Nestled in the postcard-worthy Aburrá Valley, Medellin is a vibrant city with a rich history, colorful culture, and wild nightlife. As Colombia's second largest city, there's a spectacular diversity in what you can do and experience.
After taking a week long trip with my work colleagues, I highly recommend you pick activities across the city. You'll find each neighborhood has its own unique personality!
In my comprehensive guide, you'll discover the best districts for first-time travelers, the authentic areas, and what parts to avoid. From expat communities to residential hubs, Medellin has so many interesting places to stay.
If you plan to take a trip to Medellin, you don't want to miss the info in this blog. You'll get a mix of firsthand knowledge and lots of in-depth research to help make your trip planning even easier!
Let's not delay anymore and find out where to stay in Medellin, Colombia...
The 5 Best Places to Stay in Medellin
In the urban area of Medellin, neighborhoods are dubbed communes, or "comunas" in Spanish. This city has 16 communes in 6 different zones. Out of all 16 communes, here are my recommendations best places to stay in Medellin:
- El Poblado
- El Centro
5. Comuna 16: Belén
If you're wondering where to stay in Medellin, Belen is the best choice if you're looking for a local experience.
Sitting in the western part of Medellin, Belén is a diverse neighborhood framed with a fusion of residential and commercial districts. Crowned with a series of cultural attractions, Belén is a popular place for both tourists and locals.
Do you identify as a budget traveler or backpacker? In that case, Belen is one of the best places to stay in Medellin, and you'll find bargains on every corner.
There are many neighborhoods in Medellin, but Envigado, outside of the main urban area, offers something unique. If you're looking to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of city life, Envigado offers a more sedate experience.
Located just south of Medellin, this neighboring municipality is famous for its tranquil atmosphere, traditional architecture, and personality-packed town square.
Envigado offers a more local experience away from the hordes of tourists while still having great access to Medellin's main sites.
Travelers can explore Envigado's local markets, go wild in the nightlife scene, and hike in the nearby jungles, waterfalls, and mountains. If you plan to explore, pack some exotic fruits for the whole Colombia hiking experience!
One of the most popular hiking paths is the trail from Envigado to Mirador de los Valles.
3. Comuna 10: El Centro (Officially La Candelaria)
Nestled in Medellin's downtown area, El Centro is the city's beating heart. This is an ideal place to stay for history buffs, culture enthusiasts, and those looking to stay centrally located. For convenience, El Centro is one of the best neighborhoods in Medellin.
Sip on authentic Colombian coffee in the old-school cafes, soak up the sunshine in the beautiful parks, and tick off the bucket list opportunities. This color-packed district flaunts several architectural gems, like the Metropolitan Cathedral and the historic Plaza Botero.
Interested in exploring the city's history? Museums like Museo de Antioquia and Museo Casa de la Memoria are sitting right around the corner. El Centro is a wonderful option for you art and history lovers!
2. Comuna 11: Laureles
If you're seeking a more local and authentic experience in Medellin, consider staying in the Laureles neighborhood. Located west of downtown Medellin, this area is home to tree-lined streets, lush parks, and cute cafes.
Offering a quieter alternative to the buzz of El Poblado, Laureles is still within easy reach of the city's main attractions, so you won't miss out on any of the fun.
Travelers can discover the iconic Estadio Atanasio Girardot, the bustling 70th Street, and the picture-perfect La Floresta neighborhood, known for its bohemian atmosphere. If you're looking for laid-back vibes and a taste of the local scene, Laureles is the best area to stay in Medellin.
1. Comuna 14: El Poblado
Situated in the southeastern part of the city, El Poblado is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Medellin. As a crowd favorite, you can expect to find a colorful mix of tourists, expats, and locals.
El Poblado is an ideal choice if you're wondering where to stay in Medellin. My friends and I loved staying here!
Famous for its lively ambiance, El Poblado boasts trendy restaurants, upscale bars, and fashionable boutiques. El Poblado is ideal for partygoers and social travelers since it's home to some of the city's best nightlife, particularly in the Parque Lleras area. El Poblado is home to some of Medellin's best hotels and hostels!
We were warned that staying in hostels in this area would mean little to no sleep because of the lively nightlife. But, in my personal experience, I had very little issues with noise. And I was in bed earlier than most...
Another great thing about this district in Medellin is that it's well-connected with convenient access to Parque Lleras, El Tesoro Mall, and Provenza. So whether you're a backpacker, solo traveler, or it's your first time visiting Colombia, El Poblado is one of the best places to stay in Medellin.
Best Medellin Hostels
On my trip, we skipped this one, but only because we didn't have time to stay everywhere on my list of top hostels in Medellin!
Viajero Medellin Hostel is a great option since its situated in the vibrant El Poblado neighborhood. The hostel offers a warm and friendly atmosphere, perfect for solo travelers and groups alike.
If you stay here, you'll enjoy spacious, clean dorms and private rooms. Don't miss the chance to mingle with fellow travelers in the communal areas or during the organized social events.
Nestled in the heart of Medellin, Hostel Rango Boutique is more than just a place to sleep.
This hostel combines the charm and comfort of a boutique hotel with the affordability and social atmosphere of a hostel. Each room is uniquely decorated, featuring local art, and the on-site bar and restaurant serve up tasty dishes and great vibes.
This one was recommended a lot in person and online. Black Sheep Hostel has long been a favorite among backpackers for its friendly staff and homely atmosphere.
Set in a converted mansion, it provides a perfect mix of social and private spaces. With its fully-equipped kitchen and spacious outdoor area, it's easy to meet fellow travelers or simply relax after a day of exploring Medellin.
This was the highest rated hostel that I stayed in with my team in Medellin, and there are definitely some great features at Masaya.
One of my favorite parts about this hostel was the beds in the shared dorm. It definitely felt like it gave everyone enough privacy. I even felt a bit bougie, even though it's a hostel.
I also appreciated that rooms had the bathroom area split up. On one side there was a toilet with a sink and on the other side there was a shower area with its own sink. This setup made sharing a room with 5 other people much more enjoyable!
Masaya also offered a lot of in-house events like traditional live music events, local art exhibits, and even Spanish and salsa lessons. Its communal areas and rooftop terrace provide stunning views over the city, making it one of the more memorable stays of my trip.
This hostel was by far my personal favorite during our trip to Medellin.
Los Patios Hostel is an award-winning eco-hostel—and I can see why! It ticks all the right boxes.
For me, it was the thoughtful art and theme for the rooms, the patios attached to dorm rooms, and the rooftop areas that hosted great events. While staying at Los Patios, we tried a dance lesson and a bar hoping tour that started from their rooftop bar.
Why I liked Los Patios more than Masaya was definitely the people, both the workers and fellow travelers. I felt that guests here were much more willing to socialize and ready to have a good time!
From dorms to private suites, all the options are designed with comfort and convenience in mind. Everything combined makes Los Patios a top-notch choice for any traveler, in my opinion.
Note: Avoid Selina Medellin
This was the lowest rated hostel we stayed at, yet it also seemed to be the most highly recommended by other travelers. I think it's because Selina is a well-known hostel brand across the world.
That being said, avoid Medellin's Selina. It's priced above competitors, was my least favorite hostel in Medellin, and I'd advise giving it a miss.
After we stayed, I also looked up recent reviews. Other travelers have had less than satisfying experiences... They highlight issues with cleanliness and customer service.
As a brand it might seem the most reliable option, but based on my firsthand experience, it's not worth it compared to the other wonderful hostels in Medellin. Always remember, it's essential to choose a place where you feel comfortable during your stay.
One reason I would visit Selina is the open space that doubles as a cafe, bar and general hang out area. It's filled with plants, making you feel you're spending time in a lush jungle!
Areas to Avoid in Medellin, Colombia
Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, staying safe in Medellin is essential. While the city has cleaned up its reputation, some areas are still considered unsafe for tourists.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid walking alone in the streets, don't travel alone at night, and watch out for theft in crowded areas or on public transport. Keep your valuables close to you, don't flash your phone or money around, and watch out for pickpockets.
Due to the high crime rates, tourists are advised to steer clear of the following neighborhoods:
- Santo Domingo Savio
- La Candelaria
Another area to avoid, specifically at night, is Comuna 13. We loved our tour of Comuna 13 but highly suggest going during the day. Although it's made a turnaround from being the most dangerous comuna in Colombia, it's still not a great place to go at night.
Affordable Things to Do in Medellin
Now that you know where to stay in Medellin, it's time to get into the fun stuff!
There's nothing like a bit of research to get you pumped up for your next trip. Our extensive guide on Medellin's best things to do covers all the nitty gritty details.
From Colombian coffee tours to partying in the nightclub scene, this city is a traveler's treasure trove. If you're on a budget, keep things pocket-friendly with these activities for under $60:
- Guatape boat ride and day trip
- Comuna 13 graffiti tour
- City tour in themed vehicles
- Pablo Escobar museum
- Paragliding tour
If it's your first time visiting Medellin, you may or may not be experiencing some nerves. Sure, this city has cleaned up its act in recent years, but a longstanding reputation may have you on edge.
You can take the hassle out of your trip to Colombia by preparing ahead! Find out everything you need for flying into Medellin in our Medellin Airport guide. It includes the location, layout, and how to get from the airport to the city center and the nearby hotels.
Whether you're coming from Cartagena, Bogota Airport, or another major Colombian airport, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you're well prepared.
Coffee, Quaint Villages, and Beyond!
Now that you're familiar with the best places to stay in Medellin, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.