Visiting Kelowna on a Budget

Yes, it is possible to visit Kelowna on a budget! The Okanagan, and in particular Kelowna can be an expensive area to visit during the peak season or really in any season. I live here and prices for real estate, bills, groceries, dinning out, and general fun keep going up. For a visitor it’s even more expensive when you factor in hotels in Kelowna, events and constantly dining out.

My guide features strategies that I use both at home and abroad when looking to stretch my travel dollars. There are plenty of ways to experience Kelowna while on a budget. Keep an open mind and your wallet tighter than a chimichanga.

Also see our guide for the coolest places to stay in Kelowna on a budget or more practical locations listed at the bottom of this post.

Hike for Best Views of Kelowna

The Okanagan lifestyle is all about maximizing views of the spectacular natural elements. Vineyards, orchards, lakes and mountains make for stunning backdrops in photos and IG posts. You’ll be mingling with locals and tourists going to for a hike at Myra Canyon, Knox Mountain or Kelowna Mountain to name a few. If you opt for Paul’s Tomb hike, which is insanely gorgeous, you’ll get a dose of history and a beach at the very end.

Okanagan via TheWanderfullTraveler

Beach Day

There’s nothing like a beach day in the Okanagan. Pack your own picnic and get to your favourite spot early (before 9 am) to secure the best location. I love relaxing beach side at Bertram Provincial Park located along the Lakeshore Wine Route – note that to stay near here you’d have to find a B&B rather than a hotel in Kelowna. But find your favourite beach spot to while away the day. Consider more popular beaches like Gyro and Rotary for SUP or paddle boat rentals and are also nearby restaurants, grocery stores and shopping.

Kelowna Cruise

If you want to experience the water but don’t want to fork our the money to rent a boat and maybe paddling yourself out on the water isn’t your thing? The next best and most relaxing experience is the Kelowna Cruise. For about $60 per person you can experience Kelowna from the water with option meal package and drinks.

Bike South East Kelowna

In 2020 during lockdown I discovered my love of ebikes and in particular ebiking in South East Kelowna. If you’re a bit more atheltically inclined than me I suggest biking them hills to wine tastings and distilleries that are tucked in this area. Many tourists only get to these local gems if they are on a tour. You get them for free by visiting this guide! Google Map is included. Major score! You’re welcome.

Where to Shop

If you’ve opted for an AirBnB and you’ve got some kind of kitchenette at your disposal there are some local pro tips for grocery shopping where your money goes further while also spending your dollars at locally owned and operated establishments. It’s called responsible travel ya’ll.

  1. Consider shopping at Lakeview Market for things like meat & veg.

  2. Go direct for wine and beer. The numerous wineries and breweries tend to have it all at a better rate than your liquor store. PS the foodie card includes a few breweries!

  3. Head to the Kelowna Farmers’ Market for the best local produce and meals that are in season.

  4. Guisachan Village is a one stop shop. You can get your local fruit & veg, meat, bread, chocolate, liquor and of course seafood. There are plenty of local shops in this strip mall area that services the locals and is know for its great food.
Kelowna Boats
Downtown Kelowna Stuart Park
Kelowna, BC waterfront park in early spring

People Watch at These Stops

I love to people watch no matter where I travel. A good cup of coffee, a busy street or beach and a beautiful day make the perfect mid-morning to slowly unravel the day. One of my all time favourite places to people watch is actually on a windy day at Rotary Beach Park when the kite surfers come out to play. 

Additionally, I enjoy a bustling downtown core with the buzz of the weekend with a coffee in my hand from any of my favourite local cafe stops. Sit at a fountain or wander the waterfront for a romantic jaunt. Pause at the ice rink no matter the time of year for skateboarding. Adorable dogs always make an appearance along the yacht club walk plus keep an eye out for the flyboarders (water jet packs), parasails, and float planes. If you opt for any budget hotels in Kelowna all this is in walking distance.

Airbnbs vs Hotels in Kelowna

Hotels in Kelowna vs AirBnBs

Determining wether you want to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb can alter your entire vacation experience. I prefer AirBnBs in order to get more of a local experience. However, AirBnB and VRBO prices are now neck and neck with hotels if not exceeding the classic hotel experience. Book early no matter your taste in accommodations as the Okanagan is a popular summer destination.

Hotels in Kelowna are sparse and spread out throughout the city. Downtown is a coveted location for convenience as most of Kelowna restaurants are there. This enables you to save on taxis and walk everywhere. However, if you are looking to wine taste you’ll need to e-bike, taxi, shuttle, van tour or DD to take you. Stay within the winery neighbourhoods and you could easily bike or walk to experience a good amount but this would require an AirBnB stay. Here are some stays that suit either goal but for less.

Budget City Stays

Hotel Zed: $100-$300+ depending on season but is downtown and within view of the park/beach/lake.

Kelowna International Hostel: $80+ Near the hospital yet within walking distance from downtown or the quaint Pandsoy Village area.

Prestige Beach House by Best Western: $200+ located in between the highway and downtown.

Playa Del Sol Resort Penthouse: $550+ but sleeps 6 and is located in the Pandosy across from beaches.

Rural Budget Stays

UBC Okanagan Campus: $90+ approx. Enjoy campus life within a short drive from Lake Country.

Pandosy Luxury Home: $350+ per night for 4 would make a fantastic stay near beaches, dining & shopping.

Airstream AirBnB in Wine Country: $184+ within walking or biking distance to Kelowna’s best wineries and distilleries.

Myra Canyon Ranch + Converted School Bus RV: $100-$500+ on a ranch near hiking, horse riding, etc

What are your favourite things to do in Kelowna on a budget?
Do you prefer hotels in Kelowna or the Airbnb experience?


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