Written by Michael Turtle
Michael Turtle is the founder of Travel Australia Today. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and loves exploring different parts of Australia.
Michael Turtle is the founder of Travel Australia Today and has been a journalist for 20 years.
Long gone are the days when hostels were just for young people and just for people who couldn’t afford hotels. For many travellers, it’s about the atmosphere, and the best hostels in Australia have plenty of that!
Perhaps you’re travelling across Australia alone and you like to stay in hostels to meet other people.
Perhaps you like hostels because you can use the kitchen to cook meals for the whole family.
Or perhaps you like the cheap drinks and parties that some hostels through at their own on-site bars.
Whatever kind of traveller you are, the best Australian hostels have something for you. And, let’s be honest, it’s an expensive country – so if you can save a bit of money with budget accommodation at hostels, then that’s a bonus.
In a moment, I’ll give you my tips for the best hostels in the main Australian cities. Feel free to skip ahead, if that’s what you’re looking for.
First, though, I want to highlight some of the best hostels in Australia that have something extra special about them.
These are the places with wow factor, in unique locations, and incredible buildings.
The best Australian hostels aren’t just great places to stay, they are almost destinations in themselves, and will elevate your trip to a whole new level.
The best hostels in Australia
There are heaps of awesome hostels in Australia, but this top ten list gives you an idea of what you can expect across the country.
Fremantle Prison YHA
Located within a historic gaol that’s also part of a World Heritage Site, the Fremantle Prison YHA has got to be one of the most captivating hostels in Australia.
The Fremantle Prison was originally used for convicts from 1855 and was later converted into a maximum security facility that was in use until 1991.
You can sleep in the cells, while the prisoners’ exercise yards are now common areas. But there’s also a modern and more comfortable section if you don’t fancy spending the night behind bars.
Beaches of Broome
When does a backpacker hostel feel like a resort? When it’s Beaches of Broome on Western Australia’s Kimberley coast.
Right near the famous Cable Beach, the hostel has a large swimming pool, plenty of outdoor spaces for evening drinks, and a great tour desk to organise your activities.
The dorms are comfortable but basic. The private rooms, though, feel like you could be in one of the more expensive luxury hotels nearby.
Bungalow Bay Koala Village
If you’re hoping to see native animals on your trip, then you’ll love a stay at Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Queensland’s Magnetic Island.
The hostel is literally in a wildlife park and you can take tours to see the animals as part of your stay. As well as the popular koalas, there are wombats, turtles, and even crocodiles.
The bungalow accommodation includes dorms but there are also more comfortable private options – all at budget prices
(Another great option on Magnetic Island is Base Backpackers, which is much livelier and has awesome views across the water.)
Although there are more peaceful options, there’s no doubt the hostel scene on the Queensland coast loves a party – and there’s no bigger party than Gilligan’s in Cairns.
The hostel has three bars (which open from 10am), a beer garden overlooking the pool, and even an enormous nightclub. Every night there are DJs, concerts, or other events.
I reckon this is probably Australia’s biggest party hostel. You don’t stay at Gilligan’s to sleep – but, then again, plenty of people come to Cairns planning to do very little of that!
Sydney Harbour YHA
Sydney has a wide range of hostels, from the peaceful, to the party, to the pretentious. But none of them can compete with the Sydney Harbour YHA for views.
Located in the historic Rocks neighbourhood, the hostel has an enormous rooftop terrace that looks across the water from the Harbour Bridge to the Opera House.
The rooms themselves are also modern and comfortable. It’s a little pricier than the real backpacker hostels, but it’s worth it for the location.
Everyone goes to Byron Bay these days, but just 100 kilometres south is the charming town of Yamba – and one of the best hostels on the New South Wales North Coast.
Yamba Central is big enough that is feels social, but not so big that it’s intimidating. The hostels offers surf lessons, has a great cafe, and now even has its own craft brewery!
This is the kind of place where you can stop for the night on your drive up the coast, or take it easy for a week or more.
Grampians Eco YHA
Victoria’s Grampians National Park boasts stunning landscapes, with sandstone escarpments overlooking dense native forests. It deserves more than just a day trip and the Grampians Eco YHA is the perfect base.
The hostel has been designed with the natural environment in mind, creating a flow between the inside and outside – it even has an outdoor fire pit.
What’s particularly impressive is the commitment to sustainability with initiatives like solar-heated water that will soon make the accommodation carbon neutral.
Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
From the outside, Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse looks like someone’s grand old home. From the inside, that’s just how it feels!
This beautifully restored 1895 mansion in Hobart, Tasmania, has dorms and private rooms where every detail has been considered, including the Tasmanian wool blankets for those chilly nights.
The timber floors and decor in the common areas like the dining room give it a warm and homely feel, and you’ll always feel welcome here.
Port Elliot YHA
It may be off the traditional backpacker trail, but Port Elliot is a wonderful little town on the southern coast of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. And the Port Elliot YHA here is a delightful spot to hang out.
Housed in a historic building with modern renovations, it overlooks the coast and offers easy walking access to the beach or a short drive to the wineries.
With a communal kitchen and a large deck, you can have a casual beach house holiday without the cost of getting one just for yourself.
Alice Springs YHA
In the Red Centre, you wouldn’t expect anything too flash, but what the Alice Springs YHA lacks in hipster fixtures, it makes up for in character.
The hostel’s site is a historic outdoor movie theatre that’s been converted into accommodation but still shows films under the stars every night.
The sort of people who are passing through Alice Springs have a bit of an adventurous side to them, so the common areas are great places to hear some fascinating travel tales.
Best hostels in Melbourne
Australia’s capital of culture doesn’t disappoint with its hostels, offering cool outfits with plenty of character. You’ll be happy at any of these for a couple of nights – or a couple of weeks.
For the budget-conscious, Flinders Backpackers is probably your best option, with cheap beds, a large friendly common room, and lots of included extras.
Base St Kilda
Although it’s not in the city centre, Base St Kilda uses its beachside location as an excuse to offer the city’s best party hostel, including events like foam nights.
For a quieter option, The Nunnery is in a historic building from the late 19th century that has plenty of character and a welcoming social environment.
Best hostels in Sydney
Not surprisingly for Australia’s largest city, there are lots of hostels in Sydney, but the best ones have comfortable rooms and a vibrant sense of community.
Wake Up! Sydney
The large Wake Up! Sydney next to Central Station has heaps of extras for guests, including pub crawls, city tours, free pizza, and free drinks.
Sydney Harbour YHA
The rooms are comfortable and modern but the highlight at the Sydney Harbour YHA is the roof terrace with one of the best views in the city.
Stoke Beach House
Escape the busy city centre with the beachside Stoke Beach House in Manly that includes free surf lessons for guests.
Best hostels in Byron Bay
It may be full of celebrities and A-listers these days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some chilled budget hostels in Byron Bay.
Wake Up! Byron Bay
It’s not in the centre of town, but that’s one the reasons why the bright Wake Up! Byron Bay feels so relaxed – plus it’s right on the beach and has lots of freebies
Byron Bay YHA
Right in the middle of town, the Byron Bay YHA has one of the cheapest rates yet still has comfortable rooms, modern facilities, and a fun pool.
Arts Factory Lodge
Evoking the atmosphere of the old Byron Bay, the Arts Factory Lodge has a bohemian feel surrounded by wilderness… and the occasional drum circle.
Best hostels on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast – and particularly Surfers Paradise – is all about the beach and the nightlife, and the hostels here tend to reflect that.
Bunk Surfers Paradise
There’s lots of outdoor space at Bunk Surfers Paradise, but the pool isn’t too big – luckily you’re right near the beach and in the heart of the action.
Down Under Hostels
Unashamedly a party hostel, Down Under Hostels has an age limit (no older than 35) and plenty of events including pub crawls and DJs.
If you don’t want to be in busy Surfers Paradise then the Coolangatta YHA has relaxed accommodation so close to the airport you can walk!
Best hostels in Brisbane
There’s a great range of hostels in Brisbane because a lot of travellers pass through on their way up the coast (although, of course, the city is a great destination itself).
More chic than your average backpackers, Brisbane Quarters has a cool modern feel, and has even got a pool and fitness area.
From the rooftop to the TV rooms, there’s a social atmosphere at Breeze Lodge, which has clean and modern accommodation and facilities.
Somewhere to Stay
You’ll know you’re in Brisbane at Somewhere to Stay because of its resort-style Queenslander house with verandahs, large gardens, and a pool.
Best hostels in Cairns
The tropical weather means you’re going to want somewhere chilled in every sense in Cairns – which, luckily, these top hostels have.
The ultimate party hostel in Cairns, Gilligan’s is an institution in the city, with a pool, beer garden, bars, and even its very own nightclub.
Global Backpackers Cairns
You can’t fault the location of Global Backpackers, right on the Esplanade in Cairns, but it also has clean modern rooms and a sociable rooftop.
With its house-like feel, Travellers Oasis is a relaxed hostel with a pool and outdoor terrace surrounded by a garden that embraces the North Queensland weather.
Best hostels in Darwin
You won’t find as wide a range of hostels in Darwin as you do in other capital cities, but there are still some great options.
Melaleuca on Mitchell (MOM)
A modern complex in the middle of the city, Melaleuca on Mitchell (known as MOM Darwin) has a two-tiered pool and plenty of other space to hang.
Youth Shack Backpackers
The pool is large and close to the on-site bar at Youth Shack Backpackers, which has a real party atmosphere, without being too crazy that it’s annoying.
Best hostels in Broome
If you’ve made it all the way to Broome, you’re keen travellers, and the common areas of the friendly hostels here are full of like-minded people keen to swap stories.
Cable Beach Backpackers
For those on a budget, Cable Beach Backpackers has the best value with lots of free inclusions and a party vibe that includes happy hour and beach events.
Beaches of Broome
It feels more like a resort at Beaches of Broome, especially in the private rooms, with the large pool and on-site bar creating a relaxing atmosphere.
Kimberley Travellers Lodge
Hang out on the deck, take a dip, or play a game of pool at the Kimberley Travellers Lodge, which has a friendly and casual environment.
Best hostels in Perth
Perth is an expensive city so it’s awesome that there are some really nice hostels where you can stay for a good rate.
Fremantle Prison YHA
There aren’t many times you would want to spend the night in gaol, but the Fremantle Prison YHA embraces its heritage for a unique hostel story.
Hostel G Perth
With a cool design and modern fixtures, Hostel G Perth is one of the trendiest hostels in the city – but still very affordable.
The pool may be the main attraction at Billabong Backpackers but the social common areas and cheap prices are also very welcome!
Best hostels in Adelaide
Don’t let anyone tell you that Adelaide is a quiet city. Find the right hostel and there’ll always be plenty of other travellers to hang out with!
Right in the centre of the city, Tequila Sunrise is a bright and busy hostel that may be housed in a historic building but is full of young vibes.
Adelaide Central YHA
The colourful street art on the wall outside gives you an idea of what to expect at the Adelaide Central YHA, where there’s a large common area with plenty happening.
Sunny’s Adelaide Backpackers
Although it’s quite small, that’s the charm of Sunny’s Adelaide Backpackers, which feels like staying at a friend’s home – right in the city centre.
Best hostels in Hobart
The gorgeous southern capital doesn’t disappoint and has some wonderful hostels that fit the city’s character perfectly.
Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
The gorgeous historic home gives Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse a welcoming atmosphere, where thought has gone into every detail including the mattresses and blankets.
Hobart Central YHA
The location of the Hobart Central YHA is perfect, and the helpful staff and clean facilities make this a great spot to base yourself to explore the region.
The Nook Backpackers
Along with the comfortable beds, what makes The Nook Backpackers so special are the local owners who go out of their way to give you a Tassie experience.