I spent 30 days living as a digital nomad in Medellín this year. Even in such a short time, the city became one of my favorite destinations for remote work.
I had been to Colombia once before, years ago, when I backpacked from Mexico to Peru, working on the road. The pace of travel was hectic, and I got exhausted from moving from one place to another every few days.
I ended up cutting Medellín from my itinerary to spend more time resting in Santa Marta, going from the hostel room to the Mallecón, buying arepas from the lady who set up her cart on the corner, and not having the energy to wander at a tourist’s pace.
Why choose Medellín as a digital nomad?
Medellín is considered one of the coolest cities in Colombia and, perhaps, in the world. Much of this hype comes from the fact that the Wall Street Journal and Citigroup named it the world’s most innovative city in 2013.
Soon after, Calle Provenza, a party street in the neighborhood of Poblado, was crowned the “coolest street in the world” by the TimeOut portal.
But that’s not all. Medellín boasts a very competitive cost of living, especially compared to cities of the same size in North America or Europe.
Both accommodation and expenses for food, transportation, and entertainment are relatively cheaper, allowing for an excellent quality of life without breaking the budget.
Moreover, it enjoys pleasant weather all year round, with temperatures ranging between 20-30°C, therefore the nickname “City of Eternal Spring.”
The city also has excellent internet infrastructure, crucial for digital nomads, and many remote work-friendly cafes and coworking spaces.
Such advantages have led to another: the place has a massive community of digital nomads, making finding people with similar interests and lifestyles easier. There are various groups and events where you can connect with other professionals working remotely. Are you convinced?
Is Medellín Safe for Digital Nomads?
Medellín was once infamous for its turbulent past but has undergone a remarkable transformation and has emerged as a vibrant, dynamic city attracting tourists and digital nomads alike. However, questions about safety still linger in the minds of many potential visitors.
Today, Medellín is often cited as a success story in urban revitalization and crime reduction. The city’s efforts in community-building, public infrastructure development, and social programs have significantly contributed to this change.
While the overall safety situation has improved, it’s important to acknowledge that Medellín has neighborhoods with varying safety levels like any major urban center. Visitors are advised to stay informed about which areas to avoid, especially after dark, and to exercise general caution as they would in any large city.
For digital nomads and tourists, areas like El Poblado and Laureles are trendy and known for their safety, vibrant nightlife, and an array of cafes and coworking spaces.
Practical safety tips include avoiding ostentatious displays of wealth, staying aware of your surroundings, and using reliable transportation services, especially at night. Some people, especially men, have related that they suffered scams after going out on Tinder dates, being drugged and robbed after a few drinks.
Learning some basic Spanish can also be immensely helpful, not only for day-to-day interactions but also in understanding local norms and nuances.
The Best Coworking Spaces in Medellín
Here are some of the best places to work in Medellín:
1. Selina Coworking
I’m a big fan of Selina’s spaces, both for staying and working from their cafes and coworking spaces. If you don’t know what I am talking about, this is a hostel chain spread across Latin America whose concept is primarily focused on travelers, digital nomads, explorers, creative artists, and professionals from the new economy.
In the heart of El Poblado, one of the city’s most happening neighborhoods, Selina is close to various restaurants, cafes, and trendy shops. A perfect location!
There, you’ll find options ranging from shared tables to private workspaces, meaning you’ll always find a spot that perfectly suits your needs, all set in a beautifully decorated space!
But you know what makes Selina unique? The community. This space is a true melting pot of digital nomads, freelancers, and entrepreneurs from all over the world. The best part is that they love to organize networking events, workshops, and talks, so you’ll always have opportunities to learn something new and meet interesting people.
Address: Cra. 32d #9 – 17, El Poblado
As soon as you enter OpenSpace, you’ll immediately notice the bright and airy environment, with large windows letting in plenty of natural light. The work desks are spacious and comfortable, with a variety of seating options, from individual tables to lounge areas for more relaxed work. Plus, the Wi-Fi is fast and reliable – an absolute must for any digital nomad.
There’s a coffee area where you can grab an artisanal coffee or a healthy snack, a quiet library for when you really need to focus, a bookstore, and even a yoga and meditation area for those moments when you need to relax and recharge.
There’s a discount on the daily rate for female entrepreneurs.
Address: Cl. 12 # 43B-42, El Poblado
3. WeWork Medellín
Another coworking space in El Poblado, WeWork is another well-known network offering a pleasant and welcoming environment filled with natural light, plants, and plenty of work tables.
And it’s not just about the physical space. What makes WeWork a fantastic place to work is the community of creative professionals, startups, and freelancers you’ll find there. Get ready for networking and, who knows, maybe even strike a partnership or two.
But you know what’s even better? All the little details that make day-to-day life more pleasant. I’m talking about coffee and tea always available, high-speed internet to keep your productivity at its peak, and even rest areas for when you need a little time to relax.
Moreover, if you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll love that your WeWork Medellín membership gives you access to all WeWork spaces worldwide.
4. Global Express El Poblado
Global Express El Poblado is a unique coworking space located just steps from Parque Lleras in Poblado.
The place offers a quiet and friendly atmosphere that instantly makes you feel at home. The facilities are modern and welcoming, with shared desks, private offices, and meeting rooms.
You’ll be surrounded by motivated and creative people, ready to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects here. It’s the perfect atmosphere for networking and sharing experiences.
And let’s not forget the amenities. Who doesn’t love a fresh coffee to start the day, right? Or maybe you need a quick break in the middle of the afternoon. At Global Express El Poblado, you’ll find those little conveniences that make your workday much more enjoyable.
Address: Cl 10 #42-28, El Poblado
How to Find Coworking Spaces in Medellín
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Where to Stay in Medellín as a Digital Nomad: Coliving Spaces
When traveling as a digital nomad, finding a place to live that is comfortable, well-located, and filled with like-minded people is just as important as finding the perfect workspace.
After all, we know that the image of working with a laptop on the beach is a myth, but working with it on your lap in bed can be pretty accurate.
In Medellín, there are many coliving spaces specifically designed to meet the needs of digital nomads. Here are some suggestions for you:
2. Selina Medellín
In addition to the coworking space, Selina offers fantastic accommodation options for digital nomads. With both private and shared rooms available and various on-site amenities, including a restaurant/bar and even yoga classes, Selina is a perfect option for those seeking comfort and convenience.
Address: Cra. 32d #9 – 17, El Poblado
2. Los Patios Hostel & Suites:
This coliving space in Medellín is known for its stylish design and incredible rooftop with panoramic city views. With options for private and shared rooms and a friendly, social atmosphere, it’s an excellent place for digital nomads who want to meet new people.
Address: Cra. 43E #11 – 40, El Poblado
3. Tiger Hostel
Located in El Poblado, the Tiger Hostel is an affordable option that offers a variety of accommodations, from dormitories to private suites. The hostel also has a cozy common area, perfect for relaxing after a long work day.
Address: Cra. 36 #10-49, El Poblado
4. Casa Campus:
Specifically aimed at digital nomads, Casa Campus offers a unique coliving experience. With shared workspaces, networking events, and a strong sense of community, it’s more than just a place to live; it’s a place to grow and thrive.
Address: Carrera 72, Cq. 4 #47, Laureles
5. Work Exchange in Medellín
An alternative to save on accommodation is to engage in a work exchange, where you trade a few hours of your day (in hostels and farms, for example) for a place to stay and some meals.
This is a good option if you’re starting out as a nomad and don’t have a big budget yet or if your job is flexible enough to take on another responsibility. Plus, you get to meet people and have the opportunity to learn a language or a new skill.
An excellent option for finding such programs is Worldpackers, a company with many years of experience in offering the best possible exchanges between travelers and NGOs, schools, and hostels in various destinations worldwide.
With my coupon NATYBECATTINI, you get a $10 discount on your membership. Learn more about Worldpackers here.
What to Do in Medellín When You’re Not Working
Medellín has a lot to offer digital nomads in their free time. Let’s take a look at some of the activities and attractions you can explore when you’re not working:
Explore Comuna 13
This neighborhood, once one of the most violent in Medellín, is now famous for its vibrant graffiti murals and its incredible urban transformation, partly due to infrastructure investments and partly because of the involvement of locals who have done everything to make the place an example of hope and resilience in the city.
I recommend exploring the area with a guided tour by local residents. Several guides offer the service right at the community’s entrance, and the tour, available in English and Spanish, costs only $10.
With this, you’ll get a deeper insight into the local history and have the opportunity to try the street food there. If you want to extend your visit to enjoy some reggaeton, I recommend the Somos de Calle bar.
Walk Through the Botanical Garden
This green oasis in the middle of the city is the perfect place to relax and unwind. It houses a variety of plants, flowers, and even a lake full of turtles.
Entrance is free. The place can be an excellent choice for a picnic, a walk in the afternoon, or a morning soaking up the sun and reading a good book.
Visit the City’s Museums
The Museum of Antioquia houses an extensive collection of Colombian art, including many works by Fernando Botero, the famous artist known for his chubby figures, who was native to Medellín.
But a must-visit is the Museum Casa de la Memoria, which tells the story of the violence that plagued the city in the 1980s and 1990s and pays tribute to its victims. Entrance is free.
Enjoy the Nightlife in El Poblado
This neighborhood is known for its lively bar and club scene. Parque Lleras, in particular, is a popular meeting point with many places to eat and drink.
My favorite bar, where I was a regular every Sunday afternoon, was El Social, where “solo se escucha salsa” and has a vibe reminiscent of 1950s Cuba.
For going out at night, the area gets a bit heavy. There’s a lot of sex tourism in this spot, and, to be honest, it’s a bit depressing.
In that case, I recommend the Manilla area, a part of Poblado more frequented by locals than foreigners, with cheaper and friendlier bars, without all the flashy and tacky appeal to drunk gringos.
Travel to Guatapé
This colorful town, about two hours from Medellín, is famous for its giant rock, La Piedra del Peñol, which you can climb for a stunning panoramic view.
To reach the top, you must climb all 740 steps leading to the top of the rock. Although the journey is challenging, the 360-degree panoramic view is worth every effort. At the top, you’ll find an incredible view of the surrounding lakes and islands, creating the perfect scenery.
It’s worth taking a stroll through the colorful streets of Guatapé and eating trout in one of the local restaurants.
Try the Local Cuisine
The cuisine of the Antioquia region, where Medellín is located, is known throughout the country for being comforting and tasty. Mountain food, you know? It’s a cuisine that wraps around the heart and stomach, inviting you to come in and feel at home.
The most iconic dish is the Bandeja Paisa. A mega-meal that used to feed the field workers (and sometimes was the only meal of the day), the dish is a giant feast of beans, rice, chorizo, morcilla, fried pork, avocado, fried banana, and a fried egg on top of it all. You’ll need a good nap after that, I guarantee!
And the arepas! Ah, the arepas. This corn delight is a flattened bread that takes all kinds of fillings inside. In Antioquia, they are thicker and call for some butter or cheese on top.
Now, if you’re the type who loves a good snack, you’ll enjoy the Colombian empanadas, which, unlike the Argentine ones, are fried and made with a crispy corn dough filled with meat, chicken, potato, and cheese.
Of course, not only savory foods make a meal, right? For sweet lovers, I recommend trying the Postre de Natas. It’s a creamy milk-based dessert, usually served with fruits or fresh cheese. Yes, fresh cheese and I promise you’ll love it!
If you’re going to spend time in Medellín, learning Spanish will transform your experience. Imagine the difference between timidly asking, “Una cerveza, por favor“, and being able to engage in a real conversation about the nuances of Colombian craft beer.
Or imagine going to the market and negotiating prices like a true paisa (as the inhabitants of Antioquia are called).
Impressive, right? Learning Spanish in Medellín is not just about grammar and vocabulary. It’s about engaging with this fantastic city’s culture, history, and people.
Medellín offers an abundance of schools and language centers where you can dive deep into Spanish, whether you’re a complete beginner or someone looking to polish what you already know.
Reggaeton may try to rule the scene, but salsa is in Colombian blood and is not going away anytime soon. Like forró, it’s a sect for the initiated, and to join in, you need some basic knowledge.
In Medellín, plenty of dance schools and studios are ready to teach you the steps of salsa. Individual lessons, group classes, intensive courses, you choose. The most important thing is to have fun.
And seriously, if the idea of spinning on a dance floor makes you sweat, remember: everyone is there to have fun. So, take a deep breath, relax, and let the music take you.
Now, let’s talk about the fun part. Once you’ve got the basic steps down, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Medellín is full of salsa clubs where you can dance the night away. And don’t worry if you don’t feel confident yet; Colombians are known for being welcoming and encouraging.
Learning salsa in Medellín is a fantastic way to move and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, meet people, and, above all, have fun. Let’s go, “¡a bailar salsa, mi gente!”
Visit Mercado del Rio
This is a great stop for any digital nomad in Medellín who loves good food, drinks, and a lively atmosphere. Mercado del Rio is one of the city’s first gastronomic markets and is a paradise for food lovers.
Imagine an enormous warehouse with food stalls offering everything from traditional Colombian cuisine to international dishes like sushi, pizza, and tacos. You can savor a gourmet burger or try authentic local dishes like arepas and bandeja paisa. And the desserts! There are sweets and cakes to satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth.
Mercado del Rio is also an excellent place for a local craft beer, a glass of wine, or even to discover new cocktails at one of its many bars. You’ll also find various events happening there, like wine tastings, cooking classes, and live shows.
Best of all, Mercado del Rio is more than just a place to eat and drink. It’s also a meeting point, a place to socialize and meet new people.
Keep an Eye on the City’s Cultural Events
Medellín is always buzzing with cultural activities that you can’t miss.
The city is famous for being culturally diverse and vibrant, and this is reflected in its cultural agenda. Whether you’re an art lover, a music enthusiast, a film buff, or someone looking for something interesting to do on a weekend, you’ll find something that suits your taste.
There are music and dance festivals, film screenings, art exhibitions, writing workshops, lectures, and much more. And the best part is that many of these events are free or low-cost. It’s a great way to get involved with the local community, meet people, and have fun!
Hot tip: be sure to check out the Feria de las Flores, Medellín’s famous flower festival that takes place every year in August.
You might be surprised by the number of amazing things happening at your doorstep. Who knows, you might even discover a new hobby or passion! Step out of your comfort zone and dive into the cultural life of this beautiful city.
Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads in Colombia
Wherever you decide to set up your office this time, it’s important to do so safely.
In my 12 years on the road, I’ve:
- I had food poisoning in Nepal (I thought it was cholera)
- Been bitten by a dog in Costa Rica
- Had one (or three) allergic reactions from insect bites
So, the last thing I want is to be in a foreign country without medical coverage. Can you imagine the headache?
I don’t leave Brazil without activating my Safety Wing coverage, a travel medical insurance created by nomads for nomads.
Wherever you decide to set up your office this time, it’s important to do so safely.
Nomads Insurance covers 185 countries and offers monthly payments that fit the budget. They offer the possibility to purchase a policy even if your trip has already started, the freedom to pause at any moment, and resume coverage flexibly.
Cafes and Restaurants to Go in Medellín
Now, check out some of my favorite places to work or spend time.
- Pergamino Café: If you’re a coffee lover, this place is a must-visit. Pergamino is THE PLACE for coffee enthusiasts in the heart of El Poblado. With an incredible variety of fresh and delicious Colombian coffees, choosing which one to try first is the hardest part. Plus, they have a cozy, inviting space for working or relaxing. Address: Cra. 37 #8A-37, El Poblado
- Café Dragon: Another great place to work, it’s a spacious, modern space filled with plants, exuding creativity and attracting a diverse crowd. The menu, as well as the coffees and drinks, are excellent. Address: Cl. 8 #43B-124, El Poblado
- Café Cliche: A French bistro in the middle of Medellín? Yes, please! This charming café serves classic French dishes and a great selection of wines. It’s the perfect spot for a pleasant lunch or for those days when you want to feel a bit Parisian in Colombia. Address: Cra. 77 #39B 45, Laureles
4. El Cielo: This is not just a restaurant; it’s a culinary experience. Led by the famous Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos, El Cielo is known for its innovative dishes and spectacular presentation. It will cost a bit more than the average lunch, but it’s worth it for a special occasion. Address: Cl. 7D #43c36
5. Mondongo’s: If you’re seeking an authentic Colombian culinary experience, you can’t miss Mondongo’s. They serve traditional Colombian food, including the dish that gives the restaurant its name, mondongo (a soup made with cow stomach). It might not sound appealing, but trust me, it’s delicious! Address: Cra. 70 # c 3 – 43
6. Burdo: If what you’re looking for is a modern and laid-back place to grab a drink after work, Burdo is the spot. This bar-restaurant has an incredible vibe, an excellent selection of beers and cocktails, and a menu that ranges from snacks to more elaborate dishes. And the best part is they have a great outdoor area! Address: Cra. 35 # 8A – 101
Suggested read: Best places for digital nomads this year
Books to Read Before Visiting Medellín
- “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez – This magical realism classic is perhaps Colombia’s most famous book. Although the fictional town of Macondo is not Medellín, reading this book will give you a deep insight into Colombian folklore and culture.
- “Killing Pablo” by Mark Bowden – This non-fiction book details the life of the infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar and the efforts to bring him down. It’s an intriguing read if you’re interested in the recent history of Medellín and how the city has changed since then.
- “The Sound of Things Falling” by Juan Gabriel Vásquez – This award-winning novel mediates the legacy of violence in Colombia. Set in Bogotá, it offers an introspective look at the long-term effects of conflict in the country.
- “The General in His Labyrinth” by Gabriel García Márquez – This historical novel by Márquez portrays the last days of Simon Bolivar, a military leader who played a crucial role in South America’s independence from Spain.
- “Night Prayers” by Santiago Gamboa – This book is a collection of stories set in Bogotá and other Colombian cities, including Medellín. The stories are told by different narrators, offering a multifaceted view of urban life in Colombia.
How Much Does It Cost to Live as a Digital Nomad in Medellín
Expect to spend between $800 and $1200 per month per person to live in Medellín.
- Accommodation: starting at $500 for a studio
- Economical meal: $5
- Weekly grocery shopping: $50
To save even more, you’ll need a reasonable exchange rate. For this, I, who earn in Brazilian reais, transfer my money to Wise. The company offers one of the best exchange rates in the market and is super practical.
You can load it in dozens of currencies from various parts of the world and withdraw from local ATMs wherever you are. They still don’t have Colombian pesos, but using dollars there proved worthwhile! Click here to open your account!
Pros and Cons of Choosing Medellín as a Digital Nomad
Living as a digital nomad in Medellín can be an incredible experience, but, like anything else, it has pros and cons. Here are some to consider:
- Cost of Living: The cost of living in Medellín is quite affordable compared to many cities worldwide. Rent, food, transportation, and entertainment are generally cheaper than what you would find in North America or Europe.
- Climate: Medellín is known as “the city of eternal spring” for good reason. The weather is pleasant all year round, with average temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
- Community: Medellín has a large community of digital nomads and a wide variety of coworking spaces, making it easy to meet people in the same situation as you.
- Location: Medellín’s location is ideal for exploring the rest of South America. Additionally, there are many direct flights to the United States and Europe.
- Cultural Life: Medellín has a vibrant culture with many festivals, events, and a thriving artistic and musical scene.
- Safety: Although safety has improved significantly in Medellín in recent years, there are still areas of the city that are best avoided, especially at night.
- Language Barrier: Although more and more people speak English in Medellín, it can still be a challenge to communicate if you don’t speak Spanish.
- Pollution: Medellín is situated in a valley, which can lead to air quality issues, especially during the dry season.
- Traffic: Like many large cities, Medellín can have heavy traffic, especially during peak hours.
Check out our Ultimate Guide for the Digital Nomad in Cuba!
Editor of Yes, Summer! I am a Brazilian journalist, writer, and digital nomad. I have been traveling the world, telling stories, and tasting local beers since 2010. I am the co-founder of 360meridianos, a reference in travel writing in Brazil, and author of the newsletter Migraciones. On social media, I'm always reachable at @natybecattini.