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During our 2 week trip to Colombia, we spent 4 days exploring the famous city of Medellín. I could have just gotten lost wandering the beautiful streets of El Poblado, popping in and out of coffee shops, and eating at the delicious restaurants. But aside from all that, there is truly so much to see and do in Medellín! The “City of Eternal Spring” has so much to explore from museums to parks to activities for the thrill seeker. We loved learning about Medellín’s past and how they are rebuilding for the future. You can just tell walking around how much pride Medellín’s residents have in their city.
When planning your trip to Medellín, there are a few things that you should just not miss. Check out this article to discover the best things to do in Medellín.
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 violence and 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.
Related: The Best of Bogotá in One Day
Best things to do in Medellín
Take a walking tour
I love to start a visit to any new city with a walking tour. It provides a good foundation to figure out the layout of the city and you’ll often learn lots of history, too! Beyond Colombia offers a couple different walking tours of Medellín and they are free to join! Just show up at the meeting spot. However, it is common practice to tip your guide at the end.
Memory House Museum
The Museo Casa de la Memoria is small but makes a big impact. The museum covers armed conflicts in Colombia and honors those that were lost during Colombia’s long period of violence. I enjoyed that this museum was more about honoring those and learning lessons from Colombia’s history and not glorifying those in the center of conflict. It will only take you and hour or two to go through the museum and entry is free.
Botero Plaza is a popular place in Medellín with plenty of shops, restaurants, and places to hang out. It’s characterized by the several sculptures around the plaza by Fernando Botero. You also can’t visit without seeing the unique Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture.
Take a cable car up to the stunning Parque Arvi and enjoy the beautiful sweeping views of Medellín and the surrounding area. The park 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. You can either get here by car or metro cable.
Guatape day tour
We did a day tour to visit the colorful town of Guatape and our tour guide said you can’t say you’ve truly visited all of Medellín until you’ve taken a day trip to Guatape! Guatape is known for their beautiful zocalos lining buildings with each having a unique design and story. Wander around town, grab some lunch, and don’t forget to also stop the Piedra del Pinon! You can book an organized tour or just take the bus there if you want to save some money and figure out the buses on your own!
This is the tour we booked.
Comuna 13 is known as the neighborhood most affected by the violence during the peak days of the Medellín cartel. As you can imagine, it was a place that evoked fear and danger around every corner. Today, Comuna 13 is a lively neighborhood covered in beautiful artwork and murals. Ride the escaleras, which allows residents to get to and from the city for work, enjoy the artwork, and learn about the important history here. You can get a local guide once you arrive–they benefit from your tourism and our proud to tell the story of Comuna 13!
El Castillo Museum and Gardens
We ended up here by mistake but I’m SO glad we went. El Castillo is an old mansion that was built in the early 1900s but is now a museum. The museum holds some of the antique furniture and art as well as ceramics and porcelain on display. You can tour the 9 rooms of the house and the expansive gardens. The outside makes for some amazing pictures!
Paragliding in Medellín..what?! Yes! The beautiful mountains and areas outside of the city are known for some epic paragliding. Try this guided tour.
Parque Lleras is where the action happens! It’s a very small park but the area surrounding the park is bustling. Around here you’ll find amazing bars, restaurants, and people hanging around. The park also has a market going on the weekend days you can shop around and get some local handmade goodies!
Try coffee at Pergamino
I discovered Pergamino through Jetset Christina and I’m SO glad we went. Pergamino is an upscale cafe that serves Colombian coffee that they roast. They also have delicious breakfast food as well. The vibes are excellent and the coffee is some of my favorite I had in Colombia–except for the coffee fresh from the coffee farm in Salento!
Medellín is a magical, lively city with so much to see and do. While you could just meander around the beautiful streets for hours, there are also plenty of unique museums and parks to visit! Make sure you see Parque Arvi, pop into some restaurants and bars around Parque Lleras, and if you’re a daredevil paraglide over the valleys outside of Medellín. Don’t leave the city without exploring some of the city’s history at the Casa de la Memoria and Comuna 13. No matter what you choose to do, you’re sure to find something amazing around every corner in Medellín!