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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

The Top 12 Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

medellin for tourism

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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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!

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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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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Cartagena : No visit to Colombia is complete without some time spent wandering the historic streets of Cartagena, the jewel of Colombia's tourist scene . Plan a stay in one of the luxurious, centuries-old hotels in the walled city, or scope out where to stay in Cartagena to see different neighborhoods or even save some money on accommodation.

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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Views over Medellín, Colombia

© Getty Images / EyeEm / Fabian Schmiedlechner

Situated in a narrow valley, Medellín packs the punch of a city twice its size. Its skyline reaches for the heavens, setting high-rise apartments and office buildings against a backdrop of jagged peaks in every direction. Its pleasant climate gives it its nickname – the City of Eternal Spring – and the moderate temperatures put a spring in the locals' steps, at work and at play. It's a bustling place of industry and commerce, especially in textile manufacturing and exported cut flowers. On weekends Medellín lets its hair down, its many nightclubs attracting the beautiful people.

Best Time to Visit

Best neighborhoods, attractions, must-see attractions.

Museo Casa de la Memoria

Museo Casa de la Memoria

This harrowing museum dedicated to the urban conflict in Medellín is a must-visit for travelers wanting to fully understand the city (and Colombia). There…

Medellin / Colombia - July 15, 2017: urban cityscape of the colorful Comuna 13

La Comuna 13

Once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellín, the Comuna 13, which clings to the mountainside above the San Javier metro station, has…

Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia

In the grand art deco Palacio Municipal, Colombia's second-oldest museum (Museo Nacional in Bogotá is the oldest) houses one of the country's most…

Museum of modern art building in Medellin, Colombia.

Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín

Set around a refurbished industrial building in Ciudad del Río, 'El MAMM' showcases changing exhibitions of contemporary art. The large new wing houses…

Monumento a la Raza, located in La Alpujarra, the public square of Medellin, Colombia.

Monumento a la Raza

Rodrigo Arenas Betancur, Colombia's favorite designer of monuments, has a number of pieces around Medellín, but the most impressive work is this one in…

Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gómez

Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gómez

Located in the house where the artist lived and worked, this fine museum has an extensive collection of pieces by prolific local painter Pedro Nel Gómez …

Plazoleta de las Esculturas

Plazoleta de las Esculturas

This public space in front of the Museo de Antioquia is home to 23 large, curvaceous bronze sculptures by renowned local artist Fernando Botero, including…

El Cerro de Moravia

El Cerro de Moravia

The densely populated neighborhood of Moravia was once Medellín's municipal rubbish dump with an open-air mountain of trash surrounded by a large shanty…

Top picks from our travel experts

Medellín's top free things to do are also the city's must-do activities.


A high-end mall with fashion outlets and a multiscreen cinema.

El Tesoro

For some shopping or just to rub shoulders with Medellín high society, head to the upscale El Tesoro mall. It has a variety of European and American…

Parque Arví

Parque Arví

Accessible by the fantastically scenic Metrocable Linea L from the Santo Domingo interchange (COP$4850 one way, 15 minutes), Parque Arví is a big chunk of…

Planning Tools

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Medellín is no small country town. When you need a break from this city of 2.5 million, there are easy day trips in every direction - here are the best.

Free Things to Do

From public art to dazzling parks to experiences only found in ‘The City of the Eternal Spring,’ here are the best free things to do in Medellín.

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Latest stories from Medellín

Cityscape of Bogotá or Medellin's  Pueblito Paisa

Local Voices

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A man performs at Botero park during the Hip Hop Festival "Your voice counts", in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on September 22, 2012. The festival, sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is the result of a competition of cultural and musical groups that use hip hop to spread positive messages.  AFP PHOTO/Raul ARBOLEDA        (Photo credit should read RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages)

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a green view of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia; Shutterstock ID 585782513; your: Claire Naylor; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online editorial; full: Medellin neighborhoods

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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.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

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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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

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The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

It was my first time visiting Medellín, Colombia. In fact, it was my first time in South America. Hearing so many wonderful things about the country of Colombia, I planned out a weeklong trip that started in Medellín first.

After spending three nights in what is known as the “city of eternal spring,” I wanted to share a bit about this city. A vast metropolis, Medellín seems to expand in every direction. As I made the descent down into the valley from the airport, it was hard to soak it all in. Towers upon towers sprawled across a lush, green city that climbed up the mountains. It was breathtaking.

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

Most of the time in Medellín was spent exploring El Poblado, the home base for most travelers visiting. The neighborhood is packed with bustling cafes, local boutiques, and top restaurants. One day was spent out in Guatapé, which was well worth the bus ride to soak in the views. The city is changing, at least from what the several locals shared with me. It became very apparent as to why it has started to become a traveler’s hotspot. 

With all of this in mind, I want to share some detailed thoughts on my time there. Each section below address the more common questions, what I loved about the city, and more. Take a look at what to know about visiting Medellín.

Safety in Medellín, Colombia

I am a firm believer in being transparent and I want to paint an accurate picture of my time in Medellín. Safety in Colombia is always the first question asked and for good reason. It wasn’t long ago that Medellín was the most dangerous city in the world with a violent past and drug-related problems. Today it is changing and there is a ton to love about the city, however, I walked away with mixed emotions on this. 

How I felt in Medellín was conflicted. I traveled with my male cousin and I would not consider traveling alone here as a female traveler (personally). At times I felt completely safe in Medellín and other times I was on edge, being incredibly cautious and considerate of my surroundings. Certain neighborhoods should not be entered after dark like Comuna 13 and you’ll find most travelers sticking to El Poblado. There were moments that felt tense as we would walk through certain streets to return to our hotel and then other moments where I could have been in San Francisco at a hipster cafe. 

How I felt in the city

We took a free walking tour in the center of town and it was one of the best things we did on the trip (I’d suggest doing this before anything else in Medellín.)  There is a phrase in Colombia called “no dar papaya.” Its literal translation is “do not give papaya”, which means do not put yourself in a position for someone to take advantage of you. Like walking alone, showing off valuables, and more. On our tour, our guide would let us know the level of “dar papaya” on a scale of 1-10, 10 being you need to be incredibly cautious. In some areas of the center of town, it was level 7 and others at level 2.

Those level 7 moments were the moments that were the most intense. I felt out of place, nervous, and acutely aware of my surroundings. Then that same night, we returned to a swanky hotel with a rooftop bar with drinks that rivaled a trendy cocktail bar in NYC. It was that day I grappled with the contrast more than ever. So much to love about this innovative city and yet so much to improve in terms of security. 

I am not an expert on safety and security, I can only offer up how I felt on this portion of the trip. I read a really interesting article by Skift this month titled “ Medellin’s Tourism Challenge: Telling the Right Story of Its Violent Past .” It’s worth a read and does a proper dive into the current climate with statistics, a look at the past, and more. The article covers the topic in depth, something I am not equipped to address. I hope this insight and my own story gives a portrait of the two realities that are present today. 

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

What to Know Before Visiting Medellín

Safety: The above section covers this more fully. I would recommend not to show off valuables, avoid walking alone at night and book accommodations that are in safe zones like El Poblado.

Transportation : The metro is the safest form of transportation. The metro is easy to use, just buy tickets before and enter the gates. Uber is also recommended or have your hotel call you a trusted taxi. 

Money : The local currency is the Colombian Peso. You will need to have cash on you for some vendors, so I would recommend pulling money out at a local ATM from a trusted bank. Most restaurants/cafes will accept a credit card as well. 

Travel Insurance:  I recommend having it. My preferred insurance is  World Nomads .

Amount of time : For Medelliín, you could spend three to four days pending on how many day trips. At least two full days are needed in the city.

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

What to Expect at Medellín Airport

With multiple direct flights landing at José María Córdova International Airport, it’s an easy city to reach. When you land, expect a small customs area and a baggage area. Make sure to fill out that customs form properly — it is in Spanish so ask a flight attendant to help if needed. On arrival, you’ll be confronted with drivers offering to give rides to Medellín. Please use the official taxi line or Uber (we took Uber) for a trusted driver. It’s about a 45 minute to an hour drive into Poblado area. 

On departure, security is pretty relaxed and like most major airports, the terminal is outfitted with amenities. If you’re flying domestically, the domestic terminal is rather minimal with a few cafes and shops. 

Medellín Weather

The weather in Medellín is different from the rest of Colombia due to its elevation. During the day it can get hot and humid and at night it will cool off. The winter months are cooler so be prepared for a light jacket and sweater.

Dress in Medellín is not like Cartagena. Walking around in flip flops and cut-off shorts is not recommended as you’ll stick out. The dress is very proper and rivals that of Manhattan. Men are typically in collared shirts and pants and the women dress incredibly well. I wish I had brought more pants + blouses for the dinners in Poblado especially. 

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

Where to Stay in Medellín 

The only neighborhood I can recommend with confidence is El Poblado. We had three nights here and it was the best base for being able to walk out at night for dinner and quick access to other sights in the city. Here are the top three hotels:

  • Art Hotel : We had all three nights booked here. The rooms are basic but somewhat trendy at the same time. For the price point, I feel you get good value on the stay. With included breakfast on the rooftop, it’s a good base for visiting Medellín.
  • Celestino Boutique Hotel : If you’re willing to spend a bit more, this is the boutique hotel I would opt for. It’s well located and is intimate with great design. 
  • The Charlee Hotel : This is another great option in El Poblado as it has a ton of rooms and is centrally located. It comes up as the most recommended a hotel each time across guides and TripAdvisor. 

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

Things to Do in Medellín

  • Take a free walking tour:  The best thing we did was a four-hour walking tour with Real City Tours . I would recommend doing this first on arrival and reserving. You’ll walk through a lot of the main sights in town as well, all while learning from a local about the history and present happenings in Medellín.
  • Visit Museo Casa de La Memoria: This museum shares about the Colombian conflict from the viewpoint of the victims and more. It came recommended from our tour guide as an opportunity to learn more about the local history.
  • Explore Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín : If you’re looking for modern art in the city, come here. 
  • Take a day trip to Guatapé : One of the best days spent on a guided tour to Guatapé. I share all about the experience in full on this post.
  • See the Fernando Botero Angulo sculptures : Head to Plaza Botero to see the famous sculptures. 
  • Take a gondola ride: The gondola rides in Medellín are amazing for scenery. We opted to take the one over Comuna 13, didn’t get out and came back. You can take it up to Parque Arvi as well as an alternative. 
  • Try local coffee : Pergamino in El Poblado is the place to go. The menu features a wide selection of roasts from local farms they source from.
  • Enjoy the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Gardens : One of the best spots that are completely free to visit is the botanical gardens. 
  • Consider a Comuna 13 Tour : It’s hard to mention Medellín and not the name Pablo Escobar and Comuna 13. During the day, there are many free walking tours that explore this infamous neighborhood’s art scene. I would recommend a guided tour here during the light hours. We were going to join one and decided not to as it was too hot in the middle of the day. I would come earlier in the day.
  • Head to Parque Lleras for Nightlife : If you’re in El Poblado, no doubt you’ll hear the music coming from this hotspot for salsa and more.

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

Best Restaurants in Medellín

  • OCI.mde: This was our last meal in town and one of the favorites for a modern take on Colombian food. It’s upscale and the restaurant has a ton of energy. *Reserve in advance.
  • Vaggart: This is the rooftop restaurant at the Art Hotel and the food was really good. It was more of a bar menu but loved it!
  • Empanadas at the corner of Avenida Caraboobo and Calle 52 : These were my favorite, I can’t find the name on the map but if you’re headed to Plaza Botero, it is right there on the corner. 
  • Burdo: Popular spot for both drinks and casual bites.
  • El Tejadito : Come here for stuffed arepas, so delicious!
  • Cerveceria Libre : For a local brewery, come here and try their beers on tap. The “passion” was my favorite. 
  • La Bronco: Favorite cocktails were here and the food looked good as well.
  • Coffee at: Pergamino, Rituales or Cafe Velvet.

The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

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The Complete Guide to Visiting Medellín

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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61 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Medellín, Colombia

things to do in Medellin, Colombia

  • 15 Pinterest

Colombia’s second-largest city was once associated with drug cartels, the infamous Pablo Escobar, and non-stop violence. But Medellin has completely reinvented itself since the 1980s and today is a modern, exciting city filled with museums, great food and markets, and plenty of outdoor adventures.

Explore the different spaces dedicated to exploring the dark side of Medellin’s history, then get ready to see a completely new side of the city when you visit Comuna 13 and other spots that were once off-limits.

Don’t miss out on your chances to hike, visit a coffee farm or paraglide over the mountains. Medellin is just steps away from amazing nature.

Ready? Read on and discover fun and unusual things to do in Medellin .

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

  • Medellín tours

1 – Stroll around Botero Plaza

Botero Plaza, Medellín

Located in the equivalent of Medellin’s Old Town, Plaza Botero is actually a large sculpture park covering an area of about 7,000 square meters.

Its name comes from the 23 bronze statues spread throughout the park, all the work of Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous sculptor. Botero was born in Medellin and is well-known for creating sculptures that are exaggerated and “plump” in size and volume.

His work can be found in NYC and Paris, as well as all over Colombia – but it’s this park in his native Medellin where some of his best work can be truly appreciated.

Man on Horse, Adam and Eve, and Roman Soldier are some of the most popular statues here, but they’re all worth a photo or two. Plus, legend says rubbing the statues brings good luck, so you should give that a try as well.

If you want a bit more context and to learn about Botero’s life and work, there are tours available to help experience Medellin through the eyes of the artist.

These take you to Plaza Botero, but also to other important spots, such as the Museum of Antioquia (which holds a significant number of Botero sculptures) as well as other city sculptures by the artist.

  • Botero Plaza tours

2 – Take a graffiti tour through Comuna 13

Comuna 13, Medellín

Comuna 13 has a fascinating story. What started as an illegal settlement in the 1960s then became Colombia’s most dangerous and brutal neighborhood during the cartel wars.

But over the past two decades, the area has re-invented itself, becoming a vibrant destination to discover street art, live performances, and graffiti as you’ve never seen it before.

While you could walk around Comuna 13 on your own, the best way to discover the area is with an organized tour. Street art tours are an excellent way to delve deep into Comuna 13’s transformative journey, highlighting the vibrant murals and the stories behind them.

The tours will also give you an insight into the turbulent history of Comuna 13 and the political and socio-economic background of the area.

You’ll be able to ride a cable car, visit the colorful outdoor stairs, and try a popular local delicacy, mango ice cream with salt and lemon. Some tours will also take you to the highest viewpoint in town for great views over Medellin.

  • Comuna 13 tours

3 – Say a prayer at the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria in Parque Berrío

Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, Medellín

Medellin’s oldest church dates back to the mid-1600s, though the building you see today is a reconstruction from the 18th century.

The simple but elegant white Neoclassical building is often included in walking tours and it’s a popular meeting point in the city.

The church sits right in the heart of Plaza Berrio, where you’ll find plenty of vendors and families just going for a walk on weekends.

It’s worth stepping inside too for a few photos of the mix of dark wooden ceilings, golden altar, and stark white walls with traditional statues and crosses.

4 – Ride the Metrocable

Metrocable, Medellín

Medellin’s very own cable car is part of the public transportation system, but it’s also a fun way to see the city from above.

There are five Metrocable lines – four are urban lines connecting stations throughout Medellin, while Line L takes passengers to the Arvi Park ecological preserve.

The Medellin Metrocable is a unique way to discover the city. You can easily get off at any of the stations, take photos or grab a bite at a random restaurant before continuing on your way.

Some city tours take advantage of the cable car to help you move around Medellin.

  • Metrocable tickets

5 – Feel like royalty at El Castillo Museum and Gardens

El Castillo Museum and Gardens, Medellín

A French-inspired castle might seem out of place in Colombia, but that’s exactly what a local physician built in the heart of Medellin in the 1930s.

Today, the beautiful El Castillo Museum and Gardens is filled with collections of stained glass, antiques, and art pieces. The castle’s second owners, Don Diego Echavarría Misas and his wife, were passionate art lovers and spent many years filling the home with beautiful antique furniture, European porcelain, and ceramic by some of the best sculptors in Colombia.

Temporary exhibits here have covered everything from embroidery and weaving to showcases dedicated to local artists, collections of old bicycles, and decorative nativity sets.

The gardens surrounding the castle are also open and you can order a picnic basket in advance to make the most of the beautiful green space on a summer afternoon.

6 – Meet sea creatures at Parque Explora’s Aquarium Medellin

Parque Explora’s Aquarium, Medellín

Parque Explora is one of the most popular things to do in Medellín, especially if you’re looking for an interactive science and technology destination for all ages. There are three main attractions in Parque Explora: an aquarium, a vivarium, and a planetarium.

There are also a number of science rooms where visitors can experiment with musical instruments, learn about the brain, become video producers, and explore the concept of time.

The vivarium is the smallest of the areas, but still houses a significant number of snakes, poisonous frogs, and turtles. The planetarium is home to an iMAX theater and offers daily shows.

The main attraction here, however, is South America’s largest aquarium. With 25 tanks home to more than 4,000 animals, the aquarium will keep you busy for hours.

Check out the piranha tank, learn about Colombia’s river habitats, and get close to some of the most unique fish found in the Amazon.

  • Parque Explora tickets

7 – Explore the past at the Museum of Antioquia

Museum of Antioquia, Medellín

Although home to history, art, and science objects from all over the Americas, this museum is perhaps best known for its significant collection of works by sculptor Fernando Botero and painter and muralist Pedro Nel Gómez.

But art isn’t all there is to appreciate here, as the museum’s collection includes over 60,000 items that go all the way back to pre-Columbian pieces. Visitors can also admire artifacts from various indigenous cultures, check out intricate textile displays, and marvel at ancient pottery and jewelry.

The museum also holds temporary exhibits throughout the year, as well as special events and presentations that complement the art already in the collection. Educational workshops and interactive sessions are also available and are a great way to enhance the overall museum experience.

  • Museum of Antioquia tickets

8 – Escape to Guatapé and El Peñol on a day trip

Guatapé and El Peñol, Colombia

When it comes to unique trips from Medellin, it’s hard to beat a day out to Guatapé. This resort town is located about 1.5 hours northwest of Medellin and is famous for its very colorful buildings.

Just outside town is Piedra del Peñol, a towering granite rock over 200 meters tall. Feeling adventurous? Climb the 740 steps to the top for breathtaking views over the surrounding hills.

Visitors to the area usually head out to the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir as well, where they can try a number of different water sports, including wakeboarding . Or simply rent a jet ski and enjoy the water at your pace for hours.

Day tours to the area sometimes include a boat tour of Guatapé Lake with panoramic views of the town of Zócalos, as well as a traditional Colombian lunch.

  • Guatapé and El Peñol day trips

9 – Take a trip back in time at Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa, Medellín

Pueblito Paisa is a unique tourist attraction that offers a look at what a typical Paisa town would have looked like in the early 1900s.

This life-sized replica of a traditional Antioquia region town is located up on Nuttibara Hill, from where you’ll get stunning views over the city and Aburrá Valley while learning about the traditions and history of this area.

Walking into Pueblito (small town) Paisa feels like stepping into a movie set. You’ll find a charming and colorful town square complete with a big fountain and a number of vendors offering souvenirs and fresh food.

A number of other buildings around complete the antique look of the town and include a typical white church with an original wooden altar, a barber shop, and a one-room school with old-style school chairs and desks.

Walk around the cobblestone streets and then sit down at one of the restaurants around to taste a Bandeja Paisa, a traditional platter that contains a mix of meats, plantain, fried eggs, red beans mixed with pork, arepas, avocado, and morcilla (black pudding).

You can visit the town on your own, or you can take advantage of a city tour that combines a Pablo Escobar highlights tour, a visit to Comuna 13, and a stop at Pueblito Paisa.

  • Pueblito Paisa day trips

10 – Step inside the historical Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe

Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe, Medellín

Located on Botero Square, the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is a stunning Gothic Revival building dating back to 1925.

Originally meant to house government offices, the palace has become a cultural and educational destination, home to a rooftop observation area, a library, an art gallery and exhibition center, and space for concerts and special events.

Walking tours usually stop by here so you can admire the structure, but it’s worth coming back on your own later to explore the many attractions inside, which also include a photo archive of Colombia and a cafe and music lounge.

11 – Discover local artists at the Medellin Modern Art Museum

Medellin Modern Art Museum, Colombia

The Medellin Modern Art Museum or MMA is a fun space inside and out. Come for the great art, but also take time to enjoy the architecture and the clever outdoor spaces perfect for relaxing in the sun.

The museum holds a significant collection of art by local painter Débora Arango, whose work explored controversial historical issues, including the role of women in Colombia.

The heart of the museum, however, is in the temporary exhibits, which have covered Colombian masters through the years, film and music projects, and special exhibits on figures like conceptual artist Luis Camnitzer and indigenous art.

A recent expansion added extra exhibition halls, a space for sound experimentation, and an auditorium for live events. There’s also a cinema hall, where you can find independent films, Colombian cinema, and documentaries.

  • Medellin Modern Art Museum tickets

12 – Breathe in some nature at the Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Medellín

The 35-acre Joaquin Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden of Medellín is home to over 4,500 types of flowers and plants.

The main attraction here is the Orquideorama, an amazing 20-meters tall metal canopy that serves to both collect water and house an orchid collection.

But the garden has much more to offer to visitors, including interactive stations to learn more about the area, a cactus garden, and a butterfly house.

You’ll find plenty of animals around the gardens as well – from large iguanas to colorful birds to turtles and fish in and around the park’s lagoon.

  • Botanical Gardens tours

13 – Remember the past at the Memory House Museum

Memory House Museum, Medellín

For more than three decades, Medellin was considered one of the world’s most dangerous and violent cities.

Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels not only transformed the city into a war zone, but they also killed many and started a wave of crime and gang violence that would last for many years.

The Memory House was created as a memorial to the victims of that violence, but also to those who have lost their lives to other forms of violence and whose voices have so far remained unheard. While there’s information on Escobar and the drug cartels, the emphasis here is on those who lost their lives.

Through exhibits, multimedia presentations, recorded testimonies, and works of art, the museum retells the story of Medellín’s troubled past.

There’s also a special room dedicated to loss, where visitors can leave testimonies and share their pain – whether it’s about losing a loved one, a beloved dog, or their homes. Other permanent exhibits cover violence against indigenous populations and the planet.

The museum also has a temporary exhibition space. Many city tours include the museum as one of their stops.

  • Memory House Museum tours

14 – Take a day trip out to Jardín Coffee Plantation

Jardín Coffee Plantation, Colombia

About 134km from Medellin, the small town of Jardin is famous for its many coffee plantations.

Whether you’re up for a half-day adventure to visit a coffee farm or want a full day of discovering the beauty and splendor of Jardin, there’s a tour out there for you.

For a half-day visit, you’ll get a chance to visit a working coffee farm, see the roasting process live, learn about the history of coffee plantations in Colombia, and taste a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

A full day in Jardin will also allow you to explore the town surroundings on horseback or ride a cable car over the lush mountains to visit a breathtaking waterfall.

You’ll enjoy a traditional Colombian lunch and go on a guided walk through town before heading back to Medellin in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.

  • Jardín Coffee Plantation day trips

15 – Stroll among a metal forest at Plaza Cisneros

Plaza Cisneros, Medellín

Also known as Park of the Lights, Plaza Cisneros is famous for its “light forest.”

The unique sculpture of 300 light poles, each close to 25 meters in height, is the main attraction here, but the plaza also features real trees and plants, water fountains, and a marketplace on weekends.

The location has become a hub for both locals and tourists looking for a mix of shopping and relaxation. Cultural performances and live music often resonate here, turning the plaza into an animated free show.

The lights are turned on during the night using a computerized system that mimics the moon phases. During the day, the poles reflect the sunlight and produce a fun light-like effect even when the electricity is off.

Plaza Cisneros is a popular stop for walking tours . Blending sleek modern design with nature’s serenity, the plaza is an oasis of calm in the heart of the vibrant city.

16 – Come face-to-face with rescued animals at the Parque de la Conservación

Parque de la Conservación, Medellín

Once known as Zoológico Santa Fe, the park is home to over 1,000 animals. Most of the residents here were rescued from illegal animal trafficking or seized from traveling animal shows. Some are retired circus animals.

While species from all over the world are represented, the park has a stronger focus on native animals, many of which are in danger of extinction.

As a conservation space, the park is now engaged in the rehabilitation and monitoring of local species and works with other institutions on education and research aimed to protect endangered animals.

Visitors can explore the park’s three areas, dedicated to birds, primates, and other mammals. Some of the species living here include pumas, morrocoy tortoises, anacondas, and many rare birds, including the only Great hornbill in existence in Colombia.

  • Parque de la Conservación tickets

17 – Explore the unique Hacienda Napoles theme park

Hacienda Napoles theme park, Colombia

Though self-described as a theme park, Hacienda Napoles is actually the housing estate that once belonged to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Escobar built this massive 20 square km estate over many years, adding structures and even a private zoo to the land.

Today, most of the animals have been moved to other zoos or parks, but visitors to Hacienda Napoles can still see Escobar’s hippos that now live in the nearby Magdalena River, as well as a few bison and some zebras (all originally part of Escobar’s private zoo).

A small museum in the park shares information on Escobar’s history, and visitors can also climb giant dinosaur statues, see some of Escobar’s burned-out cars and his famous airstrip, walk through a butterfly enclosure, and cool down in the Victoria Falls or the Giant Octopus swimming pools.

  • Hacienda Napoles tours

18 – Take a city bike tour

bike tours in Medellín

A great way to see more of Medellin in a short period of time is to bike around the city. Morning, full-day and even night bike tours allow you to discover off-the-beaten-path locations and a different side of Medellin that tourists often don’t get to see.

Even better, you can pick from a series of different themed bike tours. Ride around the city for some great food and drink tastings, discovering the gastronomy of the area and snacking on regional food while enjoying spectacular views.

Only have a few hours for a tour? Try a three-hour morning bike tour that takes you to a roasting factory for a great cup of coffee and lets you taste fresh fruits as you ride past plazas and parks around town.

Or you can pick up an electric bike tour for a long ride through Parque De Las Luces (a popular place for photos), the San Antonio neighborhood (where you’ll try some local snacks), and Botero’s Square with many statues by the famous sculptures.

For a unique experience, try a night bike tour to enjoy the lights of Medellin, or get out of the city for a full day of mountain biking on the rugged trails of Antioquia, where you’ll discover waterfalls, amazing wildlife, and coffee farms.

  • bike tours in Medellín

19 – Savor Medellín’s chocolate heritage

chocolate farm tours from Medellin

Colombia is renowned for its chocolate, and Medellín is a key city for cacao lovers. A growing attraction in the region is the chocolate farm tours from Medellin.

These tours offer an immersive experience, where visitors can learn about each step of chocolate production, from the cultivation of cacao beans to the final product.

During these tours, you’ll be able to craft your own chocolate, personalizing your creations with locally grown ingredients such as ginger and sugar cane. And, of course, there’s plenty of sampling along the way too!

For a deeper understanding of Colombian flavors, some tours combine chocolate and coffee farms into one trip for a comprehensive taste of the region’s tastiest exports.

  • chocolate tours near Medellin

20 – Learn something new at the Water Museum EPM

Water Museum EPM, Medellín

The world’s only museum dedicated to water is not what you expect. For starters, you cannot just walk in and look at exhibits here.

The Water Museum EPM can only be explored via a guided tour that takes you through nine different rooms with plenty of interactive displays and experiences.

Learn how water has shaped history, influenced architecture, and affected life on the planet.

This is a fun educational space that will take you back thousands of years ago, where you’ll get a glimpse into how ancient civilizations invented hydraulic systems, how the environment is constantly being changed by the force of water, and how water has become a resource in danger and what we can do to protect it for future generations.

21 – Get playful at the Norte Medellín amusement park

Norte Medellín Park, Colombia

This fun amusement park is home to 25 rides and attractions divided into four themed areas. Enjoy thrill rides including a large Ferris wheel, water coasters, and trains.

Or try your luck at the indoor game room before you jump into a log boat for a jungle ride that gets you face-to-face with prehistoric creatures.

The park includes large green areas perfect for sightseeing, trail walking, or simply sitting by a lake to enjoy a cold drink or the views over the water.

A number of restaurants offer a chance for a break before continuing on to explore some more. A great place to spend a full day keeping the kids busy and entertained!

  • Parque Norte Medellín tickets

22 – Pay a visit to Santa Fe de Antioquia on a day trip

Santa Fe de Antioquia, Colombia

Located about 60 km from Medellin, Santa Fe de Antioquia might be tiny but it’s full of great things to do and see.

This historic town comes complete with a market selling everything from tamarind candy to fried cheese, a museum dedicated to indigenous artifacts, shops selling traditional jewelry metalwork, and plenty of Colonial buildings and churches to explore.

Tours from Medellin are available and are a good option if you don’t want to rent a car or bother with public transportation. With a tour, you’ll enjoy comfortable direct transportation back and forth, plus a knowledgeable guide that will help bring the 18th-century town to life.

Tours also include additional stops, such as a visit to a working coffee farm, a chance to see the eighth-largest suspension bridge in the world, and a ride on a rural cable car.

  • Santa Fe de Antioquia day trips

23 – Channel your inner chef with a cooking class

cooking classes in Medellín

Excited about the flavors of Colombia?

If you’ve been visiting restaurants or trying Medellin’s great street food, why not learn how to make some of those delicacies so you can recreate them back home?

Cooking classes are a great way to delve deeper into Medellin’s food scene.

Whether you choose a private tour to shop at a local food market and cook with a local professional chef or join a small cooking class at a community kitchen, this is a great way to learn how to prepare traditional Colombian dishes, including empanadas, patacones (fried plantains), cheese arepa, and Colombian sancocho.

Want an even more personal experience? Let your guide take you into his or her own kitchen, where you’ll learn to cook Colombian cuisine directly from a local.

Make sure you arrive hungry – you’ll get to enjoy the dishes you prepared after the lesson, paired with a local beer or a non-alcoholic drink.

  • cooking classes in Medellín

24 – Soar through the skies with a helicopter tour

helicopter tours in Medellín

There’s no better way to experience the beauty of the mountains surrounding the city than from the air.

A helicopter tour lets you see a completely different side of Medellín and Antioquia, as well as some of the area’s most famous landmarks.

You’ll fly over Pueblito Paisa, Cerro Nutibara, the Botanical Garden, Aburrá Valley, and the most colorful neighborhoods in the city. Take in the views and snap photos as you enjoy the stunning mix of mountains and skyscrapers.

Book special flights over Hacienda Nápoles or a unique fly over Cerro Tusa and the largest natural pyramid in the world before you land near the Cauca River for a visit to a high-altitude coffee farm.

Pickup and drop-off from most hotels is included and you’ll fly with a knowledgeable pilot who will share interesting information about the area and the sights you encounter along the way.

  • helicopter tours in Medellín

25 – Visit the beautiful Catedral Metropolitana de Medellín

Catedral Metropolitana, Medellín

Designed in neo- Romanesque style, this massive brick cathedral occupies an area of over 4.600 square meters and houses several wings and structures, three naves, and two towers that reach 53 meters in height.

A common stop in walking tours , the cathedral is located near Parque de Bolívar, a beautiful urban park famous for its many sculptures and the weekend artisanal market held here.

Inside, the cathedral is characterized by its thick columns and high altars, beautiful stained-glass windows, and 1932 German organ.

The cathedral also houses a unique museum of religious art, a pantheon serving as the final resting place of local bishops and archbishops, and an ossuary crypt.

Visitors can also admire a number of large oil paintings and other works of art that adorn the walls of the cathedral. These include paintings by local artists like Francisco Antonio Cano, and a 3×3 meters painting by Antioquian artist Juan Munera Ochoa.

26 – Take a day trip out to a giant waterfall

Giant Waterfall, Colombia

For the ultimate adventure escape, you can’t beat a trip to a natural reserve in La Ceja.

Book a tour that will bring you directly from your hotel to the reserve, where you’ll have a safety briefing before hiking for 20 minutes to a zipline station.

From there, you’ll fly 700 meters over giant waterfalls till you reach the other side of a breathtaking canyon. A second hike will take you to see a giant waterfall before you hook up for a second zipline flight.

Some tours include an additional experience that allows you to relax in gigantic hammocks hanging 150 meters above the ground.

These tours last 8-9 hours (including driving time) and offer breaks for lunch and amazing photos along the way. Private tours are also available if you want more personalized attention.

  • Giant Waterfall day trips

27 – Groove through Medellín’s landmarks on a party bus

bus tours in Medellín

For a unique way to discover the city, catch a Medellin’s party bus, where you’ll tour around the city and admire its landmarks while listening to great local music!

As the music plays, you’ll drive by the iconic Plaza Botero (home to the famous bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero), the serene Parque de los Pies Descalzos, and the enchanting Park of Wishes.

Marvel at the cityscape with a panoramic tour of Medellín’s avenues, and feel the city’s pulse as you ascend Nutibara Hill for a breathtaking view. Some buses even feature a DJ onboard, setting the mood with a mix of popular tunes and local hits.

Along the way, buses may stop at selected spots for street food tastings — and some will even take you to a disco bar so you can dance the night away in true Medellín style.

  • bus tours in Medellín

28 – Lace up your boots to hike in Medellin

hiking in Medellín

Surrounded by mountains and close to a number of parks and nature preserves, Medellin is the ideal destination for hiking.

For shorter hikes, there are guided tours through Arvi Park, the Parque Principal de Guatapé, and the waterfalls of El Cristalino. These four-hour hikes take you deep into the native forest, across ravines and creeks, up waterfalls, and on ancestral paths.

Some of the hikes will take you past monasteries like the Benedictine Monastery of Santa María de la Epifanía on an open lush meadow filled with wildflowers.

Longer hikes to the nearby mountains are available, where you’ll hike through pine forests or follow marked trails through Los Saltos Ecopark – where you will also have a chance to go zip lining.

For the ultimate adventure, you can book an overnight hiking tour. Spend two days hiking through “the valley of the waterfalls” and then spend the night in an authentic rural home. Or hike for four days (three nights) through East Antioquia, discovering the beauty of the Henaos canyons as you cross rivers and forests.

  • hiking in Medellín

29 – Go horseback riding in the Colombian countryside

horse riding in Medellín

Discover the area around Medellin with a traditional horseback ride that takes you to the best viewpoints.

Book a private tour for a customized route that fits your riding level and interests, or join a group to ride on the foothills of the central Andes mountains. You’ll cross rivers and trails and stop by along the way to enjoy native wildlife.

Some riding tours are through private farms for the ultimate in privacy, while others combine a visit to a local coffee farm with a horseback ride through winding country roads to a beautiful waterfall.

You don’t need to be an expert rider to join a tour – most tours are suitable for first-time riders and a professional horse handler guide will ensure you are safe during your entire trip.

  • horse riding in Medellín

30 – Dive into history at Casa Museo Otraparte

Casa Museo Otraparte, Medellín

Once the home of writer and philosopher Fernando González, Casa Museo Otraparte (Other Place) is a 1940s villa that retains all its original colonial charm. González spent much of his life here (including the last years before his death), writing some of the books that made him famous.

González himself oversaw much of the construction and decoration of the home. He selected the stained glass windows used throughout the house and had them shipped from the city of Cali, ordered the hand-forged railings that adorn the balcony, and imported sculptures and fountains from Central America.

Today, the home is a museum dedicated to his work but also a cultural space offering lectures, temporary exhibits and audiovisual presentations. When visiting, make some time to stop by the cafe and try some empanadas.

31 – Look up to the stars at Planetarium Jesus Emilio Ramirez Medellin

Planetarium Jesus Emilio Ramirez, Medellín

A modern center for astronomy and research, the Planetarium Jesus Emilio Ramirez Medellin is also open to the public and offers plenty of things to do on a rainy day.

Sit back in their main hall to catch a show under the stars or visit the interactive displays and exhibits that help you discover fascinating information about planets, deep space, and astrobiology.

Guided tours are available if you have lots of questions or you can simply explore on your own and buy a ticket for a show.

The planetarium is part of Parque Explora and located on the Parque de los Deseos, a great open-air space with sculptures, water fountains, and a giant screen to show movies and projections.

32 – Get lost in the massive Arvi Park

Arvi Park, Colombia

This massive nature preserve covers almost 40,000 acres of forested land and includes 86km of hiking trails. Easily reachable via the cable car (use the Metrocable Arví line), it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours or a full day.

Some of the trails require a guide so it’s worth joining a day tour if you want to make the most of your visit to the park.

A tour of the park will usually include a ride in the cable car and a stop at the food market located at the Metrocable station. Here, you’ll guide will point out some great traditional snacks to try before you get on a path to start exploring.

You’ll head to a high point that offers great views over the city, learn to spot rare butterflies and lots of birds, walk by archeological heritage sites, and dip your toes into the many natural pools and creeks.

  • Arvi Park day trips

33 – Learn about the real Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar tours, Medellín

No other name is more connected to the history of Medellin than the “king of cocaine” Pablo Escobar, the drug lord and narcoterrorist whose drug cartel terrorized Colombia for decades.

He started the Medellin Cartel in the 1970s, and the city is filled with landmarks that retell the history of his life and his reign of terror.

Joining a Pablo Escobar tour should be on your must-do list of things to do in Medellin. It’s a great way to not only understand Escobar’s impact on the city but also how the cartels changed Medellin, and how the city is moving forward from its dark past.

There are plenty of different tours to choose from. Most will take you to important landmarks like the exact spot where he was shot and died, the cemetery where he’s buried, and Escobar’s former home.

You’ll visit “the cathedral,” the prison Escobar was allowed to build for himself when he was first captured.

You’ll also visit the Casa Museo Pablo Escobar , where you’ll learn about his rise and fall, find armored vehicles and many of his motorcycles and cars, his original Insignia plane, furniture with built-in hiding areas, and much more.

There are also tours available to visit Hacienda Nápoles, the luxurious estate Escobar built for himself. Or you can book a walking tour through the streets of Comuna 13, once considered the most dangerous neighborhood in the world and today famous for its street art.

  • Pablo Escobar tours

34 – Shop with the locals at Plaza Minorista José María Villa

Plaza Minorista José María Villa, Medellín

Medellin’s best destination for fresh local food is Plaza Minorista , a massive and bustling indoor marketplace.

Colombia is home to many exotic fruits, and this is a great place to pick up some to try, but you can also find vegetables, bread, herbs and spices, and other food-related items.

It’s a great place to pick up a snack or two for the day, or to stock up on food souvenirs to take home.

Don’t let the size of the place intimidate you. The two large floors offer plenty of food stands but also small cafes where you can take a break and grab an empanada or a cafe con leche before you continue exploring.

35 – Take home some authentic Colombian coffee

colombian coffee shops in Medellín

Colombian coffee beans are world-famous for being strong without ever turning bitter. The results is a great Arabica coffee that’s less acidic and a lot smoother.

You have probably tasted Colombian coffee back home at some point in your life, but it would be a crime not to have a good cup of Colombian coffee while in Medellin.

If you don’t know where to start, Pergamino Cafe might be a good option. Considered by many as the city’s best coffee shop, Pergamino Cafe offers a large variety of coffee beans, including many special editions like “Aponte honey” and “cold brew Pergamino.” They also sell gift sets, mugs, thermos, and everything you need to brew the best coffee right at home.

Born right in Medellin and 100% women-owned, Café Velvet coffee beans are another great option if you want to take the taste of Colombia home. Plus the company prides itself in purchasing directly from farmers to support the local industry.

El Laboratorio de Café also sells great coffee beans in stylish packaging, but they also offer tours of their roasting plant, where you can see the whole process as it happens, plus learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

36 – Experience the thrill of zip lining

zip lining in Medellín

When it comes to heart-pumping adrenaline, it’s hard to beat ziplining – and Medellin has plenty of options to satisfy even the most demanding thrill seekers.

For the ultimate adventure, try the highest, longest zipline in Colombia. Located 330 meters over a lush jungle and with a total length of 1400 meters over two separate zipline flights, this epic zipline is usually part of a tour that also includes a hike to a picturesque waterfall and a hike on the popular Ferrata trail.

If you just want to soar over treetops over and over again, there are tours that focus just on ziplining located in a reservoir near Medellin. At 140 meters tall, it’s the second-highest zip line in Colombia and so close to the city, it’s perfect for a quick half-day adventure.

The Arvi Nature Reserve also has its own zipline adventure, a five-segment flight over spectacular scenery.

For full days of thrills and excitement, book a combination tour that takes you ziplining before you try horseback riding and an ATV tour .

  • zip lining in Medellín

37 – Master your aim at Medellín’s shooting ranges

shooting ranges in Medellín

Medellín offers a unique experience for adventure seekers with its state-of-the-art shooting ranges. Rionegro Shooting Practice is one of the most popular destinations, a place where both beginners and seasoned shooters can practice with two different weapons.

Sessions begin with a comprehensive safety briefing followed by hands-on instruction from trained professionals who are dedicated to ensuring an enjoyable and informative experience.

For those visiting from outside the city or even the country, many organized tours include convenient transportation services. They often feature pickups directly from hotels, making it hassle-free for travelers, and provide snacks to keep energy levels up.

Some tours even extend the experience beyond the shooting range, offering opportunities for participants to mingle and share experiences.

  • shooting ranges in Medellín

38 – Discover the magic of exotic lands at El Palacio Egipcio

El Palacio Egipcio, Medellín

Back in the 1920s, Fernando Estrada – the first optometrist in Medellin and a big fan of everything Egypt – decided to build his own Egyptian palace right in the heart of Medellin.

He chose the Prado neighborhood to do it, on a quiet street surrounded by typical colonial houses. It took 12 years for the palace to be ready but when it was finally finished, Estrada moved right in with his family and called it home until his death in the 1970s.

Today, the palace is an art and history museum, as well as a cultural and arts center.

The palace itself with its magnificent columns, sculptures, and objects (which includes a replica of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s bust) is part of the attraction, but the palace also hosts temporary exhibits, traditional Egyptian dance shows, lectures and presentations, and other cultural shows.

39 – Slip and slide at Aeroparque Juan Pablo II

Aeroparque Juan Pablo II, Medellín

Medellin’s largest aquatic park is home to a number of large pools, including a wave pool, two large slide pools, and regular swimming pools. Families will love the many options, which allow kids to enjoy safe shallow areas and adults to play in more exciting pools.

Visitors can also enjoy a cycling path, attend live shows, and enjoy plenty of water games. The park has special playing areas for younger kids, a restaurant and a large garden with green spaces for picnics or just to rest in the shade.

This is one of the best family things to do in Medellin with kids, especially on a hot day!

  • Aeroparque Juan Pablo II tickets

40 – Learn about a local painter at Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gómez

Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gómez, Medellín

Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gómez was best known for his murals, many of which appear on public buildings around Colombia and on the street leading up to the museum. Gómez studied fine arts in Medellin and is a beloved, well-known figure in the area.

The Pedro Nel Gómez home and museum – where he lived with his wife and children until his death in 1984 – is a great place to see some of his work. The museum’s permanent collection includes some of its frescoes, his original studio workshop, and original details and items that belonged to the artist.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits inspired by Gómez’s works and offers guided tours, workshops, and lectures.

41 – Take a day trip out to Flower Farm

Flower Farm, Colombia

About 60km from Medellin, the Antioquia region is world-famous for its coffee plantations. But this Andino region near the mountains, known for its “eternal spring” and its mild, rainy climate, is also perfect for growing flowers.

Over the years, flower farms have taken over the region. The town of Santa Elena, located over the Aburrá Valley at an altitude 3,650 meters higher than Medellin, is now the area’s commercial center, filled with flower markets and the starting point of many hiking trails.

For a unique escape from Medellin, consider joining a day tour out to a flower farm. Hidden among the lush mountainside, the farm is a great place to learn about the local tradition of flower growing and admire the colorful tropical plant species.

You’ll meet a silletero (flower farmer) and learn about the local annual flower festival before you head to Santa Lena for some walking and shopping before returning to Medellin.

  • Flower Farm day trips

42 – Soak up the atmosphere at Medellín’s Festival de las Flores

Festival de las Flores, Medellín

Each year in May, Medellín bursts into a sea of colors with the Festival de las Flores, celebrating the region’s rich floral heritage and Medellín’s status as the “City of Eternal Spring.”

The festival hosts a multitude of events throughout the city over a one-week period, but the highlight is the parade of silleteros, where participants showcase beautiful flower arrangements on wooden platforms carried on their backs.

But the festivities go beyond just flowers. Music fills the air as concerts and traditional dances light up the nights.

There are also special exhibitions (like orchid displays), an antique car parade, a seven-mile-long bike ride, and massive artisan markets throughout the city. It’s even possible to join tours offering guided visits to salsa clubs and bars during the festival.

43 – Explore the ultimate farmers’ market at Placita de Flórez

Placita de Flórez, Medellín

Medellin’s most exciting shopping destination is not a mall, but an indoor market filled with flowers, exotic fruits, and even herbs and medicinal plants.

Head to the back of the market for fresh-made arepas, ice cream shops, and a number of restaurants serving everything from fresh juice to fast food and lots of snacks to-go.

If you’re looking for unique souvenirs to take home, Placita de Florez is home to a number of shops selling locally produced crafts like clay pots, baskets, clay figurines, and decorative lamps.

Botanical shops also offer great handmade products for the bath and skin – they make great gifts and would be a perfect reminder of your trip to Medellin.

Placita de Florez has been around since the 1890s and it’s a great way to experience true Paisa culture and its aromas and flavors.

44 – Discover the thrill of paragliding

paragliding in Medellín

Soar over the countryside outside Medellin for an unforgettable experience. Or let an experienced tour company with professional pilots take you to the Cocorna town or the Aburra Valley, where you’ll be able to paraglide over waterfalls, vast canyons, and lush jungle.

Private tours are available if you have a longer, more in-depth experience. Otherwise, most tours are made up of small groups. All tours include a safety briefing and introductory lesson so you feel confident about what to expect once in the air.

Some tours offer double the fun by combining a day of paragliding and white water rafting . Head over to the Calderas River and experience the thrill of class III and class IV rapids with the help of a professional guide. Then fly over the Colombian rainforest and enjoy beautiful views from the sky.

  • paragliding in Medellín

45 – Cool down at Acuaparque Ditaires

Acuaparque Ditaires, Colombia

This large recreational space, a haven for both families and thrill-seekers, includes a waterpark, a Turkish bath service and sauna, and plenty of green areas for picnics and recreation.

For those wanting to escape the heat, Acuaparque Ditaires also offers a wave pool, a semi-Olympic pool, a children’s pool with a water playground, and a number of fun slides that end right in the main pool. Zones are well-marked to ensure safety for different age groups.

Beyond water activities, there are also winding paths and covered areas are also available to escape the sun. The park’s design encourages relaxation and active fun alike.

Ideal for a full-day outing, the park comes equipped with sanitary facilities and convenient small stands to buy food and drinks. Seasonal events and programs keep the fun going all year long.

46 – Zoom through the countryside during a quad tour

quad tours in Medellín

The countryside just outside Medellin is perfect for an ATV adventure, no matter if you’re an experienced driver or you’ve never tried it before.

Explore the mountain landscapes around the city, ride lush trails, and discover a natural reserve filled with amazing flora and fauna. Your experienced guide will help you get familiar with your ATV quad and then guide you through the countryside to breathtaking viewpoints for great photos.

If quad or ATV riding isn’t enough adrenaline for you, there are special combination tours available that pack on the thrills. Make the most of your outdoor adventure with a tour that takes you on a quad ride plus adds ziplining, horseback riding, or rafting to the day. You’ll even have a chance to paraglide over a giant waterfall in the Cocorna canyons.

These tours offer the perfect opportunity to combine several outdoor activities into one outing plus the convenience of hotel pickup and drop-off and having all equipment included.

  • quad tours in Medellín

47 – Catch a game at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium

Atanasio Girardot Stadium, Medellín

Five different stadiums and coliseums make up the Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex, with the Atanasio Girardot Stadium being the largest. In addition to holding football matches and being home to the local professional team, Atletico Nacional, this stadium is also the main concert arena in Medellin.

Big international names like Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Beyoncé have performed here, but this is also the favorite stage for famous local artists.

The Medellín Sports Coliseum, also part of the complex, has hosted major sporting events like the 2001 Copa America, but it’s also used for other sports like volleyball, gymnastics, and basketball.

For football enthusiasts looking for a deeper experience, Medellin offers soccer tours that not only take you through the historical significance of the sport in the city but also provide an opportunity to witness a live match at the famous Stadium Atanasio Girardot. Pre-match drinks are included!

48 – Take in a show at one of Medellin’s many theaters

theaters in Medellín

Medellín has a thriving theater scene where you can catch world-class opera, ballet, and plays year-round.

Whether you have your eye on something in particular or just want to enjoy a night out in the town, some of the city’s best theaters should earn a spot in your list of things to do in Medellin.

As one of the most popular performance spaces in the city, the Teatro Metropolitano de Medellín José Gutierrez Gómez is a good place to start. It hosts concerts of both classical and pop music, philharmonic orchestra presentations, and children’s shows, but also experimental theater and special events.

About half the size of Teatro Metropolitano, the Teatro Pablo Tobón Uribe offers a mix of musical and stage presentations. You’re more likely to catch local artists here and to get a ticket last minute.

For a traditional theater that includes everything from Medea and Macbeth to The Little Prince, the Pequeño Teatro de Medellín is a good choice, but check in advance if the play offers subtitles – otherwise, it’ll be all in Spanish.

Medellin’s largest theater is the University of Medellín Theater . This is where international musicians tend to perform when in town, and where local renditions of musicals like Cats have been hosted in the past. It’s a great place to catch a show, but it tends to sell out in advance, so book tickets early if you want to visit.

49 – Go canyoning just outside the city

canyoning in Medellín

It’s hard to beat the excitement of rappeling down a spectacular rock face, especially when surrounded by deep lush jungle, roaring waterfalls, and beautiful nature.

There are a number of stunning canyoning destinations less than an hour from Medellin, including the magnificent 85-meters-tall El Tagual waterfall.

A popular destination for canyoning, tours to El Tagual are perfect for those looking for a more advanced adventure. Guided tours to the waterfall include all equipment needed and a professional guide that will help you maneuver the jumping and logistics needed to make the most of your visit to the tropical humid forests of Antioquia.

At 30-meters-tall Las Aguadas is a more beginner-friendly waterfall where you can not only rappel down the falls but also slide between rocks and spend time discovering the rich fauna in the surrounding forest.

The Guatape River, a 40-minute walk from Samaria village outside Medellin, is also great for a half-day adventure filled with water jumps and descending waterfalls.

  • canyoning in Medellín

50 – Get jumping at one of the local trampoline parks

trampoline parks in Medellín

Looking for a way to release some extra energy, have a lot of fun, and move your body? You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy trampoline parks (though kids are welcome if you’re traveling with your family!).

At Flying Squirrel , visitors have a choice of attractions in a 3,000 square meters space. Book 60, 90, or 120 of jumping fun on giant trampolines, fly two meters up into the air to play jumping basketball or battle it out with your friends in a game of battle beam.

You can also try wall climbing, try out your balance on a slackline or just jump around for fun, free-style, for as long as you feel like it.

SUMMIT Adventure Park Medellin is a unique indoor park where jumping is just the beginning. Try out the trampoline area, play soccer, put on a harness for a wall climbing experience like no other, fall on a giant airbag, and give dodgeball a try.

There’s also an indoor zip line and a giant ninja course where you get to try out your skills in a fun survival arena.

51 – Try local dishes on a food tour

food tours in Medellín

There’s no better way to discover the real Medellin than exploring its flavors with a local food-and-drink tasting tour.

Plenty of food tours are available, many of which include bike or e-bike rides through some of Medellin’s most exciting neighborhoods.

Walking tours are also available, and you can choose a private adventure if you’re traveling with friends and family or a street food cooking class where you’ll learn to make three traditional dishes, including “patacones” (fried plantain).

Get an inside look at some of Medellin’s famous landmarks and tourist sites while stopping to savor traditional snacks and drinks along the way, including arepas with queso, empanadas, and a “picada” (small tapa-like salty snacks).

Some of the tours stop by local markets such as Mercado de Playa, where you can pick up snacks and maybe some Colombian coffee beans to take home.

  • food tours in Medellín

52 – Explore the city’s many great parks

best parks in Medellín

Medellin is a very green city, filled with great parks where you can have a picnic, enjoy the sun, or simply take a break when your feet are tired from all the sightseeing.

A great place to start is Cerro El Volador Natural Park, Medellin’s largest urban park. The 260-acre space is filled with green hills, great hiking paths, and good views over the city.

Another large park worth visiting is Parque Juanes de la Paz, which offers plenty of green areas, paths for walking and biking, and an open-air theater.

A truly unique space, the Parque de los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Park) was designed to be explored without shoes – dip your toes into the many fountains, walk on sand or feel the ground tickling your feet as you walk around the small forest.

Parque San Antonio is known for two reasons: being home to a number of sculptures by artist Fernando Botero and for the 1995 bomb planted here that killed 29 people. Today, it’s a busy beautiful park usually included in walking tours.

The city also has plenty of small parks for a quick break in the shade, including Parque de Boston (surrounded by cafes and restaurants plus home to food fairs) and Parque Belén, which sits against the church of the same name and it’s a great place to people-watch.

Sabaneta Park is a good choice to grab a bite or a coffee and to check out the Christmas lights in December.

Located next to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Parque Ciudad del Río Lineal offers lots of green space for a picnic, while Parques del Río Medellín run alongside both sides of the Medellin River and offers a nice space for a walk as the sun sets.

53 – Grab a table at one of Medellin’s best restaurants

best restaurants in Medellín

Medellin has plenty of amazing street food that’s worth a try and will keep you full as you explore the city throughout the day.

But when it’s time to sit down for a meal, Medellin’s restaurants won’t disappoint you either – no matter if you’re up for some traditional offerings or ready to enjoy some international dishes.

Both locals and tourists love Mondongo’s , which serves traditional Colombian dishes, including their famous “sopa de mondongo” (tripe soup).

Carmen Restaurant also serves lots of great local cuisine, but they specialize in feeding patrons a fixed menu with several courses, and it might not be ideal if you have food allergies or limitations (substitutions aren’t a very popular thing in Colombia). Otherwise, their well-stocked bar and outdoor seating are great bonuses here.

If you want more choices, La Causa is a unique restaurant that mixes traditional Colombian cuisine with sushi and Japanese fusion. For modern European cuisine with Colombian influences, there’s Oci , where the dishes are all elegantly designed.

54 – Discover the nightlife scene

pub crawls in Medellín

Medellin has an exciting bar scene, where drinks, music, and great ambiance come in many shapes and forms.

If beer is your thing, the brewery and bar Tres Cordilleras is the perfect place for a night out. It has a great party atmosphere, offers behind-the-scenes brewery tours, and even offers live music on certain evenings.

Calle 9 is known for its parties, great funky techno-style music, and a hip atmosphere that stays casual and doesn’t require a lot of dressing up. Good choice if you’re up for some dancing and affordable drinks.

For a better overall feel of Medellin’s nightlife scene, head to Lleras Park, a lively area filled with trendy cocktail bars, great restaurants, and nightlife venues that stay open till the sun comes up. Or try Parque El Poblado, a small plaza surrounded by cafes and bars that’s a bit more relaxed and affordable than Lleras Park.

If you want some company (and for somebody to figure out transportation between venues), a guided pub crawl tour is a great option. You’ll get to enjoy drinking games and meet new people as you visit some popular Medellin bars.

  • pub crawls in Medellín

55 – Tee off at El Rodeo’s stunning golf course and club

golf courses in Medellín

Club Campestre El Rodeo is an often-missed spot that definitely deserves a visit. Nestled in a picturesque setting, this exclusive club offers a blend of recreation and relaxation.

The main attraction at El Rodeo is, without a doubt, its golf course. The manicured greens paired with the stunning backdrop of Medellín’s rolling hills make every round of golf here an unforgettable experience.

But there’s more to El Rodeo than just golf. Visitors will also find world-class tennis courts, swimming pools, and equestrian facilities. It’s also possible to just stop by to visit the club’s gourmet restaurants and elegant lounges.

Events and social gatherings are often hosted here, and many are open to visitors, allowing visitors to network and socialize in a refined environment.

56 – Pay a visit to the University of Antioquia Museum

University of Antioquia Museum, Medellín

Divided into four main areas, the University of Antioquia Museum holds significant collections of anthropological, visual arts, natural sciences, and historical artifacts. There’s an emphasis on pre-Hispanic elements, including ceramics, items related to funerary rites, and indigenous cultural heritage.

The history collection also includes a significant number of photographs and documents, while the visual arts collection features many paintings, especially from local early 20th century artists.

The museum is especially famous for two of its permanent collections. The first is dedicated to indigenous and Afro-descendant ethnography, while the second one focuses on Colombian ecosystems, animal species, and the microcosm around them.

57 – Dance the night away with salsa classes in Medellín

salsa classes in Medellín

Regardless of whether you’re traveling solo or have never danced a step in your life, Medellín’s dance studios are open if you want to join the captivating beats of salsa.

Expert instructors are available to guide beginners with patience and passion, so don’t be scared to join a class!

For those ready to mix things up, there are classes blending salsa with the urban groove of reggaeton for a more dynamic dancing experience.

And the fun doesn’t stop in the studio! Some tours take participants out to the city’s bustling salsa clubs and bars so you can navigate the dance floors of Medellín like a pro.

  • salsa experiences in Medellín

58 – Unleash your party spirit in Medellín’s hottest nightclubs

best nightclubs in Medellín

Medellín’s nightlife is vibrant and always on, with nightclubs in Medellín offering a diverse range of music to cater to every preference.

If you’re only going to visit one nightclub while in Medellin, make it Sweet Jesus Mine (Dulce Jesús Mío). The club offers a vibrant and culturally immersive experience, filled with quirky decor, lively performances, and lots of great local drinks.

Black Dog Club, locally known as Club Perro Negro, is well-known for its electrifying ambiance and eclectic music selection. If you prefer a more underground vibe, Calle 9+1 plays predominantly electronic music, it’s known for being LGBT-friendly, and offers plenty of salsa or merengue music if you want to practice some moves.

Finally, there’s Club Diecinueve92 (1992), known for its chic environment with contemporary beats. It’s crowded and a favorite among locals, so arrive early if you want to secure a nice spot.

59 – Pamper yourself at a spa

spas in Medellín

If you’re looking for things to do in Medellín at the end of a busy day, the city offers its share of great spas — plus a number of unique spa experiences if you want to make a full day out of it.

If you’re after a traditional massage, you’ll find spas in the center of Medellin offering craniofacial massages, reflexology, and relaxing massages using volcanic stones. Most spas also provide a number of additional services, including hydrotherapy, facial cleansing, and body scrubs.

If you want something different, there are special three-hour-long spa experiences that include a trip out to a local coffee farm and wellness spa in Arvi Park, where you’ll receive a coffee-based massage ritual, tour the grounds, and then have time to sit down for a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Or book a one-hour massage followed by time relaxing in the spa therapy pools at a quiet resort in El Poblado.

There are even full-day spa getaways, where for seven hours you’ll enjoy massages , chocolate therapy, a dinner show, and access to water therapy pools.

  • spas in Medellín

60 – Try your luck at the Casino Río Medellín

Casino Río Medellín, Colombia

With over 300 gaming machines, plenty of table games, and eight poker rooms, there’s something for everybody here. In addition to a restaurant and a buffet space, the casino also offers a concert hall with live events and music throughout the week.

For those looking for a VIP experience, there’s an exclusive lounge. The friendly staff provides top-notch service, and the lively atmosphere is enhanced by themed nights and special promotions.

Open until well past midnight, it’s a fun destination for some gambling followed by some entertainment for a full night out. Whether you’re trying your luck at the slots, mingling at the bar, or dancing to live beats, the energy is contagious.

Casino Río Medellín is located just outside the San Diego shopping center, easy to access via public transportation. Parking facilities are also available for those driving.

61 – Grab a cocktail with a view at the best rooftop bars

best rooftop bars in Medellín

Heading up to a rooftop bar for a drink is not just about a night out in Medellin. Located at 1,500 meters above sea level, the city is so close to the blueish mountains around, you can almost touch them.

If views are what you’re after, nothing beats the 360° Rooftop Bar on the 11th floor of the luxurious Haven A Design Hotel, where you’ll also find great Djs and drinks in the evenings.

For a trendy ambiance, La Deriva rooftop bar at The Click Clack Hotel offers a chic setting, signature cocktails, and live music sessions, making it a hotspot for the urban crowd.

If you want more than just views, Los Rooftops By Los Patios also has a swimming pool and a Tiki bar with lots of exotic cocktails, while ZÉLEBRE Rooftop has a glass rooftop (so you don’t have to miss out on rainy days) and great bites to eat in addition to great drinks.

How to get to Medellín?

As the second busiest airport in the country, the Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport receives many flights from the US and Europe on a daily basis.

Flights coming from major cities in the US (including New York) usually require one stop along the way. Common stops include Fort Lauderdale or Miami in Florida or major international airports in Mexico City, Panama City or Bogota.

There are a few direct flights every week that are as short as six hours; otherwise, you will be flying at least nine hours to cover the distance between the two cities.

Once at Medellin airport, you have an option of taxis or local buses to get to the city center — both of which can take over an hour in busy traffic.

If you’re arriving tired after a long flight with one or two stops, an airport transfer might be a better option. It saves you the trouble of figuring it out the public transport system and will bring you directly to your hotel’s door without delay.

You can choose between a comfortable private car or a larger van depending on how many people you’re traveling with and how much luggage you’re carrying. Either way, you’ll have the vehicle all to yourself and enjoy professional service for a smooth arrival to Medellin.

Where to stay in Medellín?

Most of the luxurious accommodations are located in El Poblado neighborhood of Medellin, where five-star-luxury hotels abound.

This is where you’ll find the Medellin Marriott Hotel , which offers an outdoor pool, a great location near two large shopping malls, and floor-to-ceiling windows with great views over the city.

The boutique Art Hotel is also in the same neighborhood and offers luxury with a touch of artsy details and designer rooms. The hotel houses their very own art gallery, as well as a movie theater, and a rooftop bar and restaurant. You’re just steps away from Lleras Park when you stay here, and there’s plenty of great shopping and dining all around.

Located in downtown Medellin, the NH Collection Medellín Royal attracts business travelers but it’s also perfectly located to enjoy the city’s nightlife. The minimalist rooms are equipped with lots of perks, including your own coffee machine. There’s an international restaurant, a gym with a Jacuzzi, and an outdoor pool on the premises as well.

For a unique stay, there’s the Sites Hotel , which comes complete with a huge terrace that boasts not only a hot tub, but also BBQ facilities. In addition to being close to many amenities and great dining venues, the hotel also offers some self-catering rooms (with a microwave and refrigerators).

  • best hotels in Medellín

Visiting Medellín on a budget?

Medellin is not an expensive destination and many fun attractions are free to visit. Even better, there are a number of free walking tours in Medellin to help you explore the city.

Graffiti tours of the hillside neighborhood of Comuna 13 are a great way to understand Medellin’s past. Once the most dangerous area of the city, Comuna 13 is now famous for its street art and little boutiques.

You can also join a free walking tour through the center of Medellin to discover the best spots in the city, including The Park of Lights, Antioquia railway station, the National Palace, and Botero Plaza.

Learn how the drug cartels transformed Medellin and how the city has transformed itself since then, visit Medellin’s most exclusive neighborhood (El Poblado), and get tips on the best spots to eat, shop, and explore while in town.

No matter what type of free walking tour you choose, make sure you bring comfortable shoes and some cash to tip the guides.

To optimize your time and budget, you can also get the Medellin City Card . There are several variants of the card to cater to different interests: a card focusing on museums, another dedicated to science and nature attractions, and one tailored for family fun. Each card provides combined discounts to some of Medellin’s most popular sights so you can get the best value during your stay.

Where to go next?

Before moving on to other cities, consider taking multi-day trips from Medellin . Dive into dark history with Pablo Escobar tours, feel the adrenaline on three-day rafting tours, or enjoy new flavors on tours to surrounding coffee and cacao plantations. For a more luxurious and serene experience, you can choose overnight glamping experiences under the stars.

About 650 km north of Medellin and bordering the Caribbean sea, Cartagena offers an exciting mix of cultural destinations, beautiful white sandy beaches, and some of Colombia’s coolest neighborhoods.

Discover amazing architecture, explore a past that includes everything from slave trading ports to pirates, and enjoy a large selection of mouth-watering cuisine and nightlife venues.

Whether you’re looking for postcard-perfect photo opportunities at every turn or want to explore the romantic settings of famous novels, you won’t run out of things to do in Cartagena .

For those wanting to explore more of Colombia, looking up things to do in Bogota and things to do in Cali is a must. These cities in the south of Medellin offer their unique attractions and experiences — from a gold museum and panoramic views from Mount Monserrate in Bogota to salsa classes and historic neighborhoods like San Antonio in Cali.

Things to do in Panama City include visiting the iconic Panama Canal, strolling through its historic Casco Viejo, or enjoying the city’s skyline from its coastal promenade.

For a Caribbean escape, discover the many things to do in Aruba — from pristine beaches to the lush Arikok National Park.

Heading to the Andean region? Things to do in Quito include visiting the equatorial monument “La Mitad del Mundo” and admiring the city’s colonial architecture in its UNESCO-listed historic center.

Final thoughts

There are plenty of things to do in Medellin, no matter if you’re after a relaxed trip or eager for a thrilling getaway.

Whether you want to learn more about how the cartels shaped the history of Medellin, are ready to enjoy local delicacies, or want to explore the natural beauty just steps from the heart of the city, you’ll find something here to keep you busy.

Medellin has completely transformed itself in just a few years, and is now a great destination for art lovers, history enthusiasts, and fans of Netflix’s hit NARCOS.

Have you been to Medellin already? Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite activity or cool place you think we should add to this list!

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Wheatless Wanderlust

  • Where To Stay In Medellin, Colombia: A Complete Guide

On our six week Colombian adventure, Medellín was undoubtedly our favorite city. So much so, in fact, that we ended up there twice. We chose to stay in two different neighborhoods to get a feel for each of them, and have some specific thoughts on where to stay in Medellín, Colombia for visitors with different styles and budgets.

Our aim is to arm you with the information you need – based on our experience – to choose the perfect place to stay in Medellín. 

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the city itself. 

medellin for tourism

Medellín is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Colombia for a history and government nerd like me (Matt). It is a lighthouse on a hill for cities looking to make drastic changes and transformations through investment in public projects.

Like every other American (and probably other countries too, to be fair) who has written about visiting Medellín, the first thing our friends and family (okay, mostly family) said when we told them we were going to Colombia was “isn’t it dangerous?” And when we were getting on the plane, it wasn’t “oh my gosh have the BEST time!” It was “stay safe, and text me every day – I mean it!” 

Once you start to learn about Medellín past, it’s easy to understand why people reacted that way, particularly older people. In the 80’s and 90’s, Medellín was the most dangerous city in the world.

But over the course of the past two decades or so, it has changed DRASTICALLY. And we took a couple of tours that helped illuminate how that transformation happened.

Now, it’s among the most innovative and forward-thinking cities in Latin America, and is an incredible place to visit. 

medellin for tourism

One important note here about “Narcos ,” and you might find it a little preachy, but I feel pretty strongly about it. I watched Narcos, the Netflix show, while we were in Colombia. It was super interesting to see the contrast between history through that lens, and the real life experience we learned about by connecting with locals. In a lot of ways, that show glorifies Pablo Escobar, who was nothing short of a cold blooded killer (yes, it might be more complicated than that, but is it really?).

Thousands of people died as a result of his actions. It’s worth remembering that before you take a “Pablo Escobar tour” with one of his former cronies who’s looking to make a quick buck off of the recent flood of foreign tourists. 

I would recommend skipping all “Escobar” tours, and instead focus on tours that highlight the positive changes Medellín has made, rather than the violence and heartbreak of the Escobar years.

Like this history and innovation tour , which we took with Sebastian and LOVED.

We also did this cooking class with an expat who has started a social project focused on teaching locals to cook healthier food using the abundance of amazing local ingredients – also a highlight of our entire Colombia itinerary . 

medellin for tourism

Planning a trip to Colombia? You’ll want to read our other Colombia travel guides that we put together to help you plan the perfect trip.

  • 2 Weeks in Colombia: The Best Colombia Itinerary
  • A Perfect 3 Days in Bogotá
  • Where to Stay in Bogota
  • Gluten Free Bogota
  • Gluten Free Medellin
  • The Best Places to Stay in Cartagena

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Where to Stay in Medellin, Colombia: Choosing the Best Area to Stay

In this guide to deciding where to stay in Medellín, we’ll take you through our experiences in two of the best places to stay in Medellín, Colombia, and give you the information you need to find the perfect place to stay for your style and budget. 

At the end of the day, you’re likely choosing between two neighborhoods here if it’s your first time in the city.

They are El Poblado and Laureles , which are both central, charming, and great places to use as a home base for exploring the city. 

You really can’t go wrong with either – both are relatively well connected to the rest of the city, central, and safe. At the end of the day, we think it really comes down to your style and preferences.

You should choose El Poblado if you have a short trip (2-3 days or less) and want to be right in the middle of all the action AND well-connected to the rest of the city with public transportation. For a relatively affordable stay (with access to a kitchen), we stayed in a private room at Los Patios Boutique Hostel for part of our trip, and would recommend it. It’s essentially a hotel with access to a shared kitchen. If you want a nice hotel instead, look at Sites Hotel or Celestino (the latter is a pretty good value for what you’re getting).

If you’ve got a little more time and want something a little more low-key and residential, stay in Laureles . There’s still plenty of good food and drinks to be had in the neighborhood, though it’s a little bit of a longer walk to the metro to get around (you might find yourself using more taxis here). If you want an affordable hostel, check out the Wandering Paisa . If you want a great value (nice + affordable) hotel, look at Casa Laureles . VPV Suites is also a good option if you’re looking for something more modern (the Lofts also have full kitchens).

medellin for tourism

The third area we’d recommend, which is one of the best neighborhoods for longer term stays (digital nomads, looking at you!) and for a second or third trip, would be Envigado . It’s much more low key, residential, and quiet, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to feel more like a local than a tourist while you’re staying in Medellin.

It would also be a good home base for families – we were told it’s generally safer than staying in other parts of the city, not that Poblado or Laureles are particularly unsafe. 

medellin for tourism

We should note that we have stayed in two of the places below that we would absolutely recommend – Los Patios Hostel and Casa Cliche – but not some of the other hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs.

Those we’ve chosen based on hours of research, reading reviews, and looking at pretty pictures. Think of this as a guide to the best place to stay in Medellin if we were heading back. Which we definitely will at some point. 

Now, onwards to giving you the information you need to decide on the best area to stay in Medellín for your trip!

El Poblado: Upscale and Tourist Friendly

El Poblado is probably the most central place to stay, which makes it the best place to stay in Medellín for tourists on a shorter trip.

You’ll be within walking distance of basically anything you could ever possibly need – coffee (miss you already, Pergamino Coffee), basically any kind of food from traditional Colombian (Mondongo’s) to Indian (Naan Sabores de India), and bars ranging from “untz-untz” to low key.

In fact, you could probably spend your entire Medellín itinerary in El Poblado, and never run out of stuff to do, see, eat, and drink. 

El Poblado is the best place to stay in Medellin, Colombia, for tourists

However, you’ll be surrounded by people just like you (tourists), which we think is the tradeoff here.

In fact, we felt like we heard more English than Spanish while we were staying here.

It’s one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Medellín – if not the wealthiest – and it shows as you’re walking around the heart of the neighborhood near Parque Lleras. 

If you’re okay feeling a little bit like a tourist, then you’ll love El Poblado for its selection of things to eat and drink, an overwhelming number of places to stay, and its connections to the rest of the city. 

It’s super easy to get to the metro lines connecting you to the rest of of the city from El Poblado – the metro station is at the western edge of the neighborhood, and will take you north to the city center where you can connect with lines that will take you west to the rest of the city, including Communa 13 (though we recommend you take this tour with Sebastian , which we loved, because it’s so much more than just another Comuna 13 tour). 

Where to Eat, Drink, and Play in El Poblado

medellin for tourism

Here are some of the spots we discovered in El Poblado that we think you’re going to love. 

  • Drink coffee at Pergamino – It’s really not hard to find good coffee in Medellín, particularly in Poblado. You guys know about my passion for good coffee (SINGLE ORIGIN OR BUST), so I think you already know that I researched and tasted coffee at the best cafes in Medellín. In my opinion, Pergamino has the best coffee in Medellín. Go to the location on Carrera 37, which is bustling and always has a line out the door, and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee out on their lovely patio. 
  • If you are a tea drinker, head to the Tea Market – Long time readers know that Alysha is more of a tea drinker but allows me to drag her around a city in search of the perfect cup of coffee as long as we visit some tea places. The Tea Market started out as a store selling a selection of tea from around the world and accessories, but they’ve now opened a cafe where you can try a number of the teas for sale in hot or cold drinks. It is a beautiful cafe with quality drinks, and the staff are friendly and made good recommendations when we couldn’t decide. 
  • Dance the night away at a rooftop bar or nightclub – I don’t know what it is about being on a rooftop that makes bars and restaurants more fun, but I seem to find myself on a rooftop with a cold drink no matter where I go. In Medellín, Alambique was perfect for relaxed cocktails and live music. 37 Park Medellín felt more like a rooftop beer garden with rustic log tables, and fairy lights strung between plants. 
  • Browse the boutique shops and sample the restaurants and bars at Carrera 34-37 – If you are looking for shopping in Medellin, this is the best place to start. There is a great mix of local and international brands along these streets, and some great restaurants and bars for when you need a break. One of the locations of Pergamino coffee is Carrera 37. 
  • Indulge your inner chocoholic at Me Late Chocolate – If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth in Medellín, then this is the place to go. Me Late Chocolate sells handmade chocolates and chocolate related desserts. Sit in for a coffee or hot chocolate and cake if you have some time, but no matter what, make sure you pick up some of their amazing truffles, you will regret it if you don’t. 
  • Soak up the atmosphere at the Parque Lleras Sunday Farmers Markets – Avenida Poblado is closed to cars on Sunday to create a traffic-free zone for cyclists and pedestrians around the park. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen, then buy your fresh food and bread here. If not, there are plenty of snacks to sample instead. Don’t miss the guarapo, a delicious combination of lime and fresh-pressed sugarcane, and arepas de choclo, which are a sweeter version of the Colombian staple topped with delicious salty cheese. 

medellin for tourism

The Best Places to Stay in El Poblado

Here are some of our top picks for where to stay in El Poblado. 

Hotels and Hostels in El Poblado

Los Patios Boutique Hostel : We stayed at Los Patios for almost a week, and highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a social hostel in Medellín, You can’t beat the location. It’s right among all the best restaurants and bars, and a short stumble home from the nightclubs of El Poblado. It’s also roughly equidistant to the heart of the neighborhood and the metro station, which is perfect for getting to other parts of the city, and there’s an amazing grocery store (Exito) right across the street. This is the best place to stay in Medellin if you’re on a budget but after some serious bang for your buck. It has a spectacular rooftop bar which is perfectly placed for enjoying sunsets over the city. There are also free bike rentals, a (great) shared kitchen, a gym, and free coffee. We stayed in a private room (we’re too old for dorms – I need my sleep!) which was almost closer to a boutique hotel than any hostel we’ve ever stayed at.

medellin for tourism

Sites Hotel : Located in a quiet street a hop, skip, and a jump away from the heart of El Poblado, Sites Hotel has 60 rooms that all have comfortable beds and a kitchenette. There’s even a rooftop pool where you can relax with a great view across the city below. It also has laundry that is free to use, which is fairly unusual for a hotel in our experience. 

Click Clack Hotel : This is one of the best boutique hotels in Medellín. A block and a half away from Parque Lleras and the rest of the sights, sounds, and tastes of El Poblado is Click Clack, a beautiful design-forward boutique hotel. It’s gorgeous, and they have different room sizes available from XS, where you’ll have a smaller, cozier space (not to mention cheaper) with all the same touches, to XXL, where you’ll have all the space you need to spread out and relax. There’s so much green around the hotel! Plants everywhere, inside and out. There are two rooftop bars and a rooftop pool for you to enjoy too. They have won all sorts of awards, including “Best Modern Luxury Hotel – Latin America.”

Celestino Boutique Hotel : Right along Carrera 37 in El Poblado, Celestino Boutique Hotel is a 22 room stunner. Standard rooms are the most affordable, but don’t compromise on style or design. There are three larger room types that will give you more space, but if you’re planning on spending your days out exploring the city, you probably won’t need it. Rooms are a combination of greenery and sleek modern design, which encapsulates the neighborhood around it with its tree-lined streets and hip restaurants and bars. There’s a rooftop pool too, which seems common for the hotels in El Poblado. 

Airbnb in El Poblado 

Here are three Airbnb listings that caught our eye in the neighborhood. 

King Bed with Balcony Views Close to Parque Lleras (studio) : This lovely studio has views over the city, and an open floor plan with a surprising amount of space for a couple or solo traveler. The balcony, which is where you’ll find the views, looks like the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, or a glass of wine in the evening. It’s walkable to the best spots in El Poblado, and has a full kitchen and walk in shower. 

Urban Loft with Beautiful View (1 bedroom) : Another stunning balcony view! First of all, you should know that this apartment is not in the heart of El Poblado, but further up the hill just east of the neighborhood near the popular El Tesoro shopping center. You’ll probably need to catch a taxi to get to and from Poblado from here. But that being said, this spot is beautiful. A full kitchen with granite countertops, a balcony with spectacular views and a hammock, and a spacious bedroom and bathroom. What’s not to love?

Magical Home with Lovely Garden – Designer Loft (1 bedroom) : This bright and airy apartment has an unbelievable amount of natural light. And plants. Lots of plants. The minimalist decor, complete with subway tiling, is stunning, and it’s just outside of all the action in El Poblado. It’ll take you maybe five minutes to walk to Carrera 37, where you’ll find Pergamino Coffee. 

Laureles: Low-Key and Central

Laureles is where to stay in medellin for more of a local vibe

We loved Laureles. The part we stayed in – the southwestern end near Primer Parque de Laureles – is everything we love in a neighborhood. It’s relatively quiet (not completely dead though), has tree-lined streets, and is packed full of great food, drinks, coffee shops, and more. That puts it at the top of the list of the best neighborhoods in Medellín in our book. 

We also noticed that Laureles’ urban planning is kind of unique, especially compared to the rest of Medellín.

In a city of grids, it’s more of a circular pattern fanning out from the University at the south end. Apparently it was a conscious choice made by German architect Karl Brenner when the neighborhood was being laid out decades ago. 

medellin for tourism

“Laureles” is a pretty big area, ranging from the Estadio Metro Station on the north side, to Avenida 33 on the south side. In general, we’d recommend staying south of Avenida San Juan , which is the more residential and charming part of the neighborhood, at least in our experience. 

The trade off is that the closest metro station, Estadio, is roughly 20 minutes away on foot, which is a journey we made multiple times to get to other parts of the city.  

The Best Places to Stay in Laureles

There are some great options in Laureles. While this neighborhood might have fewer places to stay, they will be quieter and slightly more affordable than in El Poblado.

Hotels and Hostels in Laureles

Casa Cliché : If you want a great value and a quieter experience than a traditional hostel, then Casa Cliché is where to stay in Medellín. It is full of huge common areas, including a massive patio area, where you’ll enjoy your complimentary breakfast, and a big living room. They have a couple of private rooms, which is where we stayed, and a couple of dorms. It’s not a huge hostel, which means it’s relatively quiet. A vegetarian breakfast is included in the room rate. 

medellin for tourism

Hotel Inntu : For the conscious traveler, Hotel Inntu is a perfect option. It is an eco-friendly hotel and has a spa and a swimming pool. Rooms are nothing special, but have everything you’d expect from a hotel. It is extremely central and close to all the bars and restaurants in Laureles along Avenida Nutibara, plus it has a restaurant onsite. 

Envigado: Best for Long Term Stays and Families

Envigado is a quiet, residential neighborhood south of El Poblado where you will find a slice of local life. The streets and parks will be full of young families enjoying their weekends and evenings.

It’s further out from the traditional tourist sites, so it’s not the best place to stay for a shorter visit. Though thanks to Medellín’s well-connected and efficient metro, it’ll only take you 15 minutes to get downtown. 

Envigado is perfect for travelers who want to experience what living in Medellín is actually like.

Sure, El Poblado is great for a night out, but would you want to live there? We wouldn’t.

Would we want to live in Envigado, with its tree-lined streets, parks, and cafes with outdoor seating? Absolutely. 

The Best Places to Stay in Envigado

First of all, since it’s more residential, there’s literally one hotel in the neighborhood, and that’s the Arame Hotel , which is very basic. Here, Airbnb is going to be your best friend. 

Here are two Airbnb options for you to check out in Envigado. 

Airy Penthouse Bordering Poblado : This colorful one-bedroom apartment has access to a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city. The apartment is in a residential area, surrounded by plenty of markets to buy your fresh food from, and the hosts are only too happy to give you recommendations. 

Peaceful Oasis in Trendy Restaurant Zone : If you’re traveling with a family, this is where to stay in Medellin. It’s a huge newly renovated three-bedroom apartment in the middle of Envigado. Each bedroom is furnished with a plush bed, and the flat is professionally designed to be a comfortable oasis for your whole family. It’s right near the Envigado metro station, so you’ll be able to get between home and the rest of the city relatively easily.

There you have it – our top picks for where to stay in Medellin, Colombia, based on our own personal experience.

Don’t miss our guides to where to stay in Bogota and the best places to stay in Cartagena .

Planning a trip to Colombia? We’ve got more travel guides to help you plan an incredible trip.

  • 3 Days in Bogotá, Colombia: A Perfect Bogotá Itinerary
  • Where To Stay In Cartagena, Colombia: Best Places To Stay
  • 2 Weeks in Colombia: How to Plan Your Colombia Itinerary
  • The 5 Best Places to Visit in Colombia: South America’s Best Kept Secrets
  • Where to Stay in Bogotá, Colombia: The 4 Best Places to Stay
  • Gluten Free Bogota: A Celiac’s Guide to Colombia’s Capital
  • Gluten Free Colombia: A Complete Travel Guide for my Fellow Celiacs

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Matt is the founder and main writer behind Wheatless Wanderlust, which he started back in 2018 as a way to share his gluten free travel guides with his fellow Celiac travelers.

Since then, Matt and his wife Alysha have visited 18 national parks, spent three months in Europe and six weeks in Colombia, and have explored every corner of the Pacific Northwest, which is where Matt grew up.

He writes super detailed guides to the places they visit, bringing together personal experience and historical context to help YOU plan an amazing trip.

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TLDR? One of the top tourist spots in Medellin is the botanical gardens!

Medellin, also known as the City of Eternal Spring is bring tourists from around the world to visit this amazing place, is because of its pleasant weather and its natural beauty.

The city offers any tourist a lot of places to visit like: museums, restaurants, and parks, among others. But what are the top 10 tourist attractions that you can’t miss if you visit Medellin?

In this article, we will give you all the information so you can choose the places that suit your taste.

A Quick Look at Medellin, Colombia

Medellin Metro Cable

Nestled in the Aburrá Valley, Medellín is the second-largest city in Colombia with a population of over 2 million people . The city is located in the northwestern part of the country, approximately four hours away from Bogotá, the capital city.

Medellín is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” because of its pleasant weather year-round. The average temperature ranges in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (°F), making it a great destination for travelers at any time of the year.

In addition to its lovely weather, Medellín is also known for its natural beauty, friendly people, and rich culture. But once you come, you will quickly find that there is much more to this city than meets the eye.

So, let’s get to it! Here are the top 10 tourist attractions in Medellín, Colombia:

1. Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden)

medellin for tourism

The Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín. The garden spans over 34 acres and is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and flowers.

In addition to the incredible variety of plant life, the Jardin Botanico also has a butterfly house, an orchid house, a bonsai collection, and a cactus garden.

The Jardin Botanico is a great place to relax, take in the fresh air, and appreciate nature.

Address:  Calle 73 # 51D-14

2. Plaza Botero

medellin for tourism

This is the perfect place to go if you want to see and take pictures of some of the most famous paintings of Fernando Botero. The 75,347 square foot plaza has 23 of his sculptures that represent different characters and scenes.

Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist who is known for his “over-inflated” style of painting and sculpture. His work can be seen in cities all over the world, but Plaza Botero is the only place where you can see this many of his pieces in one place.

In addition to the artwork, Plaza Botero is also a great place to people watch and grab a bite to eat. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes surrounding the plaza. Plus, it’s a great place to check out if you are a tourist on a budget!

Address: Av. Carabobo, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

3. Antioquia Museum

medellin for tourism

Antioquia Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín. The museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Antioquia region.

The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, including pre-Colombian artifacts, colonial paintings, and modern art. There is also a library with a huge collection of books.

The Antioquia Museum is a great place to learn about the rich history and culture of Medellín.

Address:   Cl. 52 #52-43, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

4. Parque Explora

medellin for tourism

Parque Explora is a science museum that’s great for travelers of all ages. The museum has interactive exhibits on topics such as archaeology, astronomy, and biology.

Parque Explora also has the largest freshwater aquarium in South America. The aquarium hosts the second-largest freshwater fish in the world, the pirarucú.

In addition to the aquarium and exhibits, visitors can go to the Medellin Planetarium, the IMAX theatre, and the vivarium.

Address: Cra 52 ##73-75, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

5. Metro Cable

medellin for tourism

The Metrocable is a cable car system that takes passengers up the side of a mountain to get a birds’ eye view of Medellin. The metro cable was implemented to provide transport to the residents of Medellin settlements on the hills surrounding the valley.

The metro cable has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellin as it provides breathtaking views of the city. In fact, it’s the first cable car system in South America and is increasing its popularity as a tourist attraction.

Depending on which of the 6 lines you take, the metro cable will take you to different parts of the city with various views.

Address: Acevedo, Cra. 63 #103g-86, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

6. Pueblito Paisa

medellin for tourism

Pueblito Paisa is a replica of a traditional Colombian town. The “town” is located on top of Cerro Nutibara, one of the seven hills that make up Medellin.

Pueblito Paisa is a great place to learn about the culture and traditions of Colombia. Visitors can see how the traditional houses are built, try traditional food, and buy handcrafted goods.

Pueblito Paisa is also a great place to get a panoramic view of the city.

Address: Cerro Nutibara Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

7. Comuna 13

medellin for tourism

Comuna 13 was once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin. However, it has undergone a transformation in recent years and is now one of the coolest places to visit in the city.

Comuna 13 is filled with street art, music, and dance. It is also home to some of the best views of the city.

Visitors can take a free walking tour to learn about the history of the neighborhood and see the amazing transformation that has taken place.

Address: Cl. 35f #100a-1, San Javier, Medellín, San Javier, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

8. Parque Arví

medellin for tourism

Parque Arví is a huge park located just outside of Medellin. The park is a great place to escape the city and enjoy nature.

There are several hiking trails of different levels, making it a great place for both beginner and experienced hikers.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also camp, bird watching, cycling, and horseback riding.

Parque Arví is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

Address: Via a Piedras Blancas, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

9. Museo El Castillo

medellin for tourism

Museo El Castillo is a fairytale castle located in El Poblado. The castle was built in the 1930s and the architect was inspired by the castles of France

El Castillo is now a museum and visitors can explore the different rooms of the castle, including the kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms.

The castle also has a beautiful garden with a waterfall. El Castillo is a great place to learn about the history of Medellin and see some beautiful architecture.

Address: Cl. 9 Sur #32-269, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

10. Museum of Modern Art

medellin for tourism

Last but not least, the Museum of Modern Art is a must-visit for any art lover. The museum has a collection of core Colombian artists. It is worth visiting to see the different styles of Colombian art.

Address: Cra. 44 ##19a-100, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Honorable Mentions to Visit During a Trip to Medellin

Medellin is a big city with a lot to offer. The list of places to visit is endless, but here are a few honorable mentions:

medellin for tourism

Guatape is a small town located about 2 hours from Medellin. The town is famous for its huge rock (El Peñón), which visitors can climb to get a panoramic view of the area.

In addition to the rock, Guatape is also known for its colorful houses and streets. It’s a great place for a weekend escape or a fun day trip!

Address: 30-68, Cra. 28a ##302, Guatape, Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Futbol Match

medellin for tourism

Soccer (called football in Colombia) is the national sport of Colombia and Medellin has two big teams: Independiente Medellin and Atlético Nacional.

If you’re in town during a soccer match , make sure to buy tickets and go experience the electric atmosphere. Even if you’re not a big soccer fan, it’s a great experience.

Adress: Cra. 74 #48010, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Cementerio Museo de San Pedro

medellin for tourism

Near the botanical gardens is the Cementerio Museo de San Pedro, which is a cemetery-turned museum. The cemetery is full of ornate tombs and sculptures. It’s a pretty unique place to go for a tourist in Medellin.

If you’re lucky, you can catch a night tour or movie screening in the cemetery. Either way, it’s a unique place to visit.

Address: Cra. 51 ##68-68, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellin Has A Lot To Offer

As you can see, Medellin has a lot to offer. From parks and museums to castles and cemeteries, there is something for everyone.

Whether you are interested in history, art, or nature, you will find plenty of places to visit during your trip to Medellin. Don’t miss the chance to explore this amazing city.

If you like this blog, you might like the Casacol Instagram page to keep up with all the new articles. Anything we need to update or correct? Care to contribute? Email us at [email protected].

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Home » South America » Medellin

Is Medellin Safe for Travel? (Insider Tips)

Medellin, once one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is finally showing the world how you are more than your terrible past. After suffering with drug gangs and violent crime of the worst demeanour for so long, the cartel days are finally behind the city of eternal spring.

Medellin is really special. It’s not just changed its violent past; it’s actively embraced all its ugly parts to make something beautiful. So today, staying safe in Medellin is pretty damn easy.

But like every big city , and especially in Latin America, it’s no stranger to having its own safety problems. So, is Medellin safe for tourists these days?

Well, petty theft, traffic, and scams are all still a concern. And although it’s not something that should bother you as a tourist, of course, gangs will never be eradicated completely.

Of course, ‘narco-tourism’ is in play. And actually, you can see it and contribute towards Medellin’s ever-growing, healthy economy.

Whether you’re a solo female traveller or bringing your family, it is safe in Medellin. But we need to get the safety tips straight. Here’s your guide to staying safe in Medellin.

There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Medellin Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Medellin.

If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

Updated April 2024

Man looking over vista in Medellin, Colombia

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Is it Safe to Visit Medellin Right Now?

Safest places in medellin, 18 top safety tips for travelling to medellin, is medellin safe to travel alone, is medellin safe for solo female travelers, where to start your travels in medellin, is medellin safe for families, getting around medellin safely, what to pack for your medellin trip, getting insured before visiting medellin, faqs about staying safe in medellin, final thoughts on the safety of medellin.

Yes! Medellin is safe to travel to. The city had a recorded 1,400,000 international visitors last 2022. Most of them had a relatively safe experience.

The second largest city in Colombia , visiting Medellin is definitely something I’d highly recommend to all sorts of travellers. Compared to its reputation in the 1980s, when it had one of the highest homicide rates in the world , Medellin is markedly safer these days. 

But you have to be careful while travelling. Street crime still exists, traffic is rather chaotic, and, although violent crime is increasingly uncommon, it’s no stranger to petty crime. 

Oh and then there are the earthquakes (which you’ll experience everywhere while backpacking Colombia ), and the flooding in the rainy season. Both can be pretty bad. Knowing what to do in a disaster situation makes Medellin one of the safest cities in South America.

Grafitti in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia

Just like the safety in Colombia overall, Medellin’s has become a whole new person. In 1993, when Pablo Escobar was out of the picture, safety concerns started to turn around. Crime has pretty much plummeted in general and, in fact, Medellin is safer than many other cities in Latin America.

Alongside Medellin’s drug renaissance in the 80s/90s, there was also a Communist insurgency happening. And while FARC stopped being an armed group in 2017, not everyone on that side was happy. Dissidents are still active.

Gangs still operate in the city. Though there’s absolutely no reason for these to affect you as gang violence is typically inter-gang.

And let’s talk again about those earthquakes…

They’ve been INCREASING over the past few years. Usually, they’re barely a wobble, but researchers are worried that Medellin isn’t sufficiently prepared for a big one. Make sure you know the drill, therefore.

In conclusion, whilst Medellin is safe to visit right now, situations can change. Keep an eye on what’s going on in the city.

Check out our detailed  where to stay guide for Medellin so you can start your trip right!

When choosing where to stay in Medellin, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip. To help you out, I’ve listed the safest areas to visit in Medellin:

  • El Poblado – One of Medellin’s main neighbourhoods, with numerous restaurants, bars, and shops; it is known for its lively night scene. There are large shopping malls and a ton of bars and clubs. It’s our top recommendation for where to stay in Medellin for nightlife or as a solo traveller. There’s also a strong police presence during the day and even at night. That means more security guards, more cameras, and less crime – at least on paper. 
  • Laureles – Laureles may not be the most famous neighbourhood in Medellin, but it’s our recommendation for the safest place in Medellin. It’s quieter and more pedestrian friendly than other parts of the city while still being within easy reach of the hustle and bustle.
  • Envigado – Sleep well in a peaceful and relatively safe place to stay in Medellin, Envigado has everything for comfort. Being more rural, a range of outdoor adventures are right on the doorstep. Look out for pickpocketing during the day but you should be pretty safe from gang related crimes. Just keep in mind, wandering off alone or going off the beaten track.

Places to avoid in Medellin

While the City of Eternal Spring is far from the most dangerous city in South America, it isn’t necessarily known to be the safest place to visit either. Always use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings.

Particularly after dark and late at night, nowhere is 100% safe here. When you arrive at your accommodation, ask the staff which areas are best to avoid. These people usually offer the most solid travel safety tips . 

Prado and the most historic district, El Centro (aka La Candelaria), become arguably the most desolate area of Medellin after dark . Commuters and cops leave the area and it becomes decidedly unsafe.

Although some of these places are also cool to visit during the day, these are places to avoid in Medellin for various reasons:

  • Comuna 13, Parque Lleras (cool to visit but known for sex tourism)
  • Parque de las Luces (NOT recommended after dark)
  • Parque San Antonio (pickpockets)
  • Prado (nice, but a hotspot for drugs)
  • Parque Periodista
  • Barrio Trinidad (this is where everyone goes to get drugs)
  • and La Sierra

It’s important to know that all of the places can technically be visited. They just have a higher crime rate than others, but those crimes are usually not targeted towards tourists, besides petty theft. So these can become safer areas in Medellin for tourists to visit, too.

Keeping Your Money Safe in Medellin

One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.

The best solution? Get a money belt.

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

safety tips for traveling in medellin

Medellin is no longer the crime hotspot in Pablo Escobar times. To its credit, it’s had a miraculous turnaround. From one of the most dangerous cities in the world to a modern and inviting hub, it’s a surprising change of fate.

BUT that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe all the time. So here are some safety tips to help you stay safe in Medellin.

  • Don’t walk around shady areas – Medellin is generally safe, but there are some areas to avoid. Don’t wander around after dark.
  • Keep valuables close – and hide your money well – especially on public transport.
  • Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt .
  • Take taxis at night – and make sure they are official taxis. 
  • Try to blend in – Don’t flaunt wealth. Look at what the locals are wearing. Weirdly, only tourists wear shorts in Medellin, too. 
  • Don’t walk with your phone out – it’s an easy (and valuable) target for thieves.
  • Watch out at ATMs – pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Be aware of spiking – Always keep an eye on your drinks and food, and never accept cigarettes from strangers. 
  • Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
  • Plan your routes – looking like a lost tourist WILL make you more of a target for thieves.
  • Be wary of overfriendly strangers – they’re more than likely trying to scam you .
  • If someone wants your stuff, give it to them – It’s not worth it.
  • Don’t look for drugs – Hey, I don’t want to be a killjoy, but drugs are the epicentre of Colombia’s dark past.
  • Be careful during rainy season – Colombia has two: April-May and October-November.
  • Know what to do in an earthquake – and check local news.
  • Learn Spanish – at least a bit.
  • Remember the national emergency number: 123

Basically, it’s all about travelling smart. Colombia isn’t the violent scourge of Latin America that many perceive it to be, but it’s a safe city for millions of people.

Graffiti tour in Comuna 13, Medellin, Colombia

Yes! You can definitely travel to Medellin safely alone. 

But of course, travelling by yourself does put you at risk of being more of a target sometimes. Before you head out on your trip, here are some great tips to help you solo travel Medellin like a boss…

  • Read reviews and research for the best hostels in Medellin . Staying somewhere social is good for making friends. Choosing a good, safe area will make getting around easy.
  • Speaking some Spanish really is going to enhance your time . This will help with everything from reading bus timetables to getting the best recommendations, and to even…
  • Make some travel buddies! There is safety in numbers and it fights the travel blues.
  • Keep in touch with people back home . Let them know where you’ll be. At the very least, keep a new travel friend up-to-date.
  • Get a SIM card . Maps, emergency contact, last-minute accommodation, etc.
  • Don’t push yourself too much. You don’t need to burn yourself out.
  • Know your limits – whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or a crazy, spontaneous motorbike adventure , know when to call it a day.

Surprisingly, it’s pretty safe in Medellin for solo travellers. Remember to pay attention to your surroundings, but if you’re not looking for trouble, it doesn’t come looking for you in Medellin.

Is Medellin safe for solo female travelers

Yes, Medellin is safe for solo female travellers – and lots of them come here. So the chance to meet cool people in this cool city is high.

Unfortunately, like most places in the world, you’re going to have to think about different safety aspects than many cis-male travellers, for example. And, like other Latin American countries, macho society still needs work in Medellin.

A few tips for travelling safely as a solo female in Medellin can’t hurt. Here we go:

  • Check out reputable hostels for women . Get to know other female travellers, and share safety tips and stories. There are female-only dorms if you prefer. 
  • Make friends with your hostel staff. They have all the best recommendations for cool (and safe!) places to go. 
  • Free walking tours are good to get to know the city’s culture and knowing the dangerous areas to avoid.
  • Ignore any catcalling. It’s not the time to break boundaries – walk on and don’t stress yourself out.
  • DO NOT walk around by yourself at night time . I’ll say this to all men too – but for solo women, this is a no-no.
  • Let me mention spiking again here. Keep an eye on your own drink and DON’T accept anything from strangers .
  • Police will help tourists . So if you have a problem, anything from being lost to feeling like you’re being hassled, go and talk to the police.
  • Use a body-tight bag – keep your belongings as close as possible.

Although Colombia has a reputation for being a macho society, it has pros and cons… This DOES mean more catcalls and comments. But it ALSO means that men look out for women. 

That said, solo women travellers in Medellin can be safe. It doesn’t mean watching over your shoulder every second, but it means staying aware of your surroundings.

Laureles, Medellin

Laureles is one of the safest and expat-friendly neighborhoods in Medellin. While it doesn’t offer that many attractions, it’s a great area to base yourself if you’re worried about security and getting a good nights sleep.

Yep! Medellin is safe to travel for families. In the City of Eternal Spring, the weather is GREAT – not too hot and too cold for your little ones. Perfect.

But yeah, I hear you parents: you need to know a little more than that to have a safe trip to Medellin with the kiddos.

Okay, so the city is not always easy to walk around. The pavements aren’t exactly top-notch. The drains are deep and the curbs are high, so prams or pushchairs are pretty out of the question. 

The metro is generally fine to take children on, but during rush hour things can get pretty hectic, making it not ideal. And, yeah, don’t expect things like child car seats in taxis. 

Is Medellin safe to travel for families? |

I don’t think I need to preach to the choir about finding solid, well-reviewed accommodation for the family. Airbnbs in Medellin are fairly priced and ideal for groups.

Aside from these things, Medellin IS safe for children. Your kids will probably be the centre of attention with the locals because Colombian people are all about family. The kids will be a great icebreaker and will allow you to meet even more friendly locals.

Driving is pretty hazardous in Medellin. Traffic gets bad, especially in El Poblado and El Centro. 

Motorbikes, big buses and taxi drivers seem to have little to no consideration for everyone. So, may the odds be ever in your favour. Even as a pedestrian, the roads take no mercy.

Since Medellin’s public transport is very good , I think this is the best option to get around safely. The Medellin Metro is the only one in the WHOLE of Colombia and it is a god-send. 

These have specific routes, and their own dedicated lanes, meaning traffic isn’t that much of a problem. Just watch out for pickpockets and rush hours.

Metro line in Medellin with art from Fernando Botero on a building

There are public buses but you’ll need to speak Spanish to understand it . I advise caution using the bus at night. It’s probably best just to take a taxi.

Taxis ARE safe in Medellin … but make sure your taxi is legit. The company logo should be there and the license plate number should match up with the sticker in the windscreen. Have your accommodation call one or go to taxi ranks.

When you’re in busy areas of the city, it’s a good idea to lock the doors. And to keep yourself extra safe, call someone while riding in the cab (or pretend to) and give the license plate number – so the taxi driver understands that someone else knows where you are. 

Better yet… Uber is safe in Medellin .

In fact, Uber has a good reputation for being particularly safe in Medellin. There’s none of the usual taxi hassle (i.e. being overcharged) and you won’t have to worry about having the right small bills to pay the driver since you pay in-app.

Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Medellin without…


Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Gifts for backpackers

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

Yesim eSIM

Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.


Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Pacsafe belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

medellin for tourism

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Here are some quick answers to common questions about safety in Medellin.

Is Medellin safe at night?

No, Medellin is not safe at night, especially for solo travellers and females. If possible, stay inside after dark or stick with a large group.

Is Medellin safe for tourists?

Yes, Medellin is safe for tourists as long as they stick to the rules and respect the culture. Being aware of your surroundings is a must in Medellin, no matter where you are. Unless you’re actively looking for trouble, you shouldn’t have a problem in Medellin.

Is it safe to walk around Medellin?

Walking around during the day in Medellin is safe. Stick to the touristy areas and you’ll be perfectly fine unless you wander off alone into small side streets. We wouldn’t recommend walking around at night in Medellin.

What is the safest area to stay in Medellin?

El Poblado is the safest and best area to stay in Medellin. It’s filled with expats, great restaurants, a lively nightlife scene and plenty of affordable accommodation. This doesn’t mean that you can drop all caution. Keep your eyes open no matter where you are and watch your belongings to add another level of safety to your trip.

No dar papaya ( don’t give papaya) is a phrase famous in pretty much all of Colombia. The meaning is basically: “don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be vulnerable.” And that is how I sum up the safety of Medellin.

Medellin has quite literally come up leaps and bounds in the last few years. From being a city practically run by drug lords, to one that’s winning awards. It’s honestly mental.

Gangs and street crime do still exist though. The best way to stay safe in Medellin is to basically not give papaya i.e. put yourself in a dangerous position. Don’t walk around at night in certain areas, don’t get in a taxi with a sketchy-looking driver, don’t talk to that over-friendly stranger, don’t buy drugs; these situations can be easily avoided.

Stick to safe areas, get taxis (or better yet – Ubers) after dark, and make friends with other people exploring this cool city at the same time you are. Keep your wits about you, trust your gut, don’t make yourself vulnerable, and you’re bound to have an AMAZING TIME in this beautiful city.

Final thoughts on the safety of Medellin

Looking for more info on traveling to Medellin?

  • Let me help you choose where to stay in Medellin
  • Swing by one of these fabulous festivals
  • Don’t forget to add an epic national park to your itinerary
  • Check out my favorite Airbnbs in the centre of all the action
  • Plan the rest of your trip with our fantastic backpacking Medellin travel guide!

Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

medellin for tourism

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photo of a person holding a smartphone with Holafly logo

Obvious thing not pointed out is that thieves are attracted to money . Where’s the money ? Poblado and Laureles. Most dangerous places ? Poblado and Laureles

If you don’t know Spanish don’t be walking around outside the busy tourist areas at night. Keep your phone in your front pocket. Avg daily wage is $10. The streets of Poblado are overflowing with Venezuelan immigrants without jobs selling crappy cocaine

I have been solo traveling Colombia by motorcycle for 2 years with one year spent in Medellin

Most dangerous places in Colombia for tourists is easily Cartagena and Santa Marta

I’ve visited Medellin five times this year it’s safe unless you’re stupid but if that’s the case United States isn’t safe if you’re stupid

God Bless to whoever is involved with this great website. It truly makes me feel like I’ve been there already. I was nervous about Medellin but after reading this page I feel like I have the confidence of a lion. Great information thank you

What do you mean by “down that beer”?; finish it up? I’m asking because the translation you posted doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m colombian. Otherwise, very good article! Thank you

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What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

13 Things You Should Know When Traveling to Medellin

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If you’re planning a trip to Medellin, it can be somewhat challenging because the destination is so new on the travel scene, and authentic and insightful information can be lacking. It is, however, growing in popularity and many more people are now traveling to Medellin, including a growing travel blogger community that often just visits briefly and writes superficially about the city.

I wanted to do something different though… I wanted to write about this city that I know and love from a more authentic, respectful, and honest perspective. I’ve spent a few years now living in Medellin, Colombia , I know the place extremely well, and in a way that goes beyond the surface level.

Since you’re here, I want to help you plan a better trip to Medellin with some of these important tips or insights… These are the types of things you should know when traveling to Medellin for the first time, the types of things that can make your trip amazing, unforgettable, and go beyond the stereotypes, or at least beyond the typical advice I see others writing online.

13 Things You Should Know When Traveling to Medellin travel, south-america, medellin, colombia

In this comprehensive Medellin travel guide, we are going to be covering a bunch of travel tips ranging from where to stay, what to eat, safety in Medellin, how to deal with money, the Spanish language, and so much more.

Are you ready? Buckle up, this is a big one… Let’s get on with these 13 things you should know when traveling to Medellin for the first time — and don’t miss #13 as it covers the critical issue of safety and security.

If you’re pressed for time, you can also get these travel tips and much more delivered straight to your inbox for future reading or reference with my FREE Medellin Travel Guide:

things to know when traveling to medellin

Where to Stay in Medellin

Ninety percent (or more) of the foreign travelers that come to Medellin stay in Poblado, but there are a number of pretty awesome barrios or neighborhoods to stay in Medellin that are worth considering.

My top picks for where to stay beyond Poblado include Laureles (my favorite neighborhood) and Envigado (although you won’t find any hostels here). The Estadio neighborhood is probably the second most popular area for budget travelers with a myriad of great lodging choices available.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Finally, there is also El Centro, which may appeal to those budget travelers who like more off-the-beaten-path type experiences that many gringos never explore or even appreciate (there are actually a lot of cool things in El Centro, to be honest).

If you’re staying in Poblado, I’d recommend the Manila or Provenza sectors, or the Golden Mile if you’re looking for the high end.

Poblado: #1 Hostel in Poblado: Los Patios Boutique Hostel (Manila)  #1 Budget Hotel in Poblado: Kolor Hotel Boutique (Provenza) #1 Mid-Range Hotel in Poblado: Celestino Boutique Hotel (Parque Lleras) #1 Luxury Hotel in Poblado: Medellin Marriott Hotel (Milla de Oro – the Golden Mile) — Read my in-depth review

Laureles : #1 Hostel in Laureles: Backpackers Inn Medellin #1 Budget Hotel in Laureles: Hotel Pomarosa   #1 Mid-Range Hotel in Laureles: Inntu Hotel  

Estadio: #1 Hostel in Estadio: Hostal Cattleya Medellin #1 Budget Hotel in Estadio: Obo Hotel   #1 Mid-Range Hotel in Estadio: El Portón de San Joaquin  

Envigado : #1 Best Hotel in Envigado: Arame Hotel (it’s actually the only hotel, but it’s good). While not technically iN Envigado, I would still recommend the Fairfield by Marriott Sabaneta for a great mid-price hotel!

El Centro : #1 Hostel in El Centro: Medallo Social Hostal (Boston) #1 Budget Hotel in El Centro: Hotel Gallery (Bombona)

For longer stays, my top recommendation is Airbnb ( new users can get a free travel credit here ), also don’t overlook travel hacking to get points for free hotel stays (like the expensive Marriott), and be sure to read my guide to finding cheap accommodation .

If you need more help trying to decide on the best neighborhood, be sure to read more about where to stay in Medellin or my comprehensive guide to the best Medellin hostels .

Look Beyond Poblado

Poblado is a popular place to stay for foreigners in Medellin… But I’ve got a little secret for you: I don’t particularly love Poblado. I’ve stayed there before, I visit every once in a while, but it just isn’t my favorite neighborhood. I mention this Medellin travel tip because it can dramatically change your perspective and experience of the city, so pay close attention.

Poblado is right for some travelers and very wrong for others.

Every travel blogger who comes through for a couple of days stays in Poblado, of course, and they go on to write about Poblado, and then everyone else who comes through after follows in their footsteps. It becomes a sort of feedback loop.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

One of the most prominent travel bloggers recently traveled to Medellin for the first time and went on to write about how Medellin didn’t feel “real” and was just full of chains like Dunkin’ Donuts or Domino’s Pizza.

Another prominent travel blogger said (privately, at least) that he couldn’t see what people really liked about Medellin… And left town with a sour taste in his mouth.

I can understand their perspective because both of these guys were staying in Poblado, in the middle of gringolandia , constantly surrounded by gringos, socializing with gringos, and only left that bubble on organized tours or excursions… Seriously.

These self-proclaimed travel experts were so far from the “authentic” Medellin that they missed the real draw here and what makes this place special. Then other travelers like you read their advice about where to stay and what to do and end up leaving slightly disappointed or let down. That’s a shame.

If you are looking for any semblance of the “real” Medellin, then you should NOT stay in Poblado. Look, it’s a fine place to visit (I do go there once in a while myself!) but I wouldn’t (and don’t) make it my home base. If you do stay in Poblado (totally fine, if it’s right for you), at least make a concerted effort to get out of that bubble on a regular basis.

Medellin is not Poblado, and Poblado is not Medellin.

It all depends on what type of traveler you are… Do you like to be surrounded by English and other travelers? Do you feel uncomfortable only seeing locals and hearing Spanish? You definitely want Poblado.

Personally, I travel to interact with locals, practice the language, learn from people unlike me, etc, and not be surrounded by other travelers doing the same thing as me. That’s part of why I travel. If I wanted to hang out with other foreigners, speak English, and eat the same chain food as always, I would have just stayed home and never left.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Here’s a thought exercise to determine what kind of traveler you are:

  • If you go to New York City, do you think Times Square is the best place and never leave or are you more interested in neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District, the Lower East Side, Harlem, etc? Do you want to eat where New Yorkers eat or where the tourist bus lets you off?
  • If you go to Las Vegas do you prefer to stay on the Strip or in the Old Town / Fremont area?
  • If you go to Cancun do you stay in an all-inclusive resort and only leave on organized Cancun tours or do you prefer to stay in town and experience more of the authentic Cancun?

If you answered the former to any of those, then Poblado is right for you, if you answered the latter, then it is wrong for you.

Poblado is great for nightlife, foodies, and people who like a little luxury at a more affordable price, but if you want to get off the beaten path (even slightly), have a more local experience, talk with Colombians, and so forth, then it is best to look elsewhere.

Honestly, you can get nightlife, food, or even a bit of luxury in almost any cool neighborhood in Medellin.

Getting Around Medellin

Public Transport: Medellin has a pretty excellent public transportation system. Granted it isn’t on the scale of places like Mexico City , but it is nonetheless quite impressive. It features a two-line above-ground metro system (subway) which connects to an integrated streetcar route, gondola system (MetroCable), and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines known as MetroPlus.

If you are staying in any of the principal areas, you will have easy access to the public transportation system. You should get a Tarjeta Civica as soon as you can upon arrival which is available from a few different metro stations like San Antonio.

You can get the Tarjeta Civica for free with your passport. This allows you to use the integrated transportation system and pay reduced prices for connecting services.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Taxis: Taxis are available basically everywhere in Medellin. You can easily flag down taxis pretty much anywhere, although this is not always recommended due to safety issues (more on that later). A better bet is to try and use either an official taxi stand or (if you have a SIM card) to use an app like Cabify to call a taxi with your GPS location.

That being said, I generally don’t worry about flagging down taxis from the street during the daytime, but I am more cautious after dark.

It is rare, but the majority of problems that people have here in Medellin happen while in taxis. There are some bad apples out there who work with robbers and tip them off when they have a good target (you) in their cab.

The rules of using taxis here are to sit in the back, keep the windows almost all the way up, lock the doors, and never use your phone or show valuables in the back seat.

Uber: Uber is actually illegal here in Colombia but that doesn’t stop people from driving for them or utilizing the service. I tend to trust Uber drivers more than taxi drivers, but using Uber can have its own complications here if drivers are reluctant to stop near you (if they see transit police nearby). Normally, they will want you to sit up front with them (like a friend) rather than alone in the back (like a taxi), which is done to avoid problems with the law.

Bike Share: There is a growing bike share service here in Medellin called Encicla. With the previously mentioned Tarjeta Civica, you can use the bike share service here in Medellin and Envigado by enrolling in Encicla online. Neighborhoods like Laureles or Estadio are much more conducive to this type of transport since it is flat and has bike lanes. You must enroll for Encicla online with your Tarjeta Civica, so it is only practical for longer stays in Medellin.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Getting to Medellin from the Airport: The Jose Maria Cordova Airport is actually about an hour outside of Medellin (don’t be fooled by that airport in the middle of town, that one is not used for international flights). Getting from the airport is pretty easy, you’ve got options for either a bus (cheapest), shared town car (cheap), or private town car (best).

I pretty much always go by private car when coming from the airport to Medellin. They go door to door, it’s a stress-free way to travel, and it isn’t expensive. The rate is fixed based on destination and you can expect to spend about $20.

Alternatively, you can ask at the airport for a colectivo (they are the same white cars) which charge about $5 (22.000 pesos) and need four passengers, and will drop you off at the San Diego Shopping Mall, from there you can grab a taxi to your final destination.

Getting to the Airport from Medellin: In terms of going to the airport from town, I prefer to go by shared town car which you can grab from the San Diego Shopping Mall at the base of Las Palmas (go here by taxi and tell the driver “ los colectivos al aerpuerto ”. The shared ride will wait to fill up with four passengers and costs about $5 per person. Unless you’ve got a really weird flight time, I’ve never had to wait more than 10-15 minutes to leave.

These cars are much better than the bus, believe me, don’t go by bus — it’s slower, more nauseating, and doesn’t save you much money. If you’re worried about the whole airport and transport thing, you can also book a private car in advance .

Eat Like a Local

There is a growing and vibrant food scene here in Medellin which is one of the things that makes it so great to live here and call this place home over the long term, but this type of food is definitely expensive for local standards (but cheaper than home standards).

One way you can save a lot of money and eat well though (instead of eating at these more upscale restaurants) is to eat as the locals do…

This is especially true for lunch and the set menus of the day “menu del dia” where you can score good food including soup, main dish (salad, rice, meat, and maybe a plantain), along with fresh fruit juice for about $3. Perhaps one of the best reasons to visit Colombia is just to try some of the incredibly exotic Colombian fruits and all the juices!

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

That’s a pretty hard price to beat… If you eat in a restaurant you can expect to pay around $8 just for comparison.

At these same local restaurants, you will usually find a cheap and hearty breakfast (eggs, arepa with cheese, and coffee) for about the same price as lunch.

Dinner, on the other hand, doesn’t have these cheap and affordable menus of the day, unfortunately, as they all close up shop after lunch. In this case, you’ll need to hit up a restaurant — there are some local restaurants where you can order off the menu — or go from some fast food (also very popular here) or street food.

Be sure to consider going on a traditional food tour while here if you want a great introduction to Paisa food.

The street food choices can be pretty good and definitely cheap, but it pays to ask for tips from someone in the neighborhood. What most locals do for dinner is to eat an arepa at home, but if they have to grab something, they will usually get an empanada or pastel (stuffed meat pies, basically) to eat with a coffee.

Lunch here is the biggest meal of the day and dinner is relatively modest.

Read more about what to eat with my guide to Colombian food .

Do You Need Spanish in Medellin?

Tourism in Medellin is still relatively new… This isn’t like going to Cancun or something where everybody at your resort speaks English. Now, do you need Spanish here? No, plenty of people get by. But you should try to have as much Spanish as possible before you arrive.

It will make your life here a lot easier in terms of getting around, getting what you need, etc. Not to mention the fact that the locals are friendly! People all over Colombia really like to chat with foreigners… If you’re open to it, they will chat with you.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Small talk is like a sport here, seriously. Expect people to spend five minutes greeting one another asking how they woke up, what’s new, and beyond, and another five minutes (at least) to say goodbye. It’s almost comical sometimes.

You will find that if push comes to shove, there are quite a lot of local Paisas that do speak English — often way better than your Spanish — but they are too shy or timid to use it until like 20 minutes into the struggling conversation.

In summary, you don’t need Spanish, but you should have at least the basics, and the more you have the better. Medellin is a great place to study Spanish , as well, in my opinion, thanks to the friendly locals and the relative clarity of the local accent.

Read more about the best resources to learn Spanish on your own.

About That Medellin Weather

Medellin has gotten the nickname “La Ciudad de Eterna Primavera” — the City of Eternal Spring. This nickname comes from the fact that the city is quite green, flowers are always in bloom, and the weather is supposed to be moderate thanks to its elevation of 4,905 feet.

I always joke though that it is more like the City of Eternal Summer. According to locals, the temperatures have increased quite a bit in recent years, and back in the day Medellin had truly incredible weather when it was never too hot or too cold, and that Eternal Spring name really made sense (although it still makes sense with year-round flowers).

Of course, the temperature and humidity here are nothing like it is on the Colombian coast, and for a city in the tropics, it is a pretty agreeable climate. But the daytime weather is more often between 80 and 90 degrees year-round… Those average annual temperatures of 72 or rarely exceeding 78 like you might have read online seem to be a thing of the past.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

For me, as a fair-weathered Seattlite, the temperatures from about 11 am to 3 pm are way too hot and I try to avoid going out, or if I do, I stay in the shade while walking down the street. But the temperatures at night here are pretty much perfect. For reference, I basically always use t-shirts even at night and don’t sleep with anything more than a bedsheet and my underwear.

There are basically only two seasons here in Medellin: dry and rainy. They also used to be much more predictable, but have gotten a little more off-kilter and unpredictable lately. They should be:

  • December to March = Dry Season,
  • April to May = Rainy Season,
  • June to August = Dry Season, and
  • September to November = Rainy Season.

That being said, if you come to Medellin in the rainy season, it isn’t a deal-breaker, because the rain is fairly predictable, striking in the mid to late afternoon. More often than not, it rains really hard and goes away pretty quickly too. That means you can still usually get out in the evening for dinner or drinks after the rain.

Keep in mind that due to its location in the tropics, sunrise and sunset are basically consistent year-round. It gets light at about 6:30 am and dark at 6:30 pm. The early darkness can affect safety which we’ll discuss below.

Read more about the best time to visit Colombia for weather and tourist crowds.

What to Wear in Medellin

So, given the (mostly) beautiful weather here in Medellin, what should you wear? At first blush, it seems like perfect shorts and t-shirt weather… And it really is! But everyone says not to wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops here because no locals wear that and you will stick out like a sore thumb.

Honestly, unless you’ve got black hair and mestizo features, you’re probably going to stick out no matter what you wear.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

Beyond that though, I think the whole No Shorts and No Flip Flops thing is totally overblown. Truth is, you’ll see locals wearing shorts and flip-flops here in their local barrios.

It’s almost a sort of game for me at times where I will count how many locals I see dressed like that when I’m out. The other day on the bus I counted nine people out and about in like five minutes…

That being said, locals do tend to dress up a lot more than your average traveler. There’s a big difference between shorts and flip-flops and someone dressed like an Argentinean busker with mangy dreads, dirty clothes, and filthy feet in sandals about to fall apart. Don’t go for the homeless look.

On the flip side, you also don’t want to dress up too fancy because if you look like you’ve “got money” then you can often become a target for thieves.

Your best bet is to go middle of the road… Bring along some nice shorts, wear t-shirts all the time if you want, bring along a pair of decent jeans or long pants. That’s all you need.

Women tend to dress up even more here, but you can most definitely wear open-toe shoes or sandals and wear those tank tops or similar shirts. Many local women do so as well, just with lots of accessories, make-up, and a little bit of plastic surgery.

It’s also important to note that the place or context is also important in terms of what you choose to wear. If you’re going out for a night on the town, yeah, shorts and flip-flops are under-dressed. Nice-ish restaurant, same thing. Fancy mall, you guessed it. Wandering around doing tourist things, who cares?

If you’re the type that tends to get cold easily, then you may also want a light jacket or sweater here to use at night time. On a rare occasion, I will use one, but I’m mostly a nice pair of shorts or pants and a t-shirt kind of guy in the daytime and jeans and t-shirt kind of guy at night time. I almost never need a long sleeve shirt or jacket here for the cold (I’m from Seattle, so it always seems super hot here).

Bring DEET?

You’re going to be heading to the tropics, not far from the Equator… That means jungles and mosquitoes and all sorts of communicable diseases… West Nile, Malaria, Chikungunya, and god knows what else…

Thankfully, mosquitoes are not a big problem here. Medellin isn’t the jungle, and indeed, mosquitoes are actually pretty rare here. I’ve spent years living in Medellin now, and I only see mosquitoes occasionally, usually after a heavy rain, and usually in sectors where there is heavy vegetation or water nearby.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

When they do come around, it is usually just one or two coming through your window in the evening, and not like a swarm or never-ending nightmare like other parts of the world (I’m looking at you, Cancun). If you’re in a place where the windows shut completely or have screens, you’ll probably never even see a mosquito during your trip.

Even so, from all the research and accounts I’ve read, the mosquitoes here don’t pose a significant risk of communicable diseases… That is something more common on the coast or in the jungle. Those types of diseases in Medellin aren’t a worry thanks to its climate and altitude.

Here’s the CDC malaria map for Colombia , you’ll notice there is NO known risk in the entire area surrounding Medellin. 

Don’t Drink the Water?

If there is one thing almost every traveler has heard about traveling to Latin America, it’s that you should NEVER drink the water because you will undoubtedly get sick. Having traveled through virtually all of Latin America myself, this is definitely a good rule of thumb.

But that’s just not true in Medellin. The water quality in Medellin is excellent and is one of the few destinations in Colombia where you CAN actually drink the water without concern.

What to Know when Traveling to Medellin

I drink the water all the time, I drank the water when I first got here, and I’ve never had any problems. The tap water in the city is totally safe and quite good unless you are staying in some supremely run-down place with questionable pipes.

Ditch the plastic bottles or water bags for a while and drink the local water… It’s the rest of Colombia where you gotta be cautious. While traveling throughout Colombia and the rest of Latin America, I do keep on hand a small ultraviolet purification device called a Steripen which works great.

How to Handle Your Pesos

Cash is king here in Colombia, so you better get used to handling the Colombian Peso. A few helpful notes: the exchange rate has been around 4,400 pesos per $1 USD. Quick and dirty conversions can be done by dropping three zeros and dividing by three. So 50,000 pesos gives us 50/4, or about $12. 

The rate has been getting even better lately, but I still do the above back-of-the-napkin calculations… But prices are actually even cheaper for you in the end! The current official rate for 50,000 is about $11.30 USD. 

Money in Colombia

Paper bills are most commonly seen in denominations between 2,000 and 50,000 pesos. Keep in mind that 50,000 peso bills can be difficult to break in most small stores or with small merchants (even with taxi drivers). For one thousand and below, you’re likely to see coins (there is a 1,000 peso note, but it is increasingly rare).

Scams in Medellin

Overcharging or gouging tourists here in Medellin is NOT very common. I’d say that it’s rare, actually. As someone who has lived here for so long, I know prices, and I honestly never see any attempts to overcharge on the street. On the contrary, most local merchants here are overwhelmingly honest and will give you back money even if you accidentally overpay.

When people talk about “gringo prices” here in Medellin, they are generally referring to things like renting apartments or other things more associated with ex-pat life, which can be difficult and thus are made easier for foreigners by charging more.

The one group to watch out for is taxi drivers. They have a bad reputation all over the world, same for Medellin. Thankfully, there are taxi meters here in Colombia that display the price (unlike in other big cities in Colombia), and you can generally tell pretty easily if you are getting the run around in terms of the drive since the majority of most routes have to stick to the few main roads (the Regional, Las Vegas, Av. Poblado, etc).

13 Things You Should Know When Traveling to Medellin travel, south-america, medellin, colombia

If you are scammed in Medellin it will most likely be by a taxi driver. A good practice is to always pay with exact change (or as close as possible). If you have to pay with a big bill like the 50,000 peso note, try to get into the practice of holding it up to the light and acting like you are examining the bill before handing it over.

The most common scam is a quick switch of a legitimate bill with an obvious fake… Then they play nice guy showing you that you must have been duped, what is wrong with the bill, and how to avoid problems. Then they hand you the fake (when you really gave them a legit bill) and they get another big bill off of you for payment.

ATMs in Medellin

The best practice is to only withdraw money from ATMs inside big box stores or malls. It is best to avoid withdrawing money from the street. Malls are everywhere here, so it is pretty easy.

When you do so, be sure to withdraw a small amount from the ATM rather than carrying around big wads of cash. You get hit with ATM withdrawal fees each time, so that’s why I recommend a bank that will reimburse you for all external ATM withdrawal fees. I use Charles Schwab .

Withdrawing money on the street or taking out big wads of cash is an invitation to problems with robbers. I usually go to the mall, withdraw cash first thing, then wander around for a while.

Anytime you go to larger restaurants, major stores, or bigger hostels/hotels, you should be able to use a travel credit card rather than cash. Do this whenever you can to reserve your cash, just be sure that your credit card has no foreign transaction fees.

Read more about travel banking fundamentals and how I handle money.

Locals Hate Vice Tourism

I wish this one didn’t even have to be said, but there is an ever-growing amount of vice tourism here in Colombia, especially among people traveling to Medellin (when compared to Cartagena or Bogota , for instance).

This vice tourism is mainly from two groups: young dudes who want to engage in drug tourism and old dudes who want to engage in sex tourism. You can skip this section if it doesn’t apply to you.

It’s true that drugs can be cheap and readily found in Medellin, but they are not exactly legal here. Some people even go on tours to cocaine processing facilities, which is just a terrible idea. Prostitution, on the other hand, is actually legal here.

Regardless, both groups of vice tourists are generating increasing bad will or outrage by the locals. There are even public campaigns and signs around town lashing out against both. If you’re in one of those groups of people, you are better off staying at home because they don’t want you here.

First of all, if drugs or prostitutes are your primary motivation for travel, that’s pretty lame, to be honest. Medellin (and Colombia) has so much to offer and it goes well beyond those stereotypes.

Second, know that by doing so, you will dramatically increase your odds of running into big problems here in terms of getting ripped off, robbed, drugged, or even killed (the few foreigners killed here in Medellin are like 90% linked with drug or sex tourism, while the other 10% is resisting a robbery).

Scopolamine druggings (pretty much the most terrifying thing ever ) are almost entirely linked to both, although it does also happen while just out having drinks (so never leave your drink unattended).

Third, you give a terrible name to other travelers by doing this stuff. Honestly, I didn’t like Medellin much at first because I was surrounded by a bunch of these horrible tourists like the Russian chick who blew a hole in her nasal passage from doing too much cocaine in Medellin, or the American dude whose afternoon ritual was to go to the whorehouse before hanging out at the bar all night drinking dollar beers (the last part ain’t bad).

Once I got out of that shared living situation and started seeing more of the “real” Medellin, my opinion of the city changed almost instantly.

Look, if what you are wanting to do is illegal in your home country and something you don’t normally do, then Medellin is not the place to do it and certainly not the place to start. This isn’t Thailand or Amsterdam, stuff happens here, seriously.

Medellin is not a huge city, physically speaking… But there are nearly three million people crammed into the Valle of Aburra. The size of the city would suggest that you don’t really need to focus highly on trying to coordinate or optimize your visits to different parts of town because you should be able to easily go back or get around the city.

That’s kind of a mistake though, because while the city isn’t big, traffic here is terrible, particularly during rush hour. If you’re going to go explore El Centro or Envigado or wherever you should try to plan a solid itinerary to pack in everything you can in an individual place.

If you’re going by Uber or taxi and you get caught in the morning or early evening traffic, you can expect massive delays. The shape of the valley here and the general infrastructure basically funnels all the traffic into a north-south pattern along just a few roads. Traffic is only growing worse each year.

13 Things You Should Know When Traveling to Medellin travel, south-america, medellin, colombia

You’re better off taking public transport like the metro, although if you go at rush hour, you should expect tons of people and an almost sardine-like experience. Be sure to watch your pockets and belongings in those situations — pickpockets aren’t super common, but those are the situations to watch out for.

There are a ton of things to do in Medellin , so you shouldn’t be left bored, even if that just means exploring the many awesome restaurants and cafes. But if you’re looking for a more logical way to coordinate your activities, check out my suggested itinerary for 3 days in Medellin .

Organized Tours

I’d also encourage you to do a few organized tours in Medellin to give you a better perspective on the history and culture of this city. A few top choices are:

  • Medellin Free Walking Tour in El Centro
  • Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour
  • Barrio Transformation Tour
  • Exotic Fruits Tour

Pablo Escobar Tours

The one tour that you should not do, please, is the infamous Medellin Pablo Escobar tour … Locals hate Pablo and are growing ever more irritated with the tourists flocking to Medellin because of Pablo and the Narcos series on Netflix.

He was a terrorist and patronizing these types of tours only serves to glorify a hated man. You would never go on a Hitler tour so you can take happy selfies at his grave, so I’m not sure why people take Pablo tours in Medellin… Read more about this touchy and complicated subject .

Instead of a Pablo tour, maybe check out one of these other top Medellin tours instead? There are so many options that are much better!

Read more about the best Medellin tours . 

Is Medellin Safe?

Medellin is a long way gone from the bad ol’ days of Pablo Escobar, FARC, kidnappings, and all the terrible ways it made the news in the 90s. I’m sure your parents almost fainted and your family told you that you were nuts when you said you were going to Colombia.

Look, things aren’t perfect here, but the bottom line is that Medellin is more or less safe.

Mas o menos…

Bombings and kidnappings and all that is long gone and not of concern, today the main concern is street safety and the potential for robbery.

13 Things You Should Know When Traveling to Medellin travel, south-america, medellin, colombia

That type of thing is honestly a concern here, but not overwhelmingly so… It is basically the same throughout all of Latin America. If you’ve traveled to any big Latin American city, you probably know the drill, but let’s rehash.

Safety Precautions in Medellin

  • Be very careful about showing valuables on the street, especially cell phones. This also applies while in taxis, as mentioned earlier. Cell phones are the biggest targets for thieves who are known to rob at gunpoint for a cell.
  • Never, ever resist a robbery. Give them what they want. Not doing so is what causes tourists to get killed here .
  • Be very cautious of motorcycles, they are most likely to rob you, rather than some guy on foot. Be especially cautious of two men on one motorcycle.
  • Don’t walk around in unfamiliar areas after dark, particularly if there is light foot traffic. Walking back drunk is also a recipe for trouble. This is what they call “dando papaya” or giving Papaya which is basically an invitation for someone to rob you — more on that in a second.
  • Unlike the US, it isn’t as simple as saying “avoid the bad neighborhoods” because you are actually probably more likely to get robbed as a tourist in Poblado rather than in El Centro — El Centro has higher crime figures overall, but Poblado is a popular target because that’s where the “rich people” are. To date, the only robbery I’ve witnessed here was on the corner of Parque Lleras at midday on a Sunday.
  • Don’t carry around more money than you need for the day.
  • Use ATMs only inside large malls or big box stores — avoid taking cash out from ATMs on the street. Take out small amounts of money rather than big withdrawals.

Colombia may not be the best destination for someone entirely new to Latin America, but if you are a bit streetwise and exercise common sense, you’re not likely to become a victim. Indeed, it is rare that something happens.

No Dar Papaya

In Colombia, they have a saying “No Dar Papaya” which means don’t give papaya… Basically, they are trying to say, never offer up papaya (which is anything, really, a cell phone, money, etc) because someone will take papaya if it is “offered” to them. 

This is a bit of victim-blaming, unfortunately, but it is ingrained into Colombian life. Never Dar Papaya, else you make yourself an easy mark and a likely target for robbery. It’s better to always lean toward the cautious side here in Medellin or throughout Colombia.

On the whole, people here are very nice, honest, friendly, and want to make sure you have a good time, just don’t provide a window of opportunity to the bad apples that might be out there.

There is still a lot of poverty and huge economic inequality here… Just imagine, the price of the cell phone you are carrying in your pocket is basically a few months of income at minimum wage here (~$250/month for 48 hours of work per week).

Solo Female Travel

Obviously, this is a tricky thing for me as a guy to talk about, so I’ll refer you to this post about solo female travel in Colombia by Adventurous Kate .

I think she gets things mostly right in her article although there does seem to be some outdated or misguided things like the discussion of walking alone after dark as a woman (guys have the same concern since the bad things here are robberies, not sexual assault), or the whole “don’t travel by bus between places,” or “don’t travel by bus at night” thing. Although if your local knowledge and travel experience level is low, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to follow her more conservative advice.

I can speak a little bit about my perspective for female travelers here based on so much time living here, all that I’ve seen on the streets, talking with fellow travelers, and based on the perspective of my girlfriend who is a local Paisa…

Street Harassment: This is something that is generally quite rare. Men here will not hesitate to get a good, long look if they like what they see (leering), but I rarely see things escalate to even the catcall level. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it happens way less than in places like Italy, for example. From my perspective as a Seattlite, the whole leering thing in Colombia borders on creepy, but what is acceptable differs from culture to culture.

Colombians speak much more affectionately than most may be accustomed to, so don’t mistake “ mi amor ” from the taxi driver as flirting… That’s just how many speak to women in general, whether it is an older lady or an attractive young woman. I can be sitting there right beside my girlfriend and locals will use terms of endearment like that (which at first struck me as weird). It’s no different than old ladies calling younger guys “ mijo ”.

Kisses on the cheek between men and women (or women and women, just not between men and men like Argentina), even among people that don’t know each other very well, are also super common. If you ever go to a family event, expect to kiss like a thousand tias on the cheek.

Purses: I would strongly recommend against using a purse at all here, especially the cross-body type. Just put your spending money for the day in your pocket (even get a money clip) as well as your cell phone. Purses can be easy targets for those motorcycle thieves and a grab-and-go theft (which can throw the victim to the ground, causing injuries) is not unheard of.

Travel Insurance for Medellin

I’ve personally never been the victim of a robbery, theft, or any violent crime in Medellin, and that’s after a number of years here and many instances where I was giving papaya (according to my girlfriend). My girlfriend, on the other hand, has firsthand experience this sort of insecurity a few times, but that’s with a lifetime living here.

In any case, it is a very good idea to purchase travel insurance for Colombia and Medellin in order to protect yourself against not just theft, but also illness and injury. I use and recommend World Nomads , and would encourage you to protect yourself while in Colombia, just in case. It’s cheap and offers peace of mind.

Traveling to Medellin?

In any case, I hope these comprehensive travel tips and this guide help you better understand the ins and outs of traveling to Medellin. It is truly a pretty incredible place, I’m excited that you’ve chosen to travel here, and I hope that I’ve helped you get a little more out of your trip.

Traveling to Medellin soon? Be sure to book your lodging today on to save. Don’t forget to purchase your travel insurance to protect against illness, injury, and theft. I use and recommend World Nomads .

Did you enjoy this post about things to know when traveling to Medellin? Please take a second to share it on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter. Thanks!

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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29 tourist deaths trigger alarm bells in Medellín

In 2024, there has been one death every 6 days in the colombian city, compared to one every 10 days in 2023. at least half of those killed have been americans.

29 tourist deaths trigger alarm bells in Medellín

On Thursday morning, Matthew Watson Croulet got into a cab in Medellín. He was disoriented, remembering nothing but the name of his hotel, according to the police report. The driver took him to the tourist neighborhood of El Poblado and dropped him off. When the 25-year-old American entered his hotel, the staff noted that he looked drugged. It was clear he was not well. Concerned, they called an ambulance. Watson, meanwhile, went up to his room where he was found dead at 9.25 am.

Watson is the latest tourist corpse to be discovered in Medellin in what is becoming a cumulative problem . Last year, there were 37 violent tourist deaths in Colombia’s second-largest city. That is an average of one every 10 days. So far in 2024, 359,000 tourists have visited the city, and there have already been 29 violent tourist deaths, which is more than one per week. If the pace continues, the year would close with 61.

However, a pattern is emerging. On May 31, another U.S. citizen was found dead in a hotel in the tourist district of Laureles. Jaime Eduardo Cisneros, 54, was lying on a bed half-naked, rolled up in a sheet, with no signs of violence. The authorities have not yet determined the cause of death. They indicate that the man entered his room with a woman during the early hours of the morning. After a short time, she came out. He did not.

Tourists, drugs and prostitution

Carlos Calle heads up the Medellín District Attorney’s Office’ Tourism Observatory. His job is to generate reports on tourism activity in the city. He explains to EL PAÍS that the city closed 2023 with the highest rate of foreign visitors in its history: almost 1.5 million. “It was also the year in which the most foreigners met violent deaths ,” he says. According to Calle, Medellín is safe for tourists. However, he says there is an increasingly frequent negative tourist profile. “The situations in which these foreign tourists are negatively affected are almost always related to drugs or prostitution,” he says.

The birthplace of Pablo Escobar , Medellín was once one of the most dangerous cities in the world. However, in recent years it has become a desirable tourist destination. Within Colombia, it has a reputation as the city of innovation, beauty, partying, and narcoculture. This has had both positive and negative consequences. In recent years, more and more foreigners have come to the capital with the aim of paying for sex, which is not a crime in Colombia, provided no minors are involved.

Tourists at the Pablo Escobar museum in Medellin, Colombia

Although the Escobar era is over, Calle points out that the city is home to a large number of criminal gangs, which offer exactly what negative-profile tourists are looking for: drugs and prostitutes. According to Calle, many such travelers end up in dangerous situations, consuming high doses of narcotics in environments that can be unsafe. Some local criminals give them scopolamine. Also known as burundanga , this drug disorients and uncapacitates users. It can be slipped into drinks, snorted, or simply blown into the victim’s face. The victim is unlikely to have any recollection of the event and there could be fatal consequences.

Calle points out that, given the numbers of tourists who travel to Medellín every year, those who come seeking sex and drugs are relatively few, but they are a growing demographic. He adds that it is important they are aware of the law and keep their wits about them. “Number one, in Colombia the exploitation of minors is a crime. We will not tolerate that,” he says. “Number two, don’t accept drinks from a stranger in a bar. Don’t get into a stranger’s car. If you want to go with a girl, share the location or at least try to stay in contact with someone you know.”

Yiri Milena Amado, a former director of the Attorney General’s Office in Valle de Aburrá, the region in which Medellín is located, agrees. In March, she gave an interview to Semana , explaining that there was a common thread to the spate of tourist deaths in the city, namely “deadly cocktails.” The Prosecutor’s Office frequently found the deceased traveler had consumed a combination of drugs: “Cocaine, tusi and marijuana. Also, sexual enhancers, such as Viagra, and bottles of alcohol,” she said.

In plain sight

Last April, EL PAÍS traveled to Medellín to report on tourists and sexual exploitation. The testimonies of several sex workers and multiple visitors made it clear that drugs are ever-present in this context. Sitting in Lleras Park, where dozens of tourists come every night for sex, a prostitute introducing herself as Alexa Gómez explained that she needed drugs to sleep with clients. “It makes you happy, and everyone likes a smile,” she said. Another sex worker, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that her clients would consume a lot of drugs, and that she often encouraged the men to consume more as a way of avoiding having to have sex with them.

Sex workers in Parque Lleras, on March 6.

At a bar in Parque Lleras, a 78-year-old American who introduced himself as Bob, shared a table with three sex workers. He said he had been visiting Medellín for years for paid sex. “There is an unusual freedom here. You can do whatever you want,” he said. During the interview, Bob gave 50,000 pesos ($12) to a prostitute and asked her to get him cocaine. The woman accepted the money and left but was slow to return.

Over the next half hour, Bob repeatedly asked the other two women about the whereabouts of their colleague and the drugs. Sex worker Yuliet, 24, explained that the American liked to get high: “He does too much cocaine and wants us to do it too. I don’t like it, it scares me. I prefer the tusi. But I still do cocaine when he asks me to do it.”

Sexual exploitation of minors

There are also foreigners who go to Medellín with the specific aim of sexually exploiting minors. On March 28, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen, Timothy Alan Livingston, was discovered by police in a hotel in El Poblado with two girls ages 12 and 13. According to Colombian law, sexual consent for minors under the age of 16 only exists if the person seeking sex is no more than three years older than the minor. Despite Timothy Alan Livingston’s age, the man was released shortly after his arrest and returned two days later to Florida. A Colombian judge, however, issued a warrant for his arrest in April, yet he remains at large in the U.S.

Less than a month later, U.S. police arrested an American pedophile, Stefan Andres Correa. The man had traveled 45 times in just two years to Colombia to abuse minors. During the investigation, the authorities found nine cell phones on which there was extensive evidence of his sexual abuse, including conversations with a Colombian pimp who allegedly hooked him up to underage girls in Medellín.

These two cases have shocked Medellín and prompted Mayor Federico Gutiérrez to launch an extensive prevention campaign. Over the past three months, the city has been filled with posters attempting to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors. “Don’t even try, it’s a crime,” they say.

These posters cover the walls of the city’s two airports. They are also seen in many hotels and restaurants. There are no official figures on how many minors have been sexually exploited in Medellín in 2024, but, last year, more than 320 victims of this crime were reported in the city, according to the NGO Valientes Colombia.

A protest against the sexual exploitation of minors outside a club in Medellín on April 9.

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Suspicious Death of Two US Border Patrol Agents in Medellin

medellin for tourism

Colombia investigates the mysterious death of two U.S. border agents, which occurred three weeks apart in the city of Medellin. Jaime Eduardo Cisneros, 54, was found dead on May 31 in a hotel in the Laureles sector. On June 20, Mathel Wasson, 25, another agent of the El Paso border post, was found dead in another hotel in the Colombian city under similar circumstances.

Both U.S. officials were found without signs of violence and semi-naked in hotels in Medellin, where they had been seen shortly before in the company of a woman. Although the cases are under investigation, it is suspected that these deaths could be related to a criminal network that uses women to rob tourists using scopolamine, a toxic substance that produces confusion and disorientation and, in some cases, can cause death if ingested in large quantities.

Agents’ deaths arouse suspicion among Medellin’s local authorities

The coincidence of these deaths in such a short period of time raises doubts among police and judicial authorities in Colombia. It has also been known that Alexander Ahmed, who traveled along with Jaime Eduardo Cisneros, killed himself on American soil after returning home from the trip, before FBI agents had the chance to interview him about his friend’s death.

So far in 2024, a total of 30 foreigners have been found dead in hotels in the city of Medellin, all in similar conditions and allegedly victims of robbery with the use of toxic substances. The perpetrators are believed to be women who, using dating apps or posing as prostitutes, contact their victims for criminal purposes.

Scopolamine, used in the country as a very common street robbery drug, is a substance that produces a disorienting effect and a temporary loss of effective consciousness. This allows criminals to manipulate the drugged individual, who offers practically no resistance, and get easy access to personal information such as passwords and bank accounts.

Authorities are concerned about how this particular criminal action has been increasing foreign death rates in the city of Medellin.

Facts that cast a shadow over tourism in Medellin

These facts, coupled with the scandal of repeated cases of sexual abuse of underage girls by foreigners, have cast a shadow over tourism in Medellin. Colombia’s second city received a record 1.4 million tourists last year.

But with the boom has also come increased concern from authorities over sexual exploitation of women and minors, drug use and foreign tourists who have died in bizarre circumstances: 30 foreigners died in 2023, a figure that has already been matched in just the first six months of 2024.

The city seems to have left behind the terrible stigma of drug cartels, Pablo Escobar and the violence of twenty and thirty years ago, when bombs and hitmen terrorized whole sectors of Medellin. More than a decade ago, the city changed. With an excellent climate, beautiful landscapes and the quality of its inhabitants, Medellin began to have an important tourist flow.

However, with the arrival of visitors, crime has increased, and tourists are both victims and perpetrators. Faced with this situation, the U.S. embassy issued an alert a few months ago to its citizens warning them of the risks of using dating apps in Medellin.

Mobile applications and prostitution under the spotlight

Unfortunately, deaths in strange circumstances continues to increase. Just as dating apps are a vehicle for criminals to contact their victims, prostitution is another risk factor. This practice, which is not illegal in Colombia, is very common in Medellin’s central nightlife areas.

What is important to highlight is that using children for sexual purposes is considered a crime in Colombia. Due to the economic needs of a vast part of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean, foreigners take advantage of the situation and, in many cases, use minors for prostitution purposes.

See all the latest news from Colombia and the world at . Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow Colombia One on Google News, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and subscribe here to our newsletter.

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7 people killed by gunmen "carrying large weapons" in house near Colombia's Medellin

Updated on: June 26, 2024 / 6:53 AM EDT / CBS/AFP

Gunmen killed seven people in a house near the Colombian city of Medellin on Tuesday night, police said.

"At around 07:30 at night, here in the rural area of the municipality of Rionegro, a regrettable incident occurred in which seven people were killed," local police officer Colonel Carlos Andres Martinez Romero said in a statement.

"Ten people carrying large weapons broke into a house" in the Cabeceras area, around 12 miles from Medellin, Martinez said.

Police have offered a reward equivalent to around $12,000 for information leading to the perpetrators.

The military deployed a "plan to blockade the municipalities surrounding Cabeceras in order to locate the perpetrators," the army said on social media.

Authorities have not yet provided details of the victims' identities.

The gunmen fled in a convoy of several cars and motorbikes, according to local media.

Images released by the Rionegro mayor's office show several forensic experts working in the rain on an unpaved road.

"I have called a security council... to put a stop to this wave of violence," Rionegro mayor Jorge Rivas said in a post on social media .

This year, authorities have arrested several drug lords in Rionegro and the surrounding areas.

Powerful cartels such as the Gulf Clan , the world's leading cocaine producer, operate in the region, local rights groups say. According to the  U.S. State Department , the Gulf Clan "uses violence and intimidation to control the narcotics trafficking routes, cocaine processing laboratories, speedboat departure points, and clandestine landing strips."

In 2022, the Gulf Clan drug cartel shut down dozens of towns in northern Colombia for four days in reaction to its leader, Dairo Antonio Úsuga David - also known as Otoniel - being  extradited to the U.S. for trial . It warned that anyone who disobeyed the stay-at-home order risked being shot or having their vehicle burned.

Colombia is the world's largest cocaine producer, cultivating over 230,000 hectares of the main ingredient, the coca leaf, in 2022, according to the United Nations.

Cocaine is routinely trafficked from Colombia to Central America, the United States and Europe. Earlier this month, authorities seized two semisubmersible vessels loaded with nearly 5 tons of cocaine off the Pacific coast of Colombia. Authorities said that officers have now seized at least 13 "narco subs" so far this year. The Colombian navy said it intercepted  20 semisubmersibles  in all of 2023, leading to the seizure of 30 tons of cocaine and more than 5 tons of marijuana. 

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The collapse of a cable car in Colombia kills 1 person and injures 20


A cable car lays on the ground after it fell in Medellin, Colombia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Fredy Amariles)


At least one person was killed and 12 others were injured on Wednesday when a cable car collapsed in Medellin, Colombia’s second city, local authorities said.


A cable car lays on the ground after it fell in Medellin, Colombia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. At least one person was killed and 12 others were injured when the cable car collapsed while approaching a station, local authorities said. (AP Photo/Fredy Amariles)

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A cable car lays on the ground, right, after it fell in Medellin, Colombia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. At least one person was killed and 12 others were injured when the cable car collapsed while approaching a station, local authorities said. (AP Photo/Fredy Amariles)

Police and firefighters stand by a cable car laying on the ground after it fell in Medellin, Colombia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. At least one person was killed and 12 others were injured when the cable car collapsed while approaching a station, local authorities said. (AP Photo/Fredy Amariles)

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) —

A cable car in the Colombian city of Medellin failed and plunged onto a sidewalk next to a station platform Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring 20 others, officials said.

It was not immediately clear if the person who died was on the ground or was a passenger in the gondola-style car, which was part of the city’s public transportation system. Ten people were in the car when it fell, Medellín Mayor Federico Gutiérrez said on the social media platform X.

A 55-year-old man died of multiple injuries after being admitted to the Clínica CES hospital in Medellin, the hospital said in a statement. Local officials said the 20 people injured received both medical attention and psychological support.

Some 200 other passengers remained inside 40 of the system’s cable cars while emergency personnel assisted the injured at the scene, city disaster manager Carlos Andrés Quintero said

Medellin’s Metrocable runs six lines aimed at serving some of the city’s low-income neighborhoods that are informally built on steep hills.

One of the cable cars hit another cabin during a descending ride and then failed as it approached a station in the city’s northeastern area, Metrocable manager Tomás Elejalde told reporters.


A cable car lays on the ground, right, after it fell in Medellin, Colombia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Fredy Amariles)

The cause of the accident was under investigation, officials said.

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