Things to do in Medellin, Colombia

We have an amazing guest post about things to do in Medellin, Columbia, by the avid adventurer Mike. Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so he decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist. There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook

Medellin has recently become a must-see city in South America and is a popular destination on any Colombian itinerary.  But that was not always the case. A few decades ago, this was actually the most dangerous place in the world. 

But the days of Pablo Escobar and the notorious Medellin cartel are long behind this city. In fact, tourism is booming, and people from all over the world are flocking to the streets of this charming Columbian city. 

So, if you’re thinking about traveling to Medellin, you should have a general idea of what places are a must. This is exactly what we’ll talk about here, in our guide on the best things to do in Medellin!

Things to do in Medellin, Colombia - Metro Cable

Free Walking Tour

A Free Walking Tour is a great way to get to know the city and explore some of its most popular tourist areas. The tour usually lasts for about 3, 3.5 hours, and you’re not required to pay anything upfront. You do need to book it in advance though since they only accept about 20 people per group, and tips at the end of the tour are expected. 

This tour usually includes a trip to Medellin’s downtown area, which covers some of its most popular squares and historic districts. Yes, you could explore all of those on your own, but then you wouldn’t hear all the amazing stories and urban legends that only the locals can tell you. 

This is a great way to get to know the city superficially and learn about its varied history. But it’s not enough to just take a Free Walking Tour – there are some places that deserve more attention, and others that aren’t even covered in the tour. So, let’s talk about those.

Things to do in Medellin, Colombia - Free walking tour

Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero features 23 sculptures of Medellin’s most famous artist – Fernando Botero. He is best known for Boterismo; his own personal style of art, which is characterized by exaggerated proportions. This pretty much means that all of his artwork is fat and very humorous!

And you will see numerous examples of that in Plaza Botero, with exaggerated sculptures of animals, humans and even just human limbs. But our favorite work of his is not a sculpture you will find at the park; it’s Botero’s rendition of Mona Lisa, which is incredibly amusing and cute.

The square is also home to the Palace of Culture, a building that serves as both a museum (sort of) and the headquarters of The Institute of Culture and Heritage of Antioquia. With a fascinating exterior, most people don’t even bother to go inside, but rather just admire the architecture from the outside. However, we recommend that you check out the museums and galleries inside the building, as they are even more fascinating than the checkered facade. 

Definitely check out the part of the Palace that is dedicated to Rafael Uribe Uribe, one of Colombia’s former presidents, if you truly want to learn more about Medellin and its history. You don’t need to pay an entrance fee, so there’s really no reason not to go inside!

Things to do in Medellin, Colombia - Botera Park

Metro Cable and Parque Arvi

Parque Arvi is quite far away from Medellin’s center, and it’s best that you visit it when you know that you can afford to spend almost an entire day here. The easiest way to get there is to take a cable car to the top of the park and avoid climbing uphill for hours. You will actually have to take two gondolas to get to the top, which means breathtaking views the entire ride. 

This is going to be a big change from the urban streets of Medellin. You’ll be surrounded by forest, untouched nature and you’ll actually get to breathe in some fresh air! It’s an amazing place that is undoubtedly worth your time, and that will make your trip to Medellin a thousand times better.

The park is actually quite big, with loads of hiking and walking trails waiting to be explored. Experienced hikers can take on these trails on their own with the help of online maps, but those that don’t make a habit of going hiking every weekend should consider taking a tour. The park area is vast, and it is easy to get lost if you don’t have anything to guide you.

Throughout the park there are tonnes of food stalls and small souvenir shops, so you don’t have to bring anything with you other than a cozy jacket. Parque Arvi is on an elevation of 8000 feet, so it is going to be much colder there than in the city.

Things to do in Medellin, Colombia - Arvi Park

Comuna 13

What was once the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellin is now a popular tourist area. Comuna 13 used to be a very poor neighborhood, known for gang violence, illegal trafficking, and frequent police raids. But that’s ancient history; nowadays, this Medellin neighborhood is popular for amazing street art and various street performances.

If you’re lucky enough, you might get to see some breakdancers at the top of the hill. And if you’re not, you can just walk around and admire the graffiti; if you go with a guide, they will be able to tell you about the meaning behind each of the murals.

Comuna 13 is a very hilly area, so expect a lot of stairs and uphill walking. There are escalators that make things a lot easier, but you should still wear comfortable and lightweight shoes. It is entirely worth it to get to the top of the hill, as it offers a spectacular view of the city of Medellin.

This is easily one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of the city, and probably the biggest testament to how much Medellin has changed. But you still shouldn’t go around asking people about Escobar and the cartel days – people of Medellin are not fans, and they don’t like to be reminded of the city’s sinister past.

And you shouldn’t venture into every single part of the commune; Comuna 13 is actually made up of many different neighborhoods and you should stick to the ones where there are plenty of tourists. Even though the area is very safe these days, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious, as gang violence and poverty are still an issue the city is dealing with.

Things to do in Medellin, Colombia - Comuna 13 escalator

Have you ever been to Medellin? What was your favorite place in the city? Which of the above things to do in Medellin did you like the most?

Things To Do in Medellin, Colombia Pinterest

One Response

  1. […] My time in Colombia started in Medellin, exploring the colourful streets full of history and sadness, yet reignited by hope and promise of a better future. The city is so much more than its past and there are tons of things to do in Medellin. […]

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