We included a map with ALL top Sri Lanka hostels. We also included our best recommendation for an itinerary – based on our first-hand experience. And some information you should know before visiting Sri Lanka.
Old colonial house with functional, clean furniture.
Fig and Geko Hostel is the place to stay if you want to socialize with other guests. Your bed comes with a mosquito net (really useful in the area). The staff/hosts are more than helpful with local information, recommendations, itinerary suggestions, and onward travel info.
This hostel is just 50 meters from the ocean beach and 1.5 kilometers to the main kite surf lagoon. Kalpitiya Beach Hostel is a great budget choice for kiting, diving, or just chillin’ on the sand under the palm trees…
A balance of peace and tranquility with a friendly funky vibe.
To be fair, Wanderers Hostel is not in Trincomalee, is in Uppuvelli.
It is just one village next to Trincomalee.
We personally think Uppuvelli is the best place to stay in the Trincomalee area. Trincomalee will be just your bus stop point. If you want to enjoy the beach vibes and relax, head to Uppuvelli. Matt went here for diving (really recommended) and Anna went on a Snorkeling trip and even saw small sharks at Pigeons Island.
Wanderers hostel offers simple bed rooms with a good communal area where people sit around to drink and get to know each other every night.
It is just 3 minutes to the beach, less than 5 minutes to all of the bars/ restaurants.
Smart tip: Head to Fernando’s Bar, (our favorite in the area) and enjoy a coconut on the beach. Cheers!
You probably won’t visit Arugam Bay unless you are planning to surf.
If so, Little Lagoon Hostel is an amazing place to stay in. It has a beautiful garden, with cozy hammocks to chill and doggies to cuddle. It is a place where it is easy to meet fellow travelers (solo travelers, this is your oasis!).
The private room is a refurbished old shipping container. Super cool!
Being ‘good market approved’, Little Oasis is a sustainable hostel that cares about recycling and looking after the environment.
This hostel is small and away from the hustle and bustle, meaning, you will have to walk a bit more to get there. But once you arrive, you probably will only leave for your surf lessons anyway…
Of course you want to take the famous train ride from Kandy to Ella.
The best hostel in Kandy is Clock Inn Kandy. Besides being a fun, social and hip hostel, the super friendly staff helps you to get on your train ride to Ella. the hostel is located in the very heart of Kandy.
In just 5 minutes you are literally everywhere: The famous temple, the lake, even the local market.
Highly recommended for solo-travelers (male and female) and couples at the same time. People staying here are really looking for the social experience.
Roof Top Terrace and Breakfast: The roof top is where the people come together, have drinks, play board games and mingle. Here on the roof top they also serve the breakfast. Super delicious and freshly prepared in front of you!
Good to know: Clock Inn offers 6 super cool capsule beds on their roof top terrace. They are really popular and hard to book. In case you fancy a capsule, let the team know. In case of a cancellation they can change your booking 🙂
About the train ride: Make sure you let the team know you want to take the train. Again, they will help you to get the tickets! This is important since sometimes “tickets are officially sold out”, but you can always organize some.
Ella, where your stunning train ride will end (or begin) was the cradle of hostels in Sri Lanka. It is a beloved place because there are also many restaurants to chill out with tasty western food, and incredible landscapes.
This place is perfect if you plan to hike Ella Rock.
The scenery is incredible and it is very peaceful. Rooms are basic but everything you need is there.
It is a little walk to the center – around 30 minutes, but if you want to relax, enjoy the views and chill, it is your place. They provide breakfast, lunch and diner so you actually don’t need to move.
A fun backpacker hostel just across the beach with a rooftop terrace ocean views (and yoga classes!).
We had a fun 3 nights stay here while our trip through Sri Lanka.
On the dorms: huge lockers and comfy beds with clean design. On the common area: entertainment shows (even with fire!), cool staff willing to help you find hidden gems (ask for directions to the Hidden beach) and plenty of fellow travelers looking to hang out.
They also offer Yoga in the morning. Ask the staff about the schedule. The yoga lesson is always extra, not included in the price.
Good to know: Although the name indicates it is a party hostel, it is more a backpacker hostel. They do not party hardcore. There is the events of partying, but only until 10pm. Then the party people move to a club or anything in the area, and the travelers who fancy some sleep, can sleep like a baby in the hostel.
I know, the city and village names are confusing. Keep an eye on the map with all hostels.
The vibes are great and chilled. Relax at the garden, hang out on the hammock or simply enjoy a tasty smoothie bowl under the sun (or palm tree). Each room comes with a private bathroom and many rooms have a terrace, what a wonderful way to wake up!
Also, look at their dorms design: clean, hip, neat, and cool!
A surfers and eco hostel with a range of different rooms on offer.
The swimming pool is obviously the highlight and place to be. This is where the travelers get together. Just across the street you can have a dip in the ocean; or let’s better say battle the waves with your board.
Lime & Co Kaba is an eco villa with 2 units, each with 1 double bed with attached bathroom, 2 twin rooms with shared bathroom and a kitchen and dining area. Both units share a swimming pool.
It is conveniently located among 4 beaches – two in the South and two in the North; easily accessible with a 5 min shortcut that lead to the main road, right next to the bus stand and full of tuk tuks.
This small hostel offers 3 AC rooms (two of them with ensuite facilities) and one without AC. The room without AC is a dorm with individual fans for each bed. We really recommend to go with AC rooms.
For the social butterfly traveler it is worth it to mention the hostel has three common areas full of sofas, a small kitchen for guests and a great social vibe.
Surf trips and parties become the main attractions along with other organized activities by a friendly team of locals. An authentic hostel experience for the more active backpackers, offering a mix between having a blast and a chilled atmosphere.
Not many travelers are taking the train from Galle to Colombo. We did it and we must say: it is less crowded than the Kandy train and it is also beautiful. The train rails are next to the beach-side.
We recommend to stay at Pilgrims hostel in Galle. A nice backpacker’s place in the old town.
All Hostels on a map
Below we created a big map for you. This map includes all the recommended hostels from Colombo to Kandy and Trincomalee.
Sri Lanka Itinerary
Here is our recommendation for a backpacker itinerary in Sri Lanka. You see, Sri Lanka is perfectly to travel in a circle. It is actually quite a big island. You will be starting and ending your trip in Colombo.
So it is important to choose a Sri Lanka itinerary without zig-zagging all the time.
We went first to Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and then went south. Now, it does not matter if you go first clockwise, or not.
If I were you, I would have a look on the weather conditions. It may make sense to start in the South, when the weather prediction for the North isn’t that good. Here’s a good guide on 2 weeks in Sri Lanka. Again, plan a bit ahead, it’ll be worth the time preparing.
Below in the map you find our itinerary recommendation and all mentioned hostels. We marked them as follows:
5 Star Hostels: Black with White Star
Design Hostels: Blue
Backpacker-Type Hostel: Orange
Other recommendation: Red
We know Sri Lanka and the hostels around the country. We are traveling since 2007, staying in the coolest places around.
Therefore, we decided to put together this list of great Sri Lankan Hostels. And not just that.
Okay, after finding all these super cool places, it’s 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.
You can buy pretty much anything around Sri Lanka anyway. So no need to pack everything you own!
We cannot recommend any special places since it is always changing. Just keep an eye on it and click around.
Good to know: As a solo-traveler, Airbnb is not the best option to stay. Better choose a hostel-accommodation so you can actually meet more people.
Please bother us! We want this guide to be as useful as possible for you.
We traveled all the way through Sri Lanka to hunt down all these cool places. We hope this guide is your answer to where to stay in Sri Lanka.
If anything is missing, please drop us a line! We are here to help you to stay in safe and cool hostels!
Love and safe journey, The Hostelgeeks
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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.