10 Best Things to Do in Medellin
Medellin is an exciting and vibrant city with great food, museums, art, and culture. Medellin has recently gone through a transformation which has made it a great international city to visit. Our favorite city in South America is Medellin, and these best things to do in Medellin will show you why. Known as the city of eternal Spring, Medellin has great weather, with the temperature staying around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Medellin is a great city to spend a few days exploring, with so much to see and do. Follow this guide for the 10 best things to do in Medellin.
How to Get to Medellin
Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia, so you can find direct international flights. You can get to Medellin direct from some United States cities, but it is often more expensive than flying to Bogota. If you decide to fly into Bogota and need to get to Medellin from there, the best way is to fly with one of the airlines that operates domestically such as Latam or Avianca. Flights from Bogota to Medellin can be as low as $30 roundtrip. If you are coming from a different city in Colombia, flying is typically still the best option because it is significantly faster and still cheap (although not as cheap as the bus, but personally I’d rather pay $30 to skip an eight to ten hour bus ride). If you are flying to Medellin domestically, try to see if you can fly into EOH which is the closest airport, right in downtown. Only small planes fly here, so it is not always an option for domestic flights. The main international airport in Medellin (MDE), is located about 45 minutes to an hour east of the city. An Uber from downtown Medellin to the bigger airport cost us about 76,000 COP.
Where to Stay in Medellin
Medellin has many hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs. If you are looking to stay in a hotel or a hostel, booking.com has many options that you can search for and sort by price. Airbnb is also a great choice in Medellin, as there are a variety of accommodations ranging from private rooms to entire apartments. If you haven’t joined Airbnb yet, use this Airbnb link and get $40 off your first booking! We stayed in this incredible Airbnb in Medellin right in El Poblado near Parque Lleras. It was the most amazing location and was so comfortable and clean. It was hard to leave Medellin because of how fun this city is to explore, but also because we fell in love with this Airbnb and the sweet family. The grandma even taught us how to hang up our laundry properly to dry (gracias abuela).
I recommend staying in El Poblado. El Poblado is a short Uber or metro ride away from the other best things to do and we felt very safe here. There are a lot of great food options, and although more expensive than other areas of Medellin there was a lot of variety and lower risk of getting sick.
How to Get Around Medellin
Medellin Metro Map
The best ways to get around Medellin is Uber and the Metro. Uber is so cheap in Medellin that if you are 2 or more people it can sometimes be cheaper than taking the metro. The metro in Medellin is also a good option especially if you are going further and during rush hour. The metro takes you close to most of the main attractions in the city. The cost of a metro ticket is about 2,600 COP each way.
Tips for Visiting Medellin
- Get a SIM card so you can use Uber. You can find a sim card and data plan at many vendors in the cities. Look for small stores that have phone plans. The main companies in Colombia are Claro, Tim, and Movistar. Claro cost 5,000 COP for the sim card plus 15,000 COP for two weeks for 2 GB of data.
- Medellin is known to always be around 75 degrees, but it can actually get hotter, so be prepared. When we were in Medellin in August it got up to the high 80s and it was pretty humid. Make sure to bring light clothing in case it gets hotter than usual, and a light jacket for the evenings.
- Don’t only spend your time in El Poblado! Medellin is an exciting city with so much to see and do. El Poblado might be the most comfortable area, but make sure you leave El Poblado and see more of the city.
10 Best Things to Do in Medellin
Select this Medellin map to open up the interactive map in Google My Maps
1. Explore El Poblado
If you don’t go to El Poblado then are you even a tourist? Okay so El Poblado is extremely touristy, but we did stay with a local family in an Airbnb there so it felt a lot more authentic. This neighborhood is expensive for Medellin, but it is really nice and has lots of great restaurants and bars. El Poblado gets pretty quiet during the day but there are some great brunch spots like Cambria and D’Andre Gourmet. At night El Poblado comes alive, with lots of great dinner spots, bars, and clubs. Our favorite restaurants for dinner were Bonhomia and 37 Park. El Poblado is a lot more lively during a Friday or Saturday night, so try to plan your trip during the weekend if you can. If you are looking to go out for drinks and desert, Botanika Lounge has the most delicious chocolate cake (I’m still thinking about it). El Poblado was my favorite area in Medellin and one of the best things to do in Medellin is to try all the unique restaurants here.
2. Admire Graffiti in Comuna 13
Comuna 13 use to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin. In 2002, the Colombian military overthrew the rebel groups in Comuna 13, which was controversial because it led to a lot of deaths. The residents have since turned to dance and art as a form of expression which has led to some of the most unique street art. In 2011, escalators were installed to allow the residents to more easily get up and down the neighborhood for easier access to better work opportunities.
Spend an afternoon riding up the escalators and stopping at different streets to checkout the street art and galleries. You will also see dance performances and vendors selling food and crafts. Riding the escalators in Comuna 13 and looking at the street art is one of the best things to do in Medellin. We went to Comuna 13 on our own during the daytime and felt safe. A tour could allow you to learn more about the story behind the graffiti, but it is not necessary. Stay near the escalator area around where the graffiti and people are and you should be safe.
How to Get to Comuna 13 Escalators:
To get to Comuna 13 escalators and where the popular graffiti is, you can either take an Uber or the metro. If you take Uber make sure to put your destination as Escalator Comuna 13 which is the bottom of the escalators. If you decide to take the metro you would take orange line B to San Javier. From here it is about a 25 minute walk southwest up a hill to the beginning of Comuna 13 Escalators. Most of the area you will walk in from the metro station to the escalators is pretty quiet so it didn’t feel very safe since we didn’t see any tourists walking. Therefore I recommend either taking an Uber straight to Comuna 13 Escalators or taking the metro to San Javier and then an Uber from there to the escalators.
3. Get a View of Medellin on the Metro Cable (Line J)
One of the best things to do in Medellin is to ride the metro cable and see more of the city. From San Javier station you can take a Metro Cable (line J) up to La Aurora. This metro cable goes over some of the poorer neighborhoods in Medellin. When you get to the end of the line at La Aurora you can just stay on the cable car and continue back down. Try to hop on an emptier cable car if you can so you can enjoy panoramic views of Medellin. If you happened to get on a crowded one, get off at the next station and wait to get back on when you see an empty one. The cable cars are cleaned frequently, so when they are cleaned the doors are closed until the next station so there are plenty of chances to get empty cable cars.
4. Admire Botero Paintings at Antioquia Museum
Antioquia Museum in Central Medellin has a lot of great exhibits including the popular Fernando Botero exhibit. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist known for paintings that play with proportions and size. There are also often hidden stories in his paintings that are fun to look for. Visiting this Fernando Botero exhibit is one of the best things to do in Medellin. Antioquia Museum has many exhibits including an international art hall, Luis Caballero room, and 20th century room. A ticket costs 18,000 COP for non-Colombian residents.
The museum is open 10 am to 5:30 pm everyday except for Sunday when it closes at 4:30 pm.
How to Get to Antioquia Museum:
Antioquia Museum is located a couple minutes walk from Parque Berrio metro Station on line A. The metro is the easiest way to get here since this is a very busy part of Medellin.
5. Look at Sculptures at Plaza Botero
Right in front of Antioquia Museum you can find Plaza Botero. This plaza has many of Fernando Botero’s most famous bronze sculptures. Out of these 23 sculptures you can find caballo (horse), cabeza (head), gato (cat), hombre a caballo (man on a horse), perro (dog), mano (hand), and more. This plaza can get busy and has many pickpocketers so watch your stuff!
6. Learn About the History of Medellin at Memory House Museum
Memory House Museum (Museo Casa De La Memoria) is a museum with exhibitions regarding the armed conflicts and Medellin’s history and transformation. The museum is free and is a great place to spend a couple hours and learn more about Medellin and Colombia. We felt like this museum gave us a better understanding of the city and what the residents have gone through. I recommend visiting this museum earlier on during your time in Medellin.
7. Take a Day Trip to Guatape
Guatape is a colorful town about 1.5 hours from Medellin beside a beautiful lake. The lake surrounding Guatape is man made, created by a dam. Near Guatape you will also find Piedra Del Peñol, or Peñon de Guatape. a granite rock towering at 656 feet. You can climb up the 740 steps to the top of the rock near Guatape for an incredible view. Guatape and Piedra Del Peñol are an easy day trip from Medellin, so there is no reason to pay for an organized tour. Follow this guide for how to visit Guatape and Piedra Del Peñol in one day.
8. Ride the Metro Cable to Parque Arvi
The metro cable is very easy and convenient and since it is a public transportation and not a tourist attraction there is barely any wait compared to cable cars in other cities like Bogota. To get to metro cable K you will need to take metro line A to Acevedo metro station. Metro Cable K is only about 2 minutes up to Santo Domingo Station. At Santo Domingo Station you will get off and find metro cable L which goes over the neighborhoods in northeast Medellin for about 6 minutes and then over the forest of Parque Arvi for 9 minutes. This metro cable ride offers great views of Medellin and Parque Arvi. When you get to Parque Arvi you can do some hikes, relax at the cafe, or rent a bike and go for a ride.
9. Hike in Parque Arvi
Parque Arvi has many hiking trails through the forest. This is a great way to explore the nature in Medellin and get away from the busy city center. You can also rent a mountain bike and go for a ride on your own or with an organized group.
10. Try Different Food at Mercado Del Rio
Mercado Del Rio is a high end food market with all different types of food including Peruvian food, Mediterranean food, Mexican food, Spanish food, crepes, hamburgers, sushi, pasta, and more. There are many different stalls on the bottom floor and a couple of restaurants on the top floor. Mercado Del Rio has nice outdoor seating where you can enjoy your food and the nice Medellin weather.
How to Get to Mercado Del Rio:
Take line A to Industriales and take a right when you leave the metro. Take a right on the first street on your right and continue walking south. Total walking time from the Industriales metro station is about 10 min.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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