Cairns is one of the most underrated cities in all of Australia. With its unparalleled natural beauty, the city is home to diverse reefs, ancient rainforests, rich culture and a DELICIOUS food scene.

As the gateway to the famous Great Barrier Reef, this Aussie town sees a lot of tourists passing through. Many travellers just see Cairns as a gateway city but it is so much more! This gorgeous little city deserves a few days of its own.

With a lot of backpackers heading to Cairns, that means there are a lot of hostels to choose from. Too many hostels to choose from sounds like a good problem to have right? And it is! But deciding which one is best for you can take time and research.

So, let me give you that time back and I’ve done the research! I’ve compiled the 20 best hostels in Cairns for 2024 and what makes each unique.

No matter what kind of traveller you are,  I am certain that you will stumble across the perfect hostel match for yourself Whether you’re after a chill environment or an activities-filled place to meet other travellers – there’s a hostel for you.

So, let me take you through everything I know about the best hostels in Cairns!

Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Cairns

Best Hostels in Cairns
More than just the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef- our list of the 20 best hostels in Cairns will help you travel Cairns like a boss

The 20 Best Hostels in Cairns

We wrote this guide with one thing in mind – to help you find an awesome hostel while backpacking Cairns! Our hostel reviews are the best on the web, and we accomplish by doing two things.

  1. We take the highest-reviewed hostels in HostelWorld. In Cairns there are dozens of hostels, so we pluck the best so you never have to worry about booking at a crap hostel.
  2. To take our list even a step further, we then categorize the best hostels in Cairns by different categories. Some people travel solo, others as couples. Some travel to party, others to work. Whatever your travel style, our list will show you exactly the best hostel for your travel-needs.

Here are the 20 best hostels in Cairns, Australia…

View of tropical city of Cairns

Traveller’s Oasis – Overall Best Hostel in Cairns

Travellers Oasis Best Hostel in Cairns

Without a shadow of a doubt the overall best hostel in Cairns is Traveller’s Oasis. As the best hostel in Cairns in 2024 Traveller’s Oasis is the perfect package deal. Guests have access to the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool, guest kitchen, free WiFi AND free parking too! Voted as the best hostel in Australia in 2018 by HostelWorld it’s not just us who are inclined to think Traveller’s Oasis is something rather special! The place is spotless and the whole space is cozy, homely yet spacious and bright. The guest kitchen is a real blessing as we all know how pricey eating out can be in Oz! Relaxed, and super welcoming, you will fit right in at Traveller’s Oasis.

Dreamtime Travellers Rest

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Best Hostels in Cairns

Dreamtime Travellers Rest is a belter of a youth hostel in Cairns, ideal for solo travellers. There’s just so many opportunities to find fellow wanders; at the swimming pool, at the bar, in the guest kitchen, even while doing your laundry! Super chilled out and oh so welcoming you won’t feel lonely at Dreamtime Travellers Rest, that’s a guarantee. If you are a solo traveller because you like your own space that’s totally cool. Dreamtime Travellers Rest has a great selection of private rooms so the introvert side of you is catered for too!

Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort – Best Hostel for Couples in Cairns

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort Best Hostel for Couples in Cairns

If you are travelling with your lover and want a touch of privacy but also have total hostel FOMO panic not, it’s all gonna be ok. The best hostel for couples in Cairns is Gilligans Backpacker Hotel & Resort. It is just that, a hotel. Gilligan’s has all the facilities and stylishness of a hotel with the price tag and laid-back feel of a hostel. Win-win all round! If you and bae wanna keep your beach bods in check while in Cairns you will love the fact that Gilligan’s has a free to use fitness centre! Parties here can get pretty wild, in a good way; best brace yourselves!

Cairns Central YHA

Cairns Central YHA Best Hostels in Cairns

If you and bae prefer a more low-key kinda hostel then Cairns YHA is the perfect hostel for you. As a highly recommended hostel in Cairns, YHA Central offers free WiFi, free parking, a pool table and more. The rooms are comfortable and cosy, most importantly super clean. Cairns Central YHA is just a stone’s throw away from Cairns Esplanade where you’ll find some of the hottest bars and clubs in the city. If a BNO is not on the cards then you and your lover can settle down in the common room, veg out and catch up on some TV time.

Mad Monkey Backpackers

Mad Monkey Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

Mad Monkey Backpackers is a top hostel in Cairns and is perfect for all you party animals out there. The vibe at Mad Monkey is second to none, it’s hard to describe so you’ve just gotta go and experience it for yourself. The Mad Monkey bar it totally lit and now they even have a gourmet pizza oven. No, eating is not cheating at Mad Monkey! Lots of travellers insist that Mad Monkey is a flashpackers, due to its stylish design and epic amenities but it’s still super affordable which is brilliant news for all! Clean, bright, spacious and secure. What’s not to love about Mad Monkey?! Party central!

Mad Monkey Village – Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Cairns

Njoy! Traveller's Resort Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Cairns

Digital nomads love a home from home and Mad Monkey Village is just that. As the best hostel for digital nomads in Cairns Mad Monkey Village has free WiFi and plenty of space to work in. Newly renovated and with a lagoon style pool Mad Monkey Village is a treat for digital nomads. The staff are really accommodating and will help you out where they can. Digital nomads live on the road so amenities like the guest kitchen, washing machine and fitness centre are appreciated. Once the working day is done be sure to hit up the hostel bar.

Bounce Cairns – Best Hostels with a Private Room in Cairns

The Northern Greenhouse Best Hostels in Cairns

Bounce Cairns is a highly recommended hostel in Cairns with a heap of freebies to enjoy. Free breakfast (hell yeah!), free WiFi, free parking, and free tea and coffee, Bounce Cairns is fantastic value for money. They have mixed, female-only and male-only dorms so you can stay how you like. Bounce Cairns has private rooms too that are super affordable and come with a TV and kitchenette. Relax and welcome if you are looking for a super chilled out hostel in Cairns you will be stoked with your choice of Bounce Cairns. FYI, the swimming pool is the icing on the cake with this one!

Tropic Days Backpackers

Tropic Days Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

Coming in joint first place for best hostel in Cairns in 2024 is Tropic Days Backpackers; we like to give you choice you see! This fantastic Cairns backpackers hostel has everything you could wish for in a hostel and more! The swimming pool is a total bonus, as is the unlimited free WiFi. The staff at Tropic Days are some of the nicest you could find; chilled out and helpful, they’re the perfect hostel crew. You honestly feel right at home the moment you walk in the door. If you fancy a lazy day you can indulge in all the ‘normal’ things you miss out on while travelling. Hang out in the TV room with your hostel buddies, get cooking home comforts in the guest kitchen or even get through that pile of laundry!

Globetrotters International – Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Cairns

Globetrotters International Best Hostel for Solo Traveller

Australia is one of the most sociable nations on earth, you’re never too far away from a new friend. This is totally true of Globetrotters International, the best hostel for solo travellers in Cairns. It is true that people can make or break a hostel experience and time after time the people at Globetrotters make for an incredible stay. Whether it be the super lovely staff or the awesome crowd of people it attracts, Globetrotters International is just a great place to meet and mingle. The hostel lays on a family BBQ two times a week which is the ideal time to put yourself out there as a solo traveller. Globetrotters International has all the facilities you could ask for; namely laundry and free WiFi!

Reef Hostel – Best Cheap Hostel in Cairns #1

Reef Hostel Best Cheap Hostel in Cairns
Reef Hostel is my top pick for best cheap hostel in Cairns.

Reef Hostel is the best cheap hostel in Cairns and offers insane value for money. This place even has its own swimming pool! Small and homely there is a great social vibe here that money really can’t buy. Naturally being on the cheaper end of the price scale this place is nothing flashy but it does a sterling job. The garden area is the perfect place just to laze around and catch a tan. When the sun starts to set start up a BBQ and crack open the beers. Reef Backpackers is a top hostel in Cairns and is right at the heart of the city so there’s no need to fork out on taxis at all!

Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
Aether Backpack

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

View on Osprey View on REI

Nomads Cairns Hostel & Serpent Bar – Best Cheap Hostel in Cairns #2

Nomads Cairns Hostel & Serpent Bar Best Hostels in Cairns
Looking for another solid budget option? Nomads Cairns is among the best cheap hostels in Cairns.

The best budget hostel in Cairns is Nomads. A little pricier than dirt cheap but either way a total steal. The Nomads hostels are something of an institution in Australia and New Zealand so why not initiate yourself into the family in Cairns? The Nomads bar, Serpent Bar is one of the best backpacker hangouts in Cairns so be sure to head down and grab a beer or two. They offer free bus and train station pickups which is a total bonus, especially for broke backpackers! Nomads is a super fun and affordable youth hostel in Cairns, well worth considering!

Asylum Cairns – Best Cheap Hostel in Cairns #3

Asylum Cairns Best Hostels in Cairns
One more great cheap hostel in Cairns is Asylum…

An asylum in all the positive senses of the word, Asylum is a great budget hostel in Cairns. Super affordable, well located, clean and comfortable you’ll be hard-pressed to find a complaint about Asylum Cairns. They even offer a free airport transfer! The team runs an all-you-can-eat BBQ every Monday night for just $5. Not to be missed! Most dorm beds come with their own reading light and plug socket which is a total bonus. No fighting over who gets to charge their phone next to your dorm mates! FYI Asylum Cairns is a BYOB hostel, let the good times roll!

Calypso Inn – Best Party Hostel in Cairns

Calypso Inn Best Party Hostel in Cairns

The best party hostel in Cairns is, of course, Calypso Inn. Probably the coolest hostel in Cairns, Calypso Inn has a pumping bar called The Zanzibar, an awesome swimming pool and a pool table too.  The Zanzibar lays on different entertainment each night, be sure to check at reception to see what’s on during your stay. Calypso Inn offers free WiFi to all guests and is available in every corner of the hostel. Meaning when you’re rolling around in bed hungover like no tomorrow you can weep down FaceTime to your buddies at home from the comfort of your bed! It’s the little things that make a difference, right?!

Castaways Backpackers

Castaways Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

Castaways Backpackers is a highly recommended hostel in Cairns that is ideal for digital nomads. With a great social vibe but without the rowdy party crew, Castaways offers digital nomads the opportunity to get a heap of work done in a quiet environment then relax and unwind with fellow travellers. The dorms are bright and spacious and the lack of bunks makes the place feel a bit less sterile. The guest kitchen is ideal for digital nomads looking to cut costs and the swimming pool is a great incentive to get the workload over and done with. Castaways is just 10-minutes from the Esplanade so you are right in the heart of the action in Cairns.

Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Hide Yo’ Money!

More Best Hostels in Cairns

Want to stay in the party district or maybe somewhere more laidback? Decide on where to stay in Cairns before booking your hostel. You don’t want to end up miles away from the hotspots you wanted to explore!

Travellers Paradise

Geckos Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

If you are looking for a quiet, retreat of a hostel then Travellers Paradise is the place for you. Situated just 600m from the centre of Cairns you could not get a better location if you tried. Travellers Paradise is a simple youth hostel in Cairns that has everything that you could need. Free tea and coffee throughout the day is a nice touch and the hostel garden is a real treat. The hostel has its own swimming pool which is the perfect place to hang out with your hostel mates. FYI, Travellers Paradise is a booze-free hostel so if you’re looking for a party perhaps look elsewhere.

The Jack Backpackers

The Jack Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

The Jack Backpackers is an increasingly popular youth hostel in Cairns that has its own bar and restaurant. Genuinely, you don’t need to leave the place throughout the course of your stay, this place has it all! It must be said that the free evening meals help give The Jack even greater value for money but too help you to meet and mingle with your hostel buddies. Invariably once dinner is over the crew hit The Jack’s bar and then roll on out into town. The Jack Backpackers has the perfect hostel vibe, is super clean and the beds are comfy AF. What more could you want?!

JJ’s Backpackers

JJ's Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

JJ’s Backpackers is a much loved and highly recommended hostel in Cairns that sees travellers return time after time. With the right balance of party vibes and relaxed feel, JJ’s Backpackers is a solid all-rounder. Guests can chill out by the poolside, in the guest kitchen or even in their spacious dorm. There is always something on at JJ’s whether it be a BBQ or a pizza night.  The staff here are wonderful and are happy to help you with your onward travels. Be sure to swing by the hostel’s tours and travel desk to wangle a bargain on your next Australian adventure.

Caravella Backpackers

Caravella Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

Caravella Backpackers is a top hostel in Cairns that overlooks the city waterfront. This place offers great value for money, guests are welcome to make the most of the free airport shuttle service and the nightly meal deals at the Caravella restaurant. There is an up-market feel to Caravella which makes you feel as if you are in a ‘proper’ holiday resort, rather than a budget hostel in Cairns. Just a 10-minute walk from some of Cairns’ best bars, cafes and shops Caravella is a fantastic hostel well worth considering.

Cairns City Backpackers

Cairns City Backpackers Best Hostels in Cairns

Cheap and cheerful, Cairns City Backpackers is the best hostel in Cairns if you are just looking for a place to crash. No frills, nothing flashy, CCB is a brilliant budget hostel in Cairns that ticks all the boxes. Free parking, free WiFi, a guest kitchen and even a little swimming pool, Cairns City Backpackers is a bit of a hidden gem. A total saving grace if you find yourself nearly skint in Cairns. If that is the case, be sure to have a gander at the hostel’s jobs board. You may just be able to get cashed up quick! The staff can help you out with where to look for work too.

Koala Beach Resort

Koala Beach Resort Best Hostels in Cairns

Cheap AF and with everything you could really ask for in a budget hostel in Cairns Koala Beach Resort is a great option for all. Whether you are hitting up Cairns with your crew or going it solo you’ll feel right at home at Koala Beach Resort. Just 500m from Cairns Esplanade and the Lagoon, Koala Beach Resort couldn’t be in a better location if it tried. The staff totally make Koala Beach Resort. Mostly locals, they are more than happy to point you in the right direction and let you know what’s on in Cairns during your stay.

What to Pack for your Cairns Hostel

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out our definitive Hostel Packing list for our top packing tips!

Why you should travel to Cairns

There you have it! The 20 best hostels in Cairns, Australia!

We know that with the help of this epic review, you’ll be able to easily find a hostel in Cairns, and save some money while backpacking Australia.

Being as that Australia is swarming with other backpackers, you do right to book your hostel certainly before you get your boots (I mean sandals) on the ground. Don’t miss out on some of the best hostels in Cairns!

Really where you stay makes a difference. Again, the goal is for you to have an excellent backpacking experience on the cheap.

The art of finding budget backpacker accommodation in Cairns should hopefully be a whole hell of a lot eaiser now that you have read my entire guide to the best hostels in Cairns for 2024! Good on ya!

So, which of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia are you going to book? The best hostel for Digital Nomads? Or maybe the best party hostel in Cairns?

Remember, if you can’t pick, we recommend booking at our best hostel in Cairns for 2024 – Traveller’s Oasis. Best of luck on your journey to Cairns and beyond…

Travellers Oasis Best Hostel in Cairns

FAQ about Hostels in Cairns

Here are some questions backpackers ask about hostels in Cairns.

How much does a hostel cost in Cairns?

The average price of hostels in Cairns can range from $19 – $28+ per night. Of course, the private rooms are on the higher end of the scale than the dorm beds.

What are the best hostels in Cairns for couples?

Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort is our best hostel for couples in Cairns. It has all the facilities and stylishness of a hotel with the price tag and laid-back feel of a hostel.

What is the best hostel in Cairns near the airport?

While there aren’t any hostels in Cairns that are particularly close to the airport, some offer airport shuttles or will help you arrange transport. Check the Caravella Backpackers, just a 10-minute walk from some of Cairns’ best bars, cafes, and shops.

Travel Safety Tips for Cairns

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

More Epic Hostels in Australia

Hopefully by now you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Cairns.

Planning an epic trip all across Australia?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

For more cool hostel guides around Australia, check out:

Over to you

By now I hope our epic guide to the best hostels in Cairns has helped you choose the perfect hostel for your adventure!

If you’re planning on travelling further, you can be (almost always) sure that you’ll find a great place to stay wherever you are. There are so many amazing hostels all over Australia, each of them offering a comfy bed, a welcoming vibe, and a chance to meet like-minded travellers – you’ll be well looked after!

If you think we’ve missed anything or have any further thoughts, hit us up in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to Cairns and Australia?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!