Best Hostels In Central America For Backpackers

Are you looking for the absolute best hostels in Central America?

Then let us guide you to some of our absolute favourites. We spent around 6 months backpacking through Central America and stayed at A LOT of hostels along the way. In this post, I will share some of the absolute best hostels in Central America, country by country, so you can get some insider tips before you arrive.

If we didn’t personally stay there, then we met someone who did and loved it.

Trust me when I say we have stayed in some questionable places on our travels. That is why I wanted to put together this list of only the best hostels so you can avoid any nasty surprises.

So if you are a keen backpacker looking for a great adventure, a good night’s sleep and maybe some new like-minded friends… then keep reading to see which Hostels we believe to be the best hostels in Central America.

Best Hostels In Central America By Country

To keep things a little bit organised let’s go from top to bottom by country (literally). I have included Mexico too because many travellers will also include Mexico on their Itinerary, as they should.

Here are our top picks for the best hostels in Central America;

Best Hostels In Belize

Sandbar Beachfront Hostel – San Pedro Island

This first hostel on the list ticks all of the boxes. It is right on the beach and has a private pier, a pool, and a restaurant serving amazing pizzas. The dorms were spot on too.

We stayed in a mixed dorm at this hostel and the beds were large and private and the air con was a lifesaver! We don’t normally stay in the dorm rooms because we prefer a private room but in this case, the privates were a little pricey. Whereas the dorms were perfect for us travelling on a budget.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Sandbar Beachfront Hostel;

✅ Big comfy beds in air-conditioned rooms

✅ 10 Second walk to the beach

✅ The pool area

Check out Sandbar Beachfront Hostel Here!

looking back to a hostel on the beach from a pier over the see in Belize

Yellow Belly Backpackers – San Ignacio

Yellow Belly Backpackers is the most popular Hostel in San Ignacio thanks to its super friendly staff, amazing location and homey feel.

They really do go that extra mile to make guests feel like they are at a second home. They provide free bikes to use, help with organising tours, free water and a tasty free breakfast.

The hostel is also just a very sure walk away from the impressive Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins site. We loved visiting these ruins and even had the whole site to ourselves for a couple of hours so definitely add that one to your itinerary.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Yellow Belly Backpackers;

✅ Delicious free breakfast

✅ Free bikes to use

✅ Short walk to ancient Mayan Ruins

Check Out Yellow Belly Backpackers Here!

A man walking up to some mayan ruins in Belize

If you are planning to visit Caye Caulker then check out our guide to the best places to stay on the island.

Best Hostels In Guatemala

Los Amigos Hostel – Flores

If you are looking for a great atmosphere then this is the place to be. They have an onsite restaurant which is beautifully decorated and always full of backpackers swapping stories and having a great time together. We were staying here during the World Cup and the atmosphere was crazy!!

They also have an onsite tour desk which was super useful when booking our day trip to Tikal as well as our bus to Antigua. I particularly loved joining the daily yoga classes.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Los Amigos Hostel;

✅ Great Atmosphere

✅ Onsite tour desk

✅ Daily Yoga classes

Check Out Los Amigos Hostel Here!

A brightly decorated and vibrant hostel in Central America

Yellow House Hostel – Antigua

Yellow House Hostel is in a great location. Just a short walk to the centre of the city but far enough out that it is nice and peaceful. This is perfect because Antigua gets pretty lively and loud from very early in the morning, thanks to vehicles driving on its cobbled streets.

The rooms here are beautifully decorated and have the comfiest beds! Not to mention the free breakfast is great too. And if you are planning any tours or trips in the area they have their own tour agency that can help you out.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Yellow House Hostel;

✅ Great quiet location

✅ Yummy free breakfast

✅ Super comfy beds

Check Out the Yellow House Hostel Here!

Del Lago Hotel – San Marcos, Lake Atitlan

In my humble opinion, this was one of the best hostels in Central America. And yes, I know they are called a hotel but trust me this is far more of a hostel than a hotel. In fact, I am certain they were called Hostel Del Lago when we stayed there.

I loved it for its location right on the lakeside, with a private pier. Its stunning glass-walled yoga studio and its sociable onsite restaurant. Lake Atitlan has so many nice towns and villages around it that it can be hard to choose but San Marcos should be at the top of the list.

The food was great, the views were great and the resident cat was the cherry on top.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Del Lago Hotel;

✅ The location is right on the lake

✅ The Yoga Studio

✅ The restaurant and social spaces

Check Out Del Lago Hotel Here!

A view of a pier looking out over lake atitlan in Central America

TOP TIP*** The hostel; Free Cerveza on Lake Atitlan sounds great, looks great and was great… until we both got food poisoning like many people who stay there do. We should’ve listened to the reviews. So let this be my friendly warning to you! ⚠️

Best Hostels In El Salvador

Casa Vieja Guest House – Santa Ana

Again the name of this one is deceiving but it would be a crime to leave it off the list of best hostels in Central America.

They have private rooms as well as a dorm room and breakfast is included. This is the home of the family who run it and believe me when I say that the owner was one of the kindest men I have ever met.

I was sick when we were here and he took such great care of us. He even drove us to El Tunco when we weren’t sure which buses to take.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Casa Vieja Guest House;

✅ The owners are so friendly and welcoming

✅ The free breakfast is made especially for you and changes each day

✅ It is just a short walk to the main square

Check Out Casa Vieja Guest House Here!

Best Hostels In Honduras

Mango Inn Resort – Utila Island

If you are a keen diver like we are then look no further. If you book to dive with UDC (Utila dive centre), which you absolutely should, then they will put you up at Mango Inn resort, in the dorms.

Or you can just book a room and stay there anyway. They have a great pool and outside space in their own private gardens and a wood-fired pizza restaurant onsite. It’s a win-win.

The diving in Utila was incredible, it made the 16-hour bus journey to the island worth every second!

Top 3 reasons to stay at Mango Inn Resort;

✅ It is free if you Dive with UDC

✅ The outside lounge area is perfect for sunbathing

✅ The make a cracking pizza

Check Out Mango Inn Resort Here!

Looking down over the pool at a hostel in Utila, surrounded by trees and plants

Best Hostels In Nicaragua

Hostal La Tortuga Booluda – Leon

This one was a tough choice because we loved it here but I know a lot of people also like to stay at BigFoot Party Hostel down the road. My advice would be to stay at Hostal La Tortuga Booluda and if you want to Party head to Bigfoot. You will be glad to have a quiet place to come back to sleep.

Tortuga Booluda was really welcoming and very social, in a much calmer way. They have a small pool to cool off in and a really useful tour desk.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Hostal La Tortuga Booluda;

✅ Quiet and Peaceful

✅ Very relaxed and social atmosphere

✅ Free Breakfast

Check Out Hostal La Tortuga Booluda Here!

Selina Hostel – Granada

If you didn’t already know about the Selina Hostels, they are a chain that can be found all over the world. We have stayed in a few now on our travels and this one has been our favourite so far.

Located right on the main square, this Selina Hostel has a bar, private pool, yoga classes, co-working space, communal kitchen, dorms and private rooms.

We stayed in a 4 person dorm and it was great. The beds were comfy, the shower was HUGE and naturally, we got free breakfast with our stay.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Selina in Granada;

✅ The spacious, air-conditioned rooms

✅ Free welcome drinks and group activities each day

✅ Co-working space if you need to get some work done

Check Out Selina in Granada Here!

A view from above of the central common space in a hostel in Nicaragua

The Space – San Juan Del Sur

The Space was one of the more unique hostels we stayed at because it was self-contained and about a 45-minute walk into the town. Not to worry they provide free shuttles which were great fun.

The Hostel is awesome, it is very modern with pool tables, a swimming pool and a bar area where everyone gets together.

The dorms are great too with nice size beds and big private bathrooms.

Top 3 reasons to stay at the Space;

✅ Great atmosphere and social spaces

✅ Big, comfy beds

✅ Part of the Sunday Funday bar crawl route

Check Out The Space Here!

Brink pink bar stools at a pretty boho bar in a hostel in Central America

Best Hostels In Costa Rica

Hostel Plinio – Manuel Antonio

As far as Hostels in Costa Rica are concerned this place is incredible value for money and one of the best prices you will find in the area.

It is a cosy and unique hostel because you almost feel like you are staying in a tree house. Located on the side of the hill, in the trees you hear nothing but birds.

Whether you choose to spend your time chilling in the pool or lazing in one of the hammocks, you’ll be so glad you chose to stay here.

Top 3 reasons to stay in Hostel Plinio;

✅ Chilled and laidback atmosphere

✅ Large pool great for cooling off and relaxing

✅ Free breakfast

Check Out Hostel Plinio Here!

Kalunai Hostel – Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Again, for Costa Rica, this is a more budget-end hostel and in some ways, it did feel like it because it was pretty basic. BUT and this is a big BUT… it did have one of the best social atmospheres of all the hostels we stayed at.

They have a large outdoor space with seats and hammocks and a communal kitchen where each evening EVERYONE got together and cooked and got to know each other. Some nights the staff even cook big family meals for everyone.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Kalunai Hostel;

✅ Super social atmosphere

✅ Big communal kitchen

✅ Budget Backpacker friendly

Check Out Kalunai Hostel Here!

A large green garden with common space for guests at a hostel in Costa Rica

Best Hostels In Panama

Hostal on the Sea – Bocas Del Toro

Ever dreamed of staying in an over-the-sea bungalow? Well, it’s not quite a luxury bungalow but it is over-the-sea. Literally.

This super cute, and quite small hostel is built on stilts above the sea. How special is that! The owner is a really lovely woman who does everything she can to make everyone feel welcome.

The small size means you get a real chance to get to know the other guests and if you keep your eyes open from the common area you might even get to spot some rays swimming around.

Top 3 Reasons to Stay at Hostal on the Sea;

✅ Located above the sea

✅ Lovely, welcoming owner

✅ Great Price

Check Out Hostal On The Sea Here!

3 big starfish in beautiful clear sea water in Panama

Bodhi Panama City – Panama City

Bodhi is a light and fresh hostel that is located in between the towering skyscrapers of Panama City. If you are a city lover then you will love this hostel.

The views are incredible and it even has a big rooftop pool.

The neighbourhood is nice and safe, because if you didn’t know it already not all of Panama City is safe to visit. If you want to get to the old historic centre, which I highly recommend, then it is just a short Uber ride away.

This hostel is also not far from the large Multiplaza Mall if you find yourself in need of some home comforts… it happens to us all.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Bodhi Panama City Hostel;

✅ The location is once and safe

✅ Excellent Value for money

✅ It has a Rooftop pool

Check Out Bodhi Panama City Hostel Here!

A girl sitting on a wall smiling, infront of the Panama city sky line

Best Hostels In Mexico

Hostel Oryx Tulum – Tulum

This Hostel is an absolute STEAL for Tulum standards. By that I mean you can get a bed in a dorm for crazy cheap compared to most other places in Tulum. But that by no means equates to lower standards.

This hostel is beautiful. Ideally located in downtown Tulum but surrounded by trees so you feel like you could be in the middle of the jungle. As much as we all love the beach, when it comes to Tulum I do believe it is best to stay in the downtown area because this is where all the cheaper bars and restaurants are located.

Don’t forget to visit Cenote Calavera while in Tulum. Hire a couple of bikes from the cenote and go check it out, you can thank me later.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Hostel Oryx Tulum;

✅ Amazing prices for a dorm bed

✅ Calm and relaxing jungle atmosphere

✅ Ideally located in downtown Tulum

Check Out Hostel Oryx Tulum Here!

Hostal 230 – Valladolid

Hostal 230 is a simple hostel but we loved it. The family who run the place are really sweet and make the BEST breakfasts. Try to imagine a typical American breakfast fused with Chinese food. AMAZING!

The hostel is just a short walk from the town centre and the room we had was huge with a lovely warm shower.

There is also a scooter rental place just around the corner which is ideal for getting out to explore nearby cenotes and getting to Chichen Itza.

Top 3 reasons to stay at Hostal 230;

✅ The fun free breakfasts

✅ The location close to the centre

✅ Large comfy rooms

Check Out Hostal 230 Here!

a full plate of breakfast food served at a hostel in Mexico

Tips For Surviving Your Hostel Stay

When it comes to staying in Hostels we have all heard the horror stories. People turning the lights on at 3 a.m., World War 3 breaking out over the air-con remote, cockroaches in the dorms and so on.

But fear not, there are a few unspoken rules and things you can do to your hostel stay go a little smoother.

1 – Ear plugs

A decent pair of earplugs means you are guaranteed a better night’s sleep. We used them all the time in Central America due to street noise, car horns and barking dogs.

I have stayed in more hostels than I can remember and have only ever been kept awake by a snorer once, so they are the least of your problems.

2 – Padlock

All good hostels will have lockers. My advice is to avoid any that don’t. Luckily every hostel in this post does, so you are good to go.

They do not, however, come with locks. So it is always best to carry your own with you. We have simple combination padlocks and they are perfect.

3 – Shower flip flops

Personally, these are something I never use but I know many people feel weird about sharing showers with strangers so a good way to put your mind at ease is to carry a pair of flip-flops you can shower in.

Don’t worry all the best hostels in Central America have super clean showers.

4 – Packing cubes

Dorm rooms can often be a little tight for space with backpacks having to go under beds and in other awkward places out of the way. If you pack all your things into packing cubes like we do then your life will be made a whole lot easier.

some clothes neatly rolled into a travel packing cube

5 – Headphones

It goes without saying really, but nobody wants to listen to someone else’s TikTok videos or phone calls.

This was a problem we encountered A LOT in Central America unfortunately. So if we couldn’t stop them, we could at least drown them out by using our own headphones.

Problem solved.

6 – Dry bags

Dry bags or any kind of storage bags are great for putting wet or dirty clothes in. If there is nowhere at the hostel to hang things up to dry outside then keep them in a dry bag until you are somewhere that you can hang them up.

Trust me, it is no fun to come back to a dorm room just to find it full of people’s damp smelly clothes.

7 – A Torch

As soon as people are sleeping, it is always best to keep the lights off. I mean, it’s just the decent thing to do, right? That doesn’t mean that you must stay dead still and not move, but if you need to do anything it’s better to have a torch for light than to go and wake up the whole room.

For more tips on packing for your trip to Central America check out our packing list.

Best Hostels in Central America – FAQs

Just in case you still have some unanswered questions, here are some of the most common questions we hear people asking about hostels and backing in Central America;

Is it worth going to a hostel?

This will mostly depend on you as a person but 9 times out of 10 the answer will be yes. Yes, it is worth it.

They are generally cheaper than hotels and they are a great place to meet other travellers.

Which is the best country in Central America for adventurous backpackers?

While ALL of Central America was pretty amazing, if you are short on time and want to have some pretty epic adventures then I recommend either Guatemala or Nicaragua.

With Guatemala you have incredible experiences like hiking up Acatenango volcano and with Nicaragua you can even go Boarding down a volcano!

A girl sliding down the side of a volcano on a wooden board in central america

What is it like to sleep in a hostel?

That very much depends on the hostel.

Most of the time it is just as good to sleep in a hostel as it is to sleep in a hotel or Airbnb. You just need to remember that other people are sharing the room with you (unless you have a private room) so don’t freak out if the door opens in the night.

Is backpacking in Central America expensive?

We found backpacking in Central America to be a lot more expensive than we expected. It is also a lot more than when we were travelling in South East Asia.

A bed in a dorm room can cost anything from $15 per night upwards. Tourist shuttle buses are the most popular way to travel and they are not cheap. Eating out in restaurants was often European prices too.

Certain countries were more expensive than others too, with Costa Rica being the most expensive and Nicaragua being the cheapest.

It is always possible to travel for less though and we have these tips that you might find useful.

Which is more comfortable a hotel or a hostel?

Again, this will very much depend on the individual hotels or hostels.

We have stayed in some amazing hostels and some awful hotels. My advice to minimise any disappointment is to never stay anywhere that has a rating of less than 8/10 and to ALWAYS read the reviews!

Don’t forget most hostels have private rooms if you are looking for a little bit of extra comfort.

Which country is the safest for Backpackers in Central America?

The safest country in Central America for Backpackers would have to be Costa Rica. It is so developed and tourist-orientated that it has become the safest to visit by far.

A man sitting at a table on his laptop looking out over a beautiful view to the sea in Costa Rica

How long do you need to visit Central America?

How long is a piece of string? No seriously the more time the better. We spent around 6 months travelling down through Central America and although we got to see and do so much in that time, we could’ve easily spent that long in each country.

If you plan to travel the whole of Central America then I would say no less than 6 months. Otherwise, you will end up exhausted.

Best Hostels In Central America – Final Thoughts

There you have our full list of the best hostels in Central America. From cosy homes to modern co-working spaces. Seaside wooden dreams to rooftop pools. Central America has it all so no matter what you are looking for you are bound to find a hostel that makes you feel right at home.

My biggest piece of advice is to keep an open mind and embrace all the adventures Central America will throw your way.

We hope you love this part of the world as much as we did and like always if you have any questions or would like some more information on any of these hostels just drop us a message.

Happy Travels!