Posted: 6/11/2020 | June 11th, 2020
San Diego is an underrated destination. While visitors flock to San Francisco and Los Angeles, more often than not San Diego gets skipped over.
With incredible weather, awesome beaches, and tons of things to see and do (both in the city and nearby), San Diego is a destination that shouldn’t be overlooked.
I’ve been visiting the city for years and have stayed in many of the city’s hostels. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in San Diego are:
- Location – San Diego 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 Diego, 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 many 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 Diego 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: HI San Diego – Downtown
Best Hostel for Families: HI San Diego – Point Loma
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: ITH Adventure Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: HI San Diego – Point Loma
Best Hostel for Partying: Lucky D’s
Best Overall Hostel: ITH Adventure Hostel
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in San Diego:
Price Legend (per night)
- $ = Under $30 USD
- $$ = $30-40 USD
- $$$ = Over $40 USD
1. HI San Diego – Downtown
I’m a big fan of HI hostels. They’ve helped bring hosteling into the mainstream and their hostels are always top-notch. HI San Diego Downtown is no different. Not only is it one of the most affordable places to stay in town but it’s consistently ranked as the best hostel too. They have free breakfast, organize tons of events and tours, and have a big kitchen so you can cook your own food. There’s video games and a pool table in the common room too.
HI San Diego – Downtown at a glance:
- Social atmosphere
- Organizes lots of events
- Free breakfast
Beds from $25 USD a night, rooms from $59 USD.
—> Book your stay at HI San Diego – Downtown!
2. ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego
What I really like about this hostel is its focus on sustainable travel. They have a vegetable garden (and give free veggies away to guests), a recycling and composting program, and there are even backyard chickens. There is lots of outdoor common space to relax in and it’s a very friendly and social hostel too. It’s clean and the water pressure in the showers is pretty good. The beds are pretty comfy too. It’s my favorite hostel in the city.
ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego at a glance:
- Female-only rooms
- Social atmosphere so it’s easy to meet people
Beds from $38 USD a night, rooms from $100 USD.
—> Book your stay at ITH Adventure Hostel San Diego!
3. HI San Diego – Point Loma
Located right near Ocean Beach, this is another awesome HI Hostel. It’s a laid-back place with lots of common areas (including a courtyard with a BBQ and outdoor fire pit), includes free breakfast, and they offer free surfboards if you want to hit the waves (they also include free beach towels too). They organize all kinds of weekly events too so it’s easy to meet people. The beds are comfy, the showers get nice and hot and they have bikes for rent if you want to explore.
HI San Diego – Point Loma at a glance:
- Organizes lots of events
- Free perks (breakfast, surfboards)
- Laid back and friendly atmosphere
Beds from $37 USD a night, rooms from $82 USD.
—> Book your stay at HI San Diego – Point Loma!
4. ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel
Located right on the beach, this place has a huge outdoor patio, surfboards and wetsuits for rent, and there’s lots of bars and restaurants nearby. They have a tasy free breakfast too (including pancakes). The staff are incredibly helpful and really make your stay memorable. The bathrooms are a little dated but are always kepy clean. They also grow organic vegetables (which guests can eat), have recycling and composting programs, and upcycle furniture into art.
ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel at a glance:
- Amazing location
- Free breakfast
- Laid-back atmosphere
Beds from $55 USD a night, rooms from $179 USD.
—> Book your stay at ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel!
5. Lucky D’s
Lucky D’s hosts nightly events and pubcrawls so if you’re looking to stay out late and have fun, stay here. Located in the Gaslamp district, it’s in a central, convenient location. They have bikes for rent and laundry facilities as well as lockers in every room so you can keep your stuff secure. It’s one of the cheapest hostels in the city and there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby as well. The matresses are comfy though the bunks themselves kind of suck (there are no curtains and the bunks squeak). But the common areas are soacious and colorful so there is plenty of room to relax, lounge, and connec with other travelers.
Lucky D’s at a glance:
- Weekly events and activities
- Affordable dorms
- Good location
Beds from $28 USD a night, rooms from $86 USD.
—> Book your stay at Lucky D’s!
6. California Dreams Hostel
This is your classic backpacker hostel. They organize movie nights, have free yoga mats, and they even offer surf lessons (you can rent wetsuits and surfboards as well). They also organize lots of tours, include free breakfast, and are just 1 minute from the beach. The beds aren’t very comfy but there are curtains so you have some privacy. Overall, it’s a solid budget hostel in a great location with lots of free perks.
California Dreams Hostel at a glance:
- Free perks (breakfast, yoga mats, frisbees/volleyballs)
- Social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
- Organizes lots of events
Beds from $40 USD a night, rooms from $120 USD.
—> Book your stay at California Dreams Hostel!
San Diego is a fun, relaxing city with amazing food and even more amazing beaches. It’s like a smaller, better version of Los Angeles. Best of all, it’s also more affordable than both LA and San Francisco, which makes it a prime choice for road trippers and budget travelers looking to have some fun in the sun.
Book Your Trip: 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 being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
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:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
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 those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!
Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
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