Medellin is quickly being known as a trendy, vibrant city with excellent nightlife, shopping, and weather, all while shedding its reputation as Pablo Escobar’s murder capital of the world.
Even though Medellin is plenty safe for tourists, it can be scary knowing where to stay in Medellin. There are still some neighborhoods a bit rough around the edges, or downright dangerous.
Conversely, there are others attracting expats from around the world to live here and have some fun in the sun.
We created this Medellin neighborhoods guide to help you choose where to stay in Medellin, and which places to avoid!
- Where to stay in Medellin first time – Laureles
- Where to stay in Medellin on a budget – La Candelaria
- Where to stay in Medellin for nightlife – El Poblado
- Coolest place to stay in Medellin – Belén
- Where to stay in Medellin for families – Envigado
- Relax outdoors in the pretty Primer Parque Laureles
- Tuck into food from around the world in the many restaurants
- Shop till you drop in large malls like Unicentro and Mall Laureles
We have covered where to stay while backpacking Medellin by discussing the best neighborhoods in the next section, but if you just want to know our top picks, check out our three most recommended places to stay in Medellin below!
For all the budget-backpackers, check out Medellin’s epic hostels. They’re affordable, offer a safe place to rest your head and you’ll get the chance to meet like-minded travellers from all over the world.
Best Hostel in Medellin: Hostel Rango Boutique
Situated in the lively neighbourhood of El Poblado, Hostel Rango Boutique is within easy reach of many bars, restaurants, and sights. It has a selection of dorms (including those for only females) and private rooms.
Lockers are provided. Loaded with facilities and amenities, you can enjoy the kitchen, games room, café-bar, BBQ, and common room. Laundry facilities are also available and freebies include breakfast and Wi-Fi.
Best Digital Nomad Hostel in Medellin: Selina Medellín
Situated in the lively neighborhood of El Poblado, Selina is more than just accommodation. It’s a social and working community with the finest coworking space in Medellin and some of the best parties in town! It’s within easy reach of many bars, restaurants, and sights.
I stayed here during the New Years 2019 party and it was spectacular! Another guy on our team used their coworking space for 3 full months (obviously, he loved it)!
The dorms and private rooms have all the usual amenities, plus impressively comfortable mattresses and modern bathrooms.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in Medellin: Binn Hotel
A stylish hotel in El Poblado, Binn Hotel boasts an onsite restaurant and bar, a terrace with BBQ facilities, a swimming pool, a fitness centre, a shared lounge, and a spa.
Start each day with a filling included breakfast. All soundproofed rooms have a private bathroom, a hairdryer, a TV, and black-out blinds, and some rooms have a separate seating area. Wi-Fi is free and laundry facilities are available.
Best Medellin Airbnb: Agradable Apartamento, Excelente Unidad Residencial
Located in a residential area of Belén, this comfortable apartment has a master en-suite bedroom and a further two bedrooms and main bathroom.
There’s a living area with cable TV and a well-equipped kitchen. The complex has round-the-clock security and the facility has a swimming pool that guests can use. You can also make use of free Wi-Fi.
Want to see more cool homes? Check out our absolute favourite Airbnbs in Medellin – there are plenty more waiting for you!
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Medellin
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Medellin is a large city. While its backpacking popularity is on the rise, there are still parts of the city that are best avoided by outsiders. Make sure that you thoroughly do your research before booking a place to stay in Medellin as some neighbourhoods can be pretty sketchy, if not outright dangerous.
That doesn’t mean that the whole city is a no-go area, though; far from it. It just means that caution needs to be exercised more here than perhaps in other global cities.
Medellin is Colombia’s second-biggest city. The wider area is split into six zones. Five of these zones are made up of townships outside of the main urban area.
Visitors should stay within the main urban zone when visiting Medellin. This urban zone is further divided into 16 communes, which are then split further into 249 neighbourhoods.
El Poblado is one of Medellin’s main neighbourhoods, with numerous restaurants, bars, and shops. It is known for its lively night scene. La Candelaria is the downtown area, also known as El Centro. It’s a lively place by day, with much to see and do. By night, however, it can be a bit risky.
Laureles and Estadio are pleasant and relatively quiet residential areas. Belén is a slightly edgier residential neighbourhood, traditionally home to the working class. Robledo has a mixture of working-class and upper-class homes side by side and Sabaneta is an interesting traditional neighbourhood with a strong sense of spirituality.
Envigado is a little way from the centre of the city but has enough local amenities to keep you more than occupied and happy. Plus, it’s just a short hop by metro to the centre.
Areas that are best avoided for your stay include places around Comuna 13, La Sierra, Parque San Antonio, Parque de las Luces, Prado, Aranjuez, Parque Periodista, Santo Domingo, and Barrio Trinidad. That’s not a definitive list and is not meant to suggest that other areas are guaranteed to be safe.
Many “safe” places may have “unsafe” pockets. These “no-go” areas may have things of interest during the daytimes, and might be ideal for a visit, but not particularly places where you would want to spend the night. Do your research before your visit!
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Medellin
Staying in the right Medellin neighbourhood can really make or break your trip. Below, we’ve highlights where to stay in Medellin neighborhoods, according to different requirements and interests.
Laureles may not be the most famous neighbourhood in Medellin, but it’s our recommendation for the best Medellin neighbourhood for a first-time visit.
It’s quieter and more pedestrian friendly than other parts of the city while still being within easy reach of the hustle and bustle. Laureles offers a mixture of modern comforts and conveniences with a taste of typical Colombian life.
You can live like a local, with access to supermarkets and small locally owned restaurants and stores, while still having a wide selection of chain stores and eateries on the doorstep. Although the closest metro station is around a 15-minute walk away, frequent buses connect the neighbourhood with both the metro station and the wider area.
It’s considered to be one of the city’s safest neighbourhoods in Medellin, and it’s a pleasant area from which to explore the rest of the city. And finally, it’s stated to become Medellin’s next big thing, so get here before everyone else!
If you only have 3 days in Medellin, check this neighborhood out!
Best Hostel in Laureles: Green Hill Hostel
A cosy hostel with four-bed and eight-bed mixed dorms, Green Hills Hostel also boasts a fully equipped kitchen, an onsite bar and games room, a TV area, and a chill-out area with hammocks and a BBQ. It’s a top place to meet other travellers, have fun, and relax.
Best Hotel in Laureles: Hotel Florida Inn
The comfortable private rooms all have their own bathroom, a wardrobe, a desk, a fridge, and a TV. There is free Wi-Fi and the hotel has an onsite restaurant that serves western cuisine. Breakfast is included in the price. Laundry facilities are available.
Best Medellin Airbnb in Laureles: LAURELES, apartment located in LA 70
This private apartment can sleep up to seven guests; there are two double beds in the bedroom and a further double bed and sofa bed in the living room. There’s a kitchen and a dining table, TV, and free Wi-Fi. It’s clean, comfortable, attractive, and in a good location.
Top Things to Do in Laureles
– Experience the bohemian coffee culture in Medellin’s prime area for quaint cafes.
– Enjoy the diverse nightlife along streets 70 and 33, with energetic salsa bars, rock bars, live music, and more.
– Watch a football match at Atanasio Girardot, the city’s main stadium, and enjoy the wide range of leisure and fitness facilities open to the public, like a swimming pool, basketball courts, and a skate park.
– Relax outdoors in the pretty Primer Parque Laureles.
– Tuck into food from around the world in the many restaurants.
– Shop till you drop in large malls like Unicentro and Mall Laureles.
– Have an unusual night out at Ping Pong Bar, which has ping-pong tables, live music, a table-tennis museum, and cheap drinks.
La Candelaria, which is also known as El Centro, is the downtown area of Medellin. It’s one of the most touristy areas by daytime, but not so popular by night.
This means that, for those who don’t mind an edgier atmosphere, it is one of the cheapest places to stay in Medellin. This is, however, a part of the city where you should keep your wits about you when exploring and try to avoid walking around after dark. There are many restaurants and bars, but you should plan to take taxis at nighttime.
Best Hostel in La Candelaria: El Atelier
Close to the metro, El Atelier is housed within an old traditional building and it features lots of interesting artwork. The staff members are friendly and reception is staffed around the clock.
There are several lovely communal spaces, including a sunny yard, a roof terrace with great views, and a kitchen.
Best Hotel in La Candelaria: Hotel Hawaii Suites
Hotel Hawaii Suites has double, twin, triple, and quad rooms, all with a private bathroom and a TV, phone, fridge, and wardrobe.
It’s a “love hotel”, so not an ideal place to take the kids, but it’s super clean and a great base for couples who want a place to sleep and have fun. The hotel has a Jacuzzi and steam room that can be privately booked and there’s a communal terrace.
Best Medellin Airbnb in La Candelaria: Bohemian Apartment- Amazing Views
The view from this two-person apartment really are incredible, and the large windows in the bedroom and living room let you admire the surroundings to your heart’s content.
The stylish and arty private pad has a bathroom and kitchen, there’s a gym in the building, and it’s near to the metro.
Top Things to Do in La Candelaria
– Appreciate art at The Cultural Palace of Rafael Uribe, the Museo de Antioquia, and the murals of Pedro Nel Gomez next to Berrio metro station.
– Take pictures of beautiful religious buildings, including La Candelaria Church, which is Medellin’s first church and the landmark after which the area is known, San Antonio Church, the Metropolitan Church, the Church of San Ignacio, and Veracruz Church.
– Admire the architecture of the grand Palacio Nacional, now home to a shopping centre.
– Visit charming squares such as Plazuela San Ignacio and Plaza San Antonio.
– Visit the now-disused railway station of Ferrocarril de Antioquia and see one of the country’s few remaining steam trains.
– See the illuminations at Parque de las Luces.
– Shop along the colourful Avenida Junin, El Hueco, and Carabobo.
– Marvel at the sculptures at Plaza Botero.
– Stroll along The Playa, a street with elegant buildings such as Casa Barrientos.
– Relax in Parque de los Pies Descalzos
Go For a Helicopter Ride Over the City!
For adventurous backpackers with a little more budget to work with, I highly recommend going on an aerial helicopter tour of Medellin with Fly Colombia City Tours. The prices vary depending on group size but expect to pay around $80 USD per person for a 15 minute / 40-kilometer flight. The views are exceptionally stunning, plus who doesn’t want to go for a ride in a helicopter at least once, right? Special thanks to Luisa from Fly Colombia City Tours for helping us organize this flight!
If you can get a group of 5-6 people together from the hostel, you can get a better per person price (maximum 6 people in the helicopter). Book in advance and let Fly Colombia City Tours know The Broke Backpacker sent you! Ask for a flight around sunset time for the best photography light!
El Poblado is one of the most popular areas in Medellin. If La Candelaria offers history and Laureles provides the peaceful life, El Poblado is all about the fun factor.
There are large shopping malls, international restaurants, and a ton of bars and clubs. It’s our top recommendation for where to stay in Medellin for nightlife, and great for people who love to stay right in the thick of the action.
It’s also the wealthiest part of the city.
Best Hostel in El Poblado: Selina Medellín
As we’ve mentioned, Selina is one of our favorite accommodations in all of Medellin because of its comfortable rooms, modern bar, and stunning coworking space!
You can read what else we have to say above or you can check out what sort of deal you can get on a night here.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in El Poblado: Hotel Madeiro
A quiet sanctuary close to the action, Hostel Madeiro has a rooftop pool and sauna, great for relaxing after a day of exploring Medellin. There’s a lift in the building. Breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi are free.
There’s a choice of room types, including some that come with a spa bath. All rooms are en-suite.
Best Medellin Airbnb in El Poblado: Naturaleza en Castropól+Poblado
This lovely Medellin Airbnb can sleep up to four guests. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and is furnished to a high standard. A major plus point is the charming private garden, complete with outdoor furniture and a hammock.
The condo building has a gym and swimming pool, and the apartment has a kitchen, washing machine, TV, Wi-Fi, and everything else that you need to feel at home.
Top Things to Do in El Poblado
– Experience the vibrant nightlife of Zona Rosa.
– Stroll along the tree-lined Golden Mile.
– Admire art in galleries like Jose Amar Gallery and Lokkus Contemporary Art, and soak up the street art at Pictopia Graffiti.
– Visit the small church of Parroquia Santa Maria de los Dolores.
– Chance your luck in the area’s casinos.
– Stand where Medellin was founded at Saint Joseph of El Poblado Church.
– See the cathedral jail.
– Flex your credit cards in the large malls, like Santafe Shopping Mall, El Tesoro Commercial Park, Oviedo Shopping Mall, and Viscaya Shopping Mall.
– Travel back in time as you explore the period rooms within El Castillo Museo y Jardines, and relax in the lovely gardens.
– Check out Linear Park President, The Dancer’s Park, and Lleras Park.
– Take a trip to Laguna de Guatape and climb the rock for awesome views.
Belén is our pick for the coolest neighbourhood in Medellin for several reasons. Firstly, it’s one of the best places to mingle with locals and stay in a former working-class neighbourhood with industrial roots.
Secondly, it’s an up-and-coming area with plenty of soul. Belén offers a good nightlife and is within easy reach of major places of interest. It’s also one of the city’s largest and oldest neighbourhoods and is served by good transportation.
Best Hostel in Belén: Casa Articulada Hostel and Artistic Residencies
A friendly a welcoming hostel, you’ll find a lovely courtyard with seats and hammocks, a well-equipped kitchen, and clean dorms and private rooms here.
Regular events are arranged too, including cooking lessons, yoga, and a variety of crafts. It’s in a quiet area with heaps of amenities close to hand.
Best Hotel in Belén: Hotel Zona Verde
A pleasant hotel that provides both privacy and opportunities to socialise, Hotel Zona Verde has rooms for one, two, and three. Breakfast is included and the restaurant serves an array of local and international cuisine.
The terrace bar offers great views. Access to the stylish en suite rooms is by key card and all have a fridge, TV, and wardrobe.
Best Medellin Airbnb in Belén: Affordable Modern Studio With Stunning Views
This European-style studio is close to the metro and Los Molinos Mall. The main room may be fairly compact but it’s comfortable and cosy. Amenities include a TV, Wi-Fi, and a small but well-equipped kitchen corner.
Top Things to Do in Belén
– Climb up to Pueblito Paisa and enjoy the museum, church, and small restaurants on top of the hill.
– Lap up the relaxing atmosphere and green surroundings of Parque Belén.
– Admire the views from the top of Cerro Nutibara, a rocky hill that’s known as one of Medellin’s guardian hills and is home to a pleasant sculpture park.
– Visit Unidad Deportiva de Belén for a range of leisure and sporting options.
– Call into one of many small pastellerias for a quick bite to eat on the go.
– Enjoy shopping, movies, and dining in the large Los Molinos shopping centre.
– Have fun at night along Calle 33 with its eclectic collection of bars and clubs.
Previously a separate city but now part of the ever-expanding sprawl of Medellin, Envigado is our top recommendation for where to stay in Medellin for families.
Enjoy suburban living while still being within easy reach of Medellin’s major sightseeing hotspots, and sleep well in a peaceful and relatively safe part of the city that has everything you need to be comfortable and happy.
With a more rural vibe than other areas of Medellin, a range of outdoor adventures can be found right on the doorstep.
Best Hostel in Envigado: Ivy Hostel
Although not actually in Envigado (there aren’t any hostels in this neighbourhood), it is one of the closest hostels to the area, while also being within easy reach of the popular El Poblado.
A sociable hostel, it has a kitchen and BBQ, an onsite café/bar, a TV room, and other spaces to chill and mingle. Wi-Fi and breakfast are free.
Best Hotel in Envigado: Arame Hotel
A four-star hotel with rooms suitable for families, and all rooms at Arame Hotel have a private bathroom, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, and ample storage space. There are elevators in the building, and breakfast is included and free parking is available.
Best Medellin Airbnb in Envigado: Cozy family apartment 3 bedrooms, wi-fi, swimming pool
This beautiful and spacious apartment in Envigado can accommodate six guests in three bedrooms. There’s an open-plan living room/dining room/kitchen, a balcony, and the building has a pool, gym, and play area.
Top Things to Do in Envigado
– See the charming colonial-style Envigado Church.
– Take children to Parque Recreativo.
– Visit the museum of Otraparte, the previous home of a famous philosopher that now contains many cultural treasures.
– Browse and buy at City Plaza shopping centre.
– Hunt for souvenirs in the cute shops near Parque Envigado.
– Have a fun night out at La Tienda, a place for eating, drinking, and dancing.
– Check out the bars and clubs of La Bota del Dia.
– Spend a day hiking in La Romera.
– Wander around and snap pictures of the many shrines to saints.
– Go nature spotting, bird watching, and hiking at Parque Salado.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Medellin
Medellin has stepped out of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar’s shadows, and into the limelight as Colombia’s trendy city, full of history, great nightlife, and excellent weather.
We’re covered where to stay in Medellin in regards to safety, the coolest neighborhoods, and best accommodation!
Still not sure where to stay in Medellin? Our top hostel and hotel are both in the upscale, legendary El Poblado neighborhood, which holds our ranks for the best neighborhood in Medellin for nightlife. The best hostel is Hostel Rango Boutique and best hotel is Binn Hotel.
We also covered the best places to stay on a budget, for families, and Medellin’s tourist attractions above. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
If you’re concerned about your safety in Colombia, then be sure to check out our in-depth safety guide, which is full of realworld adivce and useful information.
Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.
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