The following is a guest post by Thomas, who fell head over heels for Colombia and decided to start his epic blog, Tomplanmytrip to help all travelers to discover the secrets of Colombia.
Murder, Cocaïne, Pablo.
These might be some of the words you’ve heard associated with Medellin, and at first, it doesn’t sound like the kind of place where you want to spend your holidays.
But, I have to tell you something, guys. The Medellin from the 90’s doesn’t exist anymore.
Stop believing all the things you hear on the radio and come to discover a place voted “world’s most innovative city” in 2013! Medellin has plenty of amazing things to do and is a great place to learn more about Colombian culture. To live in the present is something that we hardly do nowadays, but the Colombians are the masters in the art of the Carpe Diem.
Wondering what to put on your Medellin itinerary? For starters, you could go to a cafe and bask in the sun on a terrace, or spend a crazy night dancing salsa, but there are a lot more things to do in Medellin too!
Ready for the experience of exploring Medellin?
Things to do in Medellin
The city has a fantastic vibe, and you’ll need at least 2 days in Medellin to get a feel for it. While you can walk around some destinations, don’t hesitate to use the Metro for getting in Medellin. It’s easy, cheap and fast. You can even take a tour of the Metro to learn about why it made Medellin the most innovative city!
Here are the top things to do in Medellin:
Comuna 13 was once one of the most dangerous districts in Medellin and in fact the whole of Colombia. Nowadays, the municipality has reinvented itself. Programs were launched to help reintegrate the area, including accessibility, community, and street art. The result is astonishing, and taking a tour to see the area’s transformation is now one of the most popular things to do in Medellin.
Embrace the atmosphere at a football game
Colombians love football. I’m pretty sure many of them would rather give a kidney than miss a Football world cup final! In the city, everyone wears the colors of their team, and if you’re wondering what authentic thing to do in Medellin, then attending a football game should be on your itinerary.
There are many games (2-3/week) at Medellin’s Stadium. Go to the Estadio and buy your ticket entrance to experience the amazing atmosphere.
Price: Around 50 000 COP
Antioquia Museum and Plaza Botero
The Antioquia Museum houses art by Fernando Botero, the most famous artist of Colombia. He likes to paint and sculpt characters with exaggerated shapes. They seem to be ready to explode!
He also donated many of the sculptures in Plaza Botero, which surrounds that museum.
Price: 18 000 COP
Take a walking tour of Medellin
I highly recommend you to book a walking tour of Medellin if you want to learn about the history of Colombia. Walking tours are a great way to explore Medellin and learn more about the country as a whole. Book a few days in advance as they can be very popular.
Medellin is surrounded by mountains, and is the perfect place to try paragliding! The landscape is astonishing if you take to the skies. Travel to San Pedros and admire the city from the clouds. Check out paragliding Medellin tours to make your stay unforgettable!
Price: Around 125 000 COP
Arvi Park and Cable car
Another option for admiring the views over Medellin is the Cable Car. If you take the metro, then the price of your ticket will include the journey.
Head in the direction of Acevado and follow the sign to the Metro Cable. Get out at Santo Domingo to enjoy a fantastic panorama of the city.
There’s another cable car in Arvi Park that takes you right into nature for a breath of fresh air. In 15 min, you’ll be standing in the middle of nature, with zero buildings around. The change from Medellin is quick and surprising!
Price: 2 500 COP for the metro ticket and 11 000 COP – Round Trip – For the Cable car to Arvi Park. Allows a full day if you want to visit it
Poblado is one of the most popular districts of Medellin for visitors and digital nomads. It is a lovely district with parks, good restaurants, and many hostels. Digital nomads can be found in many of its cafes drinking coffee and eating delicious pastries while working on their computers. Add it to your Medellin itinerary if you need a little time to work!
It’s also the place to be if you want to go out during the weekend. Although some refer to it as “Gringoland”, locals love to party there too.
Where to stay in Medellin
There are two main districts that are the most popular for travellers booking accommodation in Medellin.
You can choose to stay in Poblado, mentioned above, where you’ll find everything you need without having to leave the neighbourhood.
If you prefer to spend your time in a more typically Colombian place, I would recommend Laureles. It’s safe, close to the center, and a lot of the things to do in Medellin. It’s also an excellent choice for dancing the Bachata and the Salsa!
How to get to Medellin
Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia, so there are plenty of options for getting there.
The airport had many daily flights, mainly from Cartagena, Cali or Bogota. National flights can be cheap in Colombia – around $50 – if you book them 1 or 2 weeks in advance. Check out Viva Colombia or Avianca.
There are two bus stations (North and South) used by locals and travellers. You usually don’t need to book them in advance.
Medellin to Bogota: Around 65 000 COP / 9 Hours
Medellin to Cali: Around 65 000 COP / 9 Hours
Medellin to Cartagena: Around 100 000 COP / 13 Hours
Day trips from Medellin
If you’re staying a little longer in the city but looking to explore some of the surrounding areas, then there are plenty of exciting day trips from Medellin.
With its beautiful green hills full of coffee plantations, cute colonial towns, and waterfalls, Antioquia is one of my favorite departments in Colombia.
Jerico is a town hidden in the mountain of the west Andes. It suddenly became famous when Sister Laura was declared a Saint-Colombia’s first. Visit the Cathedral and wander in the fantastic Park of Los Nubes. Jerico is about 3 hours away, but you won’t be disappointed on this full-day trip from Medellin.
Santa Fe is a typical colonial town in Antioquia, famous for it’s suspended bridge over the Cauca River. It’s also accessible by a day tour or public transport. Take the bus at the North terminal for around 2 hours.
This day trip is a little closer, at 2 hours away from Medellin. You can discover the colorful streets of Guatape and enjoy a panoramic view of the area from El Peñol – A HUGE granitic rock that’s 400m high. Check out day tours available here.
The Pacific Coast
Ok, this one isn’t a day trip, but an amazing place to go after visiting Medellin. There is no road leading to the Pacific coast of Colombia. Black beaches, deep jungle, and fisherman villages create a unique atmosphere. Fortunately, there are flights from Medellin to discover this part of the country. Try Medellin to Nuqui or Medellin to Bahia Solano.
I fell in love with Medellin when I was backpacking in Colombia, and I understand why many travelers and digital nomads decide to settle there for a while. The weather, the vibe, cafes, and nightclubs create unforgettable memories to cherish.
Spend just a little time exploring all the best things to do in Medellin, and learn to live an intense Colombian life. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow won’t happen now, only today matters!
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2 thoughts on “Medellin Itinerary: The Top Things to Do in Colombia’s Largest City”
Great read! We are headed to Medellín in just a few months, so will definitely be saving this for later.
Thanks so much! Have an amazing time!