Over on the Pacific coast of California beautiful beaches, green parks and a warm climate awaits.
To top it off, there is a great San Diego hostels selection to choose from.
The consistently high reviews in this collection really say it all!
- California Dreams Hostel – best for backpackers
- ITH CoLive Balboa Park – perfect for solo travelers
- HI San Diego Downtown Hostel – top pick for female solo travelers
Enjoy beach locations and access to some great surf. Backpackers will love this destination.
Heck, this guide wouldn’t be complete without a fun party hostel San Diego has to offer. Keep scrolling!
This guide is perfect for YOU, when …
- tired of bad and crappy hostels
- want to avoid the “young party kids”
- happy to spend 1-2€ for a better experience
Eager for more fun hostels in California? Check out:
Here are all the best hostels in California in one complete guide.
Go wild and discover our collection of the 45 best hostels in the USA here.
What we cover in this article?
- 3 best hostels in detail
- cheapest hostels in San Diego
- best hostels in San Diego for solo travellers
- fun party hostels in San Diego
- discounts and promo codes
- How to book?
- all hostel and sights on a map
Quick Introduction to San Diego
Average price for a bed: Hostels in San Diego cost 20€ – 28€ per night for a bed in a dorm. A private room starts from 54€ up to 100€ per night. This is a rough average just to give you an idea.
Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check Out time is before 11:00 (11am). 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.
New to Hostels? Read our full hostel starter guide here. We especially recommend to read:
- how to book hostels (and websites to use)
- 23 items for the hostel packing list
- Are hostels safe? 13 safety tips for hostels
The 3 Best Hostels in San Diego
Let’s jump right in and show you the boutique hostels in San Diego.
We put all three accommodation on the map, you will find the map at the end of the article.
1. California Dreams Hostel
To kick start, we have a fantastic hostel that offers so much you might feel a bit dizzy from trying to cram it all in.
At California Dreams Hostel it’s all about creating that memorable stay for adventurous backpackers.
Looking to surf the day away? This is the best place for you!
Schedule a surf lesson if you’re a newbie, or rent all the necessary gear from the hostel and walk out the door. The locals’ favourite surf spot is just 100 metres away.
The team here really want to encourage you to get outside and make the most of the surroundings.
So much so, that they offer organised activities such as:
- A trip to local markets
- Bike tours (+ bike rental)
- Beach volleyball
- Jogging & hiking nearby
But we get it; you don’t necessarily always want to be outdoors.
In which case, you’ll appreciate the board games, movies nights and spacious common lounge.
Moving on swiftly to the room options.
To continue the social vibe of the place, dorm rooms come in larger sizes of 10 and 14-beds.
For the ladies: there is a 10-bed female only dorm with your name on it.
There is also a double room with a shared bathroom on offer.
Though this is a budget accommodation, they don’t skimp on room amenities. Each dorm bed comes with a privacy curtain, linen, reading light, shelves and oversized head space – phew.
And to add the cherry on top; breakfast is free!
Location: Just 20-minutes from the airport, downtown and the city’s main attractions. It’s in the middle of Pacific Beach, surrounded by bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Only 2-minutes from public transport and a handy supermarket.
This is one of the best hostels in San Diego for
- Surfer dudes
2. ITH CoLive Balboa Park
ITH CoLive Balboa Park is designed for…
“…travelers looking for a quiet place to sleep while staying at an international community.”
FYI: ITH stands for International Travelers House. Now you know.
It’s an ideal choice for anyone that’s looking for that local neighborhood experience at an affordable price.
Shall we have a look at the cool amenities?
- Main lounge w/ pool table, instruments & TV
- Garden & outdoor patio area
- Fully-equipped kitchen
- Library with private work stations
As you can see, this place is designed for having fun, working or simply just chilling out.
Every morning you’re welcome to enjoy a light breakfast, and there is free tea and coffee available throughout the day.
Each night the community gathers to cook up a delicious meal – what a wonderful way to meet new people, right?
There’s even free weekly activities such as walking tours, snorkelling and balboa park picnics. Nice!
Other fun nightly events include Taco Tuesday, movie nights (with popcorn) and Thirsty Thursdays. This is such a social place.
As for rooms? There’s a wonderful choice of mixed dorms with 4-9 beds. The private double comes with a queen bed and mini fridge.
Location: This is the closest hostel to San Diego zoo and Balboa Park. It’s around 5km from downtown San Diego, so be aware of this. It’s located in Hillcrest neighborhood which is gay-friendly and known for its open culture and amazing cuisine.
This is one of the top hostels in San Diego for
- Solo travellers
3. HI San Diego Downtown
Let’s now go and explore HI San Diego Downtown and find out why it has won so many awards.
Before you do anything else, put your bags down and have a go on the swings in reception!
The team here will sort you out with a free breakfast and take you out on tours and trips in the area. Jam session in San Diego’s hip-hop community, anyone?
We’re a big fan of the overal design. High ceilings and air-con make for spacious and cool spaces you’ll enjoy spending time in.
Looking to have a fun time? Definitely make use of the
- Games rooms
- Old-school arcade games
- Surrounding nightlife in lively Gaslmap Quarter
There is also a ton of practicalities within these four walls.
Enjoy an amazing shared kitchen, beanbags, bicycle hire and a reception that is at hand 24/7.
The rooms choices are superb, too – every traveller type has been considered.
From female-only and mixed dorms, to male dorms, double, twin and quadruple privates that come with a private bathroom.
Each come with fresh sheets, towels and storage lockers.
Location: Within the historic Gaslamp Quarter which is the nightlife hub of the city. Great rooftop bars, cafes and art galleries surround you here. The Greyhound bus terminal is a short 15-minute work.
This is one of the best hostels in San Diego California for
- Female solo travellers
- Small groups
What about Cheapest Hostels in San Diego?
Of course, there are always cheap hostels. Forget hotels in San Diego!
We think, it’s not worth it to go with the cheapest hostel out there.
The difference is usually 1-2€ ($1-2) per night, and a lot of amenities are not included. This can be breakfast or linen.
However, if you are traveling on a shoe-string budget and you wanna save every penny, there are ways to find the cheapest places in San Diego.
- Open Hostelworld San Diego with full list of budget places to stay in San Diego
- Order the listing by price
Simple as that.
Make sure you use then the other filters and rank per price.
Also keep a close eye on the ratings, especially the “extreme ratings”. Meaning, the best and worst. These ratings can give great insight on what to expect.
Best Hostels in San Diego for Solo Travellers?
What is seriously the best hostel in San Diego for solo-travellers?
It would seem the hostel scene in San Diego is built for solo travellers.
We haven’t included any hostel in this guide that would not suit a social solo traveller. In fact, solo travellers of all kinds are sorted.
Alongside our top 3 hostels, we’d like to include a few more options.
ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel
As the name highlights, ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel is all about surf and beach.
Passionate about community, the team bring travellers together.
Fill your belly with free pancakes and then join in daily activities. From float days at the beach, to sunset yoga and family dinners.
The common spaces are great for working, socialising and enjoying some alone time.
Warning: you might spend your entire day on the private outdoor deck in a hammock. We wouldn’t blame you.
Location: Right on the sand of Pacific Beach. Popular bars are within walking distance.
ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego
Looking to be located in a little Italy hostel San Diego? Book your stay with ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego.
Like its sister hostel, this one is all about that community vibe.
Look forward to:
- Variety of outdoor spaces
- Evening social events
- Dorms, female rooms & private options
- Homely kitchen/dining area
This hostel really has a home-from-home vibe.
It’s easy to enjoy great nightlife and some of San Diego’s top activities from here. Just use your feet!
Party Hostels in San Diego
Looking for the best party hostels San Diego has to offer? We have you covered!
As already mentioned, you could opt for California Dreams Hostel which offers daily outdoor events & close to bar.
But wait, we have one more super cool San Diego party hostel option!
Get on down to Lucky D’s Hostel San Diego for weekly pub crawls and more nightly social events.
It’s a colourful hostel with basic dorm rooms and a free breakfast to get you going for the day.
Rent a bicycle by day, join a nightclub excursion by night.
Once you’re ready to ‘hit the hay’, enjoy air conditioning and the no curfew rule.
How to book?
We recommend using Booking.com or Hostelworld for your reservations.
Hostelworld is the most popular website when it comes to hostel bookings.
Read: step-by-step guide on how to book with Hostelworld
On both platforms your credit card is 100% protected and the booking 100% confirmed.
We included the handy links to each of the recommended hostel. Just click on the hostel name. The link will lead you to check prices and availability.
Here is the overview:
- California Dreams Hostel: Booking.com | Hostelworld
- ITH CoLive Balboa Park: Booking.com | Hostelworld
- HI San Diego Downtown: Booking.com | Hostelworld
We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible!
All of San Diego best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish hostels, secure your room or bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.
Currently, we have no special hostel discounts in San Diego. I know, it’s a pity. You can subscribe to our newsletter to receive our newest hostel discounts always to your inbox.
You can find all our hostel discounts worldwide here.
All 3 Hostels put on a Map + Sights
Let us have a look on the map. Below we list all three best San Diego hostels on a map.
Personally, we love to plan our trips with a map having all sights and potential hostels on it. We thought this map will help you with planning your trip too.
We also included the main tourist attractions you’ve to know in this list:
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- San Diego Old Town
- Cabrillo National Monument
- USS Midway Museum
Flights to San Diego?
This new website has super cool features like a so-called radius search. Just draw a circle over North America and find the cheapest rates for the area.
Here is our review of Kiwi.
What are the best hostels to stay at in San Diego and Ocean Beach?
We suggest you check out California Dream Hostel. It’s in a great location right by Pacific beach and offers surf lessons.
Are hostels safe in San Diego California?
Yes! All of the hostels in this guide are safe for travellers. If you’re ever in doubt, check Hostelworld and booking.com for honest review left by people that have stayed there.
Read our Are Hostels really Safe? 13 Tips guide.
What are the best hostels in San Diego?
You’ve landed on the right page! In case you skipped straight to this section, here is a quick review:
Should I vacation in Los Angeles or San Diego?
Have a look at our full guide to the best hostels in Los Angeles and compare with this one. Let us know which destination appeals to you more!
What is the cheapest way to stay in San Diego?
Staying in a hostel works out cheaper because of all the inclusions such as breakfast, events and a great location with easy walking distance to sights. Save money, meet people and have fun!
Is it safe in San Diego?
Generally speaking, San Diego is a safe area. Like anywhere in the world: be smart. Keep you belongings close and don’t give pickpockets a reason to pick on you.
Alright, this is your answer to where to stay in San Diego.
You can find all of the 45 best hostels in USA here.
We did the leg work for you and bring you more hostel guides to destinations in USA:
- best hostels in Seattle
- best hostels in New Orleans
- best hostels in Chicago
- best hostels in Washington DC
- best hostels in New York
- best hostels in Boston
- BEST hostels in Hawaii including best hostels in Maui
- best hostels in Portland
- best hostels in Denver
- best hostels in Las Vegas
You can find all our new and updates articles for Best Hostels in here.
Over to you
Right then reader, which San Diego hostel will you choose?
Was this useful? Do you have any questions, doubts?
Then please please leave us a comment. This list of awesome San Diego hostels should be as informative and useful as possible.
Your question will help me to understand what I have missed to mention.
Therefore, drop us a comment, we are keen to help you!
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 ONLY recommend places we know you will enjoy, no matter what.
At Hostelgeeks we will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. Our promise is to only share with you places we also recommend to our best friends and family!
Enjoy this fine hostel selection and all 5 Star Hostels around the world.
– – –
pin it for later
#2 CLOSED: USA Hostels Ocean Beach
If you manage to struggle finding USA Hostels Ocean Beach, we’ll be impressed (and slightly worried about you).
The exterior is something to behold – look out for the huge peace sign and psychedelic colours!
Alongside a wonderful hippie design effort, the staff here has also gone to great lengths to make their guests welcome.
How do you like the sound of a wide range of hostel events, solo travellers?
We think this is the best way to get to know other travellers and explore the surroundings – fast.
Get ready for:
- Yoga classes by the beach (donation based)
- Beach bonfire 2x a week
- Cowles Mountain hiking trip
- Pub crawls
- Weekly beer pong tournament
- Sunday shuttle to San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, downtown & airport
You’ll be set to get involved in plenty after filling up on a FREE bagel and fresh fruit breakfast.
If you fancy surfing on the nearby beach, ask staff about a discounted price on lessons. They also rent wetsuits and boards.
Good to know: there is a 14-day maximum stay limit.
The best place to hang out in the hostel has to be the courtyard round back, and the seating that overlooks the street.
Grab a boardgame, watch some TV or simply relax in a hammock on the patio. There’s also a fully-equipped kitchen.
Dorm rooms are super cosy, with 4, 6 and 8-beds.
Solo ladies can opt for a 6-bed female dorm with a private bathroom for added luxury.
No matter which you choose, you’ll have a locker, shelf, bed light and power outlet.
Note: instead of privacy curtains, each bed has a small screen in the corner.
Couples will surely be pleased with the queen-sized bed and ensuite bathroom in the private rooms.
Location: Yet again, this hostel is just 2-minutes from the beach. Old Town San Diego is around 6km away. Bars, shops and great nightlife surround the place. Make use of the free shuttle service to explore main attractions and sights. It’s also the closest hostel to Point Loma.
#3 CLOSED: USA Hostels San Diego Downtown
USA Hostels San Diego – Downtown is a quirky and fun, with Victorian décor and a dash of hippie style thrown in.
In fact, this 1880s building originally housed a brothel!
These days, stepping through the door will be like joining a big family.
This hostel offers some fun social activities, but it isn’t as full on as the others in this guide. It’s ideal for people looking to entertain themselves a bit more.
Having said that, there is a weekly pub crawl and happy hour tour to join, if you fancy it.
Otherwise, enjoy more relaxed family dinners, sunset walking tours and a good old fashioned movie night.
- FREE breakfast
- FREE WiFi
- Games room & lounge
- Fully fitted kitchen
- Bike rentals & discounts on tours
We’re pretty impressed with the mixed and female-only dorm rooms.
Everyone gets a backpack-sized locker (charge point inside), shelf, bed light and power outlet. There is also a privacy screen on each bed.
There is also a queen sized private and twin room which is good for friends. Every room shares a bathroom with others.
Location: Situated in the historical Gaslamp Quarter, surrounded by restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s also an easy 20-minutes to the airport. It’s a top choice for that San Diego city vibe.
Your Smart Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.The most important things to pack are:
- eye mask
- key chain flashlight
- the right backpack, the Nomatic (our review of Nomatic here) or Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack
- packing cubes
- generic padlock (fitting all locker types)
- quick-dry travel towel
- universal power adapter
- travel-sized toiletries