medellin apartment view

For anyone who wants to truly explore what Medellín has to offer, it’s important to get acquainted with the best neighborhoods of Medellín. There are 16 different comunas in the city, with each of them having a unique cultural flavor. Tourists won’t be visiting all 16 of them, though; some are purely residential, while others aren’t recommended for travelers due to the prevalence of crime. That being said, Medellín is a huge city – any visitor who wants to venture outside the top tourist hotspots will have plenty of options.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the tourist hotspots, of course; there’s a reason why they’re so popular! From rooftop bars to world-class museums, Medellín has something for everyone. Some areas are heavily focused on tourism, with hotels, bars, and restaurants of every description. Others are more favored by locals, where visitors can get a sense for the city’s authentic culture. Then there are the museums, parks, and plazas that are popular with both tourists and residents.

Comuna 13: the best place for city tours (and Instagram-worthy photos!)

Many South American cities are known for their graffiti, and the best neighborhoods in Medellín are no exception. Comuna 13 is full of colorful graffiti art, making it a major destination for visitors who are interested in city tours. This neighborhood isn’t just known for the graffiti, though; in the 80s and 90s, it was Pablo Escobar’s backyard. Since the area was completely under gang control, it was one of the city’s most dangerous places. It still isn’t a good idea to walk around Comuna 13 at night, but during the daytime the main risk is of pickpocketing or other petty thievery.

Whether you’re going to explore the streets of Comuna 13 yourself, or book a tour guide (which is recommended), the fun will begin well before you arrive. This area is most easily accessible via the Metrocable, which is Medellín’s gondola lift system that services the city’s mountainous neighborhoods. Once you’ve arrived, you can enjoy the novelty of the outdoor escalators that are placed throughout the neighborhood’s many hills.

El Centro: the best choice for museums

You’ll never run out of things to do in El Centro, which is a key social and economic hub for both tourists and locals. Here you’ll find many iconic locations, such as Plaza Botero – one of the best places to see statues by Fernando Botero. The plaza is directly in front of the Museo Antioquia, a great place to start your museum tour one of the city’s most popular museums in Medellin. To get the true tourist experience, stroll down Calle Bolivar; there you’ll be urged by every vendor on the street to purchase some homemade coffee, souvenirs, or inexpensive clothes.

If you’re after some cool photos, the Alcaldía de Medellín has a small number of public art displays. El Centro can be explored by foot, or with the help of the metro or bus system. It’s easy to get around El Centro, or to use it as a jumping-off point for exploring other parts of the city. However, make sure you complete your itinerary during the daytime; El Centro becomes considerably more dangerous after dark. It’s best to tour El Centro with a local guide, even during the daytime.

El Poblado: the best location for partying and pampering

Many tourists come to Medellín to pamper themselves – and a lot of them head straight to El Poblado. This is where you’ll experience the upscale side of Medellín, with the city’s best malls, hotels, restaurants, and bars mainly being located here. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, either! Depending on where you are in El Poblado, you might find yourself surrounded by the noise and bright lights of the neighborhood’s bars and clubs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a quiet night’s sleep, though; accommodations like the Sites Hotel or Hotel Poblado Plaza are well removed from the loud music and boisterous partygoers.

The Inflexion Memorial Park in Poblado now stands where Pablo Escobar used to have a secure building in which he lived on top, above many floors of bodyguards and supplies. This spot is a popular stop for people interested in Pablo Escobar tours.

Parque Lleras is the epicenter of El Poblado’s nightlife scene, with bars and clubs galore that keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning. In recent years, Parque Lleras’ reputation has become a bit tarnished among locals due to the rise of sex tourism; however, it’s still just as popular with international visitors.

Laureles: a great place for an upscale and quieter residential experience

This neighborhood is one of Medellín’s best neighborhoods just like El Poblado, but much more laid back. Instead of bars, you’ll find artisanal cafes. People don’t come here for the coffee, though; more often they come to visit the Estadio Atanasio Girardot. Even if there isn’t a soccer match going on, you can still visit the stadium’s food stalls, beach volleyball courts, and skateboard park.

If you want to party more like a local than a tourist, you should visit the street known as La 70 (or La Setenta). Here you’ll find street vendors of every kind, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and plenty of local bars.

Ciudad del Río: one of the top neighborhoods of Medellín

Foodies will enjoy visiting the Mercado del Río, a massive food hall that features a large number of international cuisines. This neighborhood is also home to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (Museum of Modern Art), one of the city’s best museums by far. Taken with the neighborhood’s central location, plus its accessibility via public transport to the rest of the city, Ciudad del Río is a great place to explore.

Barrio Colombia: the best place for experiencing local nightlife

El Poblado is one of the city’s top nightlife hotspots, but it’s also mainly frequented by tourists. Barrio Colombia also has some iconic clubs, but they’re more likely to be filled by locals who are out on the town. If you find yourself here during the daytime, you can visit the Premium Plaza mall, or treat yourself to some of the best coffee in Medellín from Distrito Cafetero.

Exploring the neighborhoods of Medellín

Medellín is a huge city, with a lot to explore no matter what neighborhood you find yourself in. Talk to locals, join local Facebook groups and join in the discussion. Take one of our many Medellin tours and have a local guide help you navigate the twists and turns. Whether you’re hoping to join the city’s party scene, or take in the local artwork and culture, you won’t be disappointed in what you find.