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, Balkan hostels 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 being on a Balkans backpacking trip for over three months, here are some of the best Balkan hostels that will undoubtedly enrich your travel experience and leave you wanting to come back to the Balkans!
Backpacking Albania: 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 is the only hostel in Gjirokaster. It was opened in 2016 by Walter, a friendly Dutch man who has a wealth of knowledge on both the city and the surrounding area.
Saranda – Bunkies Hostel in Saranda was newly opened in 2016 and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first few guests here. Run by a friendly couple Dani & David, this hostel is a great place to base yourself to explore Southern Albania and enjoy balcony views of the Adriatic Sea.
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 Balkan hostels. Run by Erjon & Eni, this hostel has a fantastic chilled out vibe which — combined with their large outdoor garden, freshly cooked breakfasts and rakija-filled bar — makes it difficult to leave!
Backpacking Bosnia: Best Bosnia Hostels
Bosnia & Herezogivna 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 – Doctor’s House is a lovely and cosy hostel located in the hills of Sarajevo, about a 10-minute walk from the Old Town with beautiful views over all of Sarajevo. Hostel Franz Ferdinand is another good option when backpacking Sarajevo and is located in the heart of the Old Town.
Backpacking Bulgaria: 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 Balkan hostels in terms of the perks they offer when checking in. Firstly, there was an Australian Flag with a personalised sign waiting for us upon check-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.
Sofia – Hostel Mostel is a must for travellers backpacking Sofia on a tight budget. They offer free breakfast and dinner (with a beer!) as well as affordable day trips to surrounding areas. It also has a huge common room, making it great for meeting other travellers.
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!
Backpacking Croatia: 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.
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.
Backpacking Greece: Best Greece Hostels
Technically the majority of Greece isn’t considered a part of the Balkans. However, the lesser-visited north of the country has a lot of cultural similarities to other countries in the Balkans and is worth including on any Balkan backpacking trip!
Meteora – it’s difficult to visit Meteora on a budget due to tourism in the area being focused predominately on higher-budget travellers and tour groups. Hostel Meteora in Trikala is an excellent budget option and only a short a bus ride away from the beautiful monasteries of Meteora. The city of Trikala itself is also a nice quaint Greek town that’s worth exploring!
Backpacking Kosovo: 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 – Buffalo Backpackers is a cool hostel in the heart of Pristina, run by a friendly American and Albanian couple, they offer great breakfasts, a tonne of recommendations on things to do and the staff will often take guests out in the evenings!
Prizren – Prizren City Hostel is another great place to stay if you’re looking for the famous Balkan hospitality. Despite booking a dorm, the friendly owner upgraded me to a private room and also took me and another guest on a personalised walking tour of Prizren. It is definitely a brilliant place to stay when backpacking Kosovo!
Backpacking Macedonia (FYROM): Best Macedonia Hostels
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 – Sunny Lake Hostel is another one of my favourite Balkan hostels, with the owner, Gyoko, having created a friendly and homely atmosphere where it feels more like you’re just staying at a friend’s house. He’ll also give you some great tips on what to do during your time visiting Ohrid!
Backpacking Montenegro: 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.
Backpacking Serbia: 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 – Hedonist Hostel might just be our favourite Balkan hostel, having made a number of visits here throughout our travels. Not only does this hostel have amazing facilities with multiple common rooms and a fantastic outdoor seating area, the staff go above and beyond to make sure you have a memorable stay in Belgrade. Be prepared to spend a few extra rakija-fuelled nights than originally planned here!
Niš – A great place to stay in Niš is Aurora Hostel which is a quaint and cosy hostel located a leisurely 15-minute stroll from the centre of town.
- All the hostels on this list we have personally stayed in and are recommending them based on our own experiences. There are a number of popular destinations in the Balkans where we didn’t stay in hostels. If you are undertaking a long Balkans backpacking trip then you should check out Balkan Backpacker and Balkan Best Hostels which are two associations of independently owned hostels in the Balkans. Both offer perks (including free laundry and rakija!) if you stay in multiple hostels that are a part of their groups. The majority of hostels mentioned in this article belong to one of these groups.
What are your favourite Balkan hostels? Add a comment below!