Posted: 2/5/2023 | February 5th, 2023
Founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century (though several indigenous groups have lived in the area for millennia), Rio de Janeiro is the second-largest city in Brazil.
It’s also one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere and over 5 million people pass through the city each year. Its dramatic natural and urban landscape — lush mountains hugging the sea — has been a strong source of creative inspiration for centuries. Many artistic movements and styles were born here, including bossa nova (a style of samba).
Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of exciting cultural and natural sites to explore in Rio, including the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue (one of the new Wonders of the World), Sugarloaf Mountain, many fascinating museums, and much more.
The buzzing energy of the city makes Rio de Janeiro especially popular with backpackers and partygoers (especially during Carnaval), meaning that there are a ton of hostels to choose from.
Below you’ll find my list of the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro. But, before we dive in, I want to share four things you need to remember when you pick a hostel:
- Location – Rio is huge, so take this into consideration when looking for a hostel. Pick a neighborhood near the things you want to see and do.
- Price – As is true anywhere, you get what you pay for. If you pick a really cheap hostel, you’re probably going to get one that is small and cramped and doesn’t offer great service.
- Amenities – Every hostel in town offers free Wi-Fi, and most have self-catering facilities so you can cook your own meals. Many — but not all — include free breakfast, so be sure to do your research to find the one that best meets your needs.
- Staff – All the hostels listed here have an amazing staff who 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 so you have staff who are helpful and friendly. They can make or break a hostel!
Below is my list of the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following are the best in each category:
Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Mambembe or Books
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: Aquarela do Leme
Best Hostel for Couples: Selina Lapa or Aquarela do Leme
Best Hostel for Partying: Books or Pura Vida Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: Selina Lapa
Best Overall Hostel: Aquarela do Leme
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my breakdown of the best hostels in Rio:
Price legend (per night)
- $ = Under 75 BRL
- $$ = 75-100 BRL
- $$$ = Over 100 BRL
1. Aquarela do Leme
This newish hostel is located just a few blocks from the world-famous Copacabana Beach and its 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of sand and promenade. It’s perfect for travelers looking for a quieter time in Rio, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The hostel itself is still quite social though, with welcoming staff that organize frequent group activities (like tours and hikes), as well as a hostel WhatsApp group to make friends and plan outings. It really feels like you’re staying with the family here (there’s even a hostel dog!).
The pod-style bunk beds have all the modern amenities, including privacy curtains, individual reading lights and sockets, and large lockers, and every room has an attached balcony. There are also female-only dorms and everything is always kept sparkling clean.
There are various common areas, including a coworking space and a gym. There’s also a rooftop terrace with stunning views over the ocean. If you’re on a budget, there’s a fully equipped kitchen and complimentary buffet breakfast (even homemade bread).
The only downside is that the hostel is located at the top of a very steep hill, but there are always cheap motorbike taxis waiting at the bottom to take you to the top if you prefer not to walk.
Aquarela do Leme at a glance:
- Super close to Copacabana Beach
- Free breakfast and fully equipped kitchen
- Gym, coworking space, and rooftop terrace
Beds from 106 BRL, private rooms from 375 BRL.
2. Discovery Hostel
This award-winning hostel is in a restored colonial building and has been voted the top hostel not only in Rio but in all of Latin America year after year. It’s conveniently located, with a metro station at the end of the block and the vibrant neighborhood of Lapa (known for its nightlife) just down the road.
The super friendly hostel staff organizes nightly events, so this is definitely a place to be if you want to meet people and party. It’s also easy to save money here, given the extensive buffet breakfast in the mornings and the happy hour in the evenings.
Many of the rooms have three-bed-high bunks (so try to avoid those), though all have privacy curtains as well as individual lights and sockets. Another plus? The water pressure is really good. But the Wi-Fi isn’t always the best, so it’s not a great place to stay if you’re working on the road.
Discovery Hostel at a glance:
- Great location right next to the metro makes it easy to get around
- Fully equipped kitchen
- Social hostel with a bar and organized events throughout the week
Beds from 100 BRL.
3. Pura Vida Hostel Rio de Janeiro
Situated in between Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches, Pura Vida is another great place to stay if you’re looking for a party hostel. There are tons of organized events, from karaoke nights to boat tours, a gregarious staff, and an always busy hostel bar, making it super easy to have fun and make friends here. There’s also a huge communal kitchen in which to cook your own meals, as well as a small breakfast each day (for an extra fee).
The metal bunks are basic, with no privacy curtains, reading lights, or individual outlets. But, then again, this isn’t really a place you stay if you want to sleep. Dorm rooms also do not have air conditioning, though private rooms do. There are female-only dorms as well.
It’s worth noting that it’s located right at the entrance to one of Rio’s many favelas, urban slums in which there is often increased crime. Conditions and safety vary drastically from one favela to another, but it’s still important to take extra precautions around them. Stay alert when returning here at night, ideally not alone (here’s some recommended safety advice for Brazil in general).
Pura Vida Hostel Rio de Janeiro at a glance:
- Party hostel with events every night and a bar to meet people
- Kitchen facilities and BBQ area
- Breakfast available (small fee)
Beds from 95 BRL, private rooms from 235 BRL.
4. Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro
Selina is a chain of hostels known for being more like trendy boutique hotels with a coworking space. There are plenty of common areas: a huge rooftop terrace, restaurant, cocktail bar (where you’ll get a free welcome drink), a kitchen, a cinema room, and, like all Selina locations, a coworking space.
All rooms are super clean, sleek, and modern, and have air conditioning. The beds are new and the mattresses are quite comfy, with individual lights, power outlets, and lockers under the bed. (Note: there are no privacy curtains and the Wi-Fi isn’t always the best in the rooms.)
There is also a Selina in Copacabana with pretty much the same amenities.
Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro at a glance:
- Huge rooftop terrace
- Coworking space
- Trendy hostel with hotel-like atmosphere
Beds from 115 BRL, private rooms from 515 BRL.
5. Mambembe Hostel
Mambembe is a homey and artsy hostel located on a quiet street in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The old mansion-turned-hostel is a quirky place, with eclectic décor, art on the walls, a music room filled with instruments to play, and resident cats completing the atmosphere. It is on top of a steep hill though, so keep that in mind if uphill walks aren’t your thing.
All bunk beds have lockers, privacy curtains, individual power outlets, and reading lamps, though keep in mind that some dorm rooms have three-tiered bunk beds. Everything is kept nice and clean by the friendly hostel staff.
There are many indoor and outdoor shared spaces (with hammocks!), including an indoor TV lounge and outdoor sundeck, where you can relax and meet other travelers. It’s a social place, but not a party hostel.
Mambembe Hostel at a glance:
- Located in the artistic Santa Teresa neighborhood
- Fully equipped kitchen and free breakfast
- Lots of common areas including outdoor terraces and sundeck
Beds from 72 BRL, private rooms from 200 BRL.
6. Books Hostel
Also located in Santa Teresa, Books is a bustling party hostel with an artistic bent (there are murals all over the interior). It’s definitely a (mostly British) partying crowd that stays here, and everyone is super open and happy to meet other travelers. There are many shared spaces that make it easy to do so, including a communal barbecue area, small kitchen, library, and TV room with Netflix and a PS4. The party gets started every night with happy hour at the bar downstairs, and in the mornings, there’s a great free vegetarian breakfast.
For when you do want to get some sleep, the sturdy wooden bunk beds are surprisingly comfy, with great pillows as well. Otherwise, they’re pretty basic, with no privacy curtains, individual lights, or sockets. There’s air conditioning in most rooms, and the water in the showers is always hot (not always the case in Rio). And perhaps most importantly, despite the number of people going in and out of the hostel, it’s always kept clean!
Books Hostel at a glance:
- Free breakfast
- Fully equipped kitchen
- Hostel bar with a great happy hour
Beds from 65 BRL, private rooms from 180 BRL.
Rio is a fascinating city with so much to see and do that you could easily spend a month here and not get bored. And by picking a great hostel, you’ll ensure that you make the most of your visit, allowing you to enjoy this vibrant, energetic destination.
Book Your Trip to Brazil: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap 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. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
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’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Brazil?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Brazil for even more planning tips!
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