The Balkans’ Best Hostels for Backpackers

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by Michael Rozenblit

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Travelling in the Balkans is a fantastic option for backpackers. Balkan hostels are extremely affordable for many travellers, with dorms in most countries starting at €10-15 per night.

Furthermore, hostels in the Balkans are typically run by locals from that region who have a plethora of knowledge on their respective cities and strive to showcase the famous Balkan hospitality to their guests.

After spending many months backpacking in the Balkans, here are some of the Balkans’ best hostels that will undoubtedly enrich your travel experience and leave you wanting to come back to the Balkans!

Best Albania Hostels

Albania is one of the least developed countries in the Balkans but is quickly gaining popularity with backpackers visiting the beautiful Adriatic Coast and a number of interesting historical UNESCO towns. 

Berat – the place to stay in Berat is the aptly named Berat Backpackers which is one of the oldest hostels in Albania. It has a fantastic garden terrace that provides brilliant views of the Old Town, making it a great place to laze away an afternoon.

Gjirokaster – Stone City Hostel was the first hostel to be opened in Gjirokaster when its doors opened in 2016. It’s run by Walter, a friendly Dutchman who has a wealth of knowledge of both the city and the surrounding area.

Tirana – the charms of the Albanian capital caught me off guard and I enjoyed my time in Tirana a lot more than I had initially expected. One of the main reasons for this was Trip’n Hostel, which was undoubtedly one of my favourite hostels that I stayed in the Balkans. Run by Erjon & Eni, this hostel has a fantastic vibe which — combined with their large outdoor garden, freshly cooked breakfasts and a rakija-filled bar — makes it difficult to leave!

Stunning Berat View from the Fortress
Stunning Berat View from the Fortress

Best Bosnia Hostels

Bosnia & Herzegovina is a fascinating country to visit. With a complex history, beautiful cities and natural beauty, there is plenty to keep any backpacker occupied here!

Mostar – Hostel Majdas, colloquially known as ‘one more night hostel,’ is a great place to stay when you visit Mostar. The owner, Majdas, is extremely hospitable and will welcome any opportunity to feed you! Make sure you go on one of the tours run by her brother, Bata, around Mostar and the surrounding areas!

Sarajevo – Hostel Franz Ferdinand is one of the best-rated hostels in Sarajevo, offering guests a hearty free breakfast, large common room and comfortable beds. There are also regular social events organised here making it a great place to meet other travellers.

Stari Most in Mostar
Mostar’s iconic Old Bridge

Best Bulgaria Hostels

Bulgaria is a severely underrated country that quickly became one of our favourites during our Balkans backpacking trip. The country is filled with interesting cities to visit, beautiful Black Sea coastal towns and a culture that has been influenced by many of its surrounding neighbours.

Plovdiv – Hostel Old Plovdiv is one of the best hostels in terms of the perks they offer when checking in. The friendly staff then offered us a complimentary bottle of local sparkling wine and placed lavender sachets on our pillows making this hostel more akin to a fancy boutique hotel than the stereotypical backpacker’s hostel. It is a fantastic place to rest your head when exploring Plovdiv!

Sofia – Hostel Mostel is a must for travellers visiting Sofia on a tight budget. They offer affordable day trips to surrounding areas and have a huge common room, making it great for meeting other travellers.

Sozopol – If you want to visit Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast and stay away from the large cities of Varna or Burgas, then Just a Hostel in Sozopol is a great option. It’s a friendly hostel that has free breakfast and allows guests to enjoy a quieter side of the Black Sea.

Veliko Tarnovo – Hostel Mostel also has a branch in Veliko Tarnovo which also has free breakfast and dinner making it one of the best value Balkan hostels for penny-pinching backpackers.

prices in Bulgaria
The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv

Best Croatia Hostels

Croatia is no secret when it comes to Balkans backpacking, with many travellers flocking towards its beautiful coastline. The hostel scene is thriving in Croatia with many affordable and social places to stay!

Dubrovnik Villa Divine is a modern hostel that offers clean and comfortable amenities while also having a great social atmosphere. There are regular free nightly drinks where guests are offered wine or cocktails, which makes it perfect if want to enjoy the famous Croatian nightlife in Dubrovnik.

Split – One of the best places to stay in Split is Situs Hostel. It is a small homely hostel that is well located and organises a number of different events in and around Split. Definitely a great place to meet other travellers.

Zagreb – Hostel Mali Mrak is a cool artsy hostel based in a house in suburban Zagreb. It has an awesome common area and friendly local staff who are very accommodating and will suggest a number of great things to do in Zagreb! They will even take you out if you want to sample some of the city’s famous nightlife.

Zadar – As one of the top-rated small hostels in Zadar, the Lazy Monkey Hostel has everything backpackers could want from a hostel. It is located next to the Bus Station, offers dorm and private rooms and a bar on site that allows plenty of opportunities to socialise with other guests.

Split Harbour
Split Harbour

Best Kosovo Hostels

Kosovo is one of the newest countries in the world and following the horrific wars in the 1990s, tourism has started to pick up, particularly amongst backpackers keen to get off the beaten trail in the Balkans.

Pristina – Oda Hostel is a homely hostel in the heart of Pristina, with comfortable beds, clean facilities and plenty of storage area in the rooms. The staff are welcoming and there is even a pet cat!

Prizren – Ura Hostel is a family-run hostel in a traditional house that offers a few different dorm rooms with shared kitchen facilities and a common room.

prizren old town
Prizren Old Town

Best Montenegro Hostels

Over the last few years, Montenegro has gained increasing popularity amongst travellers as they search for cheaper destinations on the Adriatic Coast.

Kotor – Kotor is one of the best places to base yourself to explore Montenegro with Old Town Kotor Hostel offering a great budget option when you visit Kotor. It offers cheap breakfasts and dinners, a great common room and friendly staff who aren’t shy about showing you a good time.

visit kotor city walls
The iconic view of Kotor from the City Walls

Best North Macedonia Hostels

North Macedonia is a country often overlooked on a typical Balkan backpacking route, however, with a number of great natural attractions and an interesting history, it’s well worth a visit!

Ohrid – Blue Lake Hostel is a hostel with a friendly and homely atmosphere where it feels more like you’re just staying at a friend’s house. They’ll give you some great tips on what to do during your time visiting Ohrid and also organise activites.

Skopje – Shanti-Hostel is a great hostel to stay when visiting Skopje, offering a common room to meet other travellers, clean rooms and a good location in a nice part of the city.

Church of Saint John the Theologian in Ohrid, Macedonia.
Church of Saint John the Theologian in Ohrid, Macedonia.

Best Serbia Hostels

Serbia might be missing the coastline of some of its neighbours, but the incredible history, culture and warmth of locals make this country one of the best destinations in the Balkans.

Belgrade – El Diablo Hostel is a small hostel that aims to connect travellers and give you the best possible experience in Belgrade. They have regular dinners and the staff there are really friendly.

Belgrade's Republic Square
Belgrade’s Republic Square

What do you think are the Balkans’ best hostels? Have you stayed at other great hostels not included in this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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Michael is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Both solo and with his partner, Maggie, he has travelled to over 50 countries across the globe and has a particular affinity for the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He’s lived in numerous countries worldwide but currently resides in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Read more about Michael

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