With a violent past and hopeful future Medellin is one of those cities you kinda fall in love with straight away. And contrary to what the media tells you Medellin is safe. The streets are bright, colourful and teeming with people day and night, the food is incredible and the locals are super friendly. Plus there are just so many fun things to do in Medellin Colombia, you can find yourself entertained for over a week.
Heading to Colombia and wondering what to do in Medellin? Here is my Medellin travel guide from what to see in Medellin to the best things to do in Medellin at night. Here is everything you need to do to fill your time in this super cosmopolitan city
1. Get To Know The City With The Free Walking Tour
As usual, one of the first things I do in any city is jump on a free walking tour. And if you’re wondering where to go in Medellin the free walking tour Medellin run by Real City Tours has garnered a reputation for being one of the best in South America. I have to say they did not disappoint. Providing a thorough run-down of all the top things to do in Medellin Colombia; while teaching us about the city’s dark history and promising future; and giving an insight into the current culture and political climate. Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic and I couldn’t recommend taking this free tour Medellin Colombia highly enough. One thing to note is you need to book this tour in advance. Bookings only open 1.5 days before your selected tour and book out really fast. So make sure you’re on the ball. I met a few people who disappointingly missed out. You can book your tickets here.
How To Get To Your Medellin Walking Tour: The Free Walking Tour Medellin starts from Alpujarra station. You’re most likely staying in Poblado. So head to the Poblado Metro station and take the train 3 stops to Alpujarra in the direction of Niquia. From here turn left and head out of the station. You’ll see a bunch of gringos congregating just near the pedestrian bridge. That’s your tour.
Quick Facts: Cost: However much you want to tip (I’d recommend $20,000+ COP | Time needed: Half day | Verdict: This tour should definitely be on the top of your list of what to do in Medellin Colombia. And is the perfect way to start your time here in the city.
2. Get High On The Cable Cars
One of the most fun things to do in Medellin Colombia is to spend a morning on the Cable cars. Rising high above the city and giving you unique birdseye views of the local communas you can’t travel Medellin Colombia and not take a trip on the cable cars. And luckily they are super cheap, the two main cable cars are included in the price of your metro ticket ($2,300 COP). With the third cable car that takes you all the way up to the Parque Arvi (A National Park just near Medellin) costing $5,200 COP. The extra price is totally worth it. As it takes you all the way up to the pretty National Park. Which on Sunday mornings hosts an awesome farmers market, with locals selling, fruits, local street food and homemade jams and spreads.
How To Get To The Medellin Cable Cars: Assuming you’re coming from El Poblodo, jump on the metro in the direction of Niquia and ten stops to Acevedo Station. From there follow the signs to the Teleférico (which is spanish for cable car).
Quick Facts: Cost: $2,300 for your metro ticket, plus a further $5,200 to go to Parque Arvi. | Time needed: Half day. | Verdict: Definitely one of the best things Medellin tourist attractions. Don’t miss!
3. Take A Tour Of The Previous Warzone Of Communa 13
I have to say, I really didn’t expect much from this tour, however, it might be one of my favourite things to do in Medellin. Comuna 13 is one of the main comunas that surround the city. Similar to the favelas in Brazil. And at one time just as dangerous. The neighbourhood was stormed for four days back in 2002 during the height of the civil war with police facing off against the gorillas and gangsters and killing over 6,000 people, a lot of them innocent bystanders. In recent years the local government has really invested to improve the life of its residents. Building the world’s first outdoor escalators. As the Comuna is right up in the hills, the escalators help the elderly get around. It’s also the home to some of the best street art in Colombia.
But the thing that stuck out to me the most on this tour was just the vibe of the whole area. Grannies sitting on their balconies looking over at you and waving hello. Teenagers break dancing and schooling tourists and locals on the art. And kids just running around everywhere enjoying the area. Our free tour was run by Stairway Storytellers Tours Medellin Colombia. And our guide Estaban was incredible. His passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the Comuna was infectious. Making it one of the best tours I think I’ve ever done. Communa 13 is one of the best places to visit in Medellin Colombia. So don’t leave Medellin without taking the tour.
How To Get To Communa 13 Medellin: The tour leaves from San Javier metro station. Take the train from El Poblado in the direction of Niquia to San Antonio station. Then change trains and take it all the way to the end of the line at San Javier. Your guide will collect you from there.
Quick Facts: Cost: Free + tip (I’d recommend $20,000+) | Time needed: Half day. | Verdict: This was maybe my one of my favourite Medellin things to do. If you only have time for one tour, this should be it.
4. Take A Day Trip To Guatape
Guatape is a little town surrounded by lakes and mountains about two hours away from Medellin Colombia. And I have to say that it stole my heart. I actually ended up staying for six days, when I’d planned on two. Swimming in the lake, hiking around and people-watching in the cute brightly painted town. However, if you’re short on time a day trip from Medellin is totally possible. Once you’re there, the must do’s include; climbing the 740 steps to the top of ‘ The Rock of Guatape’ (or El Peñón de Guatapé in Spanish); Exploring the cute little town, which has been painted in all sorts of colours; swimming in the lake; and having a bit of fun on the little zip line through town. Want to know more? Check out my article on the 7 ways to maximise your chill in Guatape.
How To Get To Guatape: Most of the hotels and hostels run Medellin day trips. However, it’s totally possible to do by yourself. Take the Metro to Caribe Station and then walk across the bridge to the North Bus Terminal. Then jump on the next bus to Guatape. They run about every 20 minutes. And will set you back $14,000 COP ($5 USD). The first bus leaves at 6 am and the last bus back to Medellin leaves Guatape at 7 pm.
Quick Facts: Cost: $27,000 COP ($10 USD) return trip. And $18,000 COP ($7 USD) to climb the rock. Time needed: At least a day. | Verdict: This was one of my favourite things to do near Medellin Colombia. And if you have the time I highly recommend.
5. Party In El Poblado
One of the best things to do in Medellin Colombia is party. And one of the first things I noticed after arriving on a Friday afternoon and jumping on the weekly pub-crawl run by Los Patios Hostel was just how awesome the Medellin Colombia nightlife was. Specifically the El Poblado Medellin night life. The streets near Parque Lleras and further up near the Happy Buddha Hostel Are teeming with people from Wednesday to Sunday. Just strolling around with a Michelada (One of Colombia’s signature drinks – beer with lime juice and a salt rim) and listening to the music flowing out of all of the bars, watching couples salsa and trying to do so yourself is an activity in itself. For those that want to join in the fun, and who wouldn’t? Some of the best bars in Medellin are; 37 Park, a trendy bar with outdoor seating in the park next-door; Envy Rooftop at Charlee Hotel which has a rooftop pool, La Octava Ball Pit Bar Medellin which unsurprisingly has a ball pit inside; And many, many more.
And, if you’re not all partied out have a look at these 10 Colombian festivals you have to check out.
How To Get To El Poblado: Parque Lleras is in the middle of Zona Rosa and a 15-minute walk from the heart of Poblado. Chuck it into Maps.Me and you’ll find it easily
Quick Facts: Cost: However much you want to spend on drinks. It can get expensive. So I’d recommend hitting up your nearest Exito for some pre-drinks. | Time needed: As long as you like. | Verdict. If you like to party I definitely recommend checking out the Medellin Colombia nightlife.
6. Scream Yourself Horse At A Soccer Match
One of the most fun things to do in Medellin is to head to a local soccer match. While the standard isn’t great (according to every European I spoke to. I actually wouldn’t have a clue) The atmosphere is incredible and is a must do when you visit Medellin Colombia! You can either buy tickets yourself from the stadium on or before the day. Or many of the hostels offer tours, which while are expensive (around $80,000 COP ($30 USD)) just make the whole experience much smoother and heaps more fun as you’ll be in a big group. Medellin has two teams Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellin. And if you’re lucky you might be able to catch them in a derby. Although Atletico Nacional usually wins pretty easily.
How To Get To The Soccer In Medellin: Estadio Atanasio Girardot is located in central Medellín just west of the downtown area. And is easily reached by the metro. Just jump off at Estadio Station.
Quick Facts: Cost: $40,000 – $80,000 COP | Time needed: Half day. | Verdict: If you’re a soccer fan and wondering what to do in Medellin Colombia this should be at the top of your list.
7. Explore The Real History Of Pablo Escobar
You can’t go to Medellin Colombia without getting into a discussion about the infamous Pablo Escobar. Unfortunately, this
asshole guy is a massive part of Medellin’s culture. And thanks to ‘Narcos’ every tourist knows his name. There are a number of Medellin tours you can do about Pablo. But I’d say the most culturally appropriate and interesting tour is the Pablo city tour with Top 10 Tours (which can be booked through Los Patios Hostel). It’s a four-hour tour where you’re taken to a number of spots that make up part of the history of the Medellin Cartel in the 1980’s including the ‘jail’ that Pablo built to serve his time in 1991.
And while there’s a lot of debate about whether this kind of tourism is responsible, considering the violence of the past and whether it puts Pablo Escobar on a pedestal. I found this Medellin tour was really interesting as you learn about a side of Pablo that isn’t explored in the Narcos series. A dark, evil and honestly disgusting side to the infamous mobster, that I just don’t think they could have included in the show.
How To Get To Your Pablo Escobar Tour Medellin: The Top 10 Tour Company Medellin will pick you up from your hostel/hotel. Super easy!
Quick Facts: Cost: $60,000 COP ($22 USD) or $55,000 if you have more than 4 people. Time needed: Half-day. | Verdict: One of these tours is amongst the top things to do in Medellin for a reason. Just make sure you research your company and remain respectful to the locals.
8. Spend Those Dollies At Some Of The Huge Shopping Centres
If like me, you’ve travelled all the way up South America to get to Colombia you probably haven’t experienced good shopping in quite a while. Being the cosmopolitan city it is one of the best things to do in Medellin is rid your wallet of a fair few dollies by shopping Medellin Colombia. The best malls are El Tesoro, Oviedo, Santa Fe. And they have awesome shops like Forever 21, Zara and Victoria’s Secret. Ummmmm take my money!!
9. Feed That Food Baby At Some Incredible Restaurants
Hungry and wondering what to do in Medellin Colombia? Well, fear not. As Medellin has some of the most delicious food and coffee I’ve encountered for a while. And there are just so many options. For a local option and to try one of Colombia’s signature dishes – Bandejo Paisa (basically a bunch of different meats collected on one plate with plantain, avocado, beans, salad and rice). The most delicious one I had was at one of the best restaurants in Medellin Colombia, Mondongos. If you’re on the hunt for something a little different one of Indianp indian restaurants in Medellin Colombia Naan Indian is serving up some of the best butter chicken I’ve ever had. And Café Zorba makes the best pizza in South America. There’s also a really great food court with a bunch of amazing restaurants in Medellin just below Los Patios Hostel.
Where To Stay In Medellin Colombia
Sugar Cane Hostel Medellin
Los Patios Hostal Boutique
Patio del Mundo Hotel Medellin
Affinity Aparta Hotel Medellin
How To Get To Medellin Colombia
Getting to Medellin is super easy from pretty much anywhere in Colombia. Flying and busing to Medellin are your two options. Flights in Colombia are super cheap and are always worth checking as they can be a better option that busing. But the buses in Medellin are also clean and well maintained. So either are great.
Flights To Medellin Colombia
Viva Colombia is the cheapest local airline by far and I can definitely recommend using them to get to Medellin. They fly to Medellin from all the main cities in Colombia. If you’re flying from overseas Viva Colombia can be a great option too. Otherwise Avianca, Copa and Latam are great options.
I like to compare flights with Kiwi.com as they have a great little tool that allows you to do a radius search. Which is great for trying to find the cheapest airports to fly into near your destination. Compare flights here.
How To Get To Medellin By Bus
Taking the bus is also a great way to get to Medellin Colombia. Medellin has two main bus terminals. North and South and they service routes all around the country. The best way to book your ticket is to just head to the bus station the day before and buy it directly with one of the stalls. You can find more information about bus routes and which terminal they leave from on the Terminales Medellin Website.
Daily Budget For Medellin Colombia
I found Medellin to be one of the most expensive places in Colombia. Due to the amount of food and booze I consumed. To have a good time while still being a little measured on spending you’re probably looking at about $65 USD per day. That covered:
- $15 USD per night for accommodation in a Medellin hostel
- $20 USD per day for food
- $ 15 – $20 USD per day for alcohol
- $15 USD per day for activities
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