Traveling to Medellín was one of the parts I was most excited about during our two week trip to Colombia. Admittedly, much of that had to do with binge watching Narcos… but can you blame me?! What was once the most dangerous city in the world due to the cartel has become a beautiful, lively city that honors its past. I couldn’t wait to see the “city of eternal spring” for myself! Luckily I was not disappointed and enjoyed strolling the streets of Medellín, enjoying the fantastic restaurants, and learning a bit more about Colombian culture. Knowing where to stay in Medellín also added to how much we enjoyed our trip.
With all that said, during your visit to Medellín you don’t want to stay just anywhere. Medellín is HUGE–we took a day trip out of town and it took us over 30 minutes to drive out of the city. Not doing your research can land you far away from all the action deep in the mountains. As a tourist, you want to be near the action where you can walk or take a quick taxi to the museums, restaurants, and sites you want to check out. In addition, safety is also a concern. Even though Medellín has come a long way, it’s still a large city that has dangerous neighborhoods. But have no fear! With this guide, you’ll know exactly where to stay in Medellín.
Table of Contents
Medellín is home to almost 3 million people and is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination within Colombia. Known as “The City of Eternal Spring,” you can expect pleasant weather around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Located along the Porce River and situated in the Aburrá Valley, you’re treated to beautiful views just about no matter where you are within Medellín. Medellín has a storied past, founded in the 1600s as a mining town but you won’t find many (if any) colonial buildings. The city was developed quickly and orderly as an industrial base that just kept growing after the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914.
Obviously, it became the center of cocaine production and distribution in the late 1900s but the city rebuilt in earnest at the turn of the century. Now, Medellín has found a beautiful way to honor its past while looking forward to a bright future. Despite the destruction and chaos, this city is resilient and full of friendly, welcoming people.
Where to Stay in Medellín
El Poblado is definitely the most popular option for tourists. We stayed here on Carrera 14 and LOVED it. The buildings aren’t quite as tall, the streets are teeming with cute restaurants, and it’s walking distance to Parque Lleras (where a lot of tours meet). Oddly enough, I think there were more tourists in this area than natives so if that’s not your jam you may not want to stay here. El Poblado is a large neighborhood that also houses some of the more upscale hotels and restaurants. Being in South America, we took advantage of some more expensive meals we could not have been able to afford in the US–so being in this neighborhood was convenient!
I felt very safe in this neighborhood, as well. We would walk back from dinner at night and have no issues. It’s a pretty busy area with the popular nightlife zone of Zona Rosa in this neighborhood, so there are always people around which is nice. Just remember to take all the regular precautions!
Where to stay in El Poblado
Budget: Los Patios Hostel Boutique
Los Patios is a very trendy hostel located in El Poblado. It has a rooftop pool and is in walking distance to nightlife, restaurants, and Parque Lleras. We could see the hostel from our hotel and it looked fabulous! They have options of private rooms or your typical dorm-style rooms common to many hostels.
Mid-range: Landmark Hotel
Landmark Hotel is where we stayed during our trip and I LOVED it. While it is mid-range, it’s still very much affordable! It is a newer hotel and the interior design is beautiful, the service was impeccable, and we loved having access to a rooftop pool and hot tub! The Landmark is walking distance to so many shops and restaurants as well as a short 10 minute walk to Parque Lleras. We only needed a taxi 2-3 times while in Medellín! I highly, highly recommend it.
Luxury: The Click Clack
We almost stayed here, as it comes highly recommended by JetSet Christina! The Click Clack is a trendy, luxurious property located near the shopping district of El Poblado. A stay here will put you just a couple blocks away from some of the best dining and shopping in Medellín! Even though this hotel is considered “luxury” it’s pretty affordable compared to luxury properties in other countries. I always like upgrading a bit when I travel to countries with an exchange rate in my favor because I can have experiences I may not be able to afford in the US or Europe!
The Click Clack looked absolutely amazing but I actually preferred the location of The Landmark better!
Points and miles picks
There are a handful of properties in Medellín that can be redeemed with points. There are hotels in each of the big awards players: Marriott, Hilton, and IGH, with a Hyatt property on the horizon! While I advocate for redeeming award points to save you money 8 times out of 10, truthfully, this isn’t one of those times. Colombia in general is very affordable and you can pay a small amount of cash and get a VERY nice property. The hotels that can be paid for with points are pretty run-of-the-mill with the exception of IHG’s luxury InterContinental property.
I recommend saving your points and just shelling out a small amount of cash for a knockout property like The Landmark. Your points will go much further at luxury hotels in the US or Europe.
Nonetheless, here is a list of properties that can be booked with points:
Hyatt Place Medellin (under construction)
Related: Where to Stay in Bogotá
Located in the northwest of the city, Laureles is another popular choice for visitors and expats. This neighborhood is a bit more residential and out of some of the hustle and bustle you’ll experience in El Poblado. If you’re looking for an area that is a bit more quiet, Laureles is it. There is more green space but you’ll also find a good mix of small cafés, restaurants, and bars. Not as much nightlife but check out “La Setenta” or 70th street and you just might find it! In Laureles, you won’t find as many foreigners and you will experience a bit more of the authentic Medellín life here.
Important to note is that since El Poblado caters to tourists, to get to some attractions like El Castillo, you’ll have to take a bit of a longer taxi ride. However, if you’re into football (or soccer, for us Americans), this neighborhood is right next door to the Atanasio futbol stadium.
Laureles is generally very safe but as always, you’ll want to take the normal precautions you would in any big city.
Where to stay in Laureles
Budget: Hotel Parque 70
Hotel Parque 70 is located just near La Setenta which is where more of the action in this neighborhood happens. It’s very affordable and adorable. For the person that loves authenticity and nightlife, this is where you’ll want to lay your head at night!
Mid-range: Terra Biohotel
This line of Biohotels in Colombia also made my list of places to stay in Bogotá! Each property looks absolutely outstanding and I love the concept of running a hotel that is a bit more eco-friendly. Terra Biohotel is in a great location within Laureles.
There aren’t really any “luxury” picks within the Laureles neighborhood. Most of the hotels in Laureles run around the same price range, between $40-60 USD per night. As with many other places in Medellín, you get a ton of bang for your buck here. Just because it’s not listed as a luxury property doesn’t mean you won’t get 5 star service! While I only listed 2 places within the Laureles neighborhood, I could have easily listed 50. There are tons of hotels with 4.5+ star reviews that look trendy, cute, and affordable. Just take your pick!
Points and miles hotels in Laureles
I did a thorough search and couldn’t find any award properties in Laureles. If this isn’t the case, leave me a comment and let me know so we can help other travel hacking travelers!
Safety in Medellín
Medellín is generally considered a safe city but just like any major city there are some safety precautions you should take! Familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods and areas that are considered safe and avoid comunas further outside the city center. Unfortunately, as with most places, areas with higher levels of poverty aren’t as safe. In general, El Poblado and Laureles are safe to explore during the day and safe with extra precautions at night. Though popular for tourism during the day, you should avoid Comuna 13 and Parque Lleras at night as they are known for sex trafficking.
Take all the normal precautions you would when traveling anywhere:
- Don’t travel with a large amount of cash or valuables
- Dress like the locals and don’t be flashy with your clothing and accessories
- Know at least a few key phrases in Spanish
- Download a map of the city that can be accessed offline
- Avoid doing drugs or getting drunk when in an unfamiliar setting
- Be aware of your surroundings and trust your intuition
- Brush up on some common scams that target tourists
- Use only marked and metered taxis
Something unique about traveling in Medellín is that while Uber is available, it’s actually illegal. If you do choose to use it, the driver may ask you to sit in the front seat to look less like an Uber. However, taxis are widely available and affordable so you won’t really need to use Uber. Better safe than sorry! I’ve heard Beat is a legal app to use for ride sharing in Colombia that is easy and safe, but we personally didn’t use it.
Despite what you may have heard, Medellín is perfectly safe to visit. As with any foreign country, do a little research beforehand to get familiar with the city and then follow these precautions and you’ll most likely have no troubles!
Medellín is a sprawling, urban paradise and a city you should definitely not miss while visiting Colombia. Its size can make it difficult to determine exactly what neighborhood to stay in, though. While there are hundreds of places to choose from when booking a stay in Medellín, I highly recommend heading towards the El Poblado or Laureles neighborhoods. El Poblado is my top choice for first time visitors with plenty of nice hotels at a very reasonable price. You’ll be within walking distance of tourist attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. If quiet and a more local experience is what you seek though, Laureles is where you want to stay. No matter which neighborhood you choose, you’re sure to have the time of your life while visiting Medellín.