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, this list will help you find a neighborhood that fits your needs.

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

austin travel guide texas capitol building
Welcome to Austin, Texas!

Where to Stay in Austin

Are you backpacking Austin, Texas and looking for a place to stay? These are my highest recommendations for places to stay in Austin.

Best Airbnb in Austin: Modern and Chic House

Modern and Chic House

Snug between downtown and UT is this cottage style home and in my humble opinion, one of the best Airbnbs in Austin. If you like to explore cities by biking and walking, then this place is perfect for you. Its central location is perfect for accessing everything within a few footsteps. Although there’s a full list of cafes to try in the neighborhood, this home is equipt with some of the finest appliances, a Mr Coffee maker with Starbucks grinds (you can’t beat free coffee!), and the kitchen table is set up for gourmet meals.

Best Hostel in Austin: HK Austin

HK Austin

This awesome Austin 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 my pick for the best hostel in Austin.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

Set in the heart of Austin, the Hilton Garden Inn is a comfortable and convenient three-star luxury hotel. Composed of 254 rooms, 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.

Austin Neighborhood Guide

FIRST TIME IN AUSTIN
Downtown, Austin
FIRST TIME IN AUSTIN

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.

ON A BUDGET
East Cesar Chavez
ON A BUDGET

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.

NIGHTLIFE
Red River Cultural District
NIGHTLIFE

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.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
East Austin Texas
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

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.

FOR FAMILIES
Zilker Park Austin
FOR FAMILIES

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.

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.

The city is divided into 59 neighborhoods, each offering something unique to travellers and locals. To get a good feel for the city, I recommend you visit at least three or four neighborhoods during your vacation. It’s also the perfect starting point for a Texas road trip, where you can gather your senses and have a feel for the good ol’ Southern way of life.

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.

This is Austin energy.

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 tastes to explore, these two neighborhoods attract hip locals and trendy travellers.

Travel to South Austin 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, I’ve got you covered!

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5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Austin

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail 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

Downtown, Austin

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 Austin’s 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.

Best Airbnb in Downtown: Modern and Chic House

Modern and Chic House

Snug between downtown and UT is this cottage style home waiting for you to stay here. If you like to explore cities by biking and walking, then this place is perfect for you. It’s centrally located to everything within a few footsteps. Although there’s a full list of cafes to try in the neighborhood, this home is equipt with some of the finest appliances, a Mr Coffee maker with Starbucks grinds (you can’t beat free coffee!), and the kitchen table is set up for gourmet meals.

Best Hostel in Downtown: Firehouse Hostel

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.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Fairmont Austin

Fairmont Austin

A wonderful staff, a stunning pool, and a great location are just a few of the reasons this is my 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.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Hilton Garden Inn Austin 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.

Things to See and Do in Downtown

  • Browse the shops, restaurants and cafes on cool and quaint Rainey Street.
  • Dine on the 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.
  • See the Texas State Capitol Building.
  • See if there are any events happening at the Austin Convention Center.
  • View amazing works of art and sculpture at the Austin Museum of Art.
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2. East Cesar Chavez – Best Place to Stay in Austin on a Budget

East Cesar Chavez Austin
Photo: Everdayzac (WikiCommons)

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.

Best Airbnb in East Cesar Chavez: Birdhouse Cottage

Birdhouse Cottage

This is the ultimate budget home with quirks! Stay in this converted birdhouse that even is equipt with a kitchen. It’s unique in so many ways; one is they actually have a full-size bed inside for your comfort. Plenty of room to walk around, but with a hammock out your front doorstep, why would you want to be indoors? Sure, it’s small, but it’s honestly all you need for a close, affordable Eastside/Downtown experience.

Best Hostel in East Cesar Chavez: HK Austin

HK Austin

This awesome hostel is my 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.

Best Hotel in East Cesar Chavez: Heywood Hotel

Heywood Hotel

This charming eco-friendly hotel is the perfect place to stay in Austin overnight for a solo traveller or couple on a budget. With its great location close to Austin’s top attractions, your days will be filled with exploring the city’s hotspots. If you don’t want to walk, you can rent bicycles at the reception for free (as long as you bring them back before 7pm). And in case it’s a rainy day and you want to stay inside, your lovely room is equipped with a big TV. You can grab a free and freshly roasted coffee in the lobby every morning before you start your day as well.

Things to See and Do in East Cesar Chavez.

  • Go for a swim at Martin Neighborhood Pool.
  • Make a few feline friends at the Blue Cat Café.
  • Take some cool photos of the Congress Avenue Bridge.
  • 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.

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

Red River Cultural District
Photo: Larry D. Moore (WikiCommons)

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. Since it’s close to Downtown but a little out of the way, you’ll find many affordable vacation rentals such as VRBOs in this area.

Best Airbnb in Red River Cultural District: Getaway Apartment

Getaway Apartment

Start your explorations in new ways by staying in this luxury apartment. You may be here to see the museums or bars which are conveniently surrounding the area; however, the amenities of this home might have you thinking otherwise. Experience the rooftop sunsets and lounge around the pool or even swim some laps on those blazing summer days. You can also hit the indoor fitness center to get your body activated while spending time visiting the city.

Best Hostel in Red River Cultural District: Native Hostel Austin

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.

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

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, and a fitness center, and each room is well-equipped for a comfortable stay. Guests can enjoy hot beverages and free wifi throughout their stay.

Best Hotel in Red River Cultural District: Aloft Austin Downtown

Aloft Austin Downtown

With stunning views and an amazing location close to Downtown Austin, this hotel is one of the best catches for solo travellers and couples that want to explore the nightlife options a bit further. The rooms are modern, clean and, most importantly, ideal to cure a hangover, thanks to the massive Flatscreen TVs. There’s a tasty on-site restaurant, a cocktail bar and a coffee bar. For the post-night-out cravings, you can also grab a couple of snacks at the little in-house mini market. There’s a coffee maker in each room as well.

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.
  • 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.
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4. East Austin – Coolest Neighborhood in Austin

East Austin in austin tx
Photo: Matthew Rutledge (Flickr)

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. I 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.

Best Airbnb in East Austin: Tiny House Oasis

Tiny House Oasis

Ever wanted to stay in a tiny house? Now you can, at this Airbnb in east Austin nestled in the coolest scene of the city. Here you can cool off after those hot summer explorations. —That’s right, good ol’ A/C! The home even gives you a robe and spa shoes to walk to the kitchenette and bathroom that only you have access to. The patio and indoor desk are great for the digital nomads if working abroad is your thing.

Best Hostel in East Austin: Chic Studio Bungalow

Chic Studio Bungalow

East Austin usually offers the more unusual and unique accommodation options, and this place is definitely one of them. The charming bungalow studio in the trendy area might not be the cheapest, but if your budget allows it, you’ll be getting the best value for money you could hope for. The chic apartment offers space for three guests and is located around 3km from Austin University. It’s a super welcoming and bright living space with lots of elements that take you back to nature. Thanks to the massive windows, the relatively cozy home will feel incredibly spacious and airy.

Best House in East Austin: East Downtown Home 2207

East Downtown Home 2207

This massive holiday home is a freestanding house in the heart of East Auston – and a true hidden gem! With its own fitness center, a rooftop terrace and three bedrooms, it’s the ideal getaway for a family or a group of friends. You’ll also have a little private garden and a balcony with a BBQ. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a super comfy living area with a massive TV – perfect to spend a lazy day inside. In case you want to explore Austin a bit further, you’re ideally located only 2.2km away from Austin University and lots of cool attractions.

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

DoubleTree by Hilton Austin University Area

The DoubleTree by Hilton is my 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.

Things to See and Do in East Austin

  • Dive deep into Austin’s musical history at the Texas Museum of Music.
  • Explore the exhibits dedicated to African-American history and culture at the George Washington Carver Museum.
  • Head to Canterbury Street to see the amazing street art.
  • Sample amazing French fare at Blue Dahlia Bistro.
  • Head over to Capital Plaza Shopping Center to do a bit of shopping.
  • Sink your teeth into out-of-this-world dishes at Franklin Barbecue.
  • Visit the Historic Victory Grill, one of the few remaining juke joints in Austin.

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

Zilker Park Austin

One of the greenest neighborhoods in the city, Zilker is my 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.

Best Airbnb in Zilker: Entire Home in the best part of South Lamar

Entire Home in the best part of South Lamar

This home has enough beds for a family of 5, which is why I recommend it. It’s unbelievably spacious enough with 2 big tranquil beds and a couch that you can easily crash on. In about 2-5 minutes walking distance from Zilker Park, Downtown, and the Barton Springs Pool. There are loads of restaurants in the neighborhood as well, but the kitchen is so nice you gotta take advantage of cooking at least one meal here.

Best Budget Accommodation in Zilker: Village Motor Inn Austin

Village Motor Inn Austin

The Village Motor Inn is your best bet for budget accommodations in Zilker. This cosy motel in Austin is a short walk from the park and downtown Austin, this budget 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.

Best Suite in Zilker: Bouldin Townhome

Bouldin Townhome

Bouldin Townhome offers great suite options for families that travel together in Austin. Each apartment offers space for up to 6 guests at a time and comes with a terrace, a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a seating area with a flat-screen TV – perfect for those lazy days inside! You’ll be within walking distance to cool attractions and dining options. It’s a 20min walk to the Downtown area, however, you’ll be well connected to public transport options that work very efficiently 24/7.

Things to See and Do in Zilker

  • 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.
  • Rent kayaks or canoes and paddle around Lady Bird Lake.
  • Ride the Zilker Zephyr train.
  • Have a picnic in Zilker Park.
  • See incredible works of art at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
  • Head over to see the Cathedral of Junk art galleries near South Congress Avenue.
  • Stop and smell the roses at the Zilker Botanical Garden.

FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in Austin

Here’s what people usually ask me about Austin neighborhoods and where to stay.

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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, I’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 my 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 I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Austin isn’t dull.

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.


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