Europe is great for backpackers; unrestricted travel, great transport links, universal currency (apart from us Brits, we like the queen on our money), the best hostels and a diverse mix of great countries. Here are my top 10 European cities for backpackers and my favourite hostel in each destination.
The USA could be a backpackers dream.
So you want to travel the world but you’re still not quite convinced by this hostel malarki? Well, here are a few reasons to try hostels out and then fall in love with the world of hostelling…
They’re Social Melting Pots.
Unlike hotels where you’re pretty much on your own, hostels are a thriving mass of social opportunity. You are surrounded by a limitless supply of potential new mates who all want to have a good time and meet new people. As soon as you’ve chucked your luggage in your room, you and your room mates are chatting. There is the standard “Hi, I’m Michael, where are you from?” and from then on you’re basically best buds for your time in the hostel.
I’m not sure what the receptionist in a hotel would say if you challenged them to a game of beer pong, hostel staff on the other hand will take you right up on that offer – and probably wipe the floor with you in the process. Hostels are often staffed by students or young people who want to have a good time just as much as you do. They will also have great local knowledge and give you advice on, oh i don’t know – how to bribe the po po when you’re illegally riding motorcycles in Vietnam….possibly.
Usually hostels are in a pretty good location next to transport links or within walking distance of important sites. I can’t think of any hostels I’ve stayed in that are too far away from the main sites of interest or not next to a train station.
Hostels are cheap as chips to stay in and usually have pretty cheap food and drink to go with them! In cities like Paris you can expect to pay around £15 a night – much cheaper than a hotel. However, in Eastern Europe and Asia I’ve paid as little as £4 a night for some pretty decent hostels. I’ve also been informed by travel buddies that bargains can be found in places such as South America, Australia and most of Asia – Basically the whole world – Apart from the Arctic, i don’t know if they have hostels there
Like minded people.
People who love to travel just click. Hostels are full of these people. You can talk for hours about your adventures and share your travel tips with each other. Travelers love it even more when they find out its your first time travelling – because we’re going to dump all our advice on you 🙂
They’re not dirty! (most of them)
I get it – you’re worried about suspect stains on sheets and bed bugs. Some hostels of old were pretty rank to be fair, and of course there’s a few around the world now that leave much to the imagination. However, nowadays, with reviews on hostel websites and TripAdvisor – THEY HAVE TO BE CLEAN – otherwise people just wont book a bed there. The majority of people today book hostels on-line or through apps. On these sites people can see these reviews and cleanliness has its own category! Seriously, hostels nowadays can sometimes be comfier and cleaner than a lot of hotels.
Tech friendly and modern.
Don’t worry – you’ll be able to add a picture of you and your best mate Bruce to your Snapchat story. I’m pretty sure every hostel I’ve ever stayed in has had WiFi and plug sockets – It’s pretty much expected in today’s world.
You’re going to have a romance or two.
If you want to that is. Everyone comes back from travelling with one or two romance stories to tell. A lot of people who travel are single and while on the road people just hook up all over the place. A reputable scientist told me it’s got something to do with being away from home and the time difference affecting the hormones…..
So you’re travelling around the world and you’ve stumbled across a willing mate, congrats! But how the hell do you express your hormonal instincts whilst staying in a room with 10 other people?
Whether you’ve met them during the day when sober or on a night out whilst drunk, it all comes down to logistics. Here are some options for you to consider…..
The shower area is a very good option! Even though it’ll be pretty confined you’ll have that all important privacy. The sound of the shower will mask most noises that come from you or your partner and you’ll come out feeling squeaky clean and refreshed 😉
Risky but worth it. Some hostels have outdoor areas such as roof terraces with sofas, choose a good time (when everyone’s gone to bed) and you’ll have the comfort of the cushions and the romantic backdrop of the stars. It’s down to mother nature whether you get rained on, but don’t let that stop you…
Wait until your dorm is empty.
By far the riskiest option on this list. Someone could walk in at any moment! If you know your room-mates well you could ask them to give you some time but its unlikely you’ll be able to ask everyone in your room. If someone does walk in its going to be mighty awkward for the remainder of your stay 😉
Book a private room.
The safest option on the list, but the one that costs you some dollar. The hostel may have some private rooms that are going to be pretty cheap compared to hotels. If they don’t you could fork out some extra buck for a hotel and experience that o so important comfort, privacy and most importantly – a double bed!
The Towel wall.
This neat little trick is your last resort if you have no other option but your dorm. This only works on the lower bunk so if you’re on a top bunk your destined to have no sex. You can hang a towel from the upper bunk as a kind of curtain to give at least some privacy! Make sure its secured well, otherwise you’ll be exposed mid flow! It’s unlikely you’ll win any awards for best room mate, but hey, you had sex!
1)Say hi to everyone. Literally everyone one you cross paths with. Hostels are a melting pot of personalities and you can make some great friends. The people that you chat to will probably end up being the people you explore your destination with and get drunk with on nights out. You might even travel to other destinations with them and become lifelong friends…… who knows! If you’re travelling on your own this is a pretty essential skill to have if you want to have a fun time!
2)Invite everyone out. So it’s likely you’re hostel is going to have organised nights out which everyone is invited to, these are great! However if you’re going on a night or day out with a few people, invite others out from your hostel, you never know what great personalities you’ll meet that just need to be nudged out of their shell.
3)Buy a Padlock. Buy one and keep it with ya. Most hostels have lockers or cabinets in your rooms to store stuff in but they’ll charge you for a padlock. Get your own and you have peace of mind J
4)Get to know the staff. Some hostels you visit are made great by the staff that work there! If you get to know them they’ll help you get the most out of the city and are a great laugh on nights out! Plus, you might get free drinks from the hostel bar 😉
5)Double check if there’s a curfew. On a night out make sure you don’t get locked out! I did this once in Laos and had to scale a fence with some friends which we broke by accident. Safe to say the hostel owner wasn’t a happy chap!
6)Go on hostel nights out! Quite often these include a lot of free drink and entry into clubs. They’ll take you to places that you wouldn’t have found on your own and are a great opportunity to chat to anyone you haven’t yet had the chance to!
7)Cook your own food! Fair enough, in some countries like Thailand and Laos it’s so cheap to eat out that it’s probably not worth your time preparing your own food. However, in more expensive European cities it’s definitely worth your time and will save you money. Go to a local shop and buy anything. Most hostels have a decent kitchen and you’ll be amazed at what recipes you can come up with!
8)Sister hostels. Arrive at a hostel and there’s no space? Often one hostel is linked to many other ones that might have space! It’s usually the case that they’re just around the corner and some of these connected hostels will come together on nights out to double up on the fun!
5. Apple Hostel – Philadelphia, USA.
This is the only hostel from the USA to make it into my top 5! Its a lovely little hostel in the centre of Philadelphia and within walking distance of everything you could want to see. The hostel has great little free socials every night such as wine and cheese night or movie night which gets everyone together before hitting the many bars that are literally around the corner as the hostel is just off the main strip.
4. Mojzo Inn – Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Nha Trang wasn’t my favourite place in Vietnam but damn this hostel was near the top of my list. The staff, which includes two twin sisters, are amazing! They go above and beyond and remember everyone’s names and will always use it when talking to you. The hostel itself is quirky as it is really thin but tall and has a lovely little cafe’ on the top!
3. Vietnam Backpacker Hostels, Downtown – Hanoi, Vietnam.
If you go to this hostel I give you two pieces of advice to take with you. 1, prepare to get absolutely no sleep, and 2, take some paracetamol. This hostel knows how to party and is the king of great nights. Be sure to book on the castaway tour to Ha Long bay that the hostel organizes, two nights you will never forget; one a boat and one on a private island.
2. Mui Ne Backpacker Villlage – Mui Ne, Vietnam.
Mui Ne is a town that’s gaining popularity in the Vietnam traveler scene. It’s endless beaches and nearby sand dunes make it a good place to stay for a couple of nights. However, if you stay at the Mui Ne Backpacker village you will never want to leave. The rooms are basic but pretty cheap and the staff are very helpful. The main thing however that you will love is the pool! It’s the centre of the hostel and is where you will find everyone. You can spend all day there soaking up the rays, chatting and playing games. Nirvana.
1. Greg & Tom Beer House Hostel – Krakow, Poland. (Cover Picture)
This is simply the best hostel I’ve stayed in so far. From the moment you enter the place you know the hostel staff (who are hot hot hot!) want you to have the best time possible. The decor of the place is so lush, and the rooms are spacious and comfy. Value for money is excellent; the rooms are cheap, you get a free dinner every night which you would expect to find in a decent restaurant and you get free drinks before the hostel goes on a wild night out in Krakow. Cant speak highly enough of the place. Deffo going back.