12 Things To Do In Medellín, Colombia


Medellín is a city of many layers. On the surface, it might just seem like a large, bustling South American city with too many cars, drivers that don't obey traffic laws, street food carts on every corner, and loud music blaring from every direction. But the more you peel those layers back and dig into its history and offerings, the more you’ll fall in love with this incredible place. I did. Here are some of my favorite places and things to do in Medellín. Check a few of them out, but also head out on your own see what gems you can find.


#1 Parque Arví

A 16,000 hectare park located northeast of the city, Parque Arví is a beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of Medellín. There are plenty of hiking trails you can explore with a guide or you can simply enjoy the quiet and nature on your own. The jaw dropping ride up on the cable cars is worth the visit in itself

I wrote about a solo hike you can do in the park here that I highly recommend. Follow the road down to El Tambo, turn right, then look for a sign to Chorro Clarin. On the way back you can scoot on up the Flora Trail and once you get to the top, turn right to get back to the cable car station. Alternatively you can hire a guide or join a guided tour for a fee. I think most of the tours are in Spanish, but ask at the tourist information booth (straight ahead as you exit the cable car) to see if there are any English-speaking guides available

How to get there: take the metro to Acevado Station then transfer to the K Line cable car up to Santo Domingo. When purchasing your metro ticket ask for fare to Santo Domingo as the cable car to Parque Arví is extra. Once you get to Santo Domingo follow signs to L Line Cable Car/Parque Arví and up, up you go!

Where to eat: I loved my meal at the vegetarian restaurant at the top. The hostess is incredibly friendly and accommodating and the menu del dia is delicious. It’s across the main road as you walk away from the cable car station on the paved path. There’s also a ‘meat’ restaurant for carnivores and the farmers market at the top offers some excellent, traditional options like empanadas and arepas

Cost: metro fare to Santo Domingo is around 2,400 COP and the cable car up to Parque Arví is an additional 5,200 COP



#2 Comuna 13 and the Escalers Electricas

Spend some time admiring the beautiful street art in Comuna 13, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods during Escobar's reign, but now a lively community. There are often dancers and other street performers there as well. Then make your way down through the barrio via 6 sets of orange capped escalators until you get to the bottom. From there it’s a 15 minute walk back to the metro station. Look out for a churro stand on your way, they serve the best churros I’ve ever had!


Want to learn more about the escaleras electricas? Read about my day in Comuna 13 here


How to get there: Take the metro station to San Antonio the transfer to metro line B up to San Javier. As you exit the San Javier Station turn right then turn right again at the corner to pick up a bus that will take you to the top of Comuna 13. Alternatively you can walk to the base of the escaleras and ride them up and then back down

Cost: It’s free to enter the neighborhood of Comuna 13, but the metro there will cost you about 2,400 COP and the bus another 2,300 COP. I like to show my appreciation for places like this by buying some food or tipping the street performers, though, so plan on spending a bit more



#3 Medellín Bike Tour

Bike around Medellín! The tour that Dan, our guide and the owner of Medellín Bike Tours, took us on hit all of the major attractions of Medellín: Cerro el Volador, Cerro Nutibara (Pueblito Paisa), the Botanical Gardens, Parque de las Luces, Plaza Botero, Barefoot Park, and more. I wouldn’t recommend this tour for everyone because biking in Medellín is no joke, but if you like an adrenaline rush, a good adventure, and want to get some exercise in, this was by far one of my highlights in Medellín

How to get there: Details on where to meet will be emailed to you

Cost: $50 USD or 150,000 COP


Want to learn more about biking through Medellín? Check out my post here


#4 La Minorista Market

I love food markets. Every place I travel to, I try to explore at least one local food market to get a better sense of the foods that are grown and consumed in the place I’m visiting. La Minorista Market in Medellin is great place to do just that. It’s packed with stalls filled to the brim with fresh fruits and veggies - some that I’ve never even heard of or seen before - there are vendors selling fresh cheeses, meats, and fish, women cook corn arepas over hot coals, and there’s even a section dedicated to traditional medicine and folk remedies. For a more in depth experience, I signed up for the Exotic Fruit Tour with Real City Tours, which I highly recommend

How to get there: Take a cab or the metro. If you take the metro, ask for a ticket to the Hospital Station plus a Metroplus bus ticket to Minorista. At the Hospital station transfer to Linea 1 (L1) bus, which will deposit you right outside of the market. You don’t need to exit the metro station to catch the bus (which is more like a tram)

Cost: The market is free to enter on your own. The Exotic Fruit Tour cost 50,000 COP 



#5 Free Walking Tour

I actually didn’t end up going on the free walking tour of downtown Medellín because we hit pretty much all of the ‘must sees’ during my Medellín bike tour. Dan, my bike guide was also extremely knowledgeable about his city and gave us a great narrative on each location. But I’ve included the free walking tour here because I heard so many great things about it. You have to reserve a spot online and they fill up quickly, so make sure you log in at least 24 hours before you want to go to reserve your spot

How to sign up: reserve your spot here

Cost: The tours are led by locals and they are indeed free, but tips are very much appreciated



#6 Barefoot Park and The Water Museum

Spend an afternoon people watching or splashing in the fountains at Barefoot Park (Parque de los Pies Descalzos) in downtown Medellín. Also check out the nearby high-tech Water Museum (Museo de Agua), which - despite being mostly in Spanish - is super interesting and very well done

How to get there: Take the metro to San Antonio Station then walk southwest through the Parque de las Luces and the Plaza de la Libertad until you get to Barefoot Park. I highly recommend downloading maps.me to help navigate while traveling

Cost: The park is free. The Water Museum is 6,000 COP



#7 Casa de la Memoria

Dedicated to those who were victims during Colombia’s tumultuous past, Casa de la Memoria is a powerful place to spend an hour or two. Exhibits are ever-changing, but I have a feeling that no matter when you go there’s something to be gained by this place. The above photo is a memory for all those who have been lost due to violence

How to get there: Take the metro to the San Antonio Station then buy a tram ticket outside of the station to Bicentenario. Walk a few blocks north along Carrera 37 and you’ll come to La Casa de Memoria

Cost: Free



#8 the Stadium on a weekend

This was a pleasant find! I was actually visiting the Stadium to watch an underwater hockey tournament (yep, it’s a real thing), but I was taken aback at how cool the stadium area is. There’s a soccer field with covered bleachers and a good chance of catching a college or high school game on a weekend day, there’s a bmx bike course, there are swimming pools, tennis and volleyball courts, studios to practice martial arts, gymnastics, and cheerleading. It’s an amazing place! Weekends are probably better to visit since people are more apt to be out and about

How to get there: Take the metro line B to the Estadio station. You’ll see the stadium on your right 

Cost: Free. Swimming is an extra cost, but I didn’t check to see how much



#9 Drink a lot of coffee

Colombia is known for its great coffee, so dive in! There are tons of amazing little coffee shops in Medellín that serve fantastic Colombian coffee and you really can’t go wrong. My personal favorites are Cafe Velvet in El Poblado and Rituales in Laureles. Rituales serves coffee that is grown on small farms on the the slopes of Medellin's valley

How to get there: Cafe Velvet is located at Carrera 37, #8A-46 in El Poblado. Cafe Zeppelin is located at Cq. 74 #39b-22 in Laureles

Cost: a cortado (milk and espresso) costs about 4,000 COP



#10 Eat some traditional Colombian Food

Traditional Colombian food consists of lots of meat, lots of beans, lots of corn, and lots of fruit. It may sound simple and not very exciting, but if you go to the right place and order the right dish Colombian food can be pretty magical. My favorite Colombian meals were at Mondongos and 3Tipicos. Try the ajiaco (popular in Bogota), the mondongo, or the cazuela stews. The bandeja paisa is the most common menu del dia in Medellín and its served as a huge platter filled with a variety of different Colombian accompaniments. And don't leave without getting a street food arepa!

How to get there: Mondongos has two locations in Medellín - one in El Poblado and one in Laurales. The one in El Poblado is located at Calle 10, #38-38. 3Tipicos is located up above El Poblado at Carrera 34 #7-05

Cost: A full meal costs around 20,000-33,000 COP



#11 Mercado del Rio

If you like food, this is the place to be. It’s not really a market, but more of an upscale food court where Colombians gather for meals with friends and coworkers. I went around 12:30pm and it was absolutely buzzing with people laughing, drinking, and eating on their lunch break. There are cuisines from all over the world, but if you want something more traditional try the arepas at La Olla Atómica and then grab a frozen yogurt popsicle at the Yogurt Maker

How to get there: take the metro to the Industriales station then walk south on Carerra 48 until you see Mercado del Rio on your left

Cost: It’s definitely not going to be the cheapest food in Colombia, but the market is worth a visit even if you don’t sit down for a nice meal



#12 Try the local brews

The national drink of Colombia is aguardiente, an anise-flavored liquor made from sugar cane. It’s typically consumed on its own, but you can also find it in cocktails at more upscale bars. If you want to do it the traditional way, grab a bottle and head to a park for an evening of people watching then hit the dance floor

Medellín also has its own artisanal local brew with the label 3 Cordilleras. There are five varieties including a wheat ale, an American pale ale, an amber ale, a sweet stout, and a rosé. I’m not a beer connoisseur, so don’t ask me if they’re any good, but I like supporting local businesses so I think they’re worth a try. You can also take a tour of the brewery on Thursdays and Fridays

Finally, there’s a local wine that I’ve seen in several places around Medellín. I can’t find much information on how or where it’s made, but you can give it a try at the farmers market in Parque Arvi or at Lenteja Express (a cheap vegetarian place in El Poblado). The wine is more of a dessert wine, it’s sweet and a little bit syrupy. Or, as the Colombians would describe it, muy rico

Cost: a bottle of aguardiente is 10-20,000 COP in a store and more in a bar. The beers run between 3,500-5,000 COP and a glass of wine is about 8,000 COP