Things to do In Medellin Colombia
Medellin is one of the most popular cities in the Antioquia region of Colombia and that’s for a good reason! You can easily spend 3 days in Medellin without getting bored for a second and we recommend staying longer, much longer. In this article, we’ll answer most questions you might have about the city of everlasting spring. The best place to stay in Medellin and the different neighborhoods in Medellin. Is Medellin safe to travel to and is it safe for going to nightclubs or even stay for a longer period of time? What are the best things to do in Medellin? We’ll start by explaining how to get to the city and how to get around once you’re there! Keep reading this travel guide to Medellin to make your trip to this city the best it can be!
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Travel to Medellin by bus
Getting to Medellin is pretty easy. You can either travel to Medellin by bus or by plane and both options are very straightforward. Medellin has two bus terminals, one in the North of town and one in the South of town. Depending on your destination, you need to choose your terminal accordingly. For destinations north of Medellin, you need to use the North Terminal and for destinations in the south, use the South terminal. Taking the Medellin Bogota bus must happen in the South terminal and the Bogota Medellin bus will also arrive in the same southern terminal since Bogota is located on the south of Medellin. Redbus is a popular bus service in Colombia where you can book your tickets in advance, but you can also buy them in the terminal right before you leave.
Travel to Medellin by plane
Medellin has an international airport close by, the Jose Maria Cordoba airport. We only used the airport for a national flight to Cartagena, but international flights fly to this airport as well. Transportation from Medellin Airport to the city can be done in different ways, but the most budget-friendly transportation is probably the airport bus. It will take you from Medellin Airport to the city center for around 9000 COP (2,5€ more or less). The airport bus will drop you at the Nutibara Hotel at Parque Berrio, which is smack in the city center. But of course, you can also rent a car or get a taxi to take you from Medellin Airport to the city!
Getting around in Medellin City
Medellin is a big city, which doesn’t mean you can’t just walk around, but you’ll soon notice the metro comes in handy. It’s also possible to get a taxi or a collectivo, but we loved the metro system so much, that we never even thought about a taxi. Generally, we got around by walking and the Medellin metro system. Though it’s so easy to travel quickly through the city, Medellin is also a great place to just walk around and discover. The entire city center is well maintained and has a lot to offer for city trippers as well as park dwellers.
The Medellin metro system has been called one of the top transport systems in the world. Each year, more than 160 million people use this system. It’s been around for a long time and you can use older metro lines as well as modern lines. Medellin has 5 lines and dozens of stations all around the city. The L line runs all the way to the top of the hill where you can visit the library and look out over the entire city. From there you can board a cable car system that takes you to Parque Arvi (see below). The metro is operational from 4.30 AM until 11 PM. Check their website to see schedules and maps. Here’s a map of the entire system.
Tips on using the Medellin metro system
You can get a rechargeable card if you plan on staying a few days. The card itself is free and you can check your balance or top it up when needed. The price per trip is very cheap with a rechargeable card. Buying a single journey ticket each time you board a metro, will be up to 15% more expensive. You’ll also lose precious time waiting in line to buy a ticket. With the prepaid card, you can walk almost straight to the platform. The card is called “Targeta Civica” and we used one card for the both of us.
The Medellin metro can be extremely busy during peak hours. We have this system to step into the metro at the exact same time so we never lose sight of each other. It can always happen that we don’t succeed in this when it’s too crowded. If one of us stays behind on the platform while the other is on board, we agreed to meet each other at the next station.
Things to do in Medellin Colombia
There are so many things to do in Medellin that our list will never be completely inclusive, but if you plan to stay 3 days in Medellin, you might need to narrow down your list of things to do in Medellin to the top things to do. So we created op top list of things to do in Medellin and if you keep on scrolling, we also added a few things you can do in a day trip from Medellin.
Parque Explora is one of our favorites. It might be designed for kids to explore science, but we loved it nevertheless. Parque Explora is a very big science discovery center and it can get seriously busy sometimes. It’s a great place to try hundreds of science experiments, visit the aquarium or reptile center. The park is close to the ‘Universidad’ metro station and the entrance fee is around 10€. You could easily spend an afternoon there. You can find the Parque Explora website right here.
Parque de Los Deseos and the Planetarium
The park of dreams and the Planetarium are located right next to Parque Explora and they are one of many awesome things to do in Medellin. We visited the planetarium to watch the show. This show is an educational video about the universe, displayed onto the sphere ceiling of a large round auditorium. Meanwhile, you can lay back and try not to start dreaming. The surrounding park is popular with locals and students. Read the time on a giant solar clock or try to talk to each other with the help of two giant half moons and a little science. Parque de Los Deseos is a free park, but the planetarium sets you back around 6€.
Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero
We’re not big fans of musea, but we visited the museum anyway. I guess if you’re not that much into museums, like us, this one could be skipped. The museum is partly about Botero, an artist born in Medellin. The other part offers other art: sculptures, paintings, photography, … To understand what Botero art is all about, you could just as well visit the Plaza Botero for free. The park is filled with massive statues and a lot of people. It’s a great pastime just sitting in the park and watch life unfold before you. The entrance fee for the Antioquia museum is around 6€.
Parque Berrio is not really a park. It’s more of an urban area, close to the metro station ‘Berrio’. The park is usually full of life. A lot of people hang or sit around, watching the world walk by and meeting up friends. It’s really the center of all things in Medellin, geographically and life wise. If you get off the metro at the Berrio station, you can easily start walking around this area. Most sights and activities are within walking distance of Berrio.
The Jardin Botanico really is a park! This garden has thousands of different flowers and plants to admire. It’s a great place to escape the city for a few hours. Located in the city center, the park is accessible via the metro station “Universidad” and it’s close to Parque Explora and Parque de Los Deseos. Jardin Botanico opens at 9 AM and shuts its doors at 4.30 PM. You can enter the park for free.
Pablo Escobar City Tour
The Pablo Escobar City Tour is a quite controversial tour that is for sale in Medellin. Some love it, others hate it. We decided not to go on this tour because we thought it was too expensive and we had some doubts about where our money would go to. Multiple operators offer the tour. Depending on which tour you book, prices vary from 20€ to 50€ per person. Other people in our hostel went on this tour and they were only moderately excited about it.
Other facts and things to do in Medellin
Eat – Street food in Medellin
Medellin has a lot of great street food. We loved the empanadas best. They’re slightly different in each city. We found a great empanada stall next to the Exito supermarket and just couldn’t stay away. There’s a lot of other typical street food in Colombia and Medellin. We’re careful with food because of my allergies. That’s why we better redirect you to a real foodie in Colombia who wrote about Colombian Street food. Check our extended backpacking guide to Colombia to explore more interesting food in Colombia!
It’s also possible to find great coffee shops in Medellin.
Party – Parque Lleras and the Poblado
El Poblado is the place to be for partying. Most of the Medellin hostels are located in this area, so there will definitely be a backpacker vibe. We chose a hostel outside this area since we’re not into a party every day. El Poblado is full of life, day and night. We went to Poblado once, with 10 other people staying in our hostel and we had a wonderful time. Going out is always better when you’re with some new international friends!
Sleep – Best place to stay in Medellin
You can choose to stay in different areas and neighborhoods of Medellin depending on what your interests are like. For instance, Poblado is the party area. Beds are expensive in Poblado and chances on a good night of sleep aren’t very good. If you’re in Medellin to party, Poblado is perfect, but if you’re not looking for dance clubs and a party scene, you might want to choose a different neighborhood, like we did. We spend over three weeks in the city and are pretty clear about our favorite hostel in Medellin: Palm Tree Hostel. TomPlanMyTrip wrote an extensive guide on choosing the right hostel in Medellin.
Best neighborhoods in Medellin
Since Medellin is such a large city, it has been divided into different neighborhoods, each with their specific character. El Centro or the downtown area is very lively and busy. You’ll see a lot of locals here as well as travelers and the Medellin city center can’t be missed. You’ll also find Parque Botero and the museum here. Poblado, on the other hand, is a modern party area where accommodation is more expensive and the area feels a little unsafe at night. During the day, Poblado is perfect for shopping and finding great restaurants. Laureles is more of a residential and quieter area, which is more laid back and you’ll still find some great bars and pubs here. Read more about the best neighborhoods in Medellin on CultureTrip.
Is Medellin safe?
Medellin is a safe city to visit and even though many people ask the same question: Is Medellin safe? It is safe enough to spend a few days and even to move to the city and live there. As with any other large city in the world, there is always a chance to encounter someone trying to rob you, but the danger is no larger than anywhere else in the world. When visiting Medellin, always use common sense, don’t flash expensive belongings and take a taxi home after a drunk night of partying. You can always check the WorldNomads website to find more information on staying safe in Colombia.
Day Trips from Medellin
Parque Arvi is another great place to escape the city for a few hours. There are a lot of activities to be done like zip lining, horseback riding, hiking or simply enjoying the forest. The park is located just outside Medellin and you can get there with the metro and metro cable. The metro cable first takes you up on the hill, where you have to switch lines. The last part of the metro cable hovers you for twenty minutes over kilometers of the forest before you reach the station to enter the park.
Guatape and the Penol de Guatape
Guatape and the rock, Penol de Guatape, can be visited in a day trip. If you have a little time to spare, we recommend staying a few days. Guatape is a charming and colorful little town with a square where children play and adults meet up. The Guatape region was flooded in the sixties after building a hydroelectric dam. If you climb over 700 steps to reach the top of the Penol de Guatape, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the area. Entrance fee to climb the Penol de Guatape is approximately 5€ per person. Take some extra money for ice cream on the way up. Read our guide to Guatape here!
Best things to do in Medellin Colombia
These are the best things to do in Medellin Colombia, combined in this travel guide to Medellin. If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Colombia, make sure to check out our backpacking guide to Colombia, our travel page with more destinations in Colombia and our LGBT travel page about Colombia!