Where to Stay in Austin (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Austin is a city on the rise. It has a fantastic live music scene, incredible food, and a hip and funky vibe. In short, Austin is absolutely one of America’s best-kept travel secrets.

But Austin is also a massive and sprawling city and knowing where to stay is super important. That’s why we wrote this no-street guide for where to stay in Austin.

The Broke Backpacker’s Guide for places to stay in Austin was written with one purpose – to help YOU navigate the different neighborhoods and districts in this bustling city!

So whether you’re looking to party all night long, indulge in amazing tacos, or find the best deals Austin has to offer, our list will help you find a neighborhood that fits your needs.

Let’s jump right into it. Here are our recommendations for areas to stay in Austin, Texas. 

 

Quick Tips – Neighborhoods in Austin

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Downtown
If you’re visiting Austin for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than Downtown. The epicenter of Austin, Downtown is packed with ancient landmarks, great restaurants, and top tourist attractions.
Places to Visit:
  • Dine on delicious and seasonal fare at True Food Kitchen
  • Sip signature cocktails and custom drinks at Swift’s Attic
  • View amazing works of art and sculpture at the Austin Museum of Art

 

Where to Stay in Austin

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Austin.

Best Hostel in Austin: HK Austin

This awesome hostel has an amazing location in East Cesar Chavez. It’s a short walk from all of the city’s top attractions, as well as bars, restaurants, and the Colorado River (but not the same one that goes through the Grand Canyon).

It has comfortable and well-equipped private and dorm-style accommodations and is our pick for the best hostel in Austin.

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Best Hotel in Austin: Guild Lamar Union

This stunning and ultra-modern property is our choice for the best hotel in Austin. A short distance to both Zilker Park and downtown, it is ideally located for exploring the city.

It boasts 10 apartments outfitted with modern features and amenities. There’s also a swimming pool and free wifi.

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Austin Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Austin

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Downtown

  • If you’re visiting Austin for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than Downtown. The epicentre of Austin, Downtown is packed with ancient landmarks, great restaurants and top tourist attractions.
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East Cesar Chavez

  • Nestled between Lady Bird Lake and trendy East Austin is the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, East Cesar Chavez has a mix of residential dwellings and commercial spaces, including shops, restaurants, and businesses.
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Red River Cultural District

  • The Red River Cultural District is a small neighborhood that packs a big punch. Spanning just three blocks in Downtown Austin, this neighborhood is heaving with nightclubs, music venues, bars, and bistros.
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East Austin

  • In a city bursting with cool, East Austin is a giant amongst men. It’s far and away the coolest neighborhood in the city thanks to its central locations, a high concentration of hipster hangouts, and its great selection of bars, restaurants, and live music venues.
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Zilker

  • One of the greenest neighborhoods in the city, Zilker is our recommendation for where to stay for families visiting Austin. Thanks to its close proximity to Downtown and its abundance of outdoor activities, this neighborhood is perfect for kids and adults of all ages.
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Austin is a massive and sprawling city. The capital of the great state of Texas, Austin covers more than 700 square kilometres of land.

It has a reputation for its incredible live music and mouthwatering food scenes, as well as for its rich history, diverse culture, and its quirky atmosphere and attitude.

Austin has a population of more than 950,000 people and is the fastest growing large city in the United States.

The city is divided into 59 neighborhoods, each offering something unique to travellers and locals. To get a good feel for the city, we recommend you visit at least three or four neighborhoods during your vacation.

At the centre of the city is Downtown Austin. Home to the most famous tourist attractions and historic landmarks, Downtown is a bustling district perfect for sightseeing, eating and enjoying Austin’s atmosphere.

North of Downtown is the Red River Cultural District. Spanning just three blocks, this neighborhood is packed with bars, restaurants, nightclubs and pubs. It’s the ideal destination for night owls and party animals.

Head east and you’ll pass through the cool neighborhoods of East Austin and East Cesar Chavez. With plenty of sights, sounds and taste to explore, these two neighborhoods attract hip locals and trendy travellers.

Travel south across the Colorado River and you’ll arrive in Zilker. The greenest neighborhood in the city, Zilker is packed with family-friendly activities and outdoor adventures.

Still not sure where to stay? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

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Check out this post to read our full review!

 

5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Austin

Now, let’s take a look, in more details at the five best neighborhoods to stay in Austin. Each area is unique and offers something different to travellers, so make sure you pick the neighborhood that’s right for you!

 

1. Downtown – Best Place to Stay in Austin for First-Timers

If you’re visiting Austin for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than Downtown. The epicentre of Austin, Downtown is packed with ancient landmarks, great restaurants and top tourist attractions.

This part of the city is bursting with history, charm and a quirky atmosphere. Almost any time of day, the air will be filled with live music and delicious smells. Simply walk down any street in Downtown Austin and find yourself engulfed in its magic.

History buffs will also love exploring this district. Not only is it home to the State Capitol building, but Downtown Austin is where you’ll find lots of historic architecture, including the Paramount Theatre and the Frost Bank Tower.

Downtown, Austin

 

Things to See and Do in Downtown

– Browse the shops, restaurants and cafes on cool and quaint Rainey Street.

– Dine on delicious and seasonal fare at True Food Kitchen.

– Dive deep into Texas history at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, which has three floors of exhibits, displays and galleries.

– Eat bold American cuisine at Roaring Fork.

– See the Texas State Capitol Building.

– Shop the stalls of local fruits, vegetables, meats and more at the Saturday Downtown Farmer’s Market.

– Sip signature cocktails and custom drinks at Swift’s Attic.

– View amazing works of art and sculpture at the Austin Museum of Art.

– Visit Austin City Hall.

 

Best Hostel in Downtown: Firehouse Hostel

In addition to its central Downtown location, Firehouse Hostel’s dorm beds each have their own power outlets, reading lights, and not one, but TWO, pillows!

Built in a historic firehouse, this hostel has a large kitchen, hot showers and a comfortable common room. Guests can also enjoy a free breakfast.

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Best Hotel in Downtown: Fairmont Austin

A wonderful staff, a stunning pool, and a great location are just a few of the reasons this is our top choice for where to stay in Downtown Austin.

It is close to Austin’s top attractions and landmarks, and each room is stylishly decorated and has a luxurious bathtub.

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Best Hotel in Downtown: Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

Set in the heart of Austin, the Hilton Garden Inn is a comfortable and convenient three-star hotel. Composed of 254 room, this hotel offers guests an outdoor pool, an in-house bar and a delicious on-site restaurant.

Enjoy top tourist attractions just a few steps from your front door.

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2. East Cesar Chavez – Best Place to Stay in Austin on a Budget

Nestled between Lady Bird Lake and trendy East Austin is the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, East Cesar Chavez has a mix of residential dwellings and commercial spaces, including shops, restaurants, and businesses.

Voted the best neighborhood in Austin in 2016, East Cesar Chavez is a safe neighborhood with a great community atmosphere. Here you’ll see locals enjoy morning coffee and evening beers out on their front porch.

East Cesar Chavez is also where you’ll find a good concentration of budget hostels and inexpensive hotels. With so many different accommodation options on offer, there’s something for every traveller on every budget in this part of the city.

East Cesar Chavez Austin

Photo credits: Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in East Cesar Chavez

– Dine on delicious barbecue at Kerlin BBQ.

– Eat incredible tacos at Taqueria Chapala.

– Go for a swim at Martin Neighborhood Pool.

– Grab a pint at the EastSide Tavern.

– Listen to live music at Stay Gold.

– Make a few feline friends at the Blue Cat Café.

– Rent a kayak or canoe and glide along the waters of the Colorado River.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Capital City Bakery.

– Sink your teeth into a delicious bacon-wrapped hot dog at Mission Dogs.

– Sip refreshing cocktails at Drinks Lounge.

– Take a relaxing stroll through Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach.

 

Best Hostel in East Cesar Chavez: HK Austin

This awesome hostel is our top choice for where to stay in East Cesar Chavez. It’s just a short walk from all of the city’s top attractions, as well as bars, restaurants and the Colorado River.

It has comfortable and well-equipped private and dorm-style accommodations and has free wifi, linens and towels.

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Best Hotel in East Cesar Chavez: Guild East 6th Street

Guild East 6th Street is a modern and bright property located in East Cesar Chavez. It is a short walk from top tourist attractions, as well as bars, bistros, art galleries and shops. It also boasts an outdoor pool, terrace and a laundry service.

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Best Hotel in East Cesar Chavez: Guild East 6th Street at the Indie

This property is a great base for your time in Austin. Ideally located in East Cesar Chavez, it is a short walk to Downtown, the Texas State Capitol, and the city’s bustling nightlife district.

This property has 12 fully-equipped apartments, each outfitted with modern amenities.

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3. Red River Cultural District – Best Place to Stay in Austin for Nightlife

The Red River Cultural District is a small neighborhood that packs a big punch. Spanning just three blocks in Downtown Austin, this neighborhood is heaving with nightclubs, music venues, bars, and bistros.

If you love music, you’ll want to stay here! Red River is the heart and soul of Austin’s music scene. Lining each and every street are music venues and lounges where you can hear up-and-coming, as well as established, artists and bands.

Want to dance the night away? No problem! Red River is bursting with bars, pubs, clubs and dancehalls that cater to all tastes and styles.

Red River Cultural District Austin

Photo credits: City of Austin

 

Things to See and Do in Red River Cultural District

– Choose from a great selection of beers and drinks at Mohawk Austin.

– Dance the night away at Cheer Up Charlies.

– Eat incredible Tex-Mex fare and enjoy a margarita or two at Pelons Tex Mex.

– Groove to goth and industrial live bands and DJs at Elysium.

– Indulge in delicious barbecue at Stubbs.

– Listen to top 40 and hip-hop tunes as you spin around the dancefloor of Plush.

– Party until dawn at Barbarella nightclub.

– Sink your teeth into an incredible slice of pizza at Hoboken Pie.

– Sip urbane cocktails at Swan Dive.

– Spend a night at intimate and retro Beerland.

 

Best Hostel in Red River Cultural District: Native Hostel Austin

Located just over the road in East Austin, the Native Hostel Austin is the closest hostel to this lively district. It offers guests all the comforts of a luxury hotel but at a fraction of the price.

Each bed has a privacy curtain, a lamp and a plug. There’s also a bar, kitchen and BBQ area on site.

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Best Hotel in Red River Cultural District: La Quinta Inn Austin Capitol

This charming three-star hotel is located a short walk from Austin’s vibrant and vivacious Red River Cultural District. It has an outdoor pool, a fitness centre, and each room is well-equipped for a comfortable stay.

Guests can enjoy hot beverages and free wifi throughout their stay.

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Best Hotel in Red River Cultural District: Hampton Inn & Suites Austin at the University

Located just east of the Red River Cultural District, this hotel is within walking distance of lively nightlife and incredible restaurants. It also has an amazing rooftop pool.

The rooms are spacious, comfortable and well-equipped. All these things combined make it our pick for where to stay in the Red River Cultural District.

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4. East Austin – Coolest Neighborhood in Austin

In a city bursting with cool, East Austin is a giant amongst men. It’s far and away the coolest neighborhood in the city thanks to its central locations, a high concentration of hipster hangouts, and its great selection of bars, restaurants, and live music venues.

If you love to eat, then East Austin is for you! This downtown district is packed with restaurants, cafes and bistros serving up dishes from around the world.

Here you can indulge in everything from tacos and enchiladas to seafood, sweet treats and savoury barbecue. We guarantee your mouth will be watering as you wander this fantastic neighborhood.

East Austin is also a mecca for artists and creatives. This hip and colourful ‘hood is home to art galleries and outdoor displays, including some pretty incredible street art and graffiti.

East Austin

Photo credits: Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in East Austin

– Dive deep into Austin’s musical history at the Texas Museum of Music.

– Eat savoury and amazing tacos at Tacos Deliciosos

– Explore the exhibits dedicated to African-America history and culture at the George Washington Carver Museum.

– Grab a slice at Eastside Pies.

– Kickstart your day with a delicious breakfast at Paperboy.

– Sample amazing French fare at Blue Dahlia Bistro.

– Sink your teeth into out-of-this-world dishes at Franklin Barbecue.

– Sip cool cocktails at Dozen Street.

– Visit the Historic Victory Grill, one of the few remaining juke joints in Austin.

 

Best Hostel in East Austin: Native Hostel Austin

Thanks to its location in hip East Austin, this hostel is the ideal base for bar hopping, shopping, and listening to live music. It has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for explorers, seekers and intrepid travellers.

This hostel has comfortable beds, a myriad of facilities and even offers free breakfast to guests!

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Best Hotel in East Austin: Hotel Eleven Austin

Tucked away in trendy East Austin is Hotel Eleven. This stylish boutique hotel is within walking distance of the Capitol as well as Austin’s best bars, clubs and restaurants.

Composed of 12 rooms, it has a relaxing terrace and free wifi throughout. The rooms are comfortable and well-equipped.

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Best Hotel in East Austin: DoubleTree by Hilton Austin-University Area

The DoubleTree by Hilton is our pick for where to stay in East Austin. This comfortable three-star hotel is well-situated in the neighborhood and is close to popular nightlife destinations, restaurants and shopping.

On-site you’ll find a delicious restaurant and a stylish lounge bar.

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5. Zilker – Best Place to Stay in Austin for Families

One of the greenest neighborhoods in the city, Zilker is our recommendation for where to stay for families visiting Austin. Thanks to its close proximity to Downtown and its abundance of outdoor activities, this neighborhood is perfect for kids and adults of all ages.

The main attraction and highlight of Zilker is the metropolitan park. Cover more than 350-acres, this urban green space is home to a variety of activities and attractions, including hiking and biking trails, kayaking and canoeing, as well as sculpture parks and waterside activities.

Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll or to get your heart pumping, Zilker is the place for you! But there’s more to Zilker than its park. This neighborhood is also home to cafes, restaurants, shops and more.

Zilker Austin

Photo credits: jwproperties

 

Things to See and Do in Zilker

– Enjoy large portions of delicious Tex-Mex dishes at Chuy’s.

– Go for a swim in Barton Springs, an outdoor pool fed by a nearby natural spring.

– Learn about the natural environment at the interesting and free Austin Nature and Science Centre.

– Listen to live music as you eat amazing food at Shady Grove.

– Rent kayaks or canoes and paddle around Lady Bird Lake.

– Ride the Zilker Zephyr train.

– See incredible works of art at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.

– Stop and smell the roses at the Zilker Botanical Garden.

 

Best Budget Accommodation in Zilker: Village Motor Inn Austin

The Village Motor Inn is your best bet for budget accommodations in Zilker. A short walk from the park and downtown Austin, this hotel is close to restaurants, cafes and well-known tourist attractions. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom and a microwave.

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Best Hotel in Zilker: Guild Lamar Union

This stunning and ultra-modern property is our pick for where to stay in Zilker. A short distance to both Zilker Park and downtown, ideally ideal located for exploring the city. It boasts 10 apartments outfitted with modern features and amenities. There’s also a swimming pool and free wifi.

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Best Hotel in Zilker: South Lamar Exclusives By YouRent

A spectacular location and sparkling clean rooms; this property is a great base for your family’s trip to Austin. Located near lush and green Zilker, this hotel allows for convenient access throughout the city.

It has seven fully-furnished apartments, an outdoor pool, and free wifi throughout the property.

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Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Stay in Austin

Austin is the epitome of cool. The state capital of Texas, Austin is bursting with live music, incredible food, fun nightlife, and a hip and trendy atmosphere.

Whether you’re a culture vulture, a party animal, a history buff, or something in between, you’ll absolutely love exploring this colourful, quirky and oh-so-cool city.

In this post, we’ve highlighted the five best neighborhoods in Austin. If you’re still not sure where to say, here’s a quick recap.

HK Austin is our pick for where to stay for cost-conscious travellers and budget backpackers. Not only does it have a great central location, but it is comfortable and has awesome features and amenities.

Another great option is the Guild Lamar Union. Sleek, stylish and ultra modern, this property is located between Zilker and Downtown and is close to restaurants, bars and shops.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! 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 now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email hostels@thebrokebackpacker.com to find out how.

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