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Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Medellin was a pretty terrible place to be. But despite transforming itself into a safe and welcoming city, its lingering reputation long kept it a secret. Now, the word is definitely out about the great place that Medellin has become!
The hostel and neighborhood you choose will play a big part in how you’ll experience the city, so let me share some proper tips to help you decide.
I first came to Medellin eight years ago in the midst of a one-year journey through Latin America. Weary from the constant travel, I ended up staying in Medellin for a whole month. During this time I stayed in different hostels around the city.
I recently revisited Medellin to explore it again and to see what’s changed. What follows are my up-to-date recommendations for the best hostels in Medellin and the best areas to stay in.
Best hostels in El Poblado
This leafy middle-to-upper class neighbourhood has the highest concentration of hostels in Medellin. There are at least 25 hostels here! (Don’t worry, I’ll make picking one a little easier for you.)
El Poblado has numerous trendy cocktail bars, chic restaurants, and speciality coffee shops. There is a lot of great nightlife around Lleras park. It’s quite an expensive and upscale neighbourhood for Colombia, though by foreign standards you may still consider it kind of normal-priced.
The area is a favourite with tourists and digital nomads, in part because it’s always had a great reputation for safety. Nowadays most other areas of Medellin are also safe, but El Poblado is still the best-known (albeit bougie) base in this city. Most backpackers stay somewhere in El Poblado.
Black Sheep Hostel
BEST FOR SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE
This is the Medellin hostel I stayed the longest and it’s one I always love to recommend! It’s on the edge of El Poblado (closer to the metro station) but it’s just a 10-minute walk to the restaurants and a 20-minute walk at most to the Lleras nightlife area.
I love the vibe at Black Sheep with its BBQs, Spanish lessons, and homely and social atmosphere on a residential street. If you’ve ever stayed in a true “traveller hostel” then you know what to expect. The Black Sheep is truly the OG of Medellin hostels, going strong for over 15 years now.
Be sure to reserve your spot as this is one of the most acclaimed hostels in Medellin, so they are often fully booked. But if you have a chance to stay here, do it!
BEST FOR DIGITAL NOMADS
Contrary to other guides I don’t think Selina is the overall best hostel in Medellin, but I do think it’s best for anyone who needs to do some work. This is thanks to their on-site coworking office as well as the strategic location near many cafes.
If you’ve stayed in a Selina before then you know they’ve perfected their formula, offering affordable accommodation with a trendy and welcoming atmosphere.
Selina Medellin has both private rooms and dorm beds and is baby- and pet friendly. It feels a little in between a hostel and a hotel; inviting but also with premium amenities.
The review score on Hostelworld is maybe not totally reflective of its quality. Lower ratings for Community and Value For Money weigh down on its average, but for many types of travellers, these aspects are of less importance considering Selina is a more upscale accommodation.
This newer modern hostel has custom-built bunk beds, private rooms, and an incredible rooftop pool. Medellin might not get quite as hot and sweaty as Cartagena or Cali, but having a pool is nonetheless a big plus, letting you easily relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Masaya Medellin is more of a contemporary-style hostel with a clean design and purpose-built facilities. It costs a bit more than the backpacker-style hostels (e.g. about 100,000 peso or $20 for a dorm bed) but offers increased comforts and, oh, did I mention that rooftop pool?
With new furnishing and capsule-style dormitories, Masaya is a perfect choice if you’d like a bit more comfort and privacy.
BEST FOR PARTYING
Casa Kiwi is smack in the middle of the nightlife area of Medellin. It’s around the corner from Parque Lleras, where you can find many different bars and clubs, and where street musicians often get the party started within the small park.
The Hostelworld review score doesn’t quite tell the full story. Casa Kiwi can definitely be noisy; you may hear music until 4 am on the weekends. But it’s in a great location if you want to dive into Medellin’s famed nightlife. With a 24-hour reception, you can be a night owl for as long as you want.
I stayed in the much quieter Black Sheep Hostel and only visited Casa Kiwi during one of their weekly parties, but it was clearly the place to be if you’re a party animal.
Casa Kiwi not quite tickling your party bones? Consider the highly social Purple Monkey Hostel as an alternative. It’s a 15-minute walk from Parque Lleras and has a good reputation for fun.
Best hostel in Universidad
The area around the Universidad metro station (also known as Sevilla) is a great alternative to El Poblado. It has a completely different atmosphere; it’s much less foreigner-focused and restaurants are more likely to offer roasted chicken or a 10,000 peso set meal than expensive fancy sushi.
You’ll be much closer to the metro than in El Poblado so you can get everywhere in a jiffy. You’ll be based near one of Medellin’s universities, the Parque Explora science museum, the botanical gardens, and Parque de los Deseos (a lovely plaza), making this a fun and lively area to stay.
You won’t be as close to the key nightlife areas (at least, if you’re looking for clubs you’ll need to take a taxi) but it’s a more typical Medellin neighbourhood that offers a different vibe.
Medellin Backpacker Hostel
Okay, its name doesn’t get points for originality, but I really enjoyed staying here. The Medellin Backpacker Hostel is comfortable and has super friendly and helpful staff. Dormitories have a maximum of 4 beds so they’re not too noisy and there are one or two private rooms as well.
Away from the hipster bars of El Poblado, you’ll really feel like you’re in Colombia. Lots of good local food can be found right around the corner. The metro is just a few minutes’ walk away and Medellin’s northern bus terminal is not far either.
If you need to get work done I recommend this hostel as well, thanks to having solid WiFi as well as various tables and a bar with stools that can serve as your desk for the day.
Best hostels in Laureles
Ask Medellin residents what neighbourhood they like and Laureles is very often mentioned. It’s a quiet and walkable residential area that is popular with both foreigners and locals.
It has a bit of a blend of upscale comforts (like those found in El Poblado) with more typical Colombian elements. Laureles has the second most hostels in Medellin with about half a dozen choices. You can find more tips for the area in this guide to Laureles neighborhood.
The nearest metro station is Estadio which is on the B-line, so you’ll need to switch to the A-line at San Antonio to get to other parts of the city. Depending on where you’ll stay it’ll be about a 20 to 30-minute walk to Estadio station.
The Wandering Paisa
BEST FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS
Much like the Black Sheep mentioned earlier, Wandering Paisa is one of those true “traveller hostels” with a great genuine atmosphere. It’s another hostel where I camped out for a very long time, making a lot of new friends, and exploring the city together.
The Wandering Paisa is also great for being more connected with the local community; you’ll actually find Colombians hanging out there thanks to the events they organize. Don’t miss the weekly language exchange, which lets you practice your Spanish as well as to chat with local Paisas, as the people from Medellin are called.
Another amazing thing to do is to go the nearby football stadium whenever a game is on. (For security it’s best to go with a group from the hostel.) I personally don’t care much for football but even for me it was an absolute hoot. The supporters in Colombia get super passionate which creates an almost carnival-like atmosphere in the stands — even when it’s just two local clubs playing a friendly match!
The facilities are a bit older than those flashier newly built hostels, but as you can probably tell, I love this hostel for its atmosphere.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
This newer hostel in Laureles has some of the nicer facilities and beds but without a higher price to match (a dorm bed is still just around 50,000 pesos). Boasting semi-orthopaedic mattresses and spacious rooms, Oasis is living up to its name as a place where you can rest and recharge.
With a fully equipped kitchen, Oasis Hostel is perfect if you wish to save money by cooking your own meals, or if you’re just nostalgic for a simple spaghetti bolognese when you’ve finally gotten tired of all those arepas.
Best hostel in El Centro
Want to be in the thick of the action? Then stay in El Centro. Medellin’s centre is the heart of its economic activity and where you’ll find many of its plazas, parks, and shopping streets.
Locals tell me that all the barrios in Medellin are basically safe (only the communes, the shantytowns on the hills, require more caution). For what it’s worth, some solo female travelers have said to be they felt less safe in El Centro at night. Personally, I think it’s fine by day but I can see how at night you may want to take a taxi to get around just for some extra peace of mind.
With safety improving I wouldn’t be surprised if more hostels open here. For now, there are just two, with Centro Hostel being among the highest-rated hostels in all of Medellin.
To really get to know El Centro, be sure to take a free walking tour which will help you get your bearings and teach you everything about the history of Medellin. The company called Real City Tours does by far the best walking tours and they start at Alpujarra Station in El Centro.
Opened in 2022, it’s the first hostel in the very heart of Medellin. Offering several dorm rooms, as well as two private rooms and a family room, Centro can accommodate ay type of traveller.
The best part are the balconies overlooking the street where you can sip a beer and just watch life unfold below. The location of Centro Hostel is perfect as it is very close to many of Medellin’s key sights and plazas. You won’t need to grab the metro at all in order to explore Medellin when you use Centro Hostel as your very central base.
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Posted AUG 10, 2022 (Updated Aug 11, 2022)