If you think of youth hostels as dingy dormitories with communal bathrooms, the hostels of Israel will make you think again
Hostels have a reputation as low-budget, barebones places for traveling students to hang their backpacks and get a night’s rest. In some countries, hostels mean lumpy bunkbeds and communal washrooms.
In Israel, however, hostels are equivalent to two- or three-star hotels with a fun vibe, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and a surprising level of service. They’re not just for youth but also for families.
Many of the hostels listed below, where noted, are run by the non-profit Israel Youth Hostels Association (IYHA), an 18-property Hostelling International member network. All IYHA hostels are kosher, with en-suite bath facilities.
ABRAHAM HOSTEL, Jerusalem
This very popular downtown Jerusalem hostel for independent travelers has 75 rooms and 285 beds with options for private or mixed or single-sex dorm rooms. (In about four years, it plans to expand into a new location.)
All three Abraham Hostel locations (see below) offer nightly events for guests ranging from Live Music Night to Shabbat Dinner and lectures; from Travelers’ Language Lectures in Hebrew and Arabic to Travel Tips for Israel, the West Bank and the Region. Guided Abraham Tours leave from the lobby daily to sites such as the Dead Sea, Galilee, Machane Yehuda Market, Petra (Jordan) and Golan Heights.
Address: 67 Hanevi’im St. (Davidka Square), Jerusalem
Amenities: Lounge, bar, 24/7 guest kitchen, 24/7 laundry room, rooftop terrace, TV room, traveler center, daily tours and activities, computer station, luggage room and safe, shuttle to the other Abraham Hostel locations
Parking: Paid lot next door
YITZHAK RABIN GUEST HOUSE, Jerusalem
Located in the Givat Ram neighborhood near the Hebrew University, Knesset, Supreme Court, and the Israel Museum and Bible Lands Museum, this IYHA hostel has 77 spacious private and dormitory-style rooms equipped with TV, mini-bar and coffeemaker. Rooms adapted for disabled guests are available on request.
Address: 1 Nachman Avigad St., Jerusalem
Amenities: Free breakfast, box lunches on request, Internet station, dining room/convention hall
Parking: On premises and on the street
The former home of the Radio City Music Hall-inspired Orion Cinema was vacant for 25 years and reopened in 2018 as the 23-room Cinema Hostel smack in the middle of downtown Jerusalem near the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, nightlife, shops and light rail. Choices include single, double and dormitory capsule rooms.
Daily activities include a pub crawl, movie night, Israeli food workshop, language exchange and jam session. The John Smith 1920s-style cocktail bar in the hostel offers cocktails inspired by movies.
Address: 4 Shamai St., Jerusalem
Amenities: Guest kitchen, tour desk, computer station, laundry, terrace, safe, lounge, bar, breakfast area, indoor games
Parking: Nearby lot
Everything from a rooftop suite to smart dorm rooms (all-female or mixed) are on offer at relatively low rates here in Tel Aviv’s hippest southern neighborhood. Whether you’re into vegan food, the bar scene, modern dance or street art, this is the place to be. The eco-friendly 24-room hostel also is in walking distance of the beach.
Address: 6 Florentin St., Tel Aviv
Amenities: 24-hour reception, bike rentals, Vietnamese restaurant next door, breakfast voucher for neighborhood eateries
Parking: public lot nearby
Located in the fast-gentrifying Gan Hachashmal neighborhood just off Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of the startup and nightlife scene, Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv offers 90 rooms and 390 beds in a variety of private, dorm and suite rooms.
This hostel doubles as an event venue hosting Israeli and international performing artists, and recently added services geared to young business travelers.
Address: 21 Levontin St., Tel Aviv
Amenities: Daily events and tours, lounge, bar, 24/7 guest kitchen, 24/7 laundry room, rooftop terrace, private and shared working spaces, TV room, traveler center, computer station, luggage room and lockers, shuttle to the other Abraham Hostel locations
Parking: Paid lot nearby
Fauzi Azar Inn is a 200-year-old Arab mansion-turned-guesthouse in the Old City of Nazareth at the starting point of the Jesus Trail. With a total of 50 beds in 14 rooms, the inn offers a choice of mixed or all-female dorms, plus private rooms in three sizes. This hostel’s goal is to be a multicultural hub for international travelers interested in volunteering in the host city.
Address: Old City, Nazareth
Amenities: Lounge, courtyard, 24/7 guest kitchen, language classes, free breakfast, dining room, laundry facilities, travel info, free Old City tour, daily regional tours, storage and lockers, local volunteering opportunities, daily events and activities
Parking: Underground and on street
This 76-room IYHA guest house is a convenient and affordable base for exploring this ancient seaside Crusader city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are double/twin rooms large enough to add three children’s beds, and family rooms with single and bunk beds. Most rooms have balconies.
Address: 2 Weizmann St., Acre
Amenities: Free Wi-Fi and breakfast (additional meals available for a fee), cable TV, mini fridge, coffeemaker, complementary toiletries; lecture hall and classrooms equipped with audiovisual facilities
Arava Hostel offers 90 beds in dorm, family and double room styles for backpackers and independent travelers in this Red Sea resort city. All private rooms include bathroom, linen, a small refrigerator and cable TV.
Address: 106 Almogim St., Eilat
Amenities: Garden with sun beds, barbecue pits, picnic benches, communal kitchen, lobby snack & drink bar, lockers, computer station, free breakfast, hot drinks, safety-deposit box.
Parking: Free in nearby lot
The IYHA Beit She’an Guest House in the Jordan Valley, near a major archeological national park, boasts many of the features you’d find at a hotel and has the added advantage of a stunning view over the valley and the Gilboa mountain range.
The recently renovated 62 rooms, some private and some dormitory, have a TV, mini-bar, electric kettle, bath and shower. Box lunches can be ordered from the kitchen to take on the road or eat in the 250-seat dining room.
Address: 129 Menachem Begin Blvd., Beit She’an
Amenities: Outdoor swimming pool, free breakfast, snack bar, Internet stations, cinema system, basketball court, activities for children on Jewish holidays, tour guide service, lecture halls equipped for audiovisual presentations
Parking: on premises
This 51-room IYHA hostel was built in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the largest oasis in Israel. Here in the Judean Desert, off the northern shores of the Dead Sea, you can enjoy amazing views and some of the best hiking in the country.
This hostel is remarkable for its connected wing containing 18 accessible rooms designed for guests with vision, hearing and motor disabilities.
Address: Beit Sarah, Ein Gedi
Amenities: Cafeteria, free breakfast, Internet station, basketball court, storage lockers, box lunches on request
GREEN BACKPACKERS HOSTEL, Mitzpeh Ramon
This small but serious hikers’ haven offers all the activities, information, maps and expert advice needed in order to go out and experience the desert and unique surroundings of this Negev town: first and foremost, the world’s largest natural crater. The hostel accepts guests 18 and over, and groups of no more than five. It has five dorm rooms and four double rooms.
True to the “green” part of its name, Green Backpackers Hostel has environmentally friendly touches such as a scrap-wood furnace, door handles made from old toothpaste tubes, bunkbed frames made of recycled metal, waste bins made from discarded measuring tapes and toilet-paper holders fashioned from odd cutlery.
Address: 2 Nahal Sirpad St., Mitzpeh Ramon
Amenities: laundry, Internet station, board games, outdoor terrace, towel rental, free luggage storage, information desk, book exchange, common room, fully equipped self-catering shared kitchen
Parking: on premises
Recently renovated and reopened, this IYHA property is conveniently located in the southern part of Haifa on a cliff of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean. It offers modular 96 double and family rooms with option to connect rooms, communal gathering/meeting rooms, a large lawn and easy access to the Mount Carmel National Park and Nature Reserve, beach and train station.
Address: 18 Tsviya Ve-Yitshak St., Haifa
Amenities: Restaurant with sea views, free breakfast, box lunch on request, lounge, flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges, landscaped garden
Parking: on premises
If you want to experience a Druze village in the Upper Galilee, this 50-room IYHA guest house is a great option for your home base. You can book a tour of the village at the reception desk. Peki’in Hostel boasts seamless access to the Mount Meron Nature Reserve and other nature spots.
Address: P.O. Box 910, Peki’in
Amenities: Free breakfast, box lunch on request (local Druze cuisine available), children’s activities, Internet station, movie theater
Parking: on premises