10 things to do in and around Medellin (apart from learning Spanish, of course 😉)
1. Visit Plaza Botero (right on Parque Berrio metro station)
Also known as Parque de las esculturas, Medellin’s top landmark has become a symbol and example of social transformation in the city, as the area where it is located was previously extremely underdeveloped and neglected, now you can pose next to the giant bronze sculptures of Medellin’s own Fernando Botero, most renowned Colombian artist, also next door you’ll find Museo de Antioquia
2. Take the cable car to Santo Domingo station (and if you have time Visit Parque ARVI (Medellin’s natural reserve))
Unlike other cable cars all around the world (mainly designed for tourism, winter sports or entertainment) Medellin’s cable cars were designed to reach some of the least developed suburban areas of Medellín. It is largely considered to be the first Cable Propelled Transit system in South America. Take the metro to Acevedo station and transfer for free (yep, for free) to the Santo Domingo station, once there you can walk to Biblioteca España (visible from much of the city), which has become a symbol of the new Medellin (focused on education and trying to leave behind its reputation as one of the most violent cities in the world)
Once in Santo Domingo Metro station you have the option to take a second cable car going across a forest for 20 minutes into a natural reserve (Parque Arvi) that allows tourists to navigate the rugged mountains of Antioquia on board the modern cable car system enabling visitors to reach this forest that contains a treasure of nature reserves including archaeological and cultural themes. (About 6.000 pesos one way)
Once there you can book a series of different activities (including a bike adventure 30.000 pesos) to explore the reserve, walk or even hire horses.
Please note that the park closes once the maximum number of visitors per day is reached, so do your best to leave early (before 9 or 10am)
Also, the park is closed Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday was a national holiday)
3. Go to Guatape either on your own or with the all inclusive tour to Guatape
On your own
Guatape is famous for both its Huge Rock (Also Known as Piedra del Peñol) and its lake (actually a hydroelectric dam built in the late 1960s). If you are fit enough to climb the 700 steps in the Rock you are rewarded with one of the most amazing views you’ll see in the whole of Colombia.
Once you’ve cleared the rock off your to do list, you can walk to the actual town (about 3 Km away, or say 30 min walk), where you can have tradicional Trout (Trucha), or beans, rice and a various offer of meats (Bandeja Paisa).
Also on your way to the town you can go for a quick swim in the lake by the side of the road (not in the town, the colombian’s will think you are mad to go in 18 C waters)
In the tour (Do it in a Van!)
All you have to do is book it at the Black Sheep hostel (right across from our School) and your all set, the tour includes breakfasts and lunch as well as transportation and a stop or two in small villages along the way
Price: 150.000 pesos 9am -7/8pm
4. Visit University Station in the metro system
In only one station you can access 6 of Medellin most popular sites (The Explora park, Aquarium, Botanic Gardens, Planetarium, Amusement Park (Parque Norte) and the park of wishes (Parque de los Deseos))
A variety of activities is offered there, from movies free of charge and outdoor drinking and eating on friday night where Universidad de Antioquia students begin their weekend (Parque de los deseos), cheap, pretty decent, not too scary rides in Parque Norte, temporary exhibitions in Parque explora and the Planetarium, and the biggest freshwater aquarium in Latin America, Jardin Botánico is a huge park where you can relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the biggest attraction of the gardens is the Orquideorama (large collection of Orchids, Colombia’s national flower) and a little lake with many large lizards and other tropical animals, every now and then the Jardin Botánico offers food tasting events and concerts, finally the Garden is also home of one of the best restaurants in the city (In Situ, restaurant recommendations)
5. Go on the free walking tour of the center of Medellin
Run by a very keen and knowledgeable guy (Pablo), this tip based walking tour became very popular from its beginning, this tour is number one to do activity in Medellin according to tripadvisor! To book go to www.realcitytours.com
If you decide to go on the tour you will visit Parque de las esculturas (our recommendation #1) among other highlights of Medellin’s centre.
6. Explore Medellin’s Comuna 13th (the neighborhood that arguably has seen the biggest transformation in the recent history of Medellin)
Infamous for its former drug related problems and gang violence this barrio has transformed into a must visit place in the city, the tour takes you to the famous Barrio escalator, the giant Graffiti walls that the comuna is famous for now among other activities
Leaves almost everyday from the Black Sheep hostel (across from our school, Price 70.000 pesos)
7. Book the Pablo Escobar tour
As we are sure we don’t have to explain to you who Plablo was all we have to say is this tour (run by a former associate of Escobar’s ) is very popular and unbiased
Leaves everyday from the Black sheep Hostel (across from our School) and it’s cost for 2020 is 70.000 pesos
8. Take your better half on a fancy (yet reasonably priced) dinner
Medellin is not a cheap place, you must already know that, but if you are in the mood to spend a bit more than normal (for like a birthday celebration, aniversary or any other special occasion) you have a few options in the city that will leave you very satisfied both for the food and the nice location
Carmen (Carrera 36 # 10A-27, Tel 3119625) voted Number 1 Restaurant in Medellin, and possibly best restaurant in Colombia, Main from about 45.000 pesos (Lentil steak) to about 70.000 pesos (Beef Royal), also vey popular 5 course chef’s tasting menu, for about 150.000 pesos
La provincia (Calle 4 sur #43A-179, Tel 3119630 - 3120127) Main from 35.000 (Raviolli with mozzarella, dried tomatoes and basil) to 70.000 (Duck Magret)
In situ: (Botanical Gardens, Tel 4607007 Main from 21.000 to 39.5000 pesos
El herbario:( Carrera 43D 10-30, Teléfono 311 2537)
9. Go on a day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia (Colonial Town)
Only one and a half hours away from Medellin (80 km north) is Santa Fe de Antioquia, former capital of the Province of Antioquia (of which Medellin is now capital).
Santa Fe is a colonial town with a hotter weather (about 30 degrees celsius) all of the town is a historical site; the architecture that has survived through the years gives Santa Fe de Antioquia the aspect of a city "suspended" in the colonial era, which is the reason the city was declared National monument.
We recommend you to hire a moto taxi (includes driver) to Puente de Occidente (hanging bridge built in 1887), once you’ve seen the bridge and take some pics, ask the driver to take you to Sucre, (if you are into walking ask him to wait for you by the bridge and walk there yourself (about 45 min)) where you can see how towns that are not at all tourist look, have a juice by the little church and go back to the bridge and on to Santa Fe.
Have lunch by the main plaza: Trucha (trout) or bandeja paisa (beans and various meats) is recommended)
Walk around town (on weekends they have a farmers market around the plaza)
To get there take the metro to Caribe station (northern bus terminal) where you can get a bus (about 20.000 pesos) or colectivo taxi (about 30.000) straight to the plaza of Santa Fe, to get back to Medellin do the same from the little terminal by the main entrance of santa fe.
10. Go to the movies
One of the favorite things to do for Colombians is going to the movies, if you're in the mood for relaxing and doing nothing, why not watch a movie?, Medellin has a lot of very new, very decent movie theaters where 90% of movies are in English (with spanish subtitles, that has to count as practice, right?)
The attractiveness of going to the movies here is the price, (less than half the price you would pay in most cinemas around the world (about 10.000 pesos, some days less) during the day and about 15.000 pesos after 6pm