travel. She has backpacked around Australia, lived and worked in Canada and snowboarded in Japan. Her dream trip is to visit the Faroe Islands.

Read next: the ultimate guide to Canada