Sydney has it all: a buzzing café and bar scene, pristine white sand beaches and national parks bursting with wildlife, all backdropped by enviable sunny weather. But there’s no denying that the city is a pricey one (the world’s 11th most expensive, to be exact). Thankfully, its hostel scene is a welcome exception. Affordable? Yes. However, this city’s hostels offer more than just a comfortable place to rest your head. From free surf lessons and rooftop pools to guided tours and family meals, this is Culture Trip’s pick of the best hostels in Sydney.
The perfect balance of nightlife and lifestyle exists at this inner-east hostel. Once Sydney’s party hotspot, the ‘Golden Mile’ that is Kings Cross has seen a change in recent years after club lock-out laws were introduced. While plenty of bars still call the area home, a new-found focus on health is undeniably present. Mad Monkey caters to both needs with guided pub crawls and boozy rooftop barbecues, complemented by free outdoor yoga, free local gym access and sunrise meditation. Modern facilities and recently renovated bathrooms create a comfortable environment, and a complimentary hot breakfast is provided each morning.
The YHA brand is Australia’s most trusted, and the Sydney Central YHA is perhaps the best example of why. It has an unbeatable Central location, top-drawer facilities and clean dormitories decorated with hand-painted graphics. Though popular year-round, the Sydney Central YHA experiences its busiest time over the New Year period. The rooftop pool, sauna and barbecue area create the perfect place to meet other travellers, plus if you’re visiting over New Year’s Eve, it has an excellent vantage point from where to watch Sydney’s midnight fireworks spectacle.
Those looking to experience Sydney like a Sydneysider should head east to Wake Up! Bondi Beach. The emerging hostel brand’s Bondi post boasts the same reliable facilities as its CBD counterpart; however, instead of city views, travellers will wake up to the sounds of rolling waves or enjoy a sunrise over the Pacific from the rooftop. A focus on fitness reflects the active culture that Bondi is known for and takes shape through rooftop yoga, surf lessons and a guided walk of the coastline from Bondi to Bronte.
A stay at the futuristic Capsule Hotel in the Chinatown area of the CBD is about as close as it gets to life aboard a spaceship. Since it’s practically an Apollo 11 movie set, the spot is particularly popular with families and those travelling with young children. Don’t be deterred by the size of the capsules; while the sleeping quarters are compact, the accommodation’s common areas are spacious enough to make up for it. The bathrooms were all renovated in 2019, making them impossibly stylish with brass detailing and statement tiling.
Located in The Rocks, one of Sydney’s most historic suburbs, this comfortable budget hostel is just moments away from some of the city’s biggest landmarks – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The culturally inclined will love Sydney Harbour YHA’s proximity to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which hosts some of the world’s best international contemporary artwork. There are plenty of pubs nearby – including the oldest watering hole in Sydney, the Fortune of War – but plenty stay in at the hostel for the movie nights, free and fast Wi-Fi and jaw-dropping rooftop views.
Those looking to experience Sydney’s laid-back surf culture will gravitate towards the world-famous Bondi Beach, but the Eastern Suburbs has a few lesser-known surf spots that promise stretches of sand all to yourself. Located in the suburb of Coogee, Mad Monkey Coogee Beach makes it possible to roll out of bed straight into the waves that lap at the sand just minutes away. Travelling for business or working remotely? The adjoining bar and co-working space with speedy Wi-Fi make working in the summer heat feel bearable.
The Inner West suburb of Glebe is within walking distance of both Sydney’s CBD and trendy Newtown, the city’s melting pot for arts and culture. The University of Sydney is right around the corner from this budget hostel, which means there are plenty of opportunities to mingle with like-minded residents at an array of nearby pubs and bars. Spread across two Victorian-style buildings, The Village Glebe’s facilities are comfortable and clean. Of all hostels on this list, this one is perfect for a long-term stay, due to its desirable location and affordable price point.
Looking to experience Australia’s epic wildlife, pristine beaches and unforgettable bush trails? Sydney – Pittwater YHA is only accessible via a short ferry ride and presents a truly unique opportunity to see the real Australia. Located on the hillside of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, about an hour’s drive north of the CBD, this budget hostel is ideal for anyone who wants to escape the city for a few days and swap museums and bars for bushwalks and water sports. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll spot a kangaroo or 20, although wildlife-watching in Australia never comes without a few spiders, too. Be brave, though – this wilderness is worth it.