18 Best Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

18 Best Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

Renowned as the captivating 'City of the Eternal Spring,' Medellin, nestled amidst the cool embrace of mountains, has emerged as one of Colombia's premier destinations. You also can read about 12 Best National And State Parks In Nevada.

Shedding its dark history plagued by deadly gang warfare and drug trafficking, the city has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis since the 1990s.

As the nation's second-largest urban hub, Medellin stretches across a narrow valley, cocooned by lush forests and adorned with vibrant barrios on its hillsides.

Once a pivotal center of commerce and industry, this metropolis endured a turbulent era of violence in the 1980s, marred by cartels vying for supremacy, including the notorious figure of Pablo Escobar.

Nonetheless, Medellin has not only endured but also thrived, forging a resplendent revival that showcases its artistic enclaves and pulsating nightlife.

The city now beckons visitors with a wealth of attractions, including world-class museums, enchanting parks, and breathtaking vantage points.

Immersing oneself in Medellin's culinary delights, savoring the flavors of local Paisa cuisine, indulging in the richness of Colombian coffee, and absorbing the vibrant cultural tapestry are all essential experiences in this captivating Colombian gem.

Medellin has undeniably earned its rightful place as a must-visit destination, offering a tapestry of delights to explorers and wanderers alike.

Map of Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

Map of Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

18. Plaza Cisneros

Plaza Cisneros

Once notorious for its perilous reputation, Plaza Cisneros has undergone a remarkable transformation and now stands as a captivating tourist hotspot in the heart of the city.

Following its renovation in 2005, this vibrant square has earned the endearing moniker of the 'Park of Lights,' owing to its enchanting ensemble of towering light poles.

Tracing its origins back to the 1920s, the square bears the name of Francisco Javier Cisneros, the visionary Cuban engineer responsible for the construction of the esteemed Antioquia Railway.

While the square is flanked by a handful of exquisite historical edifices, it is the majestic columns of radiant light that draw the majority of visitors.

A staggering total of 300 concrete and metal poles, some reaching a soaring height of 24 meters, comprise this remarkable installation.

Standing together in harmonious clusters, they form a mesmerizing spectacle, particularly when aglow under the nocturnal sky.

After capturing awe-inspiring photographs of this luminous wonder, you can easily explore nearby attractions such as Plaza Botero and the Palace of Culture, which await just a stone's throw away.

17. Palace of Culture

Palace of Culture

A mere ten-minute stroll away, nestled on the opposite side of El Centro, awaits the awe-inspiring and absolutely unmissable Palace of Culture. Adjacent to Plaza Botero, this architectural marvel instantly captivates with its striking black-and-white palette and a majestic dome that commands attention with its unique design.

Conceived by the visionary Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts in 1925, the construction of this magnificent palace was a protracted endeavor, finally reaching completion in 1982 after languishing in abandonment for several decades.

The grand facade of the palace showcases stunning Gothic-inspired elements, reminiscent of a captivating checkerboard pattern that mesmerizes the onlooker.

Originally serving as the administrative headquarters for the Government of Antioquia, the palace has since transformed into a multifaceted cultural hub.

Within its walls, visitors can explore an art gallery, peruse a music archive, relax in a charming cafe, and delve into the treasures of its library.

Furthermore, the palace serves as a vibrant venue for an array of cultural events and community festivities throughout the year,

while its rooftop offers sublime vistas to behold. After marveling at this architectural masterpiece, be sure to venture outside and witness the brilliance of Botero's bronze sculptures that grace the nearby square.

16. Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria

An absolute essential destination, the poignant Casa de la Memoria stands as a testament to Colombia's tumultuous history of conflict since the 1950s. Impeccably crafted, its solemn exhibits illuminate the dark shadows cast by drug cartels, civil warfare, and other armed interventions.

Beyond its educational function, the museum offers a sacred space for victims to share their narratives and honor the lives that were tragically lost.

Emerging onto the scene in 2012, this remarkable concrete complex, adorned with lush green surroundings, rests southeast of El Centro.

Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by dramatic installations and captivating artworks that delve into the intricate tapestry of drug-related violence and paramilitary strife, interwoven with the relentless pursuit of peace.

Poignant photographs and authentic artifacts provide a vivid depiction of the harsh realities endured by the inhabitants of Medellin under the daily threat of violence.

While it is regrettable that several exhibits were exclusively presented in Spanish, our experience at the House of Memory proved invaluable in comprehending Colombia's recent past.

Despite the distressing subject matter, the museum imbues visitors with a sense of hope for the future, leaving a lasting impact on their hearts and minds.

15. Mercado del Rio

Mercado del Rio

If you're on the lookout for a trendy and vibrant dining destination, look no further than the bustling Mercado del Rio.

Situated in close proximity to the MAMM, this lively food haven boasts an impressive array of approximately fifty restaurants, each offering delectable dishes from various corners of the globe.

Distinguishing itself from Medellín's traditional markets, this expansive culinary hall focuses solely on snacks, beverages, and sit-down meals.

While you won't find stalls brimming with fresh local produce to peruse, fear not, as the abundance of food options is more than enough to satisfy any craving.

Whether your palate yearns for the flavors of paella and Peruvian ceviche, the comfort of burgers and sushi, or the timeless appeal of Colombian classics, you'll discover a treasure trove of culinary delights to indulge in.

Adding to the allure, the food court exudes a vibrant and lively atmosphere, where throngs of young professionals flock to fill its tables for lunch and dinner.

As you immerse yourself in the experience, be sure to partake in shared platters and sample the enticing array of flavorful cocktails on offer.

Dining at Mercado del Rio promises not just a satisfying culinary journey but also a truly enjoyable and memorable experience.

14. Planetario de Medellin

Planetario de Medellin

For astronomy enthusiasts and those with a fascination for the vast expanse of the cosmos, the magnificent Planetario de Medellin is an absolute gem, nestled at the southwest corner of Jardin Botanico.

Seamlessly adjacent to the Parque Explora science center, this celestial haven offers an abundance of interactive exhibitions and captivating stargazing shows to enthrall visitors.

Established in 1984, the Planetario now finds its home within a distinctive edifice, crowned by a state-of-the-art planetary dome.

Inside, visitors are greeted by a wealth of astounding planet models and engaging exhibits that unravel the mysteries of the universe, delivering a wealth of knowledge in an entertaining and accessible manner.

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of this extraordinary venue lies in the spellbinding shows presented within its very own planetarium.

Transporting audiences to the far reaches of the cosmos, these captivating presentations explore the sun and the celestial bodies that illuminate our night sky.

With its enchanting allure, the Planetario de Medellin remains a beloved destination for families, and for added convenience, English audio guides are available should the need arise.

Prepare to embark on a cosmic journey, as the Planetario de Medellin invites you to uncover the wonders of the universe, sparking curiosity and inspiring a deep appreciation for the celestial realm that surrounds us.

13. Centro Comercial Santafe

Centro Comercial Santafe

Immerse yourself in a world of retail wonderment at the chic and sophisticated Centro Comercial Santafe, where an entire day can effortlessly be consumed by exploration.

Within the expansive walls of this colossal shopping paradise, an array of stores beckons, ready to satiate your shopping desires, while inviting eateries provide the perfect respite for a delightful meal or a leisurely coffee break.

Furthermore, an abundance of entertainment options awaits, ensuring a truly immersive experience.

Boasting the distinction of being one of the largest shopping centers across the entirety of Latin America, Santafe made its grand debut in 2006.

Spanning an impressive five floors, this retail haven is now home to approximately 450 shops and restaurants, offering a diverse range of merchandise that encompasses everything from trendy accessories and cutting-edge appliances to sports apparel, high-end fashion products, and exquisite home decor items.

Esteemed brands such as Adidas, Nike, American Eagle, and numerous others grace the premises, enticing visitors with their allure.

In addition to familiar names like Starbucks, KFC, and McDonald's, the food court boasts an extensive selection of dining options to satisfy every palate.

Meanwhile, entertainment opportunities abound, from engaging arcade games and exhilarating go-kart races to the allure of a cinema complex where you can immerse yourself in the magic of the silver screen.

With its luminous and open design, as well as its spacious layout, Centro Comercial Santafe provides a pleasant and inviting ambiance, making it an ideal destination to while away the hours in sheer delight.

12. El Castillo Museo

El Castillo Museo

Nestled not too far from the bustling shopping center lies the captivating El Castillo Museo, surrounded by its enchanting gardens.

A mere twenty-minute drive south of El Centro, the verdant and picturesque grounds offer a delightful exploration, with the majestic castle serving as a captivating backdrop for stunning photographs.

Located within the beloved El Poblado neighborhood, this architectural gem was meticulously crafted in 1930, fashioned after the medieval Gothic castles gracing the idyllic Loire Valley of France.

For many years, this distinguished establishment served as a private residence, hosting exclusive guests and extravagant events, until its transformation into a museum in 1971.

Today, visitors have the opportunity to admire the exquisite architecture and the fairy tale-like towers of the castle, as well as embark on guided tours through its art-adorned interior.

Delve into the rich history that resonates within these hallowed walls before venturing outdoors to capture the beauty of the ornate facade, the splendor of the fountains, and the vibrant colors of the meticulously tended flowerbeds.

As you wander along the paths, you'll encounter statues and classic cars, further enhancing the charm of this remarkable place, while treating your eyes to divine vistas that embrace the castle and the city beyond.

11. Medellin Museum of Modern Art (MAMM)

11. Medellin Museum of Modern Art (MAMM)

Embark on a journey of artistic wonderment as you enter the Medellin Museum of Modern Art, lovingly referred to as MAMM.

Within the vibrant Ciudad del Rio neighborhood, this captivating institution houses a treasure trove of captivating artworks, thought-provoking installations, and captivating exhibits.

With its distinctive cluster of box-like structures, artfully intertwined on the grounds of a former steel mill, MAMM stands as a testament to architectural ingenuity. This striking modern edifice embraces approximately 2,000 modern and contemporary pieces, showcasing the creative expressions of local Colombian artists.

Spanning five floors, the museum's diverse collection intricately weaves together the threads of history, culture, and politics, inviting visitors to explore the tapestry of the country through a lens of artistic brilliance.

While we may not typically be avid enthusiasts of modern art museums, our experience at MAMM proved to be a delightful surprise.

We discovered a multitude of art pieces and exhibitions that resonated with our sensibilities, capturing our imagination and stirring our emotions.

Moreover, the architectural marvel of the building itself, coupled with the breathtaking views from its rooftop terrace, further solidified our belief that MAMM is indeed a destination well worth visiting.

10. El Poblado

El Poblado

Immerse yourself in the vibrant allure of El Poblado, undeniably one of the city's most fashionable neighborhoods, beckoning visitors to stay, explore, and indulge.

Stretching gracefully across the undulating hills south of the city center, its tree-lined avenues offer a charming respite, adorned with a plethora of stylish cafes, captivating shops, and enticing restaurants.

It comes as no surprise that El Poblado has become a magnet for expatriates and adventurous backpackers alike, serving as a favored base for those seeking to embrace the spirit of Medellin.

With its roots tracing back to the Spanish settlement in 1616, this affluent district now boasts an impressive skyline of towering apartment buildings and upscale hotels.

Meandering through its shaded streets, you'll discover a myriad of fashionable shopping centers, chic boutiques, and trendy coffee establishments, inviting you to explore their delights.

As you traverse the bustling main boulevard of Calle 10, be sure to sample the renowned hot and cold beverages offered by Pergamino, a true local gem.

As night falls, El Poblado undergoes a remarkable transformation, as the neighborhood pulsates with a lively energy, drawing crowds to its vibrant bars and electrifying nightclubs.

Embraced by a strong sense of safety, you can leisurely stroll through El Poblado at any hour, reveling in its hilly terrain that bestows breathtaking panoramic vistas of Medellin and its majestic surrounding mountains.

9. Parque Explora

Parque Explora

Situated in close proximity to Jardin Botanico, lies the captivating and family-friendly Parque Explora, which stands as one of the city's premier tourist destinations.

Offering a delightful blend of fun and education, this remarkable park showcases an array of captivating science exhibits, with the added allure of South America's largest freshwater aquarium.

An architectural marvel in its own right, the museum's four colossal red cubes command attention, their striking presence standing out amidst the cityscape, embraced by the lush greenery and majestic mountains.

Step inside, and you'll discover a world of approximately 300 interactive exhibits, spanning a wide spectrum of subjects, from music and media to technology, time, and neuroscience.

Meticulously designed, the museum boasts captivating light installations and towering dinosaur models, providing ample opportunities for delightful selfies and memorable moments.

However, the true highlight lies within the vast expanse of the aquarium, an aquatic wonderland housing approximately 4,000 fish and animals sourced from Colombia's rivers, oceans, and the wider Americas.

As you explore the depths, vibrant shoals of brilliantly colored fish captivate your gaze, while fascinating creatures such as axolotls, snakes, and turtles add to the rich tapestry of marine life on display.

8. Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia

Prepare to be enthralled by extraordinary artwork as you venture to Plaza Botero and the Museo de Antioquia.

Nestled along one side of the town square, this cultural haven houses a vast collection of masterpieces by two revered artists, Fernando Botero and Pedro Nel Gomez, both celebrated figures in the city and the nation.

As the second-oldest museum in Colombia, Museo de Antioquia occupies the former city hall, providing a fitting backdrop for its impressive collection.

Across its three expansive floors, you'll encounter a rich tapestry of exhibits, ranging from pre-Columbian artifacts and ceramics to exquisite furniture and contemporary pieces, each one offering a glimpse into the cultural heritage of the region.

Yet, it is the captivating murals by Gomez and the endearing, full-bodied figures that have become Botero's signature that truly steal the spotlight.

As you immerse yourself in their artistry, you'll find yourself captivated by the depth of expression and the unique perspectives they bring to life.

Among the notable attractions is Botero's painting, "The Death of Pablo Escobar," which beckons attention and sparks contemplation. The sculptures adorning the museum's exterior further add to the allure of the space.

With its vibrant square, the enchanting presence of these two extraordinary artists, and the allure of the historic building itself,

Museo de Antioquia quickly became our favored destination among Medellin's museums, leaving an indelible impression of artistic brilliance and cultural significance.

7. Parque Arvi

Parque Arvi

Nestled within breathtaking natural beauty, Parque Arvi beckons with its diverse range of outdoor activities and awe-inspiring vistas.

This picturesque destination not only serves as an ecological nature reserve but also unveils the remnants of a Pre-Hispanic archaeological site. Accessing this scenic haven is an unforgettable experience aboard the Medellin Metrocable.

Stretching across the eastern slopes of Aburrá Valley, the park stands as a guardian of pristine forests, rolling hills, and verdant woods.

Adventure enthusiasts can embark on invigorating hikes and bike rides, immersing themselves in the captivating landscapes while exploring the crumbling structures and ancient paths left behind by indigenous communities.

Guided tours provide deeper insights into the rich historical tapestry of the region, shedding light on the captivating past and introducing visitors to the remarkable local fauna and flora.

However, the journey to Parque Arvi is just as remarkable as the destination itself. Aboard the Medellin Metrocable, a short fifteen-minute ride reveals panoramic vistas of the sprawling city below, offering a bird's-eye view that leaves an indelible impression.

Upon arrival, a quaint market awaits, inviting you to meander through its stalls filled with delightful souvenirs and delectable snacks, creating a prelude to the verdant forest that lies ahead.

Parque Arvi is a sanctuary that seamlessly blends natural wonders, cultural heritage, and breathtaking views, ensuring an immersive experience that lingers in the memory long after you depart its enchanting realm.

6. Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa

For a glimpse into the bygone era of Antioquia, venture to the delightful replica village of Pueblito Paisa.

Perched atop Cerro Nutibara, this picturesque enclave features a charming church, a museum, and quaint souvenir shops that encircle a traditional town square. Keep in mind, however, that reaching the hilltop requires a steep ascent.

Established in 1977, this recreated village transports visitors back to the early twentieth century. Immerse yourself in the allure of its captivating architecture and stroll through a small sculpture garden.

The museum offers an intriguing exploration of the city's history, with a treasure trove of vintage photographs, informative exhibits, and a meticulously detailed bird's-eye map of Medellin.

While Pueblito Paisa may attract its fair share of tourists, its vibrant square offers a picturesque backdrop for capturing sun-kissed moments. Don't miss the opportunity to savor traditional Colombian dishes amidst this lively setting, all while relishing phenomenal views of Medellin that unfold before your eyes.

Pueblito Paisa invites you to step into a nostalgic realm, where the past comes alive, and the allure of Colombian heritage is celebrated amidst a vibrant tapestry of colors, flavors, and panoramic vistas.

5. Jardin Botanico

Jardin Botanico

Immerse yourself in a paradise of vibrant tropical flora at the breathtaking Jardin Botanico, nestled just north of the city center. This haven of tranquility beckons with its lush paths, serene pond, and verdant greenhouses, inviting you to leisurely wander and savor the beauty that surrounds you.

Once a private estate, the gardens now adjoin the esteemed Parque Explora and the captivating Planetario de Medellin. Since the 1970s, these meticulously landscaped grounds have been open to the public, showcasing over 4,500 plant species that celebrate Colombia's remarkable biodiversity.

While meandering through this botanical wonderland, keep an eye out for the graceful iguanas and turtles that call the garden home.

Discover the enchantment of the magical butterfly house, where a kaleidoscope of delicate wings flutters by. And be sure to pause at one of the tranquil outdoor cafes, where you can bask in the serenity of your surroundings.

A true gem of the Jardin Botanico is the awe-inspiring 'Orchideorama.' This architectural marvel captivates with its unparalleled wooden meshwork canopy and towering tree-like structures, creating a captivating sanctuary for a vast collection of blooming orchids.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the vibrant colors and delicate petals that adorn these captivating blooms.

The Jardin Botanico is more than a mere garden; it is an immersive experience that invites you to connect with nature's wonders, to revel in the harmony of its lush landscapes, and to appreciate the intricate beauty of Colombia's floral tapestry.

4. Trip to Guatape

Trip to Guatape

Embark on a captivating journey from Medellin to the enchanting retreat of Guatape, a scenic two-hour drive east of the city.

Nestled alongside a serene lake, this charming destination is renowned for its kaleidoscope of vividly painted buildings adorned with captivating street art.

Among its many attractions, the towering La Piedra del Peñol beckons adventurous souls to conquer its majestic heights, offering awe-inspiring views of the cheerful streets below.

Known as Colombia's most vibrant town, Guatape mesmerizes visitors with its petite, traditional houses, each adorned with captivating facades.

These artistic masterpieces, known as zocalos, depict the community's deep-rooted farming heritage through intricate murals of beliefs, animals, and symbolic imagery.

As you wander through the streets, you'll also encounter charming local cafes and stalls showcasing unique handicrafts, inviting you to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Beyond capturing the beauty of the town's vibrant bas-reliefs with your camera lens, indulge in the tranquility of boat rides that gracefully navigate the shimmering reservoir.

For the adventurous souls, the ascent of La Piedra presents a thrilling challenge, with 750 narrow and steep steps leading to the summit.

As you reach the pinnacle, a panorama of Guatape, the sprawling lake, and the scattered islands unveils itself in a breathtaking spectacle, offering a glimpse of nature's splendor.

Guatape is a captivating haven where artistry, nature, and adventure converge, leaving visitors awe-inspired by its vivid colors, rich heritage, and breathtaking landscapes.

3. Ride the Medellin Metrocable

Ride the Medellin Metrocable

Prepare to be captivated by the unparalleled views of Medellin as you embark on an extraordinary adventure aboard the Medellin Metrocable.

Not only will you be treated to breathtaking panoramas, but these aerial gondolas also offer an affordable, efficient, and convenient means of transportation throughout the city.

Spanning the city's undulating hills, including the vibrant informal settlements, this remarkable public transport system was introduced to the public in 2004.

Ingeniously designed to navigate the region's challenging topography, the Metrocable now boasts six lines, providing visitors with ample opportunities to explore. Beyond serving as a vital mode of transportation for residents, it has become an integral part of Medellin's extensive mass transit network.

Among the must-visit destinations for tourists are Santo Domingo and Parque Arvi. However, regardless of your chosen route, you are guaranteed spellbinding vistas of the barrios nestled below and the vast mountainous basin that cradles Medellin.

Our eyes were constantly drawn to the captivating scenery outside the window, and we found ourselves completely enthralled by the captivating scenes unfolding before us.

The Medellin Metrocable offers an unforgettable journey, where each ride becomes a mesmerizing experience of witnessing the city from new heights.

Prepare to be awed by the majestic vistas and immersed in the vibrant spirit of Medellin as you traverse its urban landscapes with ease and wonder.

2. Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero

At the heart of the city's vibrant pulse lies the charming Plaza Botero, adorned with an array of captivating historic buildings and home to several extraordinary museums.

This bustling square, however, is most renowned for its collection of 23 bronze statues generously donated by the esteemed artist, Botero, which elegantly grace its leafy surroundings.

Nestled in the heart of the Old Quarter, Plaza Botero underwent a remarkable transformation in 2004 when the artist's iconic creations found their permanent residence there.

Botero's bold and unmistakable sculptures, characterized by their voluptuous forms, include an oversized head, a plump canine companion, and statuesque women exuding confidence.

Among them stands the grandeur of "The Horse," an imposing sculpture that demands attention, while the renowned "Roman Soldier" captures the imagination of passersby.

Before or after indulging in the curvaceous allure of these statues, one can explore the adjacent Museo de Antioquia or marvel at the architectural splendor of the Palace of Culture.

While the square often teems with the vibrant energy of food stalls, trinket vendors, and street performers, it is worth noting that the surrounding area may raise some concerns.

Although we would exercise caution when venturing out after dark, there should be no cause for worry during the daylight hours.

Plaza Botero beckons you to immerse yourself in the artistry and cultural richness of Medellin, a testament to the city's vibrant spirit and creative legacy.

Let yourself be enchanted by the larger-than-life sculptures and the myriad wonders that await you in this captivating square, where history, art, and the soul of the city converge in harmonious unity.

1. Comuna 13

Comuna 13

Once considered one of the city's most perilous areas, Comuna 13 has undergone a remarkable transformation, emerging as one of Medellin's most sought-after neighborhoods to explore.

Bursting with energy, this hillside barrio captivates visitors with its vibrant atmosphere, breathtaking panoramas, and awe-inspiring street art.

Formerly plagued by high crime rates, drug activity, and violence, Comuna 13 experienced a revival through enhanced security measures and the installation of expansive outdoor escalators, fostering its reintegration into the fabric of Medellin.

Coupled with the kaleidoscope of colorful houses and captivating murals adorning its streets, this neighborhood has gradually blossomed into a premier tourist destination.

Yet, amidst its popularity, Comuna 13 has preserved its distinct character and an authentic ambiance.

Navigating the labyrinthine maze of narrow streets, staircases, and escalators can be challenging, prompting many visitors to opt for guided tours of Comuna 13.

Led by local residents, these tours offer an insider's perspective, leading guests to the finest viewpoints and most captivating murals while unraveling the neighborhood's rich history.

For us, Comuna 13 holds a special place in our hearts, as its mesmerizing artworks, soaring escalators, and boundless vistas of the barrio create an unforgettable experience, making it an absolute must-visit destination.

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