Are you traveling to Colombia and wondering what to do in Medellin?
You’re in the right place… Let’s grab a coffee and take a look at the things you can do during your stay in the city of eternal spring.
With lots of fun to be had, Medellin is popular with backpackers and for some people, the city is one of the best cities to visit in Colombia.
What to do in Medellin, Colombia
I first made a trip to Medellin after hearing about the exuberant lifestyle and how it’s one of the top places to visit in Colombia.
Meeting the right people is key to experiencing the many cultural things to do in Medellin and will give you access to the beauty of the city.
Arriving to Medellin
Depending on whether you are flying to Medellin or arriving by bus, you may find this info useful. Flying from Miami is a breeze.
I arrived by plane direct from Bogotá with my backpack. I prefer to travel overland, but on my first trip, time was of the essence.
José María Córdova Airport in Rionegro is the home of Viva Air Colombia – a budget airline serving most of the country.
Book early to get the bargain prices and try to avoid booking during Días Festivos (bank holidays) if you want to save money.
💡Smart Travel Tip
Use the local buses located outside the terminal to get into Medellin from the Airport; the cost is around 10,000COP per person.
Medellin Typical Costs and Budget
🇺🇸 1USD – 🇨🇴 3.8KCOP
My daily budget:
Up to 133K COP daily
Is it possible to travel to Medellin on a Budget? Of course 🙂
Below, I’ll share my best Medellin travel tips that can save your hard-earned cash so you can reserve it for more important things.
You’ll need at least a few days here to be able to settle and I get used to the city. There is far much more than meets the eye and I have found that the more you explore the city the more interesting it becomes.
where is medellin colombia Map of Medellin
So where is Medellin, Colombia located on the map? Take a look at the interactive map below to get a better idea.
Medellin is located in a valley that is known for favorable weather conditions. See the best time to visit Colombia to learn more.
What to do in Medellin
Now you’ve got an idea of what to expect in terms of cost and some general travel advice, let’s see what you can get up to in Medellin:
On my arrival to station Santa Domingo Savio, I took another cable car to Parque Arvi, one of the tourist attractions in Medellin.
The car goes through the forest for about 15 minutes, and it was all breath-taking fun. I definitely have to go back there one day soon.
There’s a small token to be paid to access the park, but it’s worth it and even possible to hike without a guide showing you around.
El Castillo Museum
Dare I say this is a bit of a hidden gem in the city. This Medieval Gothic-style castle has a very interesting story.
Here you can escape the city and explore the gardens. The castle offers a guided tour of the permanent exhibition displaying antique furniture, antiques, and paintings collected from around the world.
The guided tour inside is spoken in Spanish so be sure to brush up on your Spanish conversation before taking the tour here.
Otherwise, you can just sit and enjoy the beautiful fully well-pruned garden, along with the view of the valley.
Medellin Walking Tour
This tour is worth it; it is by far one of the best things to do in Medellin and one of the most fantastic walking tours I experienced.
Check-in with one of the hostels in Medellin I have mentioned to get information on the free walking tours.
Walking around, the city you’ll learn a lot more and see some of the most important, popular sites on offer.
Metro Cable See Medellin From Above
It’s safe to say that traffic can be quite hectic in Medellin, seriously.
Hence, why taking the Metro cable was one of the transportation experiences I enjoyed the most.
The metro cable transportation system is managed by the government, and it is a well-recognized regeneration initiative for urban settlements.
It offers tourists an insight into the barrios (neighborhoods) from an up-close and interesting perspective.
There are two major cable transport routes in Medellin; one of them provides access to the East and the other to the West.
I recommend this plan, and it’s actually one of my top things to do in Medellin. It’s perfect for having a whole view of the city and its people.
💡Smart Travel Tip
Get a Civica card to save money and time when using public transport. This works on the Metro, Metro Bus, Tram, and Cable cars.
Colombian Coffee Tasting
In Medellin, Juan Valdez was my favorite coffee shop. Juan Valdez represents the heart and soul of the Colombian coffee growers.
You’ll find it’s a tad more expensive than others, what originally drew me to this place was the environment it creates for its customers.
However, Juan Valdez does not serve the best coffee in Medellin (or Colombia). If you want higher-quality coffee, visit the places below:
Unfortunately Macanas is now closed due to parking restrictions in El Poblado making it difficult for customers to be able to easily pop-in.
I recommend you get yourself out to the sede (branch) in Jardín for a superior cup of coffee that will explode your taste buds.
Anyone visiting Medellin with a day to spare should consider visiting Guatape. A small town located around one hour from Medellin, which has various attractions including a giant rock.
You may have heard of El Peñol (the rock) located close to the town.
I have written a short guide explaining how to get from Medellin to Guatape by bus so you know exactly how to get there.
I’ve visited the town various times and it makes the perfect day out because you can escape the hustle and bustle of El Poblado or just the city itself, and connect yourself with a more rural setting.
You may be offered day trips from Medellin which offers round trip tours to Guatape but if you’re feeling adventurous I recommend you go via public transport.
If this is not one of the best things to do in Medellin, it’s definitely one of the most sought after. A trip to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world is at the top of the list of many travelers.
I’ve listed this as one of the most unusual things to do in Medellin, partly because doing the Comuna 13 tour has become so popular.
Entire families’ lives have improved through the influx of people eager to learn more about the transformation of the neighborhood.
It’s worth noting that you can take the bus and visit the Comuna by yourself. This would be considered a self-guided tour of Comuna 13.
This is a great cultural experience to have no matter how many days in Medellin, just be prepared to use your feet for walking uphill.
You can not visit Medellin without exploring the city center or downtown area for yourself. Get off at Berrio Park Metro station.
I recommend you do a day tour as it will give you a better insight, and you’d feel more at ease walking around with your camera gear.
Just like with the Pablo Escobar tour, this downtown area of the city is not usually recommended by locals, nor for the faint-hearted.
Meeting local people is among the unique features of visiting Medellin if you are interested in learning about Paisa culture. Here you’ll get a feel of some of the more local day-to-day things to do in Medellin.
Free Things to do in Medellin
One other thing I love about Medellin is that there are so many things you can do, and in most cases, without even spending a cent.
Would you be interested in Paragliding by any chance? You could even head out to San Félix and have the most incredible experience.
This more detailed guide on free things to do in Medellin may just be what you need if traveling on a tight/modest budget; check it out!
Medellin Travel Tips
Here are some of my best travel tips for Medellin.
Throughout this blog, I will always note little tricks and tips for South America that I feel can enhance your experience, or save you money.
I have spent months on end backpacking Colombia over the years and can help you gain new insights and knowledge on this country.
Dan’s Travel Tips For Medellin:
- Only use flip flops if you want to look and be treated like a tourist. It’s not common that locals use them, not even on Sundays.
- Remember universal rules for safety in Medellin, especially downtown. Don’t walk with your phone out and try to look like a local.
- Try Vegetarian Resto a vegan restaurant with guaranteed delicious food. It’s located in the Suramericana, close to Laureles-Estadio.
- Uber and InDriver are highlighted as alternative taxi services.
- Travel by Metro is quite easy. If you want to use it occasionally, buy a card for $5.100 and charge enough money for your travels. It’s cheap.
- Although if you plan to use the Metro so often, it’s a good idea to have a personalized travel card. It’s free. Go to the Civica office in San Antonio, Itagüí, or Niquia Station with a copy of your passport and you can get the travel card which offers you a cheaper fare.
- Check out Ciudad del Río, where you’ll find a great cultural offer like Museo de Arte Moderno MAMM, cinema, restaurants, and green spaces.
- Spend a weekend in Jericó or Jardín. Just 2.5 hours from Medellín and best known for high-quality Colombian coffee and ecological hikes.
- Be sure to visit Café Otraparte in Envigado, it’s not the best place for coffee but is quiet and perfect for hanging out with friends.
- Mercado del Río is a cozy place with plenty of offers for great food. It’s located just in front of Ciudad del Río, next to Industriales metro station.
Travel Insurance for Medellin
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
What to do in Medellin
Without a doubt, a visit to Medellin was a great experience–from my arrival to checking into accommodation.
My time in Medellin is always memorable, filled with fun, excitement, and learning, and relationships I’ll never forget.
When you’re looking for things to do in Medellin, keep in mind that it’s possible to see most tourist attractions in just a few days.
If you’re looking for a quieter pace of life you can get yourself to Jericó in just a few hours for a more off-the-beaten-track experience.
I recommend extending your stay to get a good feel of the place and its people. So, what will you get up to in Medellin?
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