The Top 20 Things To Do in Medellín (2024) - Medellin Advisors

The Top 20 Things To Do in Medellín (2024)

Cosas por hacer

Medellín is a story that guards millions of tales. If, however, there was one theme that best reflected its legacy, it would be transformation – rapid change. We’ve seen it in the safety of the city, we’ve seen in its social fabric, and we’ve seen it in its innovation. These are all linked phenomena of course. Now, finally, we are seeing the city’s latest transformation in the form of tourism.

People love to live here because of how comfortable and welcoming it is. I have, over the years though, heard people complain that there isn’t much to do, especially as a tourist.

Well, I’m here to dispel that myth. Here, now, in 2024, there is no shortage of things to do if you know where to look. Here’s my list of the top 20 things to do in this gorgeous city.

(1) Have a Blast in Provenza

Most adventures in Medellin begin in and/or around the upscale neighbourhood of Provenza. Yes, this is the heart of tourist town, and it has legitimately earned that accolade. It’s where you’ll find the city’s most trending shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars and commerce. If you’re looking for a great night out, then we recommend you look no further.

Provenza is located in the large district of El Poblado and constitutes a territory spanning 4 streets (Carrera 33- 37). It is extremely lush with tree-lined streets which lends to an atmosphere of tranquillity (during the day that is). At night, the streets of Provenza really wake up and the sounds of birds singing is quickly replaced by the sounds of bustle and music.

Jxqcliuyvcdbfvhavvufli
Karol G helped bring Provenza to prominence with her lead single named after the neighbourhood.

The best nightclubs in Medellin are found in Avenida Provenza, including Teatro Victoria, Vintrash, and La House Provenza. Believe me, if you are looking for the best of Medellin’s international food scene, nightlife, or commercial offering, then please do not overlook this place, recognised by Time Out (in 2022) as one of ‘the coolest streets in the world‘.

If you would like to know more about Provenza, where to go and eat and so forth, we have written extensively about all that here.

The top things to do in medellin
Language exchange in Provenza.

(2) Cerro de Las Tres Cruces

If you’re into your fitness and wish to be rewarded for your workout then check out Cerro de Las Tres Cruces for sweeping views of the city and Aburra Valley. Located on the southwestern fringe of the valley, you’ll actually be able to see the winding path of the hike on the opposite side of the valley. The next time you’re driving down El Poblado towards the highway or train station (Calle 10), look at the mountain directly ahead and you’ll see a snake path going up the hill – that’s Cerro de Las Tres Cruces.

The hike takes around 2 hours altogether and is one of 7 official hiking hills within the city (known in Spanish as ‘cerros tutilares’).

Camino tres cruces
Cerro de las Tres Cruces has seen major investment in recent years.

In 2019, this hill was severely impacted by a fire that scarred much of the landscape. To date, the government has since bought the land and planted over 73,000 native trees, converting it into a thriving ecological haven. When you visit, you will see these trees dotted all over the hill (they aren’t quite fully mature yet) but have already increased the presence of birds and other fauna which you can see and hear.

At the halfway point of the hill, you’ll come across an outdoor gym and a few vendors selling drinks and snacks.
At the top of the hill you will find another gym, more vendors, and of course, the three crosses that give the hill its name.

CAUTION: We do not recommend visiting the hill outside of its busy hours which are during the weekend. It can be unsafe to traverse quite places and for this reason, we recommend you go during the weekend.

(3) Watch a Live Football Game

One sure way to get soaked up into the local and authentically Paisa atmosphere is by going to one of the live football games in Estadio. The stadium, named Estadio Atanasio Girardot, is the third biggest football stadium in Colombia but hosts arguably the most recognisable team in the country – Atletico Nacional. We recommend you join the fun by sporting one of the green and white jerseys and get stuck in. Tickets can be bought online but you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to buy tickets in and around the grounds (on match day). Be sure to shop around as you’ll likely be able to get them at a lower, non-inflated price. The stadium (estadio) is very accessible as it is located just a street away from the Metro station, named, funnily enough, Estadio.

Time out coolest neighborhoods laureles e
The home of Medellin's (and even Colombia's) most famous football team.

(4) Visit The Parques del Río

Medellin is a geographically striking city, no matter from which angle you’re looking at it. Many that come here find themselves in high rises on the flanks of the valley, mainly on the southeastern side.

One of my favourite places to see the city, however, is from its very core. Parques del Río is a new pedestrianised section in the centre of Medellin that offers sweeping views of the city, both north and south. Furthermore, it’s not only views of the valley that you’ll be able to see… The parks are home to various, modern restaurants and beautiful tree-lined promenades. Given its location within the basin the valley, you’ll also be connected to the Medellin River.

If you come in December or January you will see the award-winning Christmas lights take over and transform the landscape into a festive delight.

Dji

What is cool about these parks is that they were built on top of the highway. Look in the picture above and you’ll see how the park swallows all the traffic beneath and consequently mitigates a lot of the pollution by planting green corridors with lots of trees.

In my opinion, it is work like this that sets Medellin apart as an exemplary city in the art of innovation. This project took a while and was fully completed around 2020/21. The parks which cover both sides of the Medellin River span an area of 71,800m2.  Definitely worth a visit. 

Bgepcseesnhxzjnvugmyxfeq
Parques del Rio is at the centre of the festivities during the annual alumbrados.

(5) Venture a Tour Through Comuna 13

If you’ve been anxiously planning your first visit to Medellin, you’ll have likely already heard about Comuna 13. It’s a densely packed urban district located on the western hills of of the valley. It gained initial international recognition for its extreme violence and social-economic challenges. But hey, that was like, 20 years ago. Things have changed, for the better. In the time that I have known Medellin since 2016, I have seen Comuna 13 evolve from a quiet neighbourhood with the occasional tourist bus to what it is today – absolutely bustling with trade and tourism.

Comuna

I do recommend Comuna 13 as it has developed with tourism chiefly in mind. It is safe and there are no obligatory fees, so it can be an economic day trip. Visitors find themselves walking the steep hills before accessing the emblematic electric stairs. Throughout all this, you will be exposed to a plethora of vendors, street artists, tour guides and musicians, all sharing the same tight space. I stress that it can get a bit cramped.

Comuna 13, given its proliferation in recent years, continues to expand at a fast rate. Once you ascend all the electric stairs you will reach a snaking promenade that is packed with things, people, sounds and smells. It is a very interesting experience; however, it is often extremely busy. If major crowds and foot traffic are not your thing, then perhaps you may want to avoid going on a weekend.

Tours are also readily available. As you enter the area, you will likely be solicited for a tour. Don’t worry, you are not going to get scammed, but do not feel obliged if you don’t want one. It may be a better option to seek out a tour online or prior to arriving so that you feel more in control of the situation and less pressured.

(6) Ascend Parque Arví

Highly recommended. Parque Arvi requires the greater part of a day and truly has a lot to offer. Even getting there alone will require you to take advantage of the city’s famous metro cable and see the city from a bird’s eye view. Parque Arvi is an expansive ecological reserve that will take you just outside of the valley into a new, cooler and less polluted climate. Parque Arvi is situated some 2,400m above sea level and as such, you will encounter different flora and fauna. There are around 54 miles of walkable trails and plenty of additional activities to partake in. Most that come however tend not to stray too far from the metro station where there is a farmer’s market to enjoy some fresh produce alongside a café.

View from of medellin copy
Climb out the valley in the famous Parque Arvi cable line.

The metro cable station is where you’ll also find the Parque Arvi Corporation headquarters. From there you will be able to book same-day guided tours and other activities such as horse riding, camping, biking, etc.

Do be aware that the metro cable shuts at 6 pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Sundays are the busiest day in Parque Arvi. 

To get there is easy and affordable. Take the Medellin Metro (A Line) to Acevedo. From there, you take the Metrocable via Line K to Santo Domingo. From Santo Domingo, you change Metrocable to the dedicated Parque Arvi Metrocable line. 

(7) Partake in a Language Exchange

This is a great way to get out there and socialise with locals and foreigners alike. There is an ever-growing list of language exchanges taking place each day of the week. The most famous of which occurs in the aforementioned streets of Provenza. Specifically, there is an event called “Gringo Tuesdays” hosted by the famous Vintrash nightclub. This event attracts people from all over the world and is separated into different tables based on level of fluency; everything from beginner to advanced. So, don’t worry if you’re just beginning your Spanish learning endeavour.

Given that this event occurs on a street packed with nightlife and discos, you’ll have the opportunity to party after the language exchange finishes. It really is a great way to meet people if you’re looking to network or get out there. ¡Hágale!

My personal favourite language exchange takes place in the neighbourhood of Laureles, in a hostel called the Wandering PaisaThe weekly language exchange here takes place every Thursday and has personally never let me down. Do check it out as there is a mix of people from all over the world (all trying to improve either their English, Spanish or both).

As I say though, there are numerous events taking place. To learn more, I would suggest you engage within the Medellin Facebook groups, such as GringoPaisa

Tuesday

(8) Rooftops Vibes

When my friends come to Medellin, one of the first things I like to do is blow their minds by taking them to a rooftop. You see, Medellin is situated in what locals call a ‘hueco’ – a hole surrounded by lush, tropical mountains. No matter which direction you look in, you’ll be greeted by exaggerated landscapes unlike anything you’ve seen before. One of the best ways to truly appreciate this scenery is by going to one of the many new public rooftops popping up within the city.

My personal favourite is that of Masaya, located right next door to our office. Masaya is a swanky hostel that allows public access to the rooftop of its 8-floor building. The rooftop itself boasts 2-floors, and is equipped with a bar, jacuzzi, swimming pool and a big hammock chair with which to soak in the view.  From Masaya’s rooftop, you can see everything from the skyline of Poblado above to the very north of the valley (Bello). You can pretty much see everything making it a place to come check out, come night or day.

Other rooftop contenders include:

  • Viajero
  • Envy Rooftop
  • Los Patios
  • Mosquito Rooftop

This is our personal list of favourites. To see a more exhaustive list, click here.

The top things to do in medellin
Masaya was built a few years ago and is a favourite amongst many visitors (it's also next to our Medellin Advisor office)

(9) Guatapé

Guatapé has long been a staple attraction for visitors coming to Medellin, as although it is located outside of the valley, it is only 1.5 – 2.5 hours away depending on traffic (around 79km). Guatapé, much like Medellin, is characterised by enchanting, almost unearthly landscapes. Whenever I have visited, it has never been more than a day trip, but you can easily spend much more time in this aquatic paradise.

Of course, the most symbolic feature of Guatapé is its gigantic rock, known as ‘El Peñol’. Those willing to pay 25,000 COP ($6 USD) and climb its roughly 740 steps will be rewarded with potentially one of the best panoramas of their lives. The view is within my top 5, for sure. It alone warrants the trip. But there is so much more to see and do in Guatapé. Much like Medellin, its popularity has exploded in recent years and as such, so too has the offering of activities; hotels; restaurants, etc. We recommend you go visit the quaint pueblo adorned by its colourful streets and murals. It has a very relaxed and safe-feeling atmosphere which makes it a great place to take the family.

If you are into water-based activities then you’re in luck as they are available in abundance. The territory surrounding the focal rock is dotted by many connecting passages of water, all artificially filled. Jetskiing, fishing, boat tours and much more!

Colombia and experience

(10) Check Out Pueblito Paisa

This one doesn’t require too much time; you’ll probably need no more than 2 hours to fully experience all on offer. Pueblito Paisa, meaning ‘Little Paisa Village’, is as the name suggests: a mini replica of a traditional Antioquian village, located at the top of a 80m hill. The village itself is small but very pretty and quaint. Like most that visit, you’ll want to have your camera ready to snap up this cute little attraction. The pueblo consists of a church at its centre, traditionally styled artisan shops, a fantastic restaurant next to the church and other authentic buildings that capture the region’s cultural heritage.

To the side of the model town are also a number of stalls and additional places to grab a bite.

However, it’s not the small village that keeps bringing me back, but rather the fantastic views of the Aburra Valley (are you surprised by now?)

I know I say this a lot, but you really can see everything from the north to the south and all its contrasts in between. Pueblito Paisa is located in the centre of the valley in an area called Nutibara. The hill in which the village is situtated is called Cerro Nutibara, which is an ancient hill that predates the Spanish colonial era. Nutibara refers to the indigenous peoples that inhabited the valley before the Spanish arrived. The Cerro Nutibara was considered a spiritually significant place for this indigenous group that has now all but died out, sadly.

The trail up and down the hill is worth exploring as it is heavily forested and home to some interesting features such as a new auditorium (installed in 2019). 

Image content

(11) Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero is the most recognisable Plaza in the city of Medellin, thanks to the 23 sculptures left behind by Medellin’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero himself. He actually passed away this year (2023) at the age of 91 but has left behind a legacy. His signature style, known as Boterismo, depicts figures in an exaggerated and volumtopus style. His sculptures can be found all over the world, in places like Italy, New York and Dubai. Nowhere however, is his work so abundant and well-cherished as it is in his hometown of Medellin.

Plaza Botero and its surrounding areas actually used to be quite dangerous as they are located downtown amongst all the riff-raff. In 2023 however, the mayor made a controversial decision to install a police-guarded parameter surrounding the plaza. It has since made Plaza Botero a lot safer and therefore a place where you can relax as a tourist or foreigner. I highly recommend visiting as it is a culturally significant place within the city.

Learn more about Plaza Botero and Fernando Botero himself here in our article dedicated to the Antioquian legend.

Plaza botero

(12) Museo de Antioquia

The Museo de Antioquia is located within the Plaza Botero square and is definitely  worth checking out whilst in the area. Alongside the square, it is considered an important element inside of the cultural district of Medellin. It possesses an extensive array of works and art gifted by Botero. As such, you will learn all about this important Paisa through observing his work over the years. The museum opened in 1881, making it one of the oldest in Colombia. You can easily burn through an hour or two in this impressive museum.

Entry for foreigners (extranjeros) is 18,000 COP/$5 USD. Find out how to arrive here.

Museo de antioquia

(13) Explore The World's Coolest Neighbourhood (Laureles)

You probably already know by now that Laureles is featured at the top of Time Out’s list of coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Laureles, for better or worse, is in vogue right now. Why not check it out before the hoards beat you to it?

Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but this is definitely my favourite neighbourhood in the entire world. It’s incredibly walkable thanks to its unusually flat terrain (unlike much the rest of Medellin which is dominated by slopes). This neighbourhood is unlike any other in the country as its inspiration comes from Europe with a high focus on accessibility and greenspaces. Its distinctively circular street designs do make it extremely convoluted though.

Ideally on foot or bike, you should check out the first (primer) and second (Segundo) park of Laureles. They are very safe, beautiful and surrounded by high-end restaurants and commerce. After, I recommend you drop a few blocks down to the famous street of La 70 – this is where the party happens at night and unlike Poblado, still feels a lot more local. From La 70 you can then walk directly to the aforementioned stadium of Girardot. Between all this, you’ll be taken aback by the beauty of this community-driven neighbourhood. Flowers, trees, birds and friendly locals – they are all abundant in each and every street.

Laureles is a great place to live in medellin

(14) Check Out Mahalo

Maybe I’m just being biased or nostalgic but this is one of my favourite places to eat whilst overlooking a stunning view. I first came to this restaurant in 2016 and have been coming back ever since. I know there are now more competitors offering great food from different vantage points of the valley, but this for me will always have a special place.

Mahalo is an action sports bar/restaurant that is located on the fringes of Envigado (way up in the mountains). You can actually do mountain biking and paintball here as well if that’s your kind of thing. The atmosphere is jovial with the majority of seats being al fresco. If you prefer to be amongst Colombians and not other foreigners then this place will also appeal to you as I am almost always the only foreigner there.

The menu is extensive (Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t be happy) and the quality of food is good. They do good nachos and burgers. If I’m honest though, what keeps me coming back is the stunning view overlooking the southern side of the valley. I always try to get there for no later than 5 pm because the sunsets are truly stunning. It is also amazing to watch the city burst to life as the lights below slowly but surely turn on.

Given that the restaurant is located up in the mountains, it can actually get a bit fresh or even chilly for some. Bring a jumper. The restaurant does provide heaters and blankets though so don’t be afraid to ask.

Here is the address.

Whatsapp image at pm
Whatsapp image at pm

(15) Get Wild at The Jardín Botánico

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world. Per square metre though, it takes the number 1 spot. If that kind of knowledge tickles your fancy then should check out the botanical gardens of Medellin, where the city showcases some of its immense biological prowess. No indoor biomes needed here; everything flourishes outside al natural.

Admission into the Jardín Botánico also costs $0 – it’s free! The city is committed to allowing public access so that all its communities can benefit and be educated. 

You could probably see everything you need within 1 – 2 hours so don’t expect to commit a full day… However, right next door you also have the Parque Explora; a scientific museum that houses the continent’s largest freshwater aquarium. While entry there is not free – think of it as 2 for 1.

N.B – The gardens are shut on Monday. Don’t forget as I did. Opening times here.

The top things to do in medellin

(16) Get Lost in The Extravagant Malls

Medellin is home to some incredible shopping centres which showcase how modern and luxurious side of the city. Some of the biggest and most impressive are located in none other than El Poblado.

El Tesoro is located in the height of El Poblado and is probably the most captivating mall in Medellin. It boasts a cinema, kids amusement park, incredible views of the valley and all the designer shops you could possibly want. There’s plenty to do.

Santa Fe Mall is another modern mall located in the golden mile of Poblado. It offers a mix of domestic and international outlets and has a very large food court on the top floor. You’ll see people coming here simply for leisure so it’s a great place to people watch. On the bottom floor of Santa Fe, they are always transforming the space with grand themes and elaborate decorations. For example, in December, they will go all out on the Christmas festivities.

Nic
A temporary ice skating arena installed on the bottom floor of Santa Fe.

Oviedo is also located on the Golden Mile of Poblado. It’s another high-end mall but what I like is its semi-open design (thanks to the near-perfect climate in Medellin). Oviedo is recognised for its famous bush shaped perfectly like an apple. One of the ‘fanciest’ restaurants in Medellin is located here and it’s called Le Gris. Pretty good stuff indeed. I recommend.

Cbcd b
The emblematic apple of Oviedo is an impressive display of topiary

Yeah, you’ve got no shortage of amazing malls. Viva Envigado was built during lockdown and is now the biggest mall in the city. You’ve also got Los Molinos in Belen and Unicentro in Laureles – they’re all great by Western standards. 

Here’s how to get to my three favourite malls:

(17) Enjoy The Year-End Alumbrados

December (and January) are a special time in Medellin because of the Christmas lights that take place over the entire valley. Last year, the city spent over $1 million USD just to secure the rights to use decorations themed after Disney’s Enchanted movie. They take this stuff seriously. The lights are available for everybody in the city to enjoy, regardless of socio-economic background. Each municipality has its own alumbrado, including Envigado & Sabaneta. The focal attraction, however, is found in the centre of Medellin – in and around the Parques del Rio. 

The lights attract a lot of people and can get busy. Bring your street smarts and be aware that pickpockets operate throughout the crowds. Otherwise, you’ll have a blast. 

Balumbrados jpg
Medellín's Alumbrados is a New Year's Eve attraction.

(18) Traverse Deep Jungle and Swim Under Waterfalls

Medellin sits in a valley, the Aburrá Valley. Like much of Colombia, it is gifted with rich landscapes and lots of flowing water. You don’t need to leave the valley, but to get to the richest and most ‘wild’ landscapes, you’ll need to leave the city. Envigado in particular is home to some of the valley’s largest nature reserves. One place I always take my friends and family to when they visit is the Quebrada La Miel located in the hills of Envigado. You can get there from the city in 30 minutes, and suddenly you’re stepping foot into a different world. This is an ancestral route that takes you through native jungle and a cold freshwater stream that ultimately leads to a beautiful waterfall and natural pool.

You’ll need a guide but they are inexpensive and offer lots of cool insights into the land and local fauna.

Corredor regionale del tigrillo sector salto del angel ambientometro envigado
Medellin has all kinds of natural places to discover

The particular trail that takes you to the waterfall is known as the Corredor del Tigrillo (the Corridor of the Tigrillo) because it is known to be inhabited by this particular feline species, unique to South America. 

Be prepared to get wet; it’s unavoidable. The trail can easily take up half a day and you’ll probably want to get a taxi up there although there is also a bus stop not too far (every 30 minutes). This is just one of many amazing trails in the area so feel free to contact us and we’ll share our secrets. 

Silape sistema areas protegidas envigado x
There are streams and rivers to relax in Medellín

(19) Paraglide Above The Valley

The particular trail that takes you to the waterfall is known as the Corredor del Tigrillo (the Corridor of the Tigrillo) because it is known to be inhabited by this particular feline species, unique to South America. 

Many regard Medellín (and Colombia) to be a great place to undertake paragliding. This is because:

  • It is one of the most affordable places to do so, in the world.
  • Medellin boasts an incredible safety record, so you know your safety is in top hands
  • Next-to-perfect climate
  • Incredible scenery. I’ve not done this myself but I’ve been told, time and time again, that the best way to appreciate the valley is up in the air.  

The majority of paragliding in ‘Medellín’ takes place to the north of the city, in a municipality called San Felix (2,500m – 2,900m above sea level). 

Medellin paragliding launch area
The outdoor activities that Medellin offers will satisfy any type of preference

You’ll need to book in advance. There are plenty of companies to choose from so I recommend you look on TripAdvisor and offer and do your due diligence.

The cost of paragliding for 20 minutes can cost as little as $45 or even less if going in a group. Once you’ve successfully vetted out a company that you trust, you’ll need to fill out a form detailing when you want to come, how many of you there will be, etc.

Paragliding companies encourage morning flights due to calmer wind conditions.

Most companies offer transportation.

(20) Ciclovia

Medellín is pretty cool. In a bid to promote health and fitness, the local council closes certain major roads to traffic, allowing residents a space for cycling and exercise. Hence the name Ciclovía (cycleway). La Ciclovía takes place every Sunday and during certain public holidays.

One such street where this happens is in Avenida El Poblado (beginning from Premium Plaza and ending at “La Frontera” in Envigado).

Estadio also has a Ciclovía around the stadium and another on the streets under the Metro rail.

If ever you find yourself bored on a Sunday or would like to exercise with the community (without having to worry about vehicles) then you should check them out because this is an initiative you don’t often see in Europe or North America. 

Here is a link to more information.

Cicloviamap medellin
Medellin is a cyclist's paradise

Conclusions

There you have it – my list of the top 20 things to do in Medellín. I don’t want to hear any more about there being to do. Knowledge is key.

  1. Check out Provenza
  2. Hike Cerro de las Tres Cruces (ideally on a Sunday)
  3. Watch a live football game
  4. Visit the Parques del Rio
  5. Go to Comuna 13
  6. Ascend Parque Arvi
  7. Get stuck in a language exchange
  8. Go to one of the many rooftops
  9. Guatapé
  10. Check out Pueblito Paisa
  11. Plaza Botero
  12. Museo de Antioquia
  13. Discover the nooks and crannies within Laureles (the world’s coolest neighbourhood)
  14. Go eat at Mahalo (and catch the sunset)
  15. Visit the Jardín Botánico
  16. Go to the high-end malls
  17. Take to the air (paragliding)
  18. Go for a guided jungle hike
  19. Utilize the Ciclovia on a Sunday
  20. Enjoy the Alumbrados in December and January.
Questions, comments? Contact me today and I will be happy to discuss any of these issues further with you. 
 

Join The Discussion

Compare listings

Compare
Medellin Advisor the best real estate agency in the Antioquia region

 

Useful advice? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter. 

One email per month about the latest in Medellin relating to news, daily life, investing, and local events. 

**tu email es nuestro secreto sagrado, nunca lo compartiremos con nadie**

Add Your Heading Text Here

Click to chat!