Posted: 6/11/2020 | June 11th, 2020
San Francisco is a beautiful, eclectic city. Balancing its hippy roots with its modern, techie scene, San Francisco is a cool, lively, energetic city bursting with history and tons of amazing food. It’s some to hippies, students, artists, entrepreneurs, and sizeable immigrant communities. All of that combines to create one of the best cities in the country.
However, it’s also one of the most expensive in the country too!
Fortunately, the city has a growing hostel scene so you can find affordable accommodation during your visit. I’ve been visiting San Francisco for a decade and have stayed in dozens of hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. Since the city is so expensive, hostels are your best bet here.
There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in San Francisco are:
- Location – San Francisco is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
- Price – In San Francisco, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
- Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
- Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!
To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in San Francisco that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:
Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Orange Village
Best Hostel for Families: Adelaide Hostel
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: HI Fisherman’s Wharf
Best Hostel for Partying: Green Tortoise Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: HI Downtown
Best Overall Hostel: Green Tortoise Hostel
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in San Francisco:
Price Legend (per night)
- $ = Under $40 USD
- $$ = $40-50 USD
- $$$ = Over $50 USD
1. HI San Francisco – Downtown
HI Downtown has some standard perks like free breakfast and free towels but they also organize a lot of events — including pub crawls, trips to Muir Woods and Yosemite, and bike tours across the Golden Gate Bridge.
HI Downtown at a glance:
- Organizes lots of events?
- Free breakfast and free towels
- Lots of common areas
Beds from $54 USD a night, rooms from $159 USD.
2. Green Tortoise Hostel
This hostel is an travel institution in San Francisco. It’s one of the oldest in the city. It’s my favorite hostel in the city (and one of my favorites in the entire country). They offer free breakfast, free dinners multiple times per week, and they even have a free sauna! They have a huge common room so it’s easy to meet people and it’s a very fun, social atmosphere. There’s a pool, tons of games (like giant jenga and foosball), and musical instruments in case you want to jam.
Green Tortoise at a glance:
- Lots of free perks (free breakfast, free dinners, free sauna)
- Lively party atmosphere
- Great for solo travelers
Beds from $47 USD a night.
3. HI San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf
This is another great HI hostel. They have lots of common areas (so it’s easy to relax and meet people), they organzie tons of events (like bike tours, museum tours, and pub crawls), and they even have a small theater for watching movies. They also have a cafe on-site (with reasonable prices) and keep the hostel clean and tidy.
HI Fisherman’s Wharf at a glance:
- Female-only dorms for extra security
- Organizes lots of events
- Huge kitchen
Beds from $41.50 USD a night.
4. Found San Francisco – Union Square
Located right near Union Square in the heart of the city, Found has spacious private rooms as well as smaller dorm rooms. It’s a good choice for anyone looking for a bit more privacy and some peace and quiet. The kitchen isn’t huge but the beds are super comfy and the rooms are clean and a bit more stylish than most hostels.
Found Union Square at a glance:
- Convenient location
- Modern ammenities
Beds from $40.50 USD a night, rooms from $269 USD.
5. HI San Francisco – City Center
This cozy hostel is located in a boutique hotel from the 1920s. It does an excellent job of balancing historic charm with a modern atmosphere. There are lots of beautiful paintings and murals and they even have a speakeasy-style cafe. But it’s the atmosphere here that makes your stay worthwhile. There are lots of common areas to chill out and meet people and they also have female-only dorms too. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the main shopping area there are lots of cheap reataurants nearby as well.
HI City Center at a glance:
- Easy to meet people
- Free breakfast and free towels
- Comfy beds
Beds from $49 USD a night, rooms from $125 USD.
6. Adelaide Hostel
This is one of the quieter and more laid-back hostels in the city. The beds are comfy and there are privacy curtains so you can actually get a decent sleep (something I really appreciate). They offer free breakfast as well as free meals throughout the week so it’s easy to connect with other travelers. The hostel on a sidestreet just two blocks from downtown so you get the convenience of being centrally located without all the noise. The staff here are awesome too and can help you mkae the most of your trip.
Adelaide Hostel at a glance:
- Comfy beds with privacy curtains
- Quiet atmosphere
- Helpful staff
Beds from $52 USD a night, rooms from $169 USD.
7. Orange Village Hostel
This is the cheapest hostel in the city. They include free breakfast and organize weekly pizza nights and movie nights. The dorms are basic (you get what you pay for) but there is lots of common space to relax in and they have a big kitchen so you can cook your own meals (and save even more money). The bathrooms aren’t the most clean or modern, but again, for the price it’s to be expected.
Orange Village at a glance:
- Super affordable
- Easy to meet people
- Free perks (breakfast, pizza nights)
Beds from $39.60 USD a night, rooms from $126 USD.
8. Pacific Tradewinds
This independent hostel offers lots of free perks for budget travelers (like free ramen), and is community-focused. They organize events (like pub crawls and trivia nights) so its easy to meet people and the hostel is near the subway so it’s easy to get around. It’s a classic backpacker hostel and a great choice for solo travelers.
Pacific Tradewinds at a glance:
- Free sandwiches and ramen
- Easy to meet people
- Awesome staff
Beds from $42.50 USD per night.
By staying in one of the hostels above you’ll not only save money but you’ll meet other travelers, get insider tips and advice, and have an amazing visit to one of the counry’s best cities. Whether you’re a solo female traveler, a family, or someone backpacking on a tight budget, you’ll be able to find a hostel that suits your needs and travel style.
Book Your Trip to San Francisco: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!
Need a Guide?
San Francisco has some really great tours on offer. For an in-depth walking tour, check out Take Walks. They use expert local guides and have a super insightful (and fun) tour through Chinatown.
For something more hands-on like a segway tour, use Fat Tire Tours. They have a few different tours around the city and are a great alternative to a standard walking tour.
Looking for More Information on Visiting San Francisco?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to San Francisco with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!