Hostels are a great option for anyone traveling on a budget in Australia. Not only do they give solo travelers a chance to meet new people, they also often provide discounted or free tours, meals and activities. Keep reading to discover some of the coolest hostels in Australia.
Table of Contents
- How to choose a good hostel
- Are hostels safe?
- Are YHA hostels the best choice?
- The best hostels in New South Wales
- The best hostels in Queensland
- The best hostels in Victoria
- The best hostels in South Australia
- The best hostels in Western Australia
- The best hostels in the Northern Territory
- The best hostels in Tasmania
- Ready for your trip?
How to choose a good hostel
When you’re choosing a hostel, try to think about what features you’d like it to have. I also recommend reading reviews on websites like Booking.com, which only lets users leave reviews if they’ve recently stayed at the property. I also like to look at the photos on TripAdvisor, as they usually have more user-uploaded photos than promotional ones.
The hostels in this list are chosen for different reasons, including atmosphere, location, uniqueness, cleanliness, facilities and value for money. Even though I recommend all the accommodations listed here, I highly recommend you do some research to make sure that the hostel you pick is the right one for you. Some questions you may want to ask include:
- Do the facilities look clean? Is cleanliness rated high or low by previous guests?
- Does it have lockers or a safe place to store valuables?
- How close is the property to the places and attractions you’d like to visit?
- Does it offer the kind of atmosphere you’re looking for?
Remember that not every hostel is right for every person. If you’re not into partying, you probably don’t want to stay in a party hostel. And if you do prefer a party atmosphere, you may want to avoid family-run boutique hostels or any place that has a noise curfew.
Family travelers: You should be aware that there are some adults-only properties that don’t allow children to stay. These are usually party hostels which may not be ideal for a family anyway. If you’re traveling with kids of any age, it’s a good idea to check with the hostel what their policy is before you book.
Older travelers: Some hostels throughout Australia only allow guests to stay in the dorms if they’re within the ages of 18-35 years old. I personally find this age restriction to be needlessly discriminatory (I’ve have had some really fun roommates as old as 60 years old), but it is something you may run into, especially in party hostels.
Australian residents: There are properties around the country that only take guests who have foreign passports. I’m not entirely sure why this is even a thing, since Australia is huge and lots of Aussies travel, but some hostels do limit guests to foreign residents only. If you’re traveling on an Australian passport, make sure you confirm with the hostel prior to booking that they don’t have a policy against local guests.
Are hostels safe?
If it’s your first time staying in a hostel, you’re probably a bit nervous. That’s totally normal, and I’m happy to tell you that yes, hostels are usually very safe! You obviously do need to be careful with valuables and use common sense (as with any type of traveling), but I’ve personally been staying in hostels for 13 years and never had any major issues. In fact, I usually feel safer in hostels than hotels when I’m traveling alone, since there are always tons of people around. More and more hostels are also implementing extra security features like in-room lockers, CCTV cameras, keycard room entry and some even have live-in security staff!
Are YHA hostels the best choice?
I’ve stayed in many hostels in Australia, both YHA and non-YHA. While not every YHA property is amazing, I do feel that they’re overall the most extensive and reliable hostel chain in Australia. You can pretty much always count on them to be clean and safe. They also provide lockers and female-only dorms in most of their properties, and they have a strong commitment to sustainability. I spent a month staying almost exclusively at YHA hostels along the east coast, and have written an article on what to know about traveling with YHA.
Though there are many YHA hostels on the list below, there are many non-YHA properties as well. As mentioned above, the hostels I’ve picked for this list have been chosen for different reasons, which also means there’s something on the list for everyone!
The best hostels in New South Wales
Blue Mountains: Katoomba YHA
The Blue Mountains are located about a 2-hour train ride away from Sydney, and are a beautiful place to spend a couple of days. The Katoomba YHA is the best place in the area for backpackers on a budget. It’s located in a cool heritage building with an art deco ballroom that was once used for cabarets. The hostel is about a 20-minute walk down the road from the Three Sisters viewing platform, which is fantastic to see both during the day and when they’re lit up at night.
Each bed at the hostel has an individual light and USB outlet and most of the dorms have an ensuite bathroom. During the winter, visitors can enjoy the cozy fireplace in the living room and during the summer you can sunbathe outside on the large patio or courtyard. Perfect if you love exploring.
Byron Bay: Arts Factory Lodge
Originally founded by hippies in the 1970’s, the Nomads Arts Factory Lodge is Byron Bay’s most unique hostel. This bohemian-style guesthouse is located about a 15-minute walk from the centre of Byron Bay and is great for those who want a fun and offbeat place to stay during their time in Byron.
In addition to organizing tours and events that take guests around town, the hostel offers in-house activities like yoga classes, didgeridoo-making lessons and even the chance to learn Reiki. There’s also free wifi, a swimming pool and reception is open 24 hours a day. Just make sure you pack lots of bug spray to protect you from the mozzies! Perfect if you love something different.
Newcastle: Newcastle Beach YHA
Once a gentlemen’s club, the Newcastle Beach YHA has somehow managed to keep its elegance over the years while also providing a laid-back atmosphere for backpackers to enjoy. The hostel is located in a restored Victorian mansion, and has a large, beautiful living room with a cozy fireplace. The building is old, so some areas can be drafty and the kitchen is a bit leaky when it rains, but the location more than makes up for it. It’s just a short walk to the shops and cafes on Hunter Street, the Fort Scratchley historic site and Nobby’s Beach and lighthouse.
The hostel organizes events like pizza nights, movie nights and BBQs and has a noticeboard near the entrance with information on tons of things to do around town. There’s also a secure luggage room, which is perfect for those taking the evening Greyhound to Sydney. Perfect if you love exploring.
Port Stephens: Melaleuca Surfside Backpackers
This rustic little hostel is located in Port Stephens, which is just a 1-hour bus ride away from Newcastle. It’s nestled in the bush and functions as a backpackers hostel and a campground. Though it’s not the cheapest hostel in town, you may feel a bit better knowing that the extra cost goes to taking care of the animals, since the place also functions as a bit of a shelter for local rescues like the adorable kangaroo that hangs out in the yard. Dorm rooms and private cabins are located in lovely wooden bungalows and the hostel is only a few minutes’ walk from beautiful One Mile Beach.
Port Stephens is one of my all-time favourite places in Australia and one of the lesser-known destinations on the East Coast. It offers tons for visitors to do, like explore the 26 stunning beaches, surf the largest continually moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, look for migrating humpback whales and take a scenic walk such as the one up Tomaree Head. Perfect if you love relaxing.
Sydney-Bondi: Noah’s Bondi Beach
Noah’s Backpackers in Bondi has been one of my favourite places to stay in Sydney for several years. It has affordable weekly rates, which makes it perfect for more long-term travelers and it’s located right across the street from the famous Bondi Beach. The hostel is just a few minutes’ walk from the start of the Bondi to Bronte coastal walkway and bus stops are close by, making it easy to get into the city. It’s ideal for those who don’t plan on spending too much time in Sydney’s CBD and would rather enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Bondi.
As well as a great location, the best feature of this hostel is the rooftop deck, which has great views of the beach. Some dorms have ensuite bathrooms and all bunks have large lockers under the beds. The hostel also offers free bodyboard rentals as well as a free shuttle to the airport between 5am-5pm. Perfect if you love exploring.
Sydney-CBD: Sydney Harbour YHA
The Sydney Harbour YHA in The Rocks is built on top of an archaeological site in Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood. The hostel is elevated above the open site, allowing guests to look down at remnants of some of the city’s oldest buildings. Along the outside of the building, as well as inside the entrance, are glass cases displaying some of the treasures that have been dug up at the site.
Not only is the Sydney Harbour YHA great for history lovers, it also has a rooftop deck with one of the best views in the city. The large patio is a great place to look out over some of Sydney’s most famous sites like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – this makes it the most popular backpacker accommodation in Sydney over New Years, as well as during the annual Vivid light festival.
This hostel is one of YHA Australia’s most sustainable properties, with solar panels to heat the water, a rainwater tank for flushing toilets and motion sensor/keycard activated lighting throughout the building. Rooms are accessed with keycards and each dorm has an ensuite bathroom. There are also tons of activities for guests to get involved in, including free pancake breakfasts, city tours, movie nights and meals on the rooftop deck.
The hostel is in a fantastic location, within walking distance of the harbour, as well as attractions within The Rocks neighbourhood and CBD. I recommend grabbing a map of The Rocks and spend a day exploring its old alleyways and museums. The nearby Playfair Cafe is a great spot to grab a delicious sandwich, and the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout lets YHA members enjoy the view for just $10. Perfect if you love exploring.
The best hostels in Queensland
Agnes Water: 1770 YHA
The 1770 YHA is actually located in the town of Agnes Water, which is around a 10-minute drive from the tiny town of Seventeen-Seventy. Agnes Water has a couple of decently-sized grocery stores and some small shops such as a newsagent, liquor store and cafe, all within walking distance from the hostel.
This was one of the most well-run hostels I’ve ever stayed at. The manager made an effort to ensure that each guest was looked after and was always happy to make recommendations on the best things to do. There were daily and weekly activities, such as super cheap surf lessons, a sunset tour to the beach at Seventeen-Seventy and fun communal BBQs. The hostel also has a tv room with Netflix and a huge kitchen that opens out to a tropical outdoor deck (bring bug spray though!).
Not only were the common areas nicely looked after and fun to spend time in, the hostel was only a 5-minute walk from the beach. Make sure to stop by Holidays Cafe at the end of the beach so you can enjoy a good coffee and a breakky burrito on the beachfront patio. Perfect if you love relaxing.
Brisbane: Brisbane City YHA
The Brisbane City YHA is located close to Roma Street Station and the beautiful Roma Street Parkland. The pool and new rooftop bar provide stunning views of the city and river. The location right next to the train station and bus depot makes it a great place to stay – you can walk to the city centre in about 20 minutes or catch public transport around. It’s also in an ideal spot if you plan to take day trips to the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast.
The lockers in the rooms are large enough to hold all your belongings and each bed has a light and USB port. Some rooms have ensuite bathrooms, but if that’s not your thing you can opt for a room without, even in private rooms. Perfect if you love exploring.
Cairns: Gilligans Backpackers
Gilligans is like a resort for backpackers and one of the liveliest places in Cairns. It’s located right in the centre of town and has its own nightclub with nightly entertainment, a big lagoon-style swimming pool and even a gym. It’s a great option for budget travelers, since they offer free airport pickup, free light breakfast each morning, and discounted food and drinks. Lockers in the rooms are small, though big enough to hold valuable items and all rooms have an ensuite bathroom. Perfect if you love partying.
Cairns: Mad Monkey Backpackers Central
Mad Monkey Backpackers in Cairns is a great option if you want less of a party atmosphere than Gilligans, but still want to have some fun. The hostel is recently renovated, with a comfy outdoor cinema, an amazing kitchen (it even has ovens!) and on-site bar which features cheap drink specials and a spacious seating area. This hostel also has 24-hour reception, an airport shuttle, free wifi, free breakfast (with hot and cold options) and Netflix. Dorms are available as mixed or female-only and have lockers, air conditioning and power outlets at each bed.
The hostel also hosts activities and events throughout the week, such as walking tours, pool parties, karaoke nights, trivia challenges and FIFA tournaments on the big screen. Guests get discounts at the on-site pizza joint and a free pass to the local gym. If you’d rather explore, you’re already only a few minutes’ walk from the waterfront, art gallery, aquarium, and the fantastic coffee at Blackbird Laneway. Perfect if you love exploring.
Gold Coast: Bunk Surfers Paradise
Bunk Surfers Paradise is a great option on the Gold Coast for backpackers traveling solo or in a group. Rooms are modern, with bunks located in ‘privacy pods’, which are fantastic for those who love the fun of hostel dorms, but still like having their own space. Each dorm room has a balcony, some with ocean views, and an ensuite bathroom. Every ‘privacy pod’ has a locker and power outlets.
The hostel has a beautiful deck with a pool and hot tub and it’s within walking distance from the Surfers Paradise Esplanade, shops, and the Greyhound bus station. Perfect if you love comfort.
Mission Beach: Jackaroo Treehouse
The Jackaroo Treehouse hostel & campground is a literal tropical oasis in the middle of the rainforest. The hostel’s 6-bed dorm rooms feature either a fan or air conditioning and though they don’t have lockers, they do have free unlimited wifi. The hostel also offers free breakfast and a beautiful pool surrounded by palm trees, as well as patios with amazing views.
The hostel is perfect for those wanting a relaxing rainforest getaway; however, if you’d prefer to explore the local area, the hostel offers a shuttle bus for guests. I recommend making sure you’re back at the hostel in the evenings though – Jack’s Jungle Bar has fun activities each night of the week! Perfect if you love relaxing.
Sunshine Coast: Noosa Heads YHA
The Noosa Heads YHA is located in the heritage-listed Halse Lodge Guesthouse, which dates back to the 1880’s. The hostel is located just a few minutes’ walk to the trendy shops and cafes along Noosa’s Hastings Street, as well as the main beach and national park.
There are plenty of common areas, including a lovely deck that wraps around the top floor of the hostel, and the on-site restaurant has an amazing patio and great deals on food and drinks (pizza and wine for $10? Yes please!). The Noosa YHA also offers free surfboard and bodyboard hire. You can even join a welcome meeting to learn more about the hostel and enjoy a free drink.
Just down the road is the amazing coffee of Tanglewood Cafe, and the Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club, which is a great place to have a drink with a fantastic view of the beach. You can also experience great views and koala sightings on the trails at Noosa National Park. Perfect if you love exploring.
Magnetic Island: Bungalow Bay Koala Village
Bungalow Bay Koala Village (now Selina Magnetic Island) is located on Magnetic Island, just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville. What makes it really cool isn’t just the A-frame bungalow dorms that sit under tropical palm trees, it’s that the hostel has an on-site wildlife park where you can learn about the local animals and make friends with koalas, crocodiles and pythons. The hostel also has fun & unique activities like giant jenga, pictionary and bowling with coconuts.
Though Magnetic Island can be done as a day trip from Townsville, there’s so much to do that you can easily spend a night or two on the island. You can hire a scooter and hop from beach to beach for some good snorkeling, enjoy one of the many beautiful trails, and take in the sunset from the water on a kayak tour. Perfect if you love relaxing.
The best hostels in Victoria
Apollo Bay: Apollo Bay Eco YHA
The ECO-certified Apollo Bay Eco YHA is a great place to spend a night during a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. The building is beautifully designed with 2 kitchens, a rooftop patio and lots of bright windows. The really cool things about this place is that it’s one of YHA’s most sustainable hostels. The building was designed especially to maximize the benefits of natural light and sea breezes, and it has solar panels, sensor-activated lighting, and a wood fire heater to keep it cozy in the wintertime. Perfect if you love relaxing.
Melbourne: Space Hotel
Space Hotel is a fantastic option for travelers to Melbourne. It’s located right in the CBD, so it’s close to shops, theaters and the Central train station. Rooms are big with large lockers and power outlets and reading lights on each bed. Female-only rooms are available, as well as a 4-bed dorm with semi-private bunks.
The on-site karaoke bar is a great place to make some friends. You can also watch a movie at the in-house cinema, stay in shape at the fitness centre or catch a panoramic view of the city on the rooftop deck, which features a spa pool for guests to enjoy. Perfect if you love exploring.
The best hostels in South Australia
Coober Pedy: Radeka Downunder
Coober Pedy is one of the most unique towns in Australia, so it’s probably no surprise that it has one of the most unique hostels in the country. Housed in a former opal mine, Radeka Downunder gives you the chance to sleep underground in a cave-like room. This cool hostel also features a small on-site bar, wifi, pool table and TV room. This hostel is the best place for budget travelers who want to explore the underground museums, cafes and opal mines around Coober Pedy and experience the beauty of the Flinders Ranges. Perfect if you love something different.
Port Elliot: Port Elliot Beach House YHA
Port Elliot is a lovely little seaside town located about 1.5 hours from Adelaide and 1 hour from the ferry to Kangaroo Island. It’s a great place to spend a relaxing couple of days if you plan on doing a day trip to Kangaroo Island or want to explore the nearby Coorong National Park or McLaren Vale wine region.
The Port Elliot Beach House YHA is a family-friendly hostel right in the centre of Port Elliot. The charming historical building is clean and bright, with lights beside every bed and lockers under each bunk. The hostel also offers free boogie board rentals and a little herb & vegetable garden for guests to use.
There’s also lots to do nearby – you can enjoy the beautiful coastal walk near the hostel, which gives a history of the town and its many nearby shipwrecks, or rent a bike and explore the trails. You can also ride the historic Cockle Train to Victor Harbour then catch a horse-drawn tram to beautiful Granite Island, where you might be able to spot migrating whales or tiny penguins. Perfect if you love relaxing.
The best hostels in Western Australia
Fremantle: YHA Fremantle Prison
The award-winning Fremantle Prison YHA is one of the most unique hostels in Australia. Previously known as the Convict Establishment, the prison was originally built in the mid-1800’s to house imperial convicts. It functioned as a prison until 1991, as well as an internment camp during World Wars I & II and is now a UNESCO World Heritage-listed building that visitors can explore (prison tours are discounted for YHA members).
In addition to offering the opportunity to sleep in a jail cell, the hostel provides free breakfasts (pancakes on Sundays!), free dinner on Tuesday nights and movies in the in-house cinema every Monday. Perfect if you love something different.
Perth: Hostel G
Hostel G is one of the coolest places to stay in Perth. Dorm rooms are bright and modern, and each bed has shelves, power outlets, a reading lamp and privacy curtain. Rooms also have lockers, an air conditioner and an ensuite bathroom. The hostel has a big-screen cinema where guests can watch movies or play video games and the on-site Lazy Lee restaurant offers cheap food and drinks, with daily specials like $10 lunch and $5 beer. The hostel is also located in the centre of town, within walking distance to the train station and Elizabeth Quay as well as the museums and shopping centres. Perfect if you love comfort.
The best hostels in the Northern Territory
Alice Springs: Jump Inn
The award-winning Jump Inn is a fun, well-maintained backpackers hostel located about a 15-minute walk from the centre of Alice Springs. Rooms are clean and comfortable with lockers, air conditioning, ensuite bathrooms and keycard entry. Free wifi and breakfast are included, and the hostel features an outdoor pool where you can escape from the desert heat.
The highlight of this hostel is the downstairs bar, which features a large list of craft beers and steamed buns. The reception staff are friendly and always happy to help with itinerary planning and tour booking, offering affordable options like 1-day return trips to Uluru. Perfect if you love exploring.
Darwin: Darwin YHA
The Darwin YHA, also known as Melaleuca On Mitchell or MOM, is located right in the centre of the city. This lively hostel features an amazing rooftop deck with two swimming pools, a pool bar and free activities like city & market tours, BBQs and party games.
The hostel is located right beside Crocosaurus Cove, where you can watch reptile shows and dive with a 5-meter saltwater crocodile (YHA members get discounted entry). Also within walking distance are the WWII Tunnels, Esplanade Park, and the open-air Deckchair Cinema. A little further outside the city centre are more museums, the Botanic Gardens and Charles Darwin National Park. Perfect if you love partying.
The best hostels in Tasmania
Hobart: Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
Hobart’s award-winning Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse is a gorgeous luxury hostel located just a short walk from the centre of town. Each of the wooden beds has a warm blanket, reading lamp and wall plug. The hostel also features free wifi, free tea & coffee, free towel rentals, free parking and spacious communal areas, including a front porch with a beautiful view.
This hostel is perfect for any traveller looking for a relaxed environment, and animal lovers can enjoy the company of the adorable on-site bulldogs.
Hobart: The Nook Backpackers
This clean and cozy hostel is a wonderful place to stay within a 5-minute walk from Hobart’s CBD. Rooms are bright with lockers & heaters, and privacy curtains are available for bottom bunks. Furniture is well-maintained and the communal sitting room looks like it belongs in an IKEA showroom. The hostel provides free wifi and free tea & coffee, as well as free breakfast during the winter months. The hostel also has a lovely BBQ area, which is great during the summer.
Ready for your trip?
I’ve created a printable travel planner that will help make trip planning a breeze. This 7-page PDF has spots to fill in hotel and flight details, emergency info, must-do activities and more. It is available as an instant digital download in the Onwards + Upwards shop.
You can also check out my post on what it’s like to travel Australia with a Greyhound bus pass. I spent a month traveling down the East Coast with a 30-day Whimit pass and have written about the experience, with tips on what to expect and a sample itinerary.