Medellin is experiencing a tourism boom at the moment: travellers from all over the world are flocking to the once no-go city to enjoy its excellent weather, amazing public transport, and the remarkable turnaround from world capital of violence to a thriving metropolis. There are many different neighbourhoods in this large city, but some are more worth a visit than others. Here are the coolest areas in Medellin.
The traveller neighbourhood in Medellin, El Poblado is easily the most popular part of town for foreigners in the city due to the 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 neighbourhood to get a sense of the real Medellin, but with some of the best food and drink in the city, not to mention the young and vibrant crowd, it’s a great spot to visit.
Just to the south of Poblado is Envigado, another area that is incredibly popular with visitors. Unlike it’s noisy neighbour to the north, however, Envigado is primarily a residential neighbourhood, and its pleasant tree-lined streets lack the hotels and hostels of El Poblado. Due to some quite strong building height restrictions, Envigado has also retained much of the suburban neighbourhood vibe that makes it so popular, and it boasts a large number of green spaces compared to the rest of the city. Along with Laureles, this is the area to look into if you’re planning to move to Medellin.
A pleasant upper-middle class residential part of town, Laureles (sometimes joined with neighbourhood district Estadio to be called Laureles-Estadio) sits alongside the Atanasio Girardot Stadium where the local football teams play (an amazing place to visit if you’re into football: check out the photo below!). There are a couple of popular nightlife areas here as well – La 70 and Calle 33 – but generally, Laureles adopts a laid-back kind of vibe, with lots of little cafés and small bars.
A little sub-neighbourhood 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 also boasts an excellent selection of hipster restaurants, bars, and cafés, as well as some fantastic co-working spaces, making it a favourite spot with Medellin’s growing digital nomad community.
One of Medellin’s rougher neighbourhoods for sure, El Centro certainly isn’t the spot to book a hotel in Medellin, but it’s definitely a must-visit place for any tourist in the city. The Botero Park, Antioquia Museum, Casa de La Memoria, Parque de Las Luces, and much more all lie in Centro, which is easily accessible via the comfortable Medellin Metro. Wandering around Centro by night is certainly not recommended, but make sure to swing by during the day, especially as part of the Free Medellin Walking Tour, which takes visitors around El Centro while explaining the history of Medellin.
A small neighbourhood to the south of Envigado, Sabaneta is another residential part of Medellin and an increasingly popular place to live for foreigners moving to the city. The focal point of the neighbourhood is the pretty central square of 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 livable area in Medellin, Sabaneta might not be the first place that people talk about when they mention the city, but it’s a strong up-and-comer.
To the south of Laureles is Bélen, another middle-class neighbourhood, but one with a much grittier feel: it used to be quite an unsafe part of the city but has been on the rise in recent years, and it is growing in popularity with the ever-increasing foreign community in Medellin. There is lots of outside space to enjoy in this area too, with a large central park as well as Cerro Nutibara, a small hill crisscrossed by hiking and cycling trails, with the lovely little replica village of Pueblito Paisa perched on top.