Medellin Travel Guide
The city of eternal spring and the brand new capital of Antioquia, one of the 32 departments that make up Colombia, Medellin pampers its visitors with a warm and uniform climate all year round. The intoxicating smell of margaritas reigns in its streets, parks and avenues for much of the year to the delight of passers-by.
In a few decades Medellín went from being the world capital of violence to becoming the international reference for development and the tourist destination par excellence. In 2014, it was chosen as one of the best Latin American cities to live in, according to a global study carried out by the technology multinational Indra.
- The 5 best reasons to visit Medellin
- What to do in Medellín
- When to visit Medellín
- How to get to Medellín
- Where to stay in Medellín
- How to get around Medellín
- Cost of living in Medellín
- Where to eat in Medellín
The 5 best reasons to visit Medellin
Impressive historical centre
Treat yourself to an unforgettable tour of downtown Medellín, visiting its spectacular Bolivar Park, the Romanesque-style Metropolitan Cathedral, the Church of San José, the Candelaria Minor Basilica, Berrío Park, and the Church of the Veracruz, the oldest in the city.
Sculptures of the Plaza Botero
Art lovers can enjoy 23 giant sculptures by the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. This incredible place also houses the Museum of Antioquia, considered the best preserved art deco building in all of Colombia.
Located in the Explora Park, it is one of the largest aquariums in South America. In its 2200 square meters, distributed in 3 levels and 29 thematic areas, numerous exotic species of fresh and salt water coexist. Among them, marine dinosaurs and pirarucus, the largest freshwater fish in South America.
Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden of Medellín
Your Orquideorama pavilion is a must see. In addition to standing out for its very special architectural style, its 4200 square metre covered garden houses a picturesque lake and a large collection of orchids, carnivorous plants and other native species. The Labyrinth, The Butterfly House and the Medicinal Garden are other areas of interest for children and adults.
Guatapé, the town of the baseboards
Located 83 kilometers from Medellín, it is the most picturesque town in the world and one of the most visited places in Antioquia. Its beautiful colonial style houses, decorated with colorful baseboards, seem to be taken from a fairy tale.
What to do in Medellín
Explore Nutibara Hill
Its 33 hectares house a viewpoint with panoramic views of Medellín, a sculpture park, and an open-air theater. One of the hill’s major attractions is Pueblito Paisa, which recreates a typical Antioquia town with its traditional plaza, shops, and restaurants.
Enjoy natural spaces
Medellín has many natural areas, including El Picacho, Santo Domingo, Cerro El Volador, Pan de Azúcar, La Asomadera, Nutibara, and El Salvador. Here you can enjoy the outdoors, play sports, contemplate the landscape, walk along pre-Hispanic trails, and observe vestiges of the first indigenous settlers.
Spend the day at Parque de Los Deseos
This 12,000 square metre theme park houses the Planetarium, the House of Music and numerous play areas for the whole family. Once here, you will be able to contemplate the firmament and the sky reflected in a water mirror, understand astronomical phenomena and make a wish to a shooting star.
Take the Arví Tourist Cable Tour
This is a six-hour panoramic tour on the Arví Park cable car with privileged views of Medellín and its surroundings. Shared tours are held every Saturday and Sunday, while private tours are organized daily.
Discover Tomás Carrasquilla-La Quintana Park and Library
This open space allows you to contemplate Medellín from a picturesque hill, do sports, dance, and even sing. It also has rooms with free internet access, cultural programs for children and adults, newspapers, books, and national and international magazines.
When to visit Medellín
The best months to visit Medellín are December, February, June and August. The rainiest month, and therefore the least suitable for travel, is October. If you visit the city in August, not only will you enjoy the driest and sunniest days, but you will also be able to attend an event as spectacular as the Flower Fair.
How to get to Medellín
From Madrid there are direct flights to Medellín several times a week. The duration of this journey is approximately ten and a half hours. The airlines that operate direct routes are Avianca and Iberia.
José María Córdova International Airport is located in the municipality of Rionegro, 29 kilometers from Medellín. Combus coaches link the airport terminal with the capital of Antioquia on a daily basis, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight. A bus ticket costs COP$ 9500. If you prefer to go by taxi, the transfer will cost you about COP$ 70 000. If you travel by rental car, drive along the Via Medellin-Santa Elena or highway 56.
It is not currently possible to reach Medellín or any other Colombian town by train, since the state railway company ceased its activity definitively in 1990. Since then, the only trains operating in Colombia are tourist and short distance.
To travel to Medellín from Bogotá, you must exit at Calle 80 and after passing the Guadua Bridge, follow the highway in the direction of Siberia, La Vega and Villeta. On the way you can enjoy the idyllic mountain scenery and take a detour towards Manizales to reach the National Coffee Park. The trip by car Bogotá-Medellín without stops or detours will take you about ten hours.
Buses leave from the Salitre Terminal in Bogotá and arrive at the North Terminal in Medellín. The main operating companies are Rápido Ochoa, Fleet Magdalena, Expreso Bolivariano and Expreso Brasilia. Opt for a simple, single-floor bus and choose the shortest route that crosses the municipality of La Dorada. The duration of this trip is about ten or eleven hours.
Airports near Medellín
(MDE) Medellín José María Córdova
(PEI) Pereira Matecana
(EOH) Medellin Enrique Olaya
Where to stay in Medellín
The best neighborhood in Medellín to stay is El Poblado. This area has the largest hotel offer in the city and is preferred by tourists. The local hotels with the best value for money are Hampton by Hilton Medellin (from COP$ 296 545 per night), Hotel bh El Poblado (COP$ 296 545) and Ibis Medellín (COP$ 148 272).
Interesting neighborhoods in Medellin
Manrique is known as the “barrio del tango” and the place where Colombia’s most emblematic writers, musicians and artists were born. On Carlos Gardel Avenue, also called “La 45”, there is a monument to this iconic tango singer.
Medellín’s Comuna 13 is the scene of Graffitour. This is a fascinating aesthetic and historical tour through the streets of the commune, where numerous graffiti works signed by national and international artists reign.
El Poblado is the most elegant and safe neighborhood in Medellín. Here you will find the Zona Rosa, known for its intense nightlife and for being the best place to go out for drinks or enjoy a meal.
How to get around Medellín
By public transport
The most comfortable and fastest way to move around the city is by Metrocable cable car. This fascinating work of engineering links downtown Medellín with other neighborhoods and allows you to enjoy panoramic views along the way. More than a means of transportation, Metrocable is a great tourist attraction in the city. The standard fare is COP$ 2300.
The taxi system in Medellin is considered one of the best in Colombia. The most popular companies are Easy Tappsi. You can request their service through their applications or websites. One hour by taxi would cost you COP$ 25 200.
Renting a car is the best option if, in addition to visiting Medellín, you are planning to travel to other areas of Colombia. By reserving your vehicle at least one month in advance, you can get it from COP$ 110 296 per day.
Cost of living in Medellín
The prices in Medellín are quite affordable and even more so for the European tourist. Eating at a local restaurant costs about COP$ 29 654 per person, while for a menu at McDonald’s or Burger King you will have to pay about COP$ 14 827. If you go shopping at local supermarkets, half a liter of beer will cost you COP$ 2689, for a bottle of water (1.5 liters) you will pay COP$ 4183 and for a liter of milk, COP$ 2599.
A shopping tour of the city would be incomplete without visiting the San Alejo handicraft market, held on the first Saturday of every month in Bolívar Park. Once here, you will be able to acquire some of the wonderful objects of local craftsmanship. Other excellent shopping spots are the Pasaje pedestrian Junín and the Vía Primavera, where you’ll find shops of the best Colombian and international designers.
Where to eat in Medellín
To taste the typical gastronomy of Medellín at the best price and quality, visit the family restaurant Delicias de Manila. Their delicious menu costs COP$ 9000 and includes soup, main course, and drink. Another gastronomic temple is Tal Cual, although its dishes are a little more expensive. Both places are located in El Poblado neighborhood.
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