The Best Neighborhoods in Medellín

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Outside the Museo de Arte Moderno, it's pretty clear:
Outside the Museo de Arte Moderno, it's pretty clear: "I LOVE MEDELLIN"
Not a bad view from the hills of El Poblado.
Not a bad view from the hills of El Poblado.

Editor’s note: This article is out-of-date and it has several inaccuracies so it was updated in October 2016, which is found here.

Expats looking for a place to live in Medellín almost always drift to the same place: Poblado.

It’s a great place to live, no doubt, because of all the great bars and clubs, restaurants and shopping malls, apartments and hostels and houses, and a reputation for being the nicest and safest area of the city.

But the best area of the city? I don’t think so.

In this post I will tell you my five favorite districts in the Medellín metropolitan area. By districts, I mean comunas and suburbs, and there are 21 of them here.

When I review each, I will tell you some of the best neighborhoods in these districts and some of the best places to go in each place.

Some might sound familiar, others not so much. It’s the same for me when I talk to others. So let’s use this as a forum to chat about our favorite places in the city.

Listo? Dále!

The green streets of Laureles.
The green streets of Laureles.

1. Laureles/Estadio

Long a middle class area, this comuna just west of El Centro is climbing the social ladder.

It’s a very green neighborhood, with trees everywhere, giving the place a tranquility that makes you feel comfortable immediately. But don’t let the mellow charm fool you: some of the best nightlife in the city is in Laureles, at La 70 and the north side of Calle 33.

You can find almost anything you want in Laureles and for those of you who think Poblado is better, I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

a. Laureles has no hills. Walking around Poblado, up those hills, can be tiring.

b. You’re much less likely to run into someone who speaks English in Laureles. I know, some of you think that’s a bad thing. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture here, learning Spanish is a big part of that.

c. The restaurants in Laureles can compete with those in Poblado.

d. So can the nightlife.

e. The fútbol stadium is here.

So, there you go. If you want to stay in Poblado, I understand. You’re comfortable there. Just give Laureles a visit someday. You might like it more than you think.

Best neighborhoods: Bolivariana, Carlos E. Restrepo, Estadio, Florida Nueva, Las Acacias, Laureles, Los Colores, Suramericana

Best bars/clubs: El Tibiri, Imperium, Son Havana, Underground, Wamba Bar

Best restaurants: Il Massimo, La Bodeguita, La Catrina, Opera Pizza, Orale, Paris-Paris, Peru Mix, Sushi House, Sushi Taste

Best sights/recreation: fútbol games at el estadio; one of the many activities at el estadio, such as basketball, fencing and swimming; El Teatro

To rent a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, you would pay: 800,000 to 1.4 million pesos ($420 – $775) per month.

The barbecue is getting started.
The barbecue is getting started at Parque El Salado.

2. Envigado

Normally I don’t like suburbs but Envigado is the next Laureles: a growing place with new businesses opening all the time, including some great restaurants.

You can find nightlife and restaurants and my favorite park, Parque El Salado, where you can have a barbecue, swim and zip-line. Keep an eye out for monkeys in the trees too.

Best known for being the birthplace of Pablo Escobar, it’s better known today as a trendy place to live.

Best neighborhoods: Alcalá, El Trianón, Jardines, La Cuadrita, La Paz, Zona Centro

Best bars/clubs: El Callejón, Lady Blue, Sharona, Windsor Pub, Yesterday

Best restaurants: Brasa Arepa, Chiclayo, El Barral, Ernesto’s Tacos, La Gloria de Gloria, Tepito

Best sights/recreation: Casa Museo Fernando Gonzalez, La Romera, Parque El Salado

To rent a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, you would pay: 600,000 to 1.2 million pesos ($315 – $640) per month

Pueblito Paisa, the replica of a small Antioquian town that is one of the most beautiful places in Belén.
Pueblito Paisa, one of the most beautiful places in Belén.

3. Belén

This was the first neighborhood I lived in, and I loved it.

It’s like Laureles, except with more of a blue-collar feel. At one time, it was a little dangerous, and there are parts that still are, but for the most part it’s just a place with families trying to carve out a life in the city.

And it’s right next to Laureles, its northern neighbor across Calle 33, so you’ll have an easy time crossing over.

You won’t be bored here either, not with a big park in the comuna as well as one of Medellín’s most underrated attractions — Pueblito Paisa, the mini replica of an old Antioquian town that sits atop the Cerro Nutibara.

Best neighborhoods: Fátima, La Mota, La Palma, Las Mercedes, Malibú

Best bars/clubs: Hamburgo Bar, Kings Town, La Caverna de Baco, Shots del Diablo

Best restaurants: Albenzu, Crepes and Waffles, Il Forno, Philly Steaks

Best sights/recreation: Pueblito Paisa, Unidad Deportiva de Belén

To rent a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, you would pay: 500,000 to 1 million pesos ($260 – $550) per month

No doubt, the arroz con pollo empanada is a good reason to spend more time in La América.
No doubt, the arroz con pollo empanada is a good reason to spend more time in La América.

4. La América

This is your ultimate residential neighborhood, a place that isn’t a hub of nightlife and restaurants, but a place where you can live comfortably.

The way the boundaries are drawn, it’s bordered by Laureles to the east and the south, forming a right angle that makes it look like La América is sitting down and Laureles is the chair that cradles it.

I haven’t spent a lot of time here, just enough to know that one of the parades of the Feria de las Flores usually passes through, that there is a huge recreational park called the Unidad Deportiva de Floresta, and that there are restaurants that deserve a second try.

The arroz con pollo empanada at Empanadas Santiamen is just the beginning. Next time I want to have the chicharrón and frijoles. And if I’m really hungry, I’ll go for a bandeja paisa at El Madrigal as well, one of the best places to find comida típica in the city.

And who knows what else I’ll find the more time I spend here.

Best neighborhoods: Calasanz, La América, La Floresta

Best bars/clubs: Copacabana, El Madrigal, Blue, Night

Best restaurants: Cafe del Baluarte, Empanadas Santiamen, Pizza El Imperio

Best sights/recreation: Parque Floresta, Unidad Deportiva La Floresta

To rent a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, you would pay: 600,000 to 1.2 million pesos ($315 – $640) per month

Outside the Museo de Arte Moderno, it's pretty clear: "I LOVE MEDELLIN"
Outside the Museo de Arte Moderno, it’s pretty clear: “I LOVE MEDELLIN”

5. Poblado

Ok, we’ve finally made it to the area of the city that’s the most popular with most foreigners.

Well, you already know the deal: bars, clubs and restaurants. Big shopping malls such as El Tesoro, Oviedo and Santa Fé. Even a castle.

So, to the listings…

Best neighborhoods: La Aguacatala, Lombardia, San Diego, San Ignacio

Best bars/clubs: Calle 9+1, Dalí, La Ruana de Juana, Latinería, Shamrock

Best restaurants: Amarelo Rodizio, BonuarCarmen, El Graspo de Uva, Peru Mix, Restaurante Toscano Trattoria e PizzeriaVerdeo

Best sights/recreation: Museo de Arte Moderno, Museo El Castillo

To rent a comfortable one-bedroom apartment, you would pay: 1 million to 1.6 million pesos ($550 – $880) per month

What’s your favorite neighborhood in Medellín?

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60 COMMENTS

  1. Just discovered this website, and it’s quite interesting. I’m from medellin, and most of the time one doesn’t know its own city until you see it through the eyes of the tourists. In the other hand, There are some more cool neighborhoods in the valley aswell, Sabaneta, bieng part of them, in fact, La Romera is also part of Sabaneta, and tehre some pretty cool green neighborhoods that I would suggest to any visitor 😉

    • I’ve only been to Sabaneta once, my first Saturday in Medellin way back in 2009. I’m definitely going to head down there on the extended metro line one of these days to get to know it a little better.

      • you guys make sure to check out La Doctora, an area in sabaneta with vivid and very interesting nightlife, although a bit more traditionaist, than most clubs in poblado.

      • Thank you for all the good information. I am having a hard time finding a small 2 bedroom house unfurnished in a good area. I live now in Buenas Aires, been here for 8 months and just am tired of apt. living. Any suggestions. Thanks

        By the way I did read about the robberies. I was in Parque Boston with a lady and was walking from a restaurant to an ice cream store. I do admit I was dressed nice, 2 rings on, gold chain, and a watch. We sat in Mimos and a man walked in which I did not see, walked up to me and grabbed 1 ring on my finger, looked up and saw a gun. I stayed calm gave him all my jewelery then asked me for my money. Luckily he got scared, since there were a lot of people in the store and even outside. He grabbed my friends purse, ran out to a woman on a motor scooter and they took off. Called the police, they came and said they could not do anything about it. I had to force them to take my ID. I do admit I am not impressed with the police here. They are just a bunch of grown kids with guns. I did move after that and now I do not wear anything flashy. Learned the hard way.

      • haha, well, like always, when i do these “best of” posts, it’s hard to decide. but, a decision must be made nonetheless. it’s only my opinion anyway, and i’m pretty sure i’ve written on several occasions that i’m not the smartest person in the world. that’s what’s great about this blog, though…it’s a forum to share ideas. i always hope to learn something new from the comments, which i have in the past. that’s how i found my favorite pizza place.

  2. agree with you on Laurles, and envigado, Poblado is not my cup of coffee sorry, and my favorite Places in Medellin are some of the poorest( better to visit with someone that lives there then alone) up high along the mountains ridges where on even a hot day there is a cooling breeze, grab an ice cream or something to drink sat back and take in the view of the entire valley, and at night the clubs are pumping out musce as good as any bar in the city upper crust barrios just without the higher price tag……..( I can hang with a group of 8 friends for the same price as two people in Poblado)………….

    • i agree with you on going to some of the poorer barrios. i used to hang out with friends in barrio castilla sometimes and it was always a lot of fun. which barrios do you like?

      • I love Calasanz, and on a weekend night the 80th is less manic than the 70th, with lots of street food. Lots of little bars/cafes in the streets north of the 80th too.

    • A lot of tourists seem to think the same way, I have some german friends that hang out in the least fancy places of the city and they find them awesome lol, and they don’t even like Poblado lol. There’s a place nearby Universidad de Antioquia, with some rock bars and stuff, and you can even feel a bit like in hell’s kitchen, so to speak, but the nightlife there is as enjoyable, as in more expensive places, (indeed for those who prefer underground music ambience), and to my surprise, a lot of foreign people can be seen there, although most of them look from europe imo

      • I hung out a little bit around U de Antioquia in 2009. I do think there’s something to be said for the vibe a college gives a neighborhood.

        That said, I’m 36 now, so feeling a bit my age around the youngsters 🙂

    • That’s cool Michael. All depends on the experience you’re looking for. Me? If I had the money, I’d live in a Miami Beach penthouse 🙂

      But just because I choose to live in Poblado doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed my time in other parts of the city. I appreciated living in Envigado in 2009, and like the nightlife in Laureles.

  3. This is a great place to learn about medellin. Visited the city and love it. One or two years of work and my plan is to move……… and enjoy the city.
    keep up the information……………………………….

  4. I’am interested in retiring in Colombia and have heard wonderful things about Medellin (including what you have posted on your blogs). One question that i have relates to how much money would I need to retire comfortably in Colombia? I’ve been given figures from a couple of thousand to four to five thousand dollars a month.. Could you please share your thoughts on this..

    Best,
    Alexis

    • Hi Alexis,

      It’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all figure for living in Colombia. It depends on where you’d want to live (I can only speak for Medellin), and your standard of living.

      Relatively speaking, it’d be cheaper to live in Bucaramanga than Medellin. Living in the countryside would even less, and some retirees I’ve spoken to would prefer the peace and quiet vs living in the middle of a big city.

      Here’s a cost of living I did for me in Medellin earlier this year. I found I spend an average of $1,500 per month living in Medellin.

      This doesn’t include other expenses like health insurance premiums (I have a global insurance plan), credit card payments, and what I pay in storage back in the US.

      For $3,000 you can have a very nice standard of living in Medellin, and most expats would agree $5,000 would allow you to live like a king down here.

      • I live on Social Security hete in USA & have considered moving to Medellin because I’ve read it’s cheaper. However, $5.000 a month or $3,000 is out of my budget. I pay $503 here maintenance on a coop I own. Can I find that or cheaper in a nice area?

      • I live like a king on $1000 a month in Poland for 2 of us. My future wife is Colombian. We live in Poland now. Most people speak English.
        I have 77 sq meters apt in a gated community right on the beach furnished from a-z for $400 a month. Good home cooking meal in restaurant $3.5. Beer 1/2 liter 50 cents, in a pub $1.5. For $100 I buy groceries that will last us for 2 weeks and really good food. Poland is famous from making good hams cheeses, bread and meat so I am not on the diet. Fruits plenty we could swim in it for free. We will travel to Medellin sometimes in December and we will compare it.

  5. Sorry Barrio San Diego that is listed as a best neighborhood in El Pablado is not located in Cumuna El Pobaldo it is actually located in La Candelaria.

  6. Hey guys im moving to Medellin and wondered if you knew personaly of any host families that live in good neighborhoods. Thanks

  7. Are those rental prices for a furnished apartment? Because I cant find prices like that anywhere. Where did you get these prices as I want to find a cheap place to live

    • you can try a real estate company, or just walk around neighborhoods and write down phone numbers in the windows…

      • My wife and I found an apartment a week ago. We started our search by walking around in neighborhoods where we wanted to live. When we found an apartment that interested us, we asked the security guard if there were any rentals available. One security guard introduced us to a real estate agent who found our apartment.

  8. I always look for articles like this when going to new cities. My boyfriend and I have been city hopping for a few months now, renting an apartment for one month in each, and we have never found an article as comprehensive as this one for where to live. We just arrived in Medellin three days ago and found a place yesterday in Laureles. Your article really helped us to narrow down our search areas, and most importantly, look outside of El Poblado. Just wanted to say thanks! I’m sure I’ll be using your blog a lot during our time here.

    • thanks brittney, i’m happy the blog has helped you! you and your boyfriend should come to our medellin living brunch this weekend…it would be a great opportunity to meet other travelers like yourself. it’s at 1 p.m. sunday, sept. 28, at brie bon, carrera 35 #7-118. check the medellin living facebook page for details…cheers!

    • It’d help if you could give us an idea of what you’d be willing to spend per night. Art Hotel starts at about $100/night. A private room at a hostel can be $30-50/night. One area we haven’t written about is the cost of budget hotels that fill that gap, from $50-100/night.

    • There are several not terribly expensive hotels in Medellín. The Four Points Sheraton can start at about $110 per night. Hotel Le Parc starts at about $100 per night. Holiday Inn Express starts at about $100 per night. Hotel Nutibara Suites starts at about $80 per night.

  9. My wife and I are planning to come down to Medellin for the winter (from Miami). Can anybody recommend a good way to find a furnished apartment online? Thanks

  10. I just came across this article this morning and wanted to thank you for all of the good information.

    I am a North American who has lived in Cali, Valle and its nearby pueblos for the past 10 years.

    My spouse and I are seriously thinking about the possibility of Medellin due in part to the increasing temperatures we are experiencing.

    Do you have any recommendations (or an article) on the closest, safe pueblos near the city? We have a modest budget and I am not too fond of high rise apartments.

  11. Are there any neighborhoods in Medellin that are especially friendly for people who prefer to walk? The lack of sidewalks in Poblado, where our family lives and where we stay when we visit, and all the hills are killing me. I’d love to find a place where I didn’t need to rely on a car so much to get to supermarkets, restaurants, and cultural attractions. That’s one thing I really love about New York.

  12. What can u say about Simon Bolivar area? I heard it was an upscale area, but can’t find anything about it. I’m planning to travel to Medellin next month.

    • Simón Bolívar is a barrio in the La América comuna that isn’t close to a metro station. Not many expats live in the La América comuna. El Poblado, Envigado, Laureles, Belén and Sabaneta tend to be more popular with expats.

  13. Is there a neighborhood that you would suggest for a hip older gay couple from the States. We don’t do clubs but love the art and restaurants museums etc. We are not timid expats we are very adventurous.
    Any neighborhoods you think we would like. We are avid gardeners and love lots of green! We do not need a gay neighborhood just one where gay persons would feel welcome!

    Thanks

    Gary and Spencer

    • I’m fond of Ciudad del Rio, which is at the edge of Poblado at the bottom of the valley. The 10-square block revitalized development includes a mix of residential, commercial and medical space, plus it’s got the newly expanded Museum of Modern Art and a very popular park that runs behind it.

      Otherwise, I’d also suggest Laureles, Envigado (within 10 blocks of Parque Envigado), and Sabaneta. These aren’t that different than recommendations I’d give most of our readers. I’m not aware of any particular gay neighborhoods in the city. I believe most of the gay nightlife is centered around a block of bars and clubs in Centro, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend living down there due to high crime rates (especially at night).

  14. I disagree with several things in this best neighborhoods list and there are some errors. First almost all of the El Poblado neighborhoods listed aren’t even barrios in the El Poblado comuna. San Diego isn’t in El Poblado, its in La Candelaria as pointed out in a comment above. Also Lambardia is an area that I know is in Envigado not El Pobaldo. And San Ignacio isn’t even a barrio anywhere in Medellín. Also I think Sabaneta definitely beats both Belén and La América but isn’t even listed.

    • Thanks yes there are several inaccuracies in this post. This has been corrected in a new post today. For example, Lombardia, San Diego, San Ignacio aren’t even barrios in El Poblado. La Cuadrita isn’t a barrio in Envigado. Malibú isn’t a barrio in Belén

  15. My wife, four children and I spent five fantastic years in Medellin, 1984-1988, while I taught at a local university in la Castellana. We were invited back last summer, and spent two memorable weeks again in Medellin. We’re strongly considering retiring to Medellin in a few years.

    We felt very comfortable in la Castellana last year. Is it considered a barrio of Laureles? It’s near Belen, also. We don’t want an expat haven, and la Castellana, though slightly more worn than 30 years ago, still seems comfortable, and you can immerse yourself totally in Spanish there. Anyone have any thoughts on la Castellana?

  16. Would love to hear thoughts about living in the hood. I’m Colombian American from queens and I can slum it a bit for 300 mil apartestudioo.

    Which is best. Bello. SD. SJ

  17. I have never been to Colombia but will be visiting soon ,looking to retire in a couple years and would like to rent in a safe neighborhood in walking distance to groceries and shopping can someone tell me what one bedroom apts are going for in 2017.

    • My 84 years old mother lives in El Poblado in Medellin. She rents a three bedroom apartment near the Club Campestre for about 1.8 million pesos/month. That is about $600a month.
      The utilities are expensive since it is considered ‘estrato 6″ . The utilities are billed according to the neighborhood where you live. six being the highest. The apartment is nice and in a nice location. However, the main issue with El Poblado is that it is very hilly. My mother has bad knees and she is not very happy with the hills, therefore, she is looking to move to a flatter area near shopping areas.
      It is easy to get by in buses and the taxis are inexpensive. Also, the medical attention is great, she purchased an insurance through Colpatria is almost $600/month but it gives her great coverage,
      While in Medellin you must be careful at the ATM’s even in the best areas. My mother was a victim of “el cambiaso” last year. Also, she was a victim of scopolamine at an ATM seven years ago.
      Google those two terms and be aware.
      Medellin is nice but like any city, in the world, you have to keep an eye on things.
      There is another area of Medellin that is cheaper and flat called Laureles. It is central and you can find some good apartments. It is common to see many apartments with no elevators even four five story ones.
      Try this website and play with rentals options:

      https://www.fincaraiz.com.co/apartamentos/arriendo/medellin/