The Best Hostels in Sydney, Australia

Lunch al fresco at Sydney Harbour
Lunch al fresco at Sydney Harbour | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy
Photo of Kate Skelly
4 February 2021

From the heart of Sydney’s bustling Central Business District (CBD) to the must-be-seen-to-be-believed beaches, the city is home to an array of clean and characterful hostels, each of which presents something special. Whether a rooftop pool or in-house cafe, you’ll find like-minded travellers and plenty to keep you busy at these 12 hostels around Sydney.

Sydney has it all: a buzzing cafe 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 Australian 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.

Stoke Beach House

Hostel, Guesthouse
Map View
Stoke Beach House
Stoke Beach House | Courtesy of Stoke Beach House / Expedia
Located in the beachside suburb of Manly, a 20-minute drive north of central Sydney, this dudetastic hostel sits just back from the 3km (1.8mi) stretch of sand that hosted the world’s first international surf competition in 1964. For every night reserved, guests receive a complimentary, 1.5-hour surf lesson at the Manly Surf School, as well as an hour’s free yoga and breakfast every morning, free snorkel and bike hire, and (if booking direct) an hour’s free booze at the in-house bar every evening. Sleeps are in dorms or private rooms with one, two or three beds.

Wake Up! Sydney

Hostel, Hotel
4.3/5 (184 Reviews)
Wake Up! Sydney Central is housed in a heritage building | Courtesy of Wake Up! Sydney Central /
Rated Sydney’s Most Popular Hostel in 2019, Wake Up! Sydney, in the heart of the CBD, earned the coveted accolade for all the extras that come with a stay here. Each day presents a new itinerary led by local tour guides, including trips to Bondi Beach, local maker’s markets and city pub crawls, though there’s plenty on-site to keep travellers occupied, too. Side Bar, a late-night hotspot, sits in the basement of the hostel and treats Wake Up’s guests to free pizza on Mondays and free drinks on Wednesdays. The eight-storey heritage building can house 540 travellers in everything from shared dorms to doubles with ensuite toilets.
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Mad Monkey Kings Cross

3.3/5 (13 Reviews)
Meet other travellers at Mad Monkey Kings Cross via its guided pub crawls and boozy barbecues | Courtesy of Mad Monkey Kings Cross /

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.

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The Pod Sydney

4.5/5 (321 Reviews)
The Pod Sydney is clean, comfortable and good value for money | Courtesy of The Pod Sydney /
With clean, cosy and stylish monochromatic interiors and modern shared amenities, the Pod is a great value for money for all travellers and features 10 rooms, from six-person family dorms to double rooms with shared bathrooms. Those travelling with children will enjoy the smoke-free nature of the property and the quiet atmosphere.
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Sydney Central YHA

Sydney Central YHA has bright, colourful interiors | Courtesy of Sydney Central YHA /

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.

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Wake Up! Bondi Beach

4/5 (46 Reviews) (1)
Watch as the sun rises over the Pacific from Wake Up! Bondi Beach’s rooftop | Courtesy of Wake Up! Bondi Beach /

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.

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The Capsule Hotel

4/5 (312 Reviews) (2)
Sleep in a futuristic, Japanese-style pod at The Capsule Hotel | Courtesy of The Capsule Hotel Sydney /

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.

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  • Sydney Harbour YHA

    Sydney Harbour YHA rooftop terrace
    Sydney Harbour YHA has stunning views of the Sydney Opera House | Courtesy of Sydney Harbour YHA / Expedia

    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 wifi and jaw-dropping rooftop views.

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    Mad Monkey Coogee Beach

    4.5/5 (13 Reviews) (3)
    Immerse yourself in Sydney’s laid-back surfing culture at Mad Monkey Coogee Beach | Courtesy of Mad Monkey Coogee Beach /

    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 wifi make working in the summer heat feel bearable.

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    The Village Glebe

    Map View
    The Village Glebe is great for a long-term stay | Courtesy of The Village Glebe /

    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.

    Railway Square YHA

    Railway Square YHA
    Railway Square YHA | Courtesy of Railway Square YHA / Expedia
    The railway-themed facilities of this one-of-a-kind hostel perfectly reflect its location within Central Station. The array of accommodation on offer caters to all travelling groups or individuals, with both shared dorms and private rooms with ensuite facilities. You can even spend a night inside the quirky red train carriages on the station’s original Platform Zero. Delicious meals are available each day for spare change, including meatballs on Mondays, pizza on Tuesdays and burgers on Fridays.
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    Sydney, Pittwater Eco-YHA

    Map View (5)
    You don’t need to travel far from Sydney to immerse yourself in Australia’s wildlife | Courtesy of Sydney – Pittwater YHA /

    Looking to experience Australia’s epic wildlife, pristine beaches and unforgettable bushwalks? Sydney, Pittwater Eco-YHA is only accessible via a short ferry ride and presents a 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 walks 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 – this wilderness is worth it.

    Mark Nayler contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on February 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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