Writer’s note: This is the second story in a monthly series on the “best of” Medellín and the surrounding area. To read the first story, click here.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 11, 2017. It’s sponsored by International House Medellin Hostel. We thank them for their support.
Finding the right hostel can change your trip. Profoundly.
Your hostel is where you make new friends, partake in local activities, create memories.
There are a handful of good ones to choose from in Medellín and the surrounding area, so I’m going to do my best to narrow it down to the best hostels in Medellín. It goes without saying that these hostels are clean, the staff friendly. It’s tough to choose. But here goes…
Calle 32B #66C-06, Belén
International House Medellin Hostel, also known as IH Medellin, has been near the top of The Best Hostels in Medellin on Trip Advisor for several years in a row now. The owner, Joel, personally takes care of his guests by hosting occasional barbecues and community dinners on the hostel’s famous rooftop terrace, equipped with a professional, restaurant-style kitchen.
With a dedicated T1 fiber-optic internet line to the building, IH Medellin is one of only a handful of hostels in Colombia with this technology, making it the perfect destination for backpackers and professional digital nomads. Private two-bed dorms and shared dorms for groups of 4, 6, 8 and/or 10 are available, with 4 modern bathrooms on each floor.
The hostel is well located within a two-minute walk of buses that go directly to historic downtown and to El Poblado. These same buses take you to Medellin’s famous metro system. Nearby as well are many venues of the Feria de las Flores and the football/soccer stadium.
Located in a quiet, residential neighborhood, the hostel has great views of a huge public sports complex equipped with a free open-air weightlifting area, swimming pools (there is an entrance fee, but they also have free entry certain hours during weekdays), running track, basketball courts, as well as free aerobic and yoga classes that are open to the public. Despite its central location in the city, the neighborhood itself is lush and green, with lots of trees, parks and fresh air.
Just stop by reception for help booking the most popular city tours in Medellin, including the Pablo Escobar Experience Tour, Free City Walking Tour, Mountain Bike tours, paragliding, graffiti tour through the famous “comunas” and trips to the upper outskirts of the city via the aerial cable cars that terminate in a huge forested reservoir that connects with nearby traditional villages and towns.
At IH Medellin private Spanish lessons and salsa dancing classes can also be arranged.
This hostel review was written in collaboration with International House Medellin Hostel.
Carrera 35 #7-108, Poblado
Easiest choice ever. For any story I’ve written.
The only problem is, it took me a while to actually go see how great Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel is.
The mission here is to give backpackers the comfort and elegance of a hotel with the social atmosphere of a hostel. Just look at these amenities:
- Chic décor
- Stylish bar terrace
- Pool and ping-pong tables
- En suite bathrooms with complimentary soap, conditioner, shampoo and towel
- In-room flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi
- Free breakfast (eggs and hot dogs, bread and sometimes calentado)
- Spacious lockers with shelves and charge ports for your electronics
- Electronic key cards for each room
- Individual bunk bed lights
- 24-hour bilingual reception
Calle 11A #31A-188, Poblado
Love the Greek theme, love the owner’s commitment to get better, love the wall outlets at each bed.
The last one is especially important, something I didn’t notice until I went there recently to take some pictures.
During my travels I’ve gotten tired of scrambling to find wall outlets to charge my electronics. At Arcadia Hostel, you can lie in the comfort of your bed while you charge them and use them at the same time.
Spyros, the Greek owner, said he soon will put curtains up with every bed, to help people sleep. And he’ll continue his popular Greek barbecue on Sundays, of course.
If the Happy Buddha is booked full, which it often is, go to Arcadia.
Calle 44A #68A-76, Laureles
With a bar and lounge inside that stays open just late enough to get everyone ready to go out, The Wandering Paisa is kind of a mix between a party hostel and a place to relax.
I’ve been there a couple of times, once to hang out at the bar and watch people sing karaoke. It was our first stop before we went to Son Havana, a popular nearby club.
The Paisa is only a block from La 70, the nightlife strip that connects Estación Estadio with Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. Maybe you can pregame at the Paisa bar, then move on to one of the top spots in the area.
You have lots of options here.
Circular 73A #38-55, Laureles
Urban Buddha (different ownership than Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel) is the tranquilo option. On a weekend, anything can happen because it’s in Laureles, one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city, but the hostel is usually quiet during the week, La Feria de las Flores aside.
Amenities such as the koi pond, the garden and the eclectic art add to the atmosphere, and activities such as paragliding are offered. And if there are enough people staying, it’s not unusual for Mariano, one of the owners, to cook up one of his specialties: paella. He comes from a family of chefs so it’s not to be missed.
Oh, and full disclosure: after staying at the Buddha in the spring, I returned from two months of traveling in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to find a position open. So I took it.
Sure, you can say I’m biased. But would I work somewhere if I didn’t like it? (The answer to that, by the way, is “no.”)
Hostal Rancho Rueda Libre
Santa Elena (see map on hostel Facebook page for directions)
So it’s a little outside Medellín. That’s what makes Hostal Rancho Rueda Libre great.
It’s where you go to get away from the city, from the chaos and congestion.
For those unfamiliar with Santa Elena, it’s all about nature. With so much green and so many bird species there, you can’t help but feel relaxed.
There are comfortable rooms, or if you prefer, you can camp outside. This finca/hostel is in the middle of a mountainous paradise, a gateway to your peace of mind.
Like Hostal Rancho Rueda Libre, this is another place to go to get away from the city. But it’s hot at Hostal La Finca so bring your swimwear and take advantage of the beautiful pool.
Or, if you want something more natural, go to the creek and waterfall down the hill from the hostel.
I brought my parents here when they were visiting last year and they loved it.
Just remember to bring your bug repellent. You’re in the middle of nature, about 20 minutes outside the town of San Jerónimo, and the heat attracts the mosquitos.
Carrera 43E #5-110, Poblado
The Pit Stop is great.
There’s a lot of energy, but you can still relax, especially because they have a big, nice pool there. It’s the reason two of my friends from Bogotá stayed there instead of at the Buddha. If you really like this amenity, remember the driest months in Medellín are January through March and June through August.
There’s also a volleyball court and basketball court/soccer field at the hostel, along with a bar with a pool table.
The location, though, might be a bigger draw. The hostel is in El Poblado, only a five to 10-minute walk from Parque Lleras, the city’s primary nightlife zone, or zona rosa. You won’t be bored.
Carrera 36 #7-10, Poblado
If you want to party, Casa Kiwi is the place.
That’s the main reason I’ve been there.
I had some friends staying there on a couple of occasions and the place was hopping, enough that there was not much need to go anywhere else if you didn’t want to. But if you do, the hostel is in the heart of the Zona Rosa, just a few blocks from Parque Lleras.
The outdoor deck overlooking the street is great, like being at a bar in a Jimmy Buffet song. The place also offers a (very) small rooftop pool and a pool table near the bar.
Carrera 67 #48-63, Suramericana
Palm Tree Hostel sits in one of the most underrated neighborhoods in the city, Suramericana, just east of Estadio Atanasio Girardot.
It’s a great place to relax and get away from the touristy areas of the city. If you want to learn Spanish by practicing with the people in the neighborhood, it’s a great place.
Inside, you’ll find a quaint, clean place, a setting made for getting to know other travelers.
The Exito supermarket is right next door if you prefer to cook your own food instead of eat out at what seems like a million restaurants.
Carrera 35 #8A-58, Poblado
One of my friends insisted I had to include Geo Hostel, so I stopped by.
I love the modern look. It seems like a really comfortable place to stay.
It’s clean and the staff was really friendly when I went there to look around.
The Via Provenza location is also near lots of great restaurants and nightlife, so you might not even spend much time in the hostel, no matter how nice you think it is.
What’s your favorite hostel in Medellín?
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