5 Backpacker Hostels in Cairns – a Laid-Back City Best Enjoyed Outdoors and the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

Situated in the tropical Far North Queensland, the city of Cairns is a wonderful mixture of culture and natural beauty, providing you with much more than what you expect! It houses about 153,000 citizens, making it the perfect city to visit if you want to learn about the culture and gather with the locals!

Cairns will surprise you with a lengthy list of things you should do and see- there are just so many opportunities for having an adventurous trip! Since you would need to stay for at least a few days to take in the charm, we are here to provide you with a list of some of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns that will make your stay pleasant.

Overview: Best Hostels by Traveler Type

📍Top Location:Cairns Central YHA
🦸 Solo Traveler: Travellers Oasis
🙎‍♀️ best for Female Solo Traveler: Cairns Central YHA
🥳 Party Hostel:Mad Monkey Central
👩‍❤️‍👨 Couple Hostel: Dreamtime Travellers Rest
👨‍👩‍👦 Family Hostel: Dreamtime Travellers Rest
👩‍💻 For Digital Nomads: Travellers Oasis
👯 For Groups:
The Jack Backpackers
👫 For Socializing:Travellers Oasis

Mad Monkey Central Room

Take a day to visit the Great Barrier Reef – plenty of tour boats can take you there and help you make this experience memorable! It is one of the World Heritage Wonders, so try not to miss it! The Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome should be next on your list, offering an opportunity for a wonderful and adventurous experience and a chance to see the city from a new perspective!

After you are done with the extreme activities for the day, it is time to calm down and experience Rusty’s Markets. This is where you can find all kinds of exotic produce, incredible coffee, and unique handmade pieces, such as crocodile leather bracelets!

Good to know: If you’re hopping around Australia quite a bit, we have other guides that could come in useful, like our best hostels in Australia. This guide is also an extension of our initial guide on the best hostels in Cairns.

😛 The Best Hostels for Backpackes in Cairns are:

  1. Travellers Oasis
  2. Cairns Central YHA
  3. Mad Monkey Central
  4. The Jack Backpackers
  5. Dreamtime Travellers Rest

If your energy levels are still up to the roof by the time the night falls, you should consider going bar-hopping around town! Some of Australia’s best breweries and bars are located in Cairns, so put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go! The town is full of speakeasy joints, cosy bars, rooftop bars, and so much more – we’re sure you’ll love all of it.

For all art lovers out there, the Court House Gallery, the Cairns Art Gallery, and the Bulmba-ja Art Centre provide a marvellous scene that you can enjoy! You will get to discover the unique stories and experiences people have told through art.

Money-saving tip: Compare hostel prices with Hostelz.com. You can even filter specifically for Party hostels on Hostelz.com.

Before we move on to the list of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns, let’s take a look at some of the tips you should have in mind, which will eventually make your trip more convenient.

This guide is perfect for YOU, when you want …

  • to party!
  • a social Hostel to actually meet people!
  • a cool hostel with drinking games and such!

You can find all 5 Star Hostels here with Hostelgeeks and all guides to “Best Hostels In” here.

Quick Introduction to Cairns

Average price for a bed: Hostels in Cairns cost 14$ – 40$ per night for a bed in a dorm. A private room has an average of around 45$ – 106$ per night. This is a rough average, just to give you an idea.

Prices always depend on the season and holidays. Please always check the exact rates on Hostelz.com or Hostelworld.com.

Check-In and Check-Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3 pm), while the Check-Out time is before 11:00 (11 am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.

Backpacking tips for Cairns: 

  • The Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is the home to a large crocodile named Goliath – you might want to look out for it while you zip line over it!
  • If you want to take some souvenirs back home, shop locally. You can choose between the Grafton Streets boutiques, Oceana Walk, Cairns Central, and the Cairns Night Markets.
  • Once you get hungry for dinner, hop aboard Prawn Star – this is the best place for you to get a nice cold beer and fresh and beautifully prepared seafood.
  • The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is a perfect way to enjoy salty water and safe swimming conditions. This is the perfect alternative if you are not very fond of large bodies of water.

🔥 New to Hostels? Read our guide to staying in a Hostel for the First Time here. We especially recommend reading:

The Coolest Party Hostels in Cairns are …

Let’s jump right into the fun hostels in Cairns for partying:

  1. Travellers Oasis
  2. Cairns Central YHA
  3. Mad Monkey Central
  4. The Jack Backpackers
  5. Dreamtime Travellers Rest

These are our favorite hostels in Cairns to party. We put all these hostels on the map, including our own insider tips for bars, clubs, and popular night life areas in Cairns (and more!).

1. Travellers Oasis

Once you start looking for the perfect place to stay while you are visiting Cairns, this might be one of the first ones to pop up. Travellers Oasis is an excellent backpacker hostel that allows you to relax, unwind, and give yourself the time to rest before your next explorative trip through the town. 

Because of the welcoming energy that circles, guests have described this as one of the best hostels they have stayed at, where they truly felt at home. The staff is a lovely ensemble of helpful, kind, and positive people, further adding to the place’s charm.

When it comes to the amenities, Travellers Oasis allows you to enjoy an outdoor pool and a large common terrace with barbeque facilities. And if you’re one of those people that don’t like sleeping in a bunk bed, we’re happy to inform you that this accommodation doesn’t have that option.

Book Travellers Oasis here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Travellers Oasis Swimming Pool

Travellers Oasis Dorm

2. Cairns Central YHA

If you are looking for one of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns that provides a comfortable stay and tends to all your needs, then this is the accommodation for you. Conveniently located in the city centre, Cairns Central YHA offers a vast array of activities and amenities that we’re sure you’ll find useful.

This is a large property, so it offers 61 rooms to choose from – some are private, and some are dormitory rooms. There is a common kitchen for you to use, an outdoor dining area, a large TV for a comfortable movie night, and secure luggage storage too. The facility includes an outdoor pool and a games area, as well.

One of the many plus sides of this hostel is that it is close to some of the best locations in the city, opening up many possibilities for you to explore both during the day and the night. The staff is incredibly helpful, especially with organising some tours and activities for you.

Book Cairns Central YHA here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Cairns Central YHA Room

Cairns Central YHA Swimming Pool

3. Mad Monkey Central

The central location of Mad Monkey Central is one of its many attractive features. This is the ultimate place for you to stay if you want to pamper yourself a little bit. You can enjoy a free breakfast in the morning and soak in the day in the evenings at the on-site bar.

Whenever the sun comes out, the guests love enjoying the warm weather next to the swimming pool and relaxing after they have explored all the city has to offer. For those who want to make use of everything this hostel has to offer, you can use the local gym, since there’s free access to anyone staying here. There is even a Gourmet Pizza restaurant on site.

Finally, get a great night of sleep on the most comfortable beds ever. You get to choose between a private and a dormitory room, and either way, you will enjoy a high-quality mattress. Pillows and linens are included, and the reception team can help you get anything else you need so you can rest.

Book Mad Monkey Central here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Mad Monkey Central Dorm

Mad Monkey Central Swimming Pool

4. The Jack Backpackers

The Jack Backpackers is one of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns, and for a good reason. This accommodation offers a terrific location, centred right in the middle of the city attractions and happenings. Known as one of the most popular hostels in the city, it offers many amenities and activities that will make your experience complete.

Starting with the rooms, this is an accommodation that can provide you with both private and dormitory rooms, depending on your preferences. There is a restaurant and a bar on-site, so you can enjoy a good meal for a ridiculously good price.

You can watch your favourite sports on the big TV screen, and dart boards and pool tables are also available. Since this is a hostel that likes to keep its guests entertained, there is a special venue where live bands come to play every weekend.

The reception team is friendly, and they can help you organise a trip or a tour to wherever you want – they may even have a few suggestions themselves!

Book The Jack Backpackers here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

The Jack Backpackers Dorm

The Jack Backpackers Common Space

5. Dreamtime Travellers Rest

It’s no coincidence that Dreamtime Travellers Rest has been rated as one of the best, not only in Cairns but the whole of Australia! After all, the name explains it all! Once you get settled here, you will immediately notice the cosy and home-like atmosphere in the middle of a tropical oasis.

The location of this hostel is perfect because it is so close to all the main attractions in the city. There is also a common area you can enjoy while meeting new people from all around the world.

The staff is always there to make your stay a little more enjoyable, and their services improve with every passing day, making this hostel eco-friendly heaven for everyone to enjoy. The many additional features are only the cherry on top!

Book Dreamtime Travellers Rest here

Check prices at:
Hostelworld | Booking.com | Hostelz.com

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Swimming Pool

Dreamtime Travellers Rest Room

We are hoping that this list of backpacker hostels in Cairns has made your quest to find good accommodation there a tad more enjoyable. Book your stay in any of these hostels and experience all the wonderful things they have to offer! Happy planning have an epic trip!

What about the cheapest hostels in Cairns?

Of course, there are always cheap hostels. But how do you actually find them? When you are traveling on a shoe-string budget and you want to save every dollar, there are ways to find the cheapest places in Cairns.

  1. Open Hostelz.com with a full list of all hostels in Cairns
  2. add your dates
  3. Order the listings by price

Simple as that.

Hostelz.com is a price comparison site for hostels. They list every single one in the world and tells you exactly which website is cheaper to use.

Another smart Tip: Check what is actually included, and what is excluded. Take a closer look at the location, too. A further location might mean more costs in transport.

Any Discounts?

You can find all our hostel discounts worldwide here. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the freshest hostel discounts directly in your inbox. We even have special discount codes we only share in the newsletter.

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How to book?

The most popular booking platforms are Booking.com and Hostelworld.com. On both platforms, your credit card is 100% protected and the booking 100% confirmed.

We included some handy links to each of the recommended hostel. Just click on the hostel name. The link will lead you to check prices and availability.

Read: Step-by-Step guide on how to book with Hostelworld

We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible! All of Cairns best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish and good hostels, secure your room/bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.

The coolest Hostel App you need comes as well from Hostelworld. It gives you super cool features like you can contact your hostel mates beforehand, ask questions, and make plans together. Find more details in our review of the app.

Download the Hostelworld App here

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Scan the QR Code with your Smartphone to download the Hostelworld App from the App Store - like a real Hostel Geek!

The best way to find hostels: Hostelgeeks website and Hostelworld App

Need an eSIM Card for Cairns?

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Our Favorite Hostels in Cairns put on a map + sights

Let us have a look at the handmade map we have created for you. As promised, below we list all backpacker hostels and best hostels in Cairns, as well as sights and our own travel tips.

Personally, we love to plan our trips with a map. It’s just easier. We thought this map will help you with planning your trip too.

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Flights to Cairns?

We use Skyscanner and Omio.com to find cheap flights and good connections all over the globe.

Skyscanner has a bunch of cool features like Multi-City Trip. Instead of doing this research step-by-step, Skyscanner offers this flight planning tool.

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Skyscanner

review of Skyscanner flight searches

Here are some more awesome guides in Australia:

Party hostels:

Backpacker hostels:

Heading over to Fiji? check out our guide to the best hostels in Fiji.

Over to you

Do you have any questions left, maybe doubts? Then please leave it in the comment below. We are very keen to help you - and actually you would even do us a favor!

Your question will help us to improve this Cairns guide.

Last note: Our commitment

This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter, and find the best place on a budget! We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We are constantly updating all our guides to keep them as fresh and accurate as possible.

Safe travels,
The Hostelgeeks

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