The Best Backpacker Hostels in Cairns, Australia

Enjoy a host of hotel-style facilities and three bars at Gilligan's Cairns
Enjoy a host of hotel-style facilities and three bars at Gilligan's Cairns | Courtesy of Gilligan's Cairns / Expedia
Photo of Siobhan Grogan
28 April 2021

Cosmopolitan city living in tropical temperatures makes Cairns a must-visit tourist destination in North Queensland. It is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and the Australian outback, while the city has plenty to tempt visitors to stay a while too, with its al fresco cafes, waterfront bars and popular markets. There’s no need to splash the cash either, as Cairns’ fantastic backpacker hostels are a great alternative to the city’s luxury resorts – and bookable with Culture Trip.

Cairns Beaches Flashpackers

Hostel, Hotel
Map View
Hostel - Cairns Beaches Flashpackers, Cairns
© Cairns Beaches Flashpackers

Keen to make the most of the city’s glorious temperatures and long sunny days? Head north between the Unesco World Heritage rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef to find this small, friendly hostel, just 100m (328ft) from beautiful Palm Cove beach. There are only five rooms – none of which have bunk beds – including two mixed dorms – this is a chilled-out retreat rather than a party hotspot. Families are welcome, too, with one ensuite family room sleeping five. There are also bikes and beach chairs to hire plus a pool and communal barbeque under the palm trees.

Bounce Cairns

Hostel, Budget Hotel
Bounce Cairns_h_70e6700d
Courtesy of Bounce Cairns /

This award-winning hostel, renovated in 2018, is just a 20-minute drive from Cairns airport and can be reached on the free shuttle bus. Clean, modern rooms are a mix of all-female, shared dorms or rooms that sleep four and all have memory foam mattresses, storage lockers and include breakfast. There’s also a 24-hour reception, pool and barbeque area, laundry, cinema and gaming area plus free local gym access and bike hire. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers too, with yoga classes, free guided hikes, pool parties and organised pub crawls.

More info

Carvella Backpackers

Hostel, Budget Hotel
Map View
Carvella Backpackers_7bf1f158
Courtesy of Carvella Backpackers / Expedia

It may feel like you’re lounging on a tropical resort at this central hostel but the city’s attractions and nightlife are right on your doorstep. The property, in the Esplanade, has waterfront views, plus a large pool and sun deck for soaking up the rays after a day spent sightseeing. There’s also a tour booking office, TV lounge, in-room fridges and safes, free luggage storage and a range of rooms available including mixed and female-only dorms, ensuite doubles, twins and singles.

Tropic Days Backpackers

Map View
Tropic Days Backpackers_131e18ae
Courtesy of Tropic Days Backpackers / Expedia

Relax away from the city’s hustle and bustle at this hostel located in a quiet residential area of Cairns, just 20 minutes’ walk from the Esplanade. Rather not walk? The hostel provides frequent courtesy buses to town. This cosy destination, encompassing two restored homes with a landscaped tropical garden and pool, offers a mix of private rooms and dorms. Everyone can enjoy the TV and video lounge, free movies, bike hire, pool table and complimentary breakfast each day.

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Hostel

Map View
Dreamtime Travellers Rest Hostel_4ef894b1
Courtesy of Dreamtime Travellers Rest Hostel / Expedia

It’s difficult to find a better location in Cairns than this small independent backpacker’s haven. Located on a quiet street opposite the train station and Cairns Central Shopping Centre, the city’s attractions are within walking distance, plus guests can also relax at the hostel’s own swimming pool, lounge areas and mix of shared and private rooms. It’s easy to stay with a clean conscience, too, as the property has solar panels on the roof, composts waste and has water-pump heaters installed to save power.

Why Not Backpackers

Resort, Hostel, Hotel
Map View
Why Not Backpackers Cairns_8baa43e7
Courtesy of Why Not Backpackers Cairns / Expedia

It’s the added extras that make this hostel, 10 minutes’ walk from the Esplanade, so popular. Freebies include a daily hot breakfast, local gym access, FIFA gaming area, bike hire and a shuttle bus to the centre of Cairns. Still want more? There’s a newly renovated designer kitchen, a large outdoor pool, free events and an all-day bar and budget restaurant serving loaded burgers. Rooms are a mix of private doubles, twins, female and mixed dorms and all have lockers, top quality linens, power points and free unlimited wifi.

Cairns Central YHA

Hostel, Hotel
The hostel's tropical pool area
© Cairns Central YHA

Stay right at the heart of the action with this reputable hostel company which has properties across Australia. This central branch is only a block from the train station and is steps from cafes, pubs and the Esplanade. If you’d rather take it easy back at the hostel, there’s a swimming pool, fully-equipped kitchen, outdoor games area and barbeque area for mingling with fellow travellers – even a giant screen over the pool for movie nights. The 61 rooms are a mix of dorms, singles, twins and doubles but there’s also family rooms for those travelling with children.

More info

Why Book With Culture Trip?

  • Free cancellation

    In these uncertain times, cancel or change for free on select properties.

  • Price-match guarantee

    Find a better price on your booking and we’ll match it. Simple.

  • Unbiased & trustworthy

    Book from recommendations handpicked by travel experts.

  • Mad Monkey Central Cairns

    Mad Monkey Central Cairns_5ca4fb3a
    Courtesy of Mad Monkey Central Cairns / Expedia

    Mad Monkey doesn’t just want you to bed down at its hostel, it wants you to feel like you’re part of the family. This centrally-located property encourages guests to mingle. There’s a large outdoor area with pool and bar, free hot breakfast, FIFA gaming area, outdoor cinema, a beer garden lit by fire torches and non-stop events including quizes and karaoke nights. With both private and dorm rooms available, there’s also complimentary bike hire and gym access for active types while central bars and cafes are a short walk away.

    More info

    Travellers Oasis

    Chill at the Oasis
    © Travellers Oasis

    Voted the best hostel in Australia five years in a row, this laid-back property is right across the road from the train and bus station. Only 50 guests can stay in a series of delightful airy rooms including a three-, four- or six-bed dorm or single, twin or double rooms. All have fresh linen and towels, while private rooms have their own television and fridge. Guests can cook meals in two well-equipped kitchens then relax in the TV room or take it easy poolside in a hammock.

    More info

    Globetrotters International Backpackers

    Hostel, Hotel
    Map View

    Smack bang in the centre of Cairns close to the Esplanade, Globetrotters International goes the extra mile to make you feel at home. There’s free breakfast provided every morning and even a free evening meal on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, though several kitchens mean you can always find some space to whizz up your own feast too. Rooms include doubles, singles, twins and mixed and female-only dorms and the hostel also has a pool, lounges, tour desk and sun decks for taking it easy.

    Gilligan's Cairns

    Hostel, Resort, Hotel
    Gilligan's Cairns_c166f448
    Courtesy of Gilligan's Cairns / Expedia

    Gilligan’s has all the amenities of a hotel but at hostel prices. The property offers a mix of dorm and hotel-style private rooms, alongside a lagoon-style swimming pool, indoor beer hall, nightclub, restaurant, gaming lounge, private function spaces, basketball and volleyball courts, four kitchens and not one but three bars. There’s also live music, pool parties, talent shows and bingo nights throughout the week so you’re guaranteed a lively stay.

    More info
    These recommendations were updated on April 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

    Cookies Policy

    We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"