So you’ll be traveling around India alone as a solo backpacker, and you would like to have at least some level of normal social interaction.
Or maybe you’re just looking for a convenient place to stay that’s relatively cheap or budget-friendly!
Either way, there are a bunch of hostels all over India located in cities that are on the backpacker trail, complete with a common area.
And a welcoming atmosphere!
This can give you reasonable accommodation for a reasonable price, as well as a good atmosphere to just chill.
The cities below are places to visit in India that will give you a chance to stay at a hostel.
And then there are also a few cities outside of these states that can be good for backpacking when it’s your first trip to India.
Some of the popular backpacker hostel chain brands in India include Zostel, Moustache, Hostelavie, GoStops, Madpackers, and Backpacker Panda.
For backpacking North India, see how to spend 2 weeks in Rajasthan, including Udaipur (city of lakes), Jaipur (pink city), Jodhpur (blue city), Jaisalmer (golden city), the Thar desert (camel safari), Agra, the Taj Mahal.
Things to look for in a hostel
None of these things will make or break your stay, but they could be extra things that you may want to look for!
- Common area
- Rooftop access
- Views from your room or rooftop depending on the city
- Hot water shower
- Filtered water provided
- Breakfast or snacks for purchase on-site
- Private room – meet people but have your own room!
- Female-only dorm rooms or mixed rooms
First, WHY the listed cities are worth visiting in India.
Then, a list of the best hostels in each of these cities.
What are the best cities for backpacker hostels in India?!
Where to look for hostels in India?
Hostels in North India
- New Delhi hostels
- Agra hostels
- Varanasi hostels
- Amritsar hostels
- Rajasthan hostels
- Manali hostels
- Leh hostels
Hostels in South India
- Mumbai hostels
- Hampi hostels
- Gokarna hostels
- Pondicherry hostels
- Madurai hostels
- Goa hostels
- Kerala hostels
There are affiliate links below. You should totally check out the pictures and reviews of these hostels in India.
Best places to visit when backpacking North India
1. New Delhi
As one of the major international hubs, if you’re planning on traveling around North India or the Golden Triangle, you’ll probably end up in Delhi.
There are also a few world heritage sites worth visiting in Delhi – the Qutab Minar, Red Fort, and Humayun’s Tomb.
The Paharganj neighborhood is known as the backpacker’s area in Delhi.
Best hostels in New Delhi
Agra is the home to India’s national icon, so there’s probably no introduction required for why to consider a Taj Mahal visit!
But, there are places to visit in Agra beyond the Taj Mahal, so you might consider staying for at least one night here.
Otherwise, it’s very reasonable to make it a one day trip to Agra from Delhi or from Jaipur… and you can still have time for some of those things to do beyond the Taj Mahal.
Best hostels in Agra
Go for a one day Agra itinerary.
Varanasi is kind of out of the way, but it’s a place to go when you’re looking to visit cultural India.
This city is known for being one of the top places to visit for the holy Ganges River.
Best hostels in Varanasi
Amritsar is also kind of out of the way.
If you’ll be headed up to the Himalayas, you can kind of make a slight detour to go to Amritsar on your way up, or when you’re coming back down.
Amritsar is best known for the Golden Temple that sits on the lake.
Located in the state of Punjab, it’s also not far from Pakistan.
It’s also somewhat of a tourist attraction to visit the Wagah border for the closing ceremony.
Best hostels in Amritsar
Rajasthan is one of the main reasons to visit North India, and 2 weeks in Rajasthan can be a perfect amount of time to spend here.
Best hostels in Rajasthan
- Blue Beds Hostel Jaipur
- Stops Hostel Udaipur
- Moustache Jodhpur
- Madpackers Pushkar
- Swan Hostel Jaisalmer
See more hostels in Rajasthan based on top backpacker destinations.
If you want to get a taste of the Indian Himalayas, then Manali is a good place to go.
This is basically the backpacker’s town in the Himayalas.
Because of weather, the summer is the best time to go.
You can go outside of summer season too, but you’ll just want to make sure you pack cold weather clothes!
Best hostels in Manali
If you want to get an even bigger taste of the Himalayas, then from Manali, head to Leh!
This is considered to be a high altitude destination, and it’ll be an adventure just to get to Leh.
Best hostels in Leh
Best places to visit when backpacking South India
There really aren’t too many tourist attractions in Mumbai, but it can be worth visiting as a city to just experience.
This is also the home of Bollywood.
Mumbai is a BIG city, so it can be good to first figure out what you want to do, so then you’ll know what area to stay.
You will likely want to stay in either south Mumbai in the Colaba area, or the suburbs around Bandra or Andheri.
Or else, you could find yourself stuck in traffic for a LONG time… although that is also part of the Mumbai experience. 😉
I went from Mumbai to Rajasthan by overnight bus.
Best hostels in Mumbai
So there aren’t actually really any hostels in Hampi, but as this is basically a list of backpacker cities in India, there seemed to be a need to mention it as a place to go.
Hampi is where you go to see some rocks and unique geological formations.
This might not sound very interesting, but Hampi will likely leave an impression.
It’s a good city to stop by if you want to relax for a few days.
You can stop by when you’re going from Goa to Kerala.
Gokarna is a coastal town located in the state of Karnataka, located between Goa and Kerala.
So this is another place you can visit to relax for a few days.
You can choose Gokarna instead of Hampi if you’re looking for beach vibes or a coastal area to hang out.
Best hostels in Gokarna
Pondicherry is famous for its French Quarter.
This is also kind of out of the way, and it’s actually the only city on this list that’s on the east side of India.
But if you’ll be in Chennai, then you may consider stopping by Pondicherry, and it’s a common route to go from Chennai to Pondicherry by bus.
When you’re in the area, you can also consider going to Mahabalipuram, another coastal town.
Best hostels in Pondicherry
Madurai is best known on the backpacker’s trail for its temple.
This is also considered to be one of the holiest cities in India.
A good route to get to Madurai from Kerala can be to go from Kerala to Kanyakumari, and then onwards to Madurai.
Kanyakumari is the southern tip of India where the 3 seas meet.
Madurai is also where you can possibly find the cheapest flight to/from Sri Lanka.
This is another city that you won’t really find any hostels, but there is one!
Best hostel in Madurai
If you’re starting out in the north and you’ll be in India for at least a month, then Goa is the perfect place to go following your time up north.
Goa is a beach destination in India, so it’s another place to go when you want to relax.
There are a number of hostels in Goa that can be good to stay at, and you may also consider trying out some beach huts in Goa too.
Best hostels in Goa
See more hostels in Goa based on top beach destinations.
Save the best for last. 😉
Why visit Kerala?!
Similar to Goa, Kerala can make for a perfect follow-up to North India to give you time to catch your breath and relax a bit!
Go for overnight camping in the forest of the Western Ghats along with trekking to the second highest peak in Kerala.
Or go for a more gentle walk with a tea plantation trek.
There are also beaches in Kerala where you can catch the sunset on the ocean.
And along with some hostels in Kerala, you may also consider staying at a beachside guesthouse in Kerala too.
Best hostels in Kerala
See more hostels in Kerala based on top backpacker destinations.
HAPPY HOSTEL STAY IN INDIA!
How to spend your time in North India
- 2 weeks in Rajasthan
- 3 days in Udaipur
- 2 days in Jodhpur
- 3 days in Jaisalmer
- Overnight camel safari
- 3 days in Jaipur
- 1 days in Agra
- Taj Mahal visit
How to spend your time in South India
- Kerala backwaters on a budget
- Best backpacker cities in Kerala
- Yoga retreats with ayurveda in Kerala
- Beach huts in Goa
- Best South Goa beach?
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
There are affiliate links on this page that lead to partner websites.
Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!