Europe has a lot of hostels. Like, a lot. Even the lesser ventured areas of Europe still offer the intrepid explorer a whole range of accommodations (at cheaper prices) to rest their weary brain.
So that’s why I’ve rounded up this list of the best hostels in Europe and it truly features a bit of everything! From famous European hostels to unique offerings to the cheapest, it’s really got something for everyone.
Even better – and something I’m particularly proud of – is the area covered! This is a post about hostels in Europe that actually covers Europe. It ain’t just Paris, London, and Amsterdam: east, south, north, and west – we got some of it all! (Except Russia… I skipped Russia.)
But hold the phone: there’s more! (Oh, yes.) Before we even get to the roundup, I wrote a full guide to hostelling in Europe just for the newbies.
If that doesn’t interest you, I’ll give you a convenient link to skip the humdrum, but if you’re new to staying in hostels, there are tips and information in there to make your first youth hostel adventure as smooth as a German man’s shaved chest.
It’s all about that smart-casual.
Skip to the roundup of the Best Hostels in Europe!
- What is a Hostel? The Overview.
- Hostel Life: Like Real Life but with More Shenanigans
- What is a Hostel in Europe Like? The Specifics
- How to Book Hostels in Europe
- The Best Hostels in Europe from Our Roundups
- The Top Hostels in Europe as Per Real Travellers
- The Best Party Hostels in Europe for Gettin’ Down
- Some Unique Hostels in Europe
- Some More Reading Before Hostelling in Europe
- Closing the Guide to Europe’s Hostels
What is a Hostel? The Overview.
A hostel, at its core, is accommodation built for travellers, by travellers. It doesn’t always work out like that, but that’s still the general premise. Low-budget accommodation that celebrates the backpacker life.
Staying in a hostel means staying in a meeting point for travellers. Prices are kept cheaper and emphasis is placed on creating a space for people to gather.
Although the vibe changes, commonly shared features of most hostels around the world include:
- Shared sleeping spaces (dorms)
- Common areas
- Tourist information for the local area
- Events or meals to gather people
- Drinks (also food but booze)
- Yoga… there’s always yoga
Who Stays at Hostels?
That’s a tougher question. Rather than saying who stays in hostels, it would be more apt to say that the target audience is backpackers. The actual types of people staying in hostels vary wildly on the hostel itself and what part of the world it’s in. Kathmandu brings in a lot of crazy; Jerusalem also brings in a lot of crazy… but in a different way.
The intended audience, however, is backpackers. I even have hostel owners often inform me (on the sly) that they much prefer the crowd brought in from Hostelworld over Booking.com – represent!
You’re going to find a little of all walks of life sleeping in hostels. Different cultural backgrounds, ages, financial nettings… pineapple-pizza-people, GTFO-pineapple-pizza-people, “I don’t care, just get in my mouth.” pizza-people. It’s a wide net.
Of this terrific collection of fine specimens, most will be younger – say under the age of 35 but generally somewhere in their 20s (some hostels even have an age limit; a practice I strongly take issue with) – and most will be on some form of budget-friendly travels, long or short-term. Some will be more experienced than you at travelling, some will not…
You know how in old fantasy games you always go to the inn first. There you can collect information, hear hot rumours, get heathenishly intoxicated on mead, and start tavern brawls with other equal renegade swashbuckling sorts.
Yep, that’s what a hostel is – the inn of the traveller world. You may even come away with a new party member!
What are Hostels Like? The Facilities Offered.
There’s no one-true guide to hostels and their onboard amenities, but since this a guide to Europe’s hostels, let’s talk about the facilities you’ll find there. Most of this is pretty standard and if your chosen European hostel lacks it, they were probably just the outlier.
Features common to most good hostels in Europe (and many places elsewhere) include:
- Sleeping quarters – I’ll go over this more in-depth in the next section but this could cover anything from a capsule-style 30-bed dormitory all the way up to a private room.
- Kitchen – And generally fully-stocked too! (With cookware, not food.) Cooking for yourself is going to be a crucial tool in mitigating the hostel costs in Europe.
- Lockers – Generally standard and included unless the place is super grungy.
- Shared bathroom and shower spaces – Could be inside the dorm or outside. In my experience, they’re usually unisex.
- Bar – If not a bar, then probably some alcohol somewhere on the premises. But probably a bar.
- Laundry room – And nearly always costs extra.
- WiFi – Yes, hostels in Europe have WiFi. “Free WiFi” is not an advertisable perk in 2021 anymore.
- Chillout space – Spaces range from meh to top-tier tripper den ambience! Usually, you’ll find at least one of the following: books, games, hippy-philosophical quotes about the freedom of the road, pool tables, hammocks, Tibetan Buddhist flags, instruments.
Sleeping in Hostels
So this is one of the key reasons why hostels can, and do, offer cheaper rates for accommodation – dormitories i.e. shared sleeping spaces ranging from as little as four peeps to an excessive number of peeps. No two hostel dormitories are the same but there are similarities.
The standard is bunk beds and therein lies the number one tip for staying in hostels: nab the bottom bunk. I’ll go into this more in the ‘Pros and Cons of Hostel Life’ section, but if you’re new to the hostel experience, you’ll quickly learn why. They give you a bit more privacy, easier access, and you’ll feel less like you’re in a storm at sea if your bunkmate likes to engage in mortal combat with ninja-pirates in their dreams.
Although much more common in developed Asian countries, capsule-style dorms are making a rise in popularity in newer hostels in Europe. They’re kinda like a room in a room! A small enclosed space with a bed and usually with curtains so you can read a book or phone-veg in relative peace.
Grungier hostels aimed at people who prefer to use their hard-earned travel budget on smokable delights may even eschew the beds altogether in exchange for a simple mattresses-on-the-floor scenario. Honestly, this is infinitely better than bunk beds – simple and effective!
And, for those who prefer their privacy, or have a companion to share with, many hostels do offer private rooms. They won’t be as expensive as a hotel, but they will be more expensive than the dorm. The added perk is that you’ll still get to experience the full vibe of backpacker-centric accommodation.
Other Hostel Facilities
Some extra things that are definitely worth keeping an eye out for when booking hostels in Europe. Some will help you save cash, some are awesome, and some are just my personal faves:
- Free breakfast – Definitely not an “always” but something to keep a lookout for when booking a hostel.
- Free tea and coffee – See above. Free coffee is always a win (even though it’ll be shit coffee).
- Hostel events – Sometimes at an extra charge, sometimes free, hostel events are common and nearly always social. Could be anything from a pub crawl to a walking tour to a games night to a pyjama party. Hell, I stayed at a place in Israel where they ran a hummus workshop
- Dorm bed amenities – A personal light, charging port, and sometimes even a shelf by your bed is absolutely legendary
- Free towels – Sometimes hostels offer a towel for free (as they should) and sometimes they’ll charge you extra. If they charge you, I’d say it’s free game to steal it when you checkout. Better yet, skip the nonsense and just travel with microfibre towel.
- The vibe – Not so much a facility, but it warrants a special mention. Staying in the right hostel can make or break your trip. Know your vibe and seek it.
If you prefer your travellers with dreads and tattoos, find where they congregate. If you want to get loose and dance to techno in Berlin, choose a party hostel. If you’re a bit insane, well… probably look for dreads and tattoos again.
Are Hostels Safe?
Yes. Super duper Oompa Loompa safe!
I’d say the only real issue you need to be wary of in hostels is theft. Be mindful of your valuables and the rest will be Willy Wonka.
That’s not to say that hostels are a hotspot for theft; more just that jerks are everywhere. Besides, you’re a traveller now! Mindfulness of your surroundings and perceptivity is gonna become second nature to you: it’s safe travelling 101!
The best part about traveller-centric accommodation is that you’re roommates are travellers! Generally speaking, you’re going to find that the feeling in hostels in chill and people are open-hearted and only looking for good vibes, just the same as you. No one is gonna shank you in your sleep or give you a wedgie when you enter the common room.
BUT (there’s always a but), I’m a dude i.e., I have a penis. The follow-up question really ought to be “Are hostels safe for women?” It’s an unfortunate truth of travel that the experience is not equal among the genders.
Yes, hostels are safe for women. In my years or travelling, I am yet to hear a single account of a woman having that sort of experience in a hostel. However, I guarantee you that isolated incidents have occurred.
Although sleeping in a shared space actually increases the safety, many hostels still offer female-only dormitories. There are even female-only hostels! Do only what you’re comfortable with and remember:
Good vibes only.
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Hostel Life: Like Real Life but with More Shenanigans
So now that you know what to expect from hostels themselves, what’s the lifestyle like? You could think of it as a giant sharehouse, but that wouldn’t be quite fair.
In a sharehouse, most people have lives, and jobs, and adulting to attend to. In a hostel, people are there primarily with the purpose of travelling. That means that, in a way, hostel life is their life.
Conversations between strangers are sparked on a dime and making friends is easy! Most nights present some sort of opportunity to get messy, even if it’s just drunk ‘Shithead’. (Tip number two for staying in hostels: get used to playing cards.)
It’s a shared space but not even the most communal places in the world that I’ve crashed at don’t compare. Whether you’re in the mood or not, someone is always around.
Of course, however, that means that sharing a space requires a level of shared respect.
I’m gonna drill this one in because it’s of particular importance to me. Don’t be a douchecanoe.
It’s a shared space. Everybody paid the same to be there and everybody deserves an equal level of respect (and sleep).
The variables are wild, however, and a guide to hostel etiquette is never uniform. A party hostel’s considerations of what is appropriate is going to be very different from one that advertises itself for chilling and gentle night’s sleep. Use your common sense and when in doubt, ask the number one question of yourself (all the way from kindergarten):
If someone else was doing this, would I be ok with it?
Here are some general guidelines on not being that guy:
- Clean up after yourself – Your plates, rubbish, or puke. I once asked a British lass to clean out the remnants of her previous night’s shenanigans from the bathroom sink. If you wipe your ass at home, you wipe it at the hostel.
- Headphones – Always pack decent headphones for hostels, when you’re vegging in the dorm especially.
- Be friendly and smile – Everyone is a long way from home and you never know what’s going on for them. A smile and “Good morning!” can mean the world.
- Be nice to the staff – A smile and a good morning for them too!
- Sharing is caring – It’s a traveller thing. Share your food, joints, invite people on adventures, and leave behind your excess packing.
- Leave the ‘-isms’ and ‘-phobias’ at home – Or better yet, 6 feet under. Hostels are open spaces for all people.
Hostel Etiquette: Dorms
Man, there’s a whole other article in here. I’d call it “Not Being a Knob: Dorm Edition”. Here are some basics on good hostel dormitory etiquette:
- Keep the noise down – Duh.
- DO NOT TURN THE LIGHTS ON WHEN PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING – Use your phone-torch or a backpacking headlamp. There’s a special circle of hell reserved for light-switcher-onnerers where they’re forced to eat wasps while someone shines a torch in their eyes for all eternity.
- Don’t sleep naked – Actually, personally, I couldn’t care less, but some people do.
- Night-owls and early-birds – A French exit (or entry) is the name of the game. If you’re waking up for a sunrise adventure, pack the night before.
- Alarm snoozers… – …should also eat wasps. Why set an alarm if you’re not going to get out of bed?
Hostel Etiquette: Backpacking Sex
This could also merit its own article. Oh, wait: bow-chicka-wow-wow! Sex in hostels (and dorms) is a pretty complicated topic so let’s set one basic rule: except for some party hostels and grungier locales where it’s accepted, not in the dorm room.
Take a private room, bang in the shower, go find a nice park… just not in the dorm. Nobody wants to watch you have sex and anybody that does, you probably don’t want to watch you while you have sex.
Getting Called Out and Calling Others Out
You’re well within your rights to call someone out for being a tosser just as someone is well within their rights to call you out. You’re equally within your rights to alert staff if someone is being disrespectful. Still, if you can mediate the situation yourself, that’s better.
Some people will take it too far with their expectations and that, in of itself, is douchey. Don’t spit the dummy – communication is key. Here’s a quick anecdote:
Once I was working on my laptop in a dorm in the early afternoon. A man who was napping (the same one who’d checked in at 3 A.M. the night before, turned the light on, and chatted with his friend before going to bed) asked me to stop working because the sound of the keyboard typing was annoying.
Now, I could have told him to smoke my pole, but I didn’t. I gave him an exasperated look, said “Sure,” and moved to the common room. Later on that night he shared his beer with me and asked me to join him and his friends for some chilling.
Taking the high road is never a wrong choice.
Tips for Staying in Hostels
Bonus tips time!
- Pack earplugs and a sleeping mask – Earplugs especially are a hostel packing essential for a better night’s rest.
- A microfibre towel – One of my personal travel essentials.
- A headlamp – Another travel essential and perfect for dorms.
- And a tough padlock – Hostels that supply these for your locker are a rarity.
- Make that bottom bunk a home – I like to hang up my shawl for a curtain and put a toy tiger on my pillow (his name is Jerry). It makes it feel more like my space.
- Tag your food in the fridge – That way, when the body of the person who ate your leftover burrito is found, the judge will empathise.
- Headphones are excellent – For a different reason though. When you need some downtime or introversion, pop those badboys in. Seriously, they’re like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak!
- Working in hostels in Europe – If you have the appropriate visa (or passport), this is a fantastic way to mitigate the hostel prices in Europe. Get a paying job, or find somewhere you can volunteer for a bed and feed – many hostels are always looking for helping hands.
- If you’re not enjoying the hostel you’re staying at… – Just leave. Go find somewhere else; that’s the beauty of travel.
Psst! Heading to a hostel? Don’t forget to pack a padlock! It’s well worth having one so you can secure your locker and protect your stuff!
The pros are all pretty obvious: cheap accommodation, social vibes, making new friends… that’s all great! But the biggest problem with hostel life is also its biggest draw: the sociability. It’s a double-edged sword.
It’s really hard to be alone in a hostel. People will strike up conversation over breakfast, even if you just want to drink your coffee and read the news. Strangers are gonna hear you pooping. Nearly everyone you meet is going to ask you where you’re from, how long you’ve been travelling, and what your tattoos mean.
The longer you’ve been staying in hostels, the older this gets. If you need space, or are just burning out, take it.
Go and book a cheap hotel room, or better yet, an Airbnb. Maybe just go camp in the forest. Either way, respect your need for solace.
What is a Hostel in Europe Like? The Specifics
Righto! Now you have a pretty damn good idea of what a hostel is like! So now we’re moving onto the really pertinent stuff – the guide to hostels in Europe!
Perhaps it’s your first time backpacking in Europe. Maybe, it’s your first time backpacking altogether…
Fuck. Yes. Good on you, you awesome creature! Ready for an adventure?
Whether you’re new to hostels or a veteran, European hostels will put you up nicely. Fun fact: the world’s first hostel was founded in Germany, so you’re in good hands. Since the early days, hostelling in Europe has only gotten easier and more accessible.
All around Europe, you’ll find excellent places to stay and there really is something for everyone. It helps that the competition is so fierce so truly terrible hostels are a rarity in Europe.
That said, some are better than others.
Youth Hostelling in Europe: The Vibe
You’ll be hard-pressed to find something truly crappy. Europe is a good introduction to hostelling before you get to the danker (and more adventurous) parts of the world. Generally speaking, you can expect all the amenities I listed above coupled with a clean environment and probably more.
Hostels in Europe are also safe and filled with young travellers, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. A lot of Europeans earning their traveller stripes on their home continent during a uni break or gap year and a lot of fresh Yanks too. Also, Australians, but only because we’re everywhere – sorry ‘bout that!
Even when not at one of Europe’s many party hostels, you’ll still find a pretty big party emphasis. Europe may be expensive but the drugs sure aren’t!
The last thing of note about European hostels is that Europe is big. Saying “European hostels” is about as meaningless as saying “Asian hostels”. Whether you’re comparing youth hostels in Western to Eastern Europe, Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, or the Baltics to Turkey (na, jokes, Turkey wishes), it changes a lot.
The culture, language, food, and, definitely, the cost of hostels change across Europe. The types of travellers that go to Berlin (and their reasons for doing so) is very different from the travellers that venture to Romania. It’s a real wide net.
European Hostels: It’s a Real Wide Net
I can’t very well break down Europe regionally (I could but that’d result in something more akin to a thesis than a blog post). I can, however, break down the types of hostels in Europe that you can expect to find.
Everyone and their mum tends to break these down differently but here’s how I consider the types of hostels:
- Budget Hostels – I class these differently from standard hostels. They’ll dump a few fineries and perks in exchange for lower prices.
- Standard Hostels – Hostels that represent everything hostel when you hear the word hostel.
- Boutique Hostels – There are plenty of names for these but they’re generally a lot more swanky-dank. Higher class design and some more luxury facilities at a higher price.
- Party Hostels – It’s in the name. These will generally lack a curfew and are much more accepting of rowdy behaviours, delicious substances, and copious amounts of sex.
- Chill Hostels – The yang to party hostel’s yin. The focus is on quiet and homely places to meet folks, read a book, and get a good night’s rest.
- Nature Hostels – Generally, just somewhere outside the urban sprawl of a city; perhaps on a mountain or in a nice town by a forest.
- Hippy Palaces – Dirtbag dens or grunge grottos are also appropriate names. This is where you’ll find the normal people. 😉
The Average Cost of Hostels in Europe
Let’s say, for the sake of numbers, that the average price of hostels in Europe is 15-30 USD. Again though, Europe is big and there is a lot of variation.
The classic destinations in Western Europe are pricey with hostels that can cost upwards of $40-$45 (in places like London, Paris, and Amsterdam). Head east, however, and things level out. You can find some of Europe’s best cheap hostel offerings here with places bottoming out as low as $5-$10 in countries like Romania, Poland, and Hungary.
Of course, you’re going to probably plan your travels in Europe based on your dream itinerary. It’s fair to say though that not all of Europe is crushingly expensive and there are definitely places to travel to if your budget is guiding you more.
Plus, I’d take Budapest over Paris any day.
How to Book Hostels in Europe
Ok, so now that we’ve broken down what a hostel in Europe is (and what to expect), I bet you’re wondering about the best way to find one and book that sucker! (Other than this guide, of course.)
Instead of drowning you in sweet, sweet deetz, I’m making it simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide to booking a hostel in Europe.
Step 1 – Research Phase: How to Find a GOOD Hostel in Europe
You could head to any hostel booking site and sort by ratings > descending. It’s a good starting point but I don’t recommend it as the best way to find a hostel – Europe or anywhere else.
I have two tried-and-true methods:
- Hit up Google and type in ‘best hostels in X’ (‘X’ being your chosen destination). You’re going to be presented with a range of roundups from TripAdvisor to blogs that have carefully selected their choices. If “thebrokebackpacker.com” is in the URL, you’re on to a winner.
- Dip into your network of trusted travel connections and get some recommendations. Generally, your friends like the same thing as you so that’s a good start and this is always my favourite method.
Step 2 – Research Harder: Revenge of the Research
Now that you’ve narrowed down the selection of the best European hostels, it’s time to get technical: start reading those descriptions!
Suss the vibe… Is there a free breakfast, tours, or bicycles to hire? Read the reviews and look for anything to tip you off as to whether it’s the right (or wrong) place to stay for you.
In particular, look for reviews from people that may seek the same thing as you, or the opposite. For example, if I find a review that complains that the staff is always stoned and playing loud electronic music, I book dat shit!
Step 3 – Compare the Costs Before Booking that Hostel
Before you go hitting any confirm buttons, you want to make sure you’re getting the best price. Prices can vary between the different hostel booking sites for Europe (more on that in a sec) and even saving a few dollaridoos (euroidoos…?) goes a long way for your travel budget.
HostelZ is an excellent source for comparing costs and finding a hostel in Europe. Alternatively, you can check these things manually across the booking platforms.
It’s also definitely worth mentioning that, if there’s vacancy, ye olde fashioned walk-in will sometimes net you the cheapest price simply by way of a last-minute reservation or by skipping the booking platform’s service charge.
The Best Sites for Booking Hostels in Europe
There are lots of these and they’re all the same but different:
- Directly booking through a hostel’s website – This will often net the cheapest price and is always worth checking out first!
- Hostelworld – The classical choice for backpackers worldwide and my number one choice.
- Booking.com – These guys work in a lot more fields than just hostels so you’re going to need to filter out all that hotel/villa/”I have too much disposable income” nonsense. Personally, I’m not a fan of Booking’s UI.
- Hostelling International – These guys focus on not-for-profit organisations and provide a nice range of youth hostels around Europe with the altruistic vibes to compensate.
- Airbnb – Yup, Airbnb has hostel listings these days too!
Ok, you’re so informed on youth hostelling in Europe by now that you’re practically already practising your cheek kisses! It’s time to unearth that top pick of Europe’s hostel offerings for your adventure.
I’ve broken these down into several categories and the first is simply a lifting of the top hostel pick from some of our European content (namely, the most famous and frequented destinations in Europe). If you’re looking for a European hostel that’s a bit more unique and interesting, they’re coming up later – I promise you.
Don’t worry, boo; I gotchu! Now gimme that sloppy cheek kiss.
Best Hostel in London, England – Wombat’s City Hostel
- Free city maps and walking tours
- Modern and clean
As you hostel around Europe like a pro, you’re going to quickly discover some repeat offenders… of the crime of offering fucking awesome hostels! Wombat’s Hostels is a chain of famous European hostels and they’ve won a bunch of awards too, so they gotta be doing something right!
So, yeah, they offer good hostels in Europe and Wombats in London is no exception. Super clean, modern amenities (the dorms and lockers even have smart card locks), and private showers in all the rooms. They even got a buffet breakfast (two of my four favourite words in the English language) for an extra charge.
Wombat’s City Hostel, London, is in a dope spot for backpackers exploring The Big Smoke and is an all-round just a solidly awesome hostel. The only real downside I can think of is that you’re in London!
Best Hostel in Paris, France – St Christopher’s Inn Gare Du Nord
- Happy hour and food discounts
- Semi-private dorm beds
A hop across the channel and you’ll find yourself in Europe’s next most quintessential travel destination – The City of Lights. Right by the metro and in a dope spot of its own, St Christopher’s is one of the best places to stay both in Europe and Paris.
The dorms are sweet. Though not quite a capsule, the beds are their own personal space with curtains, reading lamps, and charging ports right next to your head! You’ll also be nabbing a discount on food at Belushi’s downstairs plus that sweet, sweet happy hour
For all help on unpacking the Parisian wonderland, there’s a 24-hour reception, and they can get you set up with both attraction tickets for both backpacking around Paris and onward travel tickets for elsewhere in Europe. Not bad, all in all!
Best Hostel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – ClinkNOORD
- Free ferry to Centraal Station
- Live music and DJ sets
Oh, Amsterdam – you knew it’d be on here. Like, it’s Amsterdam. Expect it to be on this list more than once.
This isn’t the most hedonistic place for what can only be described as the ‘essential Amsterdam experience’, but it is certainly one of Europe’s nicest hostels. Comfortable beds and chillout areas and the space itself is pretty spectacular in its own right!
It’s close to downtown yet enjoys the vibe of the much more chill but vibrant Amsterdam-Noord neighbourhood and ClinkNOORD is also close to some cultural hotspots to admire too (yes, Amsterdam does have culture as well). Other than that, it’s got all the amenities you would expect from one of expensive Europe’s best hostels.
Best Hostel in Berlin, Germany – Grand Hostel Berlin Classic
- Single beds – no bunks!
- Old-ass building with modern amenities
This is one of expensive Europe’s cheaper hostels and not too shabby at all for budget travellers in Berlin! And there’s no bunk beds… dude, I’m in love!
Honestly, the whole setup is really damn cool; the building is old – dating back to 1874 – which means some real classical architecture but, of course, the amenities have been updated for modern Euro-backpacker standards. And there are no bunk beds – single beds with a nightstand. Just like home.
The breakfast buffet (there’s my beloved BB again) costs a bit extra but considering the price of the hostel, that’s admissible. Besides, there’s a library bar and this is Berlin so that means you can get piss-drunk on cheap-ass beer while you catch up on some of the classics. Legend has it that Einstein, Kant, Nietzsche, and Marx rather enjoyed their cheap-ass beer too!
Best Hostel in Barcelona, Spain – Hostel One Paralelo
- Free dinners
- Cinema room with Netflix
Now we’re heading south to Mediterranean Europe. It’s still Europe down this way but the weather is better! Also, the people smile a bit more (I probably wouldn’t smile much either if I was from the country that spawned old Frieddy ‘Abyss’ Nietzsche).
Backpacking in Barcelona is a weird one – some people adore it, some loathe it – but it’s still a classic hit on the Europe itinerary tracklist and Hostel One Paralelo is hella dope! Free dinners (I’m frothing), a cinema room with Netflix (for while you eat your free dinner), and free party-pub crawls. As a general rule, the more free stuff you’re getting, the better choice of a place to stay in Europe on a budget it is.
The dorms are good too – those semi-private semi-capsule style beds – and the real thing to write home about is the crazy friendly staff bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. It’s nothin’ but good vibes.
Best Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal – Sunset Destination Hostel
- Rooftop terrace and swimming pool
- DJ nights
Though perhaps not quite as frequented as Spain, Portugal is excellent. It’s not strictly cheap but it ain’t gonna murder your budget either and it certainly helps that the drugs and festivals are top-notch! There are some dope-ass beaches too!
Sunset Destination is located inside a train station so that makes travelling around Lisbon mind-numbingly easy. It’s also super close to the party district and, again, Portugal brings the goods in that department (plus those delectable Mediterranean genetics – wink-wink). Expect free Sangria pre-drinks before you lose yourself on the pub crawl.
Dorm beds are semi-private pods, there’s a whole host of other awesome hostel events, and, overall, I just have a real soft spot for Portugal. So, yup, this is a damn cool hostel in Europe!
Best Hostel in Rome, Italy – The Yellow
- Super centrally located
- Nightclub and lively bar
So this is advertised pretty firmly as a party hostel and it honestly makes the cut as one of Europe’s best. It’s also the best hostel in Rome; the other honourable mentions just didn’t hold up. There’s a lot on offer here.
To start, it is a party hostel so there’ll always be something vibing. The on-site bar and nightclub gets live music, DJ sets, and even goddamn burlesque shows! There’s plenty of other low-key events too like gelato making and yoga but considering it’s a party hostel, I’m sure no one will mind if you’d like to pre-drink before the yoga to spice things up.
Breakfast is cheap, the dorms are simple yet effective, and the location is super central and makes travelling around Rome and the major things to see a breeze. Overall, with or without the partying, The Yellow is still a kickass place to stay in Rome!
The Top Hostels in Europe as Per Real Travellers
The next batch of sexy European hostels are coming up and these ones come straight from word of mouth. I got in touch with many of my globetrotting, island-hopping, continent-crusading, most-adventurous travel-friends (that have backpacked in Europe), and these are the recommendations that came in.
You’re going to notice a slightly different theme with these hostel picks: a step away from all the cliché ‘top of the charts’ tourist draws in Europe. Generally, I’d say that’s because backpackers of the broke variety steer clear of these places.
It’s accepted that the most adventurous parts of Europe – and the cheapest – are over on the other side (dun-dun-dunnn). The failure of the Soviet State did wonderful things for the alternative-backpacker trail in Europe!
Plus Budapest. The crazies love Budapest.
Best Hostel in Timisoara, Romania – Freeborn Hostel
- Free beer if you beat the owner in Mario kart
- No checkout time
Instead of writing this myself, I’m just going to condense my friend’s recommendation because she nails it:
The good part about being located in Romania is that it’s crazy cheap. Freeborn Hostel is super tiny and it’s run by Raul and his mother and it’s Raul’s baby. He’s there every day, he gives out free shots of homemade Pálinka and tells guests about the history of the country which no one really knows about because nobody gives a shit about Romania sadly.
Raul is such a good bloke with a heart of gold. The place is super cosy, maybe 12 beds, and you can sit around and play Mario Kart and chess. It’s a little bit of a hippy vibe, but not really, with more of a total family vibe from being with Raul and his mother.
These are the hostels I travel for. Freeborn is, without a doubt, one of the best hostels in Eastern Europe.
Best Hostel in Budapest, Hungary – Grandio Party Hostel
- Partying – Budapest style
The friend I got this from is from my hometown and the thing about folks from Byron Bay… they’re wild. If she says this is a place to get loose, then you’re gonna get fucking loose! Welcome to the Budapest backpacking experience.
Grungy, covered in graffiti, and filled with people looking to drown their brain cells and mortal terror in copious amounts of booze, this is one of the most fun hostels in Europe that you’ll stay at. Let’s be real, there’s little point coming here unless you wanna get messy.
Budapest’s most famous bars and clubs are a walking distance away and they can even organise a cheaper shuttle from the airport for you. That way, you can free up brainspace for the throwdown.
Despite the grunginess, Grandio is still a totally safe hostel by European standards: lockers, electronic keys, and people just looking for a good time. The staff is equally onboard with the shenanigans too!
Best Hostel in Zagreb, Croatia – Swanky Mint Hostel
- Swanky mint amenities
- On-site kitty cat!
That name sounds like something I’d come up with. Ridiculousness aside, my friend pitched this as a perfect first-time experience of staying in hostels in Europe and I totally agree! Everything is swanky mint!
Jokes aside, the facilities and the building itself are super yummy! You get sun terraces, swimming pool, window gardens for a splash of nature in the city: it’s actually super pretty!
The vibe is social and you’ll catch a bit of a party here but it ain’t nearly as bananas as somewhere like Budapest.
The added bonus is that you’re staying in a hostel in Eastern Europe. Backpacking in Croatia (and the Balkans as a whole) is gorgeous and a nice departure from the usual backpacker stops in Europe. You even get a welcome drink of Rakija. Hospitality shots are true classical European style.
Best Hostel in High Tatras, Slovakia – The Ginger Monkey
- Free breakfast/tea/coffee
- Lots of nature activities nearby
A nature hostel in the mountains: yum yum yum. The friend who recommended Ginger Monkey likes long walks in nature without shoes, and I know for a fact that she’s had some pretty top-tier adventures in the wilds of Slovakia!
You get a beautiful outlook of the mountains from a place that feels more like a house than a hostel. Everything is cosy and the cutiepie pooch, Wally, only makes things feel even homier!
Slovakia has got some mind-blowing nature and the best part of this hostel is how close you are to it. There’s a whole range of activities you can do from like hiking, climbing, cycling, and even skiing and snowboarding in the winter! One way or another, it’s mega pretty!
Best Hostel in Copenhagen, Denmark – Copenhagen Downtown Hostel
- Multiple award-winning
- All-night bar
As my mate said: it’s a really price for the city it’s in. Yep, so visiting Copenhagen isn’t exactly the great off-beat journey through the Eastern Bloc (not even close), but it’s still a step away from the standard in Europe.
The price of this hostel is good for such an extremely expensive city in Europe and the facilities are equally on-point. The bar runs all night, there’s a fairly priced, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet (absolute heaven), and there are even iPads to borrow!
Downtown Hostel is centrally located in Copenhagen’s old city which means it’s a perfect spot for anything you want to do from the local goodies to the tourist jazz. On top of all that, the atmosphere (and the staff) is super chill. There’s probably a reason it won ‘Most Popular Hostel in Copenhagen’ five times over.
Best Hostel in Noordwijk, The Netherlands – Flying Pig Beach Hostel
- Outside Amsterdam
- By the beach!
The friend that recommended Flying Pig in Noordwijk only stays at awesome places and she’s never led me wrong yet. If she says that here is dope, then dope is what it is. Being near the beach is a nice plus!
They run a regular shuttle to and from Amsterdam so the partying is still on and you’ll find yourself some more low-key party vibes in the hostel itself too. The bar keeps it cheap, the facilities are good, and overall, it’s a very nice alternative for someone hostelling in Europe that still wants to do some things in Amsterdam but doesn’t quite want to dive headfirst into the craziness.
The Best Party Hostels in Europe for Gettin’ Down
We’ve already got a whole roundup of the most insane party hostels in Europe so I’d highly recommend checking that out if that’s the vibe ye be seeking. I’ve also already mentioned a couple (if you’ve been paying attention) but I hand-selected a few more. There’s a lot of culture and history in Europe but… who cares!
There’s a lot of MDMA and techno too.
Best Party Hostel in Budapest, Hungary – Carpe Noctem
- Mega sociable
- Just gets the traveller thing
Yep, so it’s Budapest and it’s another friend’s recommendation but I’ll be straight: I received five accommodation recommendations for Budapest and they were all off-the-hook party hostels. This one my friend described as “Anarchy”. I’m seeing a recurring theme with Budapest.
As well as a party hostel, I’d say this is one of the best hostels in Europe for solo travellers purely for the atmosphere Carpe Noctem creates. It’s not just the sociability or the parties or the tight facilities (this hostel isn’t nearly as grungy): the owners cater themselves to travellers. They understand what it’s like to be a long way from home by yourself in a foreign land and their goal is to create a place that feels like home.
The added bonus on top of all that good stuff? Sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph they know how to lay down. Get ready for the bananas, cause that shit’s coming in hot!
Best Party Hostel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Flying Pig Downtown
- Buffet breakfast for fuel (3 Euros)
- Super well located
Yup, we’re heading back to the Netherlands again but, I mean, it’s Amsterdam, right? It’s fair to say there’s a lot of beauty to see in Amsterdam outside the hedonistic debauchery, but you’re here for the hedonistic debauchery.
Flying Pig Downtown (sister hostel to the previous Flying Pig) is right in the thick of it; it’s only 10 minutes from the Red Light District! (You do you, man.) They host DJ nights and parties and they’re open 24-hours so you can rock up in any state at any time and, presumably, you’ll make it back to your bed in one piece.
It’s one of the top hostels in expensive Europe for partying and it deserves a mention because… well… Amsterdam. C’mon…
Best Party Hostel in Krakow, Poland – Greg & Tom’s Party Hostel
- Slammin’ free breakfast
- Slammin’ free dinner!
With free breakfast and dinner, why ever leave the hostel? Oh yeah… To par-tay down!
Although one of Europe’s finest party hostels, things are safe and clean and especially warm to solo travellers. And the drinks are cheap too! Actually, the list of freebies is pretty damn exhaustive (breakfast, dinner, earplugs, coffee/tea, computer use, ticket printing…); they really take care of you.
Which is good because you’re going to be nursing your addled brain a lot. This is a party hostel in Eastern Europe and Krakow is another place to stay to forget about all those pesky problems you left waiting at home. Let the good times roll! Among other things…
Get Insured Before Hostelling in Europe
Mmm, yum, drugs, booze, sleepless nights, and unprotected sex with strangers: my favourite!
Is that what you’re saying, hmm? Didn’t yo’ momma teach ya better? Mine did which is why I got travel insurance for Europe! (…Eventually.)
All things said and done, you should always consider travel insurance before travelling and hostelling ANYWHERE.
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Some Unique Hostels in Europe
In my journey to unearth the best hostels right around the European continent, I found some pretty unique offerings. Choices that are a little bit out of the way or attempting something a little different from the standard backpacker affair.
I like places like that. Places like that deserve a shoutout. Here are a few shoutouts.
An Alternative Hostel in Rome, Italy – Wiki Hostel & Green Village
I wanted to put this down as the city’s best hostel, but it’s a short distance outside all of Rome’s central tourist areas so I relented. It’s a super pretty hostel, however, as well as a great hostel in Europe for families.
It’s sustainable, plastic-free, and even boasts its own farm and cute critter-life. Located in the Roman Hills, there’s a wealth of gorgeous nature around and you can organise to get involved in hiking or just help out on the farm.
The freebies are a nice touch too: free rides to the train station, free breakfast, free sauna (boom)… there’s even a slackline! All these goodies combined with the nature yumminess and the distance from the tourist centre of an admittedly hectic city means it’s a unique hostel in Europe not just for families but also couples seeking a getaway (on a budget).
A Uniquely Setup Hostel in Santorini, Greece – Caveland
- Quiet village location
- Sleeping in a cave
I felt like Greece’s backpacking scene was being underrepresented and is oft forgotten by the Europe travellers, so I wanted to show them some love. I haven’t been to Greece, sadly; I did, however, fly through Athens and even the view from the airport terminal was stunning!
So what’s unique about this European hostel? It’s just, like, an escape… plus it’s in a cave!
Located outside the capital of Santorini Island, the whole place has a quiet-retreat vibe going on. They still have all the hostel goodies (free breakfast, events, a pool) but you have the added bonus of being tucked away in a Grecian village with the locals.
Oh yeah, and the cave thing? There are eight traditional cave dwellings inside the historic complex. I have slept a lot of weird places but I am yet to sleep in a cave!
A Prison in Ljubljana, Slovenia – Hostel Celica
- Converted prison
- Probably haunted or some shit
Wait… a prison? Yep, I’ve never slept in a cave nor have I slept in a prison! (I have slept in the back of a paddywagon though.)
So, it’s an old military prison that’s now been converted into a modern accommodation in Ljubljana – Slovenia’s capital. But it’s not just any hostel… it’s a funky hostel! Yeah, so I’m a bit concerned there may be some mild haunting occurring, but I also once slept in a graveyard so it’s probably chill.
Dark and foreboding locations aside, they’ve actually won a crapton of awards and they’ve done a really good job of jazzing up something so morbid. You still get all the hostel goodies – plus a special price on experiencing Ljubljana Castle – except you’re in a prison! And, if you’re not comfortable sleeping in a prison cell, they have standard dorms too, though I do highly question why you headed all the way out to Slovenia to NOT sleep in prison cell. budapest
Best Hostel in Olympos, Turkey – Kadir’s Tree House
- Absolutely bedazzling spot
- Free breakfast and dinner
Wait, Turkey? Yeah, well, I felt kinda bad about that off-colour Turkey crack before plus I figured if you levelled up to Eastern Europe and you wanted to go deeper, I would highly recommend travelling to Turkey (and onwards to the Caucasus region) next. Also, sometime in the next decade Turkey is probably gonna be Europe anyway so I’m just future-proofing this post!
Anyway, located in Olympos on the Southern Coast of Turkey, the nature here is absolutely dropdead gorgeous and you’re right in it! Stay in a treehouse (yes please), or camp, or they even have private ensuite accommodation. That said, if you take private ensuite accommodation when there’s a cheap treehouse available, you probably need to rethink your priorities.
So yeah, I’m stretching top cheap hostels in Europe now, but I wanna give Turkey some love too. They seem to get a bad rap a lot of places in the world and I really don’t know why. The country is phenomenally gorgeous and the Turks are super endearing; bookmark this for when Western Europe gets boring.
Some More Reading Before Hostelling in Europe
Closing the Guide to Europe’s Hostels
What a coverage! If you weren’t feeling the vibe of staying in hostels in Europe before, I bet you are now.
If all you’re seeking is the typical European backpacking hostel experience, that’s easy… Super easy. And you’ll have an awesome time too! Just because a lot of the classical capitals are tourist traps doesn’t mean they aren’t also filled with culture, history, and secrets to unearth from beneath the grime.
But, as I hope I’ve made clear, Europe is big and filled with countries we often even forget are countries. Just check out Eurovision! You wanna talk about bananas, there’re your goddamn bananas!
So go out there and get exploring: it’s a big continent. From the trance of Berlin to the trees of the Balkans, there is a lot to see. And since you’ll be exploring some of Europe’s finest hostel offerings, you’re going to meet a lot of fantastic humans too!
I’d even be so bold as to say that you’re probably going to make some friends. Just gotta head on down to ye olde inn – the backpacker hostel.
Bring a towel.
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