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Best Hostels In Cairns For Backpackers

Updated Fri 11 Nov 2022

Two backpackers on a hostel bed reading an info sheet

Tropical far north Queensland is so much more than just a gateway to the incredible Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is in fact incredibly backpacker-friendly, with its esplanade boardwalk lined with bars, restaurants and a public swimming lagoon. This bustling tropical town has grown increasingly popular with backpackers looking for a relaxing time in an awesome city, with plenty of natural tours and adventures to be had close by.

A Quick Introduction to Hostels in Cairns

Cairns can be very affordable for a backpacker in Australia, perhaps even the cheapest place you can visit in the country. With an abundance of hostels and budget accommodation, backpackers can save their dollars for trips out to the reef, the Daintree Rainforest and the Atherton Tablelands.

Most travellers who are backpacking are usually keen to save their money for experiences and tours rather than on bed and board. That’s where the invention of the hostel comes in. They are usually pretty cheap and allow for a few types of accommodation, meaning if you want to super save, you can stay in a dorm, or if you’re keen to have privacy and not spend tons, you can get a private room in a hostel.

Man saying hey to a woman in a bunk hostel

Average prices of Cairns hostels

To give you a rough idea of prices, the average price for a bunk bed in a shared dorm in Cairns is between $20 - $30 per night.  A basic room for two is roughly $100 per night. This is just a rough average to give you an idea. Prices always depend on the season and holidays. 

To ensure a smooth holiday, choosing the right hostel for you and booking in advance is recommended before you get your sandals on the ground in Cairns. So, what kind of hostels are there in Cairns? Here are our top picks for your next adventure in far north Queensland.

Our favourite Cairns hostels

Freedom Hostel

Price of cheapest bed: $34 per night 

Location: Heart of Cairns, two blocks from the Esplanade and 400m from the Greyhound bus station.

The perfect combination of beachside simplicity, affordability and all of the little extras that make your room feel like a home away from home, Freedom Hostel is our top pick for your stay in Cairns! 

Boasting a brilliant location, excellent facilities and a variety of private and shared rooms, relax in comfort in this budget-friendly accommodation. Featuring personal, integrated charging points, female-only dorms, free luggage storage, free wifi, social atmosphere, free breakfast and a fully-equipped kitchen, let your stay be an easy one at Freedom! 

Cairns Central YHA

Price of cheapest bed: $39 per night 

Location: Central Cairns, one block from the train station and surrounded by restaurants, bars and clubs! 

Head to Youth Hostel Australia for an assured awesome stay! YHA Australia is a nationwide brand of hostels, perfecting the balance of style and comfort for budget-conscious travellers.

Featuring both private rooms, shared dorms and including all linen, free wifi, free parking, air con and a social vibe, get amongst the action at YHA! 

Summer House Backpackers

Price of cheapest bed: $32 per night 

Location: A short stroll from the Esplanade in the middle of town.

With an array of excellent features and amenities, we can't not start with Summer House's pool! That's right, built around a lagoon-style pool with aqua-lounges, volleyball nets and hammocks, chill out and experience tropical paradise without even leaving your hostel! And with an onsite bar, Summer House really does provide you with the Pina Colada on top of your beach holiday! 

Not to mention, there are plenty of perks, like an onsite laundry, free wifi, fresh linen, breakfast, tv rooms and private room options. Check out their shared and private rooms to rest your head and meet new friends at this vibrant hostel! 

Global Backpackers Cairns

Price of cheapest bed: $28 per night 

Location: Global Backpackers is located on the Cairns Esplanade waterfront opposite the lagoon.

Global Backpackers Cairns is a world-class hostel is located on the Cairns Esplanade waterfront opposite the lagoon. With the boardwalk, marina, restaurants, shops and nightlife just a short walk away, this hostel is a great, central access point to all of the wonders that Cairns has to offer! 

Featuring modern facilities throughout, an awesome communal rooftop deck and lounge offering the best views of the city and the Coral Sea, you can’t go wrong with Global Backpackers Cairns. Enjoy the sunset or sunrise and take in the tropical waterfront vibe in style, without breaking the bank! 

The hostel offers a wide range of rooms, from deluxe queens with balconies and ensuites to simple and cheap shared dorms. All rooms have air conditioning and free Wifi. This is travellers' favourite hostel in Cairns when it comes to location, and it’s no surprise why!

Travellers Oasis

Price of cheapest bed: $35 per night 

Location: Travellers Oasis is located in a quiet and safe area next to Cairns Central station, about a 15-minute walk from the lagoon.

A relaxed home-like place considered to be one of the best backpacker hostels, this accommodation has won many awards. A small and cozy spot featuring lush tropical gardens, spotless facilities, a great kitchen, a swimming pool and an outdoor terrace with BBQ as well as outstanding staff, it’s a beautiful oasis from the busy life of backpacking! 

Known for its super welcoming environment, it’s a perfect choice for budget-conscious travellers looking for a home away from home. Offering all types of accommodation, with 3, 4 and 6-bed dorms, plus single and twin rooms, double rooms with queen-sized beds, rest easy whatever your budget. All private rooms have a television, refrigerator, bedside lamp and table.

You’ll find no bunk beds here and a maximum of 50 guests! All linen and towels are supplied at no extra cost, and parking is free as well.

Backpackers at the Lagoon in white togs

Bounce Cairns

Price of cheapest bed: $30 per night 

Location: Centrally located in the heart of Cairns, Bounce is only a 5-minute walk to everything you need!

This resort-style, award-winning property features free breakfast, free events, free ultra-fast WiFi and free bicycle hire. A unique combination of deluxe hotel suites and premium mixed-gender and single-sex dorms, Bounce Cairns is the perfect choice for groups of friends, couples and female solo travellers.

All rooms are labelled deluxe, featuring fully air-conditioned and spacious en suite bathrooms, plus private balconies or courtyard gardens. It really is one huge, social space joined together with an oasis pool with great sun lounges and a bar next door. 

Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort 

Price of cheapest bed: $26 per night 

Location: Located in the city centre amongst abundant restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Cairns #1 place to party and easily one of the best party hostels in the world. Renowned as the best hostel in Cairns for sociable, solo travellers and party animals, there are events held here every single night of the week.

Located in the city centre offering spacious, air-conditioned and en-suite rooms, there is a variety of dorm-style accommodation and private hotel rooms on offer.  This pure entertainment venue hosts a huge swimming pool to chill out with friends, an open deck bar, a huge outdoor pub screen, two nightclubs, and restaurants. Linen, wifi, luggage storage, gym and kitchens are all included and free for guests to use!

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront 

Price of cheapest bed: $30 per night 

Location: On the bustling esplanade across the road from the Cairns Lagoon.

This hostel boasts bright, fun, modern and affordable accommodation with excellent freebies like wifi, breakfast, large lockers, free bicycle hire and local gym access.

Choose from all types of accommodation, from mixed to female dorms and private double or twin rooms. The rooms have top-quality mattresses, linen & brand new air-cons for a great night's sleep. This spot is one of the best hostels for couples, solo travellers and small groups.

Two backpackers checking into bounce at front desk

Check out our handy guide for backpackers in Cairns for more information on budget travel up north! 

Call us or live chat with our local travel experts for more help with accommodation and tours in Cairns.

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