Where to Stay in Medellin: Best Areas & Hotels Travel Guide
If you’re wondering where to stay in Medellin, or where is the best area to stay in Medellin, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best places to stay in Medellin for first time visitors, couples, families, backpackers, all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of 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 neighbourhoods are best to stay in, and which are better avoided. In today’s article, we will be looking at the six best areas to stay in Medellin, and the exciting attractions each has to offer.
By the end, I hope you will feel more familiar with this vibrant town and ready to start planning your trip.
Where to Stay in Medellin: Tips & Info
With such a complicated reputation, and a mix of neighbourhoods, both safe and shady, it may seem intimidating trying to decide on where you should stay in Medellin. However, with plenty of districts that are extremely safe and welcoming to visitors, you really don’t need to stress about finding somewhere that suits you.
If you know what you want from your trip to Medellin, I have a few tips on where you might want to start looking for accommodation, based on some common preferences.
El Poblado is the best general starting point for first time visitors to the city. It’s home to the best nightlife scene, and the entertainment and hospitality in the area is catered towards the large population of ex-pats in the area.
For a central location, although with a shadier reputation as a trade-off, Centro 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 centre when desired, Envigado is a happy middle ground between 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 neighbouring Guayabal. This is also the best neighbourhood for anyone who wants to stay close to the airport.
Where to Stay in Medellin – The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Medellin
I’ve whittled down the many neighbourhoods of Medellin to just six of the best options for tourists. In a vibrant, diverse city like Medellin, each location has its own distinct character and appeal.
By providing summaries of what makes these six areas enticing, I hope you will feel informed enough to make a confident decision on where would be best to spend your visit.
Where to Stay in Medellin Map
To see more detail of where to stay in Medellin map, go to google map;
1. El Poblado, Where to Stay in Medellin for First Time Tourists
Arguably the most popular district for tourists visiting Medellin, El Poblado is a vast region in the southeast quadrant of the city. Covering such a large area, you can find pretty much everything here, from shopping, hospitality, and nightlife, to museums and city parks. It is a universally popular and convenient location, which is perfect for first time visitors to the city.
Largely populated by affluent ex-pats, El Poblado is one of the safest areas in Medellin. 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 area, surrounding Lleras Park and Parque de El Poblado, it 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.
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.
With such high demand from tourists, El Poblado has the biggest variety of accommodation. If you are looking for somewhere more luxurious to stay, 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.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN EL POBLADO IF:
- It’s your first time visiting Medellin
- A thriving nightlife scene is a priority for you
- You want to spend your time shopping
- You want to stay in one of the safest parts of the city
2. Laureles, Where to Stay in Medellin for Local Vibe
Right at the heart of the city is the upper-class district of Laureles. A largely residential neighbourhood, the hospitality and entertainment of Laureles caters primarily to the local population, rather than visiting tourists.
If you’re looking for a location in the city centre 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, Laureles feels more refined than the bustlingly trendy neighbourhood of El Poblado.
There isn’t a ton in the way of tourist attractions here, although it is just a short way from neighbouring tourist districts and their sights. Its greatest feature actually lays just north of Laureles, in the form of the 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.
Of course, being an upmarket area, the prices of accommodation reflect the neighbourhood’s reputation. 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. However, they are fewer than in other districts, so you will be limited for choice.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN LAURELES IF:
- You want a more local vibe
- Staying central is a priority
- Money is not an object
3. Guayabal, Where to Stay in Medellin Near Airport
Immediately west of El Poblado is the urban district of Guayabal. An unfairly underappreciated neighbourhood, Guayabal has as much to offer as its more fashionable neighbours.
One of the major features of the area is Olaya Herrera International Airport. This allows you to waster minimal time travelling 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 neighbourhood.
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 neighbouring Guayabal instead, just a short way from the vibrant hub of activity across the tracks.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN GUAYABAL IF:
- You want to stay close to the airport
- You want to stay close the nightlife of El Poblado but without the steep prices
4. Envigado, Where to Stay in Medellin for Quiet Holiday
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.
Further out from the city centre, Envigado has a much more local and authentic atmosphere to it. The trendy restaurants and bars 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. If staying in the concrete jungle of the city makes you feel claustrophobic, Envigado offers a more open alternative, within easy access of 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 centre.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN ENVIGADO IF:
- You don’t mind being a little further from the city centre
- You value peace and quiet
- Staying closer to nature is ideal
- Experiencing more authentic Colombian life is a plus
5. Centro, Where to Stay in Medellin on a Budget
Also known as La Candelaria, Centro is, as the name suggests, the central region 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 neighbourhoods and sights, Centro is ideal for anyone who prioritises efficiency in travelling 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 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 is an art exhibition centre focusing on the works of native and local artists. Directly across the gardens is the visually stunning Palace of Culture, 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.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CENTRO IF:
- 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 on a budget
- You are staying for a shorter break.
6. Aranjuez, Where to Stay in Medellin for Family with Children
Just north of Centro is the vibrant, local district of Aranjuez. A working-class neighbourhood, Aranjuez remains one of the slightly sketchier parts of the city, although it has seen 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 centre 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.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN ARANJUEZ IF:
- You enjoy educational sites
- You are travelling with children
- You don’t mind staying in an up-and-coming neighbourhood
- You are on a budget
FAQs on Where to Stay in Medellin
Where Is Safe To Stay In Medellin?
Despite its lingering reputation as a hotbed of crime, Medellin has undergone social and economic progression over the last few decades. This has resulted in drastically reduced crime rates across the city. Of course, as with any large urban centre, there are still areas that are safer than others.
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. Alternatively, the high-class neighbourhood of Laureles offers a similar vibe, but is catered more to the Medellin locals.
Where To Stay In Medellin As A Backpacker?
Backpackers will appreciate the range of affordable accommodation offered across the city. Hostels and budget hotels can be found in almost every neighbourhood. El Poblado is the most popular neighbourhood with visitors. Full of shops, restaurants, museums, and bars, El Poblado is ideal for meeting fellow travellers and enjoying the Medellin’s hospitality.
The Rango Hostel Boutique is a ‘superb’, stylish hostel, with an onsite restaurant, bar, and swimming pool. Located in the beating heart of the Medellin’s tourist and nightlife epicentre, the hostel is perfectly placed to have you exploring all the city has to offer, day and night.
Is Medellin Dangerous For Tourists?
For much of the latter half of the 20th century, Medellin was known as the world’s most dangerous city and an absolute no-go zone for tourists. However, while the city’s reputation as a crime capital still holds strong in the minds of many, it has progressed profoundly in recent decades. It even earnt the Urban Land Institute award for ‘Most Innovative City in the World’ in 2013 for its social progress.
As with any city, it still pays to be aware of particular neighbourhoods where crime is higher. On the whole though, much of Medellin has transformed into a bohemian playground that draws thousands of tourists from across the globe every year.
How Long To Stay In Medellin?
While Medellin is growing every year and constantly presenting new attractions and facilities, it is still a relatively small city. Importantly, its status as a tourist destination is also comparatively new and it hasn’t yet managed to build up the long list of iconic sights that would fill out a lengthier itinerary.
All this goes to say that you could comfortably explore the city over a weekend trip and see all the top tourist attractions. If you have a long weekend coming up and are looking for somewhere to spend a short city-break in the sun, Medellin is perfect.
Where To Stay In Medellin El Poblado?
El Poblado is a large neighbourhood, so where you would most benefit from staying depends on what you are looking for from the area.
If you are hoping to take advantage of the thriving nightlife, you should stay around the Lleres Park area, where you will find the densest population of bars and nightclubs. The Click Clack Hotel is a ‘fabulous’ affordable yet stylish option, right at the heart of the party district.
If you’d rather spend your time browsing some of the most fashionable shopping districts in the city, you should head little further south. The “superb” Hotel Poblado Alejandria Express offers a roof terrace, garden dining, and fitness centre, all just minutes from a number of shopping centres.
Best Location To Stay In Medellin?
The best general location to stay in Medellin, particularly for first timers who don’t know the city well, is El Poblado. The district is one of the safest parts of Medellin, consisting of affluent communities of wealthy foreigners.
El Poblado is the height of convenience, providing everything someone could want from a vacation in one place. If you want a vibrant nightlife, El Poblado is where you will find the best selection of bars and nightclubs in the city.
Want to spend your days shopping? No problem, there are dozens of shopping centres in the area. More interested in culture and sightseeing? Head to one of the various museums or hop on the metro for a just a few minutes to nearby Centro and the numerous attractions across the city.
El Poblado offers the widest range of accommodation in the city. Whether your budget is generous or stricter, you can definitely find something to suit it in El Poblado.
Best Place To Stay In Medellin For Nightlife?
El Poblado is the undisputed centre for nightlife in Medellin. The area around Lleres Park and Parque El Poblado is densely populated with bars and clubs that keep the streets busy until the early hours of the morning.
If you want to stay as close as possible to the action and shorten your journey home at the end of the night, there are tons of hotels in the area to choose from. The Celestino Boutique Hotel is a ‘fabulous’ hotel, right in the middle of the top nightlife district in Medellin. The beautiful rooms and luxurious common areas are the perfect surroundings to recover from your wild nights out.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Medellin?
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.
Medellin is a vibrant, modern city with a chequered reputation, but you shouldn’t let its past deter you from exploring the colourful metropolis that’s come to be known as ‘The City of Eternal Spring’.
Whilst there are certainly areas to be wary of, as in any large city, hopefully this article has reassured you that there is more to be celebrated than avoided.