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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – especially as part of the Free Medellín Walking Tour, which travels around El Centro while explaining the history of the city.
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.
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.
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