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30 Best Things to do in Medellín Colombia – 2023 Travel Guide

30 Best Things to do in Medellín Colombia – 2023 Travel Guide

The ultimate travel guide featuring the 30 best things to do in Medellín, Colombia. Discover all the best attractions, highlights, and must-see areas of Colombia’s City of Eternal Spring.

The city of Medellín in Colombia is a place that is full of culture, history, and natural beauty. There are so many things to do and see in this city that it can be hard to know where to start!

I spent over a month in Medellín and still felt like there was more to explore! In this blog post, I’ll provide a detailed list of the 30 best things to do in Medellín, Colombia based on my personal experience.

At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included some information on where to stay and tips for making the most of your trip to this amazing Latin American destination.

Don’t Miss: Ultimate Accommodation Guide for Where to Stay (best neighborhoods)

San Javier, Colombia

30 Best Things to do in Medellín, Colombia

Medellin travel infographic

1. Visit Comuna 13 - My Favorite Thing to do in Medellín

Comuna 13 is a neighborhood in Medellín that was once one of the most dangerous areas in the city. Today, it is a vibrant community with amazing street art, great views, and a lively atmosphere.

I put this activity first because visiting Comuna 13 truly is my most recommended thing to do in Medellín city. Taking an affordable walking tour through the comuna gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about Medellín's history and be inspired by the positive change that has occurred over the past decade.

Book: Best-rated Medellín Comuna 13 Tour (includes cable car, Comuna 13 & graffiti tour)

Colorful buildings on a Comuna 13 Tour, Medellín

2. The Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Medellín)

Visiting the Medellín Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Medellín) is one of the best things to do in Medellín on a sunny day. The gardens span over 100 acres and include more than 200 species of flowers and plants.

While I haven't seen very many, a lot of people say that this is the best Botanical Garden in South America, and even in all of Latin America!

You will want to see the unique Orquidoeroama Mesh structure, which is a genius design allowing for the collection of rainwater and protection of orchids and butterflies.

Botanical Gardens

3. The Cable Cars - Medellín Metrocable

One of the things that makes Medellín so unique is its cable cars– called Metrocables. There are actually four lines, but my favorite is Line K which connects the Medellín River to the steep hills of Santo Domingo Savio, a barrio on the edge of the city.

The ride offers incredible views of the city and is definitely one of the top attractions for visitors.

If you take the highly-acclaimed Comuna 13 tour above, you'll also get a trip on the cable car included (with a local guide).

Medellín Metro Cable Car

4. Wander Around Poblado

El Poblado is Medellín's most popular neighborhood. This is an upper-class area that attracts most tourists due to its sprawling shopping complexes, restaurants, and bars.

Chances are, you'll be staying in El Poblado anyway. So, take a walk around the neighborhood's streets and enjoy the view (or stop for a coffee or cocktail).

And if you're looking for what to do in Medellín at night, head down to Parque Lleras (below) for a lively nightclub scene.

Tip: Skip to the where to stay section for the top accommodation picks.

El Poblado restaurants in Medellin, Colombia
Building in El Poblado Colombia

5. Hike Up Cerro de las Tres Cruces (Hill of Three Crosses)

Looking for a way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and do some hiking?

Walking to the top of Cerro de las Tres Cruces (Hill of Three Crosses) is one of the most popular hikes in Medellín. The hike to the summit only takes about an hour, and it's a great way to get some exercise while enjoying stunning views of the city below.

At the top of the hill, you'll find a large outdoor gym and workout area, which makes for the most scenic place to train in Medellín!

Cerro de las tres Cruces hike in Medellín

6. Paragliding Over the Medellín Mountains

Looking for the most adventurous activity to do in Medellín?

Why not go paragliding over the city's stunning mountains?

There are a few companies in town that offer tandem paragliding rides, so it's a great activity for those looking for an adrenaline rush. Be sure to book your flight well in advance, as spaces tend to fill up quickly!

Book: Tandem Paragliding Trip

Paragliding in Medellin, Colombia

7. Salsa Dancing

Did you really go on a trip through Latin America without trying salsa dancing? Truthfully, there's no better place to learn how to salsa than in Colombia's second-largest city!

Throughout the city, there are plenty of clubs and bars that offer salsa classes. Visitors will find many of these in or around El Poblado. However, you can also take a private lesson if you want more one-on-one instruction.

Book: Salsa dancing experience

live music in Medellín

8. Day Trip to Guatapé

Looking for the most scenic day trip from Medellín. If you read any guidebook, blog, or Medellín travel guide, you'll find a visit to Guatapé recommended (usually at the top)

Guatapé is a charming pueblo at the feet of the Andes mountains. It's located just outside of Medellín and therefore most people tend to visit on a quick trip. It's the perfect place to spend a day if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

There are plenty of things to do in Guatapé, including hiking up El Peñón de Guatapé (the big rock with the famous, steep staircase), checking out the colorful buildings, and taking a boat cruise on the lake.

If you're looking for a Medellín travel guide that includes things to do outside of the city, then be sure to add Guatapé to your list!

Book: Best-rated Guatape Day Trip (includes transport and boat cruise)

Guatapé in Colombia

Related: How to get to Guatapé (4 options from Medellín)

9. Hacienda Napoles Theme Park

While Hacienda Napoles was once a luxurious countryside estate owned by Pablo Escobar, it has now been transformed into a fun and very popular theme park. Here, you'll find a waterpark with fun rides and even a small zoo.

However, Hacienda Napoles is located a fair stretch from the city, and it'll take about 4 hours to get here! However, the drive out here is well worth it for beautiful country scenes.

10. Choto's Cafe

As you might expect from one of the world's largest coffee-producing countries, the coffee culture in Colombia is huge!

You'll find loads of vibrant cafes ranging from small hole-in-the-wall nooks to upper-class coffee shops with a western hipster vibe.

However, if you're looking for the most unique cafe in Medellín, go check out Choto's Cafe in Comuna 13. Choto is one of Colombia's most famous street artists and is a community leader inspiring positive change through art. His vision is represented through his cafe, where you'll find street art and unique projects made from recycled materials by local kids and artists.

Tip: you'll likely stop by this establishment on a tour through Comuna 13 (number 1).

Choto 13 Cafe in Colombia

11. Medellín Graffiti Tour

Okay, I'm doubling up slightly here.

Yes, you'll see some of Medellín's best graffiti on the famous Comuna 13 tour. However, the truth is that the city is rich with amazing and vibrant art and it extends much further than just this district.

If you want to see great street art, head down to Laureles, Belén, or El Poblado.

street art

12. Plaza Minorista Market

This is one of the most vibrant markets in Medellín Colombia. If you're looking for souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, or a taste of Colombian culture, this is the place to go.

Wander through the stalls and haggle with the vendors for the best prices on beautiful things made by locals.

You'll find Plaza Minorista Market located right on the edge of the Medellín river near the district of Estacion Villa and just opposite the Parque Natural Cerro el Volador and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede.

market stall

13. Live Like a Local in Laureles

Looking to wander off the gringo trail in El Poblado and would prefer to stay somewhere a little more authentic? One of your best options will be the middle-upper class university district of Laureles (Laureles - Estadio).

Characterized by its lively atmosphere, interesting architecture, and trendy restaurants and bars, it's a great place to spend some time if you want to experience local life in Medellín.

Laurales restaurant street Medellin

14. Try Bandeja Paisa - (local Dish)

No trip to Medellín (or Colombia) would be complete without trying the national dish– bandeja paisa. This is a dish that originated in the Antioquia region and is a national staple!

This hearty meal consists of a large platter of food including beans, rice, avocado, plantain, chicharron (pork belly), steak, sausage, an arepa, and a fried egg.

While I haven't yet tried all these spots, this list should have you covered for awesome Bandeja Paisa in Medellín.

  • Maru Rico in Guayabal
  • Mondongo's (Poblado)
  • El Rancherito (nine locations)

15. Explore Parque de los Pies Descalzos

Also known as the "Park of Bare Feet", this is a unique and beautiful park in Medellín. It's named for the fact that visitors are encouraged to take their shoes off and enjoy walking barefoot on the grass, stones, and water features.

This Medellín experience is meant to be just that, a tactile experience designed to let you get closer to nature.

The park is designed with natural materials like bamboo, stone, and wood, and it has a number of nice water features, including a river and pond.

bamboo trees at the barefoot park

16. Join in on a Free Walking Tour

Looking for something to do in Medellín for free? Why not join in on one of the many free walking tours throughout the city?

There are a number of companies offering free walking tours, and they're a great way to learn about Medellín's history, culture, and architecture.

Of course, like with any "free" walking tour in Latin America, or anywhere in the world for that matter, you still should leave a tip to the local guide.

walking tour and Crowds at Comuna 13

17. Watch a Game of Fútbol at Atanasio Girardot Stadium

Football (soccer) is a huge sport in Colombia, and there's no better place to watch a game than in Medellín.

The city has two professional football teams– Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín – and both have passionate fan bases and share the same stadium.

A game at the Atanasio Girardot stadium is an experience you won't soon forget. On the plus side, tickets are usually quite cheap, and you can pick them up at the stadium an hour or so before kick off. Just be ready for a rowdy and passion-fueled night!

Football fans in Colombia

18. Santo Domingo & Biblioteca España

You already know that the Line K Santo Domingo cable car route is my personal favorite. Hoewever, it's not just great views you'll get at the top.

Biblioteca España is a cultural center that's home to a library, an art gallery, and a performance space. The building itself is worth a visit, but if you're interested in culture and the arts, this is definitely the place for you.

Santo Domingo district in Medellín, Colombia

19. Ride the Medellín Metro

Forget about what you think you know about metropolitan Medellín.

The Medellín metro is one of the most efficient, clean, and safe public transportation systems in South America. It's also incredibly cheap, and a great way to get around the city.

If you're staying in El Poblado, you can easily take the metro to any of the other neighborhoods. Taking the metro is one of the best ways to see the city.

El Poblado Metro Station in Medellín

20. Visit Parque Lleras

If you're looking for a night out on the town, there's no better place to go than Parque Lleras. This lively park in El Poblado is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in Medellín.

It's also one of the most popular places for people to gather, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. If you're up for a beer or even a night out to the many nightclubs, this is the perfect place.

outdoor restaurants at Parque lleras, Medellín

21. Day Trip To A Traditional Coffee Plantation

Medellín is located in the heart of Colombia's coffee country, so it would be a shame to visit and not take a day trip to one of the many traditional coffee plantations.

If this seems like your kind of activity, then I highly recommend booking a day trip.

On a tour, you'll learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee, as well as get to taste some of the best coffee in the world.

Book: Coffee Tour With Tastings and Lunch (from Medellín Colombia)

man holding coffee beans at a plantation

22. Antiquian Street Food Tour

For all the foodies out there, you already know South America is a gem for unique and delicious street foods.

In Medellín, you'll find some of the best examples of Antiquian street food like arepas (a type of cornbread), empanadas, amales, and much more.

I highly recommend the below street food tour. This is run by a local from the city and you will take all the guesswork out of finding the best stalls and vendors!

Book: E-bike street food tour with a local (the best stalls)

Colombia street food

23. Try a Crema (home-Made Ice Cream)

Crema is a homemade ice cream that you'll find being sold almost everywhere in the city. The people from Medellín associate crema with their grandmothers, as a crema is what the grannies would persuade the children with to behave!

For this reason, I was told by a local that he wouldn't purchase a crema from any stall or shop in the city unless it had a "grandma" name.

One of my favorites is the Crema de Guayaba. This a dessert made with guava, cream, sugar and spices. It's one of the most popular desserts in Medellín and can be found at many street stalls throughout the city.

It's definitely worth trying during your time in Medellín!

Antioquian Ice cream

24. El Centro (La Candelaria)

El Centro, also known as La Candelaria, is the historical center of Medellín and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It's a great place to walk around, explore colonial architecture, and learn about the history of Medellín Colombia.

There are also a number of museums in El Centro including the famous Cada de la Memoria.

One thing you should know about El Centro is that it is recognized as being one of the most unsafe neighborhoods in Medellín. While the city is generally safe during the day, I'd avoid walking around El Centro at night.

El Centro Medellin

25. Go Quad Biking in the Colombian Countryside

If you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, or just to get out of the city and into the Colombian countryside, then quad biking is a great option.

There are a number of tour companies that offer quad biking tours in the Medellín countryside.

The tours typically include transportation to and from Medellín, as well as all the necessary equipment. Below I've included a link to the best-rated quad biking tour in Medellín.

Book: ATV Trip in the Countryside (from Medellín)

26. Parque Arví

A visit to Parque Arví, located in the hills overlooking Medellín, is a must for nature lovers. The park is home to over 15,000 species of plants and animals, as well as numerous hiking trails.

The best and cheapest way to get to Parque Arví is to take the Medellín metro system. From Poblado station, expect a roughly 1-hour journey to get to the park.

Firstly, you'll want to take the A line to Acevedo station. Next, transfer to the K-Line to take the metrocable to Santo Domingo. From here, transfer again to the L Line and get off at Parque Arví.

The park is open every day from 08:00 am – 04:00 pm. The admission cost to the park is free however tours within the park cost $40,000 COP for foreigners and $13,000 for national visitors.

However, it's generally a good idea to avoid Saturdays and Sundays if you can help it since this is by far, the busiest time to visit.

Medellin Metro Cable to Park Arvi
Metro Cable to Park Arví

27. Plaza Botero

One of the most iconic places in Medellín, Plaza Botero is home to 23 bronze sculptures from Fernando Botero. Fernando Botero is a Medellín-native and is one of the most famous Latin American artists in the world.

The sculptures were donated by Botero himself and they are all placed throughout the plaza. The largest sculpture, El Caballo (The Horse), is located in front of the Palacio de Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe.

The plaza is located in the heart of El Centro and is a great place to people-watch, grab a tasty empanada, or take some photos.

Bolero Statues Medellin

28. Museo de Antiquia

This museum is one of the most popular in Medellín and for good reason. The Museo de Antiquia houses a large collection of pre-Columbian artifacts from all over Colombia.

The Museo de Antiquia is located in the El Poblado neighborhood and is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm. Admission is free on Sundays.

The museum is divided into four main galleries: Prehistory, Metallurgy, Pottery, and Stone. Each gallery is filled with interesting and unique pieces.

Medellin cityscape

29. Pueblito Paisa

Right before we round up this travel guide featuring all the epic great to do in Medellín is one more hill in the heart of the city. Pueblito Paisa is a tiny replica of a traditional Antioquian village and is is located named Cerro Nutibara.

This is a great place to visit to see colorful buildings and get a taste for traditional architecture. There is also a small museum on-site chronicling the history of the city.

However, perhaps the biggest draw to this attraction is the incredible view from the top. Due to the central location, you'll get amazing views over the city and its many comunas and barrios.

Pueblito Paisa Medellin

30. Party!

Colombians love to party, and Medellín is one of the best places in the country to let your hair down and have some fun. For a great time, head down to Parque Lleras in El Poblado and start off with a beer at one of the outdoor dining areas.

Alternatively, why not let a local show you how it's done? Below I've linked to the funnest pub crawl in town! It also goes up to some of the best rooftop bars in the city, which is definitely worth it just for the view!

Book: Rooftop Pub Crawl

Rooftop bar in, Colombia

What About Pablo Escobar Tours?

If you're a fan of history like me, then you'll probably be very interested in learning about Pablo Escobar when you're in the city.

However, the local people of Medellín really, really don't like talking about him, or celebrating his history for that matter. If you think about it from a Colombian's perspective, this totally makes sense. This man brought a lot of pain, suffering, and death to these communities.

For this reason, Pablo Escobar tours are discouraged in Medellín and in most of Colombia. Of course, you'll still find a few attractions and tours, but generally speaking, it's best to avoid them.

Buildings and houses at Comuna 13 District

Where to Stay in Medellín - Accommodation Guide

The most popular area to stay in Medellín is El Poblado. This is the main tourist district and features plenty of great cafes, nightclubs, restaurants, and activities.

However, if you're the type who would prefer to detour from the gringo trail, check out Laureles (my favorite), Envigado, or Belén. Below are four great recommendations. However, I recommend checking out my detailed accommodation guide here for more options.

  • Elcielo Hotel & Restaurant - The ultimate luxury experience in El Poblado. This is the top-rated 5-star hotel in the city and combines lush greens with a modern wood interior for the perfect luxury ambiance.
  • 23 Hotel Medellin - A mid-range jungle-themed hotel with a roof-top pool and access to a hot tub overlooking El Poblado.
  • Hotel Casa Laureles - The best-rated hotel in the alternative neighborhood of Laureles. Excellent 4-star luxury for a fraction of the price.
  • Rango Hostel Boutique - Probably the best backpacker hostel in Medellín. Features an epic rooftop bar and plenty of co-work and common spaces to hang out.
Medellín City, Colombia

Is Traveling in Medellín Safe?

While Medellín was once the most dangerous city in the world, the city seems to have done a complete 180! Today, Medellín is one of the safest cities in South America and attracts thousands of tourists, ex-pats, and digital nomads.

Traveling in the city is generally very safe, as long as you keep your regular precautions and wits about you.

This means avoiding getting blackout drunk, wandering the streets alone at night, or flashing your riches in poor neighborhoods.

Black and White brake dance crew in Comuna 13, Medellín, Colombia

Tips for Visiting Medellín in Colombia

Does Medellín Colombia sound like a city you'd like to visit? Here are a few tips that'll make your travels easier and more enjoyable:

  • Ubers are illegal in Colombia but are still widely used. As a result, make sure to get in the front when hopping in.
  • The Medellín metro system is one of the best in Latin America and is very safe. Make sure to use it to get around!
  • If you're flying in, you'll likely be landing in the José María Córdova International Airport. This is about 45 minutes outside of the city.
  • Try your best to speak Spanish! English is not widely spoken in the city but locals will always respect you for trying, even if you're a beginner.
  • Buy a phone sim if you're staying a while. The best telecoms company is Claro, and you can get a sim with 10GB of data for under $15 USD (prepaid).
  • Rappi is South America's alternative to Uber Eats and is much cheaper. Everywhere you go in the city you'll see Rappi drivers with their iconic orange backpacks.
  • WIFI varies but is generally very good. If you work online or are a digital nomad, this is a great city!
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables is widely available and are very cheap. Go try some fresh smoothies or juices!
Medellin Sign in Colombia

Best Time to Visit Medellín

The city of Medellín has some of the most comfortable and stable climates in the world.

It's located in the Aburrá Valley (Valle de Aburrá), in the Central Cordillera Mountains of the Colombian Andes. This puts Medellín at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level, resulting in a stable climate with an average temperature of around 22.2 degrees Celsius.

For this reason, Medellín has been nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring.

However, due to its sub-tropical climate, you will experience variations in rainfall throughout the year. Generally, the wet seasons runs from April to May and September to November.

The driest season is from December to February, which is also considered the best time to visit Medellín.

Medellín City, Colombia

How to Get Around to All of Medellín's Attractions

If you've already read this travel guide, then you'll know that taking the city's well-organized and unique public transport systems are actually some of the best things to do in Medellín!

I highly recommend taking the Metro system to hop around the districts. If you want to head up and see some of the hill districts (including Comuna 13), then the cable car is also one of the best ways to get around.

Taxis and Uber are also found all throughout the city. I've found Uber to be a little cheaper, but taxis are also fine since they are all metered.

Street on El Poblado

FAQs about Travel in Medellín

Is Medellín Colombia a safe city?

Although the city was once a very dangerous place to be, modern Medellín is one of the safest cities in South America with a fairly low crime rate. It is one of the best cities to travel to in Latin America.

What is the currency in Colombia?

The official currency is the Colombian peso (COP). At the time of writing, the exchange rate is roughly 3900 pesos to $1 USD.

What are the best neighborhoods in Medellín?

The most popular neighborhood to visit and stay when traveling in Medellin is Poblado. However, if you want to experience more of local life, I'd recommend considering Laureles or Belén as well.

What is the number one best activity in Medellín?

In this list, I've provided you with 30 awesome things to do in the city. If I had to pick a personal favorite, it'd be the Comuna 13 tour.

How much does it cost to travel to Medellín?

Traveling in Colombia can be very affordable, especially if you are coming from a wealthy nation like USA or Europe. After a month in the city, we ended up spending roughly $40 USD per day between two people. This included accommodation, food, and all activities.

How long should I spend in the city?

This will depend on how much you want to see and do in Medellín! As a general itinerary, I'd suggest at least 3-4 days to get the most out of your visit.

More Things to do in Colombia

That's a wrap for my comprehensive travel guide featuring 30 awesome things to do in Medellín, Colombia. I hope it has inspired you to get off the beaten path and explore this incredible city!

While you're still here on my blog, make sure to check out some of my other guides to Colombia and Latin America below. If you're wondering where to head next, check out Minca in the north!