Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” Medellin, Colombia is going through a cultural renaissance, and tourists are the main beneficiaries! There are plenty of things to do in Medellin and it is no wonder that the city is one of the things Colombia is known for.
After a sometimes tumultuous history, Medellin is a hotspot for hipsters and nomadic travelers alike as the city has become a hub for fine dining, cool and quirky bars, and some of the best coffee in the world.
Overview Activities In Medellin
There are plenty of things to do in Medellin, all with the backdrop of the Andes Mountains in surrounding you. As you explore this city in the valley, you will feel the magic and excitement in the air that brings nomadic travelers from around the world to call Medellin their temporary home and base while they travel around the area.
As you wonder what to do in Medellin, there can be a lot of great and engaging activities to add to your itinerary. Medellin is a rather cheap and affordable city to visit.
The average cost to explore and eat in Medellin a day is less than $20, and most hotels are less than $10 a night. This makes it a great city for those who are still in university or have just graduated, individuals who are just starting out their nomad lifestyle, and of course those who are excited to see a new part of the world!
Traveling To Medellin
When you wonder what things to do in Medellin, you first need to get to this traveler hub. There is no international airport in Medellin to travel to.
The closest one is at Rionegro-Jose Maria Cordova International Airport. This airport has international and domestic connections, so if you are traveling from a major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Bogota, you name it, you will be able to fly into this airport.
Once at this terminal, the easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Medellin is by the bus labeled “Aeropuerto”. If you really want to fly into Medellin from Cordova, there is a regional airport, Olaya Herrera, but it is only open from 6 am to 6 pm.
Once you are in Medellin, you can get around the city easily with the many forms of public transportation—the metro line, the metro cable line, the electric streetcar line, or the metroplus bus line. Taxis are also very cheap and run on meters so you don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of just because you are a traveler.
Free Things To Do In Medellin
Join A Free Walking Tour
One of the first things I do when I visit a new city is see if I can join a free walking tour. Real City Tours is a popular group running these in Medellin. The tours start in downtown Medellin, El Centro.
From there, tour guides take you through historic districts and past famous museums and monuments as they recount the tales of Medellin and the famous residents and urban legends that have roamed these streets just like you. This is one of the most insightful things to do in Medellin.
Check out the tour schedule and plan enough time for these tours, which often have English and Spanish options. And remember, these tour guides work for tips so be mindful of their time and energy when providing your tour.
Admire Peculiar Art At La Plaza Botero
If I had to recommend one stop while you’re in Medellin, it is going to enjoy the art at La Plaza Botero. This park is home to 23 bronze sculptures crafted by one of Medellin’s greatest artists, Fernando Botero.
Known for their exaggerated forms and bravdo, you will be hard-pressed to not smile as you walk around. If you want to see more of Botero’s pieces, and work from other Colombian artists, visit the Antioquia Museum in the plaza to see an impressive art collection.
Soak In City Views At Nutibara Hill
Located on top of Nutibara Hill, Pueblito Paisa is a must-see attraction. It is a replica town that shows what life was like at the turn of the century in the town of Antioquia. You can also work up a sweat while hiking up.
Experience everything from the cobblestone streets to the ornate fountain in the middle of the square, and the architecture of the time. The highlight is the jaw-dropping view of the city.
Chill At The Botanical Gardens
Sometimes on your travels, you want to find some quiet time to fully emerge with nature. Visiting the Medellin Botanical Gardens is one of the best things to do in Medellin for a relaxing day.
There are over 1,000 different plant species over 34 acres of land. And best of all, it is free to enter, so you can use this space as much as you’d like.
One of the fun facts about Colombia is that it is one of the 17 countries classified as megadiverse when it comes to biodiversity. The Botanical Gardens offers just a surface of exploration into the flora and fauna of this South American country.
Get Inspired At Communa 13
If you want to see how much Medellin has changed for the safer, a trip to Communa 13 is on the cards. Thanks to community projects and the installation of outdoor escalators, this once crime-infested part of Medellin is now a colorful commune.
Visitors and residents alike travel for relaxation and socialization purposes. There are six escalators, each covered in brightly colored murals and graffiti that tell the history of Communa 13.
Cultural Things To Do In Medellin
Travel Back In Time At Memory House Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of Medellin after the city walking tour, visit the Memory House Museum.
This museum showcases the history of the city through videos, photos, voiceovers, and artifacts, showing visitors the sobering but important moments that have shaped the city into what you are visiting today.
Learn about Pablo Escobar and how the drug cartels wreaked havoc on the city for decades and the failure of Operation Onion in 2002.
It took nearly six years for this museum to open in 2012. Future generations can learn from the mistakes of the past and never let the city fall to the same violence again.
See A Different Side At Museo El Castillo
To see a different side of Medellin and get some Europe vibe, head to the one place in Medellin you can do that—Museo el Castillo. This is a Gothic-inspired castle that gives visitors beautiful panoramic views of the city as you enjoy a picnic after walking through the exhibits inside the museum.
You can see the largest collection of fine and decorative art in Medellin, such as irreplicable 19th-century furniture, Baccarat glassware, Colombian ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and stained glass that make the shadows look like they are dancing on the walls.
You can also walk around the gardens and see the fun fountains and trees, all within the city.
Local Things To Do In Medellin
Indulge In Delicious Local Cuisine
After long days of traveling, you will certainly be hungry. So why not try one of Colombia’s most popular dishes—Bandeja Paisa!
This dish is made of a lot of food on one singular plate—red beans cooked with pork fat, white rice, ground beef, chicharron, plantain, fried eggs, chorizo, black pudding, avocado, and lemon. Yes, this will all fit onto one plate!
This is one of the most iconic Colombian food you can find in Medellin. You will feel satisfied and ready to go out for a night in Medellin—after a quick nap of course.
Things To Do In Medellin At Night
Enjoy The Evening At Parque de Las Luces
Kick off the nightlife in Medellin at Parque de las Luces. Walk through this manmade forest made of illuminated pillars that provide shade during the day and light as you head out for the night.
This is a popular spot to take some epic social media posts! After you go to the Park of Lights, you can enjoy Medellin’s nightlife.
While there are many fun things to do in Medellin when the sun goes down, it is also important to take care of your belongings when hanging out. Practice common sense and safe precautions.
Club And Bar Hopping At El Poblado
The most popular space to go partying at night is in the El Poblado neighborhood. The streets are stuffed with bars and clubs and are frequented by residents and visitors alike. Many consider it the nightlife capital of Medellin.
A hotspot in El Poblado is Parque Lleras. The name is a misnomer since it’s not actually a park of green grass and a playground—it is actually a concrete park that is lined by the bustling nightlife.
While you can get a coffee as you walk through the neighborhood during the day, there is a totally different vibe in the evening.
Day Trips From Medellin
It is important to get away from the city while you’re in town, especially if you are going to be there for a long time—you’re a traveling nomad after all! Here are some of the top places to visit around the area.
El Penon de Guatape
El Penon de Guatape, or the Rock of Guatape, is a natural landmark about two hours from Medellin located near the town of El Penol. This is a giant granite rock with a staircase on one side that you can walk up to the top and get a view of Colombia.
On your way up is a shrine to the Virgin Mother Mary. When you reach the top, you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the surrounding landscape. Soak them in with a snack or drink at the convenience store before heading back down.
After you check out the Penon, take some time to explore the vibrant Guatape Town. This colorful town is known for its brightly painted buildings that serve as a reminder of Colombia’s colonial past.
It is a charming little town with very different vibes from the city of Medellin. There are plenty of photo opportunities here as well with various artistic backdrops. Explore the cobblestone streets and admire the local art galleries and boutique shops before heading back to the city.
This is one of the most popular short getaways from Medellin.
Cerro Pan De Azuca
If you want another view of Medellin, right outside of the city limits is Cerro Pan De Azucar. This is a more secret location to visit, as not many locals or tourists know about this hill. It is located on the eastern edge of the city and is a more accessible hike for you to do when you are in the city.
For more outside activities, you can visit Parque Arvi, an ecological nature reserve. Located in the rural parts of Medellin, you can enjoy 33 miles of walking trails, go horseback riding, cycle, or just head over for a picnic.
Cerro de Las Tres Cruces
One more secretive location to know is the Cerro de Las Tres Cruces, or the Hill of Three Crosses. You will get amazing views of Medellin and the Andes Mountains all around you. It is a relatively short hike, about .75 miles each way, which should take you about 30 minutes in each direction. This is a hike people of all skill levels can manage
Enjoying More Things To Do In Medellin
There are plenty of things to do in Medellin. This city is the perfect hub to call your home as you navigate seeing the rest of South America—after you’ve explored the city and eaten enough Bandeja Paisa of course! Don’t be anxious about the city’s past—just be smart and keep your wits about you and you will have a great time in the City of Eternal Spring.