Where to stay in Medellin? The best area to stay in Medellin is El Poblado. No doubts about it. But there are other interesting areas such as Laureles, Belén, Centro o Envigado. Discover the best neighborhoods in Medellin.
The narrow valley in which Medellin is located would seem to practically limit how far it can expand significantly, but that hasn’t stopped the residents of this lively Colombian metropolis. Where other people might have consigned themselves to the natural limitations established by Mother Nature, the people of Medellin looked to the heavens.
Homes in the most remote neighborhoods in Medellin climb along the hillsides until the territory becomes too steep to practically navigate, and high-rise offices and apartments tower over the narrow landscape. It makes for one of the densest cities in the world, and that density isn’t reserved solely to the city’s population.
This is a city where the people make the most of what they have, and it’s absolutely bursting at the seams with commerce, restaurants, and nightlife. This is a lively city – a city where it can be hard to find a sense of privacy but where there are always friendly locals willing to lend a helping hand to visitors.
There couldn’t be a better nickname for Medellin than the City of Eternal Spring. The vibrant bustle of the city means it’s always rich with opportunity, and visitors could spend weeks or even months in a single neighborhood without running out of things to do and without having to venture out to other areas in Medellin.
It’s no coincidence that such a bustling metropolis is occupied where it is. The tall mountains that cordon in the city creates a climate that’s practically heavenly. Vacationers can expect pleasant and moderate temperatures throughout the year, and that’s a refreshing boon whether you’re looking to venture into the nearby hills for a hike or spend all night partying at one of the local discos.
That said, the density of the city isn’t all pleasant. The rapid growth in such a small patch of real estate means that the pollution can sometimes be a bit oppressive. But it’s well worth it to experience the pure electricity of such a modern and rapidly paced city.
Where to stay in Medellin: Best areas to stay in Medellin
Fortunately, no matter where you decide to stay in Medellin, you can almost always get where you need to go. Medellin is home to one of the most innovative and cutting edge public transit systems in South or Central America. That’s because while Medellin’s public transportation is often seen as one unified ecosystem, it’s actually a constellation of different services.
The Metro and MetroCable combine to form the only public metro system in all of Colombia. Two main lines consist of the lifeblood of the Metro, and the 27 stations allow access to most of the major hubs within Medellin. The MetroCable, meanwhile, allows convenient access between the valley and mountain areas in Medellin.
The bus rapid transit system known as MetroPlus and the staggering number of city buses offer more granular access to the segments of the city that the Metro and MetroCable services don’t directly serve.
But just because public transit can get you wherever you need to go doesn’t mean that where you stay in Medellin isn’t important. Each neighborhood has its own flavor and personality, and that means that finding a place to stay that suits the demands of your trip and your personal preferences is important.
If you’re looking for a better understanding of the neighborhoods in Medellin, we have you covered. Here’s all the basics you need to know about before planning your trip and booking lodgings.
1. El Poblado
If you like to party hard and are willing to steer clear of the streets that can sometimes get a bit shady at night, El Poblado will have everything you’re looking for. The nightlife in El Poblado is unmatched. It’s got potentially the highest selection of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in the city, but it’s just as appealing a place to stay in Medellin during the day.
The restaurants and shops are bustling and diverse, and it’s a popular social hub for people from all walks of life. It’s also perfectly safe while the sun is up. Is it the most authentic neighborhood around? No. It’s known for attracting out of towners, and it can sometimes be overly crowded with tourists. But it’s a whole lot of fun, and it can be a great place to stay in Medellin if you’re looking to connect with other travelers and expats.
That said, El Poblado is a big district, and all of its subsections aren’t built equally. Central Poblado is the nerve center of the city’s nightlife center. Many of Central Medellin’s restaurants are cheap and authentic, but it’s also home to the vast majority of fine dining options.
The lodgings here also tend to be on the high end, but you can expect to be waited on hand and foot as the luxury hotels here are catered specifically to the needs of foreigners.
If you’re traveling on a budget, the more low key and residential neighborhood of Lower Poblado might be more your speed. It’s easy walking distance to the nightlife of Central Poblado and more sedate, but it’s also rich with low cost hostels and restaurants with menus tailored to the tastes of foreigners. It also has the advantage of being conveniently close to the El Poblado metro station.
2. El Parque Lleras
El Parque Lleras is technically a subsection of El Poblado, but it’s unique and popular enough to earn its own designation. If El Poblado is party central of Medellin, El Parque Lleras is its beating heart.
Just know that the “Parque” designation is a bit of a misnomer. There’s little to nothing in the way of greenery within Parque Lleras, but you will find plenty of clubs, cafes, shopping, and restaurants.
If you choose to stay at El Parque Lleras, you won’t just be in walking distance of the party scene. You’ll be living right in the midst of it. It’s an incredibly compact region, so all you have to do is tell cab drivers you want to go to “El Parque Lleras”, and you should be within walking distance of anywhere you might want to go.
While the streets may be filled with stumbling drunks once the sun goes down, the days are very different. That’s not to say they’re any less lively. Bustling cafes allow you to sit out on a patio, sipping strong Colombian coffee and people watching. There’s plenty of spectating to do with the abundance of vendors that take to the streets during the day.
Accommodations in the park proper can vary significantly from hostels to some of the priciest luxury hotels. No matter your price range, you should be able to find a place to stay in Medellin here. That is, as long as you can deal with the crowds and the noise after nightfall.
3. La Candelaria – Centro
La Candaleria, or Centro, is the downtown district of Medellin. While it isn’t the urban mecca for travelers that El Parque Lleras and El Poblado are, it’s quickly becoming a more popular choice for foreigners who want easy access to the entire city. That’s because the “Centro” designation is literal. Its centralized location means that you can get practically anywhere in Medellin with a quickness.
If El Poblado is the hub of social activities in Medellin, La Candaleria is undeniably the perfect place to stay in Medellin if you want to be within a stone’s throw of the most important historical landmarks.
During the day, it’s an ideal place for travelers. Walking tours flood the streets, and they guide visitors through local parks like Plaza Cisneros and Plaza Botero and cultural hotspots like Antioquia Museum and Casa de La Memoria.
The Medellin Metro is conveniently located near many of the most important landmarks, and the free Medellin walking tour is a must for those who want to immerse themselves in the city’s history.
But La Candaleria at night is a different story. While the neighborhood has been becoming more gentrified in recent years, Centro is still undeniably rough around the edges.
It can still be sketchy, and you’ll want to exercise caution if you’re out in the streets after hours. But the dangers of this neighborhood are sometimes overstated, and if you’re willing to brave the neighborhood at night, it offers some of the most affordable hostels and hotels in the entire city.
If it’s your first time visiting the city, Laureles may be the best neighborhood in which to stay in Medellin. El Poblado is where gringos go when they want to kick back and relax. Laureles offers those same amenities to the locals.
Throughout much of Laureles there’s a preference for small cafes and restaurants rather than bars and nightclubs, but there are a couple of smaller areas in this neighborhood catered towards nightlife. La 70 is brimming with life most nights, but it has a more cultured and less rowdy vibe than some of the other nighttime districts.
Sports fans will also love that it’s the home of Medellin’s major football stadium. Calles 33 is a great place to find live music as well as rock bars and salsa dancing. Suffice to say, the experiences available in Laureles are significantly more authentic than El Poblado.
That doesn’t mean that Laureles is going to be a right fit for everyone. After all, there’s a reason why tourists tend to congregate in given neighborhoods. Laureles is an upper middle class neighborhood, and that means that hostels and inexpensive hotels are practically non-existent.
Even mid-range and luxury hotels are available in less abundance than in other parts of town, so you may want to book in advance.
Add to this the fact that Laureles as a whole is generally quite a distance from the major public transit hubs. If you have some extra money to spare and you don’t mind opting for taxis rather than buses (or doing a bit of extra hiking), Laureles could be the right choice for you.
Visitors who want a neighborhood that’s lived in and authentic but don’t want to deal with the transportation nightmares or high costs of Laureles should consider a stay in Belén. If Laureles is hip, Belén is cool.
Its middle class residents tend to be a little less affluent, and that (combined with the fact that Belén is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city) lends it somewhat of a grittier and edgier vibe.
Once a working class neighborhood, Belén still carries a more industrial vibe, but its steady climb towards prominence means that it’s a soundly safe place in which to stay. The cross-section of people and cultures that occupy the streets of Belén is its biggest selling point, and it supports a thriving social scene.
And while there isn’t much in the way of historical landmarks or other traditional sightseeing ventures in Belén, you’re never too far away from those things. The neighborhood of Belén offers some of the most convenient public transit access throughout the entire city.
It’s also overflowing with natural space. The central park is a great place to enjoy the pleasant weather of a Medellin afternoon, and those looking for something a little more intensive will find plenty of hiking and cycling trails along the small hill known as Cerro Nutibara. The reward is an authentic replica village at its peak.
Accommodations are prolific and varied throughout Belén. While you won’t find a lot of luxury hotels in this neighborhood, you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding low-priced hostels or hotels in the mid-class range.
Circling back to the neighborhoods in Medellin most popular with visitors brings us around to Envigado. Located directly south of El Poblado, this area in Medellin is a little quieter and more stately, and building restrictions in place make this suburban district less vertical in nature than some of its neighboring districts.
For those prone to claustrophobia, that’s a good thing. And while “Parque” doesn’t mean the same thing in Medellin as it does elsewhere in Latin America, Envigado is home to an abundance of green spaces.
Envigado is a pretty big neighborhood, and that means that there’s quite a bit of diversity in these streets. If you want to be immersed in an area that really feels like a tightly knit community, you’ll want to consider El Dorado.
Its narrow streets are populated with markets, shops, and bars squeezed right into residential-looking houses, and it’s home to the charming Casa de las Piedritas. Even if you don’t choose to stay in Envigado, it’s worth a visit for this landmark alone.
Central Envigado is nominally the neighborhood’s “downtown”, but that’s a matter of proportion, and its scale is about what you’d expect from a neighborhood as modest as this. El Parque de Envigado is the neighborhood’s central square, and it’s typically lively and often home to events and festivals.
Northern Envigado is home to the neighborhood’s entertainment district. Known as La Calle de la Buena Mesa, it’s charming but significantly more modest than the tourist-friendly nightclubs further north. The highlight is Otraparte – a museum and garden that comes with its own conveniently attached cafe.
The one downside to Envigado is the lack of accommodations. Regulations prevented hotels from being located in this neighborhood until recently. While today you can find a few hotels and hostels in the area, they tend to be booked quickly, and your best option may come from seeking out an Airbnb rather than staying in a more conventional habitation.