Medellin, Colombia: Our detailed 2020 guide about how to get there, the best tours, must-sees and much more!
If there is something that can be said about Medellín, it is that it has healed the wounds of its turbulent past with flowers.
Today it is one of the most vibrant cities in Latin America, the second-largest in Colombia and a favorite destination for thousands of travelers who are captivated by its climate, its food, its friendly and smiling people, and its incredible nightlife.
To get to Medellin you have various options. You can travel by plane, arriving at the José María Córdoba International Airport, 28 kilometers away from the city center, and take a taxi to the center for about $15.
You can also reach the city by bus from Bogatá and enjoying the incredible landscapes of the Colombian highlands. It is a 10-hour direct trip, but we recommend choosing a Hop on Hop off option so you can visit several stops along the route and fully enjoy the experience.
As a city surrounded by mountains, many of them populated, one of the main attractions is to take a ride on the cable cars. This is one of the means of transport used by the people of Medellin, and for tourists, it is the perfect opportunity to see some of the most impressive views of the city.
The main cable car in the city is the K line between Acevedo station and Santo Domingo Savio station. There, there is a transfer to take a second cable car that leads to Arví Park, another of the places that you can’t miss in Medellín.
This is a beautiful ecological National Park. To get there, try to get on the first cable car of the day in order to arrive as soon as the park opens at 9 am. This will give you more time to enjoy it, and a little more privacy as it will soon fill with large crowds of people.
Once in the park, you’ll find hiking trails, birdwatching towers, a traditional market, the Comfama Park and Ecological Park. In these internal parks, you can rent boats, do a zip line, visit the butterfly garden and many other adventurous activities that will put you in touch with nature.
Comuna 13 is a popular area full of brightly colored staircases and houses. It has quickly become one of the emblematic walks in Medellin. The neighborhood is located in one of the recovered areas of the city.
It is tradition to walk through graffiti and eat a bandeja paisa, the typical dish of this area of Antioch. Although the city is much safer now, it is important not to go alone to Comuna 13, we recommend taking a tour or going with local people.
To the east of Medellín is the town of Guatapé whose gigantic reservoir attracts thousands of tourists. It is a beautiful city with houses of all different colors, adorned with elaborately painted panels.
From Guatapé you can climb the Peñón de Guatapé, a monolithic stone 220 meters high. This natural monument belongs to a local family and can be climbed up, but be aware there is 659 steps! From there the view on the reservoir is spectacular.
One of the many parks in Medellín
As a city with a year-round springlike climate, there are green spaces everywhere. That’s why it is such a great plan to visit the city’s parks such as the Barefoot Park, Explora Park, the Botanical Garden, Lleras Park, Berrio Park, and El Poblado Park.
This is another of Medellin’s most popular attractions. On the top of Cerro Nutibara (80 meters high) is the Pueblito Paisa. This is a replication of a typical Antioquia town. With its traditional two-story houses around a small square presided by the church of the town; the Parque de las Esculturas (which is not the same as the Plaza de las Esculturas); and the Carlos Vieco outdoor theater.
Botero Square / Plaza de las Esculturas
Just as there are parks that you can not miss, there are places that you must visit. A great example of this is the Plaza de Botero. With its beautiful and impressive sculptures by the internationally renowned plastic artist Fernando Botero, a native of Medellín, this is a must-see on your visit to the city.
Nearby is the Pasaje Peatonal Carabobo (Carabobo Pedestrian Passage). With several blocks of shops, stores and shopping centers for local purchases, Envigado Square is beautiful and close to markets.
Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
A must-visit in the center of the city (and adjacent to the Berrio Park), is the Basílica. Considered the founding center of the city,
this is the place where you can see works of art, such as the first sculpture donated by Botero to the city, as well as a work by sculptor Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt.
This is one of the most important architectural works in the country. It is located in the center of Medellín next to Bolivar Park. The structure belongs to the neo-Romantic style and was designed by the French architect Charles Émile Carré.
Museo de Antioquia
Located in front of Botero Square, this museum has one of the most complete art collections in the country. Three floors and a basement house more than 16 collections, from pre-Columbian art to international samples.
Feria de las flores
This is an emblematic event of the city of Medellín and is held every year between the end of July and the beginning of August, with an atmosphere that is more similar to carnival than a floral exhibition.
The main activity is the Desfile de Silleteros (Silleteros Parade), where thousands of local people design the flower stands or garlands to walk with them in the parade.
House of Memory Museum
Dedicated to the years of conflict in the city, this museum gives voice to the survivors of the violence and offers a perspective on the city and the country that helps people to understand its history, its wounds, and its recovery process.
Medellin Pilot Public Library
This free access library is located in the Carlos E. Restrepo neighborhood, and was sponsored by UNESCO and has the highest number of cultural events with massive attendance in the city. (twitter: @bppiloto / Carrera 64 No. 50 – 32 – Medellín).
Trilogía Live Bar
This bar has live music most nights, so it has a central rotating stage where great bands play all kinds of music, especially rock.
This is a bar, a disco and also a dance academy, so you can go dancing salsa and bachata at night, even without a partner. The atmosphere is pleasant, safe and very fun. You’ll have the chance to learn new moves and meet new people.
Not everything is salsa in Medellín. Right in the center of the city is this traditional bar whose central show is… tango. Yes, tango. It is a very special place with more than 50 years of tradition where they offer tango shows and live music.
Dulce Jesús Mío
If you know Andrés Carne de Res in Bogotá, you will love Dulce Jesús Mío. There is music of all kinds, very colorful decorations, live shows, waiters disguised as characters, tapas, drinks, and surprises.
Ruta del Café
If you want something quieter, visit the Zona Rosa in Envigado and choose a special place to savor the incredible Colombian coffee. The coffee culture is the pride of the country and wherever you go you will find a magnificent coffee. Recommended brews? Cocolatte Café and Café Otraparte.