El Calafate is best known as a base for visiting the colossal Perito Moreno Glacier, one of South America’s greatest natural attractions. Whether you’re in town to see the glacier, the flamingoes on Lago Argentino or just to chill out as you backpack through Patagonia, there is a great choice of budget accommodation waiting to welcome you. This guide compiles the best hostels in El Calafate to help you choose where to stay.
This article contains links to hostels and services we love, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you.
Prices below are shown in US dollars. Argentina’s currency, the peso, has fluctuated severely in the last couple of years, so we recommend checking the latest exchange rates at xe.com before you travel. To browse all accommodation options in El Calafate, see booking.com and check out our guide to Airbnb alternatives.
El Calafate: a quick introduction
El Calafate is one of the most popular stop-offs on the typical backpacker route through Patagonia. Take a look at our Patagonia itinerary for ideas on how you can fit it into your trip.The town is situated close to Argentina’s border with Chile, roughly 270 kilometres from Puerto Natales by road. The breathtaking landscapes of Torres Del Paine National Park are a short hop across the border, and you can even take day trips from the town. To the north, El Chaltén – another stunning spot for hiking (see our El Chaltén trekking guide) – is a 215-kilometre drive away.
However, the reason most people come to El Calafate is to see Perito Moreno Glacier. Part of the gargantuan South Patagonian Ice Field, it is a 30-kiometre wide glacial beast covering 250 square kilometres. The glacier is a little over an hour’s drive from the town.
It’s not just the proximity to these natural beauties that makes El Calafate a great place to visit. The town has a quiet, laid-back vibe even at its busiest, and a selection of eateries serving delicious regional food and drink. As you may expect from such a well-visited town, there is no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation either.
El Calafate hostels: quick comparison
This table compares the El Calafate hostels that we highlight in more detail below. The prices shown are for the high season. Cheaper rates can often be found in low season, between April and September.
|Hostel||Quick info||Prices (high season)||View and book|
|Folk Hostel||Excellent all-round hostel located between the bus station and town||Dorms from $25, privates from $60||booking.com | hostelworld|
|America Del Sur Hostel||Large hostel in traditional wooden building with stunning lake views||Dorms from $40, privates from $100||booking.com | hostelworld|
|Red House Hostel||Budget hostel with adjoining bar and restaurant in quite part of town||Dorms from $30, privates from $65||booking.com|
|Hostel Del Glaciar Pioneros||Spacious hostel with lively backpacker atmosphere and extensive facilities||Dorms from $16, privates from $43||booking.com | hostelworld|
Best hostels in El Calafate: the details
These are five of the top-rated hostels in El Calafate, each of which has a slightly different style and vibe. Read on to pick your perfect hostel.
With top-notch facilities and outstanding friendly service, Folk Hostel is one of the very best all-round hostels in El Calafate. It is located conveniently about 5 minutes’ walk from the bus station and 10 minutes from the town centre.
The facilities at Folk include super-comfy beds, great showers, a big modern kitchen and even underfloor heating. The staff are highly knowledgeable about the area and can help with recommendations about where to eat and shop. A free buffet-style breakfast is served every day.
- Cost: dorms from $25 / privates from $60
- Facilities include: free breakfast, free wifi, 24-hour reception, self-catering facilities, security lockers, currency exchange, bicycle hire, luggage storage, shuttle bus, tour bookings
America Del Sur Hostel
It may be a little further out of town, but it’s worth the 15-minute walk to America Del Sur Hostel for the fantastic views over Lago Argentino. The hostel is built in a large wooden traditional Patagonian building, with giant windows in its common area facing out onto the lake.
The hostel is also kitted out with great facilities, including a fully equipped kitchen, underfloor heating and great social spaces. There’s an on-site restaurant and bar where you can order grilled Argentinian meat and local meals, and free breakfast is served each morning.
- Cost: dorms from $40 / privates from $100
- Facilities include: free breakfast, free wifi, 24-hour reception, security lockers, self-catering facilities, common room, laundry, luggage storage, airport transfers, tour bookings
Red House Hostel
If you are willing to pay a little extra for your hostel experience, Red House Hostel in El Calafate is a place where you will find a premium experience. First of all, the location is lovely on the west side of town, with spacious gardens and a view out onto the lake.
The hostel is run by Flor, who is clearly very passionate about the place, and very popular among the guests. If you want to learn any tips for your time in the area, arrange your logistics or organise some tours, she will be very happy to help you.
Red House is a hostel that has a rare home-away-from-home feel to it. It is kept super-clean and has a very welcoming social atmosphere. The facilities are excellent, and the free breakfast is probably the best one you will find in town.
One thing to note is that Red House Hostel is home to a beautiful resident cat called Franella, who is also very popular with guests. Something to consider in case you have allergies or don’t like cats. But if you’re cat lovers like us, this is just another bonus!
- Cost: dorms from $30 / privates from $65
- Facilities include: free breakfast, free wifi, garden, lake view, common room, darts and board games, bicycle hire, self-catering facilities.
Hostel Del Glaciar Pioneros
Hostel Del Glaciar Pioneros is a clean and cosy hostel in a central location with all the facilities you could possibly need for your stay in El Calafate. It has a spacious kitchen, an on-site bar and restaurant, bicycle hire and a lively common area. The friendly staff can also help arrange tours and airport transfers.
The hostel’s dorms have a maximum capacity of six people. Each bed is fitted with its own privacy curtain, providing an essence of personal space. With a vibrant backpacker atmosphere it’s a great place for meeting other travellers.
- Cost: dorms from $16 / privates from $43
- Facilities include: free breakfast, free wifi, bar, 24-hour reception and security, self-catering facilities, bicycle rental, common room, security lockers, luggage storage, airport transfers, tour bookings
Map of El Calafate hostels
The map below shows the locations of the El Calafate hostels highlighted in this article:
How to get to El Calafate
El Calafate is located along the popular tourist route through Patagonia and can be reached by various means. The quickest and easiest (and not always the most expensive) is to fly to El Calafate’s international airport.
For example, a flight from Buenos Aires can cost as little as $50 US dollars if booked in advance. A bus journey from Buenos Aires typically costs more and would take several days, travelling via Rio Gallegos.
If you are backpacking along the classic Patagonia travel route, El Calafate is very easy to reach by bus. Check out our article on how to get around Patagonia by bus which covers the routes to El Calafate from El Chaltén and Puerto Natales. You can also use Busbud to compare the best prices for bus services.
Another option is to drive. El Calafate is a short distance away from Ruta 40, Argentina’s famous highway that runs up the western edge of the country. However, car hire is not cheap in Patagonia – see RentalCars for a quote on the best available prices.
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