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 Hostel for Solo Travellers in Johannesburg – Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers
- Best Hostel Near the Johannesburg Airport – Brown Sugar Backpackers
- Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Johannesburg – Curiocity Backpackers
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.
The 20 Best Hostels in Johanessburg
Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Johannesburg – Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers
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 Hostel for Digital Nomads in Johannesburg – Curiocity Backpackers
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 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.
Overall Best Hostel in Johannesburg – Once in Joburg
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.
Once in Joburg is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Best Cheap Hostel in Johannesburg – Urban BackPackers
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.
Urban BackPackers is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
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Best Hostel for Couples in Johannesburg – Lakeview Backpackers
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!
Lakeview Backpackers is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Best Party Hostel in Johannesburg – Johannesburg Backpackers
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!
Johannesburg Backpackers is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
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More Best Hostels in Johannesburg
Are you looking to stay in specific neighborhood? Check out our guide to Johannesburg’s best areas to stay.
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!
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.
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 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!
Diamond Diggers Backpackers
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!
Diamond Diggers Backpackers is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
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!
HomeBase Melville is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Mbizi Backpackers Lodge
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.
Mbizi Backpackers Lodge is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
The Backpackers Ritz of Johannesburg
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.
The Backpackers Ritz of Johannesburg is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Ghandi Backpackers Lodge
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.
Ghandi Backpackers Lodge is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Monte Fourways Hostel & Boarding House
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.
Monte Fourways Hostel & Boarding House is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
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.
Miraton Accommodation is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
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!
Naledi Backpackers is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Campbell’s Boarding House
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!
Campbell’s Boarding House is one of our favourites in Johannesburg but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
What to Pack for your Johannesburg 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
FAQ about Hostels in Johannesburg
Here are some questions backpackers ask about hostels in Johannesburg.
How much does a hostel cost in Johannesburg?
Depending on the room type and location, the average cost of hostel rooms in Johannesburg starts at $12 for a dorm, and private rooms start at $16+.
What are the best hostels in Johannesburg for couples?
Lakeview Backpackers is our pick for the best hostels for couples in Johannesburg. It’s clean, has a pool, and overlooks the lake.
What are the best hostels in Johannesburg near the airport?
Brown Sugar Backpackers, our best hostel near the airport, is 15 minutes from the airport. It has a free shuttle to the airport, cool!
Travel Safety Tips for Johannesburg
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 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!
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!