Also known as Benares, Varanasi is the religious capital of India. It is by the Ghats of Ganges in Varanasi where Hindus believe if they get cremated, they get a direct ticket to salvation. Here, the most intimate rituals of life and death take place in public.
I remember watching at least 20 burning pyres at Manikarnika Ghat, and the sight was literally overwhelming. Having said that, don’t visit Varanasi if you are faint-hearted — the sights, sounds and the smells there can scare you. Persevere!
Other than scary, Varanasi can feel a little confusing too, especially for first-time travellers. And despite the town having more guesthouses and hotels than Mumbai or New Delhi, finding a good place to stay in Varanasi can be challenging.
Thankfully, I have been there a few times, and have tried a few hostels that can fit the needs of a backpacker as well as a regular tourist. These hostels provide more than a lively atmosphere, a clean locale and friendly staff.
Two of My Favorite Hostels In Varanasi
Cohostel in Varanasi is located right on Pandey Ghat, which is about a 5-min walk from Dashashwamedh Ghat. Dashashwamedh Ghat is Varanasi’s most central ghat where you can witness the oldest Ganges Aarti. The hostel is moreover a 10-min walk from the Manikarna Ghats also known as the burning ghats. The hostel dorms and rooms both have panoramic views of the river on one-side and the maze of alleys of the old city on the other. The hostel organizes daily morning and evening boat tours and also walking tours for those here to explore the tourist side of the city. For those wishing to stay indoors, the hostel has tons of board games, a well-stocked library, and a beautiful rooftop cafe.
Cohostel at a glance:
- Rooftop cafe
- Board games
- Central location
- River-view dorms
- Well-stocked library
Beds from INR 350.
GoodVibes is an environmentally-sustainable hostel located by the hippie lane of old Varanasi close to the Ganges. The hotel has an in-house cafe, a German bakery, and a beautiful rooftop. It also organises daily morning yoga and meditation session, and a complimentary evening community chai at its rooftop.
GoodVibes hostel at a glance:
- An in-house cafe and bakery
- A bamboo-structured rooftop setup
- Evening community chai at roof-top
- Regular open mic nights and jam sessions
- Every day morning yoga classes with free mats
Beds from INR 300.
Other Options For Backpackers To Stay In Varanasi
- Stops Hostel Varanasi: Stops Hostel is located near the famous Assi Ghat and offers a comfortable and lively atmosphere. If you don’t know, Assi Ghat is one of the top three ghats in Varanasi. This place has clean rooms, friendly staff, and a rooftop restaurant with a beautiful view of the Ganges River. The hostel organizes activities like boat trips and yoga classes, making it a favorite among travelers.
- Zostel Varanasi: Zostel is a well-known hostel chain in India, and its Varanasi branch maintains its reputation for quality. I also like their Manali hostel very much. The hostel features cozy and colorful dormitories, private rooms, and common areas for socializing. It offers a vibrant backpacker community, an in-house café, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city.
- International Travellers’ Hostel: Don’t get confused by the name, even domestic travellers can stay here lol. Situated near the Dashashwamedh Ghat, International Travellers’ Hostel is known for its excellent location and budget-friendly accommodation. It offers mixed and female-only dormitories, as well as private rooms. The hostel has a rooftop café offering panoramic views of the Ganges River, and it organizes activities like yoga classes and evening walks along the ghats.
- Ganges Inn: Ganges Inn is a cozy and clean hostel located close to the Dashashwamedh Ghat. It offers comfortable dormitories and private rooms with basic amenities. The hostel has a rooftop café, a common area for socializing, and friendly staff who are known for their helpfulness and hospitality.
- Moustache Varanasi: Moustache Hostel is known for its modern design, cleanliness, and attentive staff. I once stayed in Moustache Udaipur during my Delhi to Bangalore motorcycle trip and totally loved it. Located in a quiet neighborhood near the Assi Ghat, the hostel offers dormitories and private rooms. It also provides facilities like a common kitchen, a café, and a rooftop terrace. Moustache Hostel organizes cultural events and walking tours to enhance the guest experience.
- Kedareswar Bed & Breakfast: Located near the Manikarnika Ghat, Kedareswar Bed & Breakfast offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere. It provides clean and comfortable rooms, some with balconies offering views of the Ganges River. The hostel has a rooftop terrace, a shared kitchen, and friendly staff who can assist with travel arrangements.
- The Hosteller Varanasi: Situated near the Shivala Ghat, The Hosteller Varanasi is known for its vibrant and lively ambience. The hostel offers spacious dormitories and private rooms, along with a common area for socializing and a rooftop terrace. It organizes various activities, including boat rides, city tours, and cultural events.
- Bunkedup Hostel Varanasi: Bunkedup Hostel is located close to the Assi Ghat and offers a comfortable stay at an affordable price. The hostel provides dormitories and private rooms, along with facilities like a communal kitchen, a rooftop café, and a common area with board games and books. The staff is friendly and can provide local insights and recommendations.
- Shiva Guest House and Hostel: Shiva Guest House and Hostel is situated near the Manikarnika Ghat, offering a unique experience for travelers. The hostel features dormitories and private rooms with basic amenities. It has a rooftop restaurant offering stunning views of the river, and it organizes yoga classes and evening aarti (prayer) ceremonies.
- The Amayaa: The Amayaa is a boutique hostel located near the Assi Ghat, known for its comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms. The hostel offers both dormitories and private rooms, along with facilities like a rooftop terrace, a café, and a common area. The staff is praised for their warm hospitality and helpfulness.
These hostels provide a range of options for travelers seeking different atmospheres, amenities, and budgets. Consider your preferences and requirements while choosing the one that best suits your needs for an enjoyable stay in Varanasi.