Top 10 Affordable Hostels in South Africa for Young Travelers

Top 10 Affordable Hostels in South Africa for Young Travelers

South Africa, with its diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities, is a dream destination for young travelers. However, budget constraints can often be a concern. Fortunately, the country boasts a plethora of affordable hostels that provide not just a place to rest, but also an opportunity to meet fellow wanderers and experience the local culture. Here are the top 10 affordable hostels in South Africa for young travelers:

1. The Backpack, Cape Town

The Backpack in Cape Town is more than just a hostel; it’s a social hub for travelers from around the world. Located in the heart of the city, this hostel offers a range of accommodations from dormitories to private rooms. The Backpack is committed to responsible tourism and actively supports local communities. The on-site bar, swimming pool, and stunning views of Table Mountain make it a perfect base for exploring Cape Town.

2. Ashanti Lodge Gardens, Cape Town

Another gem in Cape Town, Ashanti Lodge Gardens, is known for its friendly atmosphere and great location. Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling Long Street, this hostel offers a variety of accommodations including dorms and private rooms. The outdoor pool, bar, and communal kitchen provide ample opportunities to socialize and make new friends. Free Wi-Fi and secure lockers add to the convenience.

3. Once in Cape Town

Once in Cape Town is often described as a “poshtel” (posh hostel) due to its modern amenities and vibrant atmosphere. This hostel is ideal for young travelers looking for a mix of comfort and affordability. Located in the lively Kloof Street, it’s surrounded by trendy cafes, bars, and shops. The hostel organizes regular events, such as braais (South African BBQs) and pub crawls, ensuring that guests have a memorable stay.

4. Curiocity Backpackers, Johannesburg

For those venturing into Johannesburg, Curiocity Backpackers is a must-visit. Situated in the trendy Maboneng Precinct, this hostel is at the heart of Johannesburg’s cultural revival. Curiocity offers both dorms and private rooms, as well as a range of activities including city tours and bike rentals. The hostel’s bar and common areas are great for mingling with fellow travelers.

5. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, Johannesburg

Experience the unique culture of Soweto at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers. This hostel offers a truly immersive experience with its bicycle tours, traditional meals, and cultural activities. Accommodation options include dorms, private rooms, and even camping. Lebo’s is known for its warm hospitality and vibrant atmosphere, making it a favorite among young travelers.

6. Happy Hippo Backpackers, Durban

Located within walking distance of Durban’s famous beaches, Happy Hippo Backpackers is perfect for sun-seekers. The hostel offers a variety of accommodations, including dorms and private rooms. The rooftop terrace, bar, and communal kitchen provide plenty of social spaces. Happy Hippo also organizes activities such as surfing lessons and city tours.

7. Tekweni Backpackers, Durban

Tekweni Backpackers is one of Durban’s oldest and most popular hostels. Housed in a historic building in the vibrant Berea neighborhood, this hostel offers a mix of dorms and private rooms. The lush garden, swimming pool, and on-site bar make it a great place to relax and meet other travelers. Tekweni also offers a range of tours and activities, from city tours to surfing lessons.

8. Jikeleza Lodge, Port Elizabeth

Jikeleza Lodge in Port Elizabeth offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere for young travelers. The hostel is centrally located, making it easy to explore the city’s attractions. Accommodation options include dorms and private rooms, and there’s a communal kitchen and lounge area for guests to use. Jikeleza Lodge also offers affordable tours to nearby attractions such as Addo Elephant National Park.

9. Island Vibe Backpackers, Jeffreys Bay

For those who love surfing, Island Vibe Backpackers in Jeffreys Bay is a paradise. This beachfront hostel offers stunning views and direct access to some of the best surf spots in South Africa. Accommodation ranges from dorms to private rooms, and there’s a lively bar and restaurant on-site. The hostel also offers surf lessons and rentals, making it a perfect base for surf enthusiasts.

10. Amakaya Backpackers, Plettenberg Bay

Amakaya Backpackers in Plettenberg Bay is a great choice for travelers exploring the Garden Route. The hostel offers a variety of accommodations, including dorms and private rooms, and boasts stunning views of the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the ocean. The garden and BBQ area are perfect for relaxing, and the hostel organizes activities such as hiking, kayaking, and bungee jumping.

Recreating the Hostel Experience at Home

While nothing can fully replicate the experience of backpacking through South Africa, you can recreate some of the hostel vibes and cultural immersion at home. Here are a few ideas:

1. Virtual Travel Groups:

– Join virtual travel communities or forums to share experiences, tips, and stories with fellow travelers. Websites like Couchsurfing and Reddit have active travel communities.

2. Hostel-Themed Gatherings:

– Organize a hostel-themed party or gathering with friends. Set up a communal area, play international music, and encourage everyone to share travel stories.

3. Cultural Cooking Nights:

– Host a South African cooking night and prepare traditional dishes such as bobotie, biltong, or bunny chow. This can be a fun way to learn about the local cuisine and culture.

4. Virtual Tours:

– Many of South Africa’s tourist attractions offer virtual tours. Explore places like Table Mountain, Robben Island, or Kruger National Park from the comfort of your home.

5. Language Exchange:

– Engage in language exchange programs to learn basic phrases in Afrikaans, Zulu, or Xhosa. This can enhance your cultural experience and prepare you for future travels.


Q: What is the best time to visit South Africa?

A: The best time to visit South Africa varies depending on the region. The summer months (November to March) are ideal for visiting coastal areas like Cape Town and Durban, while winter (May to September) is the best time for a safari.

Q: Is it safe to stay in hostels in South Africa?

A: Most hostels in South Africa are safe, especially those listed above. However, it’s important to take basic precautions such as securing your belongings, being aware of your surroundings, and following hostel guidelines.

Q: How can I book a hostel in South Africa?

A: Hostels can be booked through various online platforms such as Hostelworld,, or directly through the hostel’s website. It’s advisable to read reviews and check ratings before making a reservation.

Q: What should I pack for a trip to South Africa?

A: Pack light, breathable clothing for warm weather, and a few layers for cooler evenings. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, a hat, comfortable walking shoes, and a reusable water bottle. A universal adapter is also handy for charging your devices.

Q: Are there any cultural norms I should be aware of?

A: South Africa is a diverse country with various cultures. It’s important to be respectful and open-minded. Greeting people with a smile and a friendly “hello” is appreciated. Tipping is customary in restaurants and for services such as guides and drivers.

Exploring South Africa on a budget is not only possible but can also be incredibly rewarding. These affordable hostels provide a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded travelers, immerse yourself in local culture, and create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re soaking up the sun in Durban, exploring the vibrant streets of Cape Town, or surfing the waves in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa’s hostels offer a home away from home for young adventurers.

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