Best Hostels in Europe for Solo Travelers & Backpackers
September 9, 2018
The Ultimate Hostel Guide:
Best Hostels in Europe for Solo Travelers & Backpackers in Most Major European Cities
Planning an epic Europe trip and trying to figure out where to stay in all of the cities on your trip itinerary? Let me help you choose from a long list of options to find the absolute best hostels in Europe by sharing my favorites in most of the major European cities. A hostel is a great fit for your Europe trip if you fall into any of the following categories. 1) You are on a backpacker’s budget. 2) You are traveling solo and wanting to meet new people. 3) You want to have some fun! For almost 10 years now, I have been staying in European hostels, and I have to say that although I do prefer my own bathroom, a regular sleep pattern, and a snoring-free zone, the people that I have met while staying in hostels are what made my travels…not the chocolates on my pillow during turn down service. That is why I created this post to share what I believe to be the best hostels in Europe for solo travelers and backpackers. P.S. If you are looking to create a Europe trip itinerary, check out my page with all of those itineraries here.
If you’re in Amsterdam, you’ll probably end up staying at the Flying Pig Downtown because that’s just what people do. It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet people and be close to all the action, so if you’re traveling solo, then it’s probably the right call. I have done the Flying Pig and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan but that was many years ago, so I can’t really give a fair review of how it has been in recent years and the reviews are actually pretty decent. I will say though, that the airbnb culture in Amsterdam is awesome as there are tons of beautiful properties for a decent price and many have canal views. If you are traveling with friends, family, or a romantic partner, I would consider staying in an airbnb or one of the other types of accommodation options available in Amsterdam. I wrote a post about the most Unique Places to Stay in Amsterdam because you can actually stay in a windmill, houseboat, and a cube house in Rotterdam, which is about an hour away all for reasonable prices!
I go into much more detail about where to stay in Athens in my Greece itinerary post, but to put it simply, you should strongly consider staying at City Circus Athens if you are looking for a hostel. Students & Travellers Inn as well as Athens Backpackers are two other solid options if there is no availability at City Circus Athens.
Surprisingly enough, I have been to Barcelona countless times and have never once stayed in a hostel. That is mainly due to the fact that I stayed with a host family when I lived there and then when I came back and visited, I either stayed with friends or at an airbnb because I wasn’t traveling solo. That being said, there are some great and super social hostels in Barcelona. I go really in depth on my Spain Itinerary post, but my top choice hostels are Rodamon Barcelona Centre and Fabrizzio’s Pettit due to their stellar location and high ratings. The other highly rated hostels in Barcelona hit all the marks too, except that they aren’t very walkable to the best neighborhoods in Barcelona like the Gothic Quarter.
There are a variety of hostel options for Berlin which, by the way, is a city where the main attractions are quite spread out, so you will most likely have to take public transport at multiple points during your trip regardless of where you stay. PLUS Berlin is my favorite choice, but there are lots of great options including Wombats City Hostel Berlin. While it’s on the high side of hostel pricing, EastSeven Berlin Hostel is a good bet too and has some reasonably priced private rooms available.
Budapest is one of my favorite city in Europe and Carpe Noctem Original truly embodies exactly why. The hostel is extremely laid back, yet incredibly social and there are crazy, fun organized events every night. When I stayed here, there was a costume box and we all dressed up in costume ( I feel like I was Mrs. Claus…sooo random) and went out on the town. Carpe Noctem Original is one of those hostels where you have a couple nights booked and end up staying for a couple weeks because the place so quickly starts to feel like home/your old frat/sorority house.
I actually go into a lot of detail on my Croatia Itinerary post, but to summarize here, I would probably choose to stay in an apartment in Dubrovnik because hostel prices are quite high during busy season and ratings are on the lower side. That being said, if you are a solo traveler starting your trip off in Dubrovnik, it may behoove you to meet people at one of the following two hostels: Old Town Hostel or City Walls Hostel. The best location, in my opinion, is an accommodation near the cable car which is about a 5 minutes walk outside the old town. It’s a nice reprieve to escape the crowds at night and the airport bus picks up right on that same street!
I’ll be honest…I am pretty underwhelmed by the hostels in Florence. None have stellar reviews and the ones that are decent seem to be pretty far outside of the city center. Florence is one of the most walkable cities in Europe and is extremely easy to get around on foot, so perhaps these places aren’t too far away, but nothing really stood out to me and unfortunately the hostel that I stayed does not seem to exist anymore. The most famous hostels in Florence are Academy Hostel and PLUS Florence. Two others that look promising are Archi Rossi Hostel and Hostel Gallo d’Oro. Does anyone have a good hostel to recommend? Please share in the comments below! This may be a city where you look into an airbnb or a bed & breakfast and regroup from shared bathrooms and dormitories with some additional amenities and your own personal space.
The one, the only…Balmer’s Hostel. This isn’t just a place to rest your head, but it’s own destination. If you are a backpacker in Switzerland, you come here plain and simple. The hostel is located in Interlaken which is the town at the base of the Swiss Alps and also an extreme sports capital. In the winter months, you have to go night sledding and paragliding…more on that here…but the hostel itself is the place to be with an underground bar, great location, and tons of other travellers looking to not just explore Switzerland’s mountains, but get their adrenaline pumping with some outrageous activities.
Out of all of the major cities in Europe, I think Lisbon has the best selection of hostels. They are all very inexpensive and because there are so many great options, there a tons of activities and perks at each hostel to keep up with the competition. My friends and I stayed at the Home Lisbon Hostel and we were definitely not disappointed. There are tours that you can take with the hostel, group dinners, and a free coworking space should you need to get some work done.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t successfully navigated London’s accommodation scene as a solo traveler. The first time I came to London, I stayed at Palmer’s Lodge in Swiss Cottage. It had some of the best reviews on Hostelworld, but that didn’t mean much because none of the hostels really had stellar reviews in comparison to other cities. It was also pretty far out and took some time to get into the city. Also, when we arrived, there were 2 people sleeping in our assigned beds; but, you win some, you lose some and the staff was great in switching us into a new dorm. The second time, I chose to do a private room in an airbnb. The problem was that while the airbnb was situated on the cutest street in London, I had no human interaction with anyone while I was there. Also, hosts don’t have to disclose whether the bathrooms are private or shared for private rooms, so I ended up having to share with 2 other people which I was not expecting. So for those of you that have had a good accommodation experience in London, please share in the comments and I will update accordingly!
I lived in my own apartment in Madrid, so I never stayed in a hostel here, but there are plenty of really great ones. I chose my two favorites in my Spain Itinerary post, and I will leave the links to them here: Sungate One and OK Hostel Madrid. Both of these choices were exceptional. Madrid is a large city, but the center is very walkable and there are lots of different barrios that are a great place to stay which is why Madrid is an easy locale to choose a great hostel.
Wombats City Hostel Munich. Simple. There are over 20,000 reviews on Hostelworld for this property and I am thinking that might be a record. The hostel boasts a convenient location, female dorms. atmosphere, etc. If you’re booking last minute and Wombats is unavailable, then check out Euro Youth Hostel which is a block or two over. Now, Oktoberfest, is a slightly more involved process because these hostels sell out wayyyy in advance. Luckily, finding an accommodation is not as intense as when I went to Oktoberfest in 2012 because airbnb has created a much greater supply; but, you will probably just have to deal with whatever hostel you can find or book an airbnb property and try and split the cost with some friends. You’ll want to check hotels too as sometimes those can be cheaper splitting the cost as opposed to hostels where you have to pay per bed. Basically, just exhaust all options in your search for an available property and try not to book a spot too far out of the city center where you have to take the train a long distance into the city.
It is no secret that the Paris housing market is notoriously expensive and that also extends to hostels/hotels/etc. It used to be that hostels in Paris were the same price as a hotel, so it made much more sense to book a hotel if you were traveling with someone else because the hostels weren’t that awesome anyway. Now, I would probably recommend getting airbnb as my first choice option if you’re on a budget because there is a large supply and prices are much more reasonable as compared to hotels. If you’re on your own, maybe check out Vintage Gare du Nord by Hophophostels? I honestly hesitate to recommend any since none have great reviews, but this one seemed decent enough…not super enticing I know. At least with this hostel, the negative reviews didn’t seem too problematic as opposed to other reviews at the St. Christopher’s and Generator hostels.
Prague, Czech Republic:
Prague has a good amount of very highly reviewed hostels for reasonable prices, all with over 2,000 reviews. If you stay at any one of these below options, I think you will be really happy with the experience. They all have daily activities, nightly group dinners, and the Hostel One properties even have free nightly dinners! That’s insane. I stayed at the Mosaic House hostel when I went to Prague because I booked late and that was the best available option. The beds were super comfortable and the location was convenient, but I do think that these three options are better if they have availability!
I wouldn’t say that Rome has standout hostels, but there are a large variety of decent options to choose from. I think part of the reason is because Rome is massive, but it’s still a walking city because public transport isn’t phenomenal so a lot of people are surprised by their hostel’s location. I stayed at the Hostel Alessandro Downtown because I was going with a large group of people and booked the trip 2 days before, but I think there are better options. The most famous hostel by far is The Yellow which purports itself as a party hostel because they have their own bar across the street which many travelers hang out at. Also, be sure to check out Dreaming Rome Hostel which boats free breakfast and free pasta dinners and is about a mile or so from the Colosseum.
I wanted to include the Hotel Ronda on the list, because after many nights staying in a hostel, I always recommend booking a hotel for at least a night to refresh and recoup. All of those shared bathroom situations and lights turning on and off in the middle of the night can cause some wear and tear, so if there is ever a city with a great hotel for hostel prices, book it! The Hotel Ronda can be booked for about 50 euros and it was such a great spot location-wise. The staff was so sweet and they had a free breakfast of coffee, fruit, and pastries in the morning. Plus, Ronda is a city where I think you can have just as much fun on your own as you can with a group of people.
La Banda Rooftop Hostel is the most recent hostel I stayed at and also, absolutely one of the best hostels in Europe for solo travelers. If you’re going for Semana Santa, then this is a must…read why here. HINT: It’s because of their rooftop. There are a multitude of reasons as to why this place is so great including that it’s location is right next to the cathedral and the Alcazar, it is a very social place, and the beds are insanely comfortable. It’s also super clean; there is someone in the bathroom making sure of that literally 24/7. The only downside for you high rollers out there is that there are no private dorms; but, if you bring these earplugs, you should definitely be able to get a decent night’s sleep. Disclaimer: I did work with them during my stay, but that’s because I did my research, saw their ranking on Hostelworld, and reached out to them in the hopes of staying there because it was clearly the best hostel property in Seville.
Venice aint cheap folks. If you’re like yea…tell me something I don’t know, well this may surprise you. There are very few hostels in Venice (around 6 of them) and they are pretty pricey. The hostel I stayed at is no longer, so I won’t go into detail on that, but the best options available are below. Also, I was able to make great friends by plopping myself down on the bank of a canal one night, eavesdropping on a group of people my age’s conversation, and then interjecting myself into said conversation. It may be aggressive, and obviously nothing may come of it, but I was lucky in that I met some wonderful people who I continued to travel with to Florence and Barcelona. So, if the hostel situation is just not working out for you, maybe book an apartment and try my hardcore friend making tactics?
Generator Venice *most budget friendly prices
I am happy to report that the Swanky Mint hostel does live up to its namesake. We did have our own separate apartment, so that definitely upped the level of swankiness, but even the dorms and the facilities themselves are really nice. There is a garden area, bar, and even an outdoor swimming pool for the summer months! Prices are quite reasonable for both the dorms and private rooms.
Have you had an incredible hostel experience that you would like to add to my “Best Hostels in Europe for Solo Travelers and Backpackers” list? Please share your knowledge and experiences in the comments so that we can make this post as informative as possible!
These items are all hostel essentials! Packing them with you back at home is much easier then running around trying to find these necessary items once you get to Europe.
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