Your choice of where to stay in Medellin could make or break your time in the beautiful city.
Here’s why: Not every area in Medellin is right for travelers, digital nomads or remote workers.
Don’t get me wrong – Colombia has come a long way from its dark past to become the dubbed South America’s “Silicon Valley.” The city of Medellin continues to stay on the list of the top digital nomad hotspots around the world.
There are several of factors you need to consider before choosing where to stay in Medellin. After living in Medellin for nearly 4 months and testing out neighborhoods for ourselves, we have narrowed down the best neighborhoods for tourists and digital nomads.
Confused about where to stay in Medellin? We’re about to clear it up for you!
Let’s get started.
QUICK OVERVIEW: Where To Stay In Medellin
Need the quick deets about where to stay in Medellin and quick general info about this wonderful city? We got you!
📍 Where to stay in Medellin?
The best areas In Medellin are Laureles, Poblado, Sabaneta and Envigado.
🇨🇴 Is it safe in Medellin?
If you live within these areas, you should be just fine!
💃 Best area for nightlife and restaurant scene?
El Poblado is the most popular tourist area in all of Medellin!
👩🏻💻 Best area for digital nomads to live in?
Laureles is a great neighborhood to work online and live a balanced lifestyle.
🇨🇴 Best area to live like a local?
Envigado and Sabaneta are the best places to get to know the local culture and people.
5 Criteria To Consider Before Choosing Where To Stay In Medellin
Not just any place will do, right? To help you decide where to stay in Medellin, you’ve got to do some reflecting and you should ask yourselves these questions:
- What kind of lifestyle do I want to have?
- Do I enjoy being close to the nightlife or do I hate it?
- Would I rather stay where the tourists are or where the locals are?
- What’s my budget like – can I spend a little more or do I need to cut it down?
For Medellin specifically, there are a couple of things you should know about this beautiful city:
🚠 The hills are alive in Medellin: You need to think about walkability while living here. If you’re not careful about where to stay in Medellin – you might regret it later. In certain areas, a lot of them are located on the slopes of hills. This means you are going to have to walk up and down the hills every single day to get anywhere! Thankfully, some areas are completely flat. If you want the extra exercise though – these areas might be right for you. Just remember I warned you 😉
💰 The costs can vary. This happens in any city that’s a popular tourist destination. If you stay where the tourists stay, you are going to pay more in every way – rent, restaurants, drinks and more. If you stay where the locals live, you’ll pay less in rent and everything else. We have seen this in Medellin and compared our costs between 2 neighborhoods – one was definitely higher than the other.
✅ Tourists = a safe neighborhood. We have been on the road since 2018 and this rings true no matter where we are in the world! It’s the same in Medellin – where there are tourists, there’s a lower chance of anything dangerous happening. In our personal experience, we always felt safe in Medellin but we did make sure we didn’t venture out to the bad areas. A tourist neighborhood means it’s also easier to do things like grocery shopping or buying a SIM card in these areas.
🏠 The neighborhoods have ‘barrios’ within them. Here’s what I mean – within the neighborhood of Poblado, there are several ‘barrios’ inside ie. Provenza, Tesoro or Manila. While you can focus on a specific neighborhood, you need to narrow it down by the barrio because each one can give you a different experience.
🌻 Each area has its own vibes. Want to stay with the tourists? Or maybe you want to have a more local experience as a Medellin digital nomad? You can find a huge variety of areas with their own unique vibes. It all depends on what kind of experience you want to have!
🤟 Hablas Español? You might want to think about whether or not you’re planning to learn Spanish. Here’s the thing – you can get away speaking English at most places but definitely not all. If you want to practice your Spanish, you might not want to live in a tourist area where a lot of people speak English and vice versa.
Phew! There’s a lot more that goes into choosing the perfect place to stay in Medellin, right? If you can do your research and plan (as you’re doing now) – you’ll have an amazing experience living in Medellin.
Now let’s dive deeper into the best areas to stay in Medellin!
Where To Stay In Medellin, Colombia: Complete Guide For Digital Nomads
Trying to figure out where to stay in Medellin?
A specific area can really define your experience in a new country. For example, if you love living like a local wherever you go and you un-knowingly choose an area where all the tourists congregate – you might not have the best time.
Here’s the complete guide to help you narrow down the best neighborhood (and barrio) for you to live in as a digital nomad!
El Poblado – Where To Stay In Medellin For First-Timers
Poblado is one of the wealthiest parts of the city and it’s the most popular neighborhood in Medellin for tourists and digital nomads to live in.
This area is buzzing with all the best restaurants, cafes, coworking spaces, hostels, shopping malls and nightlife. When you live in Poblado – you’ll never be bored because there’s always things to do within the area. It’s a place where English is most widely spoken than any other neighborhood in Medellin – whether that’s good or bad, I’ll let you decide! Nevertheless, this makes it a great place to land when you arrive in Medellin for the first time.
If you’re looking for those city views of Medellin that you see on Instagram, it was probably taken in an apartment in Poblado. You’ll get the best views of the city in El Poblado – that’s for sure.
But here’s the thing – this area is situated on the slope of the hill which means you get these beautiful views but how do you get up top? That’s right you’ve got to endure all the hills which may or may not be frustrating for some people.
With the huge influx of tourists, it’s also become a pretty safe area. If you stay in Poblado, you will be close to where all the action is in this bustling city.
Pros & Cons of Staying In Poblado:
There are some good things about living in Poblado, but to be honest, there are some really NOT so great things… We tested out a month living in Poblado and all I can say is we were happy to leave.
Here’s the pros & cons list of living in Poblado as digital nomads.
👯♀️ A lot of your friends will probably live here. Most of the people we met lived in some barrio in Poblado. It was no surprise whenever they mentioned where they were staying! We lived in Laureles for a majority of our stay in Medellin and we often found ourselves taking an Uber to Poblado because that’s just where all of our friends were.
🌶 Lots more cafes and restaurant options. Are you a foodie always looking for the next best meal? You’ll probably find it in Poblado! We tried over 20+ restaurants and more than half were located in Poblado. While other neighborhoods also had a variety of options – the best ones were always located in the Poblado area.
💃 Most meetups and events happen here. Want to attend a workshop or a meetup to make new friends? The chances are high it’s going to take place in Poblado. Most events happen in Poblado because again, that’s where most people are based!
🛍 Shopping Centers are mostly here. Want to watch a movie at the cinema (with English audio), you can find tons of options at various malls in Poblado. We found ourselves going to Poblado to do the best shopping at stores like Zara or H&M and rode Ubers to just go to the cinemas here.
❌ Too many tourists. Tourists are swarming every corner of Poblado. It’s hard to feel like you’re in Colombia when you live here.
❌ Not the real Colombia. The restaurants are more high-end, the trendy cafes and prices all cater to the tourists. It almost felt like we were in some sort of bubble!
❌ Prices are higher. We found that Poblado was around 5-10% more expensive than other areas in Medellin. Rent or Airbnb was much more expensive in any of the Poblado barrios too. In general, you’ll pay more for drinks, meals, coffee, Uber rides and so much more.
❌ Bad walkability. You can get to most places in Poblado within a 10-20 minute walk. The problem is that you’ll probably have to face some steep hills during this walk. I’m talking steep as in the cars sometimes struggle to rev up the hill themselves. If you don’t mind an intense butt workout every day, maybe twice a day – you should be fine. But as for us, we preferred the flat areas of Medellin.
❌ It’s noisy. We lived in one of the more quiet barrios in Poblado and we still had noise troubles. There are just so many clubs and hostels scattered across the city center that you’re bound to get some noise pollution from all the parties they throw.
Within Poblado, The Best Areas To Stay Are…
Convinced Poblado is the right place for you? Great!
Poblado is a huge neighborhood and it has tons of small barrios located within it. You could have a completely different experience based on which barrio you live in.
Here are the best barrios within Poblado that we can personally recommend:
- Manila: A chill version of Poblado. There are barely any hills in this area and it’s much quieter and less ‘wild’ than say Parque Lleras – the city center of Poblado. We also felt super safe living in this area for a month!
- Provenza: It’s located on the hill but if you can look past that – there are plenty of cafes and restaurants right on your doorstep. It’s a little less ‘clubby, nightlife’ vibes but close enough to all that action.
- El Tesoro: You get the best views of the city in this barrio. This also means that it’s higher up in the hills than Manila and Provenza – you’ll get a workout every time if you live here. You’re about 10-15 minutes away from all the action making it a more calm and quiet barrio.
We don’t recommend staying in the absolute center of Poblado anywhere near Parque Lleras. It turns into a whole club/nightlife area at night that if you don’t want to be a part of – can get annoying real quick!
El Poblado definitely has its pros, otherwise, so many people wouldn’t flock there. However, is it the best place to stay in Medellin? In our personal experience, it wasn’t. You have to figure out what kind of experience you want to have and if that’s being close to all the action – Poblado might just be right for you though!
Laureles – Where To Stay In Medellin For Digital Nomads
Oh Laureles…what a beautiful neighborhood unlike any other!
If Poblado isn’t right for you…chances are you’ll end up in Laureles. It’s the most popular alternative to Poblado for tourists, digital nomads and remote workers due to several reasons.
This neighborhood is located 15 minutes northwest of Poblado and it’s unique for one reason – there are ZERO hills! You can easily walk all around the barrio without encountering any strenuous hills. This makes it really easy to go to cafes, restaurants and grocery stores.
Note: I know it seems like I’m making a big deal with these hills in Medellin but once you’re there yourself – you’ll know exactly why!
More than that, when you live in Laureles it’s so much easier to see the local life and local culture. While there were still tourists in the area, you could notice it was way less. We loved being able to practice our Spanish and see how the locals truly lived!
You’ll fall in love with Laureles because of its charming tree-lined streets, it’s relatively quiet and it gives off the real Colombia vibes. We felt Laureles had this great balance between being a tourist area and a local area where people just go about their lives. Everything is also much more affordable in Laureles!
There are also plenty of trendy cafes and restaurants within this area. It won’t be as much as Poblado but it’s the 2nd biggest area for people to hang out and enjoy.
Can you tell which neighborhood was our favorite? ;P
Pros & Cons of Staying In Laureles:
Where to stay in Medellin? We believe Laureles is the best neighborhood for digital nomads, remote workers or anyone staying at least a month. In saying that – it’s absolutely not perfect. We spend 3 of our 4 months living in this neighborhood and it’s safe to stay we know what it’s truly like.
Here’s the pros & cons list of living in Laureles as digital nomads.
🔑 Low-key vibes. Okay, I would never say those words in real life but it’s the best way to describe what it feels like to live in Laureles. People are much more chill here – it shows in how people dress more casually or how laid-back it feels to walk around here. There isn’t much hustle and bustle going on around the streets of Laureles (other than La 70, of course).
💸 More affordable cost of living. Whether it’s paying for your meals, your coffee or your rent – it’s going to be cheaper than Poblado. I wouldn’t say it’s the cheapest neighborhood but it’s relatively affordable! It’s a great option if you are a budget traveler or you’re looking to get great long-term stay deals.
☕️ Lots of restaurants and cafe options. It might not be as much as Poblado but there is still a great variety of restaurants to try in Laureles. You can find Indian, Asian, Colombian, Italian, Mexican foods all around this small neighborhood.
🚶♀️ Good walkability. There are no hills in Laureles which means it won’t be a hefty workout every time you get outside to do anything. It’s easy to walk everywhere without any problems! In fact, we enjoyed just walking around the beautiful tree-lined streets of Laureles.
🇨🇴 Local life is all around. You’ll see people walk to work, buy fruits from the street vendors and eat their bandeja paisas or arepas on the side of the road. Living in Laureles, we were continuously reminded of where we were and we could easily learn the local culture just by walking around the neighborhood.
🤫 It’s relatively quiet. At night, the quiet streets make it easy to fall asleep. During the day, the traffic isn’t so crazy and you don’t really feel the chaos. As Laureles is quite the residential neighborhood, it’s just so easy to live life here rather than feeling like a temporary tourist, if that makes sense.
🚡 Easy access to public transportation. If you want to use the metro or the cable cars to get around, it’s easy in Laureles! They have a big metro station called ‘Estadio’ which is only a 10-minute walk away. We highly recommend trying the metro or cable cars – it’s the pride and joy of paisas (Colombians from Medellin).
❌ Mostly Spanish spoken. You could look at this as a positive or negative depending on your travel style. I’ve just added it here because if you just land and you don’t know a word of Spanish – you’ll struggle more living in Laureles. We found not many people could speak English which is obvs fair enough but it does get a little difficult with the language barrier.
❌ Becoming more popular. Laureles has been a popular alternative to Poblado for a while now. The prices have slowly been rising in Laureles and the apartments have become a little more scarce than in Poblado.
❌ Few meetups and events. We only attended 1 digital nomad event while living in Laureles. There’s just not much going on in this neighborhood. All of the meetups occur in Poblado which is a 15-20 minute drive away.
Within Laureles, The Best Areas To Stay In Are..
Think Laureles is more your vibe? Awesome!
Laureles is a beautiful neighborhood with a lot of surrounding barrios within it. You need to choose the right barrio for you. When we first arrived we lived only 10 minutes away but we did NOT enjoy living in this specific barrio. Once we moved to another one, we enjoyed living in Laureles so much more!
Here are the best barrios within Laureles that we can personally recommend:
- Primer Parque: This is the best barrio to live in! If you can find an apartment within 5-7 minutes walking from Primer Parque – it’s easy to walk to cafes, restaurants, coworking spaces and grocery stores. You’re in the center of everything and it’s very safe!
- Circular Area: If you can’t be right next to Primer Parque, your next best option is the Circular area. I’m not sure what the barrio is called but all the streets are named Circular 123. We stayed here for a month at Casa Santafe Coliving and it was the perfect location for us. It wasn’t right next to the action but only a 5 minute walk away from everything.
- Conquistadores: This is one of the most beautiful barrios in Laureles. It’s a more residential neighborhood with a thriving local culture! The charming tree-lined streets make it a great place to walk around and live in. You’re only a 15-20 minute walk away from the action in Laureles.
We don’t recommend staying anywhere past the huge highway – San Juan. We lived in Estadio for our first month and I hated crossing the scary highway lol! It was a little too far from the tourists for our liking and peace of mind. Some people love this area but it just wasn’t for us.
After spending 4 months in Medellin which was split up between 1 month in Poblado and 3 months in Laureles, we can safely say Laureles was the best neighborhood for us and our kind of lifestyle. You still get amazing restaurants, safety, local culture and a charming area without all the craziness in Poblado!
Laureles is the perfect option for digital nomads and remote workers because it’s much more affordable for long-term stays, there are plenty of cafes and coworking spaces to work from and still a good amount of things to do around the area.
Up and Coming Neighborhoods – Envigado & Sabaneta
Wondering where to stay in Medellin that isn’t the norm?
We get it! Sometimes you just don’t want to be where everyone else stays and you want to have a unique experience. Thankfully, some neighborhoods are getting more and more buzz!
One of those neighborhoods is called Envigado. It’s located about a 10-minute drive south of Poblado. My friend, Jazzie from Black Digital Nomad, decided to live out in Envigado because of the local vibes and the chance to practice her Spanish. If you choose to live in Envigado, they have a great park to see local life and culture called Parque Envigado. You’ll find the rental prices are much cheaper in Envigado as well as your general cost of living.
The 2nd up and coming neighborhood is Sabaneta. It’s located around a 10-minute drive south of Envigado. This beautiful neighborhood is a residential neighborhood where you can truly feel and see the real Colombia lifestyle. There’s also a main plaza/park called Parque Sabaneta where people love to hang out after work.
You might be wondering…why didn’t I add these neighborhoods as where to stay in Medellin?
Here’s the thing – it’s a completely different experience! Both of these neighborhoods are around a 15-20 minute Uber drive from Poblado and a 25-30 minute drive from Laureles. Most events and meetups are going to be held in both these neighborhoods. Your friends will also probably live in Poblado or Laureles which means you’ll have to get out of your neighborhood to have meals at restaurants or to drink coffee at the trendy cafes.
Bottom line: You’ll get a more local, authentic Colombian vibe with a lower cost of living which is fantastic. But you’ll spend quite a lot on Uber rides to get anywhere plus it’ll cost a bit of your time!
What about other neighborhoods?
We won’t recommend a place that doesn’t have at least a little buzz or expats already living there. In our opinion, we think it’s best to stay in the areas that get a little buzz. For safety reasons, you just don’t want to veer too far out.
2x Areas To Avoid Staying In Medellin
Not every neighborhood in Medellin is a great place for tourists and digital nomads.
I want to make this clear: Medellin has come a long way since its dark past. I always felt inspired when living here because you can see the transformation with your own eyes. They should be very proud!
Just like any other city, some areas just aren’t safe. It’s best to avoid living here as a foreigner if you don’t want to look over your shoulder every time!
1. Centro/La Candeleria – Dangerous At Night
During the day, the downtown area of Medellin seemed fine to walk through. We did a free walking tour with Real City Walking Tours (100% highly recommend) and it was just fine! Although there are a couple of moments you need to hold on to your stuff.
During the night, it’s best to avoid being anywhere near here. Once the corporates and police go home, it starts to get sketchy!
2. Prado – Dangerous At Any Time
Just avoid going there! There’s not much to see or do anyway.
It’s going to be sketchy any time of day. It’s also easy to get targeted here because not many (if at all) foreigners visit this area.
I’ve included these areas just so you know where to avoid booking an Airbnb or apartment. If you want to have peace of mind, don’t book a stay in any of these areas!
Our Personal Experience – We Lived In Poblado AND Laureles
Matthew and I had heard about the 2 neighborhoods before arriving in Medellin. We deliberately decided to try staying at least a month in each neighborhood.
Airbnb #1 – Estadio, Laureles
This was our first Airbnb in Medellin. We quickly realized we needed a softer landing into the city and culture which is why we recommend Poblado just to help you get situated, make friends and get used to the areas.
We booked a 1 bedroom apartment with a fully stocked kitchen and living room. The decor was super basic and uninspiring. It was about a 10-15 minute walk to our coworking space (which isn’t too bad) but I hated crossing the huge highway, San Juan every day.
The main reason we booked this Airbnb was because of the cheap price. We paid only $627 USD for 1 month which is a bargain if you’re not familiar with Airbnbs and the prices in Medellin. This was just an OKAY barrio in Laureles for us and we wouldn’t stay again unless we get an amazing apartment.
Airbnb #3 – Manila, Poblado
As soon as we moved in, we walked around the barrio and explored. We felt like we hit the jackpot! We were technically in Poblado but far enough away from the clubs and Parque Lleras. This area was super safe and there were barely any hills to walk up and down!
Our apartment was on the 6th floor and we got okay balcony views. It was the worst place we stayed and we paid $850 USD which just shows the prices and value for money you’ll get in Poblado, in general. The location was the best because we were right down the road from our favorite coffee shop in Medellin, Hija Mia Coffee Roasters and less than a 2-minute walk from our coworking space, Open Space.
Manila is the best barrio in Poblado if you want the chill and laid-back vibes but you still want to be within 10 minutes walking to all the action. We couldn’t have been happier with this area and we can personally recommend it!
Apartment #3 – Circular, Laureles
For this month, we stayed in a coliving space called Casa Santafe Coliving. We booked this well in advance (around 2 months before the move-in date) and we were very happy with our experience! We got the Deluxe Suite which is more like a studio with our own private bathroom and kitchen. This studio cost us $800 USD but we also get access to a coworking space, rooftop, sauna and free tea/coffee. The way to get the best price is to see them in person and get a quote – they are on Airbnb but cost WAY more than what we paid!
The location was the best in Laureles! We were only a 5-minute walk to Primer Parque which has a lot of cafes, coworking spaces and restaurants. If you walk a further 5 minutes, you’ll reach Nutibara or Segundo Parque where there are even more restaurants, bars and cafes.
We enjoyed Laureles way more because of the barrio we were in as opposed to our last one, Estadio. This is why it’s SOOO important to choose the right neighborhood but even more important to choose the right barrio within that neighborhood.
Curious about coliving? Check out our complete coliving Medellin guide here.
Where To Stay In Medellin in 2022 – The Best Areas and Safest Neighborhoods
After living in Medellin for nearly 4 months, we have explored a lot of areas and even moved houses just to try it out and experience it for ourselves. We were surprised at how much we loved or hated a place just based on the location we based ourselves in.
Figuring out where to stay in Medellin isn’t so hard when you know what to look for. Make sure you ask yourself what you want in a neighborhood. There’s something for everyone in the innovative city of Medellin!
The 4 best neighborhoods are Laureles, Poblado, Envigado and Sabaneta. Depending on the experience you want, you’ll feel safe and enjoy your time in any of these 4 neighborhoods.
Remember: Avoid staying in the Center and Prado!
We loved living in Medellin as digital nomads and we hope this helped you figure out where to stay in Medellin! Feel free to reach out on Instagram, if you have any questions!
Which neighborhood was your favorite in Medellin? Comment below!