5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Cairns, Australia

5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Cairns, Australia

Cairns, in tropical North Queensland, is somewhere you really can’t miss when backpacking Australia. It’s famous as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef but this tropical town is also one of the most fun party towns for backpackers and is surrounded by loads of amazing day trips like Cape Tribulation and the UNESCO listed Daintree Rainforest. With all these activities being a backpacker in Cairns can really add up so luckily there are so many amazing backpacker hostels in Cairns.

Australia can be a really expensive country to visit so it’s important for backpackers to save money and staying in backpacker hostels is a great way to have a fun, sociable and comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

Cairns Lagoon by Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock


Most backpacker hostels in Australia also have communal kitchens so you can buy food at the supermarket and cook for yourself instead of eating out at expensive restaurants which will save you a lot of money. I ended up in Cairns 3 times (I was working in an outback Queensland pub) so I managed to check out quite a few of the hostels. 

Forget staying in grimy backpacker hostels, most of the Aussie hostels are more like tropical holiday resorts with swimming pools, bars, hammocks, BBQ areas and movie lounges – some even have on site night clubs and gourmet pizza ovens.

Hostels are also great places to meet other travellers and many include awesome freebies like free breakfast and free wifi to help you save even more money and put on evening entertainments like pub crawls, BBQs and movie nights to help backpackers socialise and have fun. See more reasons why its awesome staying in hostels here 

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Not all hostels are equal though, and where to stay can really make or break your trip, especially if you are a solo traveller looking to make friends, so its important to choose your hostel carefully.

To help you plan your trip here’s my list of the 5 very best backpacker hostels in Cairns.

The Best Backpacker Hostels in Cairns

Traveller’s Oasis

Traveller’s Oasis won the title of best backpacker hostel in Cairns in 2018 and was also voted as the best hostel in Australia for 2018 by Hostelworld. The hostel is located next to Cairns Central station which is about a 15 minute walk from the lagoon. It’s a small, cosy, homely, spotlessly clean, relaxed and welcoming hostel with super helpful staff. It’s not one of those big, impersonal hostels – they can only fit 50 guests at a time.

There’s free wifi, free parking, free tea and coffee, free luggage storage, 2 fully equipped communal kitchens and laundry facilities. You’ll never be bored as there is a TV room with LCD TV and DVD player and a hard drive that contains 1500 movies as well as games, magazines and a book exchange. The outdoor area is a great place to meet people. You can chill out in the hammocks underneath the palm trees, take a dip in the open air swimming pool or use the BBQs on the outdoor terrace.

There are dorms and private rooms, one of the best things about this hostel is that there are no bunk beds in the dorms and the private rooms include TVs and a fridge. Check it out and you’ll see why Travellers Oasis is consistently rated one of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns. Click here to book!


The Northern Greenhouse

The Northern Greenhouse is a modern, resort style flashpacker hostel that is conveniently centrally located right in the heart of Cairns meaning all the main attractions are in easy walking distance. The whole hostel is really clean and the staff are super friendly and helpful.

All rooms are air conditioned, there are mixed ensuite dorm rooms, as well as spacious male-only or female-only dorms. The private balconies and courtyard gardens are lovely places to chill out as is the lush, tropical outdoor swimming pool and bar area that serves really affordable drinks. It’s a great place to meet other travellers and make new friends.

There’s also free breakfast and free super fast wifi, a shared kitchen and pool tables. The staff are super friendly and helpful and put on fun events in the hostel every day and night as well as showing guests where the best cheap backpacker bars are. There’s also a free BBQ every Sunday. Stylish, friendly and fun with plenty of freebies – this is one of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns. Click here to book!


Gilligan’s Backpacker Hostel & Resort

Gilligans is one of the most famous and most popular backpacker hostels in Cairns, especially for those who love to party. Gilligans is a massive resort style hostel located in the heart of Cairns that is a hot spot for partiers due to the onsite night club which is one of Cairn’s most popular nightspots.

The hostel has dorms and private rooms, all of which are air-conditioned and have ensuite bathrooms, and theres a communal chill out areas with TVs and a shared kitchen on each of the hostel’s 4 floors so you won’t need to wait to cook. They also offer a free airport pick up from the airport between 8am and 8pm and a job shop on site to help you if you are looking for work.

There’s also a lagoon-style swimming pool, fitness center, internet café, a nightclub and open deck bar with large screen TVs showing all of the current sporting events. Girls will love the powder room that has hair dryers and hair straighteners free to use. The hostel also runs loads of fun themed nights, games and events. This is the best backpacker hostel in Cairns for party people. Click here to book!



Mad Monkey Backpackers

Mad Monkey is a small, new chain of backpacker hostels that is owned and operated by two Australian best friends. This flashpacker style party hostel is clean, stylish, bright, spacious and one of the funnest backpacker hostels in Cairns.

There’s private rooms, mixed and female only dorms. The hostel was fully renovated in 2017 and all rooms brand new top quality mattresses, bed linen, air conditioners, large security lockers and stylish designer bathrooms and kitchens.

Mad Monkey hostels are the perfect places to party and meet other backpackers at the outdoor pool oasis complete with sunbathing cabanas and an outdoor bar with super cheap drinks. There’s even a gourmet pizza restaurant and a movie screen with comfy bean bags to chill out on.

There’s also free super fast wifi and a free hot breakfast and the staff organise events every day and night. They actually have 3 backpacker hostels in Cairns so if ones’s full don’t worry you could also check out the others.  Click here to book!


Globe Trotters International

Globetrotters is a friendly, relaxed, family run resort style hostel located near the esplanade close to the center of Cairns. It’s great value for money as there are loads of freebies, including unlimited superfast Wi-Fi in all rooms, served breakfast, which includes proper coffee!, free evening meal and free luggage storage, which make it one of the best backpacker hostels in Cairns. The hostel runs a BBQ night twice a week and can also arrange discounted reef and rainforest tours.

There’s a communal kitchen that even has fridge lockers so you don’t have to worry about other backpackers stealing your food! There’s also a clear swimming pool, sun deck, hammocks, lawn area and games area which is a great place for meeting other travellers.

Unlike many backpacker hostels in Cairns, Globetrotters is not a party hostel so you can relax and enjoy a good nights sleep. If you want to go out and party then the hostel also has daily nightclub deals so it’s a win win! Click here to book!

Read More:

Best Backpacker Hostels in East Coast Australia

Best Backpacker Hostels in Sydney

Best Backpacker Hostels in Melbourne

Have you stayed in any cool backpacker hostels in Cairns? Leave a comment below with your recommendations and you’ll be helping out other backpackers 🙂

By the way, I have used affiliate links in this post. If you find my recommendations for the best backpacker hostels in Cairns useful and you want to book through my links then I can earn a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps keep this site going. Thanks very much for your support! 🙂 

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