Located in Alberta’s Rockies, on the southwestern border of Alberta province, Banff is a small and picturesque town that enchants its natural surroundings. Situated within Banff National Park, this resort town is a popular destination spot for many tourists and backpackers who travel to explore the treasures of Canada while staying in some of the best hostels in Banff.
What makes this small town a favoured destination among travellers are the mountainous surroundings and the high number of hot springs marking the area. The peaks of Mountain Rundle and Mountain Cascade, which are part of the Rocky Mountains, dominate the skyline. The wild and apparently untouched environment allows for plenty of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking and skiing.
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Scattered on over 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles), the Banff National Park is home to various wildlife specimens, including elk and grizzly bears. Famous for its breathtaking mountain views, vibrant lakes and outdoor adventures of all kinds, this is the main reason why tourists are attracted to this area. This is, in fact, Canada’s first national park offering some of the world’s most picturesque destinations.
In terms of attractions, the Banff region – although small, has many to offer. There are several mountain regions, including Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain and Mount Norquay. There are various ski slopes you need to use, as well as mountain bike trails you can explore. Other tourist attractions are the Banff Gondola and Banff Upper Hot Springs, both of which are located on Sulphur Mountain. Lake Minnewanka is only 6 minutes from the town, offering a day-use area and various activity opportunities. Motorboat rentals, food trailers and a Lake Cruise are all available at the marina.
This guide is perfect for YOU, when you…
are tired of crappy hostels!
want a social Hostel to actually meet people
are happy to spend $1 to $2 more for a much better experience
Despite being such a popular nature spot, Banff also offers some modern buildings and shops that are of great use to people who decide to travel there. Namely, the main street, called Banff Avenue, has plenty of restaurants, cafés and boutiques, as well as souvenir shops that we’re sure you’re going to enjoy. Whether you’re travelling for the unique mountain terrains, the rich cultural heritage, or the tasty Canadian cuisine, we are sure that you won’t be disappointed.
Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check-Out time is before 11:00 (11am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.
Backpacking tips for Banff: Before you set out on your next backpacking journey, here are some things about Banff that will help you get the most out of your travelling experience:
15 years ago, Banff established a local bus transportation system that made it easier for tourists to navigate the area. Three routes connecting the town, including Tunnel Mountain, Banff Springs Hotel and Banff Gondola, with bus lines available approximately one hour apart.
There are several organised half-day tours in the region, including a discovery trip to Lake Louise and Morane Lake, Heart Creek Canyon, and a handful of private and seasonal tours available to all visitors.
The Canadian Dollar is the currency used here, so we recommend exchanging your money before you begin your trip. Although there are plenty of exchange offices, the rates might not always be convenient, so make sure to have some CAD cash in your pockets.
Travelling outside the peak tourist season, around July and August, will help you explore the region better. In addition, you can choose to visit some of the most popular spots later in the day, since early morning is usually the most crowded time.
Although the Banff bus system is of great help, renting a car allows you to explore the region more conveniently. It will also help you get anywhere you want on your own schedule, meaning that planning your daily activities will be entirely in your hands.
For the ultimate travel and accommodation experience, we advise that you consider staying in some neighboring towns. Although there are several of the best hostels in Banff you can stay at, if you’re willing to rent a car for a more convenient commuting experience, some closely-located towns might offer you a better price.
But first, let us explore some of the best accommodation options in town.
HI Banff Alpine Centre - Hostel offers a cozy accommodation experience by offering both private and dorm rooms. Located just 4 minutes away from the center of Banff town, It also boasts some of the most stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. Guests can spend their free time in the on-site café and bar, and try some local specialities in the full-service restaurant, HI Banff Alpine Center provides. And if you wish to mingle with fellow backpackers, you can also play free darts, foosball, or billiards.
A free Wi-Fi service is available throughout the property, as well as a fully equipped communal kitchen area. You can use the free bus tickets that the hostel provides, discounted ski packages, bike rental, and rafting tickets. With all the given information, it’s no wonder that this is considered one of the best hostels in Banff.
Location: This hostel is situated a five-minute drive outside of the town of Banff in a beautiful mountain setting. It is within 1 mile of Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and Bow Falls Viewpoint is 20 minutes by foot from the hostel.
Situated in the very center of Banff, only 15 minutes drive away from Mount Norquay Ski Resort, Banff International Hostel offers several types of rooms, featuring private and en-suite bathrooms equipped with all the basic amenities. There is a free Wi-Fi service available all around the property and a fully equipped kitchen where you can prepare your own meals.
The nearest bus station is only 2 minutes away, and the popular ski resorts are conveniently located. There is a 24-hour front desk, where you can book various trips and tours to help you explore the area.
Location: This hostel is located in Banff centre. Mount Norquay Ski Resort is 15 minutes’ drive away.
Being one of the best hostels in Banff, Samesun Banff provides every traveler with an amazing opportunity to witness some of the most stunning sceneries in the town’s center. It provides spacious dorm rooms with en-suite bathrooms, all of which face towards the mountains. There is an on-site bar where you can get food and drinks and a common room where you can unwind and spend your free time.
Both Banff Gondola and Banff Springs Golf Course are 2 km away, and there are a variety of other outdoor activities you can enjoy nearby, such as hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Location: This hostel is located on Banff National Park, just 5 minutes’ walk from Banff’s shops and bars. Recreational activities include Banff Gondola Mountain Experience just 2 km away. Banff Springs Golf Course is also just 2 km from this lodge.
If you’re willing to indulge in a short commuting trip to reach the natural attractions Banff has to offer, you can also choose to stay in some of the following hostels:
HI Lake Louise
HI Castle Mountain Hostel
4. HI Lake Louise
Located in Lake Louise, amidst the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park, HI Lake Louise accommodation offers several room options that will cater to your needs. There is also an on-site café, two well-equipped kitchens, as well as private storage that all guests can use.
The fireplace in the hotel’s common room is the major gathering spot for everyone willing to meet fellow travellers. Lake Lousie can be reached within 8 minutes, while Samson Mall is only a 5-minute walking distance away. Staying here will provide you with the opportunity to indulge in a variety of outdoor activities and explore the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Situated between Banff and Lake Louise, HI Castle Mountain Hostel offers all the convenience the best hostels in Banff offer in terms of location. The beautiful Johnston Canyon can be reached in less than 10 minutes drive, while the Rockbound Lake Trail is only 50 m away.
There are both male and female dormitory options available, all of which have access to a shared bathroom. There is a shared kitchen area you can use to prepare your own meals, and a spacious garden where you can meet and hang with fellow backpackers.
Located just under 100 km (approximately 60 miles) from the Banff National Park, Dreamcatcher Hostel accommodation enjoys all the beauty the small town of Golden provides. They offer both private, family and dorm rooms, with en-suite and shared bathroom facilities.
The property has a large kitchen and common area, which guests can use, offering cozy seating and a warm fireplace. All popular landmarks can be reached within 40 minutes to a maximum of a 2-hour drive, which is not inconvenient if you’re renting a car.
With this, we finish our list of the best hostels in Banff and its surrounding area. So, pack your warm clothes and skis, re-read our list of backpacking tips, and rest assured that you’re prepared for the ultimate adventure experience in the most scenic area in Canada.
What about the cheapest hostels in Banff?
Of course, there are always cheap hostels. But how do you actually find them? When you are traveling on a shoe-string budget and you want to save every dollar, there are ways to find the cheapest places in Banff.
Open Hostelz.com with a full list of all hostels in Banff
add your dates
Order the listings by price
Simple as that.
Hostelz.com is a price comparison site for hostels. They list every single one in the world and tells you exactly which website is cheaper to use.
Another smart Tip: Check what is actually included, and what is excluded. Take a closer look at the location, too. A further location might mean more costs in transport.
We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible! All of Banff best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish and good hostels, secure your room/ bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.
The coolest Hostel App you need comes as well from Hostelworld. It gives you super cool features like you can contact your hostel mates beforehand and make plans together. Find more details in our review of the app
Not all hostels in Banff are necessarily safe, especially the one that offers the cheapest price in sketchy areas. It might be an illegal hostel, without proper license to run and safety measures.
So in all fairness, it is best to check out Hostelgeeks.com because we feature safe hostels in Banff. You can find backpacker hostel with top ratings! Keep a close eye on the overall ratings on booking platforms!
If you are not secure, you can also send us an email and ask us!
How much are hostels in Banff?
Hostels in Banff cost 24€ – 34€ per night for a bed in a dorm. A private room starts from 75€ up to 107€ per night. This is a rough average just to give you an idea.
The closest international airport is in Calgary. It’s about a 90-minute drive (145 km or 90 miles) from the Calgary International Airport to Banff. Flights from across Canada and around the world connect Calgary and Banff with travellers from every corner of the globe.
We use Skyscanner and Omio.com to find cheap flights and good connections all over the globe.
Skyscanner has a bunch of cool features like Multi-City Trip. Instead of doing this research step-by-step, Skyscanner offers this flight planning tool.
Do you have any questions left, maybe doubts? Then please leave it in the comment below. We are very keen to help you - and actually you would even do us a favor!
Your question will help us to improve this Banff guide.
Last note: Our commitment
This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter, and find the best place on a budget! We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We are constantly updating all our guides to keep them as fresh and accurate as possible.
Safe travels, The Hostelgeeks
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