things to do in medellin colombia

28 Best Things to Do in Medellin [Local’s Guide in 2023]

Colombia’s “second city” of Medellin is an often misunderstood gem. Clinging to the side of the mountains that surround the river valley at the heart of the city, Medellin is undeniably beautiful and bustling with excitement. 

For travelers adding Medellin to their Colombia itinerary, there are plenty of things to do in Medellin. Modern infrastructure and public transport make enjoying all this city has to offer a breeze, and with countless cool accommodation options, Medellin is a traveler’s dream and one of the best cities in Latin America.

In this ultimate guide to the best things to do in Medellin, we’re sharing all the favorite activities and attractions in one of the best cities in Colombia, plus the off-the-beaten-path things to do you’d never hear about otherwise.

is medellin safe

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Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is trying so hard to shake the memory of its dark history. In so many ways, it certainly has. Now a thriving city filled with art, culture, business, and plenty to do, Medellin is writing a thrilling new chapter of its history.

Despite the city drastically transforming many times over since the days of cartel control, some tourists’ favorite things to do in Medellin still include Pablo Escobar tours that amount to “poverty tourism” in disadvantaged areas of the city.

Come on, people – do better. There are so many more things to do in Medellin that are exciting and promote a more realistic, forward-looking perspective of the city. 

From waterfall hikes just outside of the city to supporting local coffee farmers on coffee tours and tasting the tropical fruits in the market or taking in a soccer (fútbol!) game, you’ll never be bored in Medellin. Check out our favorite things to do in Medellin for inspiration – bonus points if you count all the food-centric activities on this list. 

Best Things To Do in Medellin

1. Taste Your Way Through Medellin on a Food Tour

Is there any better way to get to know a city than through its food? I love to schedule a food tour early in my trip when visiting a city for the first time. A food tour is often the best way to learn about popular local dishes and also helps you decipher menus and order your favorites while eating out the rest of your trip.

You’ll find popular walking food tours in El Poblado or city-wide food tours with transportation included – both are excellent options!

2. Ride the Metro

Medellin’s above-ground metro is a game changer for getting around this city, and among the best things to do in Medellin for its spectacular views as it above the streets. Take the metro to explore neighborhoods like Laureles and Envigado, and get away from the more well-worn tourist paths in El Centro and El Poblado.

Since Medellin is wedged between the hillsides in a dramatic valley, it’s quite long and narrow, which creates a lot of traffic issues – the metro will save you time and money and is a genuinely enjoyable experience.

3. Marvel at the Treasures of the Museo de Antioquia

Located in the Plaza Botero at the heart of El Centro, the Museo de Antioquia is a must! While you’ll enjoy marveling at the sculptures in Plaza Botero, the museum houses an incredible collection of the artist’s works, including his famous paintings of Pablo Escobar. 

Even if you’re not a big museum person, this is one of the museums in Medellin that I really consider worth a visit, even just for a short time.

Tickets are affordable (around $6-7 USD depending on the conversion rate), and the location of the museum in the heart of the city makes it an easy addition to your Medellin itinerary. You can book skip-the-line tickets to the Museo de Antioquia ahead of time online to plan for your visit. 

Best Places To Stay in Medellin

medellin cable car
mardzpe / Depositphotos

4. Enjoy Cable Car Views

Medellin’s cable car system is integrated into its public transportation network and has been huge in cutting down on traffic and providing easy access to parts of the city that were previously difficult to reach. For travelers visiting Medellin, it’s also a fantastic way to get some of the most beautiful views over the city.

Medellin has several cable car lines that are popular with visitors, including the K line to Santo Domingo or the L line to Parque Arvi. To get to the cable car, you’ll take the above-ground metro and make a transfer to the cable car line of your choosing – it’s really easy and straightforward. 

5. Party in Parque Lleras

Located at the heart of Medellin’s El Poblado neighborhood, Parque Lleras is more of a shady plaza and meeting place than an actual park. Surrounded by some of El Poblado’s favorite restaurants, cafes, and bars, this is the place to be on any given evening.

Popular food spots include Botanika and SOUL, and popular places to party include SkyBar and Bendito Seas. However, there’s no need to plan your visit to Parque Lleras ahead of time – just show up on any given evening and enjoy exploring the area to see which of the many bars and restaurants seems to be the most lively!

best things to do in medellin

6. Take a Medellin Coffee Tour

Medellin is located at the heart of Colombia’s coffee triangle, so learning about (and tasting!) delicious Colombian coffee is practically mandatory when visiting the city.

The best coffee tours include visits to coffee plantations where you’ll learn about how coffee is produced and taste tests of fresh coffee and snacks. We had an incredible experience visiting a coffee farm just outside of the city on an affordable half-day trip.

Though we later did a longer overnight stay at a coffee plantation that we also loved, we would highly recommend this quick and memorable experience to those traveling on a short Medellin itinerary. It’s a MUST, even if you’re not as big of coffee drinkers as we are!

Reviews and Bookings: The BEST Coffee Farm Tour in Medellin (Our Personal Favorite!)

7. Visit the Planetarium

Medellin’s Planetarium, known as El Planetario is an impressive planetarium space with a 300-seat domed theater and interactive exhibits the whole family will love. It’s a must for those traveling with curious kids, but has plenty to offer that even adults will enjoy.

There is an option to combine the price of a ticket for the Planetarium with the Parque Explora (it’s called the Combo Explora ticket!) which makes for a nice savings if you’re looking to enjoy both destinations.

The Planetarium is located in Parque de los Deseos and directly across the street from the city’s botanical garden. Make sure to visit this park even if you don’t visit the Planetarium – there are frequent cultural events, expositions, and even outdoor movie nights to enjoy.

8. Enjoy a Free Walking Tour of Medellin

Did you know that plenty of cities offer free walking tours for visitors? The Medellin Free Walking Tour of the Centro is comprehensive, well-organized, and a great introduction to this city.

You’ll see Plaza Botero, the Cathedral, and much more, all with the insight of a local guide. Plus you’ll get to meet other travelers along the way, and leave with recommendations that will make the rest of your visit to Medellin truly spectacular.

Reviews and Bookings: Medellin Free Walking Tour

comuna 13 medellin
rechitansorin / Depositphotos

9. Take a Graffiti Tour with A Local Artist

While Pablo Escobar tours tend to focus on the dark past of Medellin, taking a street art and neighborhood tour with a local artist is a great way to learn about and support projects that help move underserved communities forward.

You’ll see incredible art transforming communities and learn about social projects that are helping youth in the area through the power of art. We did this excellent graffiti and street art tour in Comuna 13 with a local guide and can’t recommend it enough – it was a highlight of our experience in Medellin!

Reviews and Bookings: Graffiti and Street Art Tour in Medellin

10. Stroll Through the Jardin Botánico

Medellin has a lovely botanical garden with a great variety of plants and flowers, plus an incredible butterfly enclosure well worth a visit. A visit is a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon, especially if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Admission to the gardens is free, and the butterfly enclosure charges admission of just around $1 USD. Just north of El Centro, the Botanical Garden is easily accessible by metro.

coffee farm colombia

11. Book An Overnight at a Coffee Farm

One of our top recommendations for the best things to do in Medellin is taking a day trip to a nearby coffee farm (this coffee farm excursion we did was incredible – highly recommended!), but if you’re looking for an even deeper dive, an overnight stay at a coffee plantation near Medellin is a must.

We did a few coffee experiences while exploring Colombia, but our overnight at a coffee plantation near Medellin was one we’d recommend to anyone who has time for it in their itinerary!

You’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city in this serene and enchanting countryside. Plus, you’ll get a deep dive into all the ins and outs of coffee cultivation, roasting, and the full bean-to-cup process that will give you a great appreciation for your daily cup!

Reviews and Bookings: Coffee Plantation Overnight + Deep Dive Near Medellin

12. Paraglide Over Medellin 

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll love paragliding over Medellin. You’ll see an incredible view of the Andes, including waterfalls and sometimes even eagles as you soar through the air with experienced guides. Paragliding is a bucket list experience, and Medellin is a great place for it!

Reviews and Bookings: Paragliding Experience Over Medellin

plaza botero medellin
Luisecheverriurrea / Depositphotos

13. Visit Plaza Botero

At the heart of Medellin’s bustling Centro neighborhood, Plaza Botero is a must-visit destination for travelers. Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous sculptor and artist, has his works on full display here: oversized, voluptuous statues that comment on all parts of Colombian history and culture.

Along the side of the plaza, you’ll see the unmissable checkerboard facade of the Palacio de la Cultura (Cultural Center). Here you’ll find an endless schedule of concerts, movie screenings, and other cultural events, plus a library and cafe – all free for use!

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14. Hike Through Parque Arvi

Parque Arvi is a sprawling park on top of one of the hillsides just outside Medellin. The park has several different hiking and walking trails to choose from and vendors at the entrance selling food, drinks, and treats. It’s a great place to spend a few hours outside the city!

Easily accessible from the rest of the city, getting to Parque Arvi is half the fun. You’ll take the cable car (line L from the Santo Domingo station) to the cable car’s last stop. Tickets are slightly more to get to the park than for a standard cable car ride, but they are still extremely cheap.

best things to do in medellin colombia

15. Enjoy Coffee at Pergamino

Pergamino is Medellin’s favorite coffee shop for a good reason – it’s incredible.  Pergamino is famous for taking local Colombian coffee seriously and doing it well. They have their own farms and a small network of special local producers, and they roast their own beans in-house every other day.

Baristas are well-trained and will take the time to answer your questions and share about the art of coffee. Visit Pergamino early enough in your time in Medellin, and you’ll be back again and again.

16. Hike To Waterfalls at Arenales

If you’re looking to escape the city and enjoy some of the pristine areas around Medellin, hiking to the waterfall at Arenales is ideal. The hike isn’t challenging, and it’s overrun with visitors… and there is excellent swimming under the waterfall!

To get to Arenales, take the Arenales bus from the Envigado metro station and get off at the last stop. Follow the trail to the left and hike along the river for about an hour until you reach the waterfall and swimming hole.

los patios hostel medellin
Courtesy of Los Patios Hostel

17. Enjoy Rooftop Drinks in El Poblado

A particularly popular way to enjoy the vistas of Medellin is by settling in for sunset with drinks on a rooftop bar. You’ll have your fair share of options here, with what seems like every hotel, restaurant, and bar vying for the most desirable rooftop experience in this picturesque destination.

Los Rooftops

The bar on top of the award-winning (but slightly overrated) Los Patios Hostel is a lively bar with a stunning view over the city. This bar is more laidback around sunset and becomes a huge party later at night.

The Marquee

The rooftop bar at The Marquee hotel has stunning, nearly 360-degree views and is a little less rowdy than Los Rooftops, though still very lively!


This rooftop bar is another very popular option  – Envy is a little more expensive than others you’ll find in El Poblado, but has a lovely pool and stunning views, and is a little more classy than some of the other rowdier bars in the area. 

18. Learn About Medellin’s Dark History at Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria is a somber museum that documents Colombia’s stormy past few decades. If you’re interested in learning more about how the violence of recent decades impacted the country, this is the place to do it.

Be aware that exhibits are mostly in Spanish, so if you don’t have some fluency in Spanish, some of the exhibits may be lost on you.

19. Eat Bandeja Paisa

One of Colombia’s most famous dishes is named after its roots in Medellin, so this must be the place to try it. “Bandeja” means platter, and when you order this dish, expect a platter of food.

Typically, the plate comes with rice, beans, ground beef, two types of sausage, avocado, a plantain, an arepa, a fried egg, and the star of the show, the giant fried pork rind called a chicharrón.

You can find bandeja paisa everywhere in Medellin, but here are a few of the favorite spots that are well-known in the city for having some of the best bandeja paisa.

Restaurante Hatoviejo

There are a few Hatoviejo locations in the city, but the Hatoviejo in El Centro is the best. The bandeja paisa is enormous – you could fill up on the chicharrón alone!


Mondongos in El Poblado is centrally located in a rather high-tourist area but has delicious and authentic food. They are known for their bandeja paisa and mondongo dish, tripe soup. The bandeja paisa is so large you won’t need the soup (though I’ll admit, it is delicious).

20. Shop at the Medellin’s Centro Artesanal

In El Centro, Medellin’s Centro Artesanal is a great place to shop for jewelry, souvenirs, Colombian fútbol jerseys, sweaters, and just about anything you want to bring back from your trip to Colombia. In the heart of La Candelaria in the center of Medellin, paying a visit to Centro Artesanal is among the best things to do in Medellin for visitors.

Come prepared to haggle, and make sure you grab some fresh guarapo (sugar cane juice with lime) from the vendors on the way out.

la placita de florez medellin

21. Visit La Placita de Florez

When I lived in Medellin, I lived directly across the street from the La Placita de Florez market near El Centro, and I was in here every day grabbing one thing or another. This is a typical, traditional market worth a visit if you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Medellin.

At La Placita de Florez, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, home goods, flowers… pretty much everything. You’ll also find food stalls with prepared meals in and around the market – this is a great place to eat on a budget and try some of Colombia’s most beloved dishes.

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22. Cheer at a Fútbol Game

Medellin is home to two soccer (football) teams – Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín – and you can bet they’re big rivals. Both teams play at the Estadio Atanasio Girardot, located near the metro in the Laureles neighborhood.

If you’ve never been to a Latin American fútbol game yourself, they are WILD. There is nothing like it. Prepare for constant chants, singing, drums, and overall spectacle. It will be an experience to remember. Games are generally on Wednesday or on the weekend.

Read More: Where To Stay in Medellin + Neighborhoods Guide


23. Take a Day Trip to Guatapé

One of the most popular day trips from Medellin, Guatapé is a charming, colorful town near a stunning man-made lake. There is a lot to see and do here, including visiting the colorful town of Guatapé, and hiking the massive Piedra de Peñol rock overlooking the lake.

The easiest way to visit is with a group day trip from Medellin – tickets are inexpensive and all-inclusive, for around $30 per person. The best tours of Guatapé include visiting the town, hiking the rock for the stunning view, and a boat tour on the lake.

Private excursions to Guatapé aren’t much more expensive and can be tailored to your interests. You can also catch a bus from Medellin’s northern bus terminal for just a few dollars or take a taxi. The trip is about 1.5 hours by car or about 2 hours by bus.

Best Places To Stay in Medellin

24. Hike Pan de Azucar (At Night)

Looking for a moderately challenging hike near Medellin (with a spectacular city view)? Consider hiking Pan de Azucar. This hillside overlooking Medellin has well-marked trails, is easily accessible by cable car and metro, and is easy enough to complete with family. The hike takes about 2.5 hours in total to complete.

Aburrá Travels offers guided sunset and evening hikes, giving you the most spectacular view of Medellin with the city’s glittering lights below. Don’t try to hike at night alone for safety reasons! Whether you choose to complete the hike during the day or in the evening, Pan de Azucar is a great half-day excursion and hike near the city. 

dancing in colombia

25. Learn To Dance

Colombia is home to a number of the world’s most famous rhythms and beats, with everything from salsa and cumbia to the world-famous lyrics of Shakira (she’s from Colombia’s coastal city of Barranquilla!) identifying the nation as a musical powerhouse. This rich cultural history makes Colombia one of the best places to take a dance lesson!

Cali is perhaps best known for travelers looking to truly master salsa and other styles of dance, but taking dance lessons in Medellin is still one of the best things to do in the city. There are plenty of dance schools in Medellin, but Euforia Dance School in the Laureles neighborhood is a great option for travelers – it’s easily accessible and offers affordable yet comprehensive lessons for both beginners and more experienced dancers.

26. Go Mountain Biking

Would you be surprised to learn that Medellin is a growing destination for adventure travel? Not only is this mountainous city a haven for those looking to try paragliding for the first time, but it’s a well-known destination for mountain bikers.

Exploring the stunning countryside outside of Medellin by mountain bike makes for an easy day trip to experience one of the most increasingly popular things to do in Medellin.

Looking for more in-depth, longer rides or even multi-day excursions with local guides? Check out Sueltele, an incredible local mountain biking company that can put together pretty much any experience you’re looking for with their experienced guides.

Reviews and Bookings: Medellin Mountain Biking Excursion – Half-Day Trip

biking in medellin colombia

27. Take an E-Bike Tour of Downtown Medellin

Mountain bike tours of Medellin are perfect for those looking to explore the countryside, but for those looking to get an in-depth city guide, e-bike tours of the city are one of the best things to do in Medellin.

Even if you’ve never used an e-bike before, trust us, they are a MUST in hilly, mountainous Medellin. The hills of the city make standard biking nearly prohibitive if you’re looking for a good tour of the city, so the electric feature of the bikes used in these Medellin city tours will come in handy when needed!

These e-bike tours also include stops for trying local food and drinks along the way, making them feel like an awesome way to get to know the city from the eyes of a local!

28. Ride an ATV Through the Mountains

If biking isn’t your style, another incredible way to enjoy the stunning mountainside outside of Medellin – by ATV! ATV tours outside of Medellin are some of the most popular things to do in Medellin, as they offer both a bit of an adrenaline rush as well as a memorable way to experience some of Medellin’s most beautiful landscapes.

ATV tours include local guides and all the equipment you’ll need for the experience, as well as snacks and drinks during the experience and round-trip transportation to and from the city. We met our group at Parque Lleras in El Poblado and had a fantastic experience – this is the exact company and tour that we went with for the experience!

Reviews and Bookings: ATV Tours Near Medellin

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.