European Youth Hostels

When looking for a place to stay while backpacking through Europe, young, frugal travelers should always consider European Youth Hostels.

Hostels are pretty much ubiquitous in Europe these days. Every touristy city and every stop on the backpacker circuit will have at least a few youth hostel options for you to choose from. It can be tough to choose because, as any seasoned backpacker will tell you, hostels can range from run down shacks with prison showers to budget resorts with their own bars and restaurants. You never really know what to expect in a European youth hostel unless you do some research.

You really have three options for finding a good European Youth Hostel. You can use your guidebook recommendations, you can use a website like hostelworld or hostelbookers, or you can rely on the recommendations of other backpackers.

Being the adventurous, roll-with-the-punches, risk-taking type of guy that I am (I made an illegal U-turn today), I prefer the last option. Relying on recommendations from your fellow backpacker may not always lead you to paradise, but at least you’ll get to meet someone new, and really become a part of the backpacker scene. I’ve spent weeks at a time, drifting from hostel to hostel with groups of other backpackers who either knew, or thought they knew the best places to go. Regardless of what European youth hostel we ended up in, it was always good time.

For more on European Youth Hostels, check out our Youth Hostel Reviews Section.

Next week: Hosteling in Helsinki!

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  • Jessica

    Upon embarking on a six month voyage to South America my seasoned traveler friends supplied me with the mantra: “Don’t worry. You’ll meet people.” They were right, and my stays in Youth Hostels were crucial to that endeavor. I met a huge cross-section of people I would never normally encounter and found myself eating a fancy dinner for two with an innocent looking Midwestern pilot (we met on the hostel stairs, both of us were traveling alone and hadn’t spoken to anyone in days!) got private tours of Rio from locals, and met a girl who lived in the next city on my roster who insisted I stay with her family when in town. Generally was my primary resource, as the hostels in my guidebook seemed somewhat stuffy and overpriced, I also found that independent (as opposed to HI) hostels are often worth checking out. The best thing about Hostelling is the variety; I selected hostels based on my mood, a social hostel when I was feeling lonely, a quieter one if I was road weary, if you know where to look there’s a hostel out there for everybody and every mood.

  • Jennifer L. Hron

    Hostels aren’t all sleeping in dorms with a dozen unwashed bodies rumbling like Harleys. A little research can smooth the way and still leave plenty of room for spontaneity and fun. When I stepped off the train in Paris, I had a list of places to call, but when I was met at Gare de l’Est by a girl with flaming red hair holding a flyer for the fifteen-euro-a-night Friends Hostel a ten minute walk away, I impulsively switched gears. The rooms had beds for three, a clean bathroom down the hall and an atmosphere that lived up to its name. Still, the most memorable place I stayed in throughout my six months in Europe was the guidebook-recommended Jugendhotel Marienherberge in Munich. I was curious about a place “run by merry nuns”—and it turned out to have the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in; it was like a cloud. Nuns be damned: if I could have squeezed the thick, white comforter into my already bloated suitcase, I would have.

  • Holly

    ¨Do you speak English?¨
    ¨Where are you from?¨
    ¨How long have you been here?¨
    ¨How long have you been traveling?¨
    ¨Where are you going next?¨
    So begins the typical hostel conversation. After a few days in the same hostel, you will have met a myriad of fellow travelers and opened the doors to just as many friendships, no matter their durations.
    Hostel stays are quite unlike sleeping in your own comfy bed. It´s like summer camp on the road, and the campers represent a random sample of the world´s population. The international dorms are the homebase for a global society of travelers. Though many hostel-goers range in age from 16-25 years, don´t be surprised if someone as old as your grandparents is bunking beneath you.
    Hostels foster a healthy communication base for solo travelers and groups as well. If you think you´re going to die if you hear your travel-buddy complain one more time, there´s no shame in hanging out with a group of Swiss for the night, or possible heading with them to their next destination. Perhaps you haven´t played guitar in weeks and are worried that the callouses on your fingertips will disappear along with your muse. Undoubtedly, another traveler will pop up in a common area with the acoustic you´ve been craving, and will likely want to sing and play along and maybe trade lessons.
    Hostels are also hotbeds for language practice. I often travel with fellow English speakers and worry my that Spanish is spiralling downward, yet I always encounter friendly native Spanish speakers to help sharpen my skills and teach me new phrases.
    It´s easy to get a feel for hostels from online listings, but recommendations are always the way to go. Bigger hostels may have rules about drinking, kitchen hours and the like. Smaller hostels may not offer as much space or as many conveniences, but have a more intimate environment. Internet access is a plus, but in-house computers are likely to be crowded by lines of visitors just as eager as you to check their email. Remember, an Internet cafe is never far. However, Wi-Fi access is invaluable if you travel with your trusty laptop.
    Hostel stays are an added layer of excitement to travel. Exhausted from a day´s walk through a foreign city, a host of interesting folks undoubtedly awaits you to discuss pop culture, argue politcs and likely challenge your perceptions about their culture and, in turn, your own.
    That being said, shower shoes are never a bad idea.

  • Caterina

    Racing through the lush vineyards of the Loire Valley in a finely tuned, highly engineered, silver bullet of a train, with images of old stone maisons whizzing by sounds glamorous and exotic. These grand houses may as well be castles as far as you are concerned. Traveling, seeing, living what you have only read about is an experience that may seem priceless. But I can assure you there is a price, however it may not be as big a tag as you thought. Starting as low as $209, a Eurail pass will be the ticket that changes who you are; I know, it changed me forever. Loire not your cup of Bordeaux? I ventured South and, in the blistering heat of the Aegean Summer, found myself taking advantage of the Eurail’s extensive ferry network throughout the Greek Isles. As agro tourism has seen a rise in the last few years, my friends and I decided to take advantage and rent out any rooftop that would have us and sleep under the clear Aegean skies. Our passes took us all the way to Crete where we rented scooters to cruise the island. By the end we were dirty, hungry, tired, and poor (we were poor before), but most of all we were so completely excited about life and all the experiences yet to come that no one wanted to go home once we’d arrived back in Athens. Fortunately we had bought the month pass and would be venturing North in the morning.

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