The largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg is one of the highlights of South Africa, and a must-see for anyone who can fit it into their itinerary.

But don’t expect to have the city to yourself. Backpackers have long enjoyed the low prices and endless sights of this South African metropolis, and with dozens of registered hostels, it can be difficult to pick where to stay.

Which is why I wrote this ultimate guide to the best hostels in Johannesburg.

Different travelers require different things, so I’ve organized this list to help you find what it is that you need, so you can book your hostel quickly and with confidence.

So whether you want to wind down, or hook up. Get some work done, or just find the cheapest place to sleep, this list of the 20 best hostels in Johannesburg has got you covered.

Quick answer: The Best Hostels in Johannesburg

Best Hostels in Johannesburg
Johannesburg has tons of sights, and our guide to the best hostels in Johannesburg help you save some cash!

Finding the Best Hostels in Johannesburg

Obviously what is the ‘best’ will differ for everyone. So, to make this easy, I’ve taken the highest rated hostels in Johannesburg and put them into different categories, so you can find the one that best suits your travel style.

The good thing is that no matter which hostel you go with, you’re probably going to have a great stay. Johannesburg (and South Africa as a whole) is a Backpacker-Mecca. The travel infrastructure is as good as it gets (well designed and affordable), with great sights, and it’s hostels are well reviewed.

The best hostels in Johannesburg offer tons of value, whether it be free breakfast, big kitchens, comfy beds, or other activities – you’re guaranteed to get some good bang for your buck no matter which hostel you book today.

Things DO go missing sometimes…

lock iconPsst! 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 20 Best Hostels in Johanessburg

Overall Best Hostel in Johannesburg – Once in Joburg

Once in Joburg best hotels in Johannesburg

– $$
– Free Breakfast
– Bar & Cafe Onsite
– Self Catering Facilities

The best hostel in Johannesburg in 2020 is Once in Joburg for so many great reasons! Once in Joburg is the best hostel in Johannesburg as they offer free breakfast, free WiFi and in true South African style, a BBQ for guests to use too. Once in Joburg is located in the creative and super trendy Braamfontein area of Johannesburg. Whether you’re a solo traveller, travelling with your lover or even a group of mates, Once in Joburg is top notch for all.

Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Johannesburg – Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers

Lebo's Soweto Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg
A unique experience to meet other travelers, Lebo’s Soweto is our pick for best hostel for solo travelers in Johannesburg

– $
– Bar & Restaurant Onsite
– Free Shuttle
– Bicycle Hire

The best hostel for solo travellers in Johannesburg is Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers. Lebo’s is something of a hidden gem and is perfect for solo travellers looking to gain an authentic South African experience and meet fellow travellers. Guests have the option of staying at their Johannesburg backpackers hostel or their home stay. You really should stay a few nights in each! If you want to try some legit tasty local food you’ve gotta try Lebo’s granny’s lunch!

Best Cheap Hostel in Johannesburg – Urban BackPackers

Urban BackPackers best hostels in Johannesburg
Urban Backpackers is a great budget hostel in Johannesburg

– $
– Bar & Cafe Onsite
– Self Catering Facilities
– Late Check-Out

The best cheap hostel in Johannesburg is Urban BackPackers, offering travellers everything they could need at a neat and tidy price. As the best budget hostel in Johannesburg Urban Backpackers has its own little bar and cafe on the ground floor, ideal for meeting and mingling. Their guest kitchen is spacious and fully kitted out; ideal for backpackers keen to keep the food spend to a minimum. Many dorm rooms have balconies and city views too.

Best Hostel for Couples in Johannesburg – Lakeview Backpackers

Lakeview Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg
Great for all travelers, but due to nice private rooms, we especially recommend Lakeview Backpackers for couples

– $$
– Bar Onsite
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities

If you’re backpacking South Africa with your partner, Lakeview Backpackers is the best hostel for couples in Johannesburg. Lakeview is a little touch of paradise, lying just outside of Johannesburg CBD. As a highly recommended hostel in Johannesburg, you’ve gotta book your room ASAP. With clean and tidy private double rooms, Lakeview is a perfect retreat for couples looking to escape the noisy dorm rooms and take some time to relax in South Africa. The garden is spacious and has hammocks fit for two!

Best Party Hostel in Johannesburg – Johannesburg Backpackers

Johannesburg Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg
Swimming pool. Bar. Party hostel. Can’t go wrong with Johannesburg Backpackers

– $
– Bar Onsite
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities

If you’re looking for the best party hostel in Johannesburg you should look no further than Johannesburg Backpackers. Johannesburg Backpackers is a top hostel in Johannesburg and ideal for those who wanna have a fun night. Complete with its own swimming pool and hostel bar Johannesburg Backpackers expects a party so you better bring your A-game! If you’re travelling with friends be sure to book one of their private apartments for a VIP party!

Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Johannesburg – Curiocity Backpackers

Curiocity Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg
Curiocity Backpackers is a top notch hostel for all! But Digital Nomads in particular will appreciate their wifi and big common areas

– $$
– Bar & Restaurant Onsite
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

The best hostel for digital nomads in Johannesburg is Curiocity Backpackers; witty name, don’t you think?! Curiocity is super trendy and ideal for digital nomads. Offering super fast WiFi for unlimited use as well as hipster hangout areas you’ll be able to focus well here. In the evenings Curiocity has a real buzz about the place so you’ll be able to meet new people on the road no worries. The team and help arrange all sort of activities for when you close the laptop down!

Best Hostel Near the Airport – Brown Sugar Backpackers

Brown Sugar Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg
Free shuttle to the airport (15 minute drive) makes Brown Sugar a great hostel, and best hostel in Johannesburg near the airport

– $$
– Free Breakfast
– Free Airport Pick Up
– Swimming Pool

Brown Sugar was just pipped at the post for best hostel in Johannesburg in 2020. As a top youth hostel in Johannesburg Brown Sugar goes above and beyond for their guests, the free airport pick-up is a major bonus point! Brown Sugar is a chilled and welcoming Johannesburg backpackers hostel, it really feels like a home from home. The Brown Sugar building used to be owned by the Mafia…kinda cool! Now safe and secure, backpackers always come away feeling the love having stayed with the Brown Sugar team.

The Best Travel Backpack?!
Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

More Best Hostels in Johannesburg

Are you looking to stay in specific neighborhood? Check out our guide to Johannesburg’s best areas to stay.

Diamond Diggers Backpackers

Diamond Diggers Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg

– $
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Late Check-Out

Diamond Diggers Backpackers is a top hostel in Johannesburg because of its laid-back vibe and warm outdoor pool. Diamond Diggers is ideally located just 5-minutes from the city centre and a 7-minute walk from uber cool Braamfontein, one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg. If you fancy treating yourself be sure to book one of DD’s Skyline Rooms to wake up to impressive views of Johannesburg’s cityscape. The late check-out is a bonus, especially if you’re catching a late flight. The Diamond Digger team are super friendly and really accommodating; hang out as long as you like!

HomeBase Melville

HomeBase Melville best hostels in Johannesburg

– $
– Bar Onsite
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities

HomeBase Melville is a popular youth hostel in Johannesburg and can be found a few minutes walk away from 7th Avenue. There is a rustic charm to HomeBase, light and spacious, travellers instantly feel at ease; making for a good night’s sleep every time! HomeBase Melville is a contender for the coolest hostel in Johannesburg as they have their own outdoor swimming pool. The HomeBase staff are laid back, smiley and very helpful; if you’re at a loss as to how to fill your day, just holla!

Mbizi Backpackers Lodge

Mbizi Backpackers Lodge best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$$
– Free Breakfast
– Bar Onsite
– Swimming Pool

Mbizi Backpackers Lodge is a top hostel in Johannesburg offering a free breakfast, a kick-ass bar and a super cool swimming pool. Cool in both senses of the word! Mbizi’s is the best hostel in Johannesburg close to the airport, just a 15-minute drive away. Johannesburg gets pretty darn chilly in the winter months so the Mbizi team strap on the electric blankets to keep you toasty warm. The Mbizi team are more than happy to help you arrange tours and travel; anything from Kruger National Park to day tours of Soweto.

Sleek Backpackers

Sleek Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg

– $
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Sleek Backpackers is a great youth hostel in Johannesburg for travellers planning on staying more than a week or so. Sleek is a hostel for long-term travellers in Johannesburg looking for a home from home in a laid-back, homely setting. The house itself is cosy and clean and has everything you could need – kitchen, washing machine and WiFi. If you book a 3-day safari or overland experience through the Sleek team they’ll chuck in a free night stay…worth thinking about!

The Backpackers Ritz of Johannesburg

The Backpackers Ritz of Johannesburg best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Tours & Travel Desk

The Ritz Backpackers is set in a giant mansion house in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. The owner, Peter, goes out of his way to ensure all of his guests have an enjoyable stay. The team are always on hand to help and have their own tours and travel desk to help you make the most of your time in South Africa’s largest city. As a top hostel in Johannesburg, The Ritz has its own pub complete with pool table and a cracking selection of local beers.

Ghandi Backpackers Lodge

Ghandi Backpackers Lodge best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$
– Free Breakfast
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities

Ghandi Backpackers Lodge is a brilliant youth hostel in Johannesburg set in an impressive mansion that was built in 1889. Ghandi’s is a cosy and quiet Johannesburg backpackers hostel offering guests the option of staying in a private double, a private dorm or an open dorm. This is ideal if you’re travelling with your SO or as a group of friends. Booking a private dorm is a great option if you’ve been on the road a while and just want a night or two to hide away! The bar is a great spot to spend an evening in, they even have a pool table.

Want to save the world?
Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle

Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.

The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.

Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!

Accoustix Backpackers

Accoustix Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Accoustix is a massive youth hostel in Johannesburg specialising in big groups. If you’re a solo traveller keen to meet and mingle Accoustix may just be the place for you. One downside of Accoustix is that they only offer 20MB of free WiFi per guest per day, then you have to buy a package. Not great for digital nomads in that sense, sadly. Accoustix is happy to host long-term visitors and those on volunteer programmes, be sure to chat with the staff to get the best rates possible.

Monte Fourways Hostel & Boarding House

Monte Fourways Hostel & Boarding House best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Monte Fourways is more of a top boarding house than a top hostel in Johannesburg. Monte Fourways is perfect for travellers looking for a temporary base in Johannesburg. As they say themselves, they offer no-frills accommodation for cheap prices; making them a great budget hostel in Johannesburg. Perhaps not the first choice for backpackers in Johannesburg for just a few days but if you’re thinking of hanging around longer Monte Fourways is worth a thought.

Miraton Accommodation

Miraton Accommodation best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$$
– Bar Onsite
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Miraton is a top hostel in Johannesburg and ideal for travellers who want to stay in a homely yet luxurious kinda place. Miraton has a great selection of private rooms so if you’re travelling with your lover you can book into a smart double room with an en-suite, safe in the knowledge you won’t miss out on the hostel vibes. Miraton can be found close to East Gate Mall and the Calton Center.

Naledi Backpackers

Naledi Backpackers best hostels in Johannesburg

– $
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities
– Tours & Travel Desk

Naledi Backpackers is a recently renovated youth hostel in Johannesburg. Naledi is located in Soweto and is within an easy walk of the Mandela Family Museum and Hector Peterson Memorial. The team are always on hand to arrange tours and activities, they are famed for their quad biking tours of Soweto. Their patio is a popular little hang out spot for backpackers and of course, has its own BBQ. If you’re gonna learn how to BBQ you best learn in South Africa!

Rosebank Lodge

Rosebank Lodge best hostels in Johannesburg

– $
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Rosebank Lodge is an often overlooked budget hostel in Johannesburg. Rosebank has its own swimming pool and floral garden, the sun trapped patio is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a book. Admittedly Rosebank is not the most highly recommended hostel in Johannesburg but you can’t complain given the price. Clean linen, staff on shift around the clock and a guest kitchen too, Rosebank has everything you could need. If you’re keen to book tours and trips be sure to chat to the staff about booking your spot.

Moonflower Cottages

Moonflower Cottages best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$$
– Swimming Pool
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities

Moonflower Cottages creep onto the shortlist for best hostel in Johannesburg even though technically they’re more of a holiday rental. If you’re travelling to Johannesburg with your crew or find your numbers growing on the road Moonflower Cottages may just be the flashpacker style hostel you’re looking for. Located in the upmarket northern suburbs, Moonflower Cottages are fully kitted out apartments with balconies and a swimming pool. Relaxed and a little bit of luxury, if you can afford to splash out, go for it!

Campbell’s Boarding House

Campbell's Boarding House best hostels in Johannesburg

– $$$
– Self Catering Facilities
– Laundry Facilities
– Housekeeping

Campell’s Boarding House is another of the top hostels in Johannesburg that’s not technically a hostel. Campbell’s is perfect for couples or digital nomads who need a bit of peace and quiet to get focused while in Johannesburg. The rooms are immaculately clean and all have en-suite bathrooms. Campbell’s is located in the neighbourhood locally known as ‘Little Hollywood’ as its where all the South African celebs hang out. Get your selfie stick at the ready!

What to Pack for your Johannesburg Hostel

Here’s some gear our editors take hostelling.

Universal Adapter

1. Universal Travel Adapter: Not every country has the same electrical plug style, so carry along a universal travel adapter. You’ll want one that covers varying voltage levels, has protection from power surges, a fried laptop is not fun, and enough ports so you don’t have to spend all day individually charging your devices.

best toiletry bag for one bag travel

2. Active Roots Toiletry Bag: The Active Roots Toiletry bag keeps all of your bathroom essential items organized instead of flowing around your backpack. Having everything handy and accessible in one water-resistant bag is a bathroom lifesaver. This toiletry bag also helps from being that embarrassed person walking back to the dorm room, in a towel, to grab forgotten shampoo.

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

3. Noise-Cancelling Earbuds: Noise in hostels… is a thing. Your bunkmate coming in late, motorbike traffic just below your window, construction on the property or the round-the-clock rooster that seems to follow you to every f*cking hostel. Having a way to escape the noise while you sleep makes for a well-rested morning. Noise canceling ear-buds are a great solution, just put on your favorite artist or load a quick Netflix episode to fall asleep too.

Travel Pillow

4. TRTL Travel Pillow: Long flights and bus rides are quite uncomfortable (most obvious statement of the day). Most travel pillows… Well, you know how they are. TRTL travel pillow is different. I mean, look at it! It’ll cuddle you to sleep every ride and it does a pretty damn good job of supporting your neck so you don’t get that stiffness or legendary popping when you stir.

Powerbank

5. Power Bank: Showing up to a new city, after a 14-hour bus ride, with a dead phone and no directions to your hostel is a half-awake, messy nightmare. Putting a good power bank in your pack is the best and easiest way to keep your important electronics charged up for those long travel and sightseeing days.

AR Towel

6. Active Roots Microfiber Towel: Having your own towel is a must when traveling since most hostels don’t provide them. Plus as a backpacker, use of a towel will extend further than just showers, it’s a minimalist yoga towel and a great beach blanket/towel combo! The Active Roots Microfiber Towel is really the best solution for backpacking.

Why you should travel to Johannesburg

While Johannesburg is sometimes seen as the second-fiddle to Cape Town – it shouldn’t be! With endless sights and activities (and not to mention incredible day trips!), Johannesburg provides bang for your buck that most other cities can’t.

And remember, if you can’t choose which hostel to book at, our number one recommendation is Once in Joburg.

Once in Joburg best hotels in Johannesburg

Travel Safety Tips for Johannesburg

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance before heading to Johannesburg! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

world nomads insurance banner

More Epic Hostels in South Africa and Africa

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

Planning an epic trip all across South Africa or even Africa itself?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

For more cool hostel guides around Africa, check out:

Over to you

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

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

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the site going.