Located in the valley among the Andes mountains, Medellin is a buzzing city surrounded by lush forests and waterfalls, and beautiful hikes just a stone’s throw away. The city maintains a pleasant temperature of 72 F all year round, which is why it is nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring. We’ve been to Medellin many times and keep on coming back time and time again. And you may be wondering, is Medellin worth the visit? Ask anyone who has ever been to Colombia, and the number one thing they’ll tell you is to make sure you visit Medellin! But why?
Well, aside from the fact paisas, the nickname for locals of the province, will strike you with kindness, Medellin will delight you with numerous incredible activities, compelling stories, adventurous experiences, and breathtaking scenery. Medellin has worked hard to change the narrative with innovative projects that bring people closer together while elevating the city’s commitment to sustainability. Paisas are incredibly proud of their city; let’s find out why! Here are the best things to do in Medellin that will make you rave about this city to everyone you know.
Amazing Things to Do in Medellin
Go on a Comuna 13 Tour
Comuna 13 is the best place to start your discovery of Medellin. For many years it was the most dangerous neighborhood in the city, but it has been completely transformed. Not only is it filled with vibrant graffiti, but the youth here are also now choosing to venture into arts like dance performances thanks to the influence. Located on the outskirts of the city, it has been made more accessible with escalators, which allow its residents more work opportunities, schools, and healthcare facilities in the city. The impact that started with graffiti is so incredible that it has become a major draw to tourists. You can visit the neighborhood on an organized tour or by yourself.
Visit Museo Casa de la Memoria
If you are curious to learn more about Colombia’s turbulent history, pay a visit to Museo Casa de la Memoria. The museum portrays stories of people’s lives and the struggles they faced during the armed conflict and helps understand what Colombians had to overcome and the scale of transformation that took place.
Discover Parque Arvi
Parque Arvi is located 30 minutes above Medellin in what seems like a little town of its own. It’s very easy to get to by catching a cable car from the subway station directly to the park’s entrance. The park is full of hiking trails, which are recommended to be explored with a guide, not just for safety reasons but also to learn about the plant varieties and the bird and animal population living in the forest. The lookout points offer spectacular views of Medellin’s red brick high-rises against the backdrop of green mountains. After a satisfying hike past waterfalls and creeks, stop by Mercado Arvi to refuel with fresh fruit and pastries. Make sure to wear waterproof shoes or shoes you are okay with getting muddy.
Explore Plaza Botero
This square is home to 23 voluptuous sculptures created by the most popular Colombian artist Fernando Botero. He is an inspiration to many, and it’s common to see paintings of full-bodied figures in souvenir and art shops. One of the statues in Plaza Botero has fallen victim to bombings but is kept there as a reminder of the horrific events of the past. Fernando Botero has donated another identical sculpture, and now the two birds are known as the ‘birds of peace.’
Admire the Festival of Flowers
If your trip coincides with Feria de las Flores held in the first days of August, you are in great luck! Medellin is one of the biggest exporters of flowers in Colombia, and during this cultural event, the city puts on an epic parade of flowers. It celebrates the long-standing flower farming and trades and includes an impressive pageant of silletas, which are heavy wooden easels decorated with flowers.
Participate in the Sunday Ciclovia
Medellin is full of innovative initiatives that aim to benefit communities and the environment. One such initiative is the Sunday Ciclovia, when Avenida Poblado, Medellin’s main street, is closed off to vehicles from the morning until 12:30 to encourage people to exercise and reduce traffic. John loves joining the locals for a run, but we also love to walk along with the locals. You can also rent a bike. Check out our video and find out why this is one of our favorite activities in Medellin.
Ask any local what they like doing in their free time, and you will get the same answer all around: dancing and music! The combination of the two in the form of salsa is at the core of Colombian culture. This makes taking a salsa dance class one of the best things to do while in Medellin. Fun fact: salsa and Colombian culture is highly influenced by the African population in Colombia, which is one of the largest black populations outside of Africa! So, if you’ve taken salsa classes before, why not try an African dance class instead?
Best Day Tours from Medellin
Visit a Coffee Farm
Colombian coffee is world-renowned, so why not grab your daily dose of tinto (what Colombians call black coffee). You can also visit a coffee farm and participate in the making of your favorite elixir? Get outfitted with a traditional coffee-picking uniform, and once you are in character, you get sent off to the farm to pick the coffee berries. Once you’ve met your quota, you get walked through the entire process of coffee making. At the end, get treated to a beautiful local lunch, and of course, drink plenty of coffee.
Take an Epic Trip to Guatape
Just a two-hour drive from Medellin is located in the quaint and colorful town of Guatape. It is by far the most popular day trip from Medellin. There is so much to discover in the village, where walls are decorated with artwork that tells stories. The main reason to take a day trip to Guatape is for the monumental monolith rock outside of town. It towers above deep blue lake and is called Piedra del Peñol. You can climb the 740 steps to the top for incredible 360-degree views. You can also enjoy a beverage, which is the ultimate epitome of having a drink with a view. Check out our video here and if you are looking for a tour guide, be sure to contact our favorite, Jaime, of Kachay Colombia Tours.
Explore Medellin’s Diverse Restaurant Scene
Let’s be honest, Medellin is no longer Colombia’s best-kept secret. On the contrary, it has very much been discovered by tourists and digital nomads. But there is an upside to this: incredible foodie heaven. You can literally embark on a global culinary adventure all while staying in Medellin once you’ve had enough Colombian food. Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Mexican, experimental, French fusion, plant-based…you name it, Medellin’s got it!
As for Colombian favorites, make sure to try the Bandeja Paisa, the national dish. This is a real feast on a tray consisting of different meats, rice, egg, arepas, and avocado. Head to Mondongo’s if you are staying in Poblado and Laurels orLa Gloria de Gloria if you are based in Envigado.
Alambique is one of our favorite restaurants in Medellin. Once you go through an unassuming entrance and anticlimactic set of stairs, a jungle fairytale welcomes you for a unique and romantic dinner of modern Colombian food.
And for those special occasions, we recommend visiting Jura Kub, a super unique restaurant offering experimental cuisine with ingredients from the Colombian Amazon with a visual presentation that will absolutely blow you away.
With so much going for it, Medellin is one of the up-and-coming destinations in the world. But the second piece of advice any traveler will give you about Medellin is to get to know the locals. Striking up a conversation with a paisa will result in a connection as pungent and soul-warming as aguardiente, a local anise-flavored liqueur. We can’t wait to return to Medellin and hope to see you there!
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