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Vancouver Hostel Tips
Choosing the Best Hostel Location in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Friends playing volleyball on the sand at Kits Beach Vancouver Canada within easy walking distance of many hostels in city centre Vancouver. The scene looks out at the sunset setting over the mountains beyond English Bay.

No large city in Canada or the U.S. offers more uplifting hostel environments than Vancouver, British Columbia.

Choosing the right hostel location may be crucial to your enjoyment of Vancouver, BC.

You face three choices:

  • Hostels adjacent to beaches and forests (summer only),
  • Hostels in the Vancouver city centre, and
  • Hostels in or adjacent to a skid road as unpleasant as any in North America.

Vancouver city centre hostels pros and cons

Two young adults looking out at the entrance to Vancouver Harbour from the Stanley Park seawall.

Let’s start with city centre hostels, as they are open all year and are conveniently located in downtown Vancouver.

Very importantly, you are at the hub of both bus and rapid transit to throughout the Vancouver region and within walking distance of the SeaBus, which takes you across Vancouver Harbour. You can easily access Chinatown and Stanley Park, as well as beaches on English Bay.

You'll find most Vancouver nightlife in or near the city centre. The streets near most hostels remain lively into the night, which promotes safety.

On the other hand, finding free parking can be a hassle and paid parking expensive. As in most centre cities noise intrudes.

Vancouver city centre hostel choices

Some hostel choices in downtown Vancouver >

SameSun Backpacker Lodges – super location near Robson Square puts you in centre of entertainment district.

Steps away from most clubs, Vancouver Art Gallary, Vancouver Symphony, and the most popular shopping. Walk to Canada Place, Rogers Arena, and BC Place Stadium.

Hostelling International Vancouver Centralsame excellent location (well, across the street) as the SameSun. Newer.

Hostelling International Vancouver Downtown – in a much quieter area in a residential area of the West End but still within walking distance of other hostels.

The hostel sits very near English Bay beaches and the indoor Vancouver Aquatic Centre. Vancouver's lively Davie Street LGBT commercial and entertainment area is two blocks away.

View of Kits Beach Pool across English Bay toward city centre Vancouver and the mountains beyond. Stanly Park is out of the photo to the left. The HI Vancouver Downtown hostel is the closest one to this.

A view from Kits Beach.

Walk or bike across Burrard Bridge for views of city and of the mountains beyond, as well as to reach Kits Beach and its awesome outdoor pool, the longest in Canada, which overlooks bay and city. That's Kits Beach in the first photo.

The Cambie International Hostel - Seymour - not to be confused with its Gastown location but near it..

Summer-only beach hostels

HI Vancouver Jericho Beach at Jericho Beach, with outstanding views from its grounds of city centre Vancouver and Stanley Park across English Bay and of the mountains that tower beyond these.

You’ll easily access popular Spanish Banks beach and Pacific Spirit Park for hiking. Frequent city bus service to city centre stops two blocks away.

Jericho is a well run hostel. I felt as if I was staying at an old Canadian Forces barracks and indeed I was!

Open May through September only.

Pacific Spirit Hostel

I wrote a full review of this hostel, whcih I like at lot, here >

Pacific Spirit Hostel Vancouver Pros & Cons

Also open summer only but with different start and end dates, Pacific Spirit Hostel on the University of British Columbia campas offers single university residence hall-type rooms, with washrooms down the hall on each floor..

You are within easy walking distance of Wreck Beach, the most popular clothing-optional beach in the Western Hemisphere and Pacific Spirit Park for hiking.

On several visits, I liked the friendly staff and that everything was clean, as well as its very easy access to nature.

Open mid May to early August.

"Cliff Walk, in North Vancouver, a human-built bridge along the face of a cliff, overlooking the forest below. In several places you walk on glass, which terrifies some people. Located in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park easily reached by local transit from hostels in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Cliff Walk, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, easily reached from downtown by local transit.

Skid row or skid row area hostels

Avoid the depressing eastside of downtown, whenever possible. It’s remarkable that Canada, which prides itself on its high level of social services compared to the U.S., tolerates such an environment.

According to reporter Dan Rather formally of CBS and HDTV, in this skid road, the poorest urban neighbourhood in Canada, you'll find—

  • Some 7,000 residents are hard drug addicts
  • One in 3 residents is HIV positive
  • 70% have hepatitis C

Skid row area hostels include those that mention close proximity to Chinatown and the combo rail and bus Pacific Central Station (Amtrak, Greyhound, Via Rail Canada, etc.). However, the station area is not considered especially dangerous or abjectly disturbing to be around.

Public transit directions to city centre hostels

If arriving by bus or rail, you can easily transfer to a city centre hostel described above.

Use the elevated Main Street TransLink SkyTrain station that you see (look to the left) when exiting Pacific Central Station. Take any westbound train (They'll say "Waterfront Station") to Granville Station.

If arriving by plane, take the Canada Line from across from the Vancouver International Airport domestic and international terminals to the Vancouver City Centre Station. You will easily see the elevated Canada Line Station as you exit the terminals.

If arrving late at night at the airport or via bus or rail access TransLink Vancouver for schedule information.

Enjoy your time in Vancouver!

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