Thus far I have not met one single person that did not like Medellín! For most of us, it was the best part of Colombia, or at least for me it was!
For once, there is just a lot to do in the city. Then the weather is nice, it’s not as humid as the coast and it is neither too cold. The people are friendly, the transportation system is great and it has gone through a massive transformation over the past couple of years.
In total I spent around two and a half weeks in Medellín, mostly also for Spanish classes and it was the first and the last stop of my Colombia trip. I guess in that way I experienced Medellín not only for a couple of days but also had some routine while I was there which was great.
However, even in two and a half weeks I would have still liked to see a lot more things in the city. So the more time in Medellín the better, if you ask me.
Anyway, here are 15 things to do in Medellín that you should or can do when you travel to the city of eternal spring.
1. Visit Comuna 13
This area was once considered one of the most dangerous and not a place that you would feel safe in as neither a tourist nor a local. But with new forms of transportation such as the cable car the area has gotten way more accessible and has now transformed massively.
Nowadays, you can find a bunch of street art everywhere in the area which is not only pretty to look at but also has a lot of meaning behind it. That is why I would recommend to visit the area with a tour to be able to learn more about it. For a lot of tours parts of the profits will go to the local community (e.g. Toucan Tours).
2. Go to a Football Game
There are two main football teams in Medellín: Independiente Medellín and Atlético National. Atlético National is the bigger and better team of the two, but either way it is quite the unique experience to watch a football game in Medellín, definitely a must. For Atlético the crazy fan area is in the South end of the stadium so that is where you want to stay.
I also watched a game from the North side and it wasn’t half as fun, trust me. The best part about it wasn’t even the game itself but just how everyone was singing for over 90 minutes and the whole atmosphere in total.
I only went to Atlético games so that is my team now, but I think for Independiente the fan area is on the North side of the stadium instead (but don’t take my word on it).
Both teams play in the same stadium which is Estadio Atanasio Girardot. The closest metro station is called “Estadio.” From El Poblado you will have to switch metros in San Antonio and it will take around 20 minutes to get (or even a little less).
3. Shop at Santafé Mall
The biggest mall in Medellín is quite impressive with loads of shops from Forever 21 to Zara. It is located in El Pobaldo area and it is really nicely decorated. It’s a great place to let your guard down for a little bit and being able to take out your phone in public. From the food court on the top floor you will also find a lovely view of Medellín.
4. Take Spanish Classes
Of course you can take Spanish classes anywhere where people speak Spanish but Medellín is just a great place to do it. There is a lot to do after you finish classes and it is a nice city to stay at for a longer period of time. I recommend Toucan Spanish School in Medellín where I did two weeks of classes and I really enjoyed it.
5. Take a free walking tour of Central Medellín
The walking tour that I went on (as well as everyone I met while traveling) is called RealCityTours. In about four hours you will walk around downtown Medellín and see all the central sightseeing points, as well as hear about the history of the city.
My guide Natalia was super enthusiastic and a great tour guide and I can definitely recommend this tour to anyone. Make sure to sign up online beforehand as it is quite popular and spaces are limited. While it is free, tipping is expected as the tour guides need to be able to pay their bills as well.
6. Visit the Memorial museum (Museo Casa de la Memoria)
If you want to understand more of the history of Medellín and about the people who have dealt with it then head to this Museum located near the centre of Medellín. It is free to get in. Just know that the museum is closed on Mondays because I didn’t so I had to go twice.
7. Go on the cable car
While the cable car might seem like a tourist attractions it is actually a normal form of transportation for the people living more up the hill to be able to get around. Therefore, the cable cars are pretty affordable and cost the same as a ticket for the metro. (with exception of the Parque Arvi metro cable, which is mainly for tourists). Additionally, the views from the gondolas are stunning and you can get a good idea of how big the city actually is.
8. Parque Arvi
You can reach parque Arvi with the metro cable. Firstly, you need to take the cable car from Acevedo all the way up to Santa Domingo. From there you will have to pay an additional 6000 Pesos to switch to the other cable car that will take you all the way up to parque Arvi. I would say it’s worth it just for the views alone.
9. Botero Plaza
Botero Plaza is located in the city centre just a short walk from San Antonio or Parque Berrío metro station. What makes this place so famous as the name already suggests is that you can find artwork from Colombian artist Fernando Botero. He donated 23 bronze sculptures to his home city which are displayed in the city centre.
10. Eat Bandeja Paisa
This dish is typical for Colombia and for the Paisa region so you should definitely give it a try. It is basically a plate of a lot of different foods such as avocado, rice, beans, chorizo, patacones etc. The portions can be huge so it is also a good dish for sharing.
11. Botanic Garden (Jardín Botánico de Medellín)
If you are looking for a free activity and want to escape the busyness of the city for a little bit then head to the botanic garden. It is located just next to the metro station “Universidad”. Even though everyone can basically walk in, there is a huge contrast compared to the busy streets of the city to the garden. It feels a lot more peaceful and safe.
12. Eat Local Fruits
Depending on where you are from, there are a lot of fruits in Colombia that you have probably never heard of before. For me that was Lulu, I have never heard of it. So if you have the time, go on a fruit tour or head to a local market and try out some unknown fruits. I recommend La Placita de Florez in the centre of Medellín. They sell a lot of fruits for cheap prices.
13. Museo de Antioquia (Museum of Antioquia)
This museum is located in the city centre of Medellín just next to the Botero Plaza. It is an art museum that also contains further artwork of Fernando Botero.
14. Bike Tour
I did a bike tour in the evening from my hostel (Los Patios) but I’m sure there are other places and companies that offer bike tours as well. Before the bike tour I didn’t realise how easy it would be to get around in the city by bike.
We also stopped in the city centre after it was dark which was great because I would have not done so by myself. The best part about it was that we biked to a place where local students would hang out in the evenings. That was a lot more authentic than El Poblado area. I can highly recommend any kind of bike tour because for some reason you get to see the city in a completely different light!
15. Play Tejo
Tejo is a Colombian sport where you have to throw a metal disc (a tejo) on a board which contains small explosives. If you hit it in the right way then they will explode which is the goal of the game. It’s super fun and you should definitely try it out at one point during your stay in Colombia.
I believe it’s not particularly famous for the Paisa region and you can try it in a lot of other places (e.g. Salento, Bogotá) but I will still include it since I had tried Tejo while in Medellín. It’s also quite social and you can just have a few beers while playing as well.
You have probably noticed that I did not mention anything about a Pablo Escobar tour, right? Mainly, because I do not recommend you to take one. I didn’t do it and I also didn’t meet anyone who did. Mostly because it is seen as disrespectful to the locals and they do not appreciate it if you do so.
Since we are visitors in their country I think it is important to respect the wishes of the locals. However, I recommend that you visit the Memorial Museum and go on the walking tour instead if you want to get a deeper understanding of the history of Medellín.
And these were 15 things to do in Medellín! Have you been to Medellín? How many of these activities have you participated in and what did I miss out on?
And are you looking for cheap accommodation in Medellín? Then go check out Hostelworld, my favourite website when it comes to booking accommodation abroad 🙂
Talk to you soon x
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I’ve been to Cartagena, but I would love to go to Medellin, it looks like such a fun city! I love that you can take cable cars into the mountains, are there places to get great views of the city from the top?
Cartegana is amazing as well! The cable cars that I took there were mostly just trees or building in between when you got off the station, so I would say the best views where definitely during the ride. But there are other cable car lines that I have not taken so maybe they will have different views from the top 🙂
I would certainly take Spanish classes