Posted: 8/14/22 | August 14th, 2022
I absolutely love the city. It has a world-class restaurant scene, there’s plenty of nightlife, it’s affordable, and there’s a large digital nomad community so it’s easy to connect with other travelers and remote workers.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. In the 1980s, Medellín was the most dangerous city on the planet, thanks to Pablo Escobar’s infamous drug cartel. But, since then, the murder rate has dropped by an astounding 95%, and the poverty rate has decreased by 66%.
In the last decade, Medellín has been showered with awards due to its rapidly improving infrastructure, public transportation system, and other features that have made the city an extremely livable place. This is not the Medellin of the past.
That said, travelers should still be careful in Medellín — mostly by avoiding the outskirts of town and certain neighborhoods at night where crime can still be an issue. Location is important in Medellín, and that’s why you have to choose where you stay wisely when looking for accommodation there.
Below, I’ll show you exactly where to stay in Medellín, so you can plant yourself in the best neighborhood, based on your travel style, budget, and interests.
First, though, let me answer a few frequent questions I get:
What’s the best neighborhood for travelers on a budget?
If you’re traveling on a budget, Belén is a cool neighborhood home plenty of great restaurants, bars, and clubs.
What’s the best neighborhood for sightseeing?
El Centro is packed with museums, parks, guided walking tours, and historical landmarks. A first-time visitor should definitely spend some time here. But it also has a seedy element to it, so avoid El Centro at night.
What’s the best neighborhood for digital nomads?
Patio Bonito is a sub-neighborhood connected to the very popular El Poblado district. Unlike its neighbor, Patio Bonito is quieter and boasts a plethora of hip restaurants, bars, and coffee spots. There are also a few co-working spaces here.
What’s the best neighborhood for families?
Sabaneta is a quiet, safe, and leafy residential district. The area is crammed with parks, plazas, and placid restaurants and cafés.
What’s the best neighborhood overall?
El Poblado is central and safe, and has a little bit of everything for everyone: cool restaurants, bars, and cafés, as well as parks, museums, and nice hotels. It’s touristy, but fun.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood, with suggested accommodation for each, so you know exactly where to stay in Medellín:
Medellín Neighborhood Overview
Where to Stay for First-Time Visitors: El Poblado
This fun neighborhood is basically the center of it all. Both locals and visitors gravitate to El Poblado because it’s packed with restaurants, bars, clubs, cafés, shops, and hotels. Head to Parque Lieres, the nightlife mecca of the district, and join the fun circus of sensual pleasures in this vibrant part of town. That said, it is the main hub for gringos, so expect slightly higher prices here.
Best places to stay in El Poblado
- BUDGET: Los Patios Hostel – This award-winning hostel has a rooftop pool, co-working stations, a gym, a garden, and so much more. It’s one of the best hostels in the city!
- MIDRANGE: Nomada Hotel Origen – A big, buffet-style breakfast is always included at this chic, centrally located hotel. The rooms are comfortable, some of which have kitchenettes, exposed brick walls, terraces, and bathtubs.
- LUXURY: The Click Clack – A design-friendly hotel, the Click Clack is one of the cooler places to stay in El Poblado. The sleek rooms have great rain showers, and they’re also filled with complimentary snacks. Breakfast is also included.
Where to Stay for Families: Sabaneta
Sabaneta is a quiet, leafy residential neighborhood centered around Parque Sabaneta, a block-long swath of greenery surrounded by casual sidewalk cafés and restaurants. There are also a lot of shopping malls and historic churches to explore. For a fun (and tacky) photo op, stop by the mini Eiffel Tower.
Best places to stay in Sabaneta
- BUDGET: Sabacity – This apartment complex is very affordable and comfortable, offering the standard amenities like TV, kitchen, and free Wi-Fi. There’s free parking too.
- MIDRANGE: Hotel Portón Sabaneta – The bright and spacious rooms here are comfortable and nicely priced for a mid-range property. All rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and minibars.
- LUXURY: Fairfield by Marriott Sabaneta – It’s a big chain, but there are not a lot of hotels in Sabaneta (which is good if you have an aversion to fellow tourists), and the Fairfield is comfortable and easy on the wallet. Rooms have all the usual perks and comforts, plus scenic terraces with views over the district.
Where to Stay for Art: Barrio Colombia and Ciudad Del Río
These adjoining neighborhoods are a must for anyone who loves art. For starters, Ciudad del Río is an old warehouse district, many of whose walls are blanketed in eye-popping street art. And nearby Barrio Colombia is home to the Medellín Modern Art Museum (as well as the biggest food market in town, the Mercado del Río).
Best places to stay in Barrio Colombia and Ciudad del Río
- BUDGET: Parceros Med Hostel – Super budget-friendly and no-frills, Parceros lies on the border between Ciudad del Río and El Poblado. It has small private rooms and mixed and female-only dorms.
- MIDRANGE: Ibis Medellín – This tall property features spacious rooms with the usual mid-level perks, such as free Wi-Fi, bathroom toiletries, air conditioning, and a flat-screen TV. There’s also a complimentary breakfast.
- LUXURY: La Quinta – Located just outside of Barrio Colombia, La Quinta is worth staying just a bit further from the neighborhood. The rooms are sizable and have all the perks you’d expect from a four-star hotel, plus charming terraces.
Where to Stay for Digital Nomads: Patio Bonito
Located just south of bustling El Poblado, Patio Bonito is a more laid-back neighborhood. This diminutive district is filled with hip restaurants and bars and is popular with Medellín’s expat and digital-nomad communities. It’s more budget-friendly than El Poblado (there are a lot of students here) and is home to the relaxing Quebrada La Presidenta Park.
Best places to stay in Patio Bonito
- BUDGET: Cloud9 Hostel – Located smack in the center of Patio Bonito, Cloud9 has a large and fun common room and an amazing terrace to hang out on. Rooms come in a few varieties, including mixed and female-only dorms and private rooms.
- MIDRANGE: Sites Hotel – Stylish, cheerful, and nicely located, Sites is a very comfortable place to base yourself in Medellín. The rooms consist of very spacious lofts and apartments. There’s also a pool, a barbecue terrace, and a reading room.
- LUXURY: Medellín Marriott – This luxurious Marriott has a lovely swimming pool, a spa, and a fitness center. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with killer views, mini-fridges, desks, safes, and air conditioners.
Where to Stay to Feel Like a Local: Laureles
Home to Medellín’s two soccer teams, Atlético Nacional (AN) and Deportivo Independiente Medellín (DIM), and the stadiums they play in, Laureles is a fun place to plant yourself in this metropolis. You don’t have to go far to catch a game, one of the most “local” experiences you can have. Also in Laureles, there’s La Setenta (or La 70), a vivacious street crammed with fun, spirited bars and cafés.
Best places to stay in Laureles
- BUDGET: Ayenda 1258 Boutique Laureles – For a budget property, this spot is really comfortable. The private rooms have en suite bathrooms, hairdryers, and free toiletries and coffee.
- MIDRANGE: Hotel Laureles Park – This 15-room boutique property is stylish and friendly. The Colombian breakfast is complimentary, and the hotel even has bikes that guests can borrow for rides around the neighborhood. The rooms are big and cheerful and have all the usual amenities.
- LUXURY: Inntu Hotel – Located in a tall tower, Inntu is an affordable luxury property loaded with amenities, including a sauna, Turkish bath, and in-house restaurant. The 45 rooms are stylish and comfortable and feature couches, plus-sized TVs, and comfortable beds.
Where to Stay for Budget Travelers: Belén
With more locals than tourists here, Belén is the perfect choice for budget travelers looking for a more local stay. It’s still easy to get around from here but you won’t be in the thick of it all like you would in El Poblado, however, it’s also not quite as gritty as El Centro. There are plenty of great places to eat and a fun string of bars and clubs if you want to enjoy the nightlife. In short, Belén offers a bit of everything to cater to the budget-minded traveler.
Best Places to Stay in Belén
- BUDGET: Casa La Palma – This budget-friendly homestay is located in nearby La Palma but offers everything you need for a no-frills stay, including free parking, free Wi-Fi, and a shared kitchen.
- MIDRANGE: Mándala Hotel – This three-star hotel includes free parking, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. They also have staff on hand to help you book tours and activities around the city too.
- LUXURY: Med La Palma – At the edge of Belén in neighboring La Palma, this midrange hotel is about as fancy as it gets in the area. That said, it has everything you need — free wi-Fi, breakfast, airport shuttle, air conditioning — for a very affordable price. The rooms are clean and spacious and the beds are comfy too.
Where to Stay for Sightseeing: El Centro
The historical center of town, El Centro is the oldest neighborhood in the city. While it gets a bit unsafe at night (avoid going out alone at night here), during the day it’s full of hustle and bustle. Don’t miss the popular Plaza Botero, the Museo de Antioquia art museum, the Catedral Basilica Metropolitana (the largest church in the city), and the popular pedestrian-only throughfare, Junnin Street.
Best Places to Stay in El Centro
- BUDGET: Centro Hostel – Offering free breakfast, female-only dorms, and a convenient location within walking distance of much of the neighborhood attractions, this clean and comfy hostel has everything you need for a laid-back stay.
- MIDRANGE: Hotel Romanza – This hotel offers all the standard hotel amenities like free Wi-Fi coffee/tea makers, and air conditioning while keeping prices super affordable. You get a lot of value here.
- LUXURY: Hotel 47 – This sleek and modern hotel boasts a bar on-site, a garden for relaxing, a jaccuzi, and free breakfast. The rooms are spacious and the beds are comfy. It’s just a 10-minute walk from Berrio Park too.
Medellín is a fun, vibrant, and relatively under-the-radar place to explore. With a wide variety of neighborhoods to choose from (and a few safety concerns), travelers should be extra mindful when picking the best neighborhood for their trip. But by following the suggestions above, you’ll be able to easily find a spot that suits your budget and travel style, ensuring you have a fun and safe visit to this lively South American city!
Book Your Trip to Colombia: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here are my favorite hostels in Medellín!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Colombia?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Colombia for even more planning tips!