Backpackers Guide to Kelowna – Canada

Gyro Beach Kelowna

Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. The Okanagan Valley is well known for it’s abundance of wineries and outdoor activities.  I personally loved Kelowna and would easily spend a summer or more living here.

What to do

Kelowna offers suitable activities for people of all ages and budgets.

Take a waterfront walk: Follow the boardwalk along the waterfront from Waterfront Park, past City Park and all the way up to Gyro Beach – a total of 4kms one-way along a flat path. If you prefer a shorter walk start from Waterfront Park and walk to the bridge near City Park; this was the nicest section of the walk.

Gyro Beach: Is a lovely beach area on Lake Okanagan, and arguably Kelowna best beach. At Gyro beach you will find volleyball courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, snack venues and rental shops, making Gyro Beach the perfect place to relax and have fun in the sun.

Gyro Beach KelownaGyro Beach KelownaVolley Ball Courts Gyro Beach Kelowna

Paul’s Tomb: Is a great area to go and hang out by Lake Okanagan. From the base of Knox Mountain you must hike about 1.5kms to reach Pauls Tomb.

Knox Mountain: Is a large national park with a number of hiking and biking trails. From Knox Mountain there are a number of viewpoints offering amazing views of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan. Well worth the visit.

James Lake: Is a campground or day use area located an hour out of Kelowna. We spent a week camping here and fell in love with the Lake. If you are camping around BC, make sure you check out my Guide on Camping Free in BC. James Lake was by far my favourite camp site.

James Lake Kelowna

Visit a winery: You can’t go to wine country and not visit a winery. There are many to choose from, the one I visited and enjoyed was called Mission Hill Winery.

Myra Canyon/Kettle Valley railway: Take the hike or bike up Myra Canyon to experience breathtaking views of the Canyon and Kettle Valley Railway trestles. This is a great activity to do from spring to fall. Recommended for the more athletic types.

Zip lining: An activity for the adventure seekers out there. Zip lining is always fun, but Kelowna has plenty of other free activities to enjoy.

Go boating on Lake Okanagan: Nothing beats a day on the water in beautiful lake Okanagan. Boat rentals are available from a number of locations in town. Enjoy swimming off the boat of other water sports including tubing and water skiing.

SUP on Lake Okanagan: Stand Up Paddle Board rentals are available from several locations on Lake Okanagan including Gyro Beach and Rotary Beach Park.

Recommended trip length

I recommend staying in Kelowna for 6 nights.

Getting to and around Kelowna

Located approximately 400 kms (240 miles) from Vancouver and 600 kms (360 miles) from Calgary on Highway 97, Kelowna is easily accessible by air, bus and car.

Kelowna does has a small airport however I recommend flying into Calgary or Vancouver and driving to Kelowna. Not only will it be cheaper, you will see more of beautiful British Columbia.

Getting around Kelowna will be easiest with a car as attractions are quite spread out. Alternatively, a bike would be a good way to get around. Kelowna does have a public transport system you could use, but I am unsure of how it works as I was driving.

Where to stay

Samesun Backpackers: Centrally located in the heart of Kelowna, Samesun offers free breakfast and Wi-Fi for guests. Samesun hostel is the most suitable option for backpackers in Kelowna.

Search for cheap accommodation options here.



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