Colombia has well and truly arrived on the backpacker radar after being named as one of the best countries to visit in 2017 in a variety of publications. With such a surge in travelers, Colombia’s hostel network has grown and strengthened in recent years, leading to some truly amazing accommodation options. From floating Caribbean paradises to photography- and coffee-themed boutique hostels, here are the 10 best Colombian hostels.
Probably the Colombian hostel with the most famous view, Casa Elemento is perched on a mountain ridge in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, overlooking the stunning green mountains and the distant Caribbean Sea. It is also the home of perhaps the most famous hammock in the world: a huge net contraption that hangs out over the mountain and can hold at least 10 people. Casa Elemento has a pleasingly communal vibe—including large group meals—hikes in the surrounding mountains, and a cracking bar and pool area.
Bogotá’s coolest backpacker hostel is located on a quiet cobbled street on the edge of La Candelaria neighborhood. Fernweh Photography Hostel is a small boutique hostel owned by a Colombian photographer—who exhibits his and other colleagues’ work on the hostel walls—with a gorgeous outdoor patio area (a rarity in Bogotá) and fire-pit. With a wood-fired pizza oven, a variety of peaceful and beautifully decorated chill-out areas—and the coolest hostel dog in Colombia—Fernweh should be the first choice for any traveler wanting a unique hostel experience in the Colombian capital.
A small and simple hostel perched on the edge of a cliff-face in the mountains of Antioquia department, Casa en el Aire is particularly cool and unique for its amazing, high-flying hammocks: a high-wire is strung across the valley in front of the house and hammocks are suspended high above the drop below. It’s a hair-raising experience, to say the least, but one of the coolest and most photogenic places you’re likely to stay in Colombia.
The hostel of choice for coffee lovers in Colombia, Panorama is located off-the-beaten-track in the pleasant coffee town of Buenavista in Quindio department. Its eponymous panoramic view over the plains of the coffee region and the distant Western range of the Andes is worth the visit alone, but the coolness factor is strongly enhanced by their commitment to world-class Colombian coffee. The hostel operates the WakeCup Experience coffee tour—which has been called the best coffee tour in Colombia—and the entire hostel is dedicated to coffee: fresh specialty coffee is available 24/7 and the walls are decorated with images of local coffee producers, complemented by QR codes linking to a recording of their story.
A floating hostel in the crystal clear waters of the Colombian Caribbean that can only be reached by boat, Casa en el Agua has fast become Colombia’s cool hostel of choice for discerning travelers. With very little to do other than relax in a hammock, hang out at the bar, or swim in the sea surrounding the hostel, Casa en el Agua might not appeal to the most active travelers, but what it lacks in activities it more than makes up for in beauty and relaxation. They also host a monthly full-moon party, which is arguably the coolest hostel party in Colombia.
A unique hostel collective on Isla Grande—just an hour by boat from Cartagena—the “secret paradise” isn’t so secret any more! Occupying a group of abandoned mansions once owned by wealthy emerald barons, the group is made up of seven different hostels, all owned and operated by different hostel chains in Colombia. The hostels are all in the same area and are all located in stunning old mansions, so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. What is certain, however, is that Paraíso Secreto is probably the most glamorous hostel in Colombia.
KiteAddict Hostel is definitely the place to stay if you happen to be an adrenaline junkie or lover of extreme sports. Located in Cabo de la Vela, a small village on the Caribbean coast in the Guajira desert department, KiteAddict is right on the beach and offers guests exclusive deals on kite-surfing classes. Cabo is known as one of the best spots on Earth to practice the sport, and there’s nowhere more beautiful or well-equipped to stay if you fancy learning.
It’s not very often that you can stay in a hostel that “starred” in a music video for a Grammy-winning artist, but you can at Costeño Beach. The hostel is a surf-camp located on a stunning private Caribbean beach surrounded by white sand, blue surf, and tall palm trees. The owner is also married to the lead-singer of Colombian superstars Bomba Estereo, and their video for hit-single “Somos Dos” was filmed on the paradise beach (check it out below). The surf is definitely for beginners, but the laid-back vibe, fantastic beach-bar, and cool atmosphere make Costeño Beach a must-visit hostel.
Another hostel in Minca, Casa Loma is the laid-back option for travelers to this pretty mountain village. A short but intense hike up a hill on the edge of town leads to this lovely little eco-hostel, featuring cabins in the jungle, unparalleled sunset views, and the best vegan restaurant menu of any hostel in the country. With little to do but laze around in a hammock, pet the myriad cats and dogs that call Casa Loma home, or spot toucans in the trees at sunset, this hostel is the perfect place to spend a few relaxing days near the Caribbean coast.
The hostel of choice for socially-conscious travelers, Volunteer Hostel is located in the burgeoning hipster neighborhood of Getsemani in Cartagena. The hostel works to promote responsible tourism, and 25 percent of the hostel’s income goes to support the FEM Foundation (Fundación por la Educación Multidimensional). They also offer unique insider tours in Cartagena and allow guests to volunteer on a variety of exciting and impactful social projects in the area. Volunteer Hostel is definitely the perfect hostel for travelers committed to leaving something behind when they visit Colombia.