Here are our picks for the top hostels in 12 frequently visited cities — a list compiled with the help of the hostel booking and rating site Hostelworld.com, other backpackers' recommendations and our own satisfying stays.

AMSTERDAM: Flying Pig Uptown/Downtown

With beach parties, roaring bars and laws of the land that permit almost anything, you might be kissing your American morals goodbye as soon as you walk in the door. But when your head is ready to hit the pillow, you'll relish the clean rooms and free breakfast.

Uptown: Vossiusstraat 46, 011-31-20-400-4187. Downtown: Nieuwendijk 100, 011-31-20-420-6822, www.flyingpig.nl. Rates start at $17 a night.

ATHENS: Athens Backpackers

Athens Backpackers provides laundry facilities, air conditioning, an elevator, free newspapers, film screenings and good company. And with the Acropolis just two minutes away, you don't have to make sightseeing an Olympic sport.

12 Makri St., Makryanni, 117-42, 011-30-210-922-4044, www.athensbackpackers.com. Rates start at $25.50 a night.

BARCELONA: Centric Point Hostel

A five-minute ramble from Las Ramblas, Barcelona's Champs-Elysees, the Centric Point boasts modern amenities, spacious interiors and light-filled rooms on one of Barcelona's most famous avenues. You can go gaga for Gaudi right from your balcony.

Passeig de Gracia, 011-34-93-231-2045, www.centricpointhostel.com. Rates start at $22 a night.

BERLIN: Jetpak City Hostel, Downtown-Berlin West

Burn your pictures onto a CD, upload them onto a computer, connect your iPod to a stereo, charge your phone or let your loved ones know you're still kicking through e-mail, all free at this tech-savvy hostel.

58 Pariserstrasse, 011-49-30-784-4360, www.jetpak.de. Rates start at $23 a night.

DUBLIN: Four Courts Hostel

Just steps away from Dublin's hopping Temple Bar neighborhood, the Four Courts will have you wondering why they don't just lose the "s" and call it a hotel. With key-card room access, the hostel is so secure you even can keep your pints of Guinness exposed with little concern. Enjoy views of the River Liffey, a game of pool and a free breakfast in this beautiful Georgian building.

15-17 Merchants Quay, 011-353-1-672-5839, www.fourcourtshostel.com. Rates start at $21 a night.

ISTANBUL: BaHaus Guesthouse

With a DVD and CD library, a restaurant serving Turkish and vegetarian cuisine, panoramic views of the Marmara Sea and hair dryers in the bathrooms, it's hard to beat this hostel, located a few leaps from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Akbiyik Cadessi, Bayramfirin Sokak 11, Sultanahmet, 011-90-212-6386534, www.bahausguesthouse.com. Rates start at $12 a night.

LONDON: Palmers Lodge

Even the bunk beds are beautiful at this refined hostel, with chandeliers, mahogany staircases and common rooms that seem more appropriate for tea sipping than beer guzzling.

40 College Crescent, Swiss Cottage, 011-44-207-483-8470, www.palmerslodge.co.uk. Rates start at $26 a night.

PRAGUE: Czech Inn

Almost too hip to be a hostel, the Czech Inn makes many boutique hotels seem downright dowdy. With modern interiors, spotless rooms and pristine common spaces, you can keep those shower shoes in your suitcase.

76 Francouzski St., 011-420-267-267600, www.czech-inn.com. Rates start at $18 a night.

RIGA, LATVIA: Friendly Fun Franks Backpackers Hostel

Franks tops everyone's list. The staff will not only charm you with their multicultural hospitality but can arrange free nightclub entry, a ride with the Latvian bobsledding team or a shoot-'em-up experience with an AK-47 in a Soviet bunker.

29 Novembra Krastmala, Old Riga, 011-371-599-0612, www.franksbackpackers.hostel.com. Rates start at $9 a night.

ROME: Alessandro Palace Hostel

The Alessandro Palace is one of Europe's most famous hostels, proving that even la dolce vita can be affordable. Near the Termini train station, the hostel has bathrooms in each room, an on-site bar and a cosmopolitan clientele.

42 Via Vicenza, 011-39 -6-446-1958, www.hostelsalessandro.com. Rates start at $22 a night.

SANTIAGO, CHILE: Bellavista Hostel

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This bright, bohemian hostel will have you banging on your bongos and adjusting your beret as you recline in the eclectic common spaces or comfortable rooms. Located in one of Santiago's most charming neighborhoods, the Bellavista provides free Wi-Fi, free bicycle use, ski equipment rental and transfer to the slopes. The only catch: You have to be between ages 18 and 40 to snooze here.

0184 Dardignac, Providencia, Bario Bellavista, 011-56-2-732-8737, www.bellavistahostel.com. Rates start at $14 a night.

SYDNEY: Wake Up! Sydney Central

"Wake up! with someone new" is its mantra. And while this is of course your choice, you certainly could find some good candidates at this huge party hostel opposite Central Station.

509 Pitt St., 011-61-2-9288-7888, www.wakeup.com.au. Rates start at $18 a night.