Headed to Medellín but not sure how to spend your time? There is so much to see and do and you most likely have limited time… So what itinerary do you follow?! In this post, I’m sharing the best 3 day itinerary for seeing all the top tourist spots in Medellín, along with some great restaurants to try and where you should stay.
The “City of Eternal Spring”, as Medellín is known, is one of my favorite cities from our 2 week trip to Colombia. I could easily spend a month here just wandering around and finding the coolest spots while pretending to be a local. However, on a tight schedule three days was the best we could do. But we surely lived them to the fullest! We loved seeing a brighter side of Medellín from what is portrayed in Narcos and enjoyed the culture and art that has been born out of that dark time. And don’t even get me started on the food! Some of my favorite meals from the entire trip were in Medellín.
Medellín is also a great place to get your adventure junkie on! Paragliding is famous in the area surrounding Medellín and the lush mountains around it offer great hiking and animal spotting! No matter what you enjoy, there is something you will love in this 3 day Medellín itinerary.
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Medellín is located in the northwest portion of Colombia in a valley of the beautiful Andes mountains. The city is huge with a population of 2.5 million people. With many comunas, or neighborhoods, spread out along the valley and up into the mountains, there is an endless amount of things to see and enjoy in Medellín. Medellín is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourists with amazing restaurants, bars, and events popping up all over the city.
I’m sure most of us have heard of Medellín’s violent past but I can assure you it is nothing like that today. While there are Pablo Escobar tours available, the focus of the city is truly on honoring those lost and rebuilding. If I had to choose a word to describe the theme of Medellín, it would be hope. It is amazing to see the unique and vibrant city that has been built out of so much hardship. Instead of going on a tour to learn about Pablo Escobar, I encourage you to find museums and neighborhoods that honor this rebuilding and beauty.
Where to stay in Medellín
Choosing where to stay in Medellín can be overwhelming–the city is huge and there are an abundance of options. If you need some guidance on where to stay, I have an entire post on the best neighborhoods and hotels for your first visit to Medellín. We stayed in El Poblado and it is where most tourists choose to stay. There is no shortage of amazing hotels but here are my top choices:
The Landmark is a newer hotel in the El Poblado neighborhood and we absolutely LOVED it. The beds were comfy, the bathrooms were roomy, and the filtered water dispenser built into the room was an added bonus. The staff was so welcoming and helpful–they communicated with us via WhatsApp which was super convenient. The rooftop hot tub and pool were amazing bonuses as well.
If you are looking for something a bit closer to the more affluent shopping district, I’ve heard the Click Clack is amazing. It’s a top rated 5-star hotel right in the center of the action. I preferred the area of the Landmark (a little more hipster) but the Click Clack was right near Carmen, Pergamino, and Parque Lleras which are all on your upcoming itinerary!
3 Day Medellín Itinerary
To start off an amazing three days in Medellín, check into your hotel and then head off in search of food. We got in around 9 am, dropped our bags at the hotel, and then walked over to a restaurant called Azaí. As the name suggests, they had acai bowls, some simple breakfast sandwiches, and espresso/coffee.
If I would have planned a bit better, I would have booked a free walking tour with Real City Tours. The tour will take you through the historical center of Medellín and provide you with history and information about the area and sites as you go along. I LOVE doing walking tours in a new and unfamiliar city. It’s nice not to have to think about what route to take, what to see, and how long to budget at a spot. The tour is about 3.5 hours and will mark off a lot of “must sees” in Medellín!
Enjoy your morning on the walking tour learning about Medellín and getting a feel for the city. Make sure to ask the guide for a recommendation for lunch before you go! And don’t forget to tip. The tour is free but the guides rely on your tips 🙂
After lunch, in the afternoon head back into El Poblado to explore Parque Lleras. Parque Lleras is a bustling area with restaurants, bars, and of course, a small park where you can often see people gathered. On the weekends and some weekday afternoons, there is a market where vendors are selling handmade crafts and goodies. Or if you’re tired from all the walking, grab a drink and a good dessert at Hija Mía Café. We may or may not have done this on more than one occasion while in Medellín. 😉
For dinner, make reservations at Alambique. Alambique is a super cool dining experience that has the most beautiful decor and unique Colombian inspired dishes. The cocktail I ordered ended up being the size of my head and our soup was unlike anything I’ve ever had!
If you’re down for checking out the nightlife, here are some places I recommend:
All of these are in the El Poblado neighborhood. Obviously, there are many many more bars and clubs in Medellín but I recommend checking out some other articles for Medellín nightlife because I’m not a night owl 😉
On day two, you’ll be heading out of Medellín to the beautiful town of Guatape. Guatape is an extremely popular day tour for tourists visiting Medellín and you’ll have no problem finding a day tour or DIY-ing it. The appeal of Guatape is the beautiful zocalos, or trimmings, added to each building that represent families and interests throughout the city. The whole city is awash with beautiful colors and paintings everywhere you look. Just near Guatape is El Peñol de Guatape. El Peñol is a huge rock formation near the reservoir that you can climb to the top of for amazing views.
We chose to do a guided day trip which included transportation, lunch, tickets to climb El Penol, a walking tour of the town, and a boat trip on the lake.
If you choose to find your own way to Guatape, you can head to the Terminale Norte bus station. There is a route that will take you directly to Guatape. From there, you can head into Guatape first and take a taxi to El Peñol de Guatape or vice versa. There are bus stops at both.
Don’t forget to get a mango michelada at the top of El Peñol!
The trip should have you back in late afternoon and after all that exploring, you’ll definitely have an appetite. Head for dinner at Aguafresca which serves amazing fresh Mexican food and delicious cocktails.
On day three, eat a delicious breakfast at Mezcla. They have so many good sweet or savory crepes and the decor and people watching is just amazing. Then take the metro or taxi over to Comuna 13.
Comuna 13 is another absolute must see when visiting Medellín. It is known as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods during the height of Pablo Escobar’s terror. However, today, it is seen as a beautiful neighborhood of strength and hope. Many residents and artists have covered Comuna 13 in amazing murals that bring tourists from around the world to admire. I highly recommend getting a local guide once you arrive. The guides have the best understanding of the neighborhood and culture as anyone!
Finish up your morning at the Museo Casa de la Memoria. While this may be a small museum, it packs a huge punch. The museum offers different perspectives and tells the stories of those involved in the violence and armed conflicts in Colombia. We were able to get through it in about an hour but thoroughly enjoyed it. Casa de la Memoria is free to enter.
If you have time in the afternoon, head to Parque Arvi. Parque Arvi is a lush, green natural area perched on a hill. You can taxi, Uber, or take the Metro up to a point. Then you’ll take a cable car up to the park. Parque Arvi is a huge nature reserve and archaeological site that is totally worth a visit. You can see tons of butterflies and wildlife, take a guided tour, or just have a relaxing picnic.
I have saved the best for your last dinner in Medellín. It’s time to splurge a bit and have dinner at Carmen. We chose to do the 7 course tasting menu with the wine pairing and it was absolutely divine! The food is Colombian with a strong Caribbean influence–think ceviche, grilled octopus, and perfectly seasoned pork. The menu is frequently changed so you’re sure to be in for something unique anytime you go! There’s also a Carmen in Cartagena.
Related: A Complete 2 week Colombia itinerary
While there is an endless amount of things to explore in Medellín, 3 days should give you plenty of time to see some of the top things in the city. Be prepared for nonstop action because you will want to experience it all once you arrive! Medellín is a beautiful city that has such a rich culture and history that makes it all the more magical. Follow this 3 day itinerary to see beautiful parks, check out Guatape, and see the famous Comuna 13… Or just pick and choose what works for your schedule! You can also switch up the order of the days for what works best. This itinerary for 3 days in Medellín will ensure that you are seeing some of the best the city has to offer!