You are busy planning your trip to Colombia. And now you are wondering: what would be the best Medellin itinerary?
It is difficult to decide the exact number of days to visit the city and avoid getting bored. Every day is precious in a trip, so it is best to make the most of each of them.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to know a friend who has lived for many months in the city of Medellín and could almost decide for you?
Hm, wait. I’m this guy!
I’ve been exploring Colombia since 2015 and always come back to Medellín.
In this article, you will discover 3 step by step Medellin itineraries. It will allow you to decide how many days to stay in the city and to build your own itinerary.
Moreover, I personally know some excellent local agencies that offer high-quality tours and that you can contact directly via our online forms.
👉 Want to know everything about Medellín? Learn where are the best places, and avoid tourist traps and beginner’s mistakes? Nothing could be easier. I put it all together in our guide to Medellín.
Medellin itineraries: our maps
Discover the magic of Medellin in just a couple of days
Staying in the “eternal spring” city can be an unforgettable and pleasant experience. You’ll find plenty of things to add to your Medellin itinerary.
If you’re in a hurry and want to see the most important places, stay in Laureles neighborhood because it’s close to the areas of interest, cultural sites, and local nightlife.
In Laureles, three good stay options are:
- Wandering Paisa, if you’re traveling on a budget.
- Factory loft for medium-range prices.
- Terra Biohotel, if you are willing to afford some luxury.
Day 1, morning: Discover several districts in one go
One of the best ways to enjoy Medellin when you’re in a hurry is by hiring a bike tour. You’ll see different districts in a few hours and get an overall taste of the city. If you particularly like a spot, you should be able to return later.
I like this tour where they give you an e-bike, so you won’t get tired of pedaling. You’ll visit places such as Plaza Botero, the Bare Foot park, Parques del Rio, and Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a typical Antioquia town located on Cerro Nutibara in the center of Medellin. You will learn a lot about the city during the experience.
This journey also allows you to taste Colombian coffee, eat typical Medellin food, and drink local beer, water, or fresh fruit juices. Everything is included in the total price of the tour, which costs less than 40 USD and lasts about 4 hours.
The tour starts at 9:30 a.m. at Parroquia (Parrish) San Martin, on 70 street, in Laureles neighborhood. It ends at about 1:30 p.m. You can get to the meeting place earlier to have breakfast before getting started. One good spot to eat is Naturalia Cafe.
Day 1, afternoon and evening: Dining and drinking in the fanciest neighborhood
After the e-bike tour, it might be a good idea to go back to your hotel or apartment, eat something, and take a nap and a shower. Then, continue with this Medellin itinerary for the second half of your first day.
Before 4 p.m., just before rush hour starts, you should head to El Poblado neighborhood by taxi. This area is considered the fanciest of Medellin. The zone gathers the greatest vibe, with fine eating, bars, and dancing clubs. Medellin nightlife in El Poblado is crazy, and you will meet many foreigners.
Then, you can have a good afternoon coffee at Pergamino or Cafe Velvet. Later, you can go to Los Patios Hostel or Masaya Hostel to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the rooftops. These two hotels are within walking distance from the above-mentioned cafes.
To digest your dinner, a great way to do so is to go to a salsa dance club. I recommend Buena vista or Son Havana, where you can dance; drink aguardiente with mango, lemon, or coconut; and listen to live bands (check the places’ Instagram to see when the bands play.)
Take an Uber or a Cabify taxi to return to your hotel and end this fun first day in Medellin.
Day 2 in Medellin, morning: Comuna 13, the two sides of a coin
Comuna 13 is the neighborhood where back in the 80s, drug lord Pablo Escobar used to recruit his assassins. Fortunately, nowadays, it’s a tourist place full of street art where you can learn about the city’s history and the country: a living tale of a war-torn neighborhood that has been re-born as one of the most touristy places in Medellin.
Comuna 13 is very crowded on weekends. It’s also loud because of the many street vendors. It’s better to go there in the morning, hopefully on weekdays.
Before hitting the road, try breakfast and excellent coffee made by a professional barista at Rituales Cafe.
I suggest you book a guided tour if you plan to include Comuna 13 in your Medellin itinerary. It’s the best way to learn about its bloody history.
You have several options:
- You can find free walking tours on-site (you tip the guide at the end) or meet Zippy Tours at the San Javier train station at 10 a.m.
- For less than 18 USD, you can join the Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour and Street Food. They show you the neighborhood and the graffiti adorning the walls, tell you the story of the place, and give you Medellin traditional food such as empanadas, patacon with hogao (mushed fried plantain with a tomato and onion sauce), sausages, and mango ice cream with salt and lemon.
- Private tours are also available. Cathy includes la Comuna 13 with a lunch with a lovely family to listen to their testimonies and opinions. You can contact her here.
After this experience, you’ll see Medellin with different eyes and respect it even more.
Once you return to the San Javier metro station at noon, you can have lunch at A la parrilla, which serves great steaks.
Day 2 in Medellin, afternoon: Amazing city views from cable cars
One way to enjoy the view of the city and mingle with “real” Medellin people is to take the cable car for your late afternoon visit. You take it from Acevedo metro station to Santo Domingo. The price is included in the metro ticket, which is less than 1 USD.
The cable car is an extension of the metro system. It has changed how people move around the city and provided easy access to almost inaccessible neighborhoods. This investment has brought prosperity and allowed children to go to school fast and safely.
If you have time and are not too tired, you may visit Jardin Botanico (the botanical garden), where you can see many plant species and lazy iguanas hanging around the lake.
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Medellin itinerary: 4 days to understand the city and Colombia
Medellin is one of the cities in Colombia that has better witnessed times of violence and the transformation into a prosperous, modern, and welcoming place full of street art.
This is because many bad events have converged through time in the city, such as the Farc guerrillas, narcos, street gangs, and paramilitary groups. Luckily for visitors and residents, these times are mostly over, and now you have a city leader in innovation. There are museums, parks, galleries, a botanical garden, and neighborhoods worth seeing.
Again, I recommend staying in Laureles because it’s safe and in the middle of the action. Again, these are my stay recommendations:
Day 1 in Medellin, morning: Visit the city with a local
A free walking tour lets you wander in El Centro (downtown) in the company of local people. Real City Tours organizes this tour, and you tip the guide at the end of the experience.
You’ll walk around Medellin’s historic districts. The guides, who speak English, tell you stories and urban legends of the city, provide explanations and answer questions. I love to include this Free Walking tour in every Medellin itinerary because it allows travelers to visit traditional streets, plazas, parks, and cultural sites.
The tour is organized daily, including weekends (only at 10 a.m.), and lasts between 3 and a half and 4 hours. You have to book in advance (they accept last-minute bookings.) It starts from the Alpujarra metro station at 9:30 a.m. This is one of the best ways to learn about the city in just a few hours.
Day 1 in Medellin, afternoon: explore the center on your own
After the tour in the morning, you should be hungry enough to try a “bandeja paisa” (a platter with beans, rice, ground beef, sausage, avocado, egg, and crispy pork skin). This is a typical dish that can be shared by two, so you can save some room for dessert. One place I recommend is Hacienda Junin.
Talking about dessert, next door is Astor, where you can order their specialty: chocolate cake. Also, save some more room for coffee at Laboratorio, where you can sit, watch people go past, or take a nap on your seat.
The Palacio de Rafael Uribe is just across from Laboratorio. This magnificent gothic-style public building (built in 1925) generally hosts cultural events such as concerts, art exhibits, and conferences. It’s closed between 12 noon and 2 p.m., but you can access it for free, go to the upper floor and take some pics of the city and the metro rail from there.
If you have a free hour, you may visit the Antioquia Museum, which permanently hosts a Fernando Botero exhibition (Botero is one of the most famous artists from Medellin.) It doesn’t open on Sundays.
After the museum, you can walk back to San Antonio to take the metro. You may stop at Salon Malaga, where sometimes there’s live music.
One good plan for the afternoon is to take a ride in Metro Cable just before sunset so that you can take good pics.
Walking downtown takes you out of your comfort zone and lets you see the city and the people, enjoy good food, and see lovely modern art pieces. It’s also safe to do it, with the precautions you’d take even in the best cities of the world because there are always pickpockets around.
Day 1 in Medellin, evening: Dinner on Avenida Nutibara
After you’re done downtown, take the metro to Estadio station and then a taxi to Avenida Nutibara. There you will find lots of trees and plenty of great restaurants, and a relaxed vibe. This area is between Primer Parque & Segundo Parque.
I have some suggestions for dinner, such as eating at Voraz if you’re a meat eater. Another good steak restaurant is El Correo Carne y Vino, located on a rooftop, and La Bodeguita Havanera, if you want to try Cuban food while listening to salsa.
Day 2 in Medellin, morning: Enjoy Colombian food
Colombian food may not be as internationally known as Mexican or Peruvian. However, Colombian cuisine is a hidden gem where African, Andean, Spanish, and indigenous influences get together to surprise you with exotic ingredients and flavors.
To discover the local gastronomy, you have two options. The first is visiting La Minorista market, something you can do with the guys from Real City Tours who submerge you in the experience at 9:30 a.m., meeting at Metroplus bus station.
At the market, you’ll see why Colombia has the widest variety of fruits in the world. Before this food tour finishes and after trying at least 10 different exotic and unknown fruits, you’ll get the chance to have juices or smoothies at Don Rigo’s “smoothie bar.”
The other option is Cooking with Brian, a tour that consists of going to the chef’s house in Buenos Aires neighborhood to take a cooking lesson.
Beyond just cooking, Brian, the host, will show you the house and the orchard, where you’ll pick up the veggies and herbs for lunch. He’ll also tell you how he renovated the house and started the project with his own hands. The money he receives for the lessons is used to help people with low income.
Some travelers describe the experience as “outstanding” and “life-changing.” The tour starts at 9:30 a.m. and lasts after lunch.
Day 2 in Medellin, afternoon: learn about the armed conflict
One place to get reliable information on Colombia’s armed conflict is Casa de la Memoria museum (memory house museum.)
Since there is a lot of text to read, it’s important that you know Spanish or are in the company of someone who does. The interactive material will guide you through Colombia’s (sadly) bloody recent history, focusing on Medellin’s events.
This museum was founded in 2006 by the Victim Assistance Program of Medellin City Hall. It was specially created for locals not to forget and for outside visitors to learn what happened in times of horror caused by the outlaw forces.
You’ll need about two hours to see it all. Then, the reward will be that you’ll have a more realistic vision of what the city has gone through to become what it is today. The museum is closed on Mondays. Now, time for a short rest to renovate your forces for fabulous nightlife as part of your Medellin itinerary.
Day 2 in Medellin, evening: Real partying with the locals
I recommend staying in Laureles for this evening, where you’ll have clubs and bars with Colombian and Latin music. This neighborhood offers nightlife much cheaper than in El Poblado.
The other advantage is that you can mingle with local people and make different friends. This is opposite to the tons of expats you meet in El Poblado.
One tip before you start partying and drinking: Have some street food first to give you the strength to put up with heavy drinking.
You should visit Son Havana, a Cuban-inspired bar where you can listen and dance to salsa music and enjoy live bands starting at 7:30 p.m.
The place also offers free salsa lessons on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Also, live music is on 2-3 nights per week.
There is also a language exchange at the Wandering Paisa bar on Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Day 3 in Medellin, morning: A pleasant coffee tour in Sabaneta
Sabaneta is a small city right on the outskirts of Medellin. It’s an ideal place to enjoy your coffee-tasting tour. You can even start at 11 a.m., which gives you time to recover from the previous night.
On this tour, you’re taken to a coffee plantation where you will pick as many coffee beans as you can (later, you’ll be awarded for that) while learning from a friendly Colombian family about the process of growing the plants.
When you’re done picking, the guide takes you to the second part of the process: depulping, fermenting, and washing the coffee beans. During the five hours of the experience, you will also have the chance to taste several varieties of coffee.
Day 3 in Medellin, afternoon & evening: Hang out in El Poblado
After your coffee experience, you should be back in Medellin at around 4 p.m. Ask the agency to drop you in El Poblado instead of your apartment, so you can hang in this green neighborhood, full of vibe, as described in my first Medellín itinerary (day 1).
Day 4 in Medellin, morning: Learn about Comuna 13 history
Check the Comuna 13 in my first Medellin itinerary (day 2).
Day 4 in Medellin, afternoon: Enjoy the city views
Cerro Volador and Pueblito paisa are two great options for enjoying the views of the city while doing other activities, such as trying local food or having a cup of Colombian coffee.
Cerro Volador is a natural urban observatory that lets you have 360-degree views of the city. This hill, also a natural park, is located in Comuna 7, known as Robledo, in the center-east part of the city. It’s located on Carrera (Street) 65, next to El Volador police station and near Universidad Nacional.
Cerro Nutibara, another hill in the city center, holds Pueblito Paisa on its top. It’s 80 meters tall above the level of the city. There, you’ll have the chance to buy handicrafts, see the traditional Antioquia architecture, and eat typical food, apart from the spectacular views of the city. There is a 3-meter tall sculpture of ancient chieftain Cacique Nutibara, by local artist Jose Horacio Betancur.
Medellin itinerary: 7 days to explore the city and its surroundings
There are many activities you can do in Medellin. And you’ll have a blast if your budget allows it.
First, stay in the fanciest Medellin neighborhood, where you’ll find bars, restaurants, a great vibe, and a busy nightlife. It’s pricier than any other area in town.
Some stay options are:
- Budget: Adn Algo de Nosotros
- Medium-range: Masaya, Los Patios, or Botánica Casa hotel
- Upscale: Landmark, York, or Patio del Mundo
Day 1 in Medellin: Medellin downtown + Nightlife in Laureles
Check our 2nd Medellín itinerary (day 1).
Day 2 in Medellin: Eating, Casa de la memoria & cable car
Check our 2nd Medellín itinerary (day 2).
In the evening, try the great pizza at Cafe Zorba, which features a very cozy and friendly environment. On Wednesday evenings, you can listen to live bands at this place. They don’t accept bookings so you should arrive early.
Day 3 in Medellin: Guatape
Guatapé is one of the places near Medellin you shouldn’t miss. It’s the most famous Medellín day trip, two hours east of the city. The village sits on one end of the lake and showcases houses painted in colorful hues.
Piedra del Peñol dominates the landscape. This is a giant granite rock southwest of town whose top you can reach by climbing hundreds of steps. In Guatape, you can stay overnight or go for a day trip. Besides the piedra del Peñol, there are good restaurants, and you can even rent a pedal boat or kayak to venture out on the lake. It is very crowded on weekends, so avoid those days.
You have two options to visit this Antioquia landmark.
The first is going on your own. You must take public transportation from Medellin at about 7 a.m. to get to Guatape at 9 a.m. when everything opens. Read our guide to learn how to get to Guatape.
The other option is to hire a tour, such as this one. The experience includes a fun boat cruise crisscrossing the reservoir while listening to music. Then you walk around the village. The price also includes typical breakfast and lunch.
Day 4 in Medellin, morning: Paragliding
For about 40 USD, you can paraglide from a spot known as San Felix, where you will have breathtaking views of the city, whether flying or on the ground.
To go there, you can book private transportation for about 20 USD or take a public bus from the North bus Terminal. San Felix is just 16 km away from Medellin.
The site is remarkable for paragliding not only for the beautiful views but also because the warm mountain winds make it easier to gain altitude and make the ride smoother.
The other good thing is that you don’t need to be Thor or Ironman for paragliding in terms of physical fitness. The difficulty level is one out of five, so you don’t need previous experience. You should arrive there at 9 a.m. and hire private transportation.
Day 4 in Medellin, afternoon: A remote district that produces delicious coffee
In Comuna 8 neighborhood (aka. La Sierra) sits Finca Increible, a coffee growers farm in the city. The meeting point is at The Tranvia entrance. You can get there walking from the San Antonio metro station.
This tour is not well known, and that’s what makes it very special. The hosts are warm, knowledgeable, and speak good English. This tour allows you to experience the coffee culture without going to Colombia’s coffee region and have a delicious cup of freshly roasted coffee. It starts at 1 p.m. and ends at about 5:30 p.m.
Take it easy for the evening and go to bed early to save energy for the next day.
Day 5 in Medellin: Rafting on a crystal-clear river
If you’re into extreme sports, a rafting tour to the Rio Verde is an experience you must have. The waters of Rio Verde are pristine and cross lush vegetation between gorgeous mountains.
First, you get to San Francisco by a 4×4 vehicle. Then, you must hike down in the thick jungle with mules carrying the rafts until you reach the starting point. It’s a whole adventure in itself because the walking trails showcase outstanding views of the mountains and valleys.
Once on the river, you must paddle for more than 25 km on Rio Verde or Rio Samana, which rank as class 3 and 4 for their rapids. This trip is not for beginners, as it takes a full day of 14 hours of walking and paddling (+ transportation).
If you don’t have experience in rafting, you can book a 3-hour trip down the Rio Calderas, just 1.5 hours east of Medellin to enjoy class 3 & 4 rapids. You’ll also have some free time for swimming and relaxing.
The tour logistics are impeccable, and the guides have broad experience in doing this. This journey is excellent for a group of family or friends.
Day 6 in Medellin, morning & afternoon: Enjoy the view from Cerro de las 3 Cruces
On a Sunday, you must be an early bird to start trekking all the way up to the top of Cerro de las 3 Cruces (Hill of 3 Crosses). It takes at least an hour (or 40 minutes if you’re fit) to go to the summit. It’s a short but steep path. The mountain is about 300 meters above the city level.
Ask the driver to take you to Parque de las 3 Cruces.
It’s best to start climbing at 7 a.m. before it gets too hot. You should also wear a hat and sunblock lotion, even if it’s not that sunny. During the trek, you’ll see fabulous Medellin views while breathing fresh air.
After this walk you may feel tired, so you should rest in the afternoon. Then, you can have some healthy food at Mundo Verde; later, you can head to different coffee and ice cream shops for dessert.
Day 6 in Medellin, evening
On Sunday evenings, a great way to get to know the city’s vibe is to take a soccer tour, which includes going to the stadium in the afternoon. You’ll feel the locals’ passion for soccer and their favorite teams there.
The tour gathers about 15 people, so you’ll feel safe and in good company.
After the match, you can go partying at El Poblado or Laureles.
Day 7- Envigado
Envigado is a small town south of Medellin that is practically next to the city, and you can get there by metro. This city is not frequented by travelers (except for some expats), and there are some pleasant activities.
First, start this day trip with a hike to La Catedral (an old club-like prison built by Pablo Escobar).
From there, you’ll find the trail to the lovely waterfall Salto del Angel. The path is not well signaled, with several slippery and very steep sections. Speak with Jules’ agency to play it safe. To plan this one-day trip, you should go to Envigado by metro at around 8 a.m.
Once done, you’ll deserve your beer and coffee break. Have lunch at La Gloria de Gloria, then rest at the Casa Museo Otraparte of Fernando González (a late, well-known local philosopher.) The botanical garden surrounding this magnificent colonial building is perfect for relaxing under the shade of the trees.
End this day with a tejo game at the stadium. It involves throwing a piece of metal through the air onto a clay box where the purpose is to burst a small explosive paper. This is considered a sport in Colombia and used to be played by ancient Muisca peoples. Beer is the typical drink while you play. Chris is in charge and will organize a 2-hour game for you. You’ll have to contact him in advance on his Facebook page.
Finally, take the metro to go back home and end your Medellin itinerary.
Bottom line: Your Medellín itinerary
Medellín is a city that enjoys a good reputation among travelers because of the friendliness of its people and the fact that it is an easy place to visit on your own.
Two full days will be enough if you want to see the important sites.
If your budget allows it and you like to travel slowly, you can stay between 4 and 7 days and plan many day trips to discover the hidden gems of the surroundings.
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