*This post is also available in: Español
Discover the pulse of Medellín, Colombia with our comprehensive guide, revealing the city’s top attractions, hidden gems, and practical tips for an unforgettable experience in this bustling South American destination.
Things to know before you go
How to pronounce Medellín: Medellín is pronounced with a soft j sound – meh-day-jean – not with the ya sound that typically comes with the double ll’s in Spanish.
Getting there: If you’re flying Internationally or locally you can fly directly into the José María Córdova International Airport (MDE). A taxi from here will be 100.000 pesos. If you’ll be flying from Bogotá or somewhere within Colombia, check Google Flights that fly into the Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) as it’s located right in the city. Flights are usually a little more expensive, but you’ll be saving a lot on a round-trip taxi as well as time.
Getting around: Uber works great for getting around, but if you want to use the public transit the metro, tram, etc are easy to use. I recommend using the Movitt App as Google Maps sometimes doesn’t have all the best routes.
He who must not be named: The Narcos series put Medellin on the map for Pablo Escobar tourism but mentioning his name in the city is not recommended. You see, the people of Medellin went through decades of violence because of this guy and probably know someone that was killed because of his actions. It’s ok to have a curiosity and want to learn more, but just as a common courtesy it’s better not to mention his name in public.
Drinking water: The tap water is safe to drink in Medellín.
Weather & when to go: Medellín has a lovely spring-climate so it’s honestly enjoyable anytime of year. However the most rain happens in March, April, May, September, October, and November if you want to try and avoid those months.
Travel Planning: If you want a trip to Medellín that includes the most trendy places to be, eat, and stay – contact Jennifer from VÁMONOS.
Where to stay
Poblado and Laureles are the two main neighborhoods to stay in Medellín. I have stayed in both areas and I think Poblado is better for visiting Medellin, while if I lived full-time here I would love to live in Laureles. Both neighborhoods offer tree-lined streets with aesthetically pleasing cafés, bars, shops, and restaurants. The only downside is that they aren’t that close to each other so you have to cross the city to visit one or the other.
Within Pablado, I particularly like the Manila neighborhood so most recommendations will be in here. It’s slightly closer to the metro station, has tons of nice places to stay, and new restaurants opening every week. It’s also walking distance to all the nightlife in Provenza, but far enough away so you don’t have to hear it.
Laureles is a large neighborhood to explore and it’s entirely flat compared to the hills in Poblado. It’s very quiet and has a bit of a younger crowd that lives here because of the nearby universities, also making it more affordable. Time Out has even named Laureles to be the coolest neighborhood in the world in 2023. If your vibe is more quiet coffee shops, yoga studios, and chill neighborhood bars – this might be the neighborhood for you.
What to do
Comuna 13: Medellin is all about change and Comuna 13 is the perfect example of that as this was once the city’s most violent neighborhood. Through art, culture, and music it has now become one of the most visited destinations in the city. If you’re going on the weekend, I recommend just walking around on your own and self exploring because it’s a fun and crowded street party. If you want to truly learn about the history of the neighborhood, go on a weekday with an English-speaking guide when it won’t be so crowded so you can fully take in the stories of the change that has happened here.
Medellin Walking Tour: One of the best tours I have done and I recommend it as a way to kick off your trip. Interesting guides that give you personal stories of Medellin’s violent past. The tour is “free”, you pay whatever you want at the end. RESERVE YOUR SPOT HERE.
Comuna 8: While most people have heard of Comuna 13, there’s now another Comuna that is in the process of progression that is for visitors looking to get off the beaten path. You must visit here with a local and I recommend booking the “Discover a secret place with locals (Comuna 8)” experience offered by Allan, a guy who has actually grown up in the comuna. You’ll get to see the neighborhood from his perspective and learn about the transformation happening now. It’s the type of experience that will leave an impact on your memories of Medellin.
Go on a street food tour: During a street food tour in El Poblado, you will taste 5 delicious types of Colombian street food, learn about their preparation, and ingredients. Plus you’ll also get to visit a stunning rooftop bar at the end!
Play Tejo: Tejo is a traditional Colombian game similar to “horseshoe” but much more exhilarating as it involves hurling a heavy disc at an explosive target. Picaro Las Palmas is a fun outdoor restaurant where you can enjoy the game with traditional Colombian food.
Guatape: This water reservoir is one of the most beautiful places to visit outside the city and I recommend taking a tour here as it’s a lot to coordinate on your own. I did THIS EXPERIENCE on Airbnb it includes transportation, breakfast, visiting the colorful town, going up the Peñol rock (additional 25.000 peso cost), lunch, and spending the day on a private island. There are also some gorgeous hotels if you want to spend a night or two here to unwind. The Luxe by Charlee has the most Instagramable vibes or Soy Local Guatape is an affordable option. If you’re staying overnight I’d actually recommend still booking the day tour here so you efficiently cover the main sites and then not getting on the van back (just don’t bring big suitcases with you). They have small tuk tuk taxis that can take you to your hotel from the town and then a bus back to the city the next day costs just 19.000 pesos.
Experience the city on an electric bike: Bike tours are one of the best ways to see a city but with all the hills in Medellin, it can be a lot of work. Booking this ELECTRIC BIKE tour is definitely the way to go.
Jardin Botanico: The botanical gardens are free to visit and offer a tranquil setting in a busy city. There have a butterfly garden, orchid center, ponds, and special events hosted here throughout the year. You can also dine at the restaurant In Situ located within the park.
Go on the highest zip-line in Colombia: Experience the exhilaration of Colombia’s longest and highest zip-line, with a pause to admire the breathtaking El Tequendamita waterfalls on your journey to Cascada Salto Del Buey. Soar through the air for 2,200 feet, passing five distinct waterfalls nestled between mountains. Embark on a hike to reach the most picturesque waterfall, and then ascend an adventurous Ferrata trail alongside the waterfall for an adrenaline-fueled thrill like no other.
Get professional photos taken: During this unique experience, guests will embark on an interactive photography journey through the streets of Poblado, discovering breathtaking views, serene nature at Parque Lineal La Presidenta, captivating street art, cultural insights, and distinctive architecture along the way while getting beautiful photos taken of you to remember your trip.
Pool day pass: Depending on the time of year, Medellin gets some gorgeous sunny days that need to be spent at the pool. If where you’re staying doesn’t have a pool there are a few hotels that let you use the pool if you consume a certain amount. The 360 Rooftop or Masaya have a consumible day pass for 100.000 pesos. Or if you’re looking for a small quiet luxury pool, the 23 Hotel offers a consumible day pass for 160.000 pesos.
Parque Presidenta: This park is a small oasis of natural streams running through the city and iconic to Medellin’s perfect balance of city and nature.
Casa de la Memoria: This is a free museum dedicated to remembering the victims of Medellin’s violent past.
Paraglide over the valley: Fly over Medellin during an incredible paragliding experience! You will be able to admire Medellin and its wonderful landscapes from the sky, as well as document your experience through the photography and video service provided by the team, making this moment an unforgettable one.
Pueblito Paisa: Enjoy a stunning view of the city with traditional Colombian restaurants around at Pueblito Paisa. It’s best enjoyed when it’s still light out and if you go around 5 pm you can watch the sunset.
See a soccer match: Witness the Colombian soccer league in a way you’ve never imagined. Attend a thrilling soccer match, where you’ll see firsthand the passionate support of Colombian soccer fans for their team.
Parque Arvi: This massive forest is a breath of fresh air near the city. The most unique thing about it is how you arrive – via the MetroCable! While here you can enjoy easy hikes to take in the surrounding nature. Just remember it’s closed on Mondays.
Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin: Enjoy the Modern Art Museum of Medellin for interesting art exhibits. They also have a movie theater showing independent films.
Go on a coffee farm tour: Colombia is one of the world’s largest coffee producing countries but do you really know what it takes to get to the final product? On this experience, you’ll get to learn about the entire process from seed to cup at an organic coffee farm, while tasting four varieties of coffee.
Where to eat
Coffee & Cafés
Bars & Nightlife
*This post is also available in: Español