Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Medellin

  • Published 2021/08/25

Medellin is a cosmopolitan city with lots of parks, new buildings, restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs.

It is the second-largest city of Columbia and also the capital of Antioquia province.

The city has a Metro and cable car network.

It is a prosperous city with a thriving business and commerce and a burgeoning tech scene.

Lots of foreigners are also making it their home, especially retired people and digital nomads.

However, alongside the new developments, the old Medellin settlements are still extant.

The city represents an amalgamation of modernity and continuity of old culture and traditions.

The city has a fair share of salsa and tango dance forms in its popular culture.

You may come across a live performance of these dance forms in most pubs and nightclubs.

Here is our list of 15 places to visit and things to do in Medellin:

Salsa and Tango

When we talk about Colombia, the first thing that comes to our mind is Salsa.

Close in popularity, the graceful tango is another Colombian contribution to the world of performing arts.

The easiest way to sample these delightful art forms is to hit a pub where you can watch professional dancers performing live.

Medellin has its share of clubs and bars themed on these two dance forms.

You can visit Salsa clubs dotting the city to see budding and expert dancers busy in improving their arts.

Salsa and Tango classes are also popular with visitors who are in the city on a long vacation.

Besides, the Tango Museum or Casa Museo Gardeliana is worth a visit.

It’s named after tango superstar Carlos Gardel.

In June, the city also hosts an international tango festival, and most of its public spaces celebrate the occasion with tango music and dance performances.

Plaza Botero and Parque Lleras

Plaza Botero

Diego Grandi /

Medellin is nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring because the weather here is temperate all year round.

As a result, people spend more time outdoors.

There are numerous parks and plazas in the city that are bustling with people and street vendors.

Plaza Botero is one of the most visited places in the city.

It is famous for its sculptures of oversized people by local artist Botero.

Oversized sculpture at Plaza Botero

Toniflap /

The place is always crowded with local visitors and tourists.

All in all, there are 23 Botero sculptures, and people hang around them.

Often, there are street performances by local artists.

There are a few museums, too, in close vicinity.

Parque Lleras must be a one-of-its-kind park where people hang out round the clock.

There are all sorts of people here – vendors, musicians, foreigners, and residents.

You can also find here people boozing till the wee hours.

If you are new to the city, you will have a wonderful time here watching the people.

Festival of Flowers

Festival of Flowers

Orchid photho /

Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring, hosts a flower festival from 1-10 August every year.

It is spring, and it’s the time when flowers are in bloom.

For these ten days, the city is in a completely festive mode.

Hundreds of different cultural and musical events, exhibitions, fashion parades, and dog walks occur during this period.

Parade during the Festival of Flowers

Orchid photho /

Every nook and corner, every balcony, every billboard, and street is decorated with flowers.

The flower festival celebrates the independence of Antioquia.

Originally, the festival began in 1957 to commemorate the end of slavery.

At least once, you should schedule your trip to the city to watch this fabulous event.

Christmas Lighting

Medellin’s Christmas lighting

Orchid photho /

Medellin’s Christmas lighting or El Alumbrado is famous all over the world for its scale and ingenuity.

Right from the beginning of December through the Holidays, the city is illuminated in thousands of creative ways.

Earlier, the lighting would begin on December 7 to mark the beginning of the Christmas season.

But because of a heavy spike in tourist arrivals to watch the Christmas lighting, the event has now been scheduled right at the beginning of December.

Medellin’s Christmas lighting has become so popular that the city now competes with other top holiday tourist destinations.

Whether you want some scintillating pictures and videos for your Instagram post or sheer Christmas joy, Medellin will live up to your expectation.

Christmas lights in Medellin

oscar garces /

Food Tours

If sampling local delicacies are your way to know a place and its culture, you should take a food tour of the city.

Some companies offer you a tour of fruit markets, food markets, restaurants, and street food hubs.

These companies have insider knowledge of the city’s best culinary destinations.

On your own, you may not be able to discover all that the city has to offer in terms of food.

But if you take a food tour, you can reach the best street food hubs or gourmet restaurants straightaway.

Toucan Café and Medellín City Tours are some of the food tour organizers.

Microbrewery Tours

After all the trips and meals, you can sample some local craft beer if you feel parched.

The city seems to have a burgeoning number of microbreweries where you can find authentic and freshly brewed craft beer.

But on your own, you might not know how to find these microbreweries.

To help you, some tourism companies organize microbrewery tours much like the food tours that we have discussed above.

3 Cordilleras and Cerveza Premium Apostol are among the prominent microbrewery tour operators.

20 Mission Cerveza is very famous for serving great local beer.

Brew House and Medellín Beer Factory brew their own beer and have full pub menus.

Parque Arvi

Arvi metro station

Brander Comunicaciones /

Parque Arvi is an ecological nature reserve located in the mountains close to the city.

It will help if you take a metro-cable ride to reach this top-rated tourist attraction.

This ecological wilderness is spread over 16,000 hectares, of which over 1600 hectares is natural forest.

There are about 89-km of hiking trails which you can enjoy as a guided tour.

Natural trail in Parque Arvi

vinjusoul /

You can also take bird-watching tours and see an amazing array of wildflowers and butterflies apart from the birds.

There is a small market at the entrance of the park where a food court is situated.

There are some hotels as well.

Parque Avi is also a prominent pre-Hispanic archaeological site, and you can find antique constructions such as buildings, roads, gardens of that period.

Parque Avi

Juan Camilo Jaramillo /



Fotos593 /

Guatape looks like a vast expanse of tiny green islands.

This geographical marvel was created in 1970 when the entire area was submerged in flood.

Water from the gorges in this mountainous terrain did not go away.

The good part of this development was that the area evolved into a tourist attraction.

The El Penol rock with an elevation of 2,135 meters has been the biggest crowd puller.

Located a short bus ride from Medellin, it’s a popular destination for its colorful houses, water sports, and some nice time away from a big city.

Colorful houses in Gautape

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It’s a popular day-trip destination.

Climbing 740 stairs to reach the top of the El Penol is the most compelling and tiring thing to do.

You can enjoy speed boat rides and party boats where you can party with your folks through the night.

Boat rides in Guatape

Mikadun /

Jardín Botánico

The botanical garden in Medellin is an excellent place that offers some quiet moments in the big city.

Spread over 14 hectares, the park has 4,500 types of flowers and 140 bird species.

There are lots of plants, animals, insects, and a separate section for butterflies.

Iguna at Jardín Botánico

Alexandre Laprise /

It’s an interesting place with plenty of attractions to keep you hooked to the park.

You may go there for an hour and end up spending several spots.

You also can find fish, birds, turtles here.

Trees and flowers are gorgeous.

Jardín Botánico

Mariano Luis Fraga /

Meandering through the quaint paths, you will come across a restaurant In Situ.

Having lunch and relaxing at this popular restaurant can be a great experience.

Entry to the park is free, and it’s closed on Mondays.

Comuna 13

Comuna 13

BGStock72 /

A visit to Comuna 13, a neighborhood of poor working-class people, is top-rated among tourists.

It has been notorious as a hub of trafficking, criminal gangs, and violence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Today, it’s a completely transformed locality and is famous for its street art and graffiti.

The turnaround took about two decades, but it’s a great example of urban transformation.

Now, tourists to Medellin often come to visit this place to see the colorful street paintings.

Comuna 13

Alexandre Laprise /

Comuna 13 is now connected to the Metro network and has six escalators for easy accessibility to different streets in the neighborhood.

These facilities have made the life of people easier.

The era of crime, violence, and police raids seems solidly behind it.

Many small firms organize tourist walks to this area.

There are also some free walking tours available.

Walking through the city is the best way to see Medellin up and close.

Rooftop Pub Crawl

Medellin has an exciting nightlife with an array of pubs, bars, and nightclubs dotting the city.

And there are tourism companies who can help you with pub-hopping throughout the night.

These companies promise to take you up to 5 bars and nightclubs on a single night.

You can expect welcome drinks, discounts on food and beverages, and live music at these venues.

You can choose from endless themes from the rooftop bar, Billiard pool bar, Jacuzzi bar, Salsa bar, and Tango bar.

The bar crawl companies get you discounts and offer you important tips.

They also make sure you return safe and sound.

Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia

Marek Poplawski /

With 17 permanent collection rooms, this is perhaps the most immersive museum you may have come across.

Right in front of Plaza Botero, where 23 Botero bronze sculptures are placed, Museo de Antioquia houses many pre-Colombian and modern antiques and artworks.

Many of the displayed artworks are crafted by the celebrated painter and sculptor Botero, who donated 200 of his works to the city.

There is a café and gift shop at the museum, and just outside, you have Plaza Botero and a market.

Plaza Botero

Toniflap /

There is a belief that if you rub the bronze sculptures, it will bring good luck to you.

It’s no wonder that people keep rubbing and taking photos with these sculptures.

The museum was set up in 1881, and there is an entrance fee of $6.

Cementerio Museo de San Pedro

Cementerio Museo de San Pedro

Alexander Canas Arango /

This is a small cemetery and museum, with a long history and graves and monuments of many famous Colombians.

The spot is part of city walks and hosts many cultural events and anthropological tours.

During the full moon, there is a special tour and cultural presentation.

Made of Carrara marble from Italy, there are many beautiful monuments related to the dead, and you can’t help marveling at the craftsmanship of the previous centuries.

This cemetery and museum are located close to the ‘Hospital’ metro station and the botanical gardens.

It is easy to reach and offers more for your time.

Museo de Arte Moderno

Medellin is the birthplace of sculptors Botero and Fernando.

If you are one of those who love modern art, visiting the Museum of Modern Arts or Museo de Arte Moderno can be worth it.

The art gallery and museum itself is a piece of art as it has been housed in a reclaimed industrial unit.

There is a permanent collection as well as a gallery where exhibitions keep changing.

At the moment, the collection is modest and still evolving.

There is a theatre where independent films are screened.

It is open from Tuesday to Friday, and an admission fee of $4 per person is charged.

Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria

Luis Echeverri Urrea /

Here, you find a collection of photos, videos, audio, and arts that shed light on crime, violence, and armed conflict in the last 30 years in Colombia.

The clashes between drug cartels and paramilitary forces claimed many lives.

The museum presents information and statistics about the violence and how it affected common people.

Opened in 2012, the Museum of Memories examines the armed conflict and how the country overcame it.

It is open from Tuesday to Friday, and the entry is free.

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