Best place to stay in Medellin cover image, an aerial view of Medellin and all its neighborhoods
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The Difference Between Love and Hate is Location

Whether you’re coming for two days, two months, or two years, you have to be strategic in deciding where to stay in Medellin because it can make the difference between loving and hating the city.

Kim and I learned this the hard way.

We picked the wrong neighborhood and almost abandoned Medellin prematurely because of it. Luckily, we gave Medellin a second chance, moved to another neighborhood, and never wanted to leave.

This guide will help you avoid making the wrong choice like we did, and instead find the perfect place to stay in Medellin that best meets your personal criteria.

The Wrong Question…
and the Right One

Don’t Ask “Laureles, Poblado, or Envigado?”

When we were deciding on the best place to stay in Medellin, we thought we had to choose between the most popular and comfortable areas for expats: El Poblado, Laureles, and Envigado.

That’s a mistake.

Choosing between those three is not particularly helpful because they’re huge districts, not neighborhoods:

map of Medellin, Colombia comunas
Laureles, El, Poblado, and Envigado are cities in themselves. (Map Credit: De I, SajoR, CC BY-SA 2.5, Enlace). Note that on this map north is the left side, west is the top, and so on.

For example, as you can see from the Google map screenshot below, it takes one hour to walk from one corner of Laureles to the other:

google map for walking across laureles
It takes an hour to walk across Laureles so picking the right neighborhood within it is super important.

You could easily hate one part of Laureles (or any district) and love another.

We did.

The Better Question Is, “Which Barrio?”

The best approach to finding the best place to stay in Medellin is to choose between the various barrios (or neighborhoods), within these big districts.

Medellin’s metro area has 300+ neighborhoods so at first that’d seem like an impossible task. Practically speaking, though, there are only a handful of neighborhoods most expats and visitors will want to choose between.

These are the top ten neighborhoods we’ll be ranking across a dozen criteria to help you find the best place to stay in Medellin.

Medellin Neighborhood Rankings

Here are our top ten contenders for best neighborhood in Medellin, ranked by twelve different criteria.

For each criterion, the best neighborhood gets 10 points, the next best 9 points, and so on all the way down to the worst, which gets 1 point.

Medellin’s Top 10 Neighborhoods

A quick overview, with rankings and maps, of each of the top 10 Medellin neighborhoods.

1. Central Laureles

2. La 70, Laureles

3. Northeastern Laureles

4. Central Poblado

5. Lower Poblado

6. La Florida, Poblado

7. El Dorado, Envigado

8. Central Envigado

9. Northern Envigado

10. Downtown Medellin

Laureles Neighborhoods

highlighting the three contending neighborhoods in Laureles
Laureles Barrios. (Map Credit: De I, SajoR, CC BY-SA 2.5, Enlace)

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1. Central Laureles 

The epicenter of trendy Laureles, it’s full of cafés and eateries and is where people who think El Poblado is “too gringo” often go.

The biggest problem with Central Laureles is it’s far from the metro, which makes getting around to other parts of Medellin more difficult.

Cafés:
9
Cheap Eats:
7
Cost:
4
Culture:
4
Dining:
7
Exercise:
8
Expat Scene:
9
Groceries:
7
Location:
2
Party:
7
Quiet:
5
Safety:
6

Notable Spots

Top Accommodation

  • Inntu Hotel, on Segundo Parque in the heart of Central Laureles, is well-run, stylish, and modern and has a rooftop terrace.
  • There aren’t any amazing hostels in Central Laureles so you’d have to stay at one, like Hostal Cattleya, in the adjacent la 70 neighborhood or find an Airbnb.

2. La 70

(Florida Nueva / Bolivariana)

Closest to the metro station and the hecticness that comes with being beside the soccer stadium, La 70 is the liveliest neighborhood in Laureles.  

Cafés:
6
Cheap Eats:
8
Cost:
5
Culture:
6
Dining:
5
Exercise:
9
Expat Scene:
6
Groceries:
8
Location:
9
Party:
6
Quiet:
4
Safety:
3

Notable Spots

  • Carrera 70 isn’t the nicest or most-relaxing street in Medellin, but it’s always busy and it has plenty of local vibe, eats, and drinks.
  • Estadio, the stadium complex where you can join tens of thousands of passionate Paisas for a football match, do a workout in its public outdoor gym, and get around town easily from its metro station.

Top Accommodation

  • Obo Hotel opened recently, is getting excellent reviews, and is ideally located away from the noise of la 70, and in between Central Laureles’s restaurants and cafes to the south and the stadium and metro station to the north.
  • Hostal Cattleya gets exceptional reviews, in particular for its fantastic staff and comfortable beds which, in our books, is what matters most.

3. Northeastern Laureles

(Estadio / El Velodromo) 

Laid-back and well-off residential area in Laureles that’s close to the Estadio sports complex and Cero Volador park/hill, both of which are great for exercising.

The downside of the quiet is there’s not a lot going on in Northeastern Laureles and it can be quiet, and therefore dangerous, at night.

Cafés:
4
Cheap Eats:
2
Cost:
6
Culture:
5
Dining:
3
Exercise:
10
Expat Scene:
5
Groceries:
3
Location:
6
Party:
4
Quiet:
7
Safety:
2

Notable Spots

  • Cerro Volador has better views of Medellin than Pueblito Paisa, as we mention in our list of overrated and underrated Medellin attractions.
  • A few metro stops away is San Javier and the famous Comuna 13.
  • Estadio sports complex has facilities for practicing just about any sport you could possibly want to partake in.

Top Accommodation

  • Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte is the best of the slim pickings from the area. You’ll enjoy a local experience there for better (good value and friendliness) and for worse (a bit noisier).
  • Yellow House Hostel is renowned for its great breakfast, friendly owners (and owners’ dog). And since it’s just two blocks from Floresta metro station, it’s convenient for exploring the city.

El Poblado Neighborhoods

El Poblado, Medellin neighborhood map
The best neighborhoods to stay in in El Poblado make up a small part of the district’s total area. (Map Credit: De I, SajoR, CC BY-SA 2.5, Enlace) -— (Editor’s Note: This map is flipped sideways. The left of this map is north, the top is west, and so on. Thanks to the person who approriately called themself Editor for pointing this out)

4. Central Poblado

Central Poblado is definitely the most popular place to stay in Medellin for both tourists and long-term foreign residents. I sometimes almost forget I’m in Colombia when I’m in this part of town.

Parque Lleras isn’t that nice, but a lot of the surrounding areas like Provenza, which is just up the hill, are popular with not just expats but well-off locals as well.

Cafés:
10
Cheap Eats:
6
Cost:
1
Culture:
2
Dining:
10
Exercise:
6
Expat Scene:
10
Groceries:
2
Location:
7
Party:
10
Quiet:
3
Safety:
4

Notable Spots

  • The hedonistic nightlife district of Parque Lleras.
  • Pretty much every fine-dining restaurant in Medellin, including our favorite, the more hip-than-fancy Alambique.
  • Quite a few low-cost but delicious, huge, and authentically Colombian lunch places. See our menu del dia guide for our favorites.
  • A collection of breezy cafes including Pergamino, which lives up to its lofty reputation and popularity.

Top Accommodation

  • The Charlee Hotel, a boutique five star hotel right in the center of it all, is far and away the most popular place to stay in Medellin for the stylish crowd.

5. Lower Poblado

(Manila / Astorga / Northern Patio Bonito)

Down the hill from Central El Poblado, Lower Poblado is more low-key, but there’s no mistaking you’re still in gringolandia. It’s full of hostels and restaurants that cater to foreign tastes.

Since it’s close to the metro and has a big Exito grocery store, we found it to be the most conveniently-located El Poblado neighborhood.

Cafés:
8
Cheap Eats:
5
Cost:
3
Culture:
3
Dining:
8
Exercise:
5
Expat Scene:
7
Groceries:
5
Location:
8
Party:
9
Quiet:
6
Safety:
5

Notable Spots

  • None, really. It’s a low-key residential place whose big advantage is being conveniently close to El Poblado metro station, the mega Exito supermarket, and all the restaurants, nightlife, and cafés of Central Poblado while still remaining peaceful.
  • According to Google Maps, the HQ of the Unconventional Route is located in Lower Poblado. Not true.

Top Accommodation

  • Travelers Orange Suites Medellin. Airbnb put us up here after a disastrous experience and it was perfect: decent breakfast, rooftop pool, full kitchen, friendly staff, and, in our opinion, the most convenient location in Medellin.
  • Los Patios Hostal Boutique is easily the best-rated hostel in Medellin. As I write this #3 on Booking.com, #1 on TripAdvisor, #3 on Google reviews, and #2 on Hostelworld. Some hostels game one site to rank high on it. You can’t game ’em all, though.

6. La Florida

View from rooftop towards the buildings of La Florida, El Poblado, Medellin
La Florida neighborhood in El Poblado is one high-end tower after another, all the way up the mountain.

A swanky area of high-rises, hills, and malls. The streets are quiet, mostly because there are few shops and people drive everywhere (or get Rappi to deliver everything to them).

Cafés:
5
Cheap Eats:
1
Cost:
2
Culture:
1
Dining:
9
Exercise:
3
Expat Scene:
8
Groceries:
1
Location:
3
Party:
8
Quiet:
8
Safety:
7

Notable Spots

Top Accommodation

Envigado Neighborhoods

Envigado neighborhood map
Envigado barrios (Map Credit: De I, SajoR, CC BY-SA 2.5, Enlace)

7. El Dorado

House in El Dorado, Envigado with produce store below.
In our guide to Envigado, we compare it to a pre-hipster, Colombian Brooklyn. It’s a low-lying part of town with 2-3 story houses like this that often have commercial units on the ground floor, which makes the whole area very walkable.

El Dorado has a true neighborhood feel, with smaller houses that have shops, bars, mini-markets, and other small businesses all along its narrow streets.

Cafés:
2
Cheap Eats:
3
Cost:
8
Culture:
9
Dining:
4
Exercise:
7
Expat Scene:
4
Groceries:
9
Location:
1
Party:
1
Quiet:
10
Safety:
10

Notable Spots

  • The unbelievable, romantic Casa de las Piedritas, probably our top-recommended attraction in Envigado (and possibly all of Medellin) is a short walk away.
  • Go to Colombia Immersion for their always fun and friendly Friday night language exchanges.
  • A couple of our favorite restaurants in Medellin, including Burro Pizzeria and Pedacito de Amor.
  • La Cancha sport complex has a track, turf field, basketball court, and outdoor gym.

Top Accommodation

  • Hotels weren’t allowed in Envigado until recently, so there’s only one, Hotel Arame. It’s a 15 minute walk from El Dorado, so you’re better off looking for an Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, use our coupon code for a discount on your first stay.

8. Central Envigado

Envigado’s small “downtown” feels like you’re not in Medellin anymore, which was indeed the case not too long ago.

Cafés:
3
Cheap Eats:
9
Cost:
10
Culture:
10
Dining:
2
Exercise:
4
Expat Scene:
2
Groceries:
10
Location:
5
Party:
2
Quiet:
2
Safety:
8

Notable Spots

  • El Parque de Envigado, the city’s main square, is wildly decorated during the month of December and fun for people-watching all year long.
  • My absolute favorite food in Medellin, the insanely huge chicharron from la Gloria de Gloria, is just up the street.
  • See our Envigado guide for lots more highlights.

Top Accommodation

  • Hotel Arame, a 5-minute walk from Envigado’s main square and conveniently close to the metro station, is the only, but still highly-rated, hotel in all of Envigado where, until recently, hotels were forbidden.

9. Northern Envigado

(San Marcos / La Magnolia)

These residential neighborhoods may have less street life than El Dorado, but they do contain Envigado’s fine-dining / entertainment district, La Calle de la Buena Mesa.

Cafés:
7
Cheap Eats:
4
Cost:
7
Culture:
7
Dining:
6
Exercise:
2
Expat Scene:
3
Groceries:
6
Location:
4
Party:
3
Quiet:
9
Safety:
9

Notable Spots

  • Otraparte, a cafe, museum, and garden all in one, is one of our favorite places to hang out in Medellin.
  • Go to Chiclayo for excellent Peruvian food, Zacatecas for spicy Mexican, and Casa Antonios and Prana for healthy lunches.

Top Accommodation

  • Airbnb is your only choice because there are no hotels or hostels anywhere close—not because it isn’t an attractive place to stay but because hotels weren’t allowed in Envigado until recently. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, use our coupon code to save on your first stay.

El Centro Neighborhoods

La Calendaria downtown Medellin neighborhood map
Map credit: De I, SajoR, CC BY-SA 2.5, Enlace

10. Downtown Medellin

(La Candelaria)

Flea market in downtown Medellin
Medellin’s downtown is undeniably gritty, but it’s also as central as you can get and on the up-and-up.

The the heart of downtown Medellin, La Candelaria is starting to carve out its position as a potential neighborhood for foreigners to stay in. It’s right in the middle of all the action, for better and for worse.

Cafés:
1
Cheap Eats:
10
Cost:
9
Culture:
8
Dining:
1
Exercise:
1
Expat Scene:
1
Groceries:
4
Location:
10
Party:
5
Quiet:
1
Safety:
1

Notable Spots

Top Accommodation

  • Quite honestly, there are no hotels in Downtown Medellin that we feel 100% comfortable endorsing. If you have a recommendation, please let us know in the comments.
  • Raiz Hostel is the only hostel close to downtown worth considering, though it’s a bit of a ways from the downtown attractions.

The Criteria

Click any link below to jump directly to the criterion you’re most interested in.


Best High-End Restaurants

By American and European standards, high-end restaurants in Medellin are cheap (around $15 USD an entree), so tourists may factor proximity to them as an important factor in deciding where to stay.

If you’re living in Medellin longer term this won’t matter as much—especially if you’re earning Colombian pesos. You can just take a taxi across town on the odd night you go out.

The vast majority of the best restaurants in Medellin are in Central Poblado, though Lower Poblado, Central Laureles, and Northern Envigado all have fine-dining areas too.

Other neighborhoods on our list of contenders are ranked based on the few nice restaurants they have and their proximity to the aforementioned barrios.

RankBarrio
1Central Poblado
2La Florida, Poblado
3Lower Poblado
4Central Laureles
5Northern Envigado
6La 70, Laureles
7El Dorado, Envigado
8Northeastern Laureles
9Central Envigado
10Downtown Medellin

Best Budget, Local, and Menu del Dia Restaurants

Kim holding up chicharron at La Gloria de Gloria in Envigado
Good luck tackling the chicharron platter at La Gloria de Gloria by yourself. This arm-length piece is only about 1/4 of the whole meal.

For budget travelers and longer-term expats looking for the best place to stay in Medellin, being close to a variety of cheap but tasty eateries is a must.

This is especially the case with the amazing menu del día lunch specials here, which should your bread and butter (or rice and beans) when it comes to eating out.

Medellin’s Best Menu del Dia Lunch Specials

Since it’s the business center of the city with many mouths to feed, Downtown Medellin ranks as #1. Close behind is Central Envigado, which has multiple spots per block as well.

Ranking the neighborhoods in the 3 to 8 range is as difficult as finishing a chicharron platter from La Gloria de Gloria on your own. They all have so many light-on-wallet, heavy-on-taste options you could live and eat in any for ages without getting bored or going poor. Even in fancy, touristy Central Poblado. You just need to know where to look. (Again, see our menu del dia guide).

Only two of the contending barrios stand out for having a particularly poor selection of cheap eats: la Florida and Northeastern Laureles.

RankBarrio
1Downtown Medellin
2Central Envigado
3La 70, Laureles
4Central Laureles
5Central Poblado
6Lower Poblado
7Northern Envigado
8El Dorado, Envigado
9Northeastern Laureles
10La Florida, Poblado

Most and Best Cafés

interior of Justo restaurant and cafe in El Poblado, Medellin
Central Poblado has quite a few bright, open, and quiet cafés that are good for doing work or getting your caffeine fix.

Whether you’re a coffee fiend or a digital nomad in need of a place to work, you’re going to need a few nearby cafés with reliably strong WiFi and tasty beans.

Central Laureles wins this one by a hair over Central Poblado. Both have a comparable selection, but the cafés in Laureles tend to be less busy. Plus, Laureles is home to the best coffee in Medellin, according to our professionally-run blind taste test.

Lower Poblado and la 70 both have smaller but decent selections of cafés and benefit from being not too far from the aforementioned neighborhoods. Northern Envigado has a couple of the best spots, like El Café de Otraparte and Cocolatte, but only a couple.

As for La Candelaria, it’s a place for tintos (local cheap coffee) and not one where you want to take your computer out in public.

RankBarrio
1Central Poblado
2Central Laureles
3Lower Poblado
4Northern Envigado
5La 70, Laureles
6La Florida, Poblado
7Northeastern Laureles
8Central Envigado
9El Dorado, Envigado
10Downtown Medellin

Easiest Access to Groceries

Interior of an Envigado produce market
In Envigado, you’ll never be far from fresh groceries.
Shopper in supermarket aisle in Exito Patio Bonito
Most grocery shopping in El Poblado and Laureles is done at mega supermarkets that are sometimes few and far between.

This criterion is of no concern to you if you’re a non-budget tourist or you prefer to pay someone to deliver everything you need with Rappi (which many of our friends do).

But if you’re a “traditionalist” who prefers to pick out your own produce and are staying in Medellin long-term, it’s pivotal. Being able to pop downstairs to pick up an avocado, milk, and some Aguila beers (or, based on our Colombian beer blind taste test, maybe Club Colombia instead) can be a huge quality of life booster.

If you’re part of the latter group, Central Envigado and nearby El Dorado are ideal. The streets are lined with produce markets, meat shops, and supermarkets.

On the other end of the spectrum is la Florida and, to a lesser extent, Central Poblado. But people in those swanky areas can afford to pay for grocery delivery, I suppose.

The Laureles neighborhoods are in the middle of the spectrum. They’re spread out, but there are grocery stores around.

Then there’s Downtown Medellin. While it’s closest to the best market in the city, La Plaza Minorista, we strongly advise against walking there because it goes right through Medellin’s skid row.

RankBarrio
1Central Envigado
2El Dorado, Envigado
3La 70, Laureles
4Central Laureles
5Northern Envigado
6Lower Poblado
7Downtown Medellin
8Northeastern Laureles
9Central Poblado
10La Florida, Poblado

Most Affordable

Hammock, patio, and view from our Envigado Airbnb
Hammock, patio, and view from our Envigado Airbnb

A modern apartment in Central Poblado or la Florida is double the same in Envigado. In the Laureles barrios, it’s somewhere in between, approaching El Poblado prices in some areas. Roughly the same applies to hotels and Airbnbs.

That all said, there are tons of hostels in Central and Lower Poblado. They’re affordable, but certainly not as cheap as those elsewhere in the city.

RankBarrio
1Central Envigado
2Downtown Medellin
3El Dorado, Envigado
4Northern Envigado
5Northeastern Laureles
6La 70, Laureles
7Central Laureles
8Lower Poblado
9La Florida, Poblado
10Central Poblado

Most Local Culture

Kim standing in Plaza Botero in Downtown Medellin.
If you stay in Downtown, Medellin you’ll get a very local experience plus be close to other cultural attractions like the statues and museums of Plaza Botero.
Soccer game in Medellin
Soccer is an important part of Paisa culture. If you choose to stay in Northeastern Laureles or La 70, you’ll be within easy walking distance of Medellin’s main stadium.

By “Local Culture,” we mean the “Colombian-ness” of the neighborhood. Basically, it’s inversely proportional to the number of foreigners who can be found there.

For some, the more fellow foreigners where they’re staying the better. Others prefer to immerse themselves in the local culture. In this case, we’re doing the rankings from the latter perspective.

RankBarrio
1Central Envigado
2El Dorado, Envigado
3Downtown Medellin
4Northern Envigado
5La 70, Laureles
6Northeastern Laureles
7Central Laureles
8Lower Poblado
9Central Poblado
10La Florida, Poblado

Best Nightlife

Chugging from a bottle of Colombian aquardiente
Partying is synonymous with drinking aguardiente in Medellin. You might want to read this 9 facts about aguardiente before buying a bottle for yourself.

While local partygoers are starting to move away from Parque Lleras, Central Poblado’s famous fiesta fantasyland, it remains the place to go for nightlife. Ciudad del Rio, a short cab ride to the north, also has quite a few places to let loose, so Central Poblado is still the surefire #1 when it comes to nightlife.

Calle 33, to the south of Central Laureles has a more local vibe, as does Carrera 70 in the eponymous la 70 neighborhood. It’s a long walk to either street from Northeastern Laureles.

As for Envigado… well, nightlife there mostly consists of men drinking at bars that surround the town square (though there are a couple fun bars like El Callejón).

RankBarrio
1Central Poblado
2Lower Poblado
3La Florida, Poblado
4Central Laureles
5La 70, Laureles
6Downtown Medellin
7Northeastern Laureles
8Northern Envigado
9Central Envigado
10El Dorado, Envigado

Most Peaceful

A tree-lined street in El Dorado
Envigado’s El Dorado neighborhood has a peaceful neighborhood feel.
Quiet street near Parque Lleras in El Poblado, Medellin
On weekend nights, this street in Central Poblado is crazy. On Sunday, it’s quiet.

For light sleepers and those uninterested in the party life, peace and quiet plays a big role when deciding on the best places to stay in Medellin. Not only do bars and clubs in Medellin play very loud music, but traffic noise can be very sleep-disturbing as well.

Tranquility here doesn’t only relate to when you’re in your hotel or apartment. We’re also considering how serene (or not) it is to walk around the neighborhood.

Only the La Calendaria downtown and Zona Centro in Envigado are noisy and busy all day long. During the day and even in the evening (and especially on Sundays), even many parts of 8th-ranked Central can be quite peaceful.

RankBarrio
1El Dorado, Envigado
2Northern Envigado
3La Florida, Poblado
4Northeastern Laureles
5Lower Poblado
6Central Laureles
7La 70, Laureles
8Central Poblado
9Central Envigado
10Downtown Medellin

Most Social Activities for Expats

For this criterion, we’re referring to MeetUps, language exchanges, and Facebook Group events that are non-Spanish-speaker friendly. There are tons of these in Medellin—Get on the Catalyst Weekly mailing list to keep up to date.

With rare exceptions, like the always popping Colombia Immersion Friday language exchange in El Dorado, they are always in the El Poblado or Laureles barrios.

Kim and I didn’t consider this when choosing where to stay in Medellin, but now we go to one or two of these events a week, so being close to them definitely helps. You may want to consider the same.

RankBarrio
1Central Poblado
2Central Laureles
3La Florida, Poblado
4Lower Poblado
5La 70, Laureles
6Northeastern Laureles
7El Dorado, Envigado
8Northern Envigado
9Central Envigado
10Downtown Medellin

Safest

Biking over bridge in El Poblado, Medellin
Generally, all of Medellin is a lot safer than most people think, but we wouldn’t advise people to walk (or bike) along quiet areas like this bridge in El Poblado by themselves late at night.

Safety will likely figure on the top of everyone’s list of criteria when deciding on the best place to stay in Medellin.

The good news? There’s only one neighborhood among our candidates where we wouldn’t want to walk around at night: Downtown Medellin.

Nevertheless, in every other neighborhood we’re still much more conscious about keeping our valuables concealed and protected than we are in Canada, the US, Europe, or even Mexico City.

Busy neighborhoods like Central Poblado and Central Envigado are safer when it comes to robbery because there are always people around, but those same crowds increase the risk of pickpocketing. Quiet neighborhoods like Northeastern Laureles and la Florida have less pickpocketing risk, but you can find yourself in the potentially dangerous position of being the only one walking on the street.

Envigado is definitely where we felt safest. Though it’s been swallowed up by Medellin’s growth, it retains a friendly small-town vibe.

RankBarrio
1El Dorado, Envigado
2Northern Envigado
3Central Envigado
4La Florida, Poblado
5Central Laureles
6Lower Poblado
7Central Poblado
8La 70, Laureles
9Northeastern Laureles
10Downtown Medellin

Best Neighborhoods for Outdoor Exercise

People working out in El Poblado's outdoor park.
Central Poblado has a small but well-equipped outdoor workout area. The weights for its bench press, squat rack, and curl bars are all chained to the ground.
View of INDER workout area in Belen.
In Laureles there are a couple of big outdoor workout areas like this, a huge sports complex, and Cerro Volador, a tree-covered mountain.

We don’t know about you, but having easy access to outdoor areas where we can exercise is very important to us.

Overall, Medellin does an admirable job of making this possible. There are little public workout areas scattered everywhere around the city and it has the weekly Cyclovia, where main roads are closed for traffic for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists.

The neighborhoods in Laureles take the cake (but don’t eat it!) when it comes to exercise. They are close, or close-ish, to fantastic facilities like the Atanasio Girardot and Belén sports complexes, and the big, green Parque Metropolitano.

El Dorado in Envigado has its own field and outdoor workout area called La Cancha, and it’s within walking distance of another sports complex, the Estadio Polideportivo Sur.

Central Poblado has a decent little outdoor workout area, but most people stick to working out (and checking each-others’ spandex onesies) inside in the area’s many fitness centers.

RankBarrio
1Northeastern Laureles
2La 70, Laureles
3Central Laureles
4El Dorado, Envigado
5Central Poblado
6Lower Poblado
7Central Envigado
8La Florida, Poblado
9Northern Envigado
10Downtown Medellin

Best Locations for Getting Around Medellin

“Getting Around” means how easy it is to get from the neighborhood you’re in to other areas and attractions in Medellin, particularly on public transit.

This is especially important for travelers deciding where to stay in Medellin, but even those living in Medellin will want to move around from district to district more often than you might think.

It should be no surprise that when it comes to getting around, Downtown Medellin is the best place to be. It’s the hub of all metro and bus lines and is in the center of all the attractions.

Unfortunately, all the other contending neighborhoods aren’t very central. Getting from Envigado to Poblado is an easy bus ride, but it still takes 20-30 minutes. And getting between Poblado to Laureles is around 45 minutes.

In any of these areas, it helps to be close to a metro station. That’s why Lower Poblado and la 70 in Laureles are the next highest ranked, and why Central Laureles and El Dorado are at the bottom. It’s a twenty-five-minute walk from those barrios to the nearest metro station.

Buses are handy if you can figure them out and taxis are everywhere and inexpensive (around 15,000 between Laureles and Poblado). The problem is with Medellin’s bad traffic you’ll find yourself wanting to minimize your amount of time in them as much as possible.

RankBarrio
1Downtown Medellin
2La 70, Laureles
3Lower Poblado
4Central Poblado
5Northeastern Laureles
6Central Envigado
7Northern Envigado
8La Florida, Poblado
9Central Laureles
10El Dorado, Envigado

Once You’ve Decided Where to Stay in Medellin…

Medell
After you’ve decided where to stay in Medellin, the fun really begins. We can help you there too.

Once you’ve decided where to stay in Medellin, it’s time for the fun stuff.

Our unconventional guide to Medellin is the best place to start.

In it, you’ll find tons of inspiration for extraordinary experiences that nobody else mentions online. It’s got everything from things to know before moving to Medellin, hikes in and around town, the best places to eat, and links to all of our most popular Colombia content.


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25 comments

  1. Wow! You guys really went into so much detail! My boyfriend and I are so thankful! We’ve been traveling for about 18 months now, staying month to month in every country or city we choose. We are choosing Medellin around December – ? and have been wondering what area we want to stay. You really broke it down! We’re saving this blog for sure. From what I’m seeing, we’re “Central Laureles” kind of people. Thank you! -Karla

    1. Hey Karla. You’re a Central Laureles-er are ya? Muy bien. It’s definitely a relaxed, friendly part of town with good people and good food. It takes some time to warm up to and find your way around, but when you do it’ll hopefully live up to your expectations.
      And do I understand you right that you’ve done 18 different cities/countries in 18 months? Whoa. Where’s YOUR blog? We’d be interested to hear your stories!

  2. When you say “Western Patio Bonito” I think you mean northern. Your map on that one, for whatever reason, is on its side. North is to the left. Thus north looks like west.

    1. You’re totally right! Brain fart by me. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll fix it right now.

      Hopefully, thousands of people haven’t misguidedly eschewed “Eastern Patio Bonito” in favor of “Western Patio Bonito” because of my careless mistake; I could never live that down!

  3. I really appreciate the information you have provided in your blog, it is very helpful. I am looking forward to visiting Medellin and might possibly stay for a month. According to what I have read, one of the downsides of living in Medellin is the high levels of pollution. It was stated the pollution levels can vary based on the neighborhood with some neighborhoods in Medellin having higher levels than others. I suffer from asthma and this is a major concern for me. What neighborhoods in Medellin are safe for a foreigner and also have the least amount of pollution? I can accept living in a neighborhood with less western amenities if it means getting cleaner air to breath. Thanks for your assistance.

    1. Hey Floyd, Yeah, pollution is a serious problem in Medellin. Kim was particularly sensitive to it and even got sick a couple of times when we lived in Envigado. It’s lower down in the valley and the streets are busy and narrow, so you suck in more smog there. Envigado’s great, but in your situation you’d better avoid living there. In El Poblado she was fine, though. We stayed in a less-trafficked area of Patio Bonito.
      Alternatively, you could get out of the valley entirely and try somewhere like El Retiro. Quite a few expats are settling over there and it’s a lot fresher. The downside, of course, is being further from the city.

  4. Best Medellin-Guide I’ve seen so far. I arrived yesterday and looking for apartments now. Want to stay a couple months, maybe until February, March but don’t really want to move during that time. I check out a couple apartments everyday and didn’t really have time to explore the neighborhoods yet. Your guide certainly covers that :o)
    I actually would love to go to Envigado (have read your guide about it as well but sadly haven’t found any apartments in El Dorado yet) but I am a “foodie”/like to mingle and I want to have as many restaurants/bars near me (not like next to my room but in walking distance) as possible. And also coworking-spaces and places where Nomads and Locals meet. Therefore I guess Laureles is the place for me 🙂
    well, not that you’re interested in those thoughts I just had to write them down 😀 thx again for the guide!

    1. Actually, I am interested in your thoughts, Fabian, so thanks for sharing them. I suggest you consider Patio Bonito in El Poblado as well. It’s close to the coworking spaces and food in El Poblado, which is where most of it is located, more than Laureles, and it’s still quiet and easier to get around town from there than further up the hill.

  5. Thanks for all the info you guys!! Planning my trip to Colombia for this february and looks like ill be staying in Central Envigado! I love the concept of your blog as well. Keep up the great work.

    1. Cool! Check out our Envigado post then for tips on the area. And, if it’s still available and you’re looking for somewhere cheap, central, and affordable to stay at, consider staying at Mafe’s Airbnb, which I believe we linked to there.

  6. including the neighborhoods you discussed-where is the best few places to live in the city with the lowest amount of pollution?

    1. Good question Alan. I haven’t been able to find any actual studies that compare pollution levels in different parts of town, so I can only answer based on my anecdotal experience. In general, the higher up and the farther from high-trafficked streets the better. El Centro is a no-go for both reasons. Envigado is dense with busy narrow streets and bad too (unless you go way up the hill, but then it’s not central). Central and Northern Laureles are low-lying but don’t have much traffic and plenty of trees, so they’re not bad. Same goes for Lower Poblado. And Central Poblado is higher up, which is good, and leafy too, but the busy streets, especially Calle 10 aren’t ideal. Here’s a quick, rough ranking:

      1. Lower Poblado
      2. Northeastern Laureles
      3. Central Laureles
      4. Central Poblado
      5. La Florida, Poblado
      6. La 70, Laureles
      7. El Dorado, Envigado
      8. Northern Envigado
      9. Central Envigado
      10. Downtown Medellin

  7. Great guide, thank you! You mentioned that first you picked the wrong neighborhood and hated it, and then moved to another one and never wanted to leave. Do you mind sharing which neighborhoods those were? The one you hated and the one you loved. Thanks!

    1. Hey Humi. Sure. We didn’t mention it since we didn’t want to bias others’ decisions, but since you asked:

      The neighborhood we really didn’t like was Northeastern Laureles and the ones we really like were Central Envigado (we spent 1 month there), El Dorado (1.5 months), and Lower Poblado (3 months).

  8. Wondering if you are familiar with any safe fringe areas (outer suburbs/neighborhoods or pueblos around Medellin that are more semi rural in nature, not too far from The Metro access and with cable available. I would be looking to rent a small house or apartment, possibly full time with plans of becoming a part of that neighborhood.

    Thanks

    1. Hi David. Most expats we met who lived in rural parts of Medellin were around Santa Elena or Rionegro. Neither is close to the metro, though. But I can’t think of anywhere semi-rural that is within a few kilometers of a station. Your best bets would probably be, unsurprisingly, towards the ends of the metro lines: up in the hills behind Envigado and Sabaneta (well-established with expats), or, the other way by Niquia station, which we got a really nice vibe from in the afternoon we walked through it after hiking Cerro Quitasol. Hope that helps at least a little bit.

  9. Your site is perfection. The time you put into the research and direct links is so very appreciated. I also love the format and the interactive rating chart is pretty much what I need in my life to make every daily decision lol.

    Question. I have an opportunity to stay at one of the chain hotels for Free! but as you stated it will be 20-30 mins from transportation/downtown. I’m only staying the weekend and wondering if I’ll spend more in taxis than if I just stayed at the Travelers Orange. I already have a soccer match planned and parasailing – which both include transportation. I just dont want to spend $70 in taxis when if I stayed downtown I could have walked everywhere.

    1. Thanks for the comment and the question! I’m not 100% clear where exactly your free hotel is, but if it’s somewhere in the city I’d take the hotel if I were in your position. Note that’s partly because I don’t have a real job and need to be careful money. 20-30 minute cab rides are cheap in Medellin (Likely around $10USD. Just avoid crossing the city in rush hour). Since you already have a couple things planned that include transport you won’t need to take more than a few of them. Have a great weekend!

  10. This is a fabulous and very thorough blog post, I really appreciate it! I am planning a trip with my entire family so I have several factors to take into account- parents in their late 60’s and my sister’s family which will include a 5 year old and an 8 month old. After reading this I’m leaning towards Central Envigado, but I am worried about the pollution after seeing those comments.

    Any other great neighborhoods for families with little kiddos? Any thoughts on renting a car instead of relying on public transportation?

    1. Hey Liz, I suspect Central Envigado will be a bit too chaotic for what you’re looking for. El Dorado is more peaceful and even has a playground, and it’s super safe and welcoming, so that’d be a good, if unconventional choice (because you’ll find few if any tourists there). For a more conventional alternative, Central Laureles will be your best bet.
      For getting around, the metro is a good bet during non-peak hours. But avoid it during rush-hour, which may be too much to handle with small kids. Combine that with Uber or even taxis, which I’d recommend over it or renting a car. Taxis/Uber won’t cost much more than public transit when you have a full car.

  11. Hi, Thanks for the great info. My husband and I, and our 15 year old daughter will be travelling to Medellin in August. We would like to be in a safe area, but we only have 2.5 days in Medellin so would like to be close to some of the main attractions, and out of the majorly touristy areas. Before I read this, we had booked a place at Backpackers Inn Medellin, which gets great reviews. It is in the La70 area of Laureles, so maybe not the safest? We found a hotel (Casa Hotel El Jardin) in what I guess would be Central Laureles, so maybe safer? The reviews are good, but not quite as good as the Backpackers. They really aren’t that far apart. I realise a few blocks can make quite a difference in certain areas of cities. Is this one of those cases? Thanks for your help. My daughter has always wanted to visit Colombia; I am a bit nervous about the trip. Also, we don’t speak a lot of Spanish if that makes a big difference to where we stay.

    1. Hi Michelle, Thanks for your comment. The lines between La 70 and Central Laureles as we informally define them here are quite blurry and I’d actually say Backpackers Inn falls within Central Laureles. Based on the reviews and the location, it looks like a great spot for you and your family. Have a great trip and please let us know how it goes!

  12. I’m thinking of renting a really nice apartment on Airbnbn in Guayabal (to be more precise the area called La Hondonada). Is this neighborhood safe? Would it be easy to get to the center and other activities? Should I use uber there or the public transportation is fine? It’s my first trip to Columbia, I still have one month to work on my Spanish.
    Thanks

    1. I’m not familiar with La Hondonada, but from the looks of where it is on the map it’s going to be a pain to get around. For working on your Spanish (i.e. not being surrounded by fellow English speakers) but still being reasonably central, my first recommendation would be around El Dorado in Envigado.

      1. Thank you for the answer! Ended up renting near Parque La Milagrosa (a bit more East). Is this a Buenos Aires area? is it safe? Any fun things to do, maybe good restaurants or Spanish classes nearby? Thanks!

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