Athens in Greece is one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. Backpackers flock to the city for it’s history, culture, beauty, and liberal nature. There are many different hostels to choose from and they offer a range of experiences and styles. Some hostels have gained a reputation as a favorite among travelers. These hostels have grown in popularity and continue to be in high demand, so be sure and book early.
The hostel is located right in the middle of Athens under the Acropolis. Situated in a completely renovated building with a variety of amenities available, this hostel has rooms that are suitable for any type of traveler, including solo travelers, couples, or even families. If you’re in the city on business or pleasure you are sure to find what you are looking for here. There are private rooms with private bathrooms as well as more budget friendly rooms and dorms (bunk style) with shared facilities. The room rates also include WiFi internet access and a game room.
When you’re sick of those run-of-the-mill hostels where the most exciting thing on the brochure is Spaghetti Wednesdays, you know it’s time for a shakeup.
Book one of these unique, weird and just plain offbeat hostel experiences, and your 26-person sleepover will never feel the same again.
Lock a graffitied pod in the Greece.
At Hostelista, you’ll stay in one of 25 colorfully-painted caravans, those little attachments that people affix to their cars when they move around Europe. They’re all arranged in an open circle-ish format with ping pong tables, hammocks, an outdoor kitchen and twinkly lights in the middle.
Hostels are possibly the best type of accommodation for backpacking/budget travelers in Europe. They’re inexpensive, they’re located in every European city, and they’re full of other young travelers. Competition between hostels has grown over the past 10-15 years, so the quality has risen considerably.
Unfortunately, hostels are pretty uncommon in the US, so many Americans are totally clueless about them and have a lot of misconceptions (I know I did). This complete guide to hostels in Europe will cover everything from hostel basics to tips for choosing a great hostel.
What Is A Hostel
Hostels — sometimes called “youth hostels” — are the bastions of budget travelers. They are similar to hotels except for the rooms (dorms) are filled with enough bunk beds to house anywhere between 4-40 people. In a hostel, you only rent the bed, so you share the room with a bunch of fellow travelers. Obviously, privacy is limited, but the low cost and thriving social scene more than make up for the negatives.
Most hostels have multiple options when it comes to the type of dorm rooms available. Nearly every hostel will have a couple of private rooms (one bed/one bunk bed), but all will have dorms of various sizes. For example, a hostel could have 4 rooms that hold 8 people, 5 rooms that hold 12 people, and 8 rooms that hold 18 people. From my experience, the biggest dorms usually hold about 10 guests.
Many hostels also have female-only rooms but most rooms are unisex.
A bed in a hostel will cost anywhere from $10+/night (in Eastern Europe) to $30+/night (big cities in Western Europe). The price depends on the size of the room (the cheapest beds are in the rooms with the most people), the location of the hostel, the amenities, the competition from other hostels in town, and a few other factors.
I think I usually paid about $30/night on average in Western Europe ($15/night in Eastern Europe). Keep in mind that I usually opted for the cheapest room available.
A private room with 2 beds can cost up to $120+/night (so you might as well get a hotel or Airbnb for that price).
Hosteling is the best way to meet tons of interesting people from all over the world. You’re surrounded by like-minded travelers who all share the love of adventure and a love for having fun. It also makes meeting other travelers super easy — which is extra great for solo travelers.
Hostels are also usually located in the heart of the city, so you’re close to all the action.
And hostels are cheap — so you can travel even longer.
Who Stays In Hostels
There is a wide range of people who stay at hostels. Most are young travelers between 18-30 (some hostels only allow guests between 18-35 years old). But I once meet this really cool 70-year-old Australian who was traveling for 6 months.
From my experience, there are always lots of Australians and Kiwis who are traveling for 9+ months at a time. There are quite a few Americans who come over for 2-3 weeks, or who are studying abroad somewhere in Europe. I’ve met a handful of South Africans and a few French. I’m sure there are plenty of other nationalities, but people who speak the same language tend to stick together. Some people live in hostels for a month or more, but most only stay for a few days.
Every hostel has a check-in desk. This is where you pay, get your key, and receive all the important information about the hostel. Be sure to ask for a map. Some hostels don’t have 24/7 reception, and it usually isn’t a big deal… until your train/flight is late and you try to check in after reception closes. Then you’re stuck looking for a new hostel.
Hostel dorm rooms are almost universally filled with multiple squeaky bunk beds (I’ve even seen three-level bunks). Dorms can range from small rooms with two bunk beds to large rooms with 20+ bunks. From my experience, the most common rooms usually have 4-6 bunks (that’s 8-12 people for all you who failed math). Some hostels offer private rooms with only two beds (you must book each bed, so the price can get really high).
The cheapest rooms have the most people, so expect to pay more if you want a room with fewer strangers/snorers. Most rooms are unisex, but plenty of hostels offer female-only rooms.
TIP: The people at the front desk usually have the best idea about what is going on in the city. They’ll be able to recommend the best things to do/see around town. It is helpful to give them an idea what you’re interested in doing. Questions like “what are some cheap restaurants?” or “I’m looking for a fun nightclub, any recommendations?” are a lot better than “So… what things should I do here?” The point is: don’t expect them to plan your stay for you.
Hostel bathrooms can be super nice or really terrible. Each hostel has a different setup when it comes to the showers and toilets. Most of the time each room has its own bathroom. This means the room of 8 people could be sharing one small bathroom.
Some have large community-style bathrooms with a few sinks and multiple private shower stalls.
I’ve even stayed in a hostel where you had to walk through the kitchen and through the outdoor courtyard (not fun in the winter) to get to the shower.
The absolute worst are the shower/bathroom combo. I want to dance on the grave of the person who thought this was a good idea. Basically, there is no separation between the shower, toilet, and sink. The entire room gets wet and this is a pain in the ass trying to get dressed when every inch of the room is covered in water.
Lounge/Chill Out Room
The better hostels have comfy lounge rooms where people can go chill out and meet other travelers. A lot of these rooms will have a big TV (usually with satellite channels), DVD player with a bunch of DVDs, books, board games, and big couches (often adorned with hungover Australians). This is a great place to meet other people and exchange travel stories. This is also where you’ll find all the people with laptops/smartphones checking their twitterbook and facepage.
Kitchen & Dining Room
A hostel with a nice kitchen is a godsend. I try to exclusively book hostels with kitchens — even if it costs a little more — because you can save so much money by cooking your own meals. Hostels with nice kitchens are also much more social, as it gives people a chance to really interact with each other.
TIP: A great way to make friends is to organize a meal and have everyone chip in a few euros. I think I met all my best travel friends in the kitchen.
The best kitchens have everything you’ll need to cook a meal; stoves, ovens, microwaves, refrigerators, sinks, utensils, cups, plates, and pretty much anything else you might need. Don’t expect any kitchen to be super clean because they get a lot of use, and the hostel staff usually don’t enjoy cleaning kitchens.
A lot of hostels have free breakfast. Just about every breakfast consists of generic corn flakes, white or wheat bread (w/ jam, peanut butter, some yummy chocolate spread, & butter), orange juice, milk (room temperature), tea, and coffee. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a croissant. I’ve been to a few hostels where the breakfast isn’t free and it usually costs a lot for what you get.