A Locals Guide to Medellin: Hidden Gems and Tourist Hotspots to Visit
Medellin, the second-largest city in Colombia, is a vibrant destination that offers something for everyone. From tourist hotspots to hidden gems, this guide will help you make the most of your visit. As a local expert, I’ll take you on an insider’s journey through Medellin’s downtown area, cable car rides with stunning views and visit must-see spots like Commune 13. Additionally we’ll explore parks perfect for relaxation during the day and nightlife options to keep the party going into the night! And if you want to go beyond Medellin there are some great options too!
Explore the Downtown Area
of Medellin to experience its vibrant culture. Take a stroll through Plaza Botero, where you can admire the sculptures by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s famous artist. Afterwards, visit Biblioteca España for free educational and cultural events.
For a glimpse into Medellin’s history and architecture, check out Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe. This iconic building houses various exhibitions and events that showcase the city’s rich heritage. Another hidden gem worth visiting is Arvi Park, located just outside downtown Medellin with stunning views of nature trails and waterfalls to explore.
Admire the impressive collection of sculptures by renowned artist Fernando Botero at Plaza Botero. This famous square in Medellin is adorned with oversized bronze statues, each one a unique and playful interpretation of everyday life. Take memorable pictures with these larger-than-life sculptures that have become an iconic symbol of the city.
While you’re there, don’t forget to shop for souvenirs and handicrafts at nearby stalls. Whether it’s traditional Colombian textiles or handmade jewelry, there’s something for everyone to take home as a reminder of their time in Medellin.
Other things to do near Plaza Botero include taking a cable car up to Arvi for breathtaking views over the city or exploring the Biblioteca España, an architectural masterpiece filled with books and cultural activities.
- Admire oversized bronze statues created by Fernando Botero.
- Take memorable pictures among these unique works of art.
- Shop for souvenirs and handicrafts from local vendors.
- Explore nearby attractions such as Arvi or Biblioteca España.
Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe
Marvel at the beautiful architecture of Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe, a historic building that is an emblematic feature of Medellin’s cultural landscape. This stunning structure was designed by Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts and features intricate carvings and detailed stonework that showcase the city’s rich history.
Learn about Medellin’s vibrant culture and explore local art and history at Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe, an iconic building featuring stunning architecture and intricate carvings.
Explore exhibitions featuring local art and history at Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe. Learn about Medellin’s vibrant culture, from its indigenous roots to modern-day innovations in art and technology. You can also visit Biblioteca España, located within the building complex which houses over 40,000 books including translations of world literature into Spanish as well as works by Colombian authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Attend cultural events such as concerts, theater productions, and dance performances hosted at Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe or ARVI Theater located inside. Immerse yourself in Medellin’s dynamic arts scene while enjoying world-class performances in one of Colombia’s most iconic buildings for culture seekers.
Take a Cable Car Ride
Experience Medellin from above and take a cable car ride on the Metrocable Linea K or L. These cable cars offer stunning panoramic views of the city, as well as access to some of Medellin’s hillside neighborhoods.
While riding the Metrocable, you’ll get a unique perspective on Medellin’s geography and architecture, passing by iconic landmarks such as Parque Biblioteca España and La Aurora Nature Reserve. This is an experience that shouldn’t be missed during your trip to Colombia’s second largest city.
Metrocable Linea K
Experience breathtaking views of Medellin from above on the Metrocable Linea K, a cable car system that takes you through the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood. As you ascend up the mountain, take in panoramic views of the city and see how locals live in this vibrant community.
Once you reach the top, visit the Biblioteca España for its impressive architecture and cultural exhibits. This library is not only a functional space but also an iconic landmark with its unique design. Take some time to explore both inside and outside where there are beautiful gardens to enjoy as well.
Overall, riding on Metrocable Linea K is a fun way to get around while also experiencing some of Medellin’s hidden gems along with its stunning natural beauty seen from above.
Metrocable Linea L
Take in breathtaking views during a scenic ride to Parque Arví, where you can indulge in hiking and outdoor activities. This nature reserve provides a respite from the bustling city, making it an ideal destination for those looking to immerse themselves in Medellin’s natural beauty.
Discover Comuna 13’s vibrant community projects and colorful street art as you explore this lively neighborhood. Stroll through its winding streets and alleys while learning about the area’s rich history and culture.
Stop by La Aurora, a local market filled with fresh produce and traditional snacks. Immerse yourself in Colombian cuisine as you peruse the stalls lined with mouth-watering fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more. With so much to see and do on Metrocable Linea L alone, your trip to Medellin is sure to be unforgettable!
Visit the Commune 13
A neighborhood that has overcome its dark past to become one of Medellin’s most vibrant communities. Take a tour of the famous outdoor escalators and witness the stunning views of the city from above. Explore the colorful streets adorned with graffiti art and learn about their significance in Colombian culture. Discover unique shops, restaurants, and cafes run by local entrepreneurs who are revitalizing this once-neglected area. Join a walking tour led by knowledgeable guides who will share fascinating stories about the community’s history and transformation. Don’t miss out on experiencing one of Medellin’s hidden gems firsthand!
Escalators of Medellin
Learn about the history and purpose of Medellin’s famous escalators as you ascend through the city’s neighborhoods. From Comuna 13 to Las Independencias, each stop offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Marvel at how this innovative infrastructure has transformed once marginalized communities into vibrant hubs of artistic expression.
As you take in the sights from above, discover local shops, markets, and restaurants along your journey. The escalators have become a catalyst for economic growth in these areas, providing opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to thrive. Immerse yourself in Medellin’s colorful culture by sampling traditional foods or purchasing handmade crafts from street vendors.
Explore the vibrant street art scene of Medellin with a Graffiti Tour through Commune 13. Meet local artists who are transforming the city’s walls into colorful masterpieces and learn about their inspirations and techniques. Gain insight into the cultural significance of graffiti in Medellin, from its origins as a form of protest to its current role as an expression of creativity.
During your Graffiti Tour, you’ll have the chance to see some incredible works by both established and up-and-coming artists. Here are just a few highlights:
- Marvel at massive murals that cover entire buildings
- Discover hidden gems tucked away in alleyways
- Learn about different styles, from political messages to abstract designs
- Take plenty of photos to capture these unique pieces of art
If you’re interested in getting off-the-beaten-path and seeing another side of Medellin beyond museums and tourist attractions, this tour is not to be missed.
Relax in a Park
Nestled in the heart of Medellin, Parque Lleras offers a bustling atmosphere for visitors and locals alike. The park is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops that cater to all tastes and preferences. Whether you want to relax with a book or enjoy the nightlife scene, Parque Lleras has something for everyone.
For those looking for a more tranquil experience, Parque de los Pies Descalzos provides an oasis in the middle of the city. This minimalist park features various areas designed for meditation and relaxation. Take off your shoes and feel the grass between your toes as you unwind from the hustle and bustle of Medellin’s vibrant energy.
Experience the vibrant nightlife in Medellin’s trendiest district, Parque Lleras. This area is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, with numerous restaurants and bars that come alive at night. Sample some of Medellin’s amazing local cuisine or enjoy a drink while soaking up the lively atmosphere.
Some things to do in Parque Lleras include:
- Try traditional Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa or arepas at one of the many restaurants.
- Sip on a refreshing cocktail at a rooftop bar with stunning views of the city skyline.
- Dance the night away to Latin beats at one of the clubs or salsa venues.
Parque Lleras offers an unforgettable experience filled with food, drinks, music and fun. Make sure you add it to your list when visiting Medellin!
Parque de los Pies Descalzos
Take off your shoes and indulge in a unique sensory experience at Parque de los Pies Descalzos. This park was designed to stimulate your senses, from feeling the textures of different surfaces underfoot to listening to the soothing sounds of nature. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Medellin by relaxing on one of the many hammocks or bean bag chairs scattered throughout the park.
In addition to providing a unique sensory experience, Parque de los Pies Descalzos also offers interactive exhibits and workshops that teach visitors about sustainable living practices. Learn about composting, organic gardening, and other eco-friendly habits while enjoying this serene oasis in the heart of Medellin.
Experience the Nightlife
Experience the vibrant nightlife in Medellin by checking out Calle 9+1 and La 70. Calle 9+1 is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, with its array of bars, clubs, and restaurants lining the street. On any given night you’ll find live music performances or DJ sets that create an electric atmosphere.
La 70 is another must-visit area known for its lively ambiance. Here you can find everything from salsa dancing to karaoke bars, making it a great choice no matter what your interests are. Try some local drinks like aguardiente or enjoy a cold beer while mingling with the friendly locals – there’s always something going on in this bustling part of town!
Salsa Dancing at Son Havana, Craft Beer Tasting at Cerveceria Libre, and Art Exhibitions at Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gomez are just a few of the many things to do on Calle 9+1. This vibrant street is located in the Laureles neighborhood of Medellin and offers visitors a diverse range of activities to enjoy.
Here are some must-see attractions along
- Experience the infectious energy of salsa dancing at Son Havana.
- Sample local craft beers while enjoying live music at Cerveceria Libre.
- Immerse yourself in Colombian art and culture by visiting Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gomez.
Looking for a night out in Medellin? Look no further than La 70. This popular street is home to some of the best bars and nightlife spots in the city, perfect for bar hopping with friends or meeting new people. Don’t miss Salon Malaga, known for its live music and vibrant atmosphere.
If you’re looking to explore Colombian cuisine, take a street food tour with La Mesa Food Tours. You’ll taste traditional dishes like arepas and empanadas while learning about the local culture and history behind each dish. With so much to offer, La 70 is a must-visit destination on any trip to Medellin.
Hiking in the Andes Mountains at Parque Arvi is a must-do activity for any nature lover. With breathtaking views and challenging trails, you’ll get to see the best of Medellin’s natural beauty. If you’re feeling adventurous, try ziplining through lush forests or even camping under the stars.
For those interested in learning about local culture, visiting traditional villages near Parque Arvi is an excellent opportunity to do so. From sampling authentic Colombian cuisine to watching artisans create traditional crafts, there’s plenty to see and learn from these vibrant communities.
El Mirador de Las Palmas offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Medellin that cannot be missed. Located high above the city, this lookout point is accessible through a scenic drive and short hike. The stunning vista includes towering mountains, lush greenery, and vibrant urban landscapes.
For those interested in art and culture, taking a walking tour of Medellin’s street art scene is an absolute must-do activity. Graffiti artists from around the world have contributed to various murals throughout the city, creating an outdoor gallery that truly captures local life and history. From political statements to abstract designs, there’s something for everyone on these guided tours.
Food lovers will appreciate the delicious Colombian cuisine found in local restaurants across Medellin. With its rich cultural heritage and diverse influences, Colombian food features flavorful dishes such as bandeja paisa (a hearty meat platter), arepas (corn cakes filled with cheese or meat), and empanadas (fried pastries stuffed with beef or chicken). Whether you’re looking for fine dining or casual eats from street vendors – be sure to sample some authentic local dishes during your visit!
If you’re planning a trip to Medellín, Colombia, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a free walking tour with Real City Tours. This engaging, informative, and fun tour is led by a local guide who will take you through the city’s downtown (El Centro) and show you the best of Medellín’s history and culture. During the 3.5-hour tour, you’ll explore the historic districts, traditional squares, and streets of the city, and learn about the fascinating stories, descriptions, and urban legends that make this city come to life. To book your free walking tour with Real City Tours, visit their website at https://realcitytours.com/free-walking-tour/.
Shopping for locally made artisanal crafts and souvenirs at Mercado del Tranvía is a must-do activity in Provenza. This vibrant marketplace offers an array of unique handicrafts and one-of-a-kind items that make great souvenirs or gifts. After shopping, head to Cafe Zorba or Carmen Restaurant Bar Lounge to sip on some coffee or cocktails while taking in the trendy atmosphere.
For music and film lovers, Casa Teatro El Poblado hosts live events that are not to be missed. From traditional Colombian music concerts to indie film screenings, this cultural center has something for everyone. Make sure to add this stop on your itinerary when exploring the Provenza neighborhood in Medellin!
Strolling along peaceful forest paths and marveling at exotic flora species from Colombia and beyond is a must-do activity at the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are home to over 1,000 plant species, including some that are endemic to Colombia. But it’s not just about the plants; visitors can also observe native bird species, including toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, and more while walking through the lush greenery.
For those interested in sustainable agriculture practices, guided tours of community gardens maintained by local farmers offer an excellent opportunity to learn about traditional farming techniques used in Medellin. Additionally,the Botanical Gardens’ educational programs focus on environmental conservation efforts aimed at preserving natural resources for future generations.
This botanical garden is not only a museum but also a research center that offers environmental education and cultural recreation. With a wide variety of plants and animals, visitors are sure to have an educational and enjoyable experience. To plan your visit, check out their website at https://www.botanicomedellin.org/
If you’re planning a trip to Medellin, Colombia, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to Parque Explora. This incredible science and technology park offers something for everyone, from educational exhibits and live animal displays to interactive games and immersive experiences. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, Parque Explora is a must-see attraction in Medellin. To learn more about the park’s exhibits, events, and educational programs, visit their website at https://www.parqueexplora.org/.
Explore Beyond Medellin
Discover the charming town of Guatapé, just a short drive from Medellin. Climb the iconic El Peñol rock for breathtaking views or stroll around the colorful streets filled with unique handicrafts and delicious street food.
Escape to Santa Fe de Antioquia, a colonial gem that will transport you back in time. Admire historic churches, plazas and architecture as you wander through its cobblestone streets or take a dip in refreshing natural pools nearby.
Climb the 740-step El Peñol rock for breathtaking views of Guatapé’s surrounding landscapes. The climb may be challenging, but the stunning vistas from the top make it all worth it.
Take a boat tour of the Guatapé reservoir, known locally as ‘The Lake of Seven Colors.’ Admire its picturesque scenery while soaking up some sun and learning about its history and significance to local communities.
Visit La Manuela; Pablo Escobar’s former mansion turned museum showcases his life story and narco-culture in Colombia during the 80s. A must-visit attraction that will take you back into Columbia’s dark times but with a glimmer of hope for today’s peaceful society.
Santa Fe de Antioquia
Explore the colonial architecture in Santa Fe de Antioquia’s historic center. Admire the intricate details of buildings dating back to the 16th century, including Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gómez and Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción. After soaking up some history, take a dip in one of the town’s natural pools or hot springs. La Doctora and Termales Santa Fe offer stunning views and a relaxing atmosphere to unwind.
For adventure seekers, visit Puente Occidente, an iconic suspension bridge dating back to 1887 that spans over the Cauca River. Cross it on foot for a thrilling experience or simply admire its beauty from afar while enjoying a picnic by the riverside. A trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia offers something for everyone – from history buffs to nature enthusiasts!