The Laureles neighborhood is widely loved by travelers, and rightly so, since it’s named one of the best neighborhoods in Medellin. You never have to wonder what to do in Laureles, as it rivals El Poblado for the thriving nightlife and delectable food options, but surpasses El Poblado for not being a tourist hub. So we hope you enjoy our fun Insider’s Guide on what do to in Laureles neighborhood.
ABOUT THE LAURELES NEIGHBORHOOD
A centrally located Medellin neighborhood, Laureles is in walking distance to many creature comforts for the modern day Paisa and traveler. It’s no wonder why we chose the Laureles neighborhood as a second location for our school, near the Floresta metro station. Laureles has a perfect blend of traditional Colombian life and easy access to shopping plazas, malls, universities, markets, parks, cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood includes the popular party streets La Setenta and La Treinta-tres, both are stretches of bars and restaurants where you can find almost anything you’re looking to get into.
Lying west of the Medellin River, this strata 5 neighborhood is home to many middle-upper class residents. It’s a neighborhood hosting the best of both worlds for convenience and safety. But you should always keep your wits about you and use common sense. Especially at night, when the streets feel more deserted.
One distinctly unique feature of the Laureles neighborhood – for better or worse – is the design of its streets. The area was planned in the 1930’s by German architect Karl Brenner and Pedro Nel Gomez, a Paisa and well-known architect in Medellin. In most areas, Calles run east to west, while Carreras run north to south. Unlike the quadrants that shape the other neighborhoods’ streets, Gomez fancied a circular design for Laureles. Thus, a circular mass of confusion that leaves both residents and visitors scratching their heads. Locals say that the neighborhood was built out, surrounding the popular university, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (or UPB). Either way, if you find yourself lost in Laureles, know that it is by design.
Where to start with the marvelous selections of some of the cutest cafes EVER! You’re in Colombia! Start your day right with real Colombian coffee. Get your fix at a few of the best cafés in the area.
Café Ondas is a hostel and cafe that’s open all week. Have their yummy banana bread with a macchiato under the warm sun on their stylish outdoor patio. It’s just a five-minute walk from the school. Café Zeppelin is great spot for coffee or “menu del dia” – where you get juice, soup or salad, an entree of the day, and coffee or dessert for about $12,00 COP. Café Cliché is a French cafe with delicious wine, quiche to die for, and, of course, coffee! They also offer events and entertainment through the week. Café Revolución has a striking atmosphere and decor that stands out – just the right environment for sipping contemplatively from a delicious brew of java or having a deep discussion with a new friend on the politics of to shave or not to shave.
Tip: If you like chill spots off the beaten path, try this cool cafe: Distrito Radio Café
PRACTICE SPANISH & MAKE COLOMBIAN FRIENDS
Language exchanges (or intercambio de idioamas) are one of the best and easiest ways to meet new people while practicing your new language. Locals practice their English with you, and you speak Spanish with them. But there’s no pressure. You choose who practice with and when.
You have your choice of many in Medellin all through the week, and some of the best are right here in Laureles. Café Ondas has their language exchange Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on their decked out rooftop. Then, spend Thursday night at The Wandering Paisa’s language exchange, and meet like-minded travelers. The Wandering Paisa is a charming hostel and hosts other weekly events to enjoy, like free salsa classes on Tuesdays and karaoke nights every other Friday.
An honorable mention is Café Cliché’s popular digital nomads meet-up that occurs on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (but look out on their Facebook page for dates). Not a digital nomad? Not a problem. Come out anyway, there’ll be people happy to chat with you in any language: Spanish, English, and even French!
PARKS & RECREATION
Primer Parque de Laureles or Segundo Parque de Laureles are not only great points of references for meeting locations, but they are also great parks to sit and watch the day go by. Especially Primer Parque de Laureles, where people congregate day and night. And to further revitalize your spirit, check out the Centro Psique community center in La Floresta, where you can find anything from art classes to yoga to movie nights. (And if you’re ever in need, they also offer stellar counseling services).
Get your zen on with Flying Tree Yoga. This yoga studio is nestled on a residential block behind La Treinta y tres and adjacent to Unicentro and UPB (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana). Breathe. Stretch. Pose. And carry on.
NEIGHBORS WITH BENEFITS: LAURELES/ESTADIO
It’s also worth noting that Laureles neighbors Estadio, where you’ll find the Atanasio Girardot futbol stadium. Here Medellin’s two teams, Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin, play matches (it’s particularly exciting when the two teams face each other in a game called “El Clasico”). The presence of the stadium creates a sense of excitement on gameday that’s infectious in both neighborhoods, and attending a game while you’re in Medellin is an absolute must. Pro tip: learn the teams’ fight songs before you go.
The Atanasio Girardot complex also features a massive athletic facility that’s open to the public upon registering and creating a reservation. Take advantage of running tracks, swimming pools of many shapes and sizes, a skate park, soccer fields, basketball courts and more. Additionally, aerobics classes like Zumba, and even salsa, are offered in the evening for free! They usually meet at the outdoor stage near the fountain, unless it rains.
DINE IN, CHILL OUT
Hungry? Head to Carlos E Restrepo plaza where you can find anything from killer pizza at Bigotes Pizza or a Mediterranean meal at El Aula, alongside standard paisa fare like empanadas, arepas and bandeja paisa. And if you’re looking for lunch after class in Laureles, you can pop over to El Cuba Nero for a quick and delicious Cuban sandwich. Other great eateries are Mondongos, Kusi Kitchen (Peruvian), Salud Pan, and Orale Comida Mexicana.
BEST SALSA CLUBS
Perhaps our favorite thing to do in Laureles is to enjoy the vibrant salsa scene. Both Son Havana and El Tibiri have some of the best dancing in the city, with salsa dancers ranging in ability from novice to professional. Even if you don’t dance, you can enjoy a live salsa band at Son Havana on Thursday and Saturday nights and cheap drinks at El Tibiri.
Dancing Salsa is your thing but you are not sure where to find the perfect place? Have a look at our favourite Seven Salsa Bars in Medellin!
INTO THE NIGHT…
La Setenta (Carrera 70) is THE SPOT in Laureles for an all-night-long night on the town. It’s a strip of bars, shops, clubs and restaurants that is 1 kilometer long. Many students return to school the Monday after a weekend on La Setenta with stories of staying out till 4 a.m. You can get dinner, drinks, and party all in one spot. La Setenta is also where you’ll find El Tibiri for a fun and HOT night of salsa!
For more tips on what to see, eat, drink and do in the Laureles neighborhood, take a look at our interactive map.
How to stay always up-to-date? Follow our facebookpage Colombia Immersion Laureles and never miss an event again!
… about Medellín
- Top 10 Things to do in Medellín
- Envigado Neighborhood Guide
- Medellín Customs and Culture
- 8 Colombian snacks you need to try
… about learning Spanish
- Two Projects to Jump Start your Spanish
- Oops! False Cognates to Avoid
- Ser and Estar: What’s the difference?