So you’ve decided that you’re heading to Europe. It might be long-term or maybe just a short jaunt, but you want the best experience possible and at a reasonable price. We learned pretty quickly that accommodations can make or break any trip. A great hostel can make any city that much more fun, while a terrible hostel can put a damper on even the best places. We stayed in our fair share of mediocre and bad hostels, but it’s the great ones that we actually remember and recommend to everyone we know. Here are five of our favorite European Hostels that we feel are definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.
Bucur’s Shelter, Bucharest, Romania
Bucur’s Shelter was the first hostel we stayed in after our trip through Morocco. We were tired and kind of getting worn out from traveling, and were unsure how much longer we could, or even wanted to go on. I think Romania in general changed our minds, but this hostel had a decent part to play in that. The hostel itself was in a good location near supermarkets, public transportation and within walking distance of the busiest parts of Bucharest. It was a good size, with a nice kitchen, large dining area, comfortable living space and super comfy beds that left us well rested and excited to explore the city.
However, we quickly discovered that the amenities only account for part of a hostel’s greatness. What really matters is the people, from the people who work there and volunteer there, to the people who end up calling it home for a few days. This hostel was probably one of the first where we stayed in more than we went out. The people who run this hostel are absolutely wonderful, and the volunteers who were working while we were there were super friendly and fun to hang out with. We ended up staying in several nights, hanging out with the volunteers and other guests, drinking and telling stories. It made for a really great European hostel experience and made Bucharest all the more memorable.
Acheninver Hostel, Achiltibuie, Scotland
This is probably my favorite hostel that we only got to stay in for one night. We unfortunately can’t account for the social aspect of this hostel – we were there on a rainy night in the middle of the off season and were the only guests. But, judging by the guest book, it seemed like this place gets pretty popular during the summer.
Besides that, it had everything you could hope for in a hostel. It featured a small, but beautiful kitchen with dining area, a drying closet to hang wet clothes, and probably some of the most comfortable beds we’d slept in for a while.
It’s in the middle of nowhere, which might not be your cup of tea, but is what sealed the deal for me. The hostel is in an area that’s great for hiking and exploring, and any number of other outdoor activities you’d could think of. Plus, the picturesque landscape surrounding Acheninver Hostel makes it the perfect place to spend your summer evenings sitting outside, sipping ales and chatting with new friends. I also can’t forget to mention the guy who runs this place. He was amazing and friendly and loaded with information about what we could do in the area, even though it was off season and most things were closed.
Hostel 4U, Kotor, Montenegro
We were a little wary of this hostel when we first found it. Hostel 4U has a pretty good rating on HostelWorld, but it is a party hostel, and the reviews let you know it. We wanted to hang out and meet people, but were unsure if we really wanted to party hard every night. We found out the first night that the party gets shut down before midnight by the neighbors and turned into a pub crawl to the old town. So if you want to party, but also want to sleep a decent amount, this is the hostel for you.
This hostel is great for so many reasons. It’s comfortable and clean, with comfy beds, lockers for your stuff, a kitchen and dining area and pretty decent WiFi. But that’s what we expect in a hostel, and that’s not what makes this hostel great.
What really makes Hostel 4U special is the people who run and work at the hostel. They are friendly and personable, extra caring and loaded with information. When they check you in, they give you a thorough run down of everything there is to do in the city, as well as all the things the hostel has to offer. They then give you a shot of Rakia to welcome you into their accommodations. They also have tons of activities you can do throughout your stay, the best probably being the hike up the castle walls to fortress to get a view of the city and bay below.
This hostel also has barbecues and drinking games almost every night, and I think this is probably why I liked this hostel so much. The staff here really go above and beyond to foster a feeling of community. They make you feel comfortable and at home from the moment you walk in, which helps even the shyest people, like me, get out and meet people, which is, after all, what traveling is all about. Just watch out for the Rakia/beer mix on beer pong night.
The Wallaby House, Zagreb, Croatia
Read the reviews on HostelWorld and you’ll know why we chose this place. The Wallaby House is literally a house in a residential area of Zagreb run by an Australian named Cracker. By the time we got here, we’d already been in Zagreb for four nights and had not been having that great a time. Our previous hostel was nice, but way on the outskirts of town and kind of boring. By the time we got to the Wallaby, our opinion of Zagreb and Croatia as a whole was veering into negative territory. We were thinking Croatia would be too expensive and not nearly as much fun for the money as it should be. The Wallaby changed our minds completely. Croatia was still more expensive than the rest of the Balkans, but now it was fun.
The location of the Wallaby is decent; about a five minute walk to the bus station and super close to a tram stop that will take you straight into the city center. The hostel itself isn’t huge, but it was clean, with a nice kitchen and living space, decent WiFi and good sized garden. But, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s not the amenities that make the hostel, it’s the people. Everyone who worked here, or volunteered here was amazing and they honestly made running a hostel look easy. It’s hard to explain, but they were always there ready to have a chat, or take us all on a pub crawl, or play drinking games with us. They make it feel like home, even though you’re sleeping in bunk beds, and putting your stuff in lockers, and eating dinner with people you’ve never met before.
I’m not really sure what it is about this hostel. It seems to attract a different kind of traveler. Most of the people we met there were long-term travelers, people who were looking for work or somewhere to volunteer so they could extend their travels, or those who had just quit everything to travel for as long as possible. We ended up traveling through most of Croatia with a few people we met here, and even met a pair of guys who were skateboarding through the Balkans. All in all this hostel completely changed our minds about Croatia and made our experience there just that much better.
Hedonist Hostel, Belgrade, Serbia
We ended up staying here twice. Due to the direction our travels took us, we ended up in Belgrade twice and loved this hostel so much that we had to come back for a second visit.
Hedonist Hostel is great for so many reasons. The location is great, right in the heart of the student area which means there’s tons to do close by, and it’s close enough to public transport that it’s easy to get anywhere else you want to go. The hostel itself isn’t huge, but is professionally run, clean and comfortable. It’s got a kitchen, laundry services, living area and chill room, and a large, beautiful garden that’s perfect for hanging out in while drinking a few beers and sharing stories with other travelers.
The staff here are what really sealed the deal for us. They are friendly and knowledgeable and really go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable and welcome. They offer pub crawls and barbecues a few times a week as well as daily walking tours, and at each event the staff really encourages people to get out of their shells and get to know each other. We figured they had too many guests coming through to remember us our second time around, but they did, even asking us about the places we’d been and the pictures we’d been posting. Cody and I both felt like coming back to the Hedonist was like coming home, which is a great feeling when you’re long-term traveling and have been on the road for a while.
All of these amazing European hostels can be found on the HostelWorld website. I’m realizing now how many other great hostels we’ve had the chance to stay in so I’ll probably be posting another list soon. Be sure to check out our road trip through Scotland here and our adventure to the Glacier Lagoon in Iceland here!