So you may have read my Ultimate Colombia Travel Guide and now have your 3 week itinerary ready. But where to sleep, eat and drink? I’ve compiled a list of the best budget accommodation as well as restaurants, cafes and bars in Colombia for backpackers. Colombia on a shoestring, loads of fun guaranteed.
Medellín – budget accommodation:
- Galeria Hostel: Great backpacker crowd with big communal area, definitely a party hostel.
- Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel: Definitely one of the better hostels with great party vibes, yet quiet at night.
- Bambu Glamping City House: Quiet and relaxed but with an easy walk to Zona Rosa.
Medellín – best places to eat:
- Café Pergamino: Great coffee and delicious breakfast in stylish location
- Verdeo: Tasty vegetarian dishes
- Mondongo’s: Best spot to try this famous Sopa de Mondongo
- El Loco Carnal: Cheap yet delicious Mexican dishes
Cartagena – budget accommodation:
- Hostal Media Luna: Good if you’re keen for partying all night – it’s so noisy until the early morning so sleeping isn’t easy. COP 50,000/night* for a dorm bed, shared bath.
- Hostal Mamallena: Unlike Media Luna, this hostel has no pool but it is quiet in the rooms despite people hanging out and drinking in the communal garden. COP 50,000/night for a dorm bed with AC.
Cartagena – best places to eat:
- Peru Fusion Sushi: Amazing sushi, prices are pretty European though.
- I Balconi: Famous for their pizza in Cartagena but also serve tasty pasta dishes.
- Café del Mar: Great to watch the sunset with a cool drink in hand.
Playa Blanca – budget accommodation:
- La Estrella: This was recommended to me. You’ll get a hammock for COP 10,000/night right on the beach. I had already paid one night before exploring the beach a bit further. La Estrella is still not too far from the main entrance so it was still rather busy but further down to the right I came across lots of quieter places. A private cabana cost between COP 30,000 to 50,000/night (COP 40,000-60,000 for double occupancy).
- Any Cabanas: I stayed at this place because the guy that chatted me up, Jorge, was super friendly and they offered me to stay at the cabin for COP 30,000/night. There were enough backpackers around not to feel lonely but it was still very quiet.
- Hostal Playa Blanca: In 2015, the only place on Playa Blanca with wifi and probably the most comfortable place to stay at.
What a view to wake up to!
Playa Blanca – best places to eat:
- There is family living just next to Any Cabanas and they cooked us a delicious catch of the day Colombian style: Fried fish with veggies, coconut rice and fried plantains for just COP 20,000. They don’t have a menu but they’ll cook you something up if they have the ingredients. They made some good pasta and lasagne too.
- I’d go for fresh fruit from one of the ladies that stroll along the beach for breakfast, usually around COP 5,000.
Minca – budget accommodation:
The beautiful Casa Elemento in Minca
- Casa Elemento: Such a peaceful place up in the mountains with amazing views. It is so serene. Sit back with a good book and enjoy. Or explore with them on their daily tours. Your only option is to eat at the hostel (unless you hike a few hours to the village or take a taxi down but that’s rather expensive). They serve two or three breakfast options, a light lunch (usually leftovers from dinner) and communal dinner (with a veggie option) and try to use mostly local/home grown produce. Creates a very homely atmosphere.
You can also camp at Casa Elemento in Minca.
Waking up to the sound of birds and a beautiful sunrise at Casa Elemento in Minca.
- Casa Loma: If you dare to walk up the steep stairs (it does seem never-ending), you will be rewarded with great views and a lovely place to stay. You will be strategic about your visits to the village as these steps really kick butt even without your heavy backpack. But they do serve very delicious food.
Minca – best places to eat:
- Lazy Cat: Expat run place with good dishes and wifi (if you really need it).
- Mox Murica: This is a family-run business with seating in the family’s lovely backyard, food prepared in their private kitchen with local produce. It’s so hidden away but worth finding it.
- If you walk down from Casa Loma to the village, you’ll see a pizza place on your left-hand side near the church. Can highly recommend.
Palomino Beach – budget accommodation:
- The Dreamer Hostel: Probably the most loved hostel in Palomino among backpackers. Around COP 30,000/night in a dorm. Nice pool and great communal area with a pool table. It’s got a nice party vibe and with its bar is a favorite for pre-drinks before heading to the beach bonfire.
Palomino Beach – best places to eat:
- Finca Escondida: This is a very popular place along the beach and they do great seafood and fish dishes. We had the langostini a la plancha (COP 32,000) and pescado a la plancha (COP 18,000).
- Sua: This is an eco-conscious restaurant on the main road and served the best food I had in Colombia. We shared some pizzas and lasagne.
Santa Marta – budget accommodation:
- The Dreamer Hostel: This was a good hostel, easy distance to the airport but the surrounding area is really boring so you’re kind of stuck in the hostel (please don’t take the beach tour, it’s a terrible beach and terribly boring, too). They have different nights on in the hostel like quiz night or movie night.
* Accommodation prices are higher between Christmas and mid February as this is holiday season in Colombia.