Looking for the best hostels in Sri Lanka? We prepared something super useful for you; the coolest hostel selection for backpacking Sri Lanka + itinerary ideas.
When you are looking at this page, it can only mean you are about to start your Sri Lanka Trip.
Oh, we envy you! We stayed once in 2017 for full month around the country; we had an amazing time. We came back in 2022 for two months. What an adventure! We are sharing everything you need to know right here. All non-bias and first-hand!
Important: You need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can check with iVisa.com which visa you need and how to get it. Here is our complete review on iVisa and how it works for Sri Lanka.
From wild Elephants feeding to diving with turtles and sharks and spotting a wild leopard. The people, the culture, the food, the landscape – it’s fantastic. In the process enjoying this unique country, we collected a great list of the best hostels in Sri Lanka.
Good to know: We actually stayed at all these places personally – they are handpicked and recommended to be safe, fun and clean!
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.
All good hostels in Colombo closed permanently or are not open yet. There is no reason to stay in Colombo anymore, since the city is quite underwhelming. The only reason we recommended to stay in the capital were the hostels; these are gone atm. This might change in the future again.
Your trip will kick off in Colombo, Sri Lanka. While there is rumor, Colombo should be skipped, I don’t think you should do this.
Colombo is the perfect place to start your trip. Why?
1st, here you find many fellow travelers you either just arrived too. And 2nd, you will meet travelers that just finished their round-trip of Sri Lanka.
SCORE! This means you will find instantly someone to travel with plus the freshest travel information you can imagine. Of course, that would only happen if you stay at a social place, with cool vibes and communal areas. That is why we start this list with…
Also outside Colombo, to reach the city from Island Hostel you will only have to take the train. The train station is around 3-5 minutes by walk.
This hipster hostel with capsule design beds comes with a rooftop terrace and… a swimming pool!
Personally, I recommend installing the App PickMe. It is basically the Sri Lanka Uber for Tuk-Tuks. You have the price beforehand and it is easy to install and use. You pay in cash though, keep this in mind.
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.
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!).
Of course you want to take the famous train ride from Kandy to Ella. We have a recommendation on how to secure your ticket for this unforgettable experience. And we also found some great hostels in Kandy:
2in1 Kandy Hostel is the hostel with the best view in Kandy. It is a little bit outside of town but you can use bus transport or tuk-tuk to visit the city. The hostel is small with a personal touch and very clean. It has all the facilities you need, and a great balcony for a beautiful sunrise view!
Everything you need you can find here, even a hairdryer! You can wash your laundry at a very reasonable price. And free coffee and tea are a nice addition. The staff is very welcoming and super helpful with recommendations.
In total, this is a very good value for money.
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.
We give you a few different options to stay in Ella:
A fairly standard, clean, nice hostel with great location – bus station, train station, all the cool pubs and restaurants are within 5 minutes by walk.
Hangover Ella is just off the main street, and on the social area you have direct views to tea plantations. Fancy a yoga class there?
Bear in mind breakfast and towel are not included in room rate. Make sure you bring your own towel and padlock.
Also, you are not directly “downtown” in the village. So you it is more quiet to sleep at night. When staying central, you can basically forget about sleeping early. Many bars have live music until 11pm. Something to keep in mind.
This place is perfect if you plan to hike Ella Rock, Ella Escapade.
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.
Insider Tip for Coffee Lovers and Brunchers: Just a 5min walk from both hostels, you will find Swell Café, one of the best coffee places in the country (in my coffee-nerdy opinion!)
1. Spindrift Madiha, near Matara
How about some Bali vibe?
After Weligama, Spindrift opened their 2nd hostel in Sri Lanka at Madiha Beach, near Matara. It is named Spindrift Madiha – simple to remember! It is just a 10km drive from Weligama and 8km from Mirissa. So, yet again, you can see how nearby all these small villages are.
Madiha Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area; both for sun bathing and surfing.
Spindrift Madiha comes with a big swimming pool, surrounded by tall palm trees. The hostel itself offers double private rooms as well as 4 bed and 6 bed dorms.
Last but not least, you can also expect Yoga classes and as always, plenty of social activities. This is one of the best hostels in Sri Lanka for Solo-Traveler!
Important for you: In season, this hostel is booked up super early! Book as soon as possible! I know, this is not ideal since plans change but just keep in mind, this hostel is super popular.
Oh and keep in mind, there is always the Secret Beach for a gorgeous sunset with a Cocktail in your hand.
Here in Mirissa you will also find the popular Coconut Tree Hill – check our featured image above 😉 Here you may get your most instagrammable photo from your Sri Lanka trip.
1. Hangover Hostel Mirissa
Hangover Hostel is 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.
And there is another place with a fun name for where to stay in Mirissa: Mister Hostel. Just a 4-minute walk from the beach, you will find this backpacker hostel.
Rooms comes with air conditioning, and bed dorms have an individual light and curtains. There is a laid back atmosphere and cool activities. It is more laid back, so this is what I personally liked here. For the parties, you can head out to the Doctors House, Cheeky Monkey or any other bar really.
Weligama is definitely the place to stay at if you wanna surf in South of Sri Lanka. Make sure you stay at a hip cool hostel, like the brand new Spindrift Hostel.
The small towns of Mirissa, Weligama, Ahangama and Midigama are super close by! It is just a 10 minutes Tuk-Tuk ride, really. You can also just rent a scooter. It costs between 1000 and 1500 rupees per day. Make sure you take a full video of your scooter with any scratches and issues. This saved us discussions and money.
So instead of focusing on the town itself, I recommend focusing on which hostel you prefer.
The Spindrift Hostel in Central Weligama
The Spindrift is a classy backpacker hostel located in the heart of Weligama and just a few seconds walk to the surfers paradise of beautiful Weligama beach.
Whether you are staying here or not, you will hear about this place when you are in the area. They have the absolute best pizza and pasta in the area! So if you are fancying some Western, or even more Italian Food, come here. Not gonna lie: I love Pizza🤣
Surfing Wombats itself is actually epic as well! Initially, this hostel was not high on our list, but I was wrong.
It is one of the hostels with the best hostel vibes in the country!
It is easy-going, friendly, fun. They organize different activities and even ping-pong tournaments. When I walked in, I thought it is just 30-40 friends living here. You see, this is what makes a fantastic hostel.
In fact, this hostel feels more like a surf camp. I would estimate that a good 90% of people staying here are actually surfer – of all levels. You are in short walking distance to two great breaks and a nice chill beach, named “Midigama Beach”…who knew…
For the Sunset Lover: For the most beautiful sunsets, head over to Coconut Beach for its tiny beach bars run by locals.
Where do you sleep:
8-Bed Mixed Dorm
Double Private Room
Triple Private Room
The dorms are spacious and the beds are big and comfortable.
Just across Kabalana beach, a great spot for morning surf, you will find this cool, beach hostel, Mellow Hostel.
I know, the village names are confusing. Keep an eye on the map with all hostels. Basically, starting from Galle you have:
Anyway, in Kabalana, the best hostel in Mellow Hostel.
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!
The hostel is located directly in front of the Kabalana beach. This is a perfect beach for beginner. Nearby you also have great spots for advanced surfer.
Also, look at their dorms design: clean, hip, neat, and cool!
Unawatuna is most know for its beautiful beaches, and their palm swings. Have you ever touched the sunset? Some people also come to this area for surfing, but we do personally think Weligama area is better for surfing classes.
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.
A nice backpacker’s place in the old town. Pilgrim Hostel has the advantage of being right in the historic centre. However, the rooms are also smaller and the price is higher. If you stay for 1 night only, go for it, since it saves you time plus you can actually enjoy the bars at night and walk home in just 2 minutes.
Below we created a big map for you. This map includes all the recommended hostels from Colombo in the West to Kandy in the Center and Trincomalee in the North.
Oh and of course the magical South with Weligama Hostel, Mirissa and Galle. It is also a perfect surfing spot! Below in the map you find our itinerary recommendation and all mentioned hostels. We marked them as follows:
EPIC and Design Hostels: Red
Backpacker-Type Hostel: Purple
Other recommendation: Blue
(You can activate and deactivate the different layers in the left sidebar. You can open the map in a new tab here)
Our recommendation: Sri Lanka Itinerary
We added our recommendation for a backpacker itinerary in Sri Lanka inside the map above. 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. This is key to not waste time and money.
In our case, we went first to the North to Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, then to the center with Kandy and Ella, and then went South. Now, it does not matter if you go first clockwise, or vice versa.
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.
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!