Where to Stay in Medellin First Time: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Medellin for first-timers are El Poblado, El Parque Lleras, Laureles-Estadio, Envigado, and El Centro (La Candelaria). These are popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

In this article, I will give an insight into the where to stay in Medellin for the first time tourist and the safest places to stay in Medellin.

The second-largest city in Colombia, Medellin was once known as the most dangerous city in the world. Far from its days as an absolute no-go area, the city has progressed in leaps and bounds over the recent decades, into a modern bohemian hotspot, attracting tourists from across the world.

Whilst many areas in Medellin are completely safe to visit, it still pays to be aware of which neighborhoods are best to stay in, and which are better avoided. If you are looking for safest neighborhoods in Medellin, look into Poblado, Laureles, Envigado and Sabaneta.

El Poblado is the best area to stay in Medellin for first-timers due to its prime location and wide choices in accommodations. It’s home to the best nightlife scene, and the entertainment and hospitality in the area are catered towards the large population of ex-pats in the area. If you stay here, you will be located in the midde of actions, close to many restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.

For a central location, although with a shadier reputation as a trade-off, Centro/La Candeleria will put you right in the middle of all the trendiest areas and attractions. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay in the relative calm of an outer-city district, with easy access back into the city center when desired, Envigado is a happy middle ground between the urban jungle and natural paradise.

If you are working on a tighter budget, but still want to stay near the bustling nightlife of El Poblado, consider neighboring Guayabal. This is also the best neighborhood for anyone who wants to stay close to the airport.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:El Poblado
💎 Best luxury hotel:Celestino Boutique Hotel
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Hotel Poblado Alejandria Express
💰 Best budget hotel:Ibis Medellin 

8 Best areas to stay in Medellin for tourists

1. El Poblado, where to stay in Medellin for first-timers

El Poblado is the best place to stay in Medellin for first-time travelers because it is the most popular and convenient district for tourists. You can find pretty much everything here, from shopping mall, coworking spaces, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, and nightlife, to museums and city parks.

El Poblado is a vast region in the southeast quadrant of the city. Covering such a large area, El Poblado is divided into smaller sections including Central Poblado, Lower Poblado, and La Florida.

Largely populated by affluent ex-pats, El Poblado is the safest place to stay in Medellin because it has a strong police presence and it is always populated by tourist. But as you travel to any city, you should always practice common sense, and be aware of pickpocketing, prostitutes, and drug addicts.

The facilities are primarily catered towards the preferences of the foreigners who reside here, so you will find lots of familiar brand names amongst the shops and restaurant chains. It’s also where you will find many of the most fashionable dining options and high-end boutiques.

The Central Poblado, surrounding Lleras Park and Parque de El Poblado, is known for being the city’s premier nightlife district. By day, the area is bustling with open-air markets and trendy cafes. By night, the streets come alive, as locals and tourists flock to the many bars and nightclubs.

The Lower Poblado area is downhill from Central El Poblado encompassing Manila, Astorga, Northern Patio Bonito. It’s conveniently located within walking distance to El Poblado metro station and the Exito supermarket.

La Florida is where you can find high-rises and shopping malls such as Oviedo Mall and Santafé Mall, Intermedica Tower, One Plaza and Fernando Plaza, the President Park, and the Dann Carlton Hotel.

There are several interesting museums in El Poblado. The Medellin Modern Art Museum is a beautiful building, housing a range of exhibitions and a large, independent cinema. The displays change regularly, so it’s worth checking in to see if there’s anything new to interest you, even if you have visited before. 

At the other end of the district, the Museo el Castillo is one of Medellin’s history museums. The opulent castle and grounds house a variety of exhibitions and art displays that rotate regularly.

The one that I personally find most interesting is the Casa Museo Pablo Escobar. Once the home of the infamous drug lord, whose cartel was responsible for much of the city’s violence prior to his death, it has been converted into a museum detailing his life. The museum offers tours around the house, which is still filled with his personal possessions and photographs.

If you like shopping, you will find some of the best shopping in Medellín in the golden mile which stretches all the way from Parque la Presidenta to Centro Commercial Santafé.

With such high demand from tourists, El Poblado has the biggest variety of accommodation. If you are looking for somewhere more luxurious to stay in, there are plenty of high-end hotels and apartments to choose from. Alternatively, if you are on a budget, head further from the busier central area to find more affordable hotels, guesthouses, and hostels.

Stay in Medellin El Poblado if you are a first-time travelers; you want vibrant nightlife and shopping; You want to stay in one of the safest parts of the city; you want to stay in a tourist hub of the city;

Best places to stay in Medellin in El Poblado:

luxury ($$$): Celestino Boutique Hotel This five-star hotel is situated a short distance from attractions such as El Poblado Park, Linear Park President, and The Dancer’s Park. The hotel is within 6 km of Pueblito Paisa. It offers rooms with a desk and a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom fitted with a shower and free toiletries, and free wifi.

mid-range ($$): Hotel Poblado Alejandria Express The hotel features a spa with a steam bath, 24-hour room service, and free WiFi, a fitness center, and a currency exchange service. The hotel is just a 10-minute drive from Olaya Herrera Airport. It features rooms with parquet floors, polished wood finishings, air conditioning, cable TV, and a mini bar.

budget ($): Ibis Medellin Located in Ciudad del Río, close to the financial district, shopping centers, bars, and restaurants, Hotel Ibis offers free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, and a bar in Medellin. It offers rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and a flat-screen TV.


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2. El Parque Lleras, where to stay in Medellin for nighlife

A subsection of upscale Poblado neighborhood, El Parque Lleras is the nightlife capital of Medellín, popular with foreign tourists. If you come to Medellin for a party and looking for a great nightlife area, El Parque Lleras along with La Setenta, La 33, and Barrio Colombia are the best bet.

This 2-block stretch is an attraction in Medellin’s Zona Rosa that has plenty of amenities, shopping, cafes, restaurants, rumba, bars, and nightclubs. You can walk to many of the city’s attractions.

By day, El Parque Lleras is a bustling neighborhood with busy cafes, but there is no pressure to move on. Sitting, enjoying the free Wi-Fi, and watching people go by is a popular activity. You will see street vendors sell artwork, jewelry, snacks, and trinkets from early morning onwards.

At nighttime, you may encounter a few drunks, but no problems. Parque Lleras is generall a safe area. There are lots of security, CCTV, regular patrolling.

Budget travelers will find comfortable hostels in El Parque Lleras, a sharp contrast to the luxury hotels that are also found here. Wherever you stay in El Parque Lleras, you will find it busy and noisy. As long as that is no problem, this may be the area for you to find your base.

Best places to stay in El Parque Lleras:


3. Laureles, one of the safest areas to stay in Medellin

Laureles along with Poblado is one of the safest places to stay in Medellin. Right at the heart of the city, Laureles-Estadio barrio is made up of Laureles and Estadio. If you’re looking for a location in the city center that will provide you with a taste of more authentic, laid-back, Medellinian life, Laureles is ideal.

Primarily populated with small, independent cafés and restaurants, especially on the main street of Carrera 70, or La Setenta, Laureles feels more refined than the bustlingly trendy neighborhood of El Poblado.

Neaby, you can find Calle 44 which is a major transportation thoroughfare; Avenida 33 which is a major center of nightlife in Medellin; Carrera 80 (ochenta), and Carrera 70 (setenta).

Located 15 minutes northwest of Poblado, Laureles is flatter than Poblado, you can easily walk around. It is also quieter, cheapers, and more authentic local vibe than in Poblado.

To the north of Laureles barrio, you can find sprawling Cerro El Volador Natural Park. This leafy, hillside park features winding pathways leading up to several viewpoints that provide beautiful, panoramic views across the city.

Laureles is also home to the headquarters of the UPB (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana). Meanwhile, the Atanasio Girardot Stadium is the famous stadium in the district.

If luxury is what you are after, there are several 4 and 5-star hotels in the area to consider. Alternatively, if you are working on a budget and are dead set on staying in Laureles, there are a few hostels and more affordable hotels in the area.

Stay in Laureles if You want a more laid-back and local atmosphere; Staying central is a priority; you want to stay in a safe area; you are first-time visitors;

Best places to stay in Medellin in Laureles:


4. Envigado, where to stay in Medellin with a family

Technically speaking, Envigado is a town in its own right, not a district of Medellin. However, it borders right up against El Poblado and is popular with tourists wishing to visit the city whilst avoiding the inner-city crowds.

In Envigado, you will find smaller barrios of El Dorado, Central Envigado, and the Northern Envigado with San Marcos and La Magnolia.

Further out from the city center, Envigado has a much more local and authentic atmosphere to it. The trendy bars and restaurants of El Poblado and upmarket fare of Laureles are traded for small, independent cafes and restaurants with genuine charm.

The main appeal of Envigado is the feeling of being closer to nature. There are far fewer high-rise buildings here, offering unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains.

There are points of interest like the Parque Envigado, Envigado Church, La Romera, Parque El Salado where you can hike, and Parque Recreativo which is a great place to spend a day out with your kids.

if you are interested in history and culture, you can visit Otraparte, the former home of philosopher Fernando González, which today is a museum devoted to his memory.

If you want to do some shopping, head to City Plaza, a major Centro Comercial in Envigado, and there are plenty of small shops around Parque Envigado.

If staying in the concrete jungle of the city makes you feel claustrophobic, Envigado offers a more open alternative, with easy access to the main attractions of the town.

Building restrictions designed to preserve the beauty of the natural landscape have restricted many hotels from being built in the area. Small guesthouses and b&bs make up the majority of the options available for accommodation, with just a few small hotels and hostels appearing in recent years.Whilst your choices may be limited, the options that are available are generally quite affordable, another perk of staying outside of the city center.

Stay in Envigado if you are traveling with family and want peace and quiet, and closer to nature; Experiencing more authentic Colombian life is a plus; you want safe neighborhood;

Best places to stay in Envigado:


5. El Centro (La Candelaria), business centrer of Medellin

El Centro, also known as La Candelaria, or Downtown, is the central area of Medellin. The first on this list to fall a little on the shady side, Centro earns its spot as one of the best-connected areas of the city. Full of popular attractions in its own right, and a short distance from various other fashionable neighborhoods and sights, Centro is ideal for anyone who prioritizes efficiency in traveling between sights.

With El Poblado to the south, Laureles to the west, and Aranjuez to the north, there is plenty to see and do nearby. That said, let’s begin by discussing what’s on offer in Centro itself. 

The Plaza Botero is one of the main spots. A manicured garden, featuring 23 statues by the local artist Fernando Botero, the plaza acts as a lovely meeting place for visitors to the surrounding museums.

Overlooking the plaza from the west, the Antioquia Museum (Museum of Antioquia) is an art exhibition center focusing on the works of native and local artists. Directly across the gardens are the visually stunning Palace of Culture (Palacio de Cultura), housing art galleries and museums dedicated to local arts and culture.

Just north is the Medellin Catedral Basílica Metropolitana, a beautiful brick cathedral at the end of leafy Bolivar Park. 

Despite its central location, Centro’s grittier reputation means that accommodation is much more affordable than in the fashionable districts. If you’re on a budget and want the double whammy of saving on both accommodation and travel fares between attractions, Centro is one to consider.

Medellin Centro is safe by day but you should avoud going out at night. The centro has high rates of crime and homelessness. El Centro is also filled with business people during the day, but all commuters and polices go home at night, downtown is empty.

Stay in La Candelaria – Centro if You are on a budget; You don’t mind staying in one of the shadier parts of the city; Convenient access to the whole city is a priority; You are staying for a shorter break; this is your first visit;

Best places to stay in Medellin in La Candelaria:


6. Belén, where to stay in Medellin in authentic neighborhood

Located in the south of Laureles, this working-class community just west of the Medellín River is authentic Colombia. Its cool atmosphere has attracted the city’s middle class, yet it has an edge to it. It cannot claim to be a really affluent area, but its industrial past has been left behind.

Belén is both a comuna (district) and a barrio (neighborhood), close to Calle 33, Rio Medellín, and the domestic airport.

One of the oldest districts in Medellin, Belen is now home to quite a mix of people and cultures. It is a safe district worth considering as your city base. You will not lack things to do and places to visit to enjoy a social life. What you will not find are any famous landmarks to attract traditional tourists.

You will find green spaces, trails for cycling and walking. If you go up to Cerro Nutibara, a small hill, you will find an interesting Pueblito Paisa, a mock Antioquian village at the summit.

If you after nightlife, go to Calle 33, and if you want shopping, the Los Molinos shopping center has lots of shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater. you can also shop at Unicentro, the large shopping center on Carrera 65, and Sante Fe and Oviedo in El Poblado.

You will not find luxury hotels in Belen, but you will find a good choice of mid-range hotels and budget hostels. 

Best places to stay in Medellin in Belén:


7. Guayabal, where to stay in Medellin near Olaya Herrera Airport

Immediately west of El Poblado is the urban district of Guayabal. An unfairly underappreciated neighborhood, Guayabal has as much to offer as its more fashionable neighbors.

One of the major features of the area is Olaya Herrera Airport. This allows you to waste minimal time traveling between the airport and your accommodation, on both arrival and departure. There could potentially be some irritating noise pollution from the air traffic, but who expects peace and quiet in the middle of a city anyway?

In the north of the district is the Parque de la Conservación, home to Medellin’s zoo. Housing a variety of animal species, from birds to lizards, the park aims to educate visitors on how these animals live in their natural habitats.

At the opposite end of the region, nestled next to a golf course, the City Hall El Rodeo is one of Medellin’s principal concert arenas. It’s worth checking to see if there are any performances you would be interested in attending during your stay.

Being less popular with tourists, Guayabal has few hotels and guesthouses to pick from. There are several hostels, mainly around the airport, and a few small hotels further into the neighborhood. 

While there may be less choice, the cost to stay in a less trendy area is much more reasonable. If you have been wanting to stay near the nightlife hotspots of El Poblado, take the opportunity to stay in neighboring Guayabal instead, just a short way from the vibrant hub of activity across the tracks.

Stay in Guayabal if you want to stay close to the airport; you want to stay close to the nightlife of El Poblado but without the steep prices.

Best places to stay in Guayabal:


8. Aranjuez, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Medellin

Just north of Centro is the vibrant, local district of Aranjuez. A working-class neighborhood, Aranjuez remains one of the slightly sketchier parts of the city, although it has seen a dramatic improvement in recent years. 

Despite its reputation, Aranjuez makes this list for the number of popular sites and attractions in the area. Helpfully, most of them are found in the safer southern end of the district, near the University of Antioquia.

Even if you choose to stay elsewhere, Aranjuez is definitely worth visiting, especially if you have children who will benefit from the various educational and family-friendly facilities.

First up is the Medellin Botanical Garden. The sprawling park is home to a wide variety of plant species, and every year these are celebrated with the annual flower festival.

There is a butterfly house in the south-eastern corner and a number of educational facilities scattered across the park. There is even a restaurant at the very center of the park, with views of the surrounding gardens.

Immediately east of the botanical gardens is the Parque Explora Science Museum. The range of exhibitions and interactive activities make this a fun, educational day out for all ages. Right next door is the Medellin Aquarium, housing a variety of freshwater fish species.

Right across the road is the Parque Norte Theme Park. The family-friendly amusement park is set around a lake and offers a variety of entertainment, from rides to a cable car across the water.

Accommodation in this area is sparser than the more typical tourist hotspots. However, what is available is very affordable. If you are working on a budget, Aranjuez is worth a look, due to its combination of reasonable rates and convenient location.

Stay in Aranjuez if you enjoy educational sites, you are traveling with children, you don’t mind staying in an up-and-coming neighborhood, you are on a budget


Where should I stay in Medellin for the first time?

El Poblado is the best place to stay in Medellin for first-timers due to its prime location. El Poblado is one of the safest neighborhoods to stay in Medellin with plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.

What are the best areas to stay in Medellin?

El Poblado, El Parque Lleras, Laureles-Estadio, Envigado, and El Centro (La Candelaria) are the best areas to stay in Medellin because they are the most popular areas for tourists that offer many things to do and see.

Where is the safest place to stay in Medellin?

Generally speaking, the more affluent districts south of the city centre are the safest. The district of El Poblado is particularly popular with affluent foreigners and is the destination of choice for the majority of first-time tourists.

Where not to stay in Medellin?

You should avoid Comuna 13, Downtown Medellin, Bello, Itagui, especially at night because they have high crime rates. It is always a good idea to exercise caution and to be aware of your surroundings, regardless of where you are staying.

Where to stay in Medellin for nightlife?

El Poblado, particularly El Parque Lleras, is the best area to stay in Medellin for nightlife because it is a safe area with numerous bars, nightclubs, cafes, restaurants, and rumba. 

How long to stay in Medellin?

The length of your stay will depend on your interests and how much time you have available. Three days is enough to see all the city’s top tourist attractions and get the sense of the city. If you have more days, you can see the city in a slower and more relaxing pace.

See More: The River of Five Colors

Medellin has a consistently warm climate year-round, with average daily temperatures barely changing through the seasons. If your main concern is making sure you can bask in the warm weather, you can visit whenever you like. Of course, the caveat is that, if you were hoping to visit during a season where you can wander the streets without working up a sweat, you are out of luck as far as cooler months.

The only real variation is in average rainfall. Again, it’s pretty consistent year-round, but the driest months fall between November to February. Ideal for anyone looking to escape the cold winters of the northern hemisphere and soak up some winter sun.

Overall, El Poblado is the best area to stay in Medellin for first-timers because it is the safest and the most central neighborhood that offers a wide range of tourist attractions and amenities such as hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops.

Now as you know where to stay in Medellin for the first time, all you need to do is to book your accommodations and ready to go!

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