The Coolest Neighborhoods in Medellín, Colombia

| Bryan Bravo / Unsplash
Chris Bell

Medellín is experiencing a tourism boom at the moment. Travelers from all over the world are flocking to the once no-go city to enjoy excellent weather, amazing public transport and its remarkable turnaround from the world capital of violence to a thriving metropolis. Here are the coolest areas to visit.

1. Comuna 13 (San Javier)

Architectural Landmark

Comuna 13, San Javier, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
Jose Figueroa / Unsplash

Today Comuna 13 is one of the most vibrant, colorful areas in all of Medellin, but its history paints a far darker picture. The people of San Javier suffered greatly for many years during the height of drug trafficking, paramilitary conflict and military operations in the city. By now, the area’s incredible array of street art, street performance and authentic food spots have, combined with its sobering history, made Comuna 13 one of the most visited parts of the city. The best way to discover the neighborhood is without doubt on a graffiti and street food tour, led by a friendly local guide.

2. El Poblado

Architectural Landmark

Considered the traveler neighborhood in Medellín, El Poblado is easily the most popular part of town for foreigners in the city due to its large number of hostels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Out-of-towners particularly love the area around Parque Lleras – it can get pretty rowdy on weekends. El Poblado might not be the neighborhood to get a sense of the real Medellín, but with some of the best food and drinks in the city – not to mention a young and vibrant crowd – it’s a great spot to visit. The best way to discover the real beating heart of El Poblado is by booking a walking tour of the neighborhood with an expert local guide.

3. Envigado

Architectural Landmark

Two boys watching football in Parceros, Envigado, Colombia
Giovanny Ayala / Unsplash

Just south of Poblado is Envigado, another area popular with visitors. Unlike its noisy northern neighbor, however, it’s primarily a residential spot – its pleasant tree-lined streets lack the hotels and hostels of El Poblado. Due to strict building height restrictions, it has also retained a suburban neighborhood vibe and a large number of green spaces. Along with Laureles, this is the area to be if you’re planning to make Medellín home. Book a guided tour of spots relating to Pablo Escobar and you’ll discover the Envigado community he grew up in.

4. Laureles

Architectural Landmark

Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Carrera 74, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
Gabriel Porras / Unsplash

A pleasant upper-middle-class residential part of town, Laureles – sometimes joined with neighboring district Estadio and called Laureles-Estadio – sits alongside the Atanasio Girardot Stadium where the local soccer teams play. It’s an amazing place to visit if you’re into the sport, and there are popular nightlife spots here too, such as La 70 and Calle 33. Generally speaking, Laureles has a laid-back vibe with lots of little cafes and small bars. Join a tour of the Coolest Neighborhood in the World (named in 2023) and be the judge of that yourself.

5. El Centro

Architectural Landmark

Epic statue in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Gustavo Sánchez / Unsplash

One of the riskier neighborhoods in Medellín, El Centro, which is easily accessible via the comfortable Medellín Metro, certainly isn’t the spot to book a hotel – but it’s a must-visit for any tourist in the city. The Botero Park, Antioquia Museum, Casa de La Memoria, Parque de Las Luces and much more all lie here. Wandering around Centro at night is not recommended, but be sure to swing by during the day – your best bet is booking a guided walking tour of the area’s most important sights.

6. Sabaneta

Architectural Landmark

A small neighborhood to the south of Envigado, Sabaneta is another residential part of Medellín and an increasingly popular place to live for foreigners. The focal point here is the pretty central square, Parque Sabaneta, a pleasant one-block plaza with a church and lots of trees, surrounded by little bars and restaurants. Often ranked as the most liveable area in Medellín, Sabaneta might not be the first place people talk about in the city – but it’s a strong up-and-comer. Join the Half-Day Pablo Escobar Godfather Tour in Medellin to visit a church formerly used by Escobar and his men near Parque de Sabaneta.

7. Belén

Architectural Landmark

Pueblito paisa, Belen, Medellin, Colombia
Jünior Rodríguez / Unsplash

To the south of Laureles is Belén, another middle-class neighborhood, but one with a much grittier feel. It used to be quite unsafe, but it’s now growing in popularity with the ever-increasing foreign community in Medellín. There are lots of outside spaces to enjoy here too, with a large central park as well as Cerro Nutibara, a small hill crisscrossed by hiking and cycling trails and the lovely little replica village of Pueblito Paisa perched on top.

8. San Sebastián de Palmitas

Architectural Landmark

While technically not part of the city, Palmitas is a must-visit for any coffee lovers visiting Medellin. Found on the northwestern outskirts of the city, the town itself is pretty and peaceful – an extremely charming spot. However, it is also surrounded by some of the finest coffee producers in the country, making it the perfect place to embark on a coffee tour. Join a professional guide for an immersive experience, where you’ll don traditional coffee worker clothes and get an insight into the honest hard work that goes into making your favourite brew. Taste a variety of coffees and tuck into lunch, before being dropped off back at your hotel in Medellin.

9. Conquistadores

Architectural Landmark

This inner-city district, across the river from central Medellin, is seen as one of the most luxurious areas in the city. Leafy boulevards and elegant residential streets make for a pleasant backdrop, while tucked away green spaces are an oasis of calm so close to the hustle and bustle. Parques del Río offers stunning views of the river, while the riverside promenades are dotted with tasty food spots. Book an electric bike tour of Medellin and you’ll cycle your way through Conquistadores – the best way to discover the area’s many hidden gems with a local guide.

10. Patio Bonito

Architectural Landmark

A little sub-neighborhood of nearby El Poblado, Patio Bonito is an oasis of calm compared to the hustle and bustle of its big brother. Another primarily residential area, it has an excellent selection of hipster restaurants, bars and cafes, plus some fantastic co-working spaces, making it a favorite spot with Medellín’s growing digital nomad community.

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