Did you know Medellin is one of the most loved cities by visitors to Colombia?
If a trip to Colombia is on your cards, and you’re thinking of passing by the Antioquia, you’ll find this list of top things to do in Medellin very useful.
You are about to see why Medellin is becoming so popular with tourists and known for being the perfect South American location for expats and digital nomads alike.
I assure you, with so many things to do here, you’ll find yourself not wanting to leave.
Top things to do in Medellin
Before we get into this exciting list of things to do in Medellin, I must mention that these activities have been inspired by local friends of mine. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to stay with many families that have shown me around this city.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Medellin, willing to engage with the culture, and looking for fun activities that can add a difference to your day, keep reading.
It’s no secret that Medellin in recent years has put a lot of effort into making the city more tourist-friendly. The great news for visitors is, you can find accommodation of all standards.
Maybe you have a specific food requirement? For example, if you’re a non-meat eater you can find a wealth of vegetarian and vegan restaurants scattered around the city.
Outside of the food and accommodation, though, let’s see what you can get up to in one of Colombia’s most important and vibrant cities.
1. Sip on Colombian Coffee in El Poblado
El Poblado is the Zona Rosa area of the city. It’s primarily located up in the mountains but a very pleasant walk once you’ve arrived at Lleras park.
You’ll find some of the best restaurants in the city along with a very lively night scene.
If you drink coffee, El Poblado is one of the best places you could be. El Poblado is home to some of my favorite coffee shops and where you can also find a superior cup of coffee.
Juan Valdez is the main Colombian coffee chain that is very popular with all Colombians. So if you want to sit back and mingle with locals you’ll find a branch right here in El Poblado.
My favorite coffee shop is Cafe Pergamino. You’ll sample some local coffee harvests that are only available in Colombia, not to mention, you can choose from a wide range of brewing methods to suit your liking. For me, Aeropress and Chemex make the perfect brew.
2. A Picnic in the Botanical Gardens
Whenever I get the chance, relaxing in the Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite things to do in Medellin. It feels nice to be in a mini forest-like environment close to wild animals.
On a hot sunny day, a trip to the Botanical gardens is a must. Even if it’s just for an hour or two. I can arrive here very easily by catching the Metro.
The great thing about the Botanical gardens is that it’s a free attraction that allows you to escape the madness of the city. At times, I’ve felt like I’m in another dimension sat in here.
It’s gorgeous, and you’ll see many locals just laid down passing time here. It makes the perfect picnic spot whether you love plants or not. The gardens are a safe place to relax and take in the atmosphere.
If you’re not planning on having a picnic, you’ll find various restaurants on site. I found the food on offer to be very reasonably priced, and if you don’t like what’s on offer, you can also find more options located right outside the venue.
All in all, the Botanical gardens are a lovely place to relax. Come here to feel connected to nature and spot some free-roaming animals like iguanas and rare birds you may not have seen otherwise.
3. Walk around Botero Plaza
The Botero Plaza is one of Medellin’s more renowned tourist attractions. The plaza also is very popular with locals and other Colombian tourists visiting Medellin.
You’ll encounter 23 humongous bronze sculptures divided between the outdoor display and the indoor museum. The sculptures are big, bold, and equipped with exaggerated features.
I found the plaza to be a great place to sit back and just doing some good-old people watching. It can get hot here, so make sure you carry sunscreen if visiting during the day; especially midday.
You’ll also see many people just loitering around. Keep your wits about you as it can get a little shady in the areas surrounding the plaza. You have to visit the plaza to appreciate Botero’s work.
4. Hike up to Las Palmas
This is an amazing viewpoint that allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city and see the Medellin skyline from a different angle.
This is a very popular place for locals to visit, especially in the evenings. I recommend you get up in the day time for those Instagram worth shots and you’ll not be disappointed.
You can also grab something to eat whilst ogling at the view. I arrived here by bus from the San Diego shopping center and walked back down.
The viewpoint of Las Palmas is on the way to the airport. So if traveling in the daytime lookout for it when you are arriving into the city on the left-hand side.
5. Head out to Jardin
Medellin is truly a great city to visit as a traveler, but you have to get out to Jardin at some point. I just packed up my backpack and caught the bus there early one morning.
Jardin is a small coffee town about a 3-hour drive from the center of Medellin. This charming small town has done a great job of preserving its buildings and local atmosphere.
Also, Jadin is very popular with people who are traveling around Colombia and still manages to feel like a lesser-known tourist site. You’ll find that it is famous for its organic coffee farm experiences. A short walk around the peaceful and picturesque plaza will not disappoint you.
You’ll find many locals are enjoying the simplicity of everyday life in the town.
Whether it’s eating the local delicacy with the family, or drinking some of Antioquia’s finest coffee, there’s plenty for the eye to see.
You’ll very often see horsemen showing off their horses and taking it in turns around the plaza. There’s much more to see if you want, Jardin has several attractions from Coffee Farm tours to waterfalls and hiking.
Like fish? You can find some of the finest trout this region has to offer. I wouldn’t want you to miss this by any chance.
6. Go to Salon Malaga
You won’t get much more local than this. If you get the metro to station San Antonio, take a short walk and you’ll find yourself in the city center; where you can find this absolute gem.
The walls are covered with memorabilia, there are many black and white photos of performing artists – mainly of the tango genre. You can also find tango shows in the evening.
This is one of the most inexpensive and lesser tourist places you can visit to get a feel for local life in Medellin. The bar itself has not changed it’s interior in years. The place is spotless inside and you feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine.
7. Ride Around the City
Riding the Metro and taking a taxi couldn’t be easier in Medellin. However, if you’d like to soak up the sun rays and protect the environment as you transport yourself around the different neighborhoods, then rent a bike and get some exercise for free.
Make sure you lookout for the EnCicla stations dotted around the city, they’re not located at every station but you’ll find them at most major ones and close to some parks.
Medellin also has something called ‘Ciclo Vias’. This means that for one particular day of the week a normal city street gets closed down. This allows citizens and travelers alike to ride along or walk freely for a few hours of the day.
Ciclo vias are very popular with locals and a part of everyday life; they help the environment.
Sunday is a great day to experience this, and of course, it’s free to take part.
So, with so much to do how will you decide to spend your time exploring Medellin?
With so much fun to be had in this bustling city, I hope you feel motivated to try at least one of these things to do whilst allocating your precious time slots.
Whether it’s tango dancing at Salon Malaga with locals or people-watching in the Plaza Botero, you can be sure that you’re engaging in the top things to do in Medellin.