My Favorite Hostels in Europe

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 5th, 2010

During 4 years of European travel, I’ve stayed at more hostels than I can think of. Ones I won’t ever remember, ones I wish I wouldn’t remember, and ones I wish I could stay at forever. I love hosteling. I would never want to stay at a hotel as I find hostels great value and great places to meet people. Here are my favorite places to rest my head when I go to Europe:

Kabul (Barcelona, Spain)
Kabul Hostel in Barcelona Spain
Kabul is tied for first with The Flying Pig (see next hostel) and attracts people who want to go out. This isn’t a quiet hostel where people go to bed. The dorms are very clean, the beds comfy, and the showers high pressured. But what makes Kabul so wonderful is the downstairs common area.The common area takes up a whole floor of the building and comprises a café, bar, tables, internet kiosks, and a pool table. The hostel is always full and booked out weeks in advance, especially during summer.

The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
The Flying Pig Uptown in Amsterdam
What I love about this place is the people. I guess people are important everywhere. The facilities here are standard and the price is a bit expensive but I love the atmosphere here. While this hostel is popular with travelers looking to chill and smoke, the bar area gets very busy at night too. It’s not all about smoking here. But the staff is what does it for me. They hang out with guests, are experts on the city, and will always help you. In Amsterdam, I never stay anywhere else.

Ostello Archi Rossi (Florence, Italy)
archi rossi hostel
They had me at breakfast. I’ve never been to a hostel that had a menu for breakfast. This one does. You can get eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes- the works. It’s not the normal European bread and coffee breakfast that makes me sad in the morning. More than the food, the hostel also has character. You can sign your name or draw on the wall, their kitchen is a size of a cafeteria, and they have a great outdoor garden too. And did I mention they have a full breakfast?

Aboriginal (Budapest, Hungary)
aboriginal Hostel common room
Like the Archi Rossi, they also had me at breakfast (waffles) as well as free goulash for dinner. The place is centrally located in Budapest, has free wi-fi, free laundry, T.V., and organizes their own night outs so everyone can meet each other. They do a lot of gatherings making it great for a single traveler who doesn’t know anybody. The place is small and everyone gets to know each other very well.

City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)
city backpackers stockholm
This is one classy establishment with a very nice café and outdoor eating area. It looks more like a trendy coffeeshop than a hostel. The hostel has very comfortable beds and pillows and thick walls making this one of the few places I’ve stayed where it’s easy to get a good sleep. This is also a great place for people who like to be connected. They have power outlets everywhere, the place is covered in wifi, and I couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into a public computer.

Francescos (Ios, Greece)
francesco's hostel view in ios
With a view like this, how could you not like this place? There’s pool here, a kitchen, very clean rooms, and super comfy beds. The owners are super friendly and accommodating, the porch area is a great place to make new friends, and every night they have a hostel get together so everyone can meet people. The friendly owners who taught me Greek, the relaxed atmosphere and the beautiful view kept me here for my time in Ios.

Wombats (Berlin Germany)
Kabul Hostel in Barcelona Spain
I think this place is a bit overpriced. Hostels in Germany are cheap and even by European standards this hostel is still cheap but I felt like they charged a lot because of the name. However, while the beds and bathrooms are pretty standard (all ensuite though!) the rooftop terrace provides great views of the city. On a nice day, it’s amazing to just go stare at Berlin.

Snuffel Backpacker Hostel (Brugges, Belgium)
Kabul Hostel in Barcelona Spain
Close to the city center, this hostel is located in a very old building which means the rooms are small and it’s pretty inconvenient to take a shower as you have to go downstairs and then into the back courtyard. However, they have a back courtyard, free wi-fi, an amazing selection of Belgium beers (watch out for the 13% alcohol ones!), bikes,

Castle Rock (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Kabul Hostel in Barcelona Spain
Located near the Royal Mile and (you guessed it) the castle, this hostel is gorgeous. The building is old so you get beautiful wood interiors. It’s like being in an old mansion. The common area features pool tables, T.V., newspapers, and free wi-fi.

Whenever I go back to these cities, I stay at these hostels. I’m a loyal customer and if a hostel can impress me, I’ll tend to stay there over and over again. Traveling around you stay in many mediocre or down right awful places. It’s nice to find a place who knows what travelers like and want and creates a hostel that really caters to their needs.

comments 31 Comments

Paula

Stayed at the first 3 on your list and couldn’t agree more!

I have never stayed at a hostel, unless you count guest houses in Thailand or Bali. Since I am married the cost for two in a hostel gets pretty close to a hotel room.

However, it would be great to hook up with fellow travellers more often. We will be in Amsterdam in a few weeks so maybe we will give the Flying Pig a try. Anyone else going to be there?

SamB

Even though staying in a hostel with both the hubs and I can sometimes rival the cost of a hotel, we always stay in them anyway, if only to meet other like-minded people. In a hostel it seems it is never a gamble to strike up a conversation with someone over breakfast, or anywhere for that matter. In hotels it’s considerably less sure that someone you’re interested in talking to is equally as interested in talking back.

Plus, if your plans aren’t set in stone, hostels are a great way to find someone who has just come from the city you’re thinking of visiting next. Since you’re not likely to find people in hostels who are travelling for business, imho you’re far more likely to find people who are excited to share recommendations and tips for budget tourists, pretty much anywhere you want to go…

Francesco’s in Ios is an awesome awesome hostel – I stayed there in 2005 when I was traveling through the Geek Islands. I was actually just in Ios two weeks ago, but we stayed at Far Out Beach Resort this time.

Stayed in the one in Stockholm, was a great hostel!

Will look to stay in the one in Budapest for my two week European trip :)

Cheers!

Great list. I am totally bookmarking this page for the next time I go to Europe! Thanks for sharing and keep the great tips coming!

Great rundown of Hostels.

Bookmarked.

Snuffel is great – especially their tour of Bruges. Not only do you learn the semi-factual/hilarious history of the town, but the tour is followed by a healthy pint at the end!

I’ve totally stayed at Castle Rock. We had a blast there, it’s such a great space. Thanks for the memory!

Erika

Do you have any certain hostels in Paris that are better than others? Last time I went to Paris I didn’t stay in a hostel.

And thanks for the recommendation for Amsterdam, I’ll hopefully be staying there!

Joe

Hi, do you have any hotel recommendations in Southern Europe like Portugal, Malta, or southern Spain? Thanks a lot! Of yeah good choice on the Flying Pig!

James

“Hello BCN” in Barcelona is an awesome hostel with a cool staff and very clean and decent rooms. Fairly priced and they have an awesome common room and very good cheap Sangrias.

Also @NomadicMatt, did you ever stay in Cats Hostel in Madrid? I thought it was an awesome place with a superb bar downstairs, great organized bar crawls and great location.

I loved the Aboriginal hostel in Budapest – it was probably one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in.

NomadicMatt

I’ll tell them you said that!

harvey

Australian Aboriginal in Hungary … huh!!?? that’s as strange as the Downunder restaurant with full Australian outback decoration I came accross in Dresden. very funny.

jenny methew

Ahmmm…. This list is very useful to select hotel in Europe for accommodation during vacations.

wish i was still travelling

Great list stayed in most of these! Should add Hostel 99 in Cesky Krumlov… there is just something about that place!

travler

hostel 99 was amazing, we wishedd we could stay longer, one of those plaves with a great vibe!
also loved the flying pig, and missed wombats in berlin, but munich was pretty good, and there recently built one in vienna is amazing, standard pricing, all rooms with clean ensuites, great common areas!

dom duggan

carpe noctem vitae in budapest and greg and toms party in krackow are by far the best hostels in europe.

Booked Kabul for my September trip to Barcelona per this post. Looking forward to it! :)

NomadicMatt

I’ll be there in September too. What dates are you there?

NomadicMatt

When will you be there?

jamshaid

hi nomadic matt, can i send you email to take some information please?

In 1997 I stayed at a hostel in Budapest that had a bar that was open 23 1/2 hours a day. It closed from 5:00 am to 5:30 am to count the cash. That half hour was nothing but despair and violence as drunks stumbled and screamed for more alcohol. It was an amazing place for a young single traveller. I met a beautiful girl named Ildiko Nagy. I spent a week with her and still think about her from time to time. But the week I spent in that hostel was pure fun. And I arrived by accident. I just got off the train because I was disoriented and didn’t know where the hell we were going. Spontaneity makes the best travel. Trust fate. Bizarre travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God. And Ildiko, if you read this, will you marry me?

Laura

Good list my top 8 so far have been

Flying pig beach hostel – noordvijk
Hi 5 – Budapest
Hostel mostel – veliko ternovo ( Bulgaria)
Hostel aloha – Berlin
Green studio and lounge – Belgrade
Buffalo backpackers – pristina
Dubrovnik backpackers – Dubrovnik
Old town hostel – koror

I’m travelling Europe right now and just stayed at both Kabul and Flying Pig… really great hostels…the social life was unbeatable as everyone promised. I just wish you didn’t have to book these places so far in advance… kinda kills the fun of just rolling into a city with random people you met on the bus and looking for a place to stay!

Rae

Awesome suggestions, thanks Matt! Hopefully I can get a reservation at Flying Pig!

razz

Thinking of checking our Barcelona this summer. Are there any hostel hosted events at the hostels mentioned, where one can meet more people. Been to hostels in Quebec, and it was great when the hostel organized events, great way to meet people. Any such hostel review, resources available?

just wonder which flying pig did you stay at uptown or downtown if both which is better :) thanks!

NomadicMatt

I’ve stayed at both. I like the downtown better.

NomadicMatt

These are nice ones. I recommend them!

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