Traveling to Medellin as a Digital Nomad: What to Expect

Medellin is fast becoming one of the top cities to live in as a digital nomad. Once considered one of the most dangerous places in the world, It’s fought hard to shake an outdated reputation. 

Today, its world-class metro system, acclaimed restaurants and malls, and buzzing cultural scene make it one of the most modern cities in South America and an emerging hot spot for tourists and remote workers. 

Taking 3rd place on the recent Forbes list of the top cities in the world, ranking highly on nightlife and partying (90%), it’s on its way to competing with nomad hives like Bali and Chiang Mai. 

But the great thing about Medellin is it’s still a relatively hidden gem, only on the brink of being uncovered by the mainstream travel sphere. 

So, running from a bitter British winter, I packed up my life, laptop in tow, and booked a one-way ticket to the land of eternal spring.

Planning Where to Stay

The pre-planning stage was crucial. So first, I had to decide where to stay. 

Medellin is practically brimming with charming neighborhoods. However, a few factors come into play when deciding where exactly to live; budget, duration of stay, nightlife, and availability of places to work are some things to consider. 

It is for you to decide what your needs are and what is important to you. But in all honesty, if it’s your first time in the city, you’ll likely be staying in one of the two popular areas.


As the more upscale area of the city, the Poblado district has all the western trappings you may be used to, like extravagant malls, hipster cafes, acclaimed restaurants, and chic boutiques. 

The buzzing nightlife of Manila, Provenza, and Parque Lleras make these Poblado barrios a favorite amongst travelers.  

This is the perfect area for newcomers to find their bearings and build a community of fellow travelers. It was also the first place I lived in Medellin; it was here that I fell in love with the city. 

If you’re only in the town for a short time, it may be better to stay here where all the action is. But be warned, accommodation will be considerably more expensive than in other areas. 


This leafy corner of the city is more local and residential and the perfect place to touch up on your Spanish, make local friends, and immerse yourself in Colombian culture. 

Away from the wild nightlife of Poblado, it’s a favorite with ex-pats and digital nomads for its lower rental prices, local cuisines, and cafes and coworking spaces. 

With 15 neighborhoods making up Laureles, it’s much larger than one may realize! Some of the most notable areas are Estadio, ​​San Joaquín, Carlos E. Restrepo, and Los Conquistadores, all of which are great barrios to live in. 

Finding the Right Accommodation

When first arriving in Medellin, I stayed in a hotel and spent a week or two looking at apartments in person. Some excellent boutique hotel options are Hotel Celestino and Hotel Epic.

However, apartment rentals tend to be more cost-effective and comfortable than hotels for stays of longer than a month. Airbnb is the obvious choice when looking for minimum-commitment accommodation. 

However, Colombian sites advertise some of the same Airbnb apartments for a lower price. The Casacol directory is a great resource for apartment hunting, as well as the below websites:

Travel Insurance

Like anywhere in the world, buying travel insurance before your trip is a good idea. There are a few companies that offer long-term digital nomad insurance. 

Be extensive in your research and check that your plan is comprehensive. I found out the hard way when I tried to claim a flight cancellation, only to find out my insurance didn’t cover it. 

Entering Colombia with a Tourist Visa 

There are currently 102 countries that can enter Colombia visa-free at the discretion of the immigration officer. You can check your eligibility here.

Citizens of these countries can be granted 90 days of stay upon arrival. However, there are a few conditions. 

You’ll need at least six months left on your passport before it expires. In addition, depending on where you’re flying from, you may be asked for proof of a return flight and a yellow fever vaccination. Although the proof of this vaccination is somewhat rare, I’ve never been asked for one.

Once in Colombia, you can extend your stay by an extra 90 days using the Migracion Colombia site. Ensure you leave at least two weeks before your current tourist visa expires. Once your documents are prepared, like scans of your passport pages, the form is very quick to fill out. 

Luckily, the process is entirely free for travelers of the Schengen Area.  However, the rest of us will be charged $27 USD. 

So, you can stay in Colombia for 180 days within a calendar year; these 180 days will always renew on January 1st. 

After going through the visa renewal process for a second time, you would have finessed a 365-day stay in Colombia!

If you plan it well, you can come in June and stay your 180 days, which will take you to the end of December. Then, once the new year starts, you’ll automatically be granted another 90 days without having to even leave the country!

After going through the visa renewal process for a second time, you would have finessed a 365-day stay in Colombia!

Flying from London

I flew from my home in England; however, there are no direct flights from London to Medellin. 

Most flights stop in Bogota, but Madrid and Frankfurt are also common layover points when flying from Europe. 

The cheapest flight comparison sites are Kayak and Skyscanner, with one-stop flights starting at £350 ($405 USD). 

Avianca shows up best when it comes to price and flight durations. Premium German airline Lufthansa has flights from Europe to Medellin starting at £450 ($520 USD). 

My Lufthansa flight from London Heathrow was 11 hours. However, the last leg from Bogota to Medellin was a quick 1 hour!

Airport Experience

When flying into Colombia, make sure you have enough time to catch your connecting flight to Medellin, as Bogota is a huge international airport, and it may take up to 1hr to pass through immigration and get to your new terminal. 

My flight from London was delayed. So with only an hour to get to my connecting flight, I knew instantly that I wasn’t going to make it. Not that the staff at El Dorado airport didn’t try. 

They did the usual practice of having you exit the plane first and gather with the other passengers with short connecting times.

But the really bizarre part came when they insisted I get in a wheelchair and proceeded to race me through hundreds of people in the immigration, baggage claim, and to my check-in desk. 

Even with all that, I still missed my flight! But Lufthansa swiftly put me up in Bogota’s Marriott hotel for the night. This might be the fanciest compensation hotel ever. 

Immigration Experience

If you have a connecting flight in Bogota, you will go through immigration here. However, the immigration line at both the Bogota and Medellin international airports tends to be quite long. Be prepared to wait in line for up to an hour. 

When you finally get to the immigration desk, they will ask you for the purpose of your travel, the length of your stay, and the address of your accommodation. They’ve never asked me for a return flight at this point of the journey, but it’s not unheard of. 

However, if you’re traveling from another South American country, the airline may ask you for proof of outbound travel before you get on the plane to Colombia. 

I’ve never had any issues with Colombian immigration. I say I’m traveling for tourism, staying for a few months, and show them a screenshot image of my hotel confirmation and address. 

If your mobile data plan doesn’t include international usage, you may need to screenshot all your essential documents, as it’s likely you won’t have internet access upon landing. 

Getting from the Airport to Medellin

Most commercial flights into Medellin will land at Jose Maria Cordova International Airport, which sits just outside the city; in Rionegro. 

There are three options for transport to Medellin city:

  • By Taxi – As you step through the arrival gates, you’ll be accosted by eager taxi drivers offering you their services. The taxis are safe and usually run by larger companies; they’ll drop you off at your hotel. As of November 2022, the price is around $80,000 COP. 
  • Private Transfer – Private cars can be booked before your flight and are the safest and most comfortable option. Prices start at $134,000 COP and are usually paid online when you book the service. 
  • By Bus – Although packed, the buses are comfortable and take around an hour to reach the city. You’ll find them parked in front of the arrivals gate. For around $10,000 COP, they’ll take you to Medellin’s Terminal de Norte. From here you’ll need to take a taxi to your accommodation. Taxi prices from Medellin’s bus station range from $15,000 – $25,000 COP, depending on the location. 

Live, Work and Explore Medellin City

With a little bit of preparation, the journey to Medellin can be smooth and exciting. Medellin is a phenomenal city to work in as a digital nomad, and with the new digital nomad visa, there’s no excuse not to! 

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