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25 Best Things to Do in Medellín (Colombia)

The second city of Colombia, Medellín has transformed itself perhaps more than any other city in the world. Though its violent, tumultuous past is well-known, today the city is modern, innovative, and just generally lovely.

Nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” for its nearly perfect weather, you’ll find plenty of parks and plazas where you can enjoy the sunshine with a fresh juice from a street food vendor and a couple of empanadas.

Make sure you learn all about the city’s past in order to appreciate how far it’s come – there are plenty of museums and tours that’ll educate you, along with authentic markets and neighborhoods to explore. The city is also home to great restaurants, cafes, bars, and even clubs that’ll have you salsa dancing the night away… or trying to anyway.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Medellín :

1. Museo de Antioquia

Museum of Antioquia, Medellin

A former city hall turned museum, this place houses a great collection of works by Fernando Botero.

He’s one of Colombia’s most famous artists, and he had a penchant for painting all things chubby.

Born in Medellín, the artist patronized his hometown museum by donating many of the works himself.

Guides recommend starting on the top floor with his earlier pieces and making your way down to see his evolution as an artist.

The museum also houses works by international artists and offers an audio guide if you want to learn even more.

There’s a small cafe and courtyard here where you can take a break.

2. Free Walking Tour

Walking Tour, Medellin

The free walking tour in Medellín by Real City Tours is one of the most popular walking tours in the world.

Learn all about the city’s difficult past from an insightful and experienced guide.

This is a good way to get out of Poblado and see more of the city, taste some local foods, and hear how the local people really feel about Pablo Escobar.

You’ll see places like Parque Berrio, the Forest of Lights, and Parque San Antonio.

Do this tour at the beginning of your stay in Medellín so you’ll have lots of historical background on the city – plus your guide will give you great food and nightlife tips! Be sure to sign up ahead of time so you get a spot, and know that it’s not totally free – you’re supposed to tip at the end of the 4-hour tour.

There’s also a Pablo Escobar tour in Medellin.

3. Take the Metrocable Up to Parque Arvi

Metrocable, Medellin

The metro and metrocable system of Medellín has received lots of praise for bringing a city of many different neighborhoods together.

You can get all over the city with your metro ticket, and if you want to venture up for great views and fresh air, pay a little more to take the metrocable from Santo Domingo to Parque Arvi.

The 15-minute ride provides great views of the city and neighborhoods below.

At the top, there are places to stop for some snacks made from local Colombian products (like grilled mushrooms) while you enjoy the views.

Check out the tents and street vendors selling trinkets and then head out onto the walking trails of the park.

Related tour : Medellin Innovation: 4-Hour Metro Tour

4. Santo Domingo and Biblioteca España

Biblioteca España, Medellin

If you take a ride up the metrocable, you’ll get a glimpse of a few of the poorer barrios on your way up and down.

It’s an authentic look into life in these colorful neighborhoods which were once in the center of a warzone.

During the day it’s fine to stop in Santo Domingo to have a look around – maybe grab a beer and some fried chicken and arepas from one of the small local restaurants.

Many people also get off here to check out the Biblioteca España, a massive, modern library built from black slate that’s become like a local community center.

5. The Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens, Medellin

A natural oasis in the center of Medellín, they city’s botanical gardens contain more than 1,000 species of wildlife and 4,500 flowers.

There’s a butterfly garden, a cactus garden, and a huge collection of orchids.

Entry is free and you can go explore the area to find critters or just lie on the grass in the sun with a book.

There’s even a 65-foot-high wooden mesh structure called the Orquideorama which collects rainwater and protects the orchids and butterflies below.

Have a picnic, check for live events, and be sure to visit if you’re here during the city’s Festival of the Flowers, it’ll be even more impressive.

6. Parque Explora

Parque Explora, Medellin

Everybody loves Parque Explora, even adults and those folks without kids.

It’s an interactive science museum combined with South America’s largest freshwater aquarium.

There are over 300 interactive exhibits housed in the building’s four red cubes, plus a planetarium, 3D auditorium, and a television studio.

Located in Zona Norte near the botanical gardens and shopping malls, it’s easy to spend a whole day here playing and learning about science and technology, but it’s also a convenient stop on your way to other attractions.

Parque Explora is totally interesting and fun, and you’ll enjoy it even more if you do have kids with you.

7. Check Out Poblado

Poblado, Medellin

Chances are you might be staying in this upscale neighborhood anyway because it’s where most of the gringos, expats, and backpackers in Medellín choose to rest their heads.

It’s a beautiful area of shady streets with a solid café culture and a range of different types of international food options.

Coffee shops and free wifi abound, plus there are bars, spas, gyms, and all the other comforts from home here.

Whether you want to do a serious coffee tasting (try Cafe Toucan) or hit the clubs for the night (check out Calle 9), you’ll find it in Poblado.

8. Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria, Medellin

This museum is both upsetting, enlightening, and informative, and it’s the place to go if you want more insight on Colombia’s dramatic and violent history.

From drug cartels and gangs to a terrible civil war, Casa de la Memoria aims to amplify the voices of victims and preserve their history so that we might learn more about it and avoid these pitfalls in the future.

Entry is free, and the whole place is well-curated – the interactive exhibits, emotional photography, and artwork are all sure to inform and move you.

9. Visit Guatapé


It’s the must-do day trip from Medellín, but it’s even better if you’ve got a night or two to spare there.

Guatapé is a picturesque, colorful lake town about two hours outside the city.

Take photos of the vibrantly painted exteriors of homes here, and visit the Plaza de Zocalos for the most colorful town square in Colombia.

Along the lake and throughout town you’ll find cheap street foods like empanadas and churros, and of course, the restaurants will supply you with plenty of freshly cooked lake trout and fish soup.

The most popular activity in town, however, is climbing the 740 steps up El Peñol, a giant rock, for an amazing view of the islands and water beneath.

Recommended tour : Guatape: Full-Day Tour from Medellin

10. Parque Lleras

Parque Lleras

Poblado is one of the biggest hotspots for nightlife in Medellín, and for locals and tourists alike, Parque Lleras is often the place where you start out the night.

It’s just a little park filled with trees where you’ll find vendors selling art by day and crowds of folks drinking by night.

The park is surrounded by bars, restaurants, and clubs, plus it’s close to many of the hostels in the area, so there’s always young people around.

Grab a bottle of the anise-flavored Colombian spirit, Aguardiente, or just a few Aguila beers and head to this lively park to hang out before heading out.

11. Go Salsa Dancing

DanceFree Medellin

Whether you’re an old pro or just want to learn a few steps, this city is the place to do it.

While Cali might be the salsa capital of Colombia, Medellín can get you started with salsa lessons or local bars and clubs filled with salsa music and dancing.

DanceFree in Poblado is a super popular place for private or group classes, and on the weekends they have a bar with dancing too.

For live salsa music and dancing (with locals and tourists alike showing off), check out the Son Havana or El Eslabon Prendido.

Available workshop : Medellin Salsa Like a Local Evening Workshop

12. Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero

A great place for people watching and art appreciation, check out the lively Plaza Botero for some larger than life sculptures by the square’s namesake, Fernando Botero.

There are 23 voluptuous bronze statues scattered about the plaza, all donated by the artist himself.

It’s a great place to meander around or sit with a fresh juice or empanada from one of the street vendors before or after visiting the Museo de Antioquia.

The area has transformed an otherwise run-down part of town, and you’ll find street performers, trinket salesmen, and food stalls all around.

13. El Castillo Museo y Jardines

El Castillo Museo y Jardines, Medellin

Wait, there’s a castle in Medellín? Yep, for a small entry fee you can check out this French-inspired, 20th-century castle and its gardens, fountains, and pathways.

Take a little tour to see the inside as well, with its four-poster beds, porcelain collection, and giant dining room table.

It was built in 1930 and it opened as a museum in 1971, but in between those years it served as a home for the wealthy and a place for entertaining high society visitors from Europe.

14. Go Paragliding


This area of Colombia is renowned for paragliding, or parapente in Spanish, and it’s easy to arrange trips from Medellín, even on short notice.

The experience of leaping off a mountain into thermal currents with incredible deep green views beneath you is exhilarating (and maybe a little nerve-wracking), but professional guides will put you at ease.

They provide transportation out to the launching point, strap you to your guide, and teach you how to take off.

Some companies allow you to pay a little extra if you want GoPro footage of your adventure – check out Dragon Fly and Paragliding Medellín.

Book online : Paragliding the Andes from Medellín

15. Plaza Minorista Market

Plaza Minorista Market

Get an authentic look at Medellín food culture by visiting one of the city’s markets.

Plaza Minorista is a huge farmer’s market filled with local vendors selling everything from fresh produce and fish to just-butchered meats and ready-made corn arepas.

It’s a great place to bring your camera to capture all the bright colors and characters here.

Take a tour to do some fruit tasting or just buy some of what looks good for yourself – prices are cheap! There are plenty of little restaurants in Minorista where you can grab a set meal or a full breakfast, plus things like fish stew, coconut rice, and freshly squeezed fruit juice.

16. See a Fútbol Match

Stadium Atanasio Girardot

Football (soccer) in South America is close to religion, drawing excited and loyal fans to the stadiums to watch their teams play.

Medellín is no exception, and if you want to attend a sporting event doubles as a cultural experience, go see one of the city’s teams play.

Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín are the two local clubs, and you can usually get tickets between $12 and $25 USD. Buy them a couple days in advance and get advice on where to sit, depending on if you want things to be rowdy or (relatively) calm.

Even if you’re not a soccer fan, go for the energy of the stadium – the rambunctious fans, the singing, the shouting, banners, and even firecrackers going off during games are a one of a kind experience.

17. Parque Berrío

Candelaria Church in the Parque de Berrio

A plaza with fewer people trying to sell you things and ask for money and more folks just trying to meet up and hang out, Parque Berrío feels very local.

Tons of people gather here in the afternoon to sit and listen to street musicians play after buying beers and snacks from local vendors.

Old men gather to play games like dominos, and the locals here are pretty friendly.

Once the site of the old public market and home to public executions, the park was transformed in the early 90s when the area made way for the nearby metro station.

You can visit the old Iglesia la Candelaria on one side and a few blocks away is the much more touristy Plaza Botero.

18. Eat Colombian Food, Especially Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa

If you don’t know much about Colombian food, Medellín is the perfect place to get acquainted.

From the many exotic fruits to mondongo (tripe soup) to cheese-filled arepas, you’ll have no shortage of options.

The one thing you must try here is the local specialty, bandeja paisa, a gut-busting combination of meats like sausage and pork cracklings alongside beans, plantains, rice, a fried egg, and a few avocado slices they’ve thrown in for good measure.

Hatoviejo, Hacienda Junin, and Mondongo’s are all great places to try local cuisine.

19. Comuna 13 and Las Escaleras

Comuna 13, Medellin

Once part of the city you’d never even consider visiting, the government and local artists have joined forces to make Comuna 13 a better place to live.

The addition of colorful artwork, escalators, and increased safety measures have opened the neighborhood up to tourism and brought the community closer together.

Comuna 13 used to be so dangerous that only its residents would think of climbing the steep slopes to enter, but the addition of escalators as a form of social and democratic infrastructure have made it more approachable.

Visit to see the many murals, people, police officers, colorful hillside homes, and transformation that has taken place here.

Recommended tour : Medellín: Comuna 13 Neighborhood Tour

20. Go Biking or Ride ATVs Outside the City

Natural landscape, Medellin

The lush surroundings, hills, and mountains around Medellín make it a great playground for adventure-seekers.

To explore them, head out with a tour company who’ll set you up with a mountain bike or ATV, transport you about an hour outside of town, and let you speed around challenging trails.

It’s a great chance to go off-road and visit some sites that not a lot of tourists make it out to see.

Guanabana Tours will combine biking and ATV riding with parasailing, river rafting, and even trips to Guatapé.

Medellín Adventure Trails will take you around the rugged terrain on bikes or ATVs (or both) and include a stop for lunch at a trout farm.

Available tour : Medellin Off-Road Adventure Tour by Quad Bike

21. Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín

Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín

A very cool work of modern architecture itself, this small but edgy museum is home to modern artwork by Colombian and other Latin American artists.

While somewhat compact, the MAMM features several permanent and temporary exhibits, including paintings, videos, sculptures, and 3D creations both inside and out.

Modern art isn’t for everyone, so the museum does a good job providing explanations of each of the pieces.

The theater here shows movies occasionally, and the gift shop sells super unique souvenirs created by artists.

There’s a great terrace with views of the city, and a restaurant downstairs where you can have a drink.

22. Mercado del Río

Mercado del Río, Medellin

A popular spot for eating and socializing, check out Mercado del Río for a choice of over 40 restaurants.

It’s a lively food court with a cool ambiance and many trendy options located near the MAMM. This place is packed at lunchtime and dinnertime with young professionals from nearby office buildings, so getting a seat might be a challenge.

A cool spot to come with friends, you’ll have your pick of everything from sushi, hamburgers, and paella to mexican, vegan, and mediterranean dishes.

You can also grab beers, cocktails, or a glass of wine and hang out over a few shared plates.

23. Go Shopping

Centro Comercial Palacio Nacional, Medellin

Medellín is a great place to do some shopping, whether you’re after dirt-cheap knock offs or luxury stores.

El Hueco is where you’d go for a little bit of chaos, haggling, and lots of shops and street vendors selling fake brand-name goods and other odds and ends you might need.

For a more modern mall experience with a broad range of stores, check out the huge Centro Commercial Santa Fe or Oviedo.

For a unique, high-end experience just a few blocks away, check out Río Sur, a group of repurposed buildings which now contain upmarket boutique shops, salons, and lots of nightclubs, restaurants, and bars.

24. Cañón Del Río Claro Reserva Natural

Cañón Del Río Claro Reserva Natural

This little piece of paradise is about three hours outside Medellín, and it’s a great place to spend a few nights relaxing in nature and exploring.

You can go hiking, ziplining, rafting, birdwatching, or cavern trekking around the Río Claro Valley and reserve.

As far as accommodation, there’s an eco-friendly lodge, plus cabins and camping available – be sure to bring cash! It’s a rustic place, but it’s surrounded by pure natural beauty, like the river which cuts through a marble canyon and jungle-like forests.

You’ll spot plenty of exotic wildlife here too, with monkeys, scorpions, massive butterflies, and tons of birds from parrots to toucans to hummingbirds, all at your doorstep.

25. Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe

Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe

You won’t be able to avoid seeing this unique and imposing building, because of course you’ll be visiting the Plaza Botero.

Chances are you’ve never seen anything like its intricate and dizzying black and white facade though.

The architect who built it received so much public criticism for his work that he walked off the job (totally insulted), and the city finished his work in a completely different style (you’ll see, it’s very obvious). If it’s open, head inside to see the lovely courtyard with its fountain and gardens.

While the interior has fallen into disrepair a bit, there is some artwork to view and you can climb to the top for views of the city and plaza below.

25 Best Things to Do in Medellín (Colombia):

  • Museo de Antioquia
  • Free Walking Tour
  • Take the Metrocable Up to Parque Arvi
  • Santo Domingo and Biblioteca España
  • The Botanical Gardens
  • Parque Explora
  • Check Out Poblado
  • Casa de la Memoria
  • Visit Guatapé
  • Parque Lleras
  • Go Salsa Dancing
  • Plaza Botero
  • El Castillo Museo y Jardines
  • Go Paragliding
  • Plaza Minorista Market
  • See a Fútbol Match
  • Parque Berrío
  • Eat Colombian Food, Especially Bandeja Paisa
  • Comuna 13 and Las Escaleras
  • Go Biking or Ride ATVs Outside the City
  • Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín
  • Mercado del Río
  • Go Shopping
  • Cañón Del Río Claro Reserva Natural
  • Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe

She Wanders Abroad

3 Days in Medellin: The Perfect Medellin Itinerary for First-Timers

View of Medellin from Pueblito Paisa

It’s crazy to think that Medellin was once considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. However, over the past few decades, the city has drastically changed and is now a popular tourist destination in Colombia.

If you’re planning on visiting Medellin for the first time, then this 3 day Medellin itinerary will be perfect for you. I will guide you through the must-visit attractions, delicious food spots, and unique experiences that will make your trip unforgettable.

I’ve also added some extra attractions to check out if you have more than 3 days in Medellin, plus some of my top recommendations for where to stay, how to get around, and when to visit.

* Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link. *

Table of Contents

Are you planning a last-minute trip to Medellin?

If your trip is coming up soon and you still haven’t booked anything, we have you covered! Below you can find our top picks when it comes to hotels, tours, getting around, and more.

Best Tours and Experiences in Medellin

  • Day trip to Guatape El Peñol (top-rated day trip from Medellin you absolutely can’t miss)
  • Comuna 13 History & Graffiti Tour (must-have tour to learn about Medellin’s transformation)
  • The Real Pablo Escobar Tour (a controversial but popular tour that takes you through the life of Colombia’s most notorious drug lord)
  • Coffee Tour with Tastings (for coffee lovers, a tour of Medellin’s coffee farms is a must-do)

Best Places to Stay in Medellin

  • Hotel San Fernando Plaza (most popular 5-star hotel with outdoor pool in El Poblado)
  • The Charlee Hotel (luxury boutique hotel with pool, spa, and prime location in El Poblado)
  • Sites Hotel (great-mid-range option with rooftop pool in El Poblado)
  • Hotel Bolivariana Plaza (budget-friendly hotel near Parque de Laureles)

Can’t speak Spanish very well?  As people in Medellin (and in Colombia in general) don’t really speak English, our best tip is to download Spanish on Google Translate so you can use it offline! Trust us, you’re going to need it.

Panoramic view of El Poblado, Medellin

Overview of Your 3 Days in Medellin

Breakdown of your medellin 3 day itinerary.

  • Day 1: Historic center of Medellin, Museo de Antioquia, Jardin Botanico de Medellin, Parque Explora, Pueblito Paisa
  • Day 2: Comuna 13, El Poblado, Parque Arvi
  • Day 3: Day trip to Guatape

Map for your 3 days in Medellin

Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations you’re going to visit on this Medellin itinerary.

I marked your 3 days in Medellin with different colors – I used blue for the first, green for the second, and red for the third day, so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit each day.

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

Day 1 of Your 3 Day Medellin Itinerary

Walking tour in the historic center of medellin.

The historic center of Medellin, also known as “El Centro,” is one of the must-visit places in the city.

Although Medellin has undergone a lot of change over the years, you will still have to exercise some caution in this area. Generally speaking, the main streets are safe during the day but you have to make sure not to wander off into the smaller side streets.

We visited on our own after getting local advice on where not to go but it was still an overwhelming experience and definitely not my favorite memory from our 3 days in Medellin.

That’s why I would strongly recommend joining a walking tour of the Historic Center. Not only will you feel safer with a knowledgeable guide, but you’ll also learn a lot about the history and culture of Medellin.

We did a similar walking tour with Beyond Colombia during our Bogota itinerary and it was one of the highlights of our trip. I really wish we would have done the same in Medellin!

You can join the free Walking Downtown Tour of Medellin , which runs every day except Sundays from 9:30 am. The tour lasts around 3 hours and takes you to the main attractions in the Historic Center such as Plaza Botero, Parque de las Luces, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Walking tours in Medellin are typically free of charge, but be sure to tip your guide at the end, as they really are fountains of knowledge and bring the city’s history to life.

Plaza Botero, Medellin

Museo de Antioquia

As the tour concludes, make your way back to Plaza de Botero to the Museo de Antioquia, an art museum that’s a treasure trove of Colombian artworks.

Housing a huge collection of pieces from Colombian artists like Fernando Botero and Pedro Nel Gomez, the Museo de Antioquia is set over four levels. Through the fascinating paintings and sculptures, this museum tells the story of Medellin’s complex history.

Many of the pieces are incredibly unique and diverse, so it’s best to allow yourself around two hours to explore each floor in depth. 

Entrance to the museum costs 24,000 COP ($6 US) and you can buy the tickets directly at the museum.

Jardin Botanico de Medellin

The next stop on your Medellin itinerary is a visit to the Jardin Botanico de Medellin, the city’s peaceful botanical gardens.

With such a diverse assortment of plant life, this place could give some of the country’s national parks a run for their money!

From the Museo de Antioquia, hop on the A metro line at Parque Berrio station and get off at Universidad Cll.73 station. From there, it’s a short walk to the Jardin Botanico.

The gardens are free to enter and open daily from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays). Take your time strolling through the different sections of the garden, which includes a butterfly exhibit, orchid pavilion, and a small lake.

While you’re here, keep an eye out for the iguanas that frequent the gardens. Some of them are surprisingly big, so they’re super easy to spot.

Walkway in Jardin Botanico de Medellin

Parque Explora

Less than 10 minutes from the botanical gardens is Parque Explora , Medellin’s much-loved science museum.

This is no ordinary museum, as Parque Explora is also where you’ll find the city’s huge freshwater aquarium, which is the largest of its kind in South America, a planetarium, and a bunch of play areas. Should you have worked up an appetite by now, there’s a lovely cafe available onsite.

The thematic exhibitions are all hands-on and interactive, and I can confirm they’re just as entertaining for adults as they are for kids! If you’re traveling with your kids, they’ll have a blast at this museum, and you could easily spend an entire day here.

Some of the displays you’ll stumble upon include their famous dinosaur exhibit, their music showcase, and numerous physics demonstrations.

However, when you’re trying to discover Medellin in 3 days, it’s probably best to keep your visit to around two hours.

General admission is 48,000 COP ($12 US), and adding a trip to the planetarium will set you back 72,000 COP ($18 US) in total. You can buy your tickets online in advance or directly at the museum.

Parque Explora, Medellin

Pueblito Paisa

Hop in an Uber and make the 10-minute journey to Pueblito Paisa, where you’ll wrap up the first of your 3 days in Medellin.

If you’re feeling energized, a combination of the metro and a 25-minute uphill walk will get you here too but I personally wouldn’t waste my time on this.

Pueblito Paisa is a replica of a typical local village, and as well as being oh-so-charming, it’s also where you’ll catch some of the best views in Medellin.

Consisting of a cobblestone courtyard, an open-air theater, and colorful houses, Pueblito Paisa has been renovated as recently as 2021 and is now home to a cluster of Colombian eateries, food stalls, and souvenir shops.

If you time your day right, you’ll get here just in time for sunset. The crowds tend to disperse after the sun goes down, but I think it’s worth waiting around a little longer and seeing Medellin light up from above as the evening sets in.

Visiting Pueblito Paisa was hands down one of my favorite things to do in Medellin so definitely don’t skip it!

Main square in Pueblito Paisa, Medellin

Day 2 of Your 3 Day Medellin Itinerary

Comuna 13 tour.

No Medellin itinerary would be complete without a visit to Comuna 13, one of the most interesting and inspiring areas in the city.

Comuna 13 is one of my all-time favorite spots in all of Medellin, and it’s hard to believe that this neighborhood was once considered among the most dangerous in Colombia.

With colorful hillside houses, eye-catching murals, and funky graffiti everywhere you look, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put your camera down.

Small houses in Comuna 13, Medellin

Today, the area is dynamic and lively, but you have to join a guided tour here to fully grasp how art and creativity have helped this neighborhood shed its dark and brutal past.

Comuna 13 is a testament to the local’s desire for change, something that you’ll see through many of the pieces.

Not only will you get a history lesson and a chance to appreciate local art, but the tour also includes a scenic cable car ride, a street dance show, Colombian ice cream, and a drink at a nearby bar.

Although the area is very steep and hilly, there are escalators on the street to take you all the way up, so you don’t have to worry about the physical demand. That being said, wearing comfortable shoes is still a great idea!

Street art in Comuna 13, Medellin

Experience an entirely different Colombian neighborhood with a visit to El Poblado, Medellin’s most affluent and high-end area. As it’s so tourist-friendly, there’s a good chance you’ll be basing yourself here during your visit.

The meeting point of the Comuna 13 tour is the El Poblado metro station and this is where the tour will end as well, which makes you already in the neighborhood, and ready to explore.

High-rise buildings in El Poblado, Medellin

There’s always something happening in El Poblado, and the high-rise apartment blocks, fancy restaurants, and glamorous bars are an indication of the upmarket vibe of this pocket of Medellin.

Although it’s often credited as Medellin’s nightlife hotspot, its cafe scene is just as impressive. There’s no shortage of top-quality coffee here, but Pergamino Cafe really proves why Colombian coffee is so sought-after.

Pair your freshly roasted coffee with a slice of their famous red velvet cake for the ultimate treat. For those of you feeling particularly peckish, I can personally recommend their smoothie bowls and sourdough sandwiches.

Lunch at Pergamino Cafe in El Poblado, Medellin

Parque Arvi

You’ll spend the second half of the day around an hour outside of central Medellin at Parque Avri, which is famed for being an archaeological site and a nature reserve.

Ask anyone what to do in Medellin in 3 days, and I can guarantee you that you’ll be encouraged over and over again to visit Parque Avri. There are many things to see and do here, so you’ll need to pick and choose your activities.

Horseback riding and ziplining are always popular choices, but most people flock here for the hiking opportunities.

Depending on whether you’re looking for views, wildlife, or flora, you’ll have your pick of different routes, and most of them are quite easy and take less than two hours.

Parque Arvi, Medellin

Even if you don’t feel particularly active, I would still suggest taking the cable car to Parque Arvi purely because of the views you’ll get to soak up along the way.

I don’t think I’ve seen any other city in the world where cable cars are part of the public transportation system, so this is an experience you definitely shouldn’t miss.

To get to Parque Arvi, you have to take metro line A from El Poblado, then transfer to the K line at Acevedo Cra.63, and finally take the cable car L from Santo Domingo all the way to Parque Arvi.

The A and K lines are connected so you don’t need to leave the metro to change, nor do you need another ticket. However, you will need to leave the metro and buy a separate ticket for the L cable car.

View from the cable car going to Parque Arvi, Medellin

We visited Parque Arvi on our first day in Medellin and I was a bit afraid of using public transportation so I figured since the L line runs separately, we would be safer to take an Uber to the Santo Domingo station and hop on the L cable car there. Huge mistake!

Our Uber driver was really nice but the route was just awful. We practically drove through a very steep and very sketchy neighborhood.

We also got caught in a traffic jam near the station and since I saw it was only a 5-minute walk, I offered that we get out and walk. Luckily our driver stopped us and warned us that it was a very dangerous area and we should wait in the car.

All in all, I would definitely recommend taking the public transport option instead of Uber. The metros and cable cars are 100% safe and the view from the cable car is much more enjoyable than traffic lights anyways.

Cable cars in Medellin

Day 3 of Your 3 Day Medellin Itinerary

Day trip to guatape.

Medellin is just a two-hour journey from the mesmerizing town of Guatape, a place so picture-perfect that it’s worth venturing to during your 3 days in Medellin.

Getting to Guatepe is pretty straightforward. From Terminal de Norte, Medellin’s northern bus station, you’ll be able to catch a bus directly to Guatape, and it should only cost you around 14,000 COP ($3.5 US). Head down to the ground floor of the station and look for booth 14.

Once you arrive, you’ll have a bunch of things to see and do in Guatape. The most famous attraction is the massive Guatepe Rock, which was one of my favorite places during our 2 weeks in Colombia .

It’s a steep climb of over 700 steps to the top, but the views of the reservoir you’ll be treated to at the summit are some of my favorite in all of Colombia.

Stairs on El Penon de Guatape

Other must-do activities include hopping on a boat tour that sails past Pablo Escobar’s former holiday home and wandering around the adorable brightly-colored streets, with Calle del Recuerdo being the most famous.

If you’re feeling a bit uneasy about using public transport to get to Guatape, there are plenty of organized day trips that’ll take care of the planning for you. 

This excursion is made up of all the activities I ran through above, and it’s also inclusive of hotel pick-up and drop-off, breakfast, and lunch.

Plazoleta de Los Zócalos, Guatape

If you have more time, it’s also worth staying the night in Guatape to truly experience the peaceful atmosphere of this charming area. Guatape is a great place to try glamping in Colombia as it’s home to some of the most unique bubbles and luxury tents in the country.

We stayed a night at Bosko and it was an absolutely amazing experience. The bubble itself was very comfortable and the views were out of this world. Plus, the pool overlooking the lake was a lovely bonus!

If you’re interested, you can read more about our experience in this complete hotel review of Bosko Guatape .

Aerial view of a girl in the SkyPools at Bosko Guatape

More Great Places to Visit in Medellin 

As I mentioned earlier, Medellin is truly bursting with interesting and diverse things to do.

In addition to the activities outlined in this Medellin 3 day itinerary, below are some of the other places I recommend visiting if you have some spare time.

  • The Real Pablo Escobar Tour – Dive into the infamous drug kingpin’s past with visits to his old home, grave, and his very own prison with this guided tour. Your guide will also detail the brutal impact of Escobar’s exploits on everyday Colombians and how Medellin is bouncing back.
  • El Castillo Museum and Gardens – Located near El Poblado, this museum has a huge collection of antiques, sculptures, and ceramics, though its fairytale setting and manicured gardens are what it’s best known for.
  • Casa de La Memoria – History buffs won’t want to miss this one, as this museum chronicles the tragic and violent history of Colombia through a mix of informative and interactive exhibits. If you’ve already completed the walking tour, you’ll get a tonne of additional information here.
  • Coffee Tour with Tastings – You don’t have to be a connoisseur to appreciate Colombia’s coffee, and this coffee tour is the perfect way to learn the ropes of this country’s most beloved export. Of course, plenty of tastings are included in your ticket, too.
  • Paragliding in the Colombian Andes – Get your adrenaline pumping with a paragliding experience overlooking Medellin from the Andes. This tour also includes round-trip transportation and a short lesson beforehand.
  • Museo de Arte Moderno – Discover the world of contemporary Colombian art at the Museo de Arte Moderno, which displays works by famous local artists, including Débora Arango. The unconventional architecture alone makes this spot worth visiting.

El Castillo Museum and Gardens, Medellin

Useful Info for Spending 3 Days in Medellin

Where to stay in medellin .

Medellin is broken up into multiple neighborhoods and districts, though some are more suited to tourists and are conveniently located close to the main attractions. 

The upscale El Poblado area is usually most visitor’s first choice. As well as being served by a wide array of cafes, restaurants, and bars, El Poblado is also one of the safest parts of Medellin and has a strong police presence. Poblado metro station makes getting around easy, too.

Laureles is an up-and-coming neighborhood that tends to be popular with students and expats. It’s slightly more laid back than El Pobaldo, but there’s always something going on, thanks to the buzzing music and dining scene. This is the place to go for a less touristy stay.

A little further south of El Poblado is Envigado, a primarily residential area with good metro connections to the major tourist spots. Envigado is where you’ll get the most authentic Medellin experience, but it might be a bit too quiet if you’re hoping to make the most of the city’s nightlife.

Check out my top hotel recommendations below, with options for every budget and travel style.

  • Luxury | Elcielo Hotel & Restaurant – A swanky boutique hotel in the heart of El Pobaldo, Elcielo Hotel & Restaurant is brimming with top-class amenities, including a chic pool area, a spa, and a fantastic restaurant.
  • Mid-range | Sites Hotel – With stylish rooms, a rooftop sun deck, and a convenient location, Sites Hotel in El Poblado is the ideal place to rest and recharge. They also offer apartments if you prefer to do your own cooking.
  • Budget | Hotel Bh El Poblado – You don’t have to break the bank to find a sophisticated hotel that’s close to everywhere you need to be. Hotel bh El Poblado features sleek rooms, a well-equipped fitness center, and an onsite restaurant.

Rooftop pool at Sites Hotel, Medellin

How to get to Medellin

Unless you’re arriving from another Colombian city, you’ll probably touch down at José María Córdova International Airport, Medellin’s main airport. It generally takes around 30 minutes to reach the center and areas like El Poblado from here.

You’ll have a couple of options to get you to your hotel, but booking a private transfer is certainly the most comfortable and straightforward mode of transport.

This is especially useful if your flight gets in late at night or early in the morning, and it’s ideal for groups as you can easily split the cost. 

The most budget-friendly option is to take the public bus. This is super cheap, normally costing just 10,000 COP ($2.5 US), but you’ll likely need to get a taxi or Uber from the bus stop to your accommodation.

Another option you have is to take a local white taxi from the airport to the city. Ordering an Uber is a great alternative if you don’t have cash and are prepared to walk a little past the main arrivals area. Bear in mind that this can be tricky without data on your phone. 

Small houses in Comuna 13, Medellin

How to get around Medellin

Getting around Medellin is much easier than you might think.

The city’s modern metro system is very user-friendly and affordable. Consisting of two lines, you usually won’t have to walk too far to find a station near you, and many of the top attractions are just a short stroll away. 

Simply buy your tickets at the machines inside the station for just 2,880 COP ($0.7 US). Each line typically runs between 4:30 am and 11 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 5 am until 10 pm on Sundays.

Medellin also has a well-connected public bus system. This can be a little more challenging to navigate than the metro, but it can come in handy when you want to reach somewhere that’s far from a metro station.

Uber is an excellent way to explore Medellin, particularly if you’re headed from one side of the city to the other. You’ll generally be able to get a driver in minutes, and it’s often cheaper than traditional taxis.

Metro in Medellin

Best time to visit Medellin

Medellin has earned itself the nickname of the ‘City of Eternal Spring,’ as it’s blessed with a temperate, year-round climate.

For this reason, it’s fair to say that there’s never really a bad time to visit Medellin. Temperatures tend to stay between 17-27°C (62-80°F) throughout the year, so warm weather is pretty much guaranteed.

December until February is Medellin’s driest months, while April, May, September, and October receive the highest amounts of rainfall. Despite this, the downpours rarely last all day, so you’ll still have plenty of time to explore the city, even during the wetter months.

As the host of some brilliant events, it’s worth keeping an eye on the upcoming festivals before your visit. Some exciting happenings to look out for include:

  • Feria de las Flores – Medellin’s biggest and brightest event, the Festival of Flowers, takes place every August. Street performances, parades, and endless blooming flowers are what it’s all about.
  • Fiesta de la Musica – Traditional and contemporary Colombian beats take over Medellin every June, with live music from every genre you can imagine on offer. 
  • Alumbrados Navideños – The Medellin locals don’t hold back when the holiday season rolls around, and their Christmas Lights festival is an unbelievable display of festive cheer. This event attracts millions of visitors every November and December.

View of Medellin from Pueblito Paisa

Planning a trip to Colombia?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Colombia. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

  • The Ultimate 2 Weeks in Colombia Itinerary
  • 3 Days in Cartagena: The Perfect Cartagena Itinerary for First-Timers
  • 18 Best Things to Do in Cartagena You Can’t Miss
  • Where to Stay in Cartagena: 6 Best Areas & Hotels
  • How to Spend 3 Days in Bogota: The Ultimate Bogota Itinerary
  • Where to Stay in Bogota: 5 Best Areas & Hotels
  • 10 Unmissable Things to Do in Salento, Colombia (+ Tips for Visiting)
  • 3 Days in Medellin: The Perfect Medellin Itinerary for First Timers
  • Top 20 Things to Do in Medellin You Absolutely Can’t Miss
  • 13 Best Things to Do in Guatape, Colombia
  • Luxury Glamping in Guatape: Bosko Hotel Review
  • Glamping in Colombia: 17 Stunning Bubbles & Luxury Tents to Book

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The Top 12 Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Medellin, the City of the Eternal Spring, knows how to reinvent itself. The former base of Pablo Escobar and current haven of digital nomads, there's much more to do here than visit the sights made famous by Netflix's "Narcos." Learn the holistic history of the city by visiting its museums, like the Museo Casa de la Memoria and the Museo Antioquia. See firsthand where formerly dangerous areas have shifted due to innovation and community pluck by touring the graffiti walls of Comuna 13 or riding the Metrocable. Walk its beautiful gardens and attend its flower parade. Stay out all night dancing salsa or clubbing in Poblado. Ground yourself in Barefoot Park, and paraglide high above the streets filled with tropical fruit vendors. To truly appreciate it, allow yourself to see this city not just for what it was or what it is, but also for what it's becoming.

Ride the Metrocable to Parque Arví

Take Linea L on the Metrocable from the Santo Domingo interchange to Parque Arví, a vast forested nature reserve and a pre-Hispanic archeological site. Entry to the park is free, though certain activities such as bicycle tours, boating excursions, and the butterfly farm charge a fee. Hike the 13 trails, go birding, and browse the small market of food and craft stands. The ride to and from the park over the hills of Medellin provides stunning aerial views of the city’s comunas (districts) and the Medellin River. An attraction in its own right, the Metrocable is part of the Medellin Metro, Colombia’s only metro system.

Bless Yourself at Plaza Botero

The 23 plump bronze statues of Fernando Botero's spread throughout Botero Plaza are said to bring luck and love to all who rub them, known as the "Botero legend." Botero, a famous painter and sculpture from Medellin, developed Boterismo, a style of art combining neo-renaissance, figurative, and contemporary elements, resulting in bulbous people and animals. Botero sculpted and donated all of the plaza's statues, ranging from a plump horse to a voluptuous lounging woman. Located downtown in Medellin's Old Quarter, find it sandwiched between the Museum of Antioquia and the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. It's free to enter, photograph, and rub the statues in the plaza.

Dance Salsa

Dance salsa every night in Medellin with every level of dancer, from beginner to pro. Venues range from salsa nights in bars like Son Havana and El Eslabon Prendido (some even with live bands) to formal dance schools like DanceFree in Poblado. You can also find lots of informal dance meetups in city parks. If your budget’s tight, attend the free classes or pay a small entry fee at one of the salsa bars, but if you have the money and the time, pay for a few classes at DanceFree, as you’ll progress much quicker during your stay.

Learn Colombian History at the Museo Casa de la Memoria

Courtesy of El Museo Casa de La Memoria

A solemn, educational memorial on the wars, armed conflicts, and other violence in Colombia, the Museo Casa de la Memoria serves to document the stories of victims while educating visitors on the past and ongoing violence in the country. A touchscreen timeline allows visitors to read in-depth about the narco cartels, the paramilitarios, the former dictatorship, and the present-day reforms in the country. Other exhibits contain stories and photos of victims, as well as messages from their families. Concerts, workshops, and other events help visitors understand present-day Colombia through the context of its past. Free to visit, find it in Parque Bicentenario.

Geek Out at Parque Explora

See over 300 species of fish at South America’s largest freshwater aquarium, and check out the over 300 interactive exhibits in the attached science museum. A series of four red cube buildings with outdoor display spaces, a vivarium, a planetarium, and a small television studio, the Parque Explora complex offers activities for kids of all ages. Record your own podcast episode, learn about the history of radio in Colombia, and make life-size pin art. Walk through the dinosaur exhibit, create graffiti, and see massive snakes and reptiles in the vivarium. General admission costs the equivalent of about $5. Reach it by taking the Metro to the Universidad station in Zona Norte.

See Art at the Antioquia Museum

The Museo de Antioquia displays Pre-Colombian, colonial, and modern art and creates art by collaborating with resident artists. The permanent collection includes many clay pieces from the region, as well as works by Fernando Botero, the local artist turned international superstar for his curvy Boterismo figures. Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gomez, a pioneer of the Colombian Muralist Movement, also features prominently. Though known for its collection, the museum’s work in the community has given it fresh relevance, demonstrated by its award-winning cabaret of sex workers entitled “No One Knows Who I Am,” with performance artist Nadia Granados. Entry to the museum cost the equivalent of about $5. Take the Metro to Parque Berrío to reach it.

Walk Amongst the Flowers

Bountiful in blooms, the reason behind Medellin’s nickname as “the City of the Eternal Spring” can be seen in full display during the Feria de las Flores when a parade of 500 flower vendors march the streets with overflowing bouquets and massive flower arrangements overtake the city’s balconies, billboards, and malls. If you can’t make the festival in early August, experience the flower abundance by going to the flower market at Placita de Flórez, the biggest plant market in the city. Alternatively, picnic in the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden, where 4,500 flowers grow in rows of yellows, pinks, and reds. Free to enter, the garden also contains a natural rainwater collection system, the Orquideorama, doubling as a protective shield for the butterfly and orchid gardens.

Eat Tropical Street Food

An incredibly bio-diverse country with a fantastic array of fruits, Colombia is one of the best places in the world to eat healthy street food. Sip on a sweet, frothy guanábana (soursop) shake or limonada de coco (coconut milk mixed with lime). Sample sour yet sweet borojó (thought to be an aphrodisiac) or snack on guava, star fruit, or yellow dragon fruit. Street vendors throughout Medellin cut up fruit salads, like green mango with salt, for a hydrating, light lunch, or as a palate cleanser for those who’ve opted for the heavier street fare like arepas and buñuelos.

Go Clubbing in Poblado

The most famous district for nightlife, Poblado contains the greatest number of the city’s dance clubs, Parque Lleras, and the bar street Via Provenza. With a beer in hand, take in the incredible views of the city from Envy rooftop at The Charlee Hotel, or head to Vintrash to dance to reggaeton. For those that want a chill club with good DJs and no dress code, Calle 9+1 is the place to go, while The Blue Bar serves reasonably priced drinks and the speakers blast rock and electronic music. If you’re unsure where to start, buy an Aguila from a convenience store near Parque Lleras, then chill on at the park to see where people are heading from there.

Relax in Barefoot Park

Parque de Los Pies Descalzos invites visitors to take their shoes off and experience nature more intentionally through bare feet. Free to enter and explore, the park offers guides to lead patrons through installations and activities centered around the elements of water, air, and land. Stick your feet in the Well of Sounds for water jets to massage your feet, or walk on the Zen Garden’s stones to stress your foot fascia. Work your balance by walking on the beams of the Level Towers, or go through the Maze with eyes closed, using your other senses to guide you. Open every day but Monday, reach it by taking the Metro to the La Alpujarra station.

Slide Through Comuna 13's Graffiti Murals

Previously one of the city's most dangerous areas due to violence committed by guerillas of urban militia groups, Comuna 13 has transformed into a bastion of graffiti art and a testament to the city's innovation and rebirth, complete with a giant slide and famous series of escalators. Wall-sized colorful murals cover the streets next to the escalators, installed to aid in transportation and access to job opportunities for residents. Tours by resident guides happen daily, explaining the significance behind each mural and speaking about Comuna 13's past conflicts. To visit, take a tour or take the Metro to the San Javier station, then bus 221i or 225i. Despite recent changes, it is not advised to visit this area at night.

Paraglide Over the City

Courtesy of Medellin Paragliding

Take off from the hills of San Felix to paraglide over the lush Aburrá Valley and the red-roofed houses of Medellin. Located about 40 minutes from Medellin proper, Medellin Paraglide offers tandem 15-minute day flights, as well as certification courses for those wanting to learn how to fly on their own (a commitment of 40-plus hours and multiple flights). Started by the father of paragliding in Colombia, Ruben Dario Montoya Vargas or "Ruben Fly," the school has internationally certified instructors, all bilingual in English and Spanish. Take your own transportation via taxi from Medellin or the Metrocable to La Aurora, or book directly with the school for door-to-door pick-up service.

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16 Top-Rated Things to Do in Medellin

Written by Mark Johanson , Lana Law , and Michael Law Updated Feb 15, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Authors Michael and Lana Law have visited Colombia on several occasions and were in Medellin most recently in the fall of 2022.

If ever there was a city brimming with 21st-century optimism, it's Medellin. With a comfortable, mild climate and cosmopolitan feel, this city of 4 million — the second largest city in Colombia after Bogotá — hasn't always had an easy time of it.


In 1988, Time magazine declared Medellin "the most dangerous city in the world." In 2013, The Wall Street Journal called it the most innovative metropolis on the planet. Today, Medellin is a hot spot for digital nomads and remote workers who come here to enjoy the city for more than just a holiday.

Needless to say, much has changed over the last few decades, and this is no longer the city once in the grip of the famed narco-trafficker Pablo Escobar. Far from it, Medellin is overflowing with things to do for all types of travelers and packs a way bigger punch than most cities of its size.

Unlike other large South American cities where the old town area typically has the majority of sights, many of Medellin's main attractions are quite spread out. This coupled with significant traffic means that it takes time to see and do things, so plan accordingly.

1. Wander the Streets of El Poblado

2. the medellin metrocable, 3. plaza botero, 4. the museum of antioquia, 5. shopping in downtown medellin, 6. comuna 13, 8. mamm: medellín museum of modern art, 9. the botanical garden and parque explora, 10. museo casa de la memoria (house of the memory museum), 11. palacio of culture rafael uribe uribe, 12. barrio manila, 13. plaza cisneros, 14. museo del agua epm & barefoot park, 15. pueblito paisa, 16. el castillo museo y jardines.

Café Velvet on Carrera 37 in Poblado

Medellin's star attraction is the neighborhood of El Poblado. Shady streets lined with huge leafy trees are home to restaurants, cafés, and boutique shops. Walking along some of the roads leaves you feeling like you're in a park, with a giant canopy of leaves over top and a small river tumbling below the sidewalk. It's a wonderful area to explore by day or to go for nightlife, and a good place to base yourself in the city.

Calle 10 is the main street through El Poblado and is always a busy, happening area. Smaller roads leading off this street are where you'll find interesting places to eat or hang out. Wander down Carrera 37 for a quaint and quiet atmosphere of restaurants and shops, or head to the pedestrian-only Carrera 35 for a more lively atmosphere and music.

Restaurants in El Poblado

Bonhomia Restaurant

You'll find no end of restaurants in El Poblado, from fine dining to street-side patios, and even grab-and-go fast-food places. For a great atmosphere and outdoor patio dining, as well as excellent food, try Bonhomia on Carrera 37.

For something a little more casual, head across the street to 37 Park Medellin . This restaurant has the look and feel of a tree house and is a good place to meet international travelers.

Mondongos is a restaurant that many Colombians will recommend and is a good option if you want to try some traditional dishes, like tripe soup. It's right on busy Calle 10 and easy to find.

Coffee Culture in El Poblado

The Coffee Shops of El Poblado

Colombia is the world's third-largest coffee producer , and many of the beans come from the hills of Antioquia surrounding Medellin. Of course, you don't need to leave town to experience the distinct flavors of Colombian coffee. The trendy El Poblado neighborhood is a hub of coffee culture and absolutely brimming with hip cafés grinding strong local roasts.

The granddaddy of them all is Pergamino , with hot and cold beverages made largely from beans grown on the owner's family farm. Right across the street, you'll find the equally recommended Café Velvet , while on the far side of the neighborhood (and much closer to the El Poblado metro stop) lies Urbania Café , which has rotating art exhibitions on the walls and a great selection of Colombian design and fashion magazines to read with your latte.

Each of these cafés makes its own blends from regional beans and sells them by the bag for prices you're unlikely to find back home.

The Medellin Metrocable

Medellin lies in a big Andean bowl, and the best way to take in the panorama is simply to hop on public transportation and connect to the Medellin Metrocable.

These futuristic cable cars soar above the city into the surrounding hills, offering unrivaled views that are perfect for avid photographers. One option is to ride Line J over social housing towers and smaller shantytowns to an outstanding overlook near the final station at La Aurora .

A more popular thing to do, however, is take Line L up to Arvi Park , an urban oasis of forested hills that feels a world away from the city center. This vast park is the perfect getaway for nature lovers, with peaceful walking trails and plenty of food and craft vendors to satisfy your every need.

Plaza Botero

Hometown hero Fernando Botero donated 23 of his larger-than-life sculptures to the city of Medellin, and you'll find them sprinkled around the aptly named Plaza Botero (near the Parque Berrio metro station).

From rotund Roman legionaries to overstuffed animals, these portly figures have become symbolic of downtown Medellin and are surely some of the most photographed artworks in all of Colombia. Their setting against the ornate black-and-white patterns of Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture only highlights the overall appeal.

Plaza Botero in Medellin

This is a busy square with a bit of an edgy feel to it. It's best to go during the day and ensure all your valuables are out of sight.

Museum of Antioquia

You'll find even more of Botero's works — including famed paintings like La Muerte de Pablo Escobar ( the death of Pablo Escobar ) — in the Museum of Antioquia (Museo de Antioquia).

Located along the western edge of Plaza Botero, this three-story facility is the second oldest museum in the country. It includes a wide spectrum of art from pre-Columbian Colombia right up to modern masters like Botero. Other items in the collection include ceramics, furniture, and pre-Colombian pottery.

If you only go to one museum in Medellin, make it this one.

Address: Carrera 52 # 52-43, Medellín, Antioquia

Official site:

National Palace Mall

The area south and west of Plaza Botero is a veritable shopping paradise. Just wander down the pedestrian-only Calle 52 , and you'll soon be in the heart of it. The entire area is jammed full of shops selling just about anything you can imagine. Many of the buildings have long galleries that create an almost warren-like area of small shops. Wander into one, and you aren't quite sure where you'll exit.

Fortunately this huge shopping area is well organized by item. If you are looking for fabric for curtains for example, all the fabric sellers are located together. Need a power tool? All the hardware stores are right next to one another.

One building that is not to be missed is the National Palace Mall . This spectacular building has been wonderfully restored to its former glory complete with massive chandeliers and skylights. This is the place in Medellin to come to for the latest fashions.

Comuna 13

Comuna 13 was once the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellin. Now it's fast becoming one of the city's top tourist attractions, with tour groups wandering through its graffiti-filled streets . Why? An ever-growing system of open-air escalators linking together Comuna 13's cliff-clinging communities has helped drive down crime and elevate community pride.

Many of the escalator operators are also street artists who've livened up the edges of the escalator route with colorful murals that both reflect the neighborhood's tough past and offer hope for a promising future. To get the most out your visit, it's best to take a tour with an English-speaking guide from a company like Comuna 13 Tours .

Official site:


There is so much to see and do within Medellin that it can be hard to leave. However, one of the top attractions among most visitors actually lies 90 kilometers out of town. El Peñón de Guatapé is a monolithic rock formation that soars 200 meters above the surrounding landscape.

Climb the 750 concrete steps to the top, and your reward is 360-degree views over the Guatapé Reservoir , a manmade lake that has numerous tentacles lined with vacation homes and hotels. The viewing platform up top has plenty of drink vendors and shaded tables to cool off at before huffing it back down to the bottom.

The best way to visit is by a Full-Day Guatapé (Pueblo de Zocalos) from Medellin that includes lunch and a boat trip out onto the turquoise lake to view El Peñón from afar.

If you go on your own, count on a minimum of four hours of travel time to get there and back.

MAMM | Bruno M Photographie /

This modern art museum is, without a doubt, the star attraction of the up-and-coming Ciudad del Rio neighborhood, a former industrial area along the Medellin River that has been gentrified in recent decades and is now home to artists' lofts, sculpture-filled gardens, and top-tier dining.

Built within (and all around) the refurbished confines of a 1939 steel mill, MAMM showcases some of the stars of Colombia's contemporary art scene, including pop artists Beatriz González and expressionist Débora Arango. Ride the elevator up to the top floor of this five-story building and wind your way down for the best experience.

Address: #19A, Cra. 44 #16 Sur100, Medellín, Antioquia

Official site:

Butterfly at the Botanical Garden

Need a break from the city noise? Head to the Botanical Garden near the Universidad metro station, where 14 hectares of green space awaits. This sprawling and free-to-enter garden not only showcases more than 600 species of trees and plants, but also has a herbarium, lagoon, and popular butterfly enclosure.

Just across the street from the botanical gardens, you'll find another must-see attraction: Parque Explora . This family-friendly complex boasts a vivarium (for reptiles and amphibians), a planetarium (for stargazing), and Latin America's largest freshwater aquarium (which showcases many critters from the Amazon Basin). There are also three interactive areas, with educational exhibits on physics, neuroscience, and communications.

Museum House of the Memory

You can explore Medellin's sordid past, collective progress, and promise for a brighter future at Museum House of the Memory. This striking (and free-to-enter) complex opened in 2012 to offer a space for victims of Colombia's armed conflict to amass and dignify their memories.

The archival collections depict the history of drug and paramilitary violence in the country as well as the fight for peace and unity. It is, perhaps, the best place in Medellin to come to grips with Colombia's headline-making history and put a face to the victims of Latin America's longest-running armed conflict.

Address: Calle 51 # 36-66 Bicentennial Park, Medellin

Official site:

Palacio of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe

As you wander around Plaza Botero, the one building that keeps drawing your eye again and again is the checkerboard patterned Palacio of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe. This building, done in the Gothic Revival style first started in 1925, was abandoned for many years and was finally finished in 1982.

The building is open to the public with no admission charge, so feel free to wander in and take a look around. The massive dome is quite spectacular, and the Rafael Uribe Uribe Museum room is worth a look.

Exceptionally green and effortlessly chic, this pocket-sized barrio on the edge of El Poblado offers a quieter alternative to its neighbor. Home to a number of fantastic accommodation options across all budgets, Manila is also your go-to spot for some of the trendiest open-air restaurants in the city, including Tal Cual and Malevo (for chargrilled meats).

Want a healthy breakfast? Head to Café Al Alma for a big bowl of granola and yogurt with local fruits. In the mood for an afternoon pick-me-up? Try Hija Mia for one of the silkiest americanos in town.

Plaza Cisneros

Plaza Cisneros is yet another example of a section of Medellin that was once full of drugs and violence but is now a relatively safe and popular destination for sightseeing.

Walk by during the day, and it might not look like much, but head back after dark and the 300 light poles scattered throughout the plaza will surely leave an impression. These 24-meter-high beacons are like giant Jedi lightsabers brightening up the night sky.

More than just pretty lights, this plaza is also home to some spectacular architecture, including the angular Biblioteca EPM , a library with a small museum and free Wi-Fi. Head across Avenida San Juan for even more architectural marvels like the bumblebee-colored towers of Plaza de la Libertad.

Address: Cl. 44 #52-50, Medellín, Antioquia

Barefoot Park in front of Museo del Agua EPM

The Museo del Agua (Museum of Water) is, as the name suggests, all about water, from its origins to modern-day uses. You have to explore the museum on a guided tour, so be sure to check in advance to see when tours are starting.

Immediately outside the museum is Barefoot Park, a zen-inspired public park designed by local architect Felipe Uribe de Bedout. You can take off your shoes and wander through its green gardens, sandy pits, and bubbling water fountains to experience the different textures and contemplate how they feel. The idea is to reconnect with nature in a way humans lost when we started wearing modern footwear.

Equally enjoyable for both kids and adults, the park has plenty of shady nooks and cooling waterways to beat the heat on a scorching afternoon.

Address: Cra. 58 #42-125, Medellín, Antioquia

View from Nutibara Hill

This mock town atop Cerro Nutibara is like a living museum, where you can walk back in time to the turn of the century and experience life in rural Antioquia. The village centers around a traditional town square with a church, mayor's office, barbershop, and one-room schoolhouse.

Its hilltop setting also makes it a great spot simply to get a bird's-eye view of the city below. You'll find plenty of souvenir and handicraft shopping here alongside some excellent restaurants where you can try the paisa cuisine of the Colombian Andes, including classic dishes like bandeja paisa, a belly-busting platter of ground meat, fried plantains, and avocados served with rice and refried beans.

El Castillo Museo y Jardines

You may not expect to find a castle in Medellin, but one does exist and it's spectacular. Once a private residence, and then for many years an entertainment venue for VIPs, today the castle and grounds are an attraction open to everyone for a modest admission fee.

One-hour, Spanish-only tours leave on the hour. Knowledgeable guides provide the background and history of the slightly dated but still sumptuous interior. The grounds display tropical plants, fountains, and large trees.

A popular pastime is to grab some takeout from a restaurant in nearby Poblado and have a picnic. A small restaurant on-site also provides food and beverages.

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Plan out the rest of your trip to this incredible country with our guide to the top attractions and places to visit in Colombia .

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Best things to do in Medellín to appreciate all the city has to offer

Jesse Scott

Oct 28, 2021 • 6 min read

Medellín shimmers with tons of amazing experiences – dive in and get to know the "City of Eternal Spring"

Medellín shimmers with tons of amazing experiences – dive in and get to know the "City of Eternal Spring"

Medellín  is a city living a new chapter – take one step in the Colombian city, share one conversation with a paisa  (Medellín citizen) and stroll down a singular street within its transformed and contemporary barrios and you’ll appreciate all the “City of the Eternal Spring” has to offer.

Here are the 10 best things to do to experience and appreciate its beauty today.

Take in the vistas on the Metrocable

Medellín is home to Colombia’s only metro rail system and it is by no means boring. In addition to a pristinely-kept two-line rail system – with simple-to-navigate lines that run north to south and east to west – there is a connected tram system, intricate bus lines and gondola system ( the Metrocable ) that takes locals and visitors alike up into the hillside barrios (neighborhoods). With trips of each metro or Metrocable leg seldom exceeding $3,000 pesos, it is a vista-filled way to explore Medellín and take in the Andes Mountains. For those seeking an even higher view than the Metrocable offers, Fly Colombia offers helicopter journeys in and around the city, too.

Party like a paisa

This city knows how to let its hair down. The nightlife scene doesn’t get bumping until 10 or 11 p.m., with El Poblado , La 70 in Laureles and the periodic warehouse-esque nightclub in Barrio Colombia leading the pack. And you can opt to party with a view:  Envy atop the Charlee Hotel in Parque Lleras is an upscale, club-like option. Los Patios in El Poblado is a bit more laid back and appeases the backpacker crowd.

Load up on Medellín’s street food

Stroll down nearly any Medellín thoroughfare and you’ll be greeted with convenience shops big-and-small with display cases of fried goods.  Once you’ve become accustomed to the empanada (in Medellín, typically a fried pastry with beef and potatoes), buñuelo (round cheese fritter) and pastel de pollo (chicken pastry), go to the city’s best spots for culinary bliss. Hit up  El Machetico de Nico in El Poblado for ultra-crispy empanadas, El Peregrino in Sabaneta for super-cheese infused buñuelos and La Estación del Sabor near La 70 for a pastel de pollo. Pro-tip: Ask for some ají – a typically homemade spicy sauce – to add some kick to any fried morsel.

An aerial view of the soccer field at Estadio Girardot in Medellín

Cheer on Atlético Nacional (or DIM)

Colombia loves its fútbol and the most beloved team in the entire country is based in Medellín: Atlético Nacional . The team plays at Estadio Girardot and as does its bitter intracity rival, Deportivo Independiente Medellín (DIM). If you’re lucky enough to be in Medellín while Nacional is playing there, throw on some green garb, snag a ticket at the stadium and enjoy watching the team’s very devoted fan base as much as the game itself.

Achieve a new level of gluttony with a bandeja paisa

After a raucous night out (or just when paisas are really, really, really hungry), the bandeja paisa is the go-to dish. The bandeja paisa is the region’s typical dish and often features a grilled piece of meat, beans, white rice, chicharrón (fried pork), fried plantains, a slice of avocado, arepa (maize dough) and fried egg. For the best one in town, hit Las Delicias de La Nena on La 70 in Laureles. If you’re not that hungry, opt for a traditional soup like mondongo , ajiaco or sancocho .

Shop ‘til you drop

While fashion may reach its boiling point in July for the ColombiaModa festival, style is very much center stage in Medellín year-round. For handcrafted clothing and keepsakes, the areas known as Via Primavera (Carrera 35) and Via Provenza (Carrera 37) in El Poblado are renowned for their trendy boutiques. Malls like Santafé and El Tesoro are loaded with Colombian-owned stores, like preppy brand Tennis and beloved bag maker Totto . For souvenirs, check out the free Mercados Artisanos on the weekends in nearly 20 Medellín parks throughout the city .

A man makes an espresso at a coffee shop in Medellín

Get caffeinated at a specialty coffee shop

Fun fact: According to the United Nations , Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world. Antioquia – the state that Medellín is situated in – is loaded with coffee farms. So, it only makes sense to drink as much delicious coffee as humanly possible, while in Medellín, right? 

In addition to the cart-pushing vendors selling tinto (black coffee) and café con leche (coffee with milk) on the streets, the city has a blossoming specialty coffee scene with spots slinging pour overs, finely tuned espresso shots and sugary delights. Top coffee shops include Pergamino in El Poblado, Rituales and Café Tipica in Laureles and Distrito Cafetero in Barrio Colombia.

Wander Medellín’s one-of-a-kind museums 

The “City of the Eternal Spring” is home to some excellent museums. The most powerful and tear-jerking museum experience is the Museo Casa de La Memoria , which digs into personal perspectives and displacement stemming from Colombia’s conflicts and wars.

On the lighter side and equally as unique to the city is Museo el Castillo , a 90-year-old castle built by architect Nel Rodríguez with nine rooms housing antique Colombian goods. For art lovers, the Museo de Antioquia is a must, with a top-floor permanent exhibit of Fernando Botero exhibits and 23 of his statues permanently installed out front in Plaza Botero.

Experience the city’s neighborhoods

Just decades removed from drug-war induced violence that plagued the entire city, many of its neighborhoods have been totally revitalized. An example among many: Comuna 13 (or San Javier) is accessible via the Metrocable and has become the Medellín destination for graffiti art tours and experiences. While in San Javier, make sure to check out the escaleras electricas – outdoor escalators that help locals along their commute, with eateries and select souvenir shops dotting the route, too.

Other barrios leading the transformation charge include Moravia - once the site of Medellín’s central dump and a haven for those displaced by Colombia’s conflict – and the eastern barrio of Manrique , which has put tango concerts, lessons and experience at the core of its comeback. 

An aerial view of Piedra del Peñol in Guatapé

Take a day trip to the color-splashed Guatapé

The pueblo of Guatapé may feel worlds away from Medellín, but it’s within a two-hour bus ride east. Guatapé is the leading Medellín day trip among locals and tourists alike thanks to its vividly painted historic center, man-made lake with intense blue waters and Piedra del Peñol . Climb the 600 steps to the top for one of the most serene views in the region.

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3 days in Medellin itinerary

Home » South America » Colombia » 3 Days in Medellín Itinerary – How to explore Medellín, Colombia in 3 days

3 Days in Medellín Itinerary – How to explore Medellín, Colombia in 3 days

Medellín, Colombia, is rightly one of the most popular places in Colombia. To make the most of your trip, let’s discover the best things to see in Medellín in 3 days.

Back in the 90s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Since then, the tide has turned. The metropolis is regarded as one of South America’s showcase cities and should not be missing from any Colombia itinerary.

So let’s dive into the city on this Medellín 3 days itinerary and discover the top things to see in the “City of Eternal Spring.”

What to find out in this post

  • 1 Medellín Facts
  • 2 3 Days in Medellín Itinerary
  • 3.1 Pueblito Paisa (Cerro de Nutibara)
  • 3.2 La Candelaria
  • 3.3 Plaza de Cisneros
  • 3.4 Parque San Antonio
  • 3.5 Parque Berrío
  • 3.6 Plaza Botero
  • 3.7 Museo de Antioquia
  • 3.8 Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe
  • 3.9 Optional: Catedral Metropolitana – Medellín’s Cathedral
  • 4.1 Medellín Botanical Garden
  • 4.2 Mercado del Rio
  • 4.3 Comuna 13
  • 5.1 Metro Cable
  • 5.2 Parque Arví
  • 5.3 Laureles Neighborhood
  • 5.4 El Poblado Neighborhood
  • 6.1 Museo Casa de la Memoria
  • 6.2 The Castle Museum – Museo El Castillo
  • 6.3 Try the regional dishes.
  • 6.4 Join a Free Walking Tour
  • 6.5 Day Trips from Medellín
  • 7.1 The best budget accommodation in Medellín
  • 7.2 The best Hotel in Medellín
  • 7.3 The right accommodation not included?
  • 8 Best time to travel to Medellín, Colombia
  • 9.1 Getting to Medellín by plane
  • 9.2 Getting to Medellín by bus
  • 10.1 Public Transport
  • 10.2 Metro Cable
  • 10.4 By Foot
  • 11 Where is Medellin
  • 12.1 About the AuthorVicki

Medellín Facts

  • Capital of the region (Departamento) Antioquia
  • The second largest city in Colombia (about 2.6 million inhabitants)
  • Nickname: City of Eternal Spring
  • Named the Most Innovative City in the World in 2012 (by the Wall Street Journal)
  • The inhabitants of the region call themselves Paisa


Where to stay in Medellin: Hotel Brana (4-Star Hotel with pool in Laureles) or Casa Egos Pop (Comfortable hostel in Laureles with private rooms)

The most popular activities & tours in Medellin

Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour

Pablo Escobar Tour

Day Trip to Guatape

Coffee Tour

Paragliding Adventure in Medellin

Street food Tour

Getting there: Make sure to check for the best flight deals on Flight comparison-Sites like Skyscanner Bustickets for South America can be found at Busbud .

Transport: Bus, Metro, Tramvia, or Taxi

Want to rent a car? You can find great deals on RentalCars .

Need travel insurance? Well-insured with one of the world’s most popular travel insurers for travelers: AXA Travel .

Medellin Must-Have: Colombia Travel Guide

3 Days in Medellín Itinerary

Medellín in 3 days – Day 1

Pueblito paisa (cerro de nutibara).

Pueblito Paisa, Medellin Sign on Square, antioquia culture, medellin itinerary

Opening Hours Pueblito Paisa: 09 am – 09 pm

Entrance Fee Pueblito Paisa: free of charge

Want to combine a fantastic vantage point over the rooftops of Medellin with a glimpse of the region’s wonderful traditional architecture? Then a visit to Pueblito Paisa is probably just what you need.

At this site, you’ll find a 20th-century recreation of a traditional village from Colombia’s Antioquia region. Stroll through the colorful alleys of the small village, take photos, discover the souvenir stalls, or enjoy a hot coffee or Colombian snack.

A photo of the “ Medellín ” sign in front of the small square in the center of the village is a real highlight for many visitors.

The small tourist village is located on the Cerro de Nutibara, after an ascent of about 80 meters in altitude. For those who want to spend more time in nature, the Cerro de Nutibara offers several hiking trails and a cultural park.

To reach the Pueblito Paisa, take a cab to the top or walk up a stairway from the bottom of the hill. The way up is slightly strenuous but quite doable for a person of average fitness.

La Candelaria

La Candelaria is located in the center of Medellín. You should plan a visit here, especially during the day, when the streets are safe. In addition to the already mentioned Plaza de Botero and the Antioquia Museum, this part of the city is also home to Parque San Antonio, Parque Berrío, the Candelaria Church, and Plaza de Cisneros.

Stroll through the streets of the city center and be surprised by the atmosphere so different from other neighborhoods in the city.

Fun Fact: The name La Candelaria comes from the Virgin of Candelaria figure from the Canary Islands in Spain.

Plaza de Cisneros

plaza de cisneros, plaza de luz, Medellin, light columns, 3 days in medellin

Let’s move on to another of the city’s plazas, Plaza de Cisneros, or “Lights Park” (Spanish: Parque de las Luces ). It is named after the Cuban engineer Francisco Javier Cisneros, who worked on the historic Antioquia railroad.

The project, with approximately 300 24-meter high light columns, is intended to serve the rejuvenation of the city and is primarily designed as an art project.

Parque San Antonio

destroyed bird of peace on Parque San Antonio in medellin

Parque San Antonio is, contrary to its name, not a park but a historic square of Medellín. Today, this plaza is a popular and lively part of the city, where you can spot children playing, lemonade vendors, and many locals.

Unfortunately, the history of the plaza is not quite as vibrant as it may seem today. As you enter the plaza, you’ll spot the two bird statues by famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

The first statue was placed as the “Bird of Peace” when it originally opened in the mid-90s. Only a year later, both the bird statue and 23 passersby were killed in a bomb attack here.

An identical sculpture was placed next to the remains of the destroyed bird in 2000 to serve as a “tribute to stupidity” and a symbol of peace.

Extra tip: The Plaza is popular not only with visitors but also with pickpockets. So keep an eye on your bag during your visit.

Parque Berrío

Parque Berrío in medellin

Parque Berrío is arguably the city’s most prominent square for many locals and is considered a meeting point and reference point for popular spots around the center.

From here, you also have a view of the Candelaria Church, the oldest church in the city.

The plaza has a long history and was used as a marketplace and place for political announcements as early as the 17th century.

Plaza Botero

roman statue on plaza Botero

Opening Hours Plaza Botero: 24 hrs

Entrance Fee Plaza Botero: free of charge

When you visit Colombia, you can’t help but hear about the artist Fernando Botero . The Colombian sculptor and painter’s artwork can be found almost everywhere in the country. In his birthplace, Medellin, a whole square is dedicated to the artist.

Numerous bronze statues of Botero are on the Plaza Botero. Stroll through the large square and discover the impressive and entertaining works of art.

Fun Fact: If you think you can only find the artist’s unique statues in Colombia, you’re wrong. There are statues of this Colombian artist in both my adopted home of Barcelona and my hometown of Goslar, Germany .

Museo de Antioquia

Museo Antioquia, botero statues, woman with umbrella and man

Opening Hours Museo de Antioquia: Mon – Sat: 10 am – 5.30 pm

Entrance Fee Museo de Antioquia: For foreign visitors: 24.000 COP (ca. 5 €/$ 5) 

If you haven’t had enough of the Colombian artist after Plaza de Botero, or if you’re also interested in his paintings after seeing his imaginative statues, this is the museum for you.

Fun Fact: Did you know that there is also another Botero Museum in the capital of Colombia? It’s one of the most fascinating museums in Bogotá and is home to even more of his unique art creations.

Fernando Botero has a whole floor dedicated to him in this art museum. In addition, you will also find works of art and information about many other artists and art styles.

The main goal of the exhibition is to show the history of the Antioquia region immortalized in works of art.

Although we are honestly not art museum fans, we really liked the museum and can definitely recommend it. However, I doubt whether I would call it an absolute must-see in Medellin.

Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe

Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe as seen from Museo Antioquia

Opening Hours Palacio de la Cultura: Mon – Fri: 08 am – 5 pm; Sat: 08 am – 2 pm

Entrance Fee Palacio de la Cultura: free of charge

This eye-catching palace, located in the middle of Plaza de Botero in the heart of downtown Medellín, is the headquarters of the Antioquia Institute of Culture and Heritage.

Even though the impressive architecture of the vast building is already impressive from the outside, a look inside is also worthwhile. In addition to some events such as concerts and the like, it houses Medellín’s Historical Archive and various exhibitions on the life and work of its namesake, Rafael Uribe.

Inside the palace, you can find a small art gallery, a sound gallery, a documentation center for music, and more.

Optional: Catedral Metropolitana – Medellín’s Cathedral

Opening Hours Catedral Metropolitana: Mon – Fri: 07 – 08 am; 10 – 11 am; 6 – 7 pm; Sat + Sun: 07 – 08 am; 10 – 11 am; 12 – 13 pm; 6 – 7 pm

Entrance Fee Catedral Metropolitana: free of charge

Anyone interested in places of worship should not miss Medellín’s cathedral, the Catedral Metropolitana. With an impressive size of around 5,000 m², it is considered the largest adobe building in the world.

The impressive building was completed in the early 1930s. Today, it’s difficult to imagine Medellin’s cityscape without it.

Things to do in Medellín in 3 days – Day 2

Medellín botanical garden.

Jardín Botanico Medellin, Botanic Garden construct

Opening Hours Botanical Gardens: Tue – Sun: 09 am – 04 pm

Entrance Fee Botanical Gardens: free of charge

The Botanical Garden of Medellín turned out to be a pleasant surprise for us. It’s a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Discover tropical plants, cacti, and other flora as you wander through the park. We especially liked the pond, where you can spot a variety of ducks, turtles, and fish.

If you’re lucky, you might spot one of the giant iguanas roaming freely in the park.

Mercado del Rio

Mercado del Rio, Medellin, entrance

Opening Hours Mercado del Rio: Sun – Tue: 08 am – 10 pm; Tue + Thu: 08 am – 11 pm; Fri + Sat: 08 am – 00 am

Entrance Fee Mercado del Rio: free of charge

I once read a quote somewhere that the best way to get to know a city is to visit a local market. A great option for this is the Mercado del Rio (Engl. “ River Market “) in Medellín.

With more than 30 different restaurants, bars, and cafes, you can definitely find something for all tastes here, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, a drink, or a small snack between meals.

Indulge in Medellín’s delicacies and dishes and discover the local scene.

Even though the market itself is still relatively new (it opened in 2016), the building dates back to the 19th century and used to be a soap factory.

Comuna 13 Graffiti Giraffe

Opening Hours Comuna 13: 24 hours

Entrance Fee Comuna 13: free of charge

Tour Comuna 13: Free-Walking-Tour on-site or make a reservation online at GetYourGuide

Today, Comuna 13 is one of the city’s most impressive neighborhoods. But not too long ago, Medellín’s 13th municipality was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world.

Stroll through Comuna 13 and be enchanted by the impressive street art and murals. I highly recommend taking a graffiti tour to learn about the background of the different art pieces and the neighborhood itself.

Such a tour lasts about 2 – 4 hours and supplies you with interesting information that makes the artworks seem even more impressive. Many tours also include a cable car ride to experience the remarkable neighborhood from above.

Extra tip: I recommend the afternoon tour. This way, you can discover the neighborhood in daylight and enjoy the view over Medellín in the dark.

During the 90s and early 2000s, many innocent people who had settled in illegal settlements in this area over the years lost their lives due to guerrilla organizations and military operations. However, starting in 2006, a large sum of money was invested in this neighborhood.

Especially the construction of the cable car and escalators helped the neighborhood to improve its connection to other parts of the city and, thus, the infrastructure of Comuna 13.

Medellín Itinerary – Day 3

Metro cable.

Metro cable, cable car in medellin

Medellín is simply enormous – and not only in the figurative sense. Nestled between mountains, it is always worthwhile to experience the mighty city from above.

The Metro cable, the cable car of Medellín, carries you far above the city’s roofs and allows you to experience a fascinating view of Medellín.

You can quickly pay for the ride with your regular metro card by recharging your card at any station.

Extra tip: A ride on the Metro cable can be perfectly combined with a visit to Comuna 13 or Parque Arví (see next point).

Parque Arví

hiking trail in Parque Arví, Medellin

Opening Hours Parque Arví: Tue – Sun: 09 am – 06 pm

Entrance Fee Parque Arví: Foreign visitors: 50.000 COP (ca. 10 €/$ 10.5)

Costs of Getting there by Metro cable: Depending on the starting point, approx. 6-7 €/ $ 6.5-7.5 (round trip)

It’s hard to believe, but this park with more than 1,760 hectares of forest is located in Medellin’s urban area – even though you’ll probably end up feeling like you’re in the middle of pure nature while hiking here.

Within the park, there are several trails you can follow: From 1½ hours to several hours of hiking.

While it is possible to do the first easy hike on your own, for safety reasons, the longer trails may only be entered with a guide.

Long trails of beautiful nature await you in the park, providing a nice break from the usually bustling city of Medellín.

To reach the park, you can take the metro cable (cable car). It will take you on an impressive ride over the rooftops of the city and the treetops of the park. Enjoy the views!

Laureles Neighborhood

Laureles Neighborhood, green street of Laureles

Laureles is one of the two most popular neighborhoods among visitors. While El Poblado is quite international and modern, Laurels captivates its visitors with lush greenery.

Numerous delicious restaurants and cafes await you here. Suppose you haven’t chosen Laureles as your base. In that case, it’s worth visiting for a delicious Colombian coffee (e.g., at La Civeta y el Elefante Café or Délmuri Café) or a delicious meal (e.g., at Vegarden).

Another popular attraction in Laureles is Primer Parque de Laureles, a popular park surrounded by numerous bars and restaurants. If you’re in the mood to meet other travelers or digital nomads, you’ll certainly find them here.

We spent a few weeks in this neighborhood. We totally liked it here; a bit off the beaten tourist path. The greenery here and the tranquil atmosphere really won us over.

El Poblado Neighborhood

the bars of El Poblado Neighborhood

Chances are you are staying in the Laureles or El Poblado neighborhood. Depending on which area your accommodation is located in, it is worth visiting the respective other one.

El Poblado is a very international neighborhood with many nightlife options, restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes. Stroll through the streets and discover some cool places.

One of the most popular places in the neighborhood is the hippie café Pergamino. While I have to admit that the coffee here is seriously delicious, I found the hype around the bar a bit over the top, to be honest. There are also many other decent cafes in the area where you don’t have to wait in line for 15 minutes to order.

For many, a visit to a rooftop bar is simply part of a stay in El Poblado. Especially popular are the Envy Bar and the Mosquito Rooftop Bar.

More time? More Things to do in Medellín

If you have a little bit more time or want to mix up things a little, feel free to add some of the following items to your itinerary.

Museo Casa de la Memoria

Opening Hours Museum: Tue-Fri: 09 am – 5 pm; Sat+Sun: 10 am – 3:30 pm

Entrance Fee Museum: free of charge

You’ve probably heard about Medellin’s terrible past. Due to Pablo Escobar, in the 90s, the Colombian city became one of the most dangerous and feared cities in the world.

The museum “ House of Memories ” is about the past. There is plenty of information about Colombia’s history and the commemoration of thousands of deaths that the armed conflicts in Medellin have claimed over the years.

Important: Not all information in the museum is available in English.

The Castle Museum – Museo El Castillo

Opening Hours Castle Museum: Mon-Fri: 09 am – 5 pm; Sat+Sun: 10 am – 5 pm

Entrance Fee Castle Museum: 20.000 COP (ca. 4 €/$ 4.3)/ only gardens: 17.000 COP (ca. 3,40 €/$ 4)

Already starting to miss European castles during your visit to South America? Then you should plan a visit to Medellin’s Castle Museum.

Although, to be honest, the castle doesn’t quite fit into the city’s backdrop, a visit here is enough to make you forget where you are. Stroll through the idyllic garden of the castle, located in the El Poblado neighborhood, or visit the glass, antiques, and porcelain exhibition inside the castle.

Try the regional dishes.

Bandeja Paisa, dish of antioquia

Besides the typical Colombian dishes, the Antioquia region is known for its delicious cuisine. To dive even deeper into the region’s culture, it is worth trying a few of the typical dishes.

Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa is THE dish of the Antioquia region. It is considered an actual must-try plate for all visitors to the region. However, you should bring an appetite when trying it because the Paisa plate, as it can be translated, is quite a mouthful.

This dish comes with two different types of sausage, ground beef, red beans, rice, a piece of avocado, chicharrón, arepa (see next item), fried plantain, and a fried egg.

Arepa Paisa

Arepas can be found and enjoyed all around Colombia. These are flatbreads made from corn or flour. While they tend to be dry, they can be found in any style: stuffed, as a side dish, or just plain and simple.

If you ask a Colombian about a typical breakfast in their country, you will most likely get calentado (in English: “ warmed up “) as an answer.

This is a popular breakfast dish from the Andean region made with beans, rice, egg, South American chorizo, and chicharrón.

Fun Fact: The dish is traditionally made with leftovers from the previous day. And for breakfast, the rice and beans are reheated – which is how the dish got its name.

Colombian Coffee

Colombian coffee, two mugs

Coffee fans know that some of the best coffee in the world has its roots in Colombia. So when you visit this diverse country, don’t miss out on a full-bodied Colombian coffee.

Medellin is a great place to do so. That’s because numerous cafes and coffee roasters are here waiting to hand you a memorable cup of Colombian tradition.

Extra tip: Unfortunately, not all coffee is the same here. While Colombia is home to some of the best coffees, people here also like to drink the typical instant coffee. The best coffee can be found in cafes that specialize in quality coffee.

Join a Free Walking Tour

A city tour is a great way to get to know a new place, socialize with other travelers, and get exciting information about your destination. So why not join a free walking tour?

As the name suggests, these tours are completely free. However, you should leave a generous tip because that’s what the guides live on.

Day Trips from Medellín

guatape el penol mountain, tagesausflug von medellín

Not only Medellín itself but also the surroundings of the city are well worth a visit. From beautiful coffee fields to picturesque small towns, you can really find it all here.

Two of the most popular day trips are Guatapé , with its famous giant rock, and El Jardín, an idyllic little village with colorful classic Colombian architecture.

Where to stay in Medellín

Most visitors to Medellín stay in either the El Poblado or Laureles neighborhood. These two neighborhoods are considered very safe and offer plenty of options for their visitors.

Personally, I’m not too much of a fan of El Poblado, so I recommend staying in Laureles. However, if you are looking to party and meet fellow travelers, El Poblado might be a better option for you after all.

The best budget accommodation in Medellín

Casa egos pop.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

This accommodation certainly sweetened our stay with plenty of space to work or just chill in the hammock after a long day. This accommodation awaits you in a very local part of the gateway to Laureles, with lots of great restaurants, bars, and cafes in the neighborhood. The owners are always available to help and advise you, and the three cats and the little dog in the accommodation are ready for a little cuddle session.

Check further info, prices, and availability of Casa Egos Pop

The best Hotel in Medellín

Hotel brana.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

This 4-star hotel in Laureles leaves little to be desired. With private rooms and a pool, the hotel invites its guests to one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. The room rate also includes a delicious breakfast. Hotel guests especially appreciate the hotel’s excellent location, cleanliness, and good service.

Check further info, prices, and availability of Hotel Brana

The right accommodation not included?

>> Check all accommodations in Medellín

Best time to travel to Medellín, Colombia

As Medellin’s nickname, “ The City of Eternal Spring ,” suggests, Medellin can be easily visited at any time of the year. Temperatures are spring-like warm all year round and fluctuate only slightly.

The rainy season in Medellin is between April and May and October and November. The primary tourist season for Medellin is December to March.

How to get to Medellin

Getting to medellín by plane.

If Medellin is the only/first stop of your trip, you will most likely arrive by plane. There are several connections from the US and Europe to the Colombian city.

To find a good deal on your flight to Medellin, it is worth looking for good flights early (ideally at least six weeks before departure). For this purpose, I definitely recommend a flight comparison site like .

From Medellin airport to the city center

Medellin’s international airport (José María Córdova Airport) is located about 45 minutes’ drive from the center of Medellin. You have several options to get there. The cheapest is the airport bus. However, for two or more people, it is worth taking a taxi.

The price of the cab is negotiated before boarding (expect to pay about $ 20). The cabs leaving from the airport are usually safe. Many of the drivers also speak English.

Getting to Medellín by bus

If you are already in Colombia or South America, it is worthwhile to travel by long-distance bus. South America has various providers. You can buy your ticket directly at the bus terminal (best at least one day in advance) or book online via Busbud .

Extra tip: Be sure to read the reviews of the bus company online before booking to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Medellín Transport

There are several ways to get around the big city of Medellin. In this section, we will briefly introduce you to the different means of transportation in Medellin.

Public Transport

Medellin’s public transportation network is the pride of its inhabitants and is very well developed. Several options will take you from A to B and almost every corner of the metropolis.

The options available to you are:

  • Metrobus (Metroplús)
  • Metrocable (cable car)

Most public transportation can be used with a standard rechargeable ticket. You can get these at almost every stop at the ticket machine (often also usable in English).

The navigation is quite simple and similar to other big cities worldwide. You can check current fares on the official website here .

Since Medellín is located in the mountains, it can sometimes be rather challenging to get from A to B by regular means of transportation. That’s why Medellin introduced an innovative cable car system a few years ago.

For many visitors, the ride on the so-called Metro Cable is an absolute must to enjoy the view over the city’s rooftops. Medellin’s cable car can also be used with the regular ticket.

If you like, you can also use the good old cab for a ride. Especially for the trip to and from the airport, a taxi can be worthwhile. In the city itself, you don’t need a cab. Especially in the sometimes somewhat chaotic city traffic, you might be faster with public transport.

If you still don’t want to miss out on a ride in a cab, make sure it is a reputable taxi. Another option is to use the cab app Uber. Except for the way to and from the airport, you can use Uber without any problems.

While some of the Medellin attractions from this list are a bit further out and, therefore, can only be visited by transportation, you can also see some of the attractions on foot.

If you like walking, this will allow you to discover even more great places in the area.

Where is Medellin

where is medellin, colombia map

Medellín is located in the lower northwest of Colombia, about 500 km from the border with Panama. The city is located in the Aburrá Valley in the South American Andes in the Antioquia region.

FAQ about traveling to Medellín

Medellin, Colombia, is a big city with a lot to discover. It is recommended to stay at least three to five days in the town to see the main sights.

Surprisingly, Medellin has become one of the safest cities in South America in recent years. Due to many investments, the image of the city has completely changed since the 90s.

Depending on the travel standard, the Colombian city of Medellín can be considered quite affordable. You can expect around $ 30-40 per day per person during your trip.

The tap water in Medellin, Colombia, is of excellent quality and safe to drink.

In addition to several native sublanguages, Spanish is spoken in Medellin, as in the rest of Colombia.

medellin itinerary pin

Interested in Colombia?

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About the Author Vicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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The Ultimate 3 Day Medellin Itinerary: Immersion Into The City Of Eternal Spring

Medellin Colombia 3 day itinerary of things to do

From the fluttering heartbeats as our plane touched down, to the vibrant hues of city lights glittering beneath us, Medellin welcomed our little family with open arms.

As the famed “City of Eternal Spring,” Medellin is often celebrated for its perfect climate, breathtaking scenery, and its incredible transformation from a city that was once the epicenter of Colombia ‘s tumultuous past into a vibrant, cosmopolitan destination that’s bustling with creativity and innovation.

We’ve all read those travel articles packed with intriguing museums and pulsating nightlife, the kind of adult fun that Medellin is so often associated with.

And while there’s no denying the allure of such experiences, our journey was a tad bit different this time.

Our tiny bundle of joy, a curious and spirited 3-year-old, was accompanying us, transforming our usual travel itinerary into a unique adventure.

Since Medellin was our first city to visit in South America, we spent days researching, reading, and a little bit of winging it, to craft an itinerary that is perfect for family travelers.

In the span of three days, we were swept up in the city’s rich culture, history, delicious food, warm people, and, yes, even some exhilarating adventure.

We roamed around the art-infused neighborhood of Comuna 13, admired the works of Fernando Botero, and marveled at the city views from a Metrocable car.

We immersed ourselves in the city’s pulse and found family-friendly joy in places we’d never expected.

So, come along on our journey as we delve into our unforgettable three-day itinerary in Medellin.

We hope it will inspire your own family adventure in this beautiful city, giving you a taste of all the wonder and magic it holds, even when you’re traveling with a tiny human in tow.

Let’s explore the City of Eternal Spring together.

things to do in Medellin for 3 days

1. Day One In Medellin – Urban Exploration

As the first ray of sunlight seeped through our window, we knew it was the beginning of an exciting day in the city of Medellin.

A sense of anticipation filled our hearts as we embarked on our urban exploration.

Our day started in El Poblado , the city’s most touristic neighborhood.

The quaint charm of this area immediately won us over, with its blend of traditional architecture and modern elements.

Breakfast was a colorful affair at what became our favorite coffee shop lining the vibrant streets, where our little one was particularly fascinated by the exotic fruits adorning her plate.

Following our meal, we strolled leisurely through the neighborhood, its greenery providing a refreshing ambiance perfect for a family morning walk.

Our tot was easily entertained by the numerous local dogs being walked by their owners and the myriad of bird species flitting through the trees.

@togethertowhereve What to do in Mexellin, Colombia: here’s how we spent 4 days in Medellin on our family vacation! Comuna 13 tour, Parque Explora, Plaza Botero, Pueblito Paisa, Paragliding, Parque de los Pies Descalzos, Metrocabke ride…@togethertowherever #medellincolombia #visitmedellín #visitcolombia #colombiatravels #medellinitinerary #colombiafamilyvacation #familytrip #travelingfamilies #travelingwithkids #southamericatravels ♬ moon northernelg edit – nathaellabat

Embarking on a free walking tour in Medellin was one of the most enriching experiences of our trip.

Led by a knowledgeable local guide, we delved deep into the city’s history, culture, and hidden gems.

As we wandered through the vibrant streets, our guide shared captivating stories and anecdotes, shedding light on the city’s transformation and providing insights into the daily lives of its residents. 

We explored bustling markets , picturesque plazas, and colorful neighborhoods, immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds, and aromas of Medellin.

The free walking tour not only gave us a greater appreciation for the city’s past and present but also allowed us to connect with fellow travelers, creating lasting memories and friendships.

It was an authentic and immersive way to discover the soul of Medellin, and we highly recommend it to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of this captivating city.

El Poblado apartment views

Plaza Botero

After a restful siesta, we stepped back out into the city, our sights set on Plaza Botero and the  Museum of Antioquia .

Here, we were greeted by 23 imposing bronze sculptures created by Colombia’s renowned artist Fernando Botero.

Our little one was captivated by the oversized art pieces, their exaggerated proportions sparking giggles and wonder as he darted around them, providing us with some truly memorable photo opportunities.

Parque De El Poblado

Parque de los Pies

From there, we made our way to the tranquil oasis of Parque de los Pies, which so very few travelers tend to visit.

This less-known park nestled in the heart of Medellin became a delightful surprise on our family adventure.

Our senses were immediately engulfed in serenity as we stepped foot into its bamboo forest.

The typically omnipresent city noise receded, replaced by the gentle rustling of bamboo leaves and the soft chirping of hidden birds.

Parque de los Pies, aptly translating to “Park of the Feet,” invites its visitors to remove their shoes and experience the park in the most grounded way possible.

As our feet pressed into the cool grass and our toddler squished her toes in the park’s sand area, we couldn’t help but share her contagious joy.

Here, visitors quietly nestled among the bamboo groves, their noses buried in books, while children created sandcastles and laughed freely.

Discover the hidden gems of through amazing explorations - A amazing view of this locale in Colombia to discover

We savored a picnic amidst this tranquil setting, the city’s clamor a distant murmur.

Our little one found joy in feeding the park’s resident pigeons and frolicking barefoot in the dedicated kid’s area.

It was, in its unique way, a sensory paradise that delighted and relaxed us, providing a much-needed respite from our urban exploration.

Laureles Neighborhood

As night fell, we made our way to Laureles, a residential neighborhood known for its authentic local dining scene.

In stark contrast to El Poblado’s cosmopolitan vibe, Laureles felt more like a typical Colombian neighborhood, making our dinner there feel like a true local experience.

We settled for a family-friendly restaurant offering a kid’s menu that had enough choices to please our sometimes picky eater.

With our child’s bedtime approaching, we ended the night early, promising more adventure to come the next day.

Despite the absence of the bustling nightlife that Medellin is known for, we found immense joy in our unique family exploration, watching our little one discover a new world with awe and wonder. 

Medellin Neighborhoods

2. Day Two In Medellin – Cultural Immersion

As the sun peeked over the horizon, we eagerly embarked on our second day of exploration, ready to immerse ourselves in Medellin’s rich culture and history.

Today’s itinerary took us on a journey through vibrant neighborhoods, significant landmarks, and unforgettable experiences.

Our morning began with a visit to Comuna 13, a neighborhood that has transformed itself from being one of the most dangerous neighborhoods into an inspiring symbol of resilience and creativity.

Once plagued by violence, Comuna 13 has undergone a remarkable revitalization, thanks in part to the colorful street art adorning its walls.

Anyone who has also visited Cartagena knows that this is a lot like the situation in the Getsemani neighborhood.

Guided by a local expert who took us on a graffiti tour , we discovered the stories and symbolism behind the murals, and our little one marveled at the larger-than-life characters that seemed to come alive before their eyes.

Comuna 13 graffiti tour

Walking through the streets of Comuna 13, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the community’s unwavering spirit.

Our toddler was fascinated by the vibrant colors and the music that resonated from small shops.

The  neighborhood’s transformation  serves as a testament to the power of art and community in healing wounds and rewriting the narrative of a place.

We even got a chance to try out some street food like empanadas and patacones followed by cold brew soda!

Pueblito Paisa

After a hearty Colombian lunch, we set off to explore  Pueblito Paisa , a charming replica of a traditional Antioquian village perched atop a hill.

This cultural gem allowed us to step back in time and experience the essence of Colombia’s rich history and architecture.

Our little one marveled at the miniature houses, cobblestone streets, and iconic white-washed church, pretending to be an explorer in a land frozen in time.

As we wandered through the village , we couldn’t resist the urge to indulge in some local treats and browse the handicrafts on display.

Our toddler’s face lit up as he picked out a colorful handmade toy, a tangible reminder of our time spent in this magical place.

Pueblito Paisa visit in Medellin

As the afternoon waned, we embarked on a Metrocable ride, a truly unique experience that not only offered breathtaking views of the city but also showcased the importance of public transportation in Medellin .

Our little one’s eyes widened in wonder as we soared above the bustling streets, witnessing the city’s grandeur from a new perspective.

The Metrocable ride served as a reminder of Medellin’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, as the cable cars connect the once-neglected hillside neighborhoods to the rest of the city.

After our captivating cable car ride, we returned to the city center for a delightful dinner.

Medellin’s culinary scene offers something for everyone, and we found a family-friendly restaurant that catered to our toddler’s tastes while still allowing us to indulge in traditional Colombian flavors.

With hearts full of gratitude and memories of a day filled with cultural immersion, we retired for the night, eagerly anticipating the adventures that awaited us on our final day in Medellin.

Metrocable ride in Medellin

3. Day Three In Medellin – Adventure And Science

As our Medellin adventure approached its final day, we were determined to make it a memorable one, filled with thrilling adventures and captivating experiences that would leave a lasting impression on our family.


We kicked off the day with an adrenaline-pumping activity that would surely be a highlight of our trip – paragliding.

With my heart racing in anticipation, I soared through the skies above Medellin, marveling at the breathtaking panoramic views of the city below.

Our little one watched from below wide-eyed, her giggles carried away by the wind, as I glided through the air, feeling an indescribable sense of freedom and exhilaration.

Only one of us participated in this activity, but they do offer it for children as well!

Discover the hidden gems of through amazing explorations - A amazing view of this locale in Colombia to discover

Botanical Garden

Next on the agenda: A visit to the botanical garden in Medellin. A tranquil escape into nature’s embrace.

This verdant oasis offers respite from the bustling city, inviting visitors to wander through lush gardens, enchanting forests, and vibrant flower displays.

As we strolled along the meandering pathways, our senses were awakened by the fragrant aromas, the vibrant colors of exotic blooms, and the gentle melodies of birdsong.

Our little one marveled at the diverse plant species, their curiosity piqued as they discovered hidden nooks and crannies, and encountered intriguing botanical wonders.

The botanical garden also offers educational exhibits, allowing us to deepen our understanding of Colombia’s rich biodiversity .

Whether you seek serenity, want to connect with nature, or simply wish to spend quality time as a family, the botanical garden in Medellin is a must-visit destination that promises beauty and tranquility at every turn.

Parque Explora

With our feet back on solid ground, we turned our attention to Parque Explora, a scientific and interactive playground that seamlessly blends education with entertainment.

This captivating science center offers a wealth of hands-on exhibits and engaging displays that both children and adults can enjoy.

Our little scientist-in-training was enthralled by the aquarium, where he got to witness colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and even mesmerizing sharks up close.

We ventured into the vivarium, encountering fascinating reptiles and amphibians from the region, and our toddler’s curiosity blossomed as he learned about the wonders of nature.

The interactive physics room offered endless fun as we experimented with gravity, magnetism, and other scientific phenomena, fostering a sense of wonder and discovery within our little explorer.

It was just an absolute blast!

3 days in Medellin - family trip

Modern Art Museum

A visit to the modern art museum in Medellin is a must on everyone’s itinerary, even when traveling with kids.

While some may question the compatibility of art and young children, this museum breaks those preconceptions.

The modern art exhibits showcase vibrant colors, imaginative shapes, and captivating installations that ignite the imagination of both children and adults alike.

The interactive displays and engaging activities designed specifically for young visitors make the museum an immersive and educational experience for the entire family.

It’s a chance for children to explore their creativity, ask questions, and develop an appreciation for art from an early age.

The modern art museum in Medellin proves that art is not only for grown-ups, but also a captivating and enriching adventure for young minds, making it an essential stop on any family’s itinerary.

El Poblado Neighborhood

As the day began to wind down, we returned to the vibrant neighborhood of El Poblado to savor our final evening in Medellin.

We strolled through the bustling streets, soaking in the lively atmosphere and embracing the city’s energy.

For our last dinner, we sought out a family-friendly restaurant that catered to all tastes.

We indulged in traditional Colombian cuisine, savoring every bite while reminiscing about the incredible experiences we had shared as a family throughout our time in Medellin.

As we walked back to our accommodations, hand in hand with our sleepy preschooler, we couldn’t help but reflect on the transformative journey we had embarked upon in this captivating city.

Medellin had woven its magic into our hearts, leaving us with cherished memories and a renewed sense of wonder.

We vowed to return someday, to discover even more of this vibrant metropolis and continue our family adventures.

With a tinge of bittersweetness, we bid Medellin farewell, knowing that our journey had forever changed us, instilling in us a deep appreciation for the beauty of travel and the joy of experiencing new horizons together as a family.

colorful steps of Comuna 13

How to Spend 4 Days In Medellin?

1. guatape day trip.

If travelers find themselves with an extra day to spare in Medellin, there are still plenty of exciting and enriching experiences to be had.

On the fourth day, consider venturing out of the city center to explore the stunning natural landscapes that surround Medellin.

One option is to take a day trip to the picturesque town of Guatapé, known for its vibrant, colorful houses and the famous rock formation known as El Peñol.

Climbing the 740 steps to the top of El Peñol offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and rolling hills, providing a truly memorable experience.

But we really recommend spending a few days in Guatape to really experience everything there.

2. Santa Fe De Antioquia Day Trip

Another option for a day trip is to visit Santa Fe de Antioquia, a charming colonial town located about an hour away from Medellin.

Wander through its cobblestone streets, marvel at the well-preserved architecture, and soak up the historical ambiance.

Take a leisurely stroll along the Puente de Occidente, an impressive suspension bridge that spans the Cauca River, offering scenic views and photo opportunities.

3. Parque Arví

For those seeking more adventure, consider heading to Parque Arví, an expansive nature reserve located just outside the city.

Explore its hiking trails, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and enjoy the lush greenery that surrounds you.

The park also offers cultural and ecological activities, allowing you to learn more about the region’s flora, fauna, and indigenous heritage.

4. Additional Medellin Neighborhoods: Envigado Or Sabaneta

Alternatively, if you prefer to spend a relaxed day in the city, you can explore some of Medellin’s lesser-known neighborhoods, such as Envigado or Sabaneta.

These areas offer a more local and authentic experience, with vibrant markets, cozy cafes, and charming plazas to discover.

Here are our favorite travel resources that you can use to plan your trip:

  • Our  Travel Insurance Recommendation
  • What we  use to book hotels
  • Travel  Gear and Products  You Might Need
  • The Best Tours and Experiences

Practical Information For Visiting Medellin

Before embarking on your own Medellin adventure, it’s essential to have some practical information at hand to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Here are a few practical tips to help you make the most of your time in Medellin:

  • Weather : Medellin is known as the City of Eternal Spring, thanks to its pleasant year-round climate. However, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before your trip to pack appropriate clothing and accessories.
  • Transportation : Medellin has an efficient public transportation system, including the metro, buses, and taxis. The metro is a convenient and affordable way to navigate the city, and the Metrocable offers unique aerial views. Taxis are readily available but be sure to use official taxis or ride-sharing services for safety.
  • Child-Friendly Facilities : Traveling with a young child requires some extra considerations. Fortunately, Medellin offers several child-friendly amenities such as parks, playgrounds, and family-friendly restaurants. Keep an eye out for establishments with designated kids’ menus and facilities to ensure a comfortable experience for your little one.
  • Safety : Like any travel destination, it’s important to prioritize safety during your visit to Medellin. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas, and take precautions to safeguard your belongings. It’s advisable to avoid displaying expensive items and to stay informed about any safety recommendations from local authorities or your accommodation.
  • Language : While Spanish is the official language in Medellin, you’ll find that many locals, especially in tourist areas, have some level of English proficiency. However, having a few basic Spanish phrases and a translation app can come in handy for communication and immersing yourself in the local culture.
  • What To Wear In Medellin : It’s best to dress to blend in with locals in Medellin. This means, no beach attire. Instead jeans and a nice shirt will do for most places. Stylish but comfortable shoes are a good idea, but you don’t want to be too flashy.

By keeping these practical tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a remarkable journey through Medellin, creating beautiful memories with your loved ones as you explore this captivating city.

Pueblito Paisa views

How Does Cali Travel Experience Compare To Medellin?

When it comes to Cali vs. Medellin comparison , both cities offer unique travel experiences.

Cali is known for its vibrant salsa dancing scene and rich cultural heritage, while Medellin boasts stunning views from its cable cars and a thriving art and music scene.

Ultimately, the travel experience depends on the individual preferences.

Is Medellin Or Bogota More Fun?

Both Medellin and Bogota have their own unique charms, and the definition of “fun” can vary from person to person.

Medellin is known for its vibrant street art, lively neighborhoods, and innovative urban projects, while Bogota offers a rich historical and cultural scene, including world-class museums and colonial architecture.

The choice between the two depends on your personal preferences and interests.

Should I Choose Cartagena Or Medellin For A Family Trip?

If you are curious to know whether to spend more time in Cartagena or Medellin on your Colombia itinerary, we have you covered.

Cartagena vs. Medellin offer distinct experiences, making it a tough decision.

Cartagena is renowned for its enchanting colonial architecture, romantic ambiance, and picturesque old town, which attracts visitors from around the world.

On the other hand, Medellin showcases a blend of modernity and cultural heritage, offering a dynamic urban environment, scenic landscapes, and a vibrant arts scene.

The choice depends on your preferences.

Get Started With Planning Your Own Medellín Itinerary

As we bid farewell to the vibrant city of Medellin, we reflect upon the incredible journey we embarked upon as a family.

Medellin proved to be a destination that caters to the needs and interests of travelers of all ages, offering a multitude of experiences that allowed us to create beautiful memories together.

While three days in Medellin provided us with a taste of the city’s diverse attractions and immersive experiences, we can’t help but wish for more time.

Medellin has so much to offer, and extending your stay would allow you to delve deeper into its culture, explore more neighborhoods, and savor the culinary delights that the city has to offer.

However, if you’re limited on time, three days can still provide you with a fulfilling and memorable experience.

As we venture back home, we carry with us the vibrant spirit and warmth of Medellin, inspired to continue exploring the world with our little one, embracing new cultures, and nurturing the sense of wonder that travel instills.

Medellin, thank you for the unforgettable moments and the gift of togetherness. We will cherish these memories for a lifetime.

Medellin 3 day itinerary pin for pinterest

Taiss Nowrouzi

Taiss Nowrouzi is a writer, photographer, and social media influencer with a passion for dance on the side. Taiss has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from San Diego State University. After over a decade in the hotel business, including five years in the management, she left the corporate world to pursue a life of a digital nomad.

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Hi! We’re Rob and Taiss. We set off to live a life in as many places as possible. To actually live in locations around the world long enough to get to know the locals, the culture, and the food, not just a taste of it.

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30 Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia’s City of Eternal Spring

30 of the very best things to do in Medellin, Colombia’s spellbinding second city.

The second-largest city in the country and capital of the north-western Antioquia Department, Medellin ( Medellín ) is indisputably a must-visit place in Colombia .

I knew Medellin was my kind of city even before I arrived – which is why I booked a three-week stay to kick-start my Colombia trip. Just as I had predicted, it took me all of two minutes on the airport bus to decide that I loved the ‘City of Eternal Spring’.

Medellin is a hub of vibrant Paisa culture , with an incredible food and local coffee scene, great museums and galleries, public sculptures and street art, bustling fruit markets , colourful neighbourhoods , and lots of urban green spaces.

It’s a city that has undergone dramatic changes in recent decades. I would describe it as a city with an old soul and a young, energetic, creative spirit.

This list of the 30 best things to do in Medellin brings together quintessential Medellin must dos, alternative attractions in Medellin, immersive experiences for food and coffee lovers, and outdoor adventures to help you enjoy Medellin to the max.

  • First time in Medellin? Copy my 2-day Medellin itinerary for the perfect visit.

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Medellin Quick Links

Where to stay in Medellin: The Wandering Paisa (hostel); 574 Hotel (mid-range); Quinta Ladera (boutique hotel); Sites Hotel (luxury). Pre-book your airport transfer: 24/7 transfer to any hotel in Medellin , operated by Impulse Travel (from $25). Best city walking tour: Private City Tour with Metrocable and Comuna 13 (from $53). Best Comuna 13 tour: Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour with Local Guide (from $25). Best coffee experience: Coffee Tour With Tastings and Lunch (from $42). Best day trip from Medellin: Guatape & El Peñol Rock (from $37).

Essential things to do in Medellin

Let’s start with the top Medellin attractions and must-have Colombia experiences .

If you have just one or two days in Medellin, prioritise these 15 activities to ensure you leave with a holistic picture of the city.

1. Take the Free Walking Tour

Downtown Medellin, Colombia.

A city walking tour is one of the best free things to do in Medellin and the perfect way to get your bearings when you first arrive. There is only one company worth mentioning, and that’s Real City Tours .

This is honestly one of the best free walking tours I’ve done anywhere in the world (and I’ve done a lot!). Groups are small (currently capped at six people) and the local guides are very engaging.

If you’re lucky enough to get Caro, you’re in for a real treat: She knows everything there is to know about Medellin and is truly one of the most memorable guides I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

The itinerary focuses on Medellin’s downtown (El Centro) . Whilst covering the major streets, parks and plazas, you’ll pick up lots of information about Medellin’s history and social change.

The tour runs twice a day Monday-Friday and once in the morning on Saturday (no tours on Sundays). It lasts 3.5-4 hours, and payment is based on tips. Bookings are essential – reserve a place online .

Specialty city tours:

  • Private 5-hour city tour of Medellin with hotel transfers & a metrocable ticket. Includes Botero Square, Comuna 13, Pueblito Paisa, the Botanical Gardens and more. From $53 per person.
  • 4-hour (20km) e-bike tour of Medellin . Includes El Poblado, Ciudad del Río, Laureles and a Colombian coffee experience. From $42 per person including bike hire.
  • 5-hour Medellin gastronomic tour with my favourite tour company, Impulse Travel. Includes local food tastings and markets. From $150 per person.

2. Ride the iconic Medellin Metrocable

Medellin Metrocable, a system of gondolas running up the hill in Medellin, Colombia.

The Metrocable (cable car system) is a symbol of Medellin. For locals, it’s a way of life: The cable cars are the only practical way to access the hillside barrios where the streets are too steep and narrow for buses.

For us tourists, soaring above the rooftops in a gondola is a fun and affordable way to get spectacular views. It’s definitely a must do in Medellin.

The Metrocable has six lines that connect downtown Medellin in the Alburra Valley basin with different  settlements in the surrounding hills. My favourites are the K/L Lines to Parque Arvi (more on that later), and the J Line from San Javier (the location of Comuna 13 – see the next section for more) to La Aurora.

The cable car system in Medellin

The gondola stations connect up to the Medellin metro system for seamless travel around the city. See #16 on this list for more info about the metro and how you can use it to go on a self-guided ‘tour’ of Medellin.

A single fare for the Metrocable costs 2,750 COP (around 70 US cents) or 2,430 COP if you have a (free) rechargeable Civica card. The L Line to Parque Arvi costs 10,600 COP. For more tips, see this comprehensive guide to using public transport in Medellin .

3. Explore Comuna 13 with a local guide, a Medellin must-do

Street art in Comuna 13, a must see in Medellin.

The Comuna 13 commune is home to the most well-known of Medellin’s hillside barrios. Once considered the most dangerous place in the country (and one of the deadliest places in the world), the neighbourhoods that make up Comuna 13 have undergone immense transformation in recent decades thanks in no small part to projects such as the escaleras electricas (outdoor escalators) that ‘reconnected’ the area with the rest of the city.

Today, Comuna 13 is known for its vibrant street art and large-scale murals. Walking through this open-air gallery is an immersive history lesson: You’ll learn a lot about the events of the past, including Medellin’s gang violence, and most of all witness how hopeful people are for a brighter future .

I highly recommend visiting Comuna 13 with a local guide who can add context and narrative to the experience. This small-group tour lasts 4 hours and will lead you to the most important street art pieces and the best viewpoints . Here is a private tour option if you prefer.

Before you go, read my 13 tips for visiting Comuna 13 so you know what to expect.

4. Eat Bandeja Paisa at Hacienda

A plate of Banja Paisa, Colombia's national dish.

There’s a whole food-focused section of this guide coming up later, but I have to mention one foodie experience now: Eating Bandeja Paisa! Colombia’s national dish and a regional specialty in these parts, it’s one of the top things to do in Medellin not just for foodies, but for all travellers.

A worker’s lunch born on the coffee plantations of Antioquia Department, Bandeja Paisa is a work of culinary art. I didn’t know it was possible to cram so many flavours and textures (and calories!) onto one plate.

Every version is a bit different but in essence, Bandeja Paisa is a medley of beans, blood sausage, chorizo and chicharrón (deep-fried pork rind) served with rice and an arepa, and topped off with fresh avocado and a fried egg.

And everyone has their favourite rendition – mine is the finca-to-table Bandeja Paisa served at Hacienda . Their Juna restaurant near Parque Berrio is particularly nice, with its open-air dining veranda. One portion is big enough for two people, or you can opt for a single-serve ‘Mini Bandeja’.

5. See how you measure up in the Plaza Botero

A Botero sculpture in Botero Plaza, Medellin.

The heart of Medellin’s historic Old Quarter, Plaza Botero is one of the loveliest squares in the city. You’ll find several monumental pieces of architecture and important museums around the periphery (more on those later), but the plaza itself is a great place for a stroll.

Botero Plaza is dedicated to Medellin-born artist Fernando Botero , who donated 23 of his larger-than-life sculptures to the city. I first encountered Botero’s work at the Cascade Complex in Yerevan, Armenia , so it was a real treat for me to see his works displayed in his home city.

Botero’s daring bronze forms push the boundaries of physics and political correctness alike! Some of his most iconic works include ‘Roman Soldier’ and the buxom ‘Eve’ . Rubbing the statues is said to bring good luck, so you’ll notice that many are buffed in certain ‘special’ locations.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Medellin, wandering the Botero Plaza and admiring the bulging statues is definitely a must. For something more in-depth, this Botero-focused city tour explores the artist’s life and legacy in Medellin.

6. Ohh and ahh at the Museo de Antioquia

Botero sculptures inside the Museum of Antioquia.

Located on Botero Plaza, the Museum of Antioquia (Museo de Antioquia) is my top choice of museum in central Medellin. This was the first museum established in Antioquia and is devoted to who else but two of the city’s most acclaimed artists, Botero and painter-muralist Pedro Nel Gómez .

I love Botero’s sculptures, but I adore his paintings. The work that most people make a beeline for is ‘Death of Pablo Escobar’ (1999), which depicts the infamous gangster’s demise against a backdrop of Medellin’s orange rooftops.

The museum is open 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday. Entrance costs around 18,000 COP. There is a free guided tour available every afternoon at 2pm.

If you’re planning to visit Medellin in high season, you may want to pre-purchase a skip the line ticket to avoid having to queue.

7. Stop by the Palace of Culture

Also facing onto Plaza Botero, the Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture is one of the most distinctive buildings in Medellin. The black-and-white stonework and Gothic-style arches are the work of Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts, who designed the Palace as a venue for cultural programs and exhibitions staged by the regional government.

The building is open to the public. Inside, the Institute of Culture and Heritage of Antioquia houses a photo archive. There’s also a library, an art gallery and a cafe.

8. Shoot the breeze in Parque Berrio

Looking down on Parque Berrio and Our Lady of Candelaria church in Medellin.

Nearby Berrío Park sits smack-bang in the centre of Medellin and is therefore often thought of as the ‘nucleus’ of the city . It’s a hive of activity at all hours, a place for families and groups of friends to gather, where old men come to play checkers and vendors come to peddle their goods.

When the nearby Catholic church was first built in the 1640s (more in the next section), Parque Berrio was simply known as ‘Main Square’ . Parishioners would gather here before and after services – so you can see that meeting in this spot is a long-standing Medellin tradition.

The square has been pivotal to the city’s history through the ages: Various political announcements and demonstrations took place on these very paving stones.

Although it can be a bit rowdy (and a bit seedy at certain times of day), this is prime people-watching territory . With all the yelling and conversations going on, you might even learn some Spanish by osmosis!

For the best views down onto the square, head up to the adjacent Parque Berrio Metro Station platform.

9. Visit Medellin’s oldest church

The Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria behind Parque Berrio dates back to Colombia’s colonial era. As well as being one of the most beautiful churches in Medellin, it’s also the city’s oldest.

Roman Catholic parishioners have been worshipping at the stone church since 1649. Outside, the Neoclassical facade is grand and austere; inside, a gold-coloured altar sits beneath a painting of the Virgin of Candelaria, Medellin’s patron saint.

You can get a great view of the church’s exterior from the platform at the nearby Parque Berrio metro station. Just footsteps from Plaza Botero and the museum, it’s a worthwhile addition to your itinerary when you’re in the El Centro district.

10. Get lost in a fruit market

A colourful display of tropical Colombian fruit at the Plaza Minorista Market in Medellin.

Antioquia is Colombia’s fruit bowl , and Medellin is where the region’s farmers come to trade their tropical delights. There are several fruit markets in the city worth visiting . My personal favourite is the Plaza Minorista José María Villa , or The Minorista for short.

The Minorista is an atmospheric green market made up of 3,000-plus undercover stalls. Roam the aisles, chatting with the friendly los vendedores (vendors) who are usually more than happy to offer free samples of their most exotic offerings: Maracuyá, zapote, mangosteen, curuba and more.

A woman drinks fresh juice at a market in Medellin.

Watch your toes as people race around the aisles with trolleys and crates of fruit. Don’t forget to look up at the beautiful hand-painted signs above some of the older stalls, family-run businesses that have been operating here for generations.

Climb the stairs to the second level to look directly down on the market floor and admire the chaos. Here’s where you’ll also find breakfast stalls and juice bars where you can pick your favourite fruit and have it blended to order.

The Minorista opens bright and early at 4.30am daily . It’s best to arrive early for the best variety and the an energetic atmosphere.

11. Hike in Parque Arvi, Medellin’s green lung

A wooden bridge over a stream in Medellin's Parque Arvi.

Located in a valley north-east of the city centre and reachable from downtown via the Line L Metrocable, Parque Arvi (Arví Park) is literally a breath of fresh air. The huge nature reserve and archaeological site offers walking and biking trails, waterfalls, a farmers’ market, coffee shops, and more.

You could easily spend a full afternoon here recharging your batteries.

Much of the 16,000-hectare park can be explored over 56 miles (90km) of walking trails . Marked paths range from easy strolls through wildflower groves and butterfly habitat, to more strenuous hikes.

Short guided walks depart regularly from the visitor’s centre and last from 1-4 hours. Or you can set out alone on one of the easier-to-follow hikes , such as the Trail of the hill.

Don’t miss the Mercado Arví , a daily farmers’ market next to the Metrocable station where you can buy local fruit, coffee and Colombian handicrafts.

12. Visit Pueblito Paisa, a model village in the heart of Medellin

Colourful houses at Pueblito Paisa in Medellin.

Perched atop Nutibara Hill in the city centre, Pueblito Paisa is a miniature version of a typical Antioquian pueblo or town. If you don’t have time to travel out of the city to a real pueblo, this is the next best thing. (There’s no comparison really, but at least you can get an idea of the architectural style!)

Make no mistake, this is one of Medellin’s most popular tourist attractions and it’s very commercial as a result. I just happened to be staying nearby and wandered up one night for a look. It is worth going out of your way for, but just be prepared for the crowds.

The village is laid out like a typical town , with a central cobbled square, church and fountain ringed by white facades with colourful trims. I later learned that some of the building materials used in construction were salvaged from a real pueblo near Guatape, including original wooden doors, windows, and the church altar.

The panoramic views from the top of the hill are worth the 20-minute walk up (don’t worry, you can drive all the way if you wish). There are several viewpoints scattered around the area where you can look out over Medellin and the river.

Pueblito Paisa is open from 6am until late every day. The Medellin City Museum is also located on the hill, adjacent to the pueblo.

13. Shop for souvenirs at the San Alejo Handicraft Market

Mochilla bags for sale at the San Alejo Handicraft Market in Medellin.

If you happen to be visiting Medellin on the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss the San Alejo Handicraft Market in Parque Bolivar.

This showcase of local food projects and crafts only takes place once every four weeks. It’s a 35-year tradition, drawing crowds who shop directly from 400 artists, makers, antique vendors and artisanal farmers .

Indigenous artisans from communities around Medellin are also represented, making San Alejo one of the few places in the city where you can buy authentic handicrafts such as hand-woven Wayuu Mochila bags and colourful Mola textiles , traditionally made by the Kuna people.

14. Go cafe hopping in El Poblado, one of the best places in Medellin for coffee & culture

Because of its proximity to Colombia’s coffee region , Medellin is the ideal place to sample local beans. El Poblado district, the hub of cafe culture , has enough specialty coffee shops and outdoor cafes to keep you humming until the very last drop.

Spend an afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of Medellin’s coolest neighbourhood (part of Comuna 14 but a world away from Comuna 13) by hopping between the many gorgeous outdoor cafes and trying different specialty brews. Pergamino is possibly the most popular venue in the city.

For a more in-depth experience, consider joining this coffee shop hopping tour of El Poblado and Laureles with Impulse Travel. It includes several specialty cafes and a behind-the-scenes look at coffee culture in Colombia. For something hands-on, learn how the Colombians percolate with a Coffee Brewing Workshop hosted by El Poblado’s Avoeden Café.

El Poblado has a very different vibe after dark when it transforms into a bar district. If you’re more of a night owl, this bar hopping tour of El Poblado will give you a local’s insight into Medellin nightlife.

15. Sip Aguardiente and listen to Tango at Salon Malaga

Salon Malaga, a live music cafe in Medellin.

One of the best things to do in Medellin at night is spend a few hours at Salón Málaga, a traditional piano bar with an old-timey feel and a wonderful atmosphere. It’s been a fixture of Medellin since 1957.

Settle in amongst the jukeboxes and retro music posters to listen to live tango and salsa . It’s not uncommon for couples to get up and start cutting a rug, so remember to wear your dancing shoes if you want to join in the fun.

A neat shot of aguardiente , Colombian ‘fire water’, should get things moving. Made from fermented sugar cane, it has a pleasant anise flavour and actually goes down quite smooth (well, sometimes).

Every region in Colombia produces its own aguardiente, but the liquor made in one department can’t be sold to another – so you know this is the real-deal Antioquean stuff.

Alternative things to do in Medellin

If you have more time in Medellin, consider some of these lesser-known attractions and activities.

16. Visit the Museo Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria Memory House museum in Medellin, Colombia.

Founded in 2006 by the Victim Assistance Program of Medellin City Hall, the Museo Casa de la Memoria (House of Memory Museum) is a unique institution developed to help people reflect on and overcome the hardships associated with the violence of the 1980s to early 2000s.

As you’re probably already aware, Medellin was a very dangerous place in the 1990s especially. Countless people lost their lives to cartel violence and the military interventions that followed. The Casa de la Memoria gives their families and friends – and the community at large – a space to share their voices and rebuild.

It’s a very moving experience as you see, read and hear first-hand accounts in the photographs, videos and hand-written materials. Though sombre, it will deepen your understanding of modern-day Medellin.

17. Smell the orchids at Medellin’s oldest marketplace

The Placita de Florez flower market in Medellin.

If you can’t be in Medellin for the annual Feria de Las Flores Flower Festival, which takes place every August, the next best thing is to browse the Placita de Flórez flower market.

The oldest undercover market in the city (it dates back to 1891), the Placita is a short walk from the Casa de la Memoria in Bombona district. You can quite easily combine them into one visit.

The market is a bit of an unusual combination: On one level you’ll find beautiful fresh-cut flowers interspersed with butcher’s shops. Downstairs, you’ll find the fruit and vegetable vendors.

On the back wall of the lower level there’s a wildly popular food stall you can’t miss : It’s where Medellin’s best arepas de chócolo (sweet corn arepas served with a slab of cheese on top) are served.

Back outside the market, order a freshly pressed OJ from one of the roving juice carts while you sit on a plastic stool and observe the ins and outs of Colombian commerce.

18. Take a self-guided city tour by metro

View of the Palace of Culture from the Medellin Metro platform.

Medellin’s award-winning public transport system isn’t just a way to get from A to B – you can also use it for a DIY, super affordable city tour . The Metrocable is one thing, but even the above-ground metro station platforms afford fantastic views of different plazas and notable buildings around the city.

I suggest taking Line A from El Poblado to Acevedo , disembarking at the Industriales, Exposiciones, Alpujarra, San Antonio, Parque Berrio, Prado and Hospital stations for different views of Medellin.

You can jump on and off and in most cases, transfer underneath from platform to platform, without having to buy a second ticket.

Just avoid using the metro during peak hour (Monday to Friday between 5pm and 7pm) as the stations and trains are always very busy around this time.

19. Stroll around leafy Laureles

Laureles is probably the most livable district in Medellin . I booked an Airbnb here without realising it was one of the city’s hottest suburbs, and I was very happy to be able to explore a ‘real’ local neighbourhood.

Originally a working-class area, parts of Laureles are now quite swish. It’s extremely leafy , with old growth trees lining wide roads, tons of dog parks and outdoor exercise areas, and open-air restaurants. Primer Parque de Laureles was my ‘local’ park during my short stay.

Parts of the district are laid out with roundabouts and curved streets , so it can be a bit confusing to try and navigate on foot. But getting lost and aimlessly strolling is all part of the fun.

There are a few notable attractions to seek out, including the Fundación Aburrá gallery-museum . For more things to do, see this detailed guide to the Laureles neighbourhood .

20. Attend a Colombian football match

Football (soccer) is a way of life in Colombia just as it is in many other parts of Latin America. To feel the pulse of the city and be part of one the nation’s most beloved traditions , why not attend a local match at Atanasio Girardot Stadium.

The city has two clubs, Nacional and Medellin, and both are revered. If either are playing during your visit, don’t miss your chance to cheer on the players alongside the home crowd. Match times are usually announced a few months in advance, and tickets can be purchased online.

For a different experience, sign up for an immersive football experience where you’ll attend the game accompanied by a local and participate in the pre-game rituals most tourists miss.

Best things to do in Medellin for foodies

Medellin is a true foodie paradise, with street food, cafes and restaurants on literally every corner. I’m not exaggerating when I say that chicharrones and arepas de chocolo changed my life.

Here are my favourite food-focused activities in Medellin.

21. Experience life-changing arepas de chocolo

Arepas de chocolo, sweet corn cakes with queso cheese.

I already alluded to arepas de chócolo, sweet corn cakes topped with creamy queso cheese . Trust me, these babies will make you re-define your idea of ‘delicious’.

This kind of arepa is traditional to Colombia’s Andean region, but thank goodness some master chefs decided to bring their recipes up north to the big city. Steamy, sweet-salty and creamy, they go perfectly with a hot cup of black coffee for breakfast .

The best arepas de chócolo are made from fresh-ground corn and served inside the Placita de Flórez .

22. Eat like a Paisa at Mondongo’s

Mondongo’s is part of Medellin’s old guard of bistros and an integral part of the city’s food landscape. The family owned restaurant first opened in 1976 on Avenida San Juan and has since expanded to several other locations around the city including in El Poblado . (Oh, and they also have a restaurant in Miami.)

The original philosophy of using food to bring Antioquian families together around their shared heritage of Paisa cuisine still stands. Today, this is still a very family oriented restaurant, the sort of place where you expect to see at least one birthday party every lunchtime.

There are just a dozen or so dishes on the menu, all traditional to the area. The star is of course mondongo , a soup/stew of pork, tripe and chorizo. It’s zingy and deep and a bit of an acquired taste, but definitely the thing to order if you want to eat like a local in Medellin.

23. Hunt down the city’s best Menu del Dia

Colombian menu del dia, with steak and avocado.

Another life-altering food concept, the Menu del Día or Menu of the Day is an institution in Medellin and a godsend for budget travellers. Essentially this is a set menu offered at lunchtime that allows you to stock up on a day’s worth of calories for a very respectable price .

Sometimes called Ejecutivo in Colombia, Menu del Dia came by way of Spain where the notion of a fixed-price lunch was actually written into law by fascist dictator Francisco Franco. It normally includes a cold drink, a soup or salad, a hearty main meal, and a small dessert. Typically the cost is around 15,000 COP or 3.80 USD – not bad for a three-course meal.

If you have trouble deciding what to order at restaurants, this is a saviour. Just ask for the Menu del Dia and you’ll be served up with something fresh, seasonal and nutritious .

Bandeja Paisa is a popular choice for obvious reasons, but every cafe and restaurant puts their own spin on it. They rarely serve the same thing two days in a row, so you can pick your favourite establishment and keep coming back for something new.

My favourites are Restaurante Santas Melonas near El Poblado Park for a meaty Colombian spread, and Naturalia Café in Laureles for a lighter vegetarian lunch.

24. Eat Argentinian empanadas at Salon Versalles

Argentinean empanadas at Salon Versalles, a traditional cafe in Medellin.

Located on busy Avenida Maracaibo , Salon Versalles is a real gem in Medellin and an essential pitstop on any food quest. The traditional tea house was founded in 1961 by an Argentinean expat and was the first place in the city to serve pizza!

Versalles continues to push the envelope by serving up Argentine-style empanadas . The flaky pastry and rich, slightly spicy filling is what sets them apart from their Colombian counterparts.

Versalles turns out approximately 2,000 crescent-shaped pastries every day, along with Chilean empanadas filled with meat, olives and hard-boiled egg.

For something more substantial, there’s steak churrasco and Argentinian milanesa . Save room for dessert, specifically a big slice of Torta María Luisa , a traditional Colombian layer cake, or maybe a few buñuelos (fried dough balls). Pair your sweets with a tinto coffee and you’re all set.

Dark wood, booth seating and coiffed waiters in pressed whites give the cafe a fun retro vibe.

25. Snack your way around the Mercado del Rio

The Mercado del Rio, a food market hall in Medellin, Colombia.

The Mercado del Río is a very different kind of marketplace to the ones already mentioned on this list. Similar to the Time Out Market in Lisbon , it is a contemporary food hall where you can eat a range of world cuisines under one roof.

Think of it as the United Nations of snacks . Around 50 restaurants are represented, serving everything from sushi to waffles, pizza to traditional Peruvian ceviche.

The warehouse space is beautifully decorated with lots of seating, which makes it a favourite place for friends to meet in the evening. The atmosphere is great , especially when there’s a local football game streaming on the big screen.

26. Join a Medellin food tour or cooking class

To learn more about Colombia’s food culture, I highly recommend you join a Medellin food tour . This itinerary is led by my favourite community-focused tour company in Colombia, Impulse Travel, and includes plenty of city sightseeing to offset the snacking . They even make a special trip to the flower market for the arepas – see, I told you they were good!

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, a Colombian cooking class in Medellin will arm you with arepa-making skills for life . I did a cooking class in Bogota and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

27. Tour a coffee plantation close to Medellin

Two people picking coffee cherries in Colombia.

Colombia’s Coffee Triangle lies beyond the borders of Medellin and requires more than a day trip. If you have limited time and you still want to see the bean-to-cup process , you can visit a coffee farm on the city’s doorstep instead.

This half-day coffee plantation tour includes private transfers, a cherry-picking tutorial, and a walk through the entire process of de-pulping, fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding.

I did a proper coffee cupping for the first time in the small town of Jerico and it changed the way I think about coffee forever. In Colombia, a coffee tasting takes on a whole new significance and will give you a huge appreciation for the farmers who toil to bring us our daily cuppa.

This professional coffee tasting in San Sebastián de Palmitas , 45 minutes from Medellin, takes place on a farm. You’ll learn the history of Colombian coffee, try your hand at harvesting beans, then sit down for a coffee tasting alongside a hearty Colombian meal.

Adventurous things to do in Medellin

Another thing Medellin has going for it is its proximity to nature. Here are three adventure activities for exploring the landscape beyond Parque Arvi.

28. Go horseback riding Colombia-style

A man in a cowboy hat leads a horse through the grass on a farm in Colombia.

After so long being tempted by the lush mountains around the city – visible from almost every street corner – it’s time to get out and explore. Horseback riding is an immersive way to soak up the magnificent landscapes on the fringe of the city.

This riding experience includes round-trip transfers from El Poblado and around 4 hours of riding in the hills, including to secret waterfalls and along jungle tracks.

29. Go paragliding for a bird’s eye view of Medellin

After my paragliding experience in Jerico, I can confidently say that Colombia is one of the best places on earth to soar with the birds. There are tandem paragliding opportunities in Medellin just 45 minutes from the centre, where you can fly over the Aburra Valley towards the Medellin River, El Quitasol hill and Picacho hill.

I recommend going with a reputable company that uses internationally certified guides .

30. Go quad biking, one of the best things to do in medellin for adventure

Another way to explore the mountains around Medellin is by ATV . This company offers 550cc quad bikes and experienced guides to lead you through the Antioquian mountains.

BONUS: Take a day trip from Medellin to a real pueblo

A restaurant in Santa fe de Antioquia, Colombia.

If Pueblito Paisa got you thinking about a day trip into coffee country, you’ll be glad to know there are dozens of gorgeous pueblos you can visit near Medellin. Colonial Santa Fe de Antioquia (pictured above), Guatape and Jardin are all fantastic day trips from the city.

All of these historic villages feature colourfully painted houses, grand churches and plazas, and historic architecture. Each one has its own unique museums and foodie experiences.

The most popular day trip from Medellin by far is an excursion to Guatape and El Peñol Rock . It requires a short drive and combines history with nature and a boat trip for a well-rounded day out.

Where to stay in Medellin

Medellin is a big city! Public transport connections are great, but everything is very spread-out, so you need to be strategic about where you stay (especially if you’re on a short trip). Moreover, some neighbourhoods are safer than others for tourists.

I stayed in the lovely Laureles neighbourhood when I visited Medellin. It’s leafy, it’s very walkable, there are dozens of amazing restaurants and cafes – and it’s away from the busy downtown area, giving it a more local feel. The northern part of Laureles is especially convenient because it’s close to the metro line.

If you prefer to be in the thick of it, El Poblado is the beating heart of ‘new’ Medellin. It can feel a bit touristy, but at the same time that means lots of options for eating out and revelling in Medellin’s nightlife.

Here are my top picks for where to stay in Medellin:

The Wandering Paisa hostel in Medellin.

The Wandering Paisa

  • Laureles district
  • Dorms & doubles

574 Hotel in Medellin.

  • El Poblado district
  • Doubles & singles

Quinta Ladera Hotel in Medellin.

Quinta Ladera

  • Doubles & suites

Factory Lofts apartments in Medellin.

Factory Lofts

  • Self-contained doubles

For more ideas, check out this list of excellent Airbnbs in Medellin for apartment rentals in Laureles, El Poblado and beyond.

Medellin travel FAQ

When is the best time to visit medellin.

Medellin is an all-year destination, with pleasant temperatures throughout the seasons (hence why it’s called the ‘City of Eternal Spring’).

High season (December-March) is the driest time of year, but it’s also the busiest period. If you do visit in December, try to time your trip for the Alumbrados Navideños Christmas celebration.

June-August is shoulder season and also a pleasant time to travel, especially if you’re interested in local culture and festivals . The biggest event on Medellin’s calendar is the Feria de Las Flores flower festival, which normally takes place over 10 days in August.

Rainy season (April/May and September/November) is a great choice for budget-conscious travellers as things are quieter and you can usually find some great deals on accommodation and tours. Like in Southeast Asia, afternoon downpours are normally short and sharp, so you can still spend time outdoors.

How many days should you spend in Medellin?

You don’t have to spend three weeks in Medellin like I did. Three or four full days is time enough to get a good overview of the city. With two days in Medellin , you can see the major highlights.

If you can, I do recommend travelling slowly and lingering a bit longer. One week in Medellin would be ideal.

Is Medellin safe for tourists?

Let me start by saying that I personally felt safe in Medellin at all times. Colombia often gets a bad wrap (a leftover from the 90s), but in reality things have changed a lot in the past few decades, especially in Medellin. You certainly shouldn’t let old news reports or media stereotypes put you off travelling.

But you do need to exercise caution in the city , especially when it comes to pickpocketing. Wear your backpack on your front, be careful when using your mobile phone in public, and avoid carrying valuables or large amounts of cash on you.

One of the first things you’ll hear in Medellin (especially if you join the Free Walking Tour) is the phrase, ‘Don’t give papaya’ . It basically means don’t set yourself up for disaster. Don’t make yourself a target for petty crime. Be wary of your surroundings at all times, and don’t walk around after dark, even in the touristy areas of El Poblado and El Centro.

For more insights, I’ll refer you to Medellin expert Desk to Dirtbag who has lived in Colombia for years and knows the ins and outs of safety in Medellin.

How to get from Medellin Airport to the city?

Most visitors fly into Medellin. The city’s airport, José María Córdova International Airport, is located 13 miles (20km) from the centre of the city or around 45-60 minutes by road .

Taxis are available, but for ease, I recommend you pre-book an airport transfer to your hotel . Impulse Travel offers 24/7 transfers to any hotel in Medellin starting from $25. Someone will be there to meet you in the arrivals hall, and since payment is made online before you go, there’s no need to worry about having pesos on you.

Alternatively, the airport bus ‘busetas’ runs every 15 minutes 24/7 and costs around 10,000 COP . The buses depart from outside gates 2A and 2B. Tickets can be bought from the driver using cash.

I took this bus myself and it was packed – I almost missed out on getting a seat. If you have a large or heavy bag, I would avoid the bus as there is only room for 19 people and it’s very squished already.

The bus stops at San Diego Mall before continuing to Hotel Nutibara in the centre. From there, you’ll need to walk or take a taxi the rest of the way to your accommodation.

Is Bogota or Medellin better?

Bogota and Medellin are two very different cities. As the capital of Colombia, Bogota has amazing museums (including the Gold Museum) and impressive heritage architecture. But it has more of a big-city feel and is less intimate, in my opinion. Bogota also has a worse track record when it comes to safety.

Medellin, by contrast, is very livable, green and pedestrian friendly, with unique Paisa culture and incredible food. There are more day trip opportunities from Medellin, which makes it a better base for exploring Colombia.

In short: Neither Medellin nor Bogota is ‘better’, but most travellers I know tend to favour Medellin. Personally, I enjoyed my three-week stay in Medellin a lot more than my few days in Bogota.

If I had to choose just one big city to visit in Colombia, it would definitely be Medellin.

Have you been to Medellin? Do you have any more tips to share? Drop your Medellin recommendations in the comments below!

Colombia trip essentials

Here are some of the websites and services I recommend for planning a trip to Colombia. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

FLIGHTS: Find affordable flights to Colombia using the Skyscanner website .

VISAS: Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa or a Health Declaration form for Colombia and apply for your documents online.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insure your trip to Colombia with HeyMondo , my preferred provider for single-trip and annual travel insurance.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Book a safe and reliable private transfer from the airport to your hotel in Medellin , Bogota or Cartagena (prices start from $18 per group).

ESIM FOR COLOMBIA: Stay connected during your trip – pre-purchase an eSIM for Colombia and get online as soon as you arrive without having to visit a phone shop.

CAR HIRE: Use the Discover Cars website to compare prices and features across all the major car rental companies.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Colombia hotel deals on .

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: Browse the Viator website to find the best day trips, city tours, Colombian cooking experiences and more.

More Colombia resources

  • 2 day itinerary for Medellin , a short city break itinerary
  • 13 things to know before you visit Comuna 13 , Medellin’s street art mecca
  • The best fruit markets to visit in Medellin , and what to try!
  • 20 must-dos in Bogota , Colombia’s capital city on the fly
  • 30 incredible souvenirs to buy in Colombia , from handicrafts to coffee
  • Colombian cooking class in Bogota , making empanadas Colombia-style
  • 30 wonderful places to add to your Colombia travel itinerary , more inspiration
  • 25+ things to do in Colombia , all you need to plan your trip
  • Travelling in Colombia’s coffee region , Medellin to Concordia
  • Hiking in Salento , the best trekking in Colombia
  • Guide to Jerico , Colombia’s best small town
  • Staying at El Despertar , a heritage boutique hotel in Jerico
  • Photos of Jardin , a colourful Antioquian pueblo

Thanks Emily. The empanadas, bunuelos & tinto coffee at Versalles is now added to my to do list.

The minestora market is unsafe and definitely not a good tip

Hi Karsten, if you mean the Minorista, we didn’t find it unsafe at all. We went on a tour with a local guide then returned a few days later alone. Both times we felt completely safe. Recent Google Reviews seem to confirm that it is still a popular tourist destination.

Unfortunately all of the highlighted recommended tour links go to the “Getyourguide Best List” rather than the individual tours. So you don’t get specific recommendations making the article much less useful.

Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. You will have to take this up with GetYourGuide, unfortunately, as it is a feature of their platform and not a flaw with my website.

I spent hours filtering, selecting and trying out the best tours on offer in Medellin. This is how GYG has chosen to present my results – as I’m told, it is a monetary decision for them.

You will notice that the tours I have recommended are presented first and are highlighted in light blue.

If you do decide to book using my link (despite the annoying format presented by GYG), then it would be much appreciated. Affiliates are my bread and butter and allow me to keep travelling and creating free content for you.

I have shared your feedback anonymously with GYG, and I do hope they take it into consideration.

Thanks for your understanding and I hope this clarifies things!

This is so helpful! Thanks so much we can’t wait for our trip!

Thanks for this excellent guide! We just arrived in Medellin and we’re looking forward to ticking off some of these sights during our month in town.

Terrific! Enjoy your visit!

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13 Best Things to do in Medellin, Colombia

13 Best Things to do in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is one of the best surprises in Colombia , a city that blends together steel skyscrapers, green mountains, and colorful pueblos. Nestled in a valley inland, it’s well worth the journey for its relaxed backpacker-style vibes, fantastic nightlife, and beautiful gardens. Best of all, it has tropical weather year-round—known as the city of ‘La Primavera Eterna’ (the eternal spring). Enjoy all the top things to do in Medellin, Colombia!

Things to do in Medellin

In Medellin, Colombia, you can be walking among towering skyscrapers, enjoying a coffee on the terrace of a chic sky bar in the morning. By afternoon, you can be flying in a gondola over the dense forest and traditional villages. Some of the top things to do in Medellin are:

1. El Poblado

El Poblado is a beautiful district full of green parks, rivers, and edgy industrial buildings covered in plants. This area is known as one of the most wealthy in the city, where foreigners and tourists tend to hang out. Because of that, it’s not the most authentic place in Medellin, but it is a safe area.

Also see: The Ultimate 3-week Colombia Itinerary (Travel Guide)

El Poblado medellin street art

The town is split by one main road, with the area for nights out on one side and a quieter, more ‘family friendly’ neighborhood on the other. Located on a small hill, the district can be walked around in 20 minutes; this is the perfect amount of time to explore the colorful neighborhood, its art, and some of the best restaurants in Medellin, Colombia.  

Book a hotel in El Poblado

best place to stay medellin colombia

2. Historic Center

The historic center of Medellin is home to some of the most significant emblems of the city, including the Palace of Culture, the Museum of Antioquia, and the Plaza Botero.

Here are all your hotel options in Medellin.

medellin colombia travel tips salt in our hair

Plaza Botero

At the center of the historic center of Medellin is the square (Plaza Botero), which is known as one of the city’s main sites and the place to see the most ancient buildings. In the square, you’ll see the iconic sculptures belonging to the famous Colombian artist Botero.

Also visit Botero Museum in Bogota, Colombia .

medellin things to do botero

He donated 23 sculptures, making it the largest open-air exhibition in the world. His amusing sculptures (with body parts of unusual proportions) are created to bring people together, allowing for an interactive experience. 

After looking at the interesting sculptures, head to the Palace of Culture to wander around the beautiful interior garden (open Monday-Friday 8 AM to 5 PM. Saturdays 8 AM to 2 PM ).

Book your city tour in Medellin

medellin colombia things to do

3. Bike Tour, Medellin

A bike tour in Medellin is the perfect way to learn about different neighborhoods in the city. You’ll follow an experienced guide as you cycle via the city’s main sights—for example, Plaza Botero, the Memory Museum, the Palace of Culture, and the brand-new park.

Read about the best things to do in Colombia .

things to do medellin bike tour

During the tour, you’ll also ride through the more expensive areas with fancy restaurants, as well as the poorer areas full of graffiti and street food vendors. Plus, you’ll take regular breaks to sample local coffee and drink fresh juice as you journey among the hustle and bustle of the city; it’s the perfect way to discover Medellin on your first day!

Good to know: The tours are very conscious; you’ll travel by electric bike, using the designated bike lanes that promote the use of bike travel.

Book your electric bike tour here.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

4. Comuna 13 (Top Thing to do in Medellin!)

Comuna 13 was considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods for years, run by violent gangs and guerrillas. However, between 2002 and 2008, the government waged war on the area, promising money, vacation days, or promotions to those who managed to kill guerrillas.

Comuna 13 medellin tour

This was a huge problem, as people were intentionally killing innocent people and then dressing up their bodies in guerilla uniforms as a way to get the government reward. As a result, over 400 people died and are now buried in a mass grave in the area. 

things to do medellin Comuna 13

It’s a somber story that pushes the community forward as they lead the neighborhood into the future. The district is now known as one of the most creative in Medellin, with its urban art, graffiti, dancing locals, rap artists, painters, and storytellers. There’s no doubt that the arts have had enormous influence here, changing the lives of the locals. 

street art medellin colombia

How to Get Around Comuna 13

The Comuna is very steep and hilly. To reach the top of the Comuna, jump on the escalator or take the cable car. This is the only public car in South America, costing a grand total of 6 million dollars! However, this was a high price to pay, not only financially but also to the community, as to build the cable car, the government tore many houses down. It’s another story to remember when enjoying what is now a beautiful place in Medellin, Colombia.

Book a tour exploring Comuna 13 

Comuna 13 medellin dancing

Walking Tour in Comuna 13

Comuna 13 is very safe these days, but we still recommend a free walking tour with Zippy Tours (one of the top things to do in Medellin!). It’s run by local guides who live there (or have lived there) themselves, so they can give you the inside scoop on life in the neighborhood. It’s a super interesting tour, where you can better understand the horrific history, the strong community, and the stories behind the influential murals and graffiti in the area.

Comuna 13 street art medellin

Please leave a reasonable tip for the guide. They run these tours based on donations, and these will go directly to graffiti artists and activities for the local children. 

Fun fact: The houses in Comuna 13 are not painted. This is because once they’re painted, they are considered ‘finished’, and the owner will have to start paying tax.

13 Best Things to do in Medellin, Colombia

5. Castle Museum

One of the unique things to do in Medellin, Colombia , is to visit the Castle Museum. This gothic-style residence is more reminiscent of castles in the Czech Republic or France , making you feel a world away from Colombian city life. The castle was built in 1930 for a wealthy Colombian to live in but is now a museum open to the public, where you can see classic furniture, traditional paintings, and glassware.

Do not skip the tropical vibes and colonial buildings of Cartagena, Colombia .

Castle Museum medellin

Not only can you see a lot of beautiful artifacts, but you can enjoy the calming gardens full of flowers, water fountains, and singing birds. There’s also the option to enjoy the castle cafe and its delicious coffee, tea, and cakes. Alternatively, join the many other picnickers in the garden at the weekends!

Castle Tour : Castle can be visited inside; a guided tour is included in the regular entrance ticket of 18000 COP (~ 4.5 USD).

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

6. Gautape Village & The Rock  

Just a 1.5-hour drive from Medellin, discover the incredible Guatape Village and its famous rock . 

Guatape, Colombia

This gorgeous, authentic colorful little village is one of the top things to do in Medellin, located close to the mountains and surrounded by many beautiful lakes.

things to do medellin guatape

Once you arrive, start your walk from the pretty square and the church, meandering among the small streets and stopping to smile and chat with the friendly locals. Stop to take some beautiful photos of the houses, painted in stunningly bright colors with cute ornaments to match. There’s nothing more quintessential than watching an elderly Colombian man in his traditional hat smoking a cigar at one of the colorful cafes in the pueblo. 

Read everything about Guatape and El Penol Rock .

things to do medellin guatape colombia

Spend an evening here if you can, relaxing in the atmosphere of the village, people watching and eating at some of the local roadside restaurants (Namaste was one of our favorites!). Like Istanbul, you’ll even find a rainbow-colored umbrella street!

Book a hotel in Guatape

medellin guatape

The Rock (Piedra del Peñol)

An absolute must-see on your trip to Guatape is the 65 million-year-old, 10 million-ton rock that looms over the area, named ‘Piedra del Penol’. It’s a huge mountain surrounded by water and varying shapes and sizes of lakes. Climb the 675 steps to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with fantastic vistas over the valley and the islands and lakes of Guatape ; it should take you around 20 minutes to the top. It reminded us of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka !

Also visit: Tatacoa Desert: Colombia’s Best Kept Secret !

Piedra del Peñol guatape medeillin things to do

The Story of Piedra del Peno l

A group of friends decided to climb the rock in the 1950s, daring only to use a wooden plank. When they reached the top, they decided it would be fun to build a zig-zagging staircase up the side to let others see the incredible views from the top of the rock. These days, you’ll also find lots of shops at the top, playing loud reggaeton music, which can be a little distracting. However, it does mean you can buy delicious mango micheladas and enjoy them at the end of your climb.

Tip: You can also rent a boat, jet ski, or kayak to explore the lakes below ( book your tour here )

Piedra del Peñol guatape colombia

Entrance and Opening Times

Piedra del Penol is open every day of the year from 8 AM – 6 PM and costs 20,000 pesos (5.50 USD) per person to climb. The rock is only 10 minutes from the village and can be reached by Colombian tuk-tuk (Motachiva) or by car (there is parking for a small fee below the rock). The rock is incredibly popular, so we recommend visiting outside of traffic hours (early in the morning) and avoiding weekends.

best things to do medellin Piedra del Peñol guatape

7. Alambique

Alambique is a cute cafe in Medellin, tucked away down a quiet side street. Inside you’ll discover a beautiful room covered in antique decorations, plants, and bookshelves, where they serve local fusion food. It even has a roof terrace!

Alambique restaurant medellin

Enjoy a delicious meal of fish and meat and a few delicious veggie options. Please note, if you’re with a bigger group, it’s best to make a reservation because this little gem is very popular. 

Here’s the location of Alambique .

Alambique restaurant medellin colombia

8. Nightlife in Medellin, Colombia

The nightlife in Medellin is one of the best in the whole of Colombia , home to colorful bars, rooftops, and a buzzing atmosphere. Go with the people from your hostel and discover the many places for going out in the city. Plus, during the day, the same area transforms into nice cafes. Some of our favorites were:

  • La Octava Bar (ball pit!)
  • Vintrash  
  • Rooftops (best views can be found at Los Patios Hostel and Envy Rooftop)
  • Parque Lleras (a nice park surrounded by bars and nightclubs, including Envy Rooftop and Woka Lounge)

Tip: Want an alternative night out? Join one of the traditional Chivas (party buses), which are very typical in Colombia.  The buses play loud music and have flashing lights, carrying people through the streets and making stops at bars along the way.

party medellin

9. Shopping

Discover some of the best shops in Medellin. Spend a morning jumping between some of the big brands and small boutique shops selling local designers and beautiful prints. Some great areas to shop are:

  • Makeno (135 Colombian designers) 
  • Santa Fe Mall
  • Carrera 37 (many shops here) 

medellin shopping

10. Jardín Botánico

The botanic gardens are one of the top things to do in Medellin and an oasis of tranquility in the middle of the busy, metropolitan city. Spend a morning here, discovering this large, open, green space with over 4500 types of flowers and 139 different bird species.

Also visit the world’s tallest palm trees at Salento, Colombia .

things to do medellin colombia Botanical gardens

The Jardin Botanico is 34 acres, so there’s plenty of room to get lost and explore the beautiful walking path that meanders through lush greenery. There’s also a massive wooden structure that provides shadow and merges effortlessly with the nature around it. In fact, it reminded us of the botanic gardens in Singapore ! 

Jardín Botánico medellin butterfly

When you’ve finished exploring the main gardens, head for the Butterfly Garden, where you can see the magical colors of the beautiful butterflies and learn more about each species. Plus, afterward, you can have a bite to eat at the cute Botanical Garden cafe in the middle. 

Entry fee and opening times: Jardin Botanico is free to enter, but there is an entrance where you need to give your details. It’s a little outside Poblado but easy to reach with the metro or Uber.

Jardín Botánico medellin

11. Paragliding in Medellin, Colombia

Let your adventurous side run wild and enjoy paragliding in Medellin, Colombia . It’s an extremely popular activity to do outside of the city, within the mountains, for both locals and travelers.  Depending on your experience, you can opt for a short flight of 15 minutes or choose a longer flight to see more of the surrounding area.

This is truly one of the most exhilarating ways to see the skyline of Medellin and the beautiful nature surrounding it.

Book your paragliding experience in Medellin !

12. Visit the Museums

As Medellin is such a creative city, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of museums to visit where you can learn lots about the culture and history of Colombia . Some absolute must-sees in Medellin are:

  • Memory House Museum (history museum with exhibits on previous Colombian wars and conflicts)
  • Parque Explora (interactive science museum and also home to South America’s largest freshwater aquarium)
  • Museo de Antioquia (art museum that houses a large amount of Botero’s work, book your ticket here )
  • Museo de Arte Moderno (a modern art museum in a refurbished industrial building)

Tip: Please note that most museums in Medellin are closed on a Monday.

best museum medellin colombia

13. Estación Metrocable Arví/ Parque Arvi

The Parque Arvi is a beautiful ecological park that lies on the edge of Medellin. Visitors need to get in a cable car that takes you high over the city and the slum areas, arriving into the ecological park where you’ll see nothing but green landscapes and green forest below. There’s nothing quite like being above the buzz and noise of the big city and just a few minutes later seeing nothing but beautiful trees and birds. 

Once you’re in the Parque Arvi, there are around 50 different hiking trails to choose from. If you want to explore the area, you can upgrade some of the city tours to include the Parque Arvi ( book your tour here ).

Entry Fee: Free! However, you’ll need to pay for the cable car (7 USD return trip).

cable car medellin colombia

Best Cafes and Restaurants in Medellin

Colombia is home to some delicious, traditional plates. For example, Arepas (a bread made from corn) and Bandeja (a breakfast dish of beans, rice, plantain, and avocado). Aside from the local delicacies, Medellin is also home to a fantastic variety of restaurants. Some of our favorites were:

  • Kai Restaurant (incredible vegetarian food)
  • Zorba Pizza (best pizza in town!)
  • Apilados de Autor (cheap healthy brunch)
  • Helecho Vegan Sushi
  • Pergamino (good coffee)
  • Bread Factory (Swiss bakery)
  • Betty Bowls
  • Hija Mia Nomada (great brunch)
  • Arte Dolce (best ice cream)
  • Alambique (best aesthetics)
  • Azai Praia Lovers
  • Mercado del Río (foodcourt)

To learn more about Colombian food, book a food tour in Medellin !

vegetarian restaurants medellin

Where to Stay in Medellin, Colombia

One of the most popular areas to stay in Medellin is El Poblado. This is where all the foreigners live and is known as the gringo neighborhood among locals. Because of this, everything is more expensive, including accommodation. However, it is one of the friendliest and safest neighborhoods in all of Medellin.

Hotels in Medellin 😴

Nomanda Hotel

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of cheaper areas in the city, such as Laureles, which is less touristy but still very safe. 

Hostels in Medellin 😴

Los Patios Hostel

How to Visit Medellin

As one of the larger cities in Colombia , Medellin has plenty of great connections to other cities in Colombia, like Bogota or Cartagena .

The bus is the cheapest and most sustainable way to travel in Colombia, and the buses are pretty comfortable too! From Bogota to Medellin, buses take just under 9 hours and cost between 20-30 USD. 

Book a bus to Medellin

bus medellin colombia

If you’re tight on time during your trip to Colombia , there are lots of internal flights. For example, a flight from Bogota to Medellin will cost between 50-150 USD and take 1 hour. Remember that you’ll need to add extra time for check-in and security, so sometimes an overnight bus can be a great option that saves you money on a night’s accommodation. 

sunset sky flight

Getting Around Medellin, Colombia

One of the best ways to get around Medellin is by bike, either on a bike tour or by public bikes (called Encicla), which you can easily take out with a metro card from many locations throughout the city.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

If you want to cover further distances, take a taxi. We recommend booking them through apps, so you know the driver’s name and can see reviews. Uber is one of the safest taxi services. However, it’s not legal. Despite this, many people still use it, but be aware that the Uber driver might ask you to sit in the front seat and pretend to be their friend (especially if the police stop them).

medellin colombia things to do taxi

How Much Does Medellin Cost?

Medellin is a very cost-effective city, especially if you choose a reasonably priced district to stay in. If you decide to stay in El Poblado, expect to pay a bit more.

Costs of Traveling in Medellin

Travel on a budget in Medellin, from $130 − $540 USD weekly per person, mid-range $330 − $780 USD, and high-end from $760 − $1320 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

  • Hotels: $15 − $150 USD Check available hotels
  • Hostels: $7 − $60 USD Check available hostels
  • Transport: $2 − $20 USD Book public transport
  • Food: $5 − $15 USD
  • Activities: $2 − $15 USD See tickets & tours
  • Sim: $1 − $3 USD Get an eSIM or SIM here
  • Travel Insurance: $2 − $6 USD Get Travel Insurance

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Best Time to Visit Medellin

The city of ‘La Primavera Eterna’ (the eternal spring) is home to some fantastic weather year-round because of its warm, tropical climate close to the Andes. This weather also brings cooler nights and a fair amount of rain, although this usually is only for a few hours at night.  

Book your trip between December and March if you want to visit in the driest months (Medellin summertime). Alternatively, come to the city during fun festivals—for example, the Festival of Flowers in August. This famous festival draws Colombians from all over the country; make sure to book your trip in advance!

Castle Museum medellin colombia

Safety in Medellin, Colombia

The famous saying in Colombia is ‘no dar papaya’ meaning ‘don’t give papaya’. This saying doesn’t really have anything to do with fruit; it’s more about not allowing anyone to scam you.

Travel Insurance Don't forget a travel insurance for your Colombia trip! Heymondo covers medical emergencies, theft, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, and more, with 24/7 worldwide assistance and medical chat. As a Salt in our Hair reader, we've got you 5% off! Check Heymondo here

These days, Medellin is safe, but people are still looking to take advantage, so it’s always good to be alert. For example:

  • Know your neighborhoods.
  • Stay in the touristy areas where there is more police presence.
  • In busy areas, be careful of your bags as pickpocketing is common.
  • When sitting down, put your arm or leg through your belongings so no one can swipe them from under the table.
  • Leave your valuables locked up in the hotel or guesthouse.
  • Don’t put your phone or wallet in your back pocket.
  • Try to look where you’re going ahead of time instead of getting out your phone to look at maps.
  • Don’t go down dark, quiet, unlit streets late at night.
  • Always trust your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t.

Read: How to Travel Safe

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10 Best Things to do in Colombia in 2024

Tatacoa desert: colombia’s best kept secret, 10 best things to do in cartagena, colombia.

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This is by far the best blog post I have read about Bogota. Good job 👏 and I am excited to visit the city.

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18 Best Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Delightfully known as the ‘City of the Eternal Spring’, the cool, mountainous Medellin is now one of the top places to visit in Colombia. Once plagued by deadly gang wars and drug trafficking, it has undergone an incredible transformation since the nineties.

The second-largest city in the nation, it occupies a long, narrow valley surrounded by forested mountains and barrio-clad hills. Long an important center of commerce and industry, the metropolis suffered much violence in the eighties as various cartels and Pablo Escobar battled for dominance.

Since then, it has bounced back impressively with it now known for its cool, art-filled neighborhoods and exciting nightlife. Some of the best things to do in Medellin include exploring its top-class museums, picturesque parks and sweeping viewpoints. With loads of great local Paisa food, coffee and culture to experience, Medellin really is a must-visit destination in Colombia.

18. Plaza Cisneros

Plaza Cisneros

Relatively dangerous until just a few decades ago, Plaza Cisneros is now a popular tourist attractions in the city center. Renovated in 2005, it is delightfully called the ‘Park of Lights’ due to its artificial forest of enormous light poles.

Dating to the 1920s, the square is named after the Cuban engineer Francisco Javier Cisneros who constructed the historic Antioquia Railway. While a handful of beautiful old buildings border it, people mainly visit for its soaring columns of light.

Numbering 300 in total, the tall poles are made out of concrete and metal with some towering up to 24 meters in height. Clustered together, they make for quite the sight, particularly when lit up at night. After snapping some photos, you can always head to nearby sites like Plaza Botero and the Palace of Culture.

17. Palace of Culture

Palace of Culture

Just a ten minute walk away on the opposite side of El Centro is the impressive and unmissable Palace of Culture. Lying alongside Plaza Botero, its bold black-and-white colors and colossal dome immediately catch the eye with their unique design.

Begun by Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts in 1925, it was only completed in 1982 after having been abandoned for decades. The palace showcases some gorgeous Gothic-style features with its vast facade appearing very much like a checkerboard.

Originally home to the Government of Antioquia’s administration department, it now contains an art gallery, music archive, cafe and library. It also hosts countless cultural events and community festivals during the year while sublime views can be enjoyed on its roof. After admiring the architectural masterpiece, make sure to see all of Botero’s brilliant bronze sculptures in the square outside.

16. Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria

An absolute must-visit, the moving Casa de la Memoria covers the history of conflict in Colombia since the 1950s. Very well done, all its sombre displays shine a light on drug cartels, the civil war and other armed interventions. The museum also provides victims with a space to share their stories and commemorate the lives that were lost.

Only opened in 2012, its striking concrete complex and leafy green outside spaces lie just southeast of El Centro. Inside, dramatic-looking installations and artworks look at the history of drug and paramilitary violence in the country and people’s long struggle for peace. Lots of emotive photos and original artifacts also highlight the harsh reality of living in Medellin under the threat of daily violence.

Although many exhibits were sadly only in Spanish, we found the House of Memory invaluable for understanding Colombia’s recent past. Despite the upsetting subject, it leaves you with a feeling of hope for the future.

15. Mercado del Rio

Mercado del Rio

If you’re looking for a cool, colourful spot to dine out, then the lively Mercado del Rio is definitely the place to go. Located near the MAMM, it has around fifty restaurants to pick from, serving delicious dishes from all around the world.

Unlike Medellín’s many other markets, this cavernous food hall only deals in snacks, drinks and sit-down meals. While there may not be any stands laden with fresh local products to peruse, there are more than enough food options to choose from. These range from paella and Peruvian ceviche to burgers, sushi and Colombian classics.

To top it all off, there is often a raucous atmosphere in the food court as crowds of young professionals pack out its tables for lunch and dinner. With tons of shared platters and tasty cocktails to try, dining here certainly makes for a fun experience.

14. Planetario de Medellin

Planetario de Medellin

For those interested in the stars, skies and space, the superb Planetario de Medellin lies right at the southwest corner of Jardin Botanico. Appropriately set alongside the Parque Explora science center, it has loads of interactive exhibitions and stargazing shows to enjoy.

Established in 1984, it now occupies a distinctive-looking building that is topped by a high-tech planetary dome. Full of amazing models of planets and engaging exhibits on the universe, the center provides a lot of information in a fun and accessible way.

The highlight though is of course watching one of its spellbinding shows in its on-site planetarium. These take you to the outer edges of the cosmos, to the sun and some of the celestial bodies that light up our night sky. A firm favorite with families, it also has English audio guides should you need one.

13. Centro Comercial Santafe

Centro Comercial Santafe

With so many stores located under one roof, you can easily spend all day exploring the chic, sleek Centro Comercial Santafe. At the massive mall, you can shop til you drop or stop for a meal or coffee. Numerous entertainment options are also on offer.

One of the largest shopping centers in all of Latin America, Santafe was first unveiled to the public in 2006. Across its five vast floors, you can now find around 450 shops and restaurants. These sell everything from accessories and appliances to sports clothes, high-end fashion products and home decor items. Big name brands here include Adidas, Nike and American Eagle among many others.

Other than Starbucks, KFC and McDonald’s, there are dozens of other dining options to choose from at its food court. For entertainment, you can play in its arcade, whizz around on go-karts or watch a film at its cinema complex. Thanks to its light and airy design and spacious layout, the mall is a very pleasant place to spend some time.

12. El Castillo Museo

El Castillo Museo

Not all too far away from the shopping center is the enchanting El Castillo Museo and its gorgeous gardens. Situated twenty minutes drive south of El Centro, its lush, leafy grounds are a treat to explore with the grand castle making for some fantastic photos.

Part of the popular El Poblado neighborhood, it was built in 1930 to look like one of the Medieval Gothic castles found in France’s Loire Valley. For decades, the private residence hosted exclusive guests and events before becoming a museum in 1971.

Visitors can now admire its fine architecture and fairytale-like towers and take guided tours around its art-filled interior. After hearing about its history, you can head outside and snap some photos of its ornate facade, fountains and flowerbeds. Some statues and classic cars also line its paths which boast divine views over the castle and city.

11. Medellin Museum of Modern Art (MAMM)

Medellin Museum of Modern Art

Packed with interesting artworks and thought-provoking installations is the Medellin Museum of Modern Art. Also known as MAMM, its extensive collection of paintings, photos, sculptures and videos can be found in the Ciudad del Rio part of town.

Instantly recognizable, its series of box-like buildings are all jumbled together around what was once an old steel mill. An artwork in itself, the striking modern structure has roughly 2,000 modern and contemporary pieces to examine, many produced by local Colombian artists. Loads of the works across its five floors present the history, culture and politics of the country in a thoroughly creative way.

While we’re not usually huge fans of modern art museums, we did see quite a few art pieces and exhibitions that we really liked. The building and the views from its rooftop terrace also make MAMM well worth a visit in our view.

10. El Poblado

El Poblado

One of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods to stay in, visit and explore is the upscale El Poblado. Spread across the steep hills south of the center, its lovely shady streets are lined by lots of cool cafes, shops and restaurants. A favorite haunt of expats and backpackers, it is where many people base themselves during their time in Medellin.

First settled by the Spanish in 1616, this affluent part of the city is now characterized by tall apartment blocks and high-end hotels. Along its tree-lined avenues are plenty of stylish shopping centers, chic boutiques and hip coffee shops to check out. Aside from wandering along Calle 10, its bustling main boulevard, try some of the renowned Pergamino’s hot and cold drinks.

At night, the laidback neighborhood has a very lively feel as people pack out its bars and nightclubs. Very safe to stroll around at any time of day, El Poblado’s hilly streets also offer great views over the rest of Medellin and its surrounding mountains.

9. Parque Explora

Parque Explora

Right next to Jardin Botanico is yet another of the city’s top tourist attractions: the fun, family-friendly Parque Explora. As well as all its exciting science exhibits, it has South America’s largest freshwater aquarium for you to explore.

Another eye-catching building, the four giant red cubes that house the museum stand out spectacularly against the city, trees and mountains around them. Inside, its roughly 300 interactive exhibits focus on everything from music and the media to technology, time and neuroscience. Very well-designed, it also has cool light installations and tall dinosaur models to snap selfies next to.

The real highlight though is its enormous aquarium which contains around 4,000 fish and animals from Colombia’s rivers, oceans and the rest of the Americas. Besides all the shoals of brightly colored fish, you can see axolotl, snakes and turtles here too.

8. Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia

If you want to see more incredible artwork, then make your way to Plaza Botero and the Museo de Antioquia. Lying along one side of the town square, its galleries contain countless masterpieces by both Fernando Botero and Pedro Nel Gomez; two of the city and country’s most acclaimed artists.

The second-oldest museum in Colombia, its extensive collection now occupies what was once the city hall. Across its three sprawling floors are displayed pre-Columbian artifacts, ceramics, furniture and contemporary pieces.

The most arresting artworks however are undoubtedly Gomez’s amazing murals and the cute, chubby figures for which Botero is famed. His painting The Death of Pablo Escobar also attracts lots of attention as do his sculptures outside. It ended up being our favorite Medellin museum, thanks to these two artists, the vibrant square and the old building itself.

7. Parque Arvi

Parque Arvi

Offering all kinds of fun outdoor activities and fabulous viewpoints is the picturesque Parque Arvi. Both an ecological nature reserve and Pre-Hispanic archaeological site, its scenic reaches can be accessed via a stunning ride on the Medellin Metrocable.

Spread across the eastern slopes of Aburrá Valley, the park protects vast swathes of pristine forest. Amidst all its rolling hills and woods, visitors can hike and bike or see some of the crumbling buildings and paths left behind by indigenous people. Guided tours teach you more about their past and point out the area’s local fauna and flora.

Just as memorable is the Medellin Metrocable ride up to the expansive park. This is because the short, fifteen minute journey provides such panoramic views of the city down below. Once you alight, there is a small market selling souvenirs and snacks to wander around before entering the verdant forest.

6. Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa

To get a feel for what life in Antioquia used to be like, head to the pretty little replica village of Pueblito Paisa. Perched atop Cerro Nutibara, its charming church, museum and souvenir shops are clustered around a traditional town square. Be aware though that it’s quite a steep climb up the hill to the top!

Opened in 1977, the pretend pueblo takes you back in time to around the turn of the twentieth century. Aside from admiring its attractive architecture and small sculpture garden, its museum covers the city’s history in an interesting way. On show next to all its cool old historical photos and informative displays is a very detailed birdseye map of Medellin to inspect.

Although a bit of a tourist trap, the colourful square makes for some beautiful pictures when bathed in sunshine. There are also some nice traditional Colombian dishes and phenomenal views over Medellin to enjoy.

5. Jardin Botanico

Jardin Botanico

Full of tropical flowers, trees and shrubs is the gorgeous Jardin Botanico just north of the center. An oasis of peace and calm, its paths, pond and plant-filled greenhouses are a delight to stroll around slowly.

Bordered by Parque Explora and the Planetário de Medellin, its landscaped grounds were once a private estate. Since the seventies, the gardens have been open to the public with their 4,500 or so plant species perfectly highlighting Columbia’s incredible biodiversity.

As well as spotting iguanas and turtles, there is a magical butterfly house and several tranquil outdoor cafes to stop by. Not to be missed too is its immense ‘Orchideorama’ which looks very impressive. Its one-of-a-kind wood meshwork canopy and towering tree-like structures cover a large collection of blooming orchids.

4. Trip to Guatape


When in Medellin, it is well worth taking a trip to the popular resort of Guatape, some two hours drive east of the city. Set alongside a lovely lake, it is known for its brightly painted buildings and blocks of brilliant street art. Many people also come to climb La Piedra del Peñol which looms dramatically above its cheery streets below.

Often called the most colourful town in Colombia, its tiny, traditional houses almost all feature eye-catching facades. Known as zocalos, these murals depict various beliefs, animals and other images connected to the community’s farming heritage. Scattered about too are some little local cafes and stalls selling handicrafts for you to check out.

Other than snapping some photos of its vivid bas-reliefs, there are relaxing boat rides to take around the reservoir. You can also clamber your way up the 750 narrow, steep steps to the top of the mighty monolith that overlooks the town. From atop La Piedra, there are outstanding views to be had of Guatape, the lake and islands far below.

3. Ride the Medellin Metrocable

Medellin Metrocable

For some of the best views imaginable over the city, make sure to go for a ride on the amazing Medellin Metrocable. Besides boasting breathtaking panoramas, all its aerial gondolas are a cheap, quick and convenient way to get around town.

Constructed across the city’s rolling hills, above all its informal settlements, the public transport system was unveiled in 2004. A creative solution to the region’s challenging topography, it now has six lines for visitors to explore. These help residents get back home each day and are an essential part of Medellin’s mass transit network.

Particularly popular places to head among tourists are Santo Domingo and Parque Arvi. Wherever you go though, you’re guaranteed spellbinding views over the barrios below and the massive mountain bowl in which Medellin lies. We couldn’t get enough of gazing out the window and spent most of each journey with our eyes glued to what was going on outside.

2. Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero

The heart and soul of life in town, the pretty Plaza Botero is lined by lots of attractive old buildings and several superb museums. The happening square is mostly known however for the 23 bronze statues donated by Botero that dot its leafy confines.

Lying right in the centre of the city’s Old Quarter, it was transformed in 2004 when the artist’s iconic artworks were installed there. Very rotund, his daring, distinctive figures include an oversized head, a plump dog and portly women. The largest is his hefty ‘The Horse’ sculpture with the famous ‘Roman Soldier’ also attracting lots of attention.

Before or after seeing the curvy statues, you can always visit the adjacent Museo de Antioquia or Palace of Culture. Although the square often contains food stalls, trinket sellers and street performers, the surrounding area does seem a bit dodgy. While we wouldn’t really recommend visiting at night, you shouldn’t have any problems during the daytime.

1. Comuna 13

Comuna 13

Once one of the most dangerous parts of the city, Comuna 13 is now instead one of its most popular neighborhoods to visit. Loads of fun to explore, the hillside barrio is famed for its vibrant feel, fantastic views and phenomenal street art.

Having once suffered incredibly high rates of crime, drug use and violence, increased safety measures and the installation of huge outdoor escalators helped reintegrate it into the rest of Medellin. This and its colourful houses and murals have seen it slowly transform into a top tourist attraction. Despite this, the community still retains its own unique look and authentic feel.

As its warren of narrow streets, steps and escalators are quite confusing to navigate, many people choose to take tours around Comuna 13. Run by local residents, these take you to the best viewpoints and murals while providing more insight into its past. Our favorite part of Medellin by far, its super cool artworks, escalators and endless views over the barrio make it a must-visit in our eyes.

Best Time to Visit Medellin

Fittingly known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, Medellin is warm all year round with very few fluctuations in temperature. As it is surrounded by mountains, the evenings are usually cool and the days are often overcast.

Most people visit in either December and January or July and August with prices shooting up around these times as a result. While the former is technically summer in Colombia and the latter winter, temperatures always average around 23 to 24°C (73 to 75°F). They are also the driest periods of the year when sightseeing and strolling about all its pretty parks is best.

As the city is so beautifully decorated, Christmas and New Year’s are a magical time to visit. The crowds are higher, however, as Colombians enjoy their summer holidays and Europeans head here to escape the cold winter. July and August are its other peak season with massive events like its famous Festival of the Flowers also going on.

After this, Medellin is very quiet during Semana Santa and Easter as most people celebrate at home with their families. The strong downpours also keep tourists away with September to November being the other rainy season.

Map of Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

Map of Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

14 Things to Do in Medellín (and the ONE thing NOT to do!)

Overlooking the buildings and surrounding mountains of Medellin, Colombia at sunset

Once considered one of the deadliest cities in the world, Medellín has undergone a transformation over the last fifteen years that has made it one of the most modern places in all of Colombia .

The city has become a lot safer, and there is a fantastic metro and cable car system that could rival the best in Europe. Medellín is filled with lots of parks, new buildings, libraries, restaurants, and a growing tech scene.

The city has changed a lot, and you can tell the residents are very proud of everything they’ve accomplished. There’s a palpable sense of possibility in Medellin. Optimism and excitement are in the air.

Medellin is one of the best destinations for remote workers and is now one of “it” cities in the world. Tourists swarm here, and foreigners ( especially young digital nomads ) are settling and retiring here in droves. It was the most cosmopolitan and international city I visited in Colombia.

I spent close to a total of three weeks in Medellín and lvoed my time there. Here is a list of my favorite things to do and see after spending so much time there:

Table of Contents

1. Explore the Numerous Parks and Plazas

2. wander parque arvi, 3. explore jardín botánico, 4. see a soccer match, 5. take a day trip to guatapé, 6. take a free walking tour, 7. tour comuna 13, 8. visit the museo de antioquia, 9. wander the cementerio museo de san pedro, 10. see the casa de la memoria, 11. visit the museo de arte moderno, 12. take a food tour, 13. visit a microbrewery, 14. visit comuna 8, finally, don’t do the escobar tour, where to eat in medellín, is medellín safe.

Medellín’s year-round temperate climate makes it a perfect place to spend a lot of time outdoors, where people are always lounging around and vendors are peddling food and drinks. Two must-visit parks are:

  • Plaza Botero – Botero is a famous artist from Medellin known for his drawing and statues of oversized people. This plaza is home to 23 Botero sculptures and is always packed with people taking photos, street performers, and artists. Located in the Old Quarter, you’ll find a couple of museums in the square too.
  • Parque Lleras – Located right in the center of Poblado, this park is full of people all day and night. There are street vendors, food sellers, musicians, and people drinking into the wee hours of the night. It’s a wonderful place to people-watch and one of the best places to have fun in the city!

A relaxing scenic view in Parque Arvi in Medellin, Colombia

The park spans 16,000 hectares (almost 40,000 acres) and includes trails that date back over 1,500 years. At the park entrance, you’ll find a small market where local vendors and farmers set up shop as well as trails to hike. Most hikes are relatively easy too.

Admission is free, though if you want to take a guided tour, it’s 60,000 COP (in Spanish only).

The botanical gardens, a quiet retreat from the noise and chaos of the city, hosts numerous events, concerts, and festivals throughout the year. It covers over 14 hectares (35 acres) and is home to around 4,500 flowers and some 139 different bird species.

There’s also a nice (if not overpriced) restaurant in the center called Restaurante In Situ if you feel like spending more time here relaxing and taking in the scene. There’s also a more casual eatery with local dishes called Del Bosque Restaurante Café nearby as well. The Gardens are open 9am-4pm daily.

Soccer is religion here, and if there are games when you’re visiting you should really try to see one. Medellín has two local teams: Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín. Supporters of each team occupy bleachers at opposing ends of the stadium since things tend to get rowdy and violent when they are near each other.

Ticket prices are 20,000-50,000 COP. For a guided group experience, you can also join a tour that includes tickets, a jersey, beer, face painting, and a bilingual guide who will share their love and knowledge of the sport. Joining a group is a great way to meet other travelers too!

A stunning scenic view over the landscape of Guatape, near Medellin, Colombia

The main attraction is El Peñol, a granite monolith with over 700 concrete stairs etched in its side. For a few thousand pesos, visitors can climb to the top for breathtaking 360-degree views of the region.

Guatapé is a long day trip from Medellín (hostels in the city organize trips throughout the week, or you can pre-book with a local tour company online . I recommend trying to spend at least a night here so you aren’t rushed and can enjoy the area a little more. If you do the day trip, it’s around 11 hours, and includes both Guatapé and El Peñol, lunch, and a cruise. Expect to pay around 122,000 COP.

Botero statues and people out walking the streets of Medellin, Colombia

Real City Walking Tours has a great free tour that will give you an informative introduction to the city. You’ll get a lot of information, and the guides are wonderful. It’s the best free walking tour in town. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!

Street art in the famous neighborhood of Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia

However, thanks to its street art (which was a reaction to heavy-handed police raids) there has been a huge influx of tourists. That has made part of the area safer and led to a rise in business and commerce. It’s really changed the fabric of the community. Local residents are even coming here now, figuring that if the tourists are going, it must be good!

You can visit by yourself or go on a tour (where a guide will explain the history of the area and the artists). There are a ton of companies offering tours here. Some of the better ones are:

  • Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour – This four-hour tour runs daily at 10am and 3pm. Tickets are 90,000 COP per person.
  • Zippy Tour – This tour lasts two and a half hours and runs every day at 10am, 2pm, and 4pm (no 4pm tours on Sundays). While technically free, don’t forget to tip your guide at the end!
  • Medellín City Tours – Tours offered daily 9am and 2pm. Tickets are around 118,000 COP per person.

Founded in 1881, this interesting art museum is home to numerous pre-Colombian works as well as national and international works by famous artists (there are a bunch of Boteros here too) and a wide variety of photographs and sculptures. There are a lot of works by native muralist Pedro Nel Gómez as well. It was the second museum established in the entire country (and the first in the Antioquia region).

Cl. 52 #43, +57 4-251-3636, Open Monday-Saturday 10am-5:30pm. Admission is 30,000 COP per person.

Built in 1842, this cemetery is also a museum where you can see the monuments and graves of many famous Colombians while learning about their lives and contributions. There’s a lot of large marble mausoleums and statues here. Keep an eye out for special events such as midnight tours and movie nights. The cemetery is small but it’s also close to the botanical gardens so you can do both one after the other.

Cra. 51 #68-68, +57 4-516-7650, Open daily 8am-5pm. Admission is free.

The Memory House Museum opened in 2012 and examines the history of armed conflict in Colombia, including all the conflicts with the drug cartels that plagued the city for decades. It sheds light on the struggles the people of Colombia have had to overcome to get where they are today. There are lots of multimedia displays, including photos, videos, and recordings from people who experienced the conflicts and massacres. It’s a very sobering and solemn place but it offers some important insights into the city and its people. Don’t miss it.

Parque Bicentenario, +57 4-520-2020, Open Tuesday-Friday 9am-5:30pm and weekends 10am-3:30pm. Admission is free and includes a free audio guide. Guided tours are available on Tuesdays and Fridays (contact the museum for details).

The Museum of Modern Art, located in a refurbished industrial building, is an awesome work of art in itself. There’s a ton of open and exposed space, giving it a really charming feel. Many people have a love-hate relationship with modern art (it’s not my personal favorite, I admit) but even I enjoyed my visit here.

The collection is small, but there’s also a beautiful photography section on the bottom floor. Even if it’s not your thing, it’s worth spending a couple hours here to get a sense of the modern art scene in the city.

Cra. 44 #19a-100, +57 4-444-2622, Open Tuesday-Friday 9am-7pm, on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11am-6pm. Admission is 24,000 COP per person.

If you’re looking to taste a sample of what Medellín has to offer, there are a couple of food tour companies that can help. It’s a great way to get a taste for the local cuisine while learning about the country’s traditions in the process. There are plenty of options, including:

  • Food Tour with Medellín City Tours – Choose to experience breakfast, lunch, or dinner on daily tours at 9am, 2pm, and 6pm. Tickets start from 176,000 COP.
  • Street Food and Poblado Rooftop Tour with a Local – On this tour of the Poblado neighborhood, you’ll enjoy five street food snacks while learning about the area. Tours start at 129,000 COP.
  • Coffee Tour With Tastings and Lunch – Visit D’arrieros Coffee Farm just outside the city to learn about the coffee production process and taste some of the farm’s coffee. You’ll get to take home a bag as well. Tours start at 195,000 COP and include round-trip transportation from Medellín.

If you find yourself parched after an afternoon of sampling the city’s delicious cuisine, consider taking a brewery or craft beer tour to quench your thirst. There is an up-and-coming craft beer scene in Colombia, and Medellín has dozens of breweries and microbreweries. These are some of the best places to try a local beer:

  • 3 Cordilleras – Runs tours Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, offering five samples for 50,000 COP per person.
  • OlBroder Cerveza Artesanal – A community-oriented brewery and taproom founded by two brothers. They focus on using local ingredients and regularly host live music and tasting events. Tastings are around 25,000-30,000 COP per person and advanced booking is required.
  • 20 Mission Cerveza – Has great beer, tasty food, and is a fun place to hang out and meet people. They offer tours of the brewery and they also host music events and DJs. It’s super popular and one of the best places in town to grab a beer.

Much like Comuna 13, this area was one of the poorest in Medellín — and it still is. This district was really isolated until the city built a gondola from downtown, allowing people to get to work a lot more easily.

La Sierra runs a tour to teach people about the history of the area, and, unlike Comuna 13, it’s not overrun with tourists. It’s a small district and the tour doesn’t last long, but you get a much more authentic look at the city and its people and history than you do in Comuna 13 (where the focus is more on street art). I highly recommend it; it was one of the most insightful experiences I had in Medellín. Reservations are required.

The locals here are not fans of Pablo Escobar. His violent life and legacy caused untold amounts of harm to the city and its population, and while it’s always good to learn about the history of a destination, glorifying this is not something I want to support. You can learn about his life online in a way that doesn’t spit in the face of the locals, many of whom don’t even speak his name. Out of respect for them, I encourage you to skip the Escobar tour.  

Fresh fruit for sale at a street stall in Medellin, Colombia

  • Restaurante Mondongo’s El Poblado – Traditional Colombian food in a relaxed atmosphere. Try the mondongo , a traditional tripe soup. It comes with a ton of side dishes (including giant avocados). Come early, as this place gets packed. Try to avoid the weekend. (Cl. 10 #38-38)
  • Carmen – High-end gastronomy with some of the best food in all of Colombia. It’s expensive but worth it. It was the best splurge meal I had in the country. (Cra. 36 #10a-27)
  • Mercado del Rio – An awesome food court offering all sorts of delicious food from dozens of vendors. There’s something for everyone here. (Cl. 24 #48-28)
  • 20 Mission – A great microbrewery with delicious food too! Try the IPA. (Cl. 16 #43f-66)
  • Pergamino Café – A chill café with some of the best coffee in town. I spent a lot of time working here. They make great breakfast food, BLTs, and empanadas. (Cra. 37 #8A-37)
  • 37 Park – Another great bar and restaurant with a rustic outdoor garden. (Cra. 37 #8A – 4)
  • Hatoviejo – This is one of the best places to get traditional Colombian food. It’s pricey when compared to some of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants you’ll find throughout town. (Cl. 16 #28-60)

The skyline of colorful Medellin, Colombia surrounded by greenery on a sunny day

“No dar papaya” is a common saying in Colombia, which translates as “don’t give papaya.” It means don’t give anyone the chance to steal your stuff by walking around and being flashy or reckless. You should be cautious here.

That means no walking around with your phone out, never keeping anything in your pockets (especially when on public transport), and always keeping hold of your bag. If you are eating out, keep your backpack on your lap or place your foot or a chair leg through your strap. It is very common for someone to try to do a bag swap (meaning they swap their empty bag for yours).

For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Colombia, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.

Lastly, make sure to purchase good travel insurance before you go. I recommend SafetyWing if you’re on a budget and just need basic coverage and World Nomads if you want something more comprehensive.

I was never bored in Medellín . In a country full of hype, this hyped-up city is all that it’s cracked up to be. It has enough activities to fill weeks on end. Combined with the low cost of travel and living, it’s no wonder more and more people are visiting the city.

(And, while it’s easy to get lost in Gringoland here, try to get out of Poblado or Laureles and see the locals’ side of town. That’s where the magic of Medellín happens!)

Book Your Trip to Colombia: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. Two of my favorite places to stay are:

  • The Wandering Paisa

If you’re looking for more places to stay, here are my favorite hostels in Medellín !

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Colombia? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Colombia for even more planning tips!

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3 places to visit in medellin colombia

The Definitive Guide of Things to See and Do in Medellin, Colombia

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The Definitive Guide of Things to See and Do in Medellin, Colombia south-america, medellin, colombia

Medellín, Colombia is much more than what you see on the show Narcos , while this city was once a place where no tourist would come, it has evolved into one of the hottest tourist destinations in all of South America. And it’s for a good reason: there are a lot of awesome things to do in Medellin, Colombia!

I’ve lived in Medellin on and off for a number of years now. It’s my home away from home. Here’s a list of things I think everyone should see and do in Medellin, and also one thing that tourists should definitely NOT do .

This list is directed at the short-term visitor, to provide them with a complete and varied view of where to start in Medellin, but if you plan to stick around for the long-term, there are tons of events and activities to keep you busy here.

These things to do in Medellin are in no particular order, so if you’re looking for something a little more organized and structured, then check out my article on 3 days in Medellin .

On to my definitive guide of things to do in Medellín, Colombia… Since this is such a comprehensive list, I’ve also included a Top 10 wrap-up at the end.

The Definitive Guide of Things to See and Do in Medellin, Colombia south-america, medellin, colombia

Table of Contents

Visit plaza botero.

  • Museo de Antioquia

Downtown Walking Tour

Plaza de san antonio, drink colombian coffee, wander around jardin botanico, learn something at parque explore, planetario de medellin, take in the view at pueblito paisa, eat at mercado del rio, museo de arte moderno, ride the metro cable, find nature at parque arvi, eat bunuelos, go salsa dancing, medellin tours, visit a castle, visit the 3 cordilleras brewery, parque lleras nightlife, try to finish the bandeja paisa, parque de los pies descalzos, museo de agua, explore envigado, eat empanadas envigadenas, casa museo otraparte, parque de las luces, soccer game in estadio, drink aguardiente, attend the flower festival, metropolitan cathedral, get lost in el hueco, la minorista, santafe mall, visit a nearby pueblo, pablo escobar tours, my top 10 things to do in medellin, where to stay in medellin.

Plaza Botero is perhaps the most emblematic of all of Medellin’s tourist attractions and is beloved not only by Medellin but throughout all of Antioquia (the regional department or state).

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Fernando Botero is Medellin’s most famous artist, who is internationally renowned for his plump or fat figures.

Plaza Botero is full of larger-than-life statues and is a free attraction in the city center. The lovely Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture sits on the square, along with Medellin’s famous metro (another source of pride), and Coltejer Tower looming above.

Right along Plaza Botero is the Museo de Antioquia , the most important and significant museum in Medellin . Inside you will find a large collection of Botero’s most famous paintings along with a number of his sculptures.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The museum also holds exhibits from a number of international artists, early art from the conquest of the Americas, and other important cultural attractions.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The museum has a modest entry fee but is absolutely worth doing while you are downtown, and it is without a doubt, the best of the many museums in Medellin.

Read More: The Best Museums in Medellin

Speaking of downtown, the free Medellin walking tour (in English) put on by Real City Tours is one of the best things to do in Medellin for new arrivals . The tour itself is free , but they ask for a donation at the end, whatever you want to pay.

Downtown Medellin can be a bit rough and intimidating, especially for new visitors who usually stay in nicer neighborhoods like Poblado or Laureles . So the walking tour is an excellent introduction to get your bearings.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The walking tour is about four hours long and takes you through some of the highlights (and lowlights) of Medellin’s tumultuous history as well as passing through some of the main downtown Medellin attractions ranging from Alpujarra, Parque Berrio, Plaza Botero, and more.

I only wish I would’ve taken the tour as soon as I arrived on my first visit to Medellin — it is best to do this on your first full day in Medellin. 

Read more about the other Medellin tours that I recommend, like the incredible barrio transformation tour and the exotic Colombian fruits tour .

If you’d rather explore it on your own, be sure to check out my comprehensive guide to the Medellin Centro which covers all the highlights of the walking tour and plenty more that they don’t, including places to go, where to eat, and drink, safety, and much more.

This free tour is a great way to get a feel of the city from a local perspective because honestly, this city is best explored like a local and by understanding the story of Medellin. If you don’t know anyone in Medellin, I’d recommend contacting this company to have a local Colombian plan your trip. I’ve organized a 5% discount with them for all my readers.

Read More: Free Downtown Medellin Walking Tour

Be sure to visit Plaza de San Antonio, an expansive public plaza located on the southern end of the downtown core, and directly adjacent to the station that connects the two metro lines.

While the plaza itself is nice, the real reason to come here is to see the Botero statue that was blown up.

In 1995, 22 pounds of dynamite were stuffed into the bird statue before a large concert took place. It was detonated in the midst of the festivities and killed 30 people and injured 200 or more .

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The bomb was attributed to the terrorist group FARC which was unleashing chaos on the local residents.

Botero asked that they leave the statue in San Antonio as a reminder of the violent history that has plagued this city. A new bird sits beside the old bombed-out shell, as a vision of Medellin’s peaceful future.

Ah yes, the world-famous Colombian coffee . No visit here would be complete without savoring some of the local coffee.

Colombians themselves most commonly drink tinto — small cups of instant coffee loaded with sugar — while the majority of the best coffee is exported abroad.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

BUT, coffee culture has been on the rise here and a number of local chains and independent coffeehouses have sprouted up.

The most well-known is most certainly Juan Valdez, which is worth going to. But I’d also recommend checking out El Pergamino in Poblado , or Rituales in Laureles for a more indy coffee scene.

I’d highly recommend doing a coffee cupping here in town as well to learn more about the precious bean we all know and love.

Read More: The Best Coffee in Medellin, Colombia

The Botanical Gardens are located north of El Centro, in an area known fittingly as Zona Norte .

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

This space isn’t massive, but it’s the size of at least a dozen city blocks — a small green refuge in a big bustling city.

I love wandering around the little lake and looking for birds or iguanas , going to the small butterfly house, or just wandering beneath the towering roof of the orchid exhibit.

For those craving a little zen and tranquility, Jardin Botanico is one of the best in Medellin. Oh, and it’s 100% free!

Parque Explora is an interactive science museum located just beside the Jardin Botanico. Now, I know some people might think a science museum would be boring, but Medellin does museums really well .

As I said, the museum focuses on fun and interactivity, so they’ve got hands-on activities that demonstrate everything from physics to neuroscience, to communication and perception itself.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

It’s fun to feel like a kid again and wander through the exhibits .

They also have a sizable aquarium and a terrarium with some of the strange creatures that inhabit this tropical country. The golden poison dart frogs are quite cool, the most poisonous frogs in the world and which come from Colombia.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The Planetario de Medellin is located directly adjacent to Parque Explora and the Botanical Garden and makes for an excellent addition to a busy day in Zona Norte.

It is administered by Parque Explora, which means the focus is on interactivity with education. Here you’re not just reading about the gravitational pull between planets or the Coriolis effect, but seeing how it works in an interactive way.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The highlight, of course, is the theater located under the massive dome. The movies will take you on an immersive journey through space.

There are also special events held here on occasion, like when they had the Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon show here, which was really cool! Keep your eyes open for things like that.

Pueblito Paisa is a mock pueblo (town) like you would find in the countryside, but located in the heart of Medellin atop Cerro Nutibara.

The “village” itself is quaint and somewhat interesting. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs for friends and family.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

But the real attraction for me is taking in the 360 views of the city, right from the center.

You can see the downtown cluster, the sprawling neighborhood of Belen, or the many glistening towers of Poblado and beyond.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

I’d recommend coming here at around 5 pm so you can take in the city during the daylight, catch a (hopefully) beautiful sunset over the mountains, and then watch as the twinkling lights emerge.

Fun fact: there are a series of concrete slides that will take you down off the top of the hill. Find them, it’s fun!

There’s an amazing  gastronomic dining destination here known as Mercado del Rio.

It’s a massive warehouse in Ciudad del Rio that has been converted into a mid to upscale food court (for lack of a better word).

This place was a pioneer within Colombia but has since spawned competitive offshoots in Medellin like the Mercado del Tranvia (small, but still very cool) in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Medellin or the new market in Bogota .

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The Mercado del Rio was modeled on places like the Chelsea Market in Manhattan, a place where patrons can come and choose from nearly 50 different restaurant stalls.

Nowhere else can you find such a great variety of eats under one roof. Indeed, it can actually be difficult trying to decide on just one thing.

The Modern Art Museum of Medellin (or El MAMM) is at the heart of the urban renewal and renovation taking place in Ciudad del Rio.

It is partially housed in an old warehouse that has since been expanded upon with a massive modern structure connecting at the back.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

El MAMM houses an impressive collection of modern art , including work by the notable artist Deborah Arango, and a frequent rotation of temporary exhibits.

The terraces on the upper floors of the museum are awesome for the view.

The museum also frequently hosts open-air movie nights and other events on its premises. Slip around back for a coffee at Ganso & Castor. If you’re here on the last Friday of the month, entrance is free!

The famous Medellin Metro Cable… It was built as an integrated part of Medellin’s metro system in order to provide public transport to the poorer communities that live along Medellin’s upper reaches.

It is among the most innovative and progressive pieces of urban development (many cities in Latin America have been turning to Medellin as a model) and has inadvertently become a major tourist attraction as well.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

For just the price of your metro ticket, you can board the gondolas that will take you to the upper reaches of Medellin.

Hope off at Santo Domingo and take in one of the greatest views of Medellin.

While this neighborhood was once among the most dangerous , it has been revived by this infrastructure investment.

You don’t need to worry about walking around during the daytime in the immediate vicinity of the metro station, it’s quite safe .

From the Santo Domingo station, you can board another gondola cable car (the ticket is apart from the metro) and head deep in Parque Arvi, a large nature reserve that sits on the high slopes above Medellin.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Here you will find ample hiking trails and activities like horseback riding, or you’ll find picnic areas, or streams to wander along.

It’s an incredible way to link nature to the accessibility of the city through public transport. Another one of Medellin’s innovations.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

If the temperatures are too hot in the valley, you can head up here to escape the heat and reconnect with nature.

No foreign travel experience is complete without trying some of the local eats. Bunuelos are fried little bread balls with cheese mixed into the dough that is absolutely delectable .

You’ll find bunuelos all over town, but the trick is finding them fresh.

They’ve got to be recently fried so you get that crunchy warm goodness, and not reheated which will make them lose their appeal.

While Medellin is predominantly a reggaeton city, salsa is also quite popular among those who love to dance.

I’m not much of a dancer, but I’ve given salsa dancing a try a few times, and it’s a blast. Medellin has a few really popular salsa clubs , so if you’re going to go, make it one of these three:

  • Son Havana, located near Laureles
  • El Tibiri, located along 70 near Estadio
  • El Eslabon Prendido, located in El Centro

Any of these locations is sure to be hopping on a Friday night and you’ll see some pretty impressive moves.

Medellin is also a great place to take salsa lessons if you’re keen to learn, rather than flailing about.

While I generally prefer to explore a city on my own, it’s hard to deny the appeal of certain organized tours where everything is taken care of for you and you get a much quicker insight and understanding of local customs, culture, and history.

If you’re uncertain about your ability to travel independently or just want to maximize your time in this incredible city, then taking a guided tour or activity is hard to beat.

Check out some more of the awesome tours you can do in Medellin here .

No list of Medellin would complete without arepas , of course. The arepa (while also common in Venezuela and Panama ) goes hand in hand with Colombia.

The arepa is a thick little corn tortilla that is toasted up and eaten at almost any time of day.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

It’s the typical breakfast of locals, toasted and served with butter and cheese. But it can also be topped with pretty much anything imaginable.

You can scramble some eggs and ham and throw it on top, with rice, or whatever you want.

A number of restaurants, like J&C, specialize in arepas with whatever fixings you desire.

I wasn’t a huge fan of arepas at first, but have grown to love them. I eat them almost every day.

Arepas are a staple of Colombian food but don’t miss my more complete guide to what to eat in Colombia here .

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El Castillo, the Castle, is located high on the hill above Poblado… Yes, there is a castle in Medellin , oddly enough.

It was once the extravagant home of a wealthy businessman but has since been turned into a museum or park for the masses to enjoy.

The interior of the castle itself is quite interesting — a peek at a different time (and socioeconomic status).

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

But the best part here is the lovely gardens and a sweeping view of the city.

El Castillo is a great place to go on a date, or bring a picnic lunch and just hang out.

You might even catch sight of the macaws that make their rounds through Medellin — they were released by the zoo once upon a time, but have adapted to life in the city. They aren’t actually native to Medellin.

Similar to the coffee culture, beer culture is a relatively new phenomenon here as well. Most of the national brews are the typical watered-down beer like Budweiser, but a number of breweries have been making in-roads both in Medellin and in Bogota.

The best in Medellin, in my opinion, is 3 Cordilleras, they’ve got about five craft beers which are sold throughout many bars in town.

But the most fun is to visit the actual brewery near Industriales during one of their Thursday – Saturday night open houses.

For about $10 you get five beers, live music (usually rock ‘n roll), and a commemorative glass (or you can return it for a few pesos back). It’s always a great time at the urban warehouse.

They even give tours of the brewery if you get there early. Another runner-up is the 20Mission Brewery near the edge of Ciudad del Rio and Manila — also pretty cool.

Read More:  Visiting the 3 Cordilleras Brewery

Paisas (the name given to locals) love to party, that is undeniable. Parque Lleras lies at the center of El Poblado , the most upscale and elegant neighborhood in town, and it serves as the heart of nightlife here in Medellin.

Let’s just say that this is one of the top things to do in Medellin at night on a given weekend because thousands of people pack the streets every weekend to patronize the hundreds of bars in the area.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

There are clubs on top of clubs and the whole scene is pretty wild. Even if nightlife isn’t your thing, it’s still a place that you should check out at least once during your visit to Medellín.

Just don’t be that traveler who never leaves El Poblado , there’s much more to this city. There are a lot of gringos out and about here, so if you want a more local nightlife scene, head to La 70 or 33.

If there is one dish you must eat at least once, it’s the Bandeja Paisa (the Paisa platter). It’s a massive plate of food, with a ton of meat (sorry, vegetarians!) and is emblematic of the region.

On your plate, you’ll find chorizo, ground beef, morcilla (blood sausage), chicharron, fried egg, beans, rice, and more.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

If you get the full platter, it’s definitely a challenge to polish off everything . You’ll probably just want to go back to your hotel for a nap.

Look for Donde Dario (in Belen), Hatoviejo (various locations), or El Canasto del Balcon (in Envigado ), for a really good plate.

The Barefoot Park as it is known in English is a cool urban space where water features are aplenty, and placed alongside sandboxes (where you are meant to walk barefoot, hence the name), and greenery like towering bamboo.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The space is incredibly popular with families , as the children use it as a personal water park on hot afternoons.

But it’s also just a great place to relax, grab a bite to eat, or a fresh fruit juice and enjoy the day.

Medellin has become famous for public spaces like this.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Continuing walking to the west and you will encounter the incredible Parques del Rio, which is a pedestrian-friendly area that bridges both sides of the Medellin River, connecting downtown to Los Conquistadores.

The highway used to run here, at the level of the park, but tunnels were excavated to place traffic below ground, making more room for the people.

Yes, the water museum, it’s a pretty off-the-beaten-track place and not something that would immediately sound interesting, but as I’ve mentioned, Medellin does museums very well.

The Museo de Agua, located near Alpujarra and Barefoot Park is no exception.

The museum focuses on how water formed on planet earth and gave birth to life on earth, the importance of water, and environmental conservation, as well as shows where Medellín gets its water and where it comes from.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

There are a number of exhibits that showcase the many different ecological zones of Colombia (from the paramo to the Amazon) which provide a great overview for future travels within Colombia.

It’s a cool museum, you should give it a chance, even if it’s just for a rainy day escape. Expect to spend about an hour here. Make a stop at the nearby de los Andes coffee shop or at the popular chain Tostao.

Envigado is Medellin’s little neighbor to the south. They used to be fully separated cities within the valley but have since melded together as the population swelled.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Envigado gives you a nice little taste of the typical small town , with the central square where old men hang out sipping Tinto and feeding the birds below the big white church.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The area is somewhat more laid back than Medellín itself and many locals and foreigners alike prefer living in Envigado for that reason.

Read More: The Best Neighborhoods in Medellin

Toward the north end of Envigado, you’ll also find an upscale dining area known as Jardines, where you can explore some of the most famous regional restaurants like La Doctora or El Trifasico, where the former President of Colombia himself goes to eat whenever he is in town.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Envigado

Empanadas are those delicious fried pockets of meat, rice, or potatoes that you can see being sold on every street corner.

The empanada of choice here are the empanadas envigadenas, ie from Envigado , which became famous locally for being so good.

I usually get empanadas at least once a week, it seems. Though be careful, they aren’t the healthiest things ( usually the tastiest things aren’t ).

You also can’t go wrong with the pasteles de pollo (meat pies) that they sell around town, there are both fried and baked versions. Personally, I prefer the baked ones.

Casa Museo Otraparte, located in Envigado near Jardines, is the former home of an important Colombian writer and philosopher known as Fernando Gonzalez.

While the museum itself might be of limited interest to foreign visitors, the idyllic gardens are another great retreat.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The on-site coffee shop is one of the best in town . They also host many cultural events ranging from movie nights to lectures on art, music, and more.

It’s a great space and it’s totally free. This was where I went to the free coffee cupping that I mentioned earlier.

There is a new modern library constructed just adjacent to the garden which offers an amazing rooftop terrace.

Though ajiaco is originally from Bogota , it is still popular and easy to find here in Medellin.

Ajiaco is like the local version of chicken soup with a few varieties of potato, a chunk of corn on the cob, and capers mixed in.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

I love ajiaco, it’s one of the best foods in Colombia, I think.

Also known as Plaza Cisneros, the Park of Lights is another one of Medellin’s innovative public spaces.

It is located directly across from the government administrative center of Alpujarra, and was once a crime-infested and dangerous part of town , rampant with drug use and prostitution as soon as darkness fell.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

The government decided to turn the lights on literally by installing tons of artistic light towers that light up and change colors throughout the night.

While the effect is obviously best enjoyed at night, it’s still a cool place to walk through during the daytime.

Look up and take a picture.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Colombians LOVE soccer. Well, I guess pretty much everyone loves soccer except for us Americans .

Attending a raucous game at the stadium is an unforgettable experience as you see the fans giving it everything they’ve got for 90-minutes while players run back and forth across the field passing the ball and almost nothing happens (but that’s soccer for you, ha).

There are two teams in Medellin, Atletico Nacional and DIM (just known as Medellin). The teams are rivals, so you’re either a fan of one or the other.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Nacional is the most popular (and more successful) of the two .

Any game is fun to attend, but you can be sure of a super intense game if the two play against one another, known as a superclasico .

Sit along the sidelines if you want a more normal experience, or sit behind the goals if you want to be part of the intense experience with the super fans .

Aguardiente literally translated means firewater and it is the local drink of choice here in Medellín.

It’s an anis-based drink, giving it the flavor of black licorice, ouzo, or Jagermeister.

Locals will buy a bottle (or two) of Aguardiente Antioqueno and sit around all night doing little shots .

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

I’m not a fan of black licorice, so it’s not my thing. But it’s fun to go out with the locals.

You can get either Tapa Azul or Tapa Roja — the blue top is without sugar and thus supposedly won’t give you as bad of a hangover. It’s pretty much the cheapest drink in town besides the $1 beers.

The Feria de las Flores happens only once a year, every August, but it’s an event that is so important and emblematic of Medellin, that you can’t miss it if you’re in town then .

The Silleteros, the flower carriers, create massive arrangements of flowers in all sorts of designs and styles. The artistic flower creations are mounted on a heavy wood display and then strapped to their backs as they parade these heavy things around town.

The streets pack with people who come to see this once-a-year event, and it is pretty cool to see, certainly unique to Medellin. Although you feel sorry for the little men and women under the crushing weight of these flowers, marching under the hot Colombian sun.

At the heart of downtown, you’ll find the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is the largest oven-baked brick church in the world, purportedly. While the church exterior isn’t opulent, it is an imposing church, and it sits on the edge of yet another beautiful urban plaza.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Directly south of the Cathedral, I’d recommend taking a stroll along the famous Junin Street , a pedestrian-only shopping area that has become so emblematic of Medellin that “juninear” became a local verb that means window shopping.

Along Junin be sure to stop at Astor Reposteria for the best bakery in town. The chocolate cake is absolutely incredible. You’ll thank me later.

Also, if you happen to be here on the first Saturday of the month, there is a massive and awesome open-air market with all sorts of handmade goods, antiques, art, crafts, edibles, and more. It is the biggest and best of this type of market, so be sure to head to Plaza Bolivar if you’re here on one of those Saturdays.

The Definitive Guide of Things to See and Do in Medellin, Colombia south-america, medellin, colombia

El Hueco translates as “the hole” and it is a busy market located in the center of downtown, just south of Plaza Botero.

Here you will find a series of city blocks that have been taken over by a ton of vendors selling all manner of goods from their little carts. Here you’ll find clothes, shoes, hats, and all sorts of things.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Supposedly the market began as intrepid vendors left the sidewalk and set up shop in the street, effectively closing it off to traffic. Once one person did it, everybody followed suit, effectively creating a large pedestrian-only shopping area.

As you walk among the stalls you’ll hear the locals repeatedly saying “a la orden” (at your service) and inviting you to take a look at what they are selling.

You can get really cheap prices here, even cheaper if you’re open to haggling. Stop in at the nearby Hare Krishna restaurant for an awesome vegetarian lunch.

La Minorista is the largest public market in all of Medellin. It is housed principally in a massive warehouse where you will find every type of food, fruit, veggie, and meat imaginable, as the interesting smells intermingle.

But the market also expands into other adjacent buildings where you will find everything from household goods, to animals for sale, to furniture, to electronics.

They’ve truly got everything here in La Minorista.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Prices can be incredibly cheap here if you know what you’re doing.

Mostly it’s just a place so very different from anything you’ll ever see back home, and it makes for a fun adventure. Come here on a weekday or Saturday (downtown can be especially lonely on Sundays) and you’re bound to see a bustling and interesting place.

This is the best place to see the huge selection and variety of exotic Colombian fruits that are available.

Medellin is a city of contrasts. Nothing could be more different from La Minorista, than the Santafe Mall, a luxurious and upscale shopping destination located near the Golden Mile — Medellin’s most upscale strip of real estate.

I’m not a big fan of malls, generally speaking, but t he locals here truly love malls , so you would be missing out on an important part of Medellin by not going. Indeed, there seem to be more malls here (all of them packed) than in any other place I’ve been.

The popularity of malls here can also be attributed to insecurity, as it is one of the few places where locals can go and let their guard down against violence, robbery, theft, etc. It is a place where families go for the entire day, a place where the kids play, shopping is done (sometimes, mostly it is just a place to be ), entertainment is had, and good food is eaten. 

As I said, I wouldn’t normally recommend a mall in a travel guide, but going will give you important insight into everything that locals have had to endure as a result of drug violence and rebel activity. 

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Plus Santafe is a massive complex with hundreds of stores and is among the most impressive malls I’ve ever seen. Incredibly, the central courtyard actually has a retractable roof for those sunny days in the City of Eternal Spring .

Down south in Envigado and Sabaneta you can also find two equally massive malls, Viva Envigado and Mayorca which are both impressive in their own right.

I suppose this isn’t something to do in Medellin since I’m telling you to leave, but any visit to Medellin should include a day trip (or weekend trip!) to one of the many beautiful pueblos that surround it.

It’s something that many locals partake in as well on the weekends.

My two favorite nearby pueblos are Santa Fe de Antioquia and Guatape.

Santa Fe de Antioquia is located to the west, through one of the longest tunnels in South America, and features beautiful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. It is considerably hotter than Medellin though, so keep that in mind.

Guatape is located in the opposite direction, up in the slightly cooler mountains, east of Medellin.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Here you’ll find the towering rock monolith known as La Piedra del Penol, which you can hike up the 800 or so stairs to the top. There’s also a massive lake on the grounds, a colorful little town, and lots of activities to do here.

Both are fun, but Santa Fe is more hot weather and hanging out by the pool and Guatape is interesting activities and beautiful views. I prefer Guatape, personally.

And finally, the ONE thing you should NOT DO while in Medellin … Please, don’t patronize the Pablo Escobar tours here.

With the influx of Western tourists who only know Colombia for cocaine and Pablo Escobar, a number of businesses have cropped up catering to these tourists.

They tend to glorify Pablo and take you to visit things like his grave, the house where he was killed, etc. One tour will take you to visit Pablo’s brother, who was complicit in Pablo’s crimes, so you can have coffee with him and take selfies.

Things to see and do in Medellin Colombia

Let’s talk about Pablo Escobar… Remember, he was a terrorist who nearly destroyed Medellin, killing thousands of people in the process, and throwing the reputation of an entire country into the gutter (even until today).

For most Colombians, Pablo Escobar is a figure as hated as Osama bin Laden, someone who has done incalculable damage to the country. The only Colombians that idolize Pablo are the poorest and most uneducated among them (or those making money selling shirts, souvenirs, or tours to visitors).

Pablo is not just some rebel gangster like Al Capone or Michael Corleone. We aren’t talking about prohibition-era hijinks or Hollywood movies.

Many Colombians still live with painful memories of the bombs and bloodshed left by him.

I went into more detail about why you shouldn’t patronize these Medellin Pablo Escobar tours in a follow-up article, so check that out if you need more convincing. Honestly, you can learn more by reading a book, talking with locals who lived during that time, and visiting some of the locales on your own — and all without rubbing salt in the wound of locals or patronizing people trying to make money off his infamy.

Rather than a Pablo Escobar tour, check out some of these other Medellin tours instead…

So there you have it, my definitive guide to what to do in Medellin, Colombia. I hope it proves helpful to you during your stay in Medellin, an absolutely incredible city that I love living in, although there are a few  things I hate about Colombia .

In order to boil this big list down into something more manageable for short visits, here is my top 10 guide… Or be sure to check out my itinerary for 3 days in Medellin which will give you a better idea of how to combine everything together.

  • Free Downtown Walking Tour
  • Dance Salsa at Eslabon Prendido, El Tibiri, or Son Havana
  • Take the Cable Car to Santo Domingo and Parque Arvi
  • Stroll through the Jardin Botanico in Zona Norte
  • Catch Sunset from Pueblito Paisa
  • Take in the chaos of the Minorista Market
  • Go on the Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour
  • Visit the MAMM (Medellin’s Museum of Modern Art)
  • Head up to visit El Castillo

Now that you’ve decided on coming to visit this city, you are probably wondering where to stay in Medellin … There are a few main neighborhoods where most travelers stay and each one has a different sort of character or vibe. The most popular tend to be Poblado, Estadio, Laureles , and Envigado .

If you want to stay in the more upscale Poblado, my #1 pick is Los Patios Hostal Boutique in the Manila sector.

I’m particularly fond of Laureles , and my #1 pick there is Backpackers Inn Medellin near the Primer Parque. Be sure not to miss out on my comprehensive guide to the best Medellin hostels , which are also mapped out below for your convenience…

Traveling to Medellin soon?

Book your lodging on now to save, or if you plan to stay longer, I highly recommend looking for a place on Airbnb . And don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for Colombia that will help protect you against illness, injury, and theft. I recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing which are both made for backpackers or digital nomads, and provide great coverage at an affordable price.

Read Next: Guide to Traveling to Colombia

Colombia Travel Tips

Colombia Travel Tips

Important tips and resources for planning an amazing trip to Colombia, based on my years of traveling and living in Colombia.

Colombia Trip Planning

  • Lonely Planet Colombia
  • Momondo Flight Search
  • ViaHero Itinerary Planning
  • SafetyWing Travel Insurance
  • Get Your Guide Tours


  • Book a cheap fligh t to Colombia with Momondo , or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free. Traveling between major cities is much better by flying, trust me.
  • Plan a rough itinerary and how long you will spend at each destination. Use an itinerary planning service for custom recommendations and pick up Lonely Planet Colombia .
  • Work a little every day to teach yourself Spanish , you'll want to know as much as possible before you arrive.
  • Book cheap accommodation in advance, at least for the first destinations -- For hostels use: Booking , for cheap hotels use: , for apartments use: Airbnb .
  • Reserve your on the ground tours and activities through Get Your Guide .
  • Purchase travel insurance for Colombia with SafetyWing to protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while in Colombia. VERY important. And be sure to read my article: " Is Colombia Safe? " for my honest opinion and safety tips.
  • Sign up for my free emails about planning a better trip to Colombia, and be sure to check out my comprehensive guide about traveling to Colombia .
  • Learn more money-saving tricks with my top budget travel tips .
  • Put together your Colombia packing list .
  • Enjoy this incredible country!

I hope this helped you plan your travels in Colombia! I know it can be a struggle to find accurate and on the ground information when traveling to a new place like Colombia, which is why I started writing so extensively about it!

If you have any questions about Colombia, budget travel, or anything else shoot me an email at [email protected].

(I love getting questions! That is how I get ideas for my blog posts and what to write about!)

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Tips to Book Your Trip Now & Save Money

Book Your Flight Book a cheap flight with Momondo , they’re my favorite search engine. Or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free. Another great search engine is Skyscanner .

Book Your Accommodation Book cheap accommodation in advance. For hostels I recommend HostelWorld , for hotels I use or , and for apartments or longer stays, I use Airbnb . I like to check reviews on TripAdvisor prior to reserving.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance This is easy to overlook but SO important. It will help protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while traveling. VERY important. And be sure to read my article about international travel insurance for more details

  • SafetyWing (best for digital nomads)
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Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my budget travel resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use and recommend to save money when I’m on the road.

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Comments 41

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Love your content! I’m new in Medellin, and look forward to trying out as many of your recommendations as I can! Thanks for doing it! 🙂

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I liked the list until I read that “we tend to glorify” Pablo Escobar. It couldn’t be farther from the truth, and if you took the time to actually make a list of places to visit in Medellin, you should also be part of the change. If there are tours about Pablo Escobar, it’s not because we’re glorifying him, it’s quite the opposite. Sadly there are still many tourists who come here just looking for that and SOME people just take advantage of the opportunity. I’m glad you suggested that people shouldn’t do that because it’s just disrespectful and ignorant. But you should also know that we don’t deny our history, but we for sure are not glorifying a killer.

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I wrote “they tend to glorify,” and the ‘they’ in this sentence refers to the Pablo Escobar tours, not Colombians, just to clarify, if you read that in another way. I stand by my comment that virtually all tours marketing themselves as “Pablo Escobar tours” are grabbing onto that fame/infamy and glorifying him, based on everything I’ve heard. To contrast that, there are reputable tours that focus on Medellin and Colombian history, which grapple with he who shall not be named, and in no way glorify him, indeed their focus is more on dismissing that very notion. But they also don’t market themselves as a “Pablo Escobar tour” — I’ve honestly never heard of a tour marketing itself as such that is *not* glorifying him and his memory. Read my article on Pablo Escobar tours to get a better idea of my stance — I’m a big fan of learning history, but that specific type of tour is not the way to do it.

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Hola Ryan, You covered this very well and in great detail. We have lived here for a year now after trying Western Panama after 3.5 years.

In case your readers are not aware Easy Taxi is now Cabify. They merged and only the Cabify app works. We have not had much success here in Medellin with Uber. Elsewhere yes.

Cheers! John and Susan

Thanks, yeah, it is Cabify these days. I use Uber quite a bit here and it works pretty well, along with Beat which is like a cheaper version of Uber, but with Beat I usually need to wait a little longer for a vehicle.

Hi Ryan Thanks a ton for sharing your article on Medellin. We will be meeting with our family there in a month (4 kids and 6 adults), so we are exploring places to stay and visit since we are a big crowd on a budget, and all your suggestions are on my list. Much appreciated!

Good stuff, better than a lot of articles but a couple of things to note: 1) Algarabia café is closed now – I’d sub in Achiote Bistro (as much as I don’t want to give away this secret – also has some of the best deserts I may have ever had in my life) 2) Tinto in my experience has never been characterized as surgery instant coffee but rather another name for Americano – I’m on my seventh city in 6 weeks in Colombia and everywhere a Tinto is an americano…

Biggest reinforcements: 1) Museo de Antioquia – Modern Art section beats the modern art museum I think plus Fernando Botero collection is jaw-dropping 2) NO Escobar tours – you said all the reasons why.

Thanks, for the mention here about Algarabia, I’ve updated other articles like the one on Laureles or the best coffee in Medellin but forgot that I’d mentioned it here (updated now). To clarify, tinto is indeed black coffee whether instant or filtered coffee, but is only an Americano if it is espresso with hot water (same here as everywhere else). That being said, the vast majority of locals dump in one or two packets of sugar into their tintos. That’s also one way to immediately note the quality of the coffee shop or cafeteria you’re in, whether they bring a small bundle of sugar packets with the tinto, which is not a good sign…

Hi Ryan, super helpful! Question: How do you get around from place to place? Is there a bus on each corner or is a cab reasonably cheap? Thanks!

Hey Jay — cabs are everywhere and quite cheap, if you have a SIM card, grab Easy Taxi (or Uber). I generally get around by buses though, they are super cheap (like 60 cents) and will take you everywhere you need to go, but you’ll need to ask which buses to take. For things right on the main drag, you can’t go wrong with the Metro system. I’m working on a new sort of “logistics” guide to Medellin that should be publishing soon — stay tuned!

The best way to get around Medellin is by motorcycle (only if you are able to ride one of course). It is quick, better than anything else to avoid traffic congestion, and easy to park everywhere. Also if you are riding a motorcycle I would recommend other places like Las palmas viewpoint, or San Felix Viewpoint where you can do Paragliding over the city of Medellin.

I’d only really recommend that to experienced riders though. Drivers in Medellin are terrible and can be very unpredictable. I took motorcycle classes for the first time in my life here in Medellin, and while I survived (haha), I’ve seen SO many accidents with motos. I wouldn’t recommend it to inexperienced riders, that’s for sure.

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Super helpful Ryan, thanks for putting this together!! Can’t wait to go to Medellin in a couple of weeks and stay in Laureles ;D

Enjoy your time here! It’s an awesome place. I’m down in Envigado exploring these parts now…

Thank you for this informative article. My husband and I are considering a trip to Colombia this summer and have a question. We would be bringing our two kids (ages 8 and 13). They are pretty good travelers. It sounds like there are a lot of things to do in and around Medellin that they would enjoy, but would the average tourist parent feel uneasy taking transit to the sights? Also, are you aware of any other Columbia travel bloggers who are parents?

I guess it would really depend on how much adventure travel or travel you’ve done with them in developing countries before. If you’ve traveled to Latin America before, then you’re probably already familiar with how things are here in Colombia. There isn’t anything here in Colombia that feels different or scarier really than traveling in Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, etc. There are elements of being street smart, not opening yourself up to being a victim, etc. In terms of actual danger to the kids, I don’t think there is any (they definitely shouldn’t be handling money, cameras, cellphones, etc while on the streets of big cities here), so the real targets would be the parents in terms of perceiving you guys as having something worth stealing…

I’m not personally aware of any family travel bloggers that have written about Colombia, but I’m sure they are out there. I just don’t really follow other travel bloggers, really. I’d love to hear about your trip if you come to Colombia.

Great article. Just came back from a visit to Medellin. I could relate to a lot of what Ryan writes in this article.

Awesome to hear! Hope you had a great time… I just returned back to Medellin recently.

Medellin city is full of danger, While Prof.Dr. Ramo Gencay was dancing salsa, He was kidnapped and killed by bandits at December 6, 2018 . He had two children.

Yeah, I’ve been following this story for a few weeks… Terrible news. One should always be on alert here, especially when it comes to the nightlife here.

Do you have to buy a metro ticket every time you get on or is there a day pass type fare?

I believe you have to get a tarjeta civica now if you want a multi-ride fare…

Great article. I have not been in this city for many years now. I will be taking my family there for the holidays and it was great to read how much it has changed. I am Colombian and my family lived there during Pablo Escobar era (I was a kid), and thank you for pointing out those tours and advising people not to do them. A lot of people think that he was a hero but in reality he hurt this beautiful city so much.

Great article, really comprehensive and interesting! I’ve made a note of all these places (and food) for when I visit next month. Interesting about the Pablo Escobar thing – I had some friends recommend doing this tour, but I thought it didn’t seem quite right. I need better friends. It sounds amazing how they’re really transformed the city since the 80s-90s. Very excited about visiting. Thanks again! 🙂

Thank you for this Article, SPECIALLY the Don’t patronized Pablo! I am a Proud “paisa” living in the US, I really appreciate that! Great article, I needed ideas since I’m taking some friends to Medallo during the summer 2018.

Glad to hear that the article was helpful! Enjoy the return to the homeland. I just left Medellin a week ago and had a great time, as always.

Thanks for a great article Ryan! I’ve just arrived and this has been a huge help in figuring out what to see (and not..) while in town.

Hi Ryan, Thank you for the article. To visit the majority of this list how many days you think it could take? Also any city tour company that you know or recommend? Thank you.

I’d give it at least 4-5 busy days of sightseeing, although you would probably be better served by a week. I don’t have any city tour company recommendations, beyond the free walking tour mentioned. Hope you have a good trip.

Plan on visiting in June.. Your info should help me get the most out of a week stay.

What about nightlife?

Parque Lleras is the center for night life, which is located in Poblado. The two other big areas are La Setenta (near Estadio) and 33 (between Laureles and Belen). Lleras is the biggest scene. I don’t have many specific reqs there, but we enjoyed going to Blue. I’m more familiar with the Laureles area, so both 70 and 33. See my detailed article about Laureles for nightlife stuff too .

Thanks Ryan, awesome list. I came to Medellin without much prep and have seen so much more than I expected by following your recommendations. A really useful article which is quite rare on the Internet. Great job.

Awesome, so glad to hear Andres. Hope you had a most excellent time in Medellin.

Hey Ryan, Thanks for the information. I am planning my first trip to Colombia and wanted to get your thought if we should visit Medellin or Bogata. We do have some friends in Pereira that we want to visit. Let me know what you think.

Depends on what you’re looking for, but if you can only visit one, I’d personally pick Medellin over Bogota. But if you want more of the big cosmopolitan city and high Andes culture, then Bogota is your best bet.

What are your recommendations in terms of transportation around the city? Also, are there visitor’s kiosks anywhere where individual travelers can get information about bus lines and such? Many thanks!

The Medellin metro system works great, in my article on Laureles I talk quite a bit about transportation and getting around, including the buses, so be sure to check that out.

I think this is a nice article.. except i don’t agree on the Pablo Escobar thing.. I’m not a drug-user nor a drug-tourist and still this tour gave me a lot of information about the TRUE story… I can imagine there are some touroperators that are just telling the netflix-story people want to listen to. But don’t be judgemental about all the tours if you haven’t done one yourself. If at any place in the world you should take a tour with more information about this criminal then I think you should do it here. Or do you think people should stop visiting Auschwitz too because people try to make money on bad things that happened there? Offcourse they take you to his houses, the tour would be really weird if they walked around in parque arvi and just told the story knowing Medellin is full of proof of what he has done..?

Don’t you think the real place to avoid should be Parque Lleras? this is the real tourist trap..

I think that an Auschwitz visit is totally appropriate. The difference here would be if foreigners were going on a “Hitler Tour” following the success of a wildly successful Netflix series about Hitler’s life, where they get to take selfies with Hitler’s grave or the tour culminates in coffee and cookies with Hitler’s brother, or one of the leaders of the Nazi party like Himmler (aka someone who was complicit and instrumental in the horrors unleashed), where they again take big smiley selfies with him and get to ask him inane questions in broken German about their wacky war criminal adventures with Hitler back in the day.

But even so, that would be different, because most of the people targeted by Hitler fled Germany for Israel, the US, and elsewhere, and aren’t still living in the place where it all happened and are then confronted daily with foreign tourists flocking to the city to patronize these tours so they can walk in the footsteps of Hitler, leave things on his grave, meet his henchmen, and buy t-shirts with Hitler’s face on the front.

There’s no perfect analogy for these Pablo Escobar tours, because virtually no one glamorizes war criminals but there is plenty of glamour for drug kingpins.

In my opinion, Medellin should have a memorial or museum (like Hacienda Napoles) in the city where tourists can visit and learn more without going on a tour. The fact is that most Colombians (except the poor who idolize him and the agencies and operators peddling Pablo tours) would agree that foreigners patronizing these tours is kind of a slap in the face. You can learn a lot more from a book, talking to locals who lived through that period, and yes, even visiting the sites yourself if you deem it important to your understanding, and you can do all that without rubbing salt in the wound of locals or lining the pockets of tour operators making money off his infamy.

Excellent resource. I visited Medellin about 3 years ago and very much enjoyed the city. Plaza Botero is an extraordinary park–considering it has several sculptures on display from a world-class artist and is totally free! My ride on the cable cars was also a highlight.

Thanks! Yeah, there is so much to see and do in Medellin, it is truly an incredible city, often overlooked by many international travelers.

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11 must-see places and things to do in Medellín, Colombia

You are currently viewing 11 must-see places and things to do in Medellín, Colombia

  • Post author: Charlotte Hoareau
  • Post published: May 14, 2024
  • Post category: Travel inspiration / Trip itineraries & destination discoveries
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Located in the Aburrá Valley of the Andes Mountains, Medellín is a vibrant and colorful city that has changed a lot in the past years. Nowadays, it’s largely considered one of Colombia’s top destinations for travelers and digital nomads.

Last December, I traveled to Colombia with my boyfriend. We landed in the “City of Eternal Spring” for the first time, ready to discover its main attractions and vibrant nightlife.

We stayed in Medellín for less than a week before heading to Santa Marta and the Tayrona National Park , but I was able to visit quite a bit. 

Here’s a quick overview of Medellín and 11 things to do and see, plus 1 bonus activity for you to enjoy nearby.

Overview of visiting Medellín

With a population of around 4 million people (just a bit less than Montreal), Medellín is the 2nd-largest city in Colombia after Bogotá and the capital of the department of Antioquia.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

For a long time, Medellín was believed to be one of the most violent cities in the world. Its bad reputation mainly comes from its association with drug cartels and the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar.

This reputation hasn’t completely disappeared, but Medellín is nothing like it used to be. The city is now celebrated for its spirit of innovation and resilience! 

Overall, Medellín is now widely regarded as an affordable, beautiful city with a nice climate, attracting travelers and digital nomads from all over the world. 

Kevin, one of Flytrippers’ co-founders, also loved his month there back in 2017.

Medellín is also one of the many destinations in Colombia where you can get many free nights in nice hotels with the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card .

My experience in Medellín

You should definitely add Medellín to your travel bucket list. I found the people friendly (almost no one speaks English), the metro is great (especially the cable cars), and the food is tasty. 

My boyfriend and I arrived late at night, so we could admire the city lights on our Uber ride to our accommodation. 

If you’re Canadian, there is a dedicated kiosk at the border when you arrive in Colombia, where you must pay a new special reciprocity tax of 190,000 COP (~ C$80). This is a direct response to the tax imposed by the Canadian government on Colombians visiting the country. This tax can be paid by credit card (or in Colombian Pesos).

According to the official travel rules and entry requirements , proof of onward travel may be required, so we booked one. If, like us, you don’t want to take any chances, you can book a plane ticket that can be canceled free of charge within 24 hours on most U.S. airlines, and then cancel it within the following 24 hours. That’s completely free and much better than paying a service that charges you for that.

Like in any country, you can get a cheap eSIM like airalo (Andrew, Flytrippers’ other co-founder used airalo in Colombia in 2023) or get a really cheap local SIM card (I recommend Claro ). Both require having an unlocked phone but almost all new-ish phones are now.

In terms of safety, everyone was so afraid that I would get kidnapped in Colombia (literally), but, of course, nothing happened to me. The fact that I wasn’t solo traveling in this country really made me feel safer. 

That being said, a couple of travelers I met had their phone stolen at knife-point in the afternoon in Bogotá. So even if you feel safe, it is important to remain cautious and attentive in this country, more than in Canada obviously. 

Here are 11 things to do in Medellín.

1. El Poblado

El Poblado is the main upscale district in Medellín. It is pretty calm during the week, but can get wild on the weekends!

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

There are many restaurants, nightclubs, rooftop bars, and patios in all the streets around Parque Lleras .

In the area, you can also admire the colorful street art and visit the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (MAMM).

I went to many cafés in El Poblado. Plenty of them have good wi-fi for working, and the coffee is also excellent (as expected in Colombia). 

If you’re a coffee lover, El Poblado is a great place to join a coffee tour to visit local coffee farms and learn about the coffee-making process.

2. Laureles

Laureles is less frequented by visitors than El Poblado, yet it still has lots of cool places to go out and cafés to work from.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

It’s a nice neighborhood and easy to explore on foot. Before lunch, we started with a long walk in Parque de Laureles. 

You can also visit the stunning Jardín Botánico de Medellín and the Mercado de Laureles .

In this neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of dance classes to learn how to salsa , bachata , or tango ! 

3. Plaza Botero

In the heart of La Candelaria , one of the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods lies Plaza Botero .

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

This square is known for its large bronze sculptures made by the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero, originally from Medellín. I find his style truly unique. 

His sculptures depict voluptuous figures and animals. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions.

4. Museo de Antioquia

Only a short distance from Plaza Botero, there is the Museo de Antioquia , an art museum with an extensive collection including both local artists as well as international masterpieces.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

The most famous painting you’ll see there is Fernando Botero’s “The Death of Pablo Escobar” ( La Muerte de Pablo Escobar ). 

This painting depicts the dramatic, highly publicized killing of the Colombian drug lord in 1993.

5. Parque Arví

Parque Arví is perfect for nature lovers who enjoy hiking and picnics away from the city’s noise.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Corporación Parque Arví (@parquearvi)

Another element that makes this ecological nature reserve so special is getting there. You can hop on the Metrocable , a cable car that takes you up into the mountains and gives you amazing views of the park’s surroundings (more about this Metrocable below).

6. Free walking tour

Real City Tours and Beyond Colombia offer free walking tours to learn more about this incredible city.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Travelers from around the world come to Medellín hoping to do a Pablo Escobar tour , but, just so you know, this is quite controversial. Many locals disapprove of these tours because they tend to glorify criminal conduct.

7. Comuna 13

Comuna 13 used to be the most dangerous area in the city, but that was before! 

Residents have made significant efforts to transform it into a colorful and welcoming neighborhood, and it’s now one of the most visited districts in all of Medellín.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

I highly recommend a tour with a local guide to learn more about the incredible story of this area. Learning more about the difficult yet hopeful history of this neighborhood was truly inspiring.

We explored art galleries, rode the iconic escalators ( escaleras eléctricas ), purchased souvenirs, admired unique views, and treated ourselves to delicious Colombian cuisine. 

I can honestly say that this was the highlight of my stay in Medellín. 

Don’t forget to try a Colombian Michelada! It’s a refreshing beer-based cocktail perfect for hot days, and many people sell it in Comuna 13.

8. Pub crawl

You want to party with other travelers like yourself? Join a pub crawl . There are lots of those in Medellín.

It’s a great and fun way to meet other travelers. 

The commune of El Poblado is, without a doubt, the place to be if you love to party.

9. Language exchange 

There are not many English-speaking Colombians, even in the more touristy places, so it is really a great city to learn Spanish. 

Language exchanges are great events to attend if you want to practice and learn.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

It also gives you a unique insight into the local culture that you wouldn’t get if you stuck to only the popular attractions.

10. Cable car

Except for the line that goes to Parque Arví (line L), Medellín’s cable cars weren’t designed for travelers. 

They were designed as part of a social transformation initiative to transport locals who live high up in the mountains, far from the city center.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Still, I suggest you hop on to see the beauty of this city from above. We took the J and H lines, and the views were just breathtaking.

11. Pool day

Like most travelers, sadly I didn’t really know about travel rewards before joining the Flytrippers team, so I wasn’t able to take advantage of a pool day at a free hotel to relax a bit after busy days exploring the city.

The Four Points by Sheraton Medellin Hotel is in a great location in El Poblado and costs just 10,200 points per night (51,000 points for 5 nights).

The current welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card gives you 53,000 points (or 106,000 points if your companion takes advantage of it too).

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

In addition to the pool, the hotel has a jacuzzi, sauna, and Turkish hammam. 

If you want another option, the Fairfield by Marriott Medellin Sabaneta requires even fewer points and is just outside Medellín in a smaller city known for its vibrant weekend activities.

Bonus: Guatapé

Guatapé is located in the countryside, only 79 kilometers from Medellín, so it’s perfect for a weekend city escape. 

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Its nickname is the “Town of Zócalos” because locals decorate the façades of their homes with colorful bas-relief details called zócalos .

The most iconic thing to do in Guatapé is, without a doubt, to climb the El Peñón de Guatapé . This huge granite rock formation, also called “El Peñol” or “La Piedra”, is 200 meters tall (656 feet).

I spent a weekend in Guatapé in January 2024. I will write a detailed article about my experience very soon !

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The city of Medellín is now a top destination for travelers. Super colorful and dynamic, this city is a must on your itinerary if you’re going to Colombia. I went there this winter and definitely recommend these places in the city.

What would you like to know about things to do in Medellin, Colombia? Tell us in the comments below.

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20 Best Places to Visit in Colombia, According to Locals and Experts

These are 20 of the best places to visit in Colombia, from colorful villages to stunning beaches.

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

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A hypnotizing mix of charming coastal cities, world-class cuisine, and lush landscapes hiding immense biodiversity have made the bicoastal country of Colombia one of the most sought-after destinations in the Americas. Spending a long weekend in Cartagena or a few days in Bogotá isn't enough; even after spending months living in Medellín, I felt I barely scratched the surface of all Colombia offers.

With the help of Medellín-based Travel + Leisure A-List advisor Boris Seckovic and locals who work at some of the country's most incredible accommodations, like Bio Habitat Hotel and Casa Pestagua, we've assembled a list of the best places to visit in Colombia. Read on to find the country's most scenic trekking trails, untouched white-sand beaches, and where to get the best cup of Colombian coffee.

Meet the Expert

Boris Seckovic is a T+L A-list advisor and Colombia specialist living in Medellín.

Carolina Bernal is the general manager at Casa San Agustin and Casa Pestagua, luxury hotels located in Cartagena. 

Related: 25 Best Places to Visit in South America

Lara D'agostino/Travel + Leisure

Few destinations have done a better job rebranding themselves than Medellín, a vibrant metropolis whose rapid transformation has made it one of South America's most sought-after cities for travelers and digital nomads alike. Laureles was recently named the coolest neighborhood in the world , though travelers might be more familiar with El Poblado as home to some of Colombia's trendiest cafes, restaurants, and bars. Medellín's impressive public transportation network includes several cable cars, making the journey to green spaces like Arvi Park one of the best ways to enjoy breathtaking views of a city that crawls dramatically up the mountainsides of the Aburrá Valley.

Valle de Cocora

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Don't be surprised if the Valle de Cocora (Cocora Valley) in the heart of Colombia's coffee country looks familiar. This magical area served as the real-life inspiration for Disney's “Encanto,” so you'll be sure to hear the soundtrack's most famous song as you pass through the nearby village of Salento. Despite its new claim to fame, the Valle de Cocora has long been famous for its impressive forest of wax palm trees, which tower high above the valley, growing up to 200 feet tall.

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One of the best cities in South America , Colombia's bustling capital city of Bogotá is much more than just a stopover after an international flight. As soon as you arrive, take a funicular or cable car up the Cerro de Monserrate to take in the city views and get your bearings before exploring the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria. Visiting the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) is a must, as is experiencing the city's increasingly impressive culinary scene at spots like the award-winning El Chato, one of the world's best restaurants .

Stay at the luxurious W Bogotá , named by T+L readers among the best hotels in South America last year, or stop by for their beloved night brunch. The hotel's bold design is a modern interpretation of the legend of El Dorado.

Amazon Rainforest

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"Colombia's slice of the Amazon rainforest isn't as well-known as the Amazon in neighboring countries, but it's almost better that way," says Seckovic, who heads Amakuna , the leading specialist for luxury travel in Colombia. "You'll see far fewer people here and have a much better chance of encountering wildlife because of it." Explore the jungle by starting in the regional capital of Leticia, hidden among forest canopy and accessible only by airplane. From there, head to one of the region's ecolodges for biologist-led excursions into the wilderness, where colorful butterflies dart above waters where pink Amazonian river dolphins play.

Santa Cruz de Mompox

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Set along the Magdalena River that winds towards Colombia's Caribbean Coast, the colonial village of Santa Cruz de Mompox "feels like what Cartagena used to be," says Seckovic. An important stop along the river used by the Spanish to extract gold, the UNESCO-protected town still retains all its historic beauty, and an artisan filigree jewelry industry points to its golden past. First-of-their-kind cruises along the Magdalena River with AmaWaterways will kick off in 2024, offering a new way to experience the region on routes that twist through the countryside between Cartagena and Barranquilla.

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Cartagena is officially Colombia's worst-kept secret. Whether by cruise ship or via newly added flight routes from major U.S. cities, travelers now flock to Colombia's buzziest and most colorful hotspot year-round. A walk along age-old Spanish colonial walls at sunset with glimpses of the glimmering high-rises of Bocagrande in the distance is all you'll need to see why. 

Carolina Bernal, general manager at Casa San Agustin and Casa Pestagua , recommends staying in a restored mansion for a look into the city’s past. Longtime Cartagena favorite Casa San Agustin is a gem; its sister property, Casa Pestagua, is a meticulously restored and luxurious 17th-century mansion colloquially known as the most beautiful home in Cartagena.

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Until recently, Isla Barú was mostly a destination for day trippers looking for the best beaches near Cartagena. The recent addition of the Sofitel Barú Casablanca Beach Resort changes all that, making this "island" just 45 minutes from the city an increasingly popular destination all its own. Travelers can also enjoy a beach day or book an overnight at one of the six new cabana-style bungalows at Acasi Private Beach, a luxe extension of Casa San Agustin and Casa Pestagua on the sand.

Eje Cafetero

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Colombia's idyllic coffee-growing region is known as the Eje Cafetero , the "Coffee Axis." This verdant landscape is peppered with grand haciendas and tiny, shaded cafetales where families have long worked the land, and even passersby enjoy the aroma of the world's best coffee. Explore the countryside in a colorful, open-air Jeep Willy, visiting historic villages like Salento, Jardin, and Filandia along the way.

One of the region's coolest places to stay is Bio Habitat Hotel , where luxurious free-standing accommodations are enveloped in rainforest flora and fauna and offer views across the Andes. This eco-conscious, regenerative hotel perched amidst the forest canopy feels a world away, though it's just minutes from the city of Armenia and some of the country's finest artisan coffee farms.

Ciudad Perdida

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Tucked within the lush, tropical Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, Colombia's Ciudad Perdida ( or “Lost City”) is among the great ancient ruins in South America. There's no easy way to reach Ciudad Perdida; visiting this hidden settlement demands a four-day mountain trek with numerous river crossings. The payoff is well worth it: Just a few dozen intrepid travelers reach this expansive site with its terraced hillsides and circular plazas every day, meaning you'll get to enjoy it almost uninterrupted.

Only a handful of Santa Marta-based tour operators are certified to guide visitors to the site, still cared for by the descendants of the Tairona people who built the settlement centuries ago.

Guatapé and El Peñol

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It's impossible to miss El Peñol, a massive monolith towering many stories over the countryside of Antioquia as if dropped from the heavens by a giant. If the climb to the top doesn't take your breath away, the 360-degree views from the top certainly will. Just minutes down the road, the small town of Guatapé has its own flavor of fantasy, with a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns covering the facades of its historic buildings. These twin destinations are an easy day-trip distance from Medellín, but an overnight stay at some of the country's coolest glamping spots is even better.

Caño Cristales

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Known as Colombia's "river of five colors," Caño Cristales is home to unique aquatic plants that give it a liquid rainbow effect you must see to believe. When the colorful effect is at peak vibrancy between July and November, the river seems to run green, magenta, purple, maroon, and canary yellow simultaneously. The river is located in the relatively isolated Serranía de la Macarena National Park, though locals attest it's well worth the trip to see one of the world's strangest natural wonders.

Related: Visiting Caño Cristales, Colombia's Liquid Rainbow

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The village of Barichara is arguably Colombia's prettiest. Barichara is a bit further from the country's major cities than other historic gems like Villa de Leyva, so "it's stunningly beautiful, but still not too touristy," says Seckovic. The town made T+L's list of the best hidden gem destinations to visit last year and is conveniently located just a stone's throw from San Gil, the undisputed capital of adventure travel in Colombia.

Tayrona National Park

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In Tayrona National Park, Colombia's best beaches line untouched jungles with enough endemic flora and fauna to make any eco-conscious traveler swoon. Take a skippered sailing excursion to the park directly from Santa Marta, with stops at spots like Bahia Concha and Cabo San Juan for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. More adventurous travelers can trek through the park and camp in hammocks perched directly over white sands.

Rosario Islands

“The Rosario Islands, or Islas del Rosario, are known for coral reefs and year-round diving and snorkeling opportunities," says Bernal of this perennially popular destination located off the coast of Cartagena. Hop on a speedboat in town and escape to eco-friendly boutique hotels tucked away on sandy shores, offering some serious rest and relaxation far from the crowds. It's an affordable and laid-back alternative to the built-up Caribbean islands where you would spend your days fighting for beach chairs.


Roxana Charris/Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Among the cities on Colombia's Caribbean Coast, Barranquilla can't compete with buzzy, beautiful Cartagena. However, for one week a year, Colombia lives and breathes to the rhythms of the Carnival of Barranquilla. Folkloric dance, music, and rich, regional food shine among a packed schedule of events including the Battle of the Flowers, the Great Troupes Parade, and the Death of Joselito Carnival, each more vibrant than the last. It's such an essential spectacle that it made the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity .

Related: T+L's Guide to Colombia's Caribbean Coast

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The small city of Popayán still flies under the radar of most travelers, but it's all the better for it. Known as Colombia's "White City" for its grand historic center's whitewashed facades, this laid-back town feels like a breath of fresh air for travelers with an itinerary packed with just the country's biggest highlights. It's a great first stop on a road trip north through cities like Cali and to the haciendas and villages that make the Eje Cafetero so memorable.

Tatacoa Desert

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The Tatacoa Desert is the second-largest arid environment in Colombia, after the dune-studded La Guajira at the northern tip of South America. However, Tatacoa isn't a desert at all, but a long-dry tropical forest where lush flowers bloomed a millennium ago. Its unexpected past makes fossil-hunting a perfect pastime on hikes through its dramatic red canyons. Tatacoa's remote location and ideal atmospheric conditions also make it one of South America's best destinations for stargazing .

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Known as the capital city of salsa, Cali is the best place to visit in Colombia if you want to settle into several days of lessons to truly master these sensual steps. Zaperoco Bar is one of Cali's most famous salsa clubs, while Siboney — its name pointing to the rhythm's original Cuban roots — has long been one of Cali's salsa institutions. Fill your dance breaks by exploring the city's historic center and with day trips through the Valle del Cauca for river tubing, ziplining, and waterfall hikes.

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Tucked away within Utría National Natural Park on a remote stretch of Colombia's Pacific Coast, the tiny beach town of Nuquí is known as one of the best places in the country for whale watching. Between July and October, humpback whales travel from Antarctica to these warmer waters to give birth to their babies in the region's protected lagoons. Whale watching is the undisputed highlight for most travelers visiting Nuquí, but adventurous travelers will love surfing near jungle-fringed shores and hiking to long-hidden rainforest waterfalls.

San Andrés and Providencia

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Search for the islands of San Andrés and Providencia on a map, and you'd be forgiven for thinking they were a part of Central America. These tiny, remote islands over 450 miles from the Colombian mainland sit within a stretch of sea so azure it's called the "Sea of Seven Colors," and they are home to some of Colombia's last truly untouched beaches. Livelier San Andrés and more unspoiled Providencia are little-visited, idyllic destinations worth considering for your next unplugged, unbothered Caribbean getaway.

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Exploring The Best South American Destinations From Medellin For Weeks

  • Last updated May 26, 2024
  • Difficulty Beginner

Merve Nussman

  • Category Travel

where to travel in south america from medellin for weeks

Medellin, the vibrant and bustling city in Colombia, serves as the perfect starting point for an unforgettable adventure through South America. With its convenient location and excellent transportation connections, Medellin allows travelers to easily explore some of the continent's most breathtaking destinations. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru to the stunning landscapes of Patagonia in Argentina, there is an abundance of incredible places to discover. Whether you have a few weeks or more to spare, get ready to embark on an epic journey through some of the best South American destinations from Medellin.

What You'll Learn

Must-visit cities in south america from medellin, natural wonders to explore near medellin in south america, cultural experiences to have in south america's nearby countries, adventure options for south american travel from medellin.


Medellin, Colombia, is a vibrant city surrounded by beautiful landscapes and bustling with a rich cultural scene. If you have a few weeks to spare, why not take the opportunity to explore some of the other incredible cities in South America? From historical gems to cosmopolitan hubs, here are some must-visit cities you can easily travel to from Medellin.

  • Bogota, Colombia: Start your South American adventure by visiting the capital city of Colombia. Bogota is known for its colonial architecture, vibrant street art, and excellent museums. Don't miss the historic district of La Candelaria, where you can explore cobblestone streets and visit the famous Gold Museum.
  • Quito, Ecuador: Located just a short flight away from Medellin, Quito is the capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is known for its well-preserved colonial center and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Take a stroll through the historic district, visit the impressive Basilica del Voto Nacional, and ride the Teleferico for panoramic views of the city.
  • Lima, Peru: Peru's capital city, Lima, is a food lover's paradise. Known for its culinary scene, Lima is home to numerous award-winning restaurants and offers a wide array of delicious dishes. While in Lima, make sure to visit the historic district of Miraflores, explore the Larco Museum, and take a walk along the beautiful coastline.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina: A bustling metropolis with a European flair, Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps. Known for its tango culture, delicious steak, and vibrant nightlife, Buenos Aires has something for everyone. Explore the colorful neighborhood of La Boca, visit the iconic Plaza de Mayo, and catch a tango show in one of the city's many milongas.
  • Santiago, Chile: Nestled between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santiago is a modern and cosmopolitan city with a thriving arts and culture scene. Take a stroll through the bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista, visit the Plaza de Armas and its surrounding historic buildings, and enjoy the breathtaking views from Cerro San Cristobal.
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: No list of South American cities would be complete without mentioning Rio de Janeiro. Famous for its stunning beaches, vibrant Carnival celebrations, and iconic landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro is a must-visit destination. Explore the neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema, visit the charming Santa Teresa district, and take a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

These are just a few of the many incredible cities you can visit from Medellin. Each of these destinations offers a unique cultural experience, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine. So pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable South American adventure!

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Medellin, Colombia, is a vibrant city known for its beautiful landscapes and friendly people. Located in South America, Medellin is a gateway to a multitude of natural wonders that are worth exploring during your visit.

Here are some incredible natural attractions near Medellin that you should consider exploring:

  • Guatapé: Just a couple of hours away from Medellin, Guatapé is a picturesque town famous for its massive rock, El Peñol. Climb more than 700 steps to reach the top of El Peñol for breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the man-made reservoir known as Guatapé Lake.
  • Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados: If you're up for an adventurous trek, head to Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, a protected area featuring stunning mountains and snow-capped peaks. Explore the diverse ecosystems, including high-altitude páramo and glacial lakes, while hiking through the park's numerous trails.
  • Cocora Valley: Located in the coffee region near the city of Salento, Cocora Valley is home to the iconic wax palm trees, Colombia's national tree. Take a scenic hike through the lush cloud forests and see these tall and slender palms up close. You can also explore the surrounding countryside on horseback or enjoy a traditional Colombian coffee at one of the local coffee farms.
  • Piedra del Peñol: Close to Guatapé, you'll find Piedra del Peñol, a massive rock formation that offers another opportunity for a breathtaking view. Climb the 740 steps to reach the summit and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the man-made reservoir.
  • Tayrona National Park: Although it's a bit further away, Tayrona National Park is definitely worth a visit. Located on the Caribbean coast, this park boasts stunning white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and dense rainforests. Spend a few days hiking through the park's trails, snorkeling or diving in the coral reefs, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches.
  • San Felix and San Agustin: If you're interested in archaeology and history, consider visiting the ruins of San Felix and San Agustin. These ancient sites are home to mysterious statues, tombs, and sculptures dating back to pre-Columbian times. Walking through these archaeological wonders will give you a glimpse into the region's ancient civilizations.
  • Las Lajas Sanctuary: Located near the Ecuadorian border, Las Lajas Sanctuary is a magnificent basilica built on a bridge over a deep river gorge. The architecture of this church is simply stunning, combining Gothic and Moorish elements. Visit this sanctuary for its breathtaking views, spiritual ambiance, and unique architectural beauty.

These natural wonders near Medellin offer a diverse range of experiences, from hiking to cultural exploration. Whether you're a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to immerse yourself in Colombia's rich cultural heritage, these attractions will not disappoint. So, make sure to add these gems to your itinerary and make the most of your visit to South America.

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If you are in Medellin and looking to explore the nearby countries in South America, you are in for a treat. The region is rich in cultural experiences that are bound to leave you awe-struck. Here are some destinations that should be on your must-visit list:

  • Bogota, Colombia: Start your journey by heading to the capital city of Colombia, Bogota. This vibrant city is known for its art, history, and delicious cuisine. Visit the famous Gold Museum, where you can witness a vast collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts. Take a stroll through La Candelaria, the historic district, and admire the colorful colonial buildings. Don't forget to try some local street food like empanadas and arepas.
  • Quito, Ecuador: From Bogota, make your way to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. Quito is situated high in the Andes Mountains, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. Explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is filled with beautiful churches and colonial architecture. Visit the Mitad del Mundo, the Equator Monument, where you can straddle both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
  • Lima, Peru: From Quito, journey to Lima, the capital city of Peru. Lima is a melting pot of cultures and is famous for its gastronomy. Explore the historic center, which is home to several impressive colonial buildings and the beautiful Plaza de Armas. Don't miss trying ceviche, a traditional Peruvian dish made with fresh fish marinated in citrus juice. Visit the Larco Museum to learn about Peru's ancient past and see an extensive collection of pre-Columbian art.
  • La Paz, Bolivia: After Lima, head to La Paz, the highest capital city in the world. This bustling city is known for its unique blend of traditional indigenous culture and modernity. Take a cable car ride to get a bird's eye view of the city and the surrounding mountains. Visit the Mercado de las Brujas (Witches' Market) to see traditional medicines and potions used by the indigenous people. Don't forget to try some traditional Bolivian dishes like salteñas and llama meat.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina: End your South American journey in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known as the "Paris of South America," Buenos Aires offers a rich cultural experience. Explore the colorful neighborhood of La Boca, known for its tango dancers and colorful houses. Visit the Recoleta Cemetery, where many famous Argentinians are buried, including Eva Peron. Don't miss watching a tango show and trying some delicious Argentine steak.

These are just a few of the cultural experiences you can have in South America's nearby countries from Medellin. Each destination offers a unique glimpse into the region's rich history, art, and traditions. So pack your bags, get ready to explore, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of South America.

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If you're looking for an adventure-filled trip from Medellin, South America offers plenty of options. From hiking through lush rainforests to exploring ancient ruins, there is something for everyone. Here are some exciting destinations you can consider for a two-week adventure:

  • Machu Picchu, Peru: Start your trip by flying from Medellin to Cusco, the gateway to the world-famous Machu Picchu. Explore the ruins of this ancient Incan city and hike up the demanding but rewarding Inca Trail. The breathtaking views and well-preserved ruins will leave you in awe.
  • Cartagena, Colombia: Take a short flight from Medellin to Cartagena, a vibrant and colorful coastal city. Stroll through the historic walled city, visit the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas fort, and relax on the beautiful beaches. Don't forget to try the delicious local cuisine and immerse yourself in the lively nightlife.
  • Amazon Rainforest, Brazil: Fly from Medellin to Manaus, the gateway to the Amazon rainforest. From there, you can take a river cruise deep into the jungle, where you can spot wildlife, go fishing, and learn about the indigenous cultures that call this place home. Experience the natural beauty of the world's largest rainforest and get a glimpse into a different way of life.
  • Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia: Catch a flight from Medellin to La Paz, and from there, take a tour to the mesmerizing Uyuni Salt Flats. These vast expanses of shimmering salt create a surreal landscape that is perfect for photography enthusiasts. Take a jeep tour, stay in salt hotels, and witness breathtaking sunrise and sunset views in this otherworldly place.
  • Patagonia, Argentina/Chile: Fly from Medellin to Buenos Aires, and from there, take another flight to either El Calafate, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile. Patagonia offers some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in South America, with towering glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and pristine lakes. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Los Glaciares National Park or hike the famous Torres del Paine in Chile.
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Take a flight from Medellin to Quito, and from there, catch another flight to the Galapagos Islands. These isolated islands are known for their incredible biodiversity and unique wildlife, such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure by snorkeling, scuba diving, or cruising around the islands.

These are just a few of the many adventure options you can choose from for your trip from Medellin. Plan ahead, do your research, and make sure to prioritize safety and travel responsibly. Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the diverse landscapes and cultures of South America.

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Frequently asked questions.

There are several great options for South American destinations from Medellin for a two-week trip. Popular choices include Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Chile.

Sure! You could start by flying from Medellin to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and spend a few days exploring the city's famous beaches and landmarks. Then, you could head to Peru and visit Machu Picchu. From there, you could continue on to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for some tango dancing and cultural experiences. Finally, you could end your trip in Santiago, Chile, where you can explore the vibrant city and nearby wine regions.

The cost of traveling from Medellin to South America for a few weeks can vary depending on factors such as the destinations you choose, the type of accommodation you prefer, and your travel style. However, a rough estimate for flights, accommodation, transportation, and activities could be anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000, depending on your choices.

Yes, there are budget-friendly options available for traveling from Medellin to South America for a few weeks. You can save money by opting for budget airlines, staying in hostels or budget accommodations, and choosing affordable transportation options such as buses or shared taxis. It's also a good idea to research and plan your activities in advance to find any free or low-cost attractions and experiences.

Merve Nussman

  • Merve Nussman Author Reviewer Traveller

Elani Piper

  • Elani Piper Author Editor Reviewer

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3 places to visit in medellin colombia

My 4 Favorite Cities To Visit In Colombia

V isitors to Colombia have an extensive choice of experiences, accounting for the country’s increasing popularity. You can pick from an urban setting teeming with nightlife, culture, and stunning architecture. Or head to a beach town along the Caribbean Coast where Colonial life mixes with snorkeling and sunshine. Then, there are options for stops at a smaller city with an easier pace or an area rich in landscapes and archeology.

I have visited this beautiful country twice. Colombia attracts those who know to travel “smart,” acknowledging the country’s history marked by upheaval and change. I suggest a four-city trip starting in the north on the coast and zig-zagging to the south — with two city experiences in the middle and a relaxing finale.

1. Cartagena

The walled Colonial city of Cartagena (de Indias) is a beauty. Sitting on the Caribbean Coast, with a climate that’s blazing hot and humid, Cartagena offers beaches, great dining, and a certain type of polished grittiness. The city’s fortifications and colorful architecture have earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and inspired author Gabriel García Marquez to use the city as a backdrop in Love in the Time of Cholera .

In the Centro, Cartagena’s historic city center, you’ll want to roam the pretty cobblestoned streets that show off a blend of color and national pride. Fruit vendors called palenqueras dress in local costumes and offer photos for a small fee. If it’s too hot to stay outside, you can wander in and out of Cartagena’s numerous churches and cafés.

Walk The Walls And Explore The Squares

Cartagena’s historic walls, originally built to protect the city against pirates, now invite you to explore the city on high with a beautiful and cooler option for the sunset. Bars with live music add to the experience, complementing ground-level plazas buzzing with cocktail wizardry and street performances.

Dining In Cartagena

The area is filled with multi-ethnic restaurants, some with long queues and others inviting an intimate experience. Ceviche is popular here. Thanks to Anthony Bourdain, La Cevicheria always has long waits. Don’t miss their ceviche tastings of octopus, fish, and shrimp. Nearby, El Boliche is a tiny eatery with an exceptional ceviche menu as well. Come early; there are only seven tables. Peruvian cuisine (including ceviche) is featured at Cuzco , where you can also try seafood risotto, sip a pisco sour, and enjoy live music by the pool.

An Evening In Getsemani

In the evening, stroll to the Getsemani section of the city — a grittier area where vibrant murals line the streets and raucous clubs like Cafe Havana will have you dancing salsa and cumbia until the early hours. Grab some tapas, pizza, and a coffee or cocktail pick-me-up at the super-cool Demente just across from Plaza Trinidad. 

Day Trips 

For day trippers, Cartagena’s Aviario Nacional on Isla Baru is a tranquil escape from the heat. Boasting the “most bird species in the world” in outdoor, shaded exhibits, the aviary is an uncrowded gem. Beach lovers and snorkelers can take a boat to Playa Blanca, a lovely white sand beach with turquoise waters. To get a real sense of local Cartagena life, venture past the tourist areas for a guided visit to Mercado de Bazurto. This market is the real deal: a loud, smelly bustle of stands selling fish, fruit, and more. 

Pro Tip: Stay at the Bastion Luxury Hotel , which features a refreshing rooftop pool.

The capital of Colombia and a city of 8 million people, chilly Bogotá is perched at an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet. Vibrant and colorful, with murals and street art covering its buildings and walls, the city is a mix of sophistication and Colonial heritage. 

Enjoy The Culinary Choices

Bogotá is a delight for food lovers. You’ll find a wide range of restaurants, including historic venues like La Puerta Falsa and La Puerta de la Catedral , with menu staples such as ajiaco and sancocho soups, and tamales wrapped in banana leaves. Acclaimed Chef Leonor Espinosa has profited from the biodiversity of Colombia’s regional ingredients and created a fine-dining experience with eccentric tasting menus at Leo . Street food is plentiful, too, with arepas (corn cakes) sold from stands adjacent to vendors selling crunchy hormigas (Santander ants). The attractive Mercado de la Concordia is an indoor market selling the country’s chocolates, fruit, coffee, and chicha — an alcoholic beverage made from corn.

Museums And Art 

Bogotá is culture-rich with numerous museums and archeologically significant buildings. El Museo de Oro houses a collection of 55,000 pieces of gold artifacts dating from the country’s wealthy pre-Columbian days. The city’s archaeological museum, musa Bogotá , specializes in ceramic pieces. El Museo Botero holds the personal collection of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, with sculptures and paintings showing off his particular style of larger-than-life individuals, including the Mona Lisa . Also included are paintings by Monet, Pisarro, and Caillebotte. If you want more, there’s also the fascinating Military Museum of Colombia . 

Pro Tip: Many of the museums have outdoor Colonial-style courtyards, but given the oft-rainy weather in Bogotá, I found the indoor galleries to be more appealing. Don’t feel like being indoors? Walk the narrow streets of La Candelaria and Chapinero and take in the amazing street art and graffiti. Or, just observe the busy Plaza de Bolívar where tourists, vendors, locals, and even llamas coexist.

3. Medellin

If you’ve watched the Netflix series Narcos , you know a little about Medellin and the story of Pablo Escobar — the black marketeer and drug kingpin living in Medellin. In fact, “drug” tours are popular here and you can visit key sites in Escobar’s 20-some-year history of running drug cartels. But there’s much more to Medellin than its nefarious past. Surrounded by verdant mountains and set in the Aburrá Valley, the city — with its perpetually spring-like weather — has transformed into a safe, urban environment with museums, Michelin-starred dining, and an active social scene.

Go On A Gastro Walk

In the walkable El Poblado area, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants including Carmen , an indoor-garden space helmed by two Californian chefs. The menu is Colombian-focused, gastronomic, and always exciting. Nearby is OCI.mde , a hip spot for “inspired contemporary Colombia cuisine.” For local flavor, there are casual restaurants like Mondongo’s and sports bars that become exciting if a soccer game is scheduled. A street food tour will take you to the city center to sample arepas , empanadas, and aguardiente , and then to the Plaza Minorista farmers market, where you can try unusual fruit like zapote , mangosteen , or lulo . If you prefer cocktails, there’s a bar crawl to prime you for later.

Museums And Outdoor Art

Museo de Antioquia attracts visitors with its stunning architecture and art collections. Those who prefer to stay outdoors can admire the 23 bronze statues from Fernando Botero set in the appropriately named Plaza Botero.

Pro Tip: Make a wish by rubbing the shiny spots on the chubby sculptures. 

Day Trips In Medellin And Beyond 

Comuna 13 .

Comuna 13 showcases the fascinating rehabilitation of Medellin through street art, innovative transportation, and community commitment. The neighborhood, previously dangerous and drug-infested, can now be explored with a guide who will explain the system of moving escaleras and other programs that have changed the area. 

Coffee Regions

A tour by cable car over nearby coffee plantations offers a lush contrast to the city environment. You’ll have a chance to sample Colombia’s famed Arabica beans while enjoying lunch amid the beautiful natural landscape.

4. San Agustin

Tucked away in southwestern Colombia, San Agustin is a beautiful Colonial town known for its mysterious archeological parks. With its waterfalls, rivers, and lush valleys, the area provides a relaxed setting for exploring, chilling, and contemplating.

Local Crafts And Plaza Life

In San Agustin’s Centro Poblado, locals and visitors alike take a break at the lovely plaza with its beautiful church and shaded benches. Handmade jewelry is the specialty at shops like Llegado Ancestral along with ponchos, woodcraft, finger puppets, and ceramics.

Refrescos To Beat The Heat

Enjoy a cooling stop at BiciCafe , a friendly coffee bar where you can watch the roasting and preparation of the area’s beans. For something more substantial, Casa Blanca la Parrilla de Moas’s combination plates come with rich vegetable soup and icy lemonade. Book a table at La Gata Parilla for an evening of fun and music. The restaurant’s burgers and pintxos (tapas) are named after rock musicians and the walls are lined with album covers and photos. 

Archeological Parks

The star attractions in San Agustin and neighboring Isnos are the three archeological parks, all recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These parks contain hundreds of statues of gods and mythical animals plus funerary mounds and monuments reflecting early Andean culture. At the main Parque Arqueológico , start your exploration with a passport that explains the theories behind the animals and people depicted. You’ll probably come up with your own thoughts as I did both here and on Easter Island when I viewed the moai.

Pro Tip: Bring lots of water with you. It’s quite hot and in addition to the pathways, there are stairs and hills necessary to trek if you want to take advantage of the parks’ viewpoints and lush surroundings.

This article originally appeared on TravelAwaits

Meryl Pearlstein

Restaurants, Food and Drink | Only one city in US makes Time Out’s list of…

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Restaurants, food and drink | marian robinson dies at 86; michelle obama’s mother lived with first family at white house, restaurants, food and drink, restaurants, food and drink | only one city in us makes time out’s list of best cities for foodies (hint: it’s not sf).

3 places to visit in medellin colombia

Some travelers pick a city break based on the destination’s cultural offerings – shortlisting the best museums and galleries to visit. Others eye up cities with buzzy nightlife or opt for a destination hosting a festival or event.

But for many vacationers, the most exciting part of any trip is the food. These are the travelers that wake up on the first day of the trip excited for all the culinary delights awaiting them: from sprawling markets offering local delicacies, to late-night street food, to independent restaurants serving distinctive dishes you won’t forget any time soon.

It’s these gourmand travelers Time Out had in mind when the global media organization put together a new ranking of the world’s best foodie cities.

“Food is everything when traveling,” Grace Beard, Time Out’s travel editor told CNN Travel . “A good (or bad) meal can make or break a trip – it’s usually one of the things we remember most.”

Coming in at number one on Time Out’s list is the Italian city of Naples, the oft-rumored birthplace of pizza. Unsurprisingly, the cheesy delights of pizza margherita gets a shout out in Time Out’s list as the city’s “must-eat dish” – but sumptuous pasta dish Neapolitan ragù and sweet sfogliatella are also namechecked.

To compile the round-up, Time Out surveyed thousands of citydwellers across the globe, quizzing these locals on the food options in their city, with a focus on quality and affordability. Time Out editors sifted through the results, including the highest-scoring city for each country in the resulting ranking.

Pizza and more

For travelers keen to sample authentic pizza in Naples, Time Out suggests heading to pizzeria Santa Maradona , located in the city’s Spanish quarter.

Santa Maradona’s owner Andrea Viviani told CNN Travel it was a “pleasure” to be spotlighted by Time Out, although he added that “considering Naples only as a food destination is truly a waste.”

“Food is certainly an important part of our culture, but Naples is much, much more,” said Viviani. “The idea of Santa Maradona is precisely this: to convey all the facets of Naples.”

Viviani’s restaurant, he explained, is a celebration not just of pizza – but also football. It’s named in honor of Argentinian soccer player Diego Armando Maradona, who played for the Naples team in the 1980s.

While Viviani hopes travelers coming to Naples will enjoy more than just the food, he added that it’s exciting that many travelers come to the city with “a great desire to learn about our tradition and taste our fantastic pizzas.”

At number two on Time Out’s list is the South African city of Johannesburg, with Time Out quoting Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams, who recommends the central neighborhood of Braamfontein and spots including wine bar Mamakashaka and Friends on De Beer Street, and restaurant and gallery space Artivist . Time Out declares the city’s must-eat dish is kota sandwich, a stuffed bread featuring tasty ingredients such as potato chips, sausage, egg or cheese, and also spotlights bunny chow, a South African street food featuring curry, meat or beans stuffed inside bread.

And rounding out Time Out’s top three is Lima, Peru, where Time Out recommends visitors try signature dishes ceviche and arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). The city’s Central restaurant, recently named as number one in the 2023 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards , naturally gets a mention too.

Prioritizing affordability

The commonality between all the cities on the list is they’re “undergoing a culinary renaissance” or they’re “particularly buzzing right now, according to Time Out’s Grace Beard.

Beard told CNN Travel that “affordability played as much a role as quality in creating this ranking” and the editors were looking for cities “where good-quality meals are accessible to travelers on every budget.”

The top US city on Time Out’s ranking was Portland, Oregon – at number 10. According to Time Out, Portland is another must-visit spot for pizza lovers, with Mexican pizza – a pizza topped with taco ingredients – was named by locals as the city’s best-value dish.

In the UK, the city of Liverpool just missed out on a spot on Time Out’s top 10, coming in at number 11. Time Out shouted out the city’s signature city dish of Scouse – a rich stew usually comprised of beef or lamb – and what Liverpool-based writer Alice Porter calls a “clutch of brand new foodie ventures,” such as Manifest , a restaurant named in the Michelin Guide.

Time Out’s Best Cities for Food 2024

1. Naples , Italy 2. Johannesburg , South Africa 3. Lima , Peru 4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 5. Beijing , China 6. Bangkok , Thailand 7. Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia 8. Mumbai , India 9. Dubai , UAE 10. Portland , USA 11. Liverpool , UK 12. Medellín , Colombia 13. Seville , Spain 14. Porto , Portugal 15. Marrakech , Morocco 16. Lyon , France 17. Sydney , Australia 18. Montreal , Canada 19. Osaka , Japan 20. Copenhagen , Denmark

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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