15 Best Medellín Day Trips And How to Plan Them Well [2023]

You plan to visit Medellín and Antioquia, and you would like to know what to do around the City of Eternal Spring?

With its green valley, colonial towns, outdoor activities, and beautiful farms, there are many fantastic day trips from Medellin you can organize to escape the city.

I spent many months in the department of Antioquia, and this article will help you to:

  • Find your favorite Medellín Day trips.
  • Get insider travel tips to plan them like a local.

Grab your backpack, and let’s go.

I almost forgot.

👉 By the way, don’t forget to have a look at our selection of the best things to do in Colombia.

Colombia Experts

Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Every year, I spend thousands of euros to find the best experiences and allow you to contact these agencies directly!

Medellín day trips: The most important stuff

Colonial towns near Medellín: The cutest ones that you can visit in one day from Medellín are Guatapé (2h drive) and Santa Fé de Antioquia (1h30). If you want to maximize your time and not depend on public transportation, you will have to take a tour. Some agencies will also try to sell you day trips to Jericó and Jardín. I don’t think it’s worth it as it takes 3 to 4h to get there.

👉 Travelers love this group tour to Guatapé.

Sportive Medellín day trips: Thanks to its topography, there are several sports activities to do in the surrounding mountains of Antioquia. Get to San Felix (1h drive) or Cocorna (2h drive) to do some paragliding, go rafting on the crystal-clear water of Rio Verde and Rio Samaná or plan some excellent hikes (always with a local guide) to enjoy fantastic views.

👉 Jules’ agency is an expert in this field. Get in touch with them.

Cultural Medellín day trips: There are many artisans and traditions to discover. Head to Santa Elena to learn about the Silleteras tradition or buy the best ceramic objects made in El Carmen de Viboral. You can also spend the day learning about coffee or cacao on a traditional farm—finca.

👉 Travelers love the coffee tour + visit Guatapé.

Parks near Medellín: Park Arvi (45 min public transportation) and Los Saltos Ecoparque (2h drive) are two options to enjoy nature and mix the experience with fun activities such as zip-lining. Families might also like to visit the park Hacienda Napoles—old Pablo’s house. For me the parks are not among the best things to do in Medellin, especially if you don’t have much time.

Best Medellín day trips: Colonial towns

Street Guatape

Visiting a colonial village is a great way to recharge your batteries after a party weekend in Medellín.

I always recommend travelers to spend the night in a colonial town. You can organize it more like a weekend trip. It is the best way to feel the atmosphere of the place. However, you’ll be able to plan these adventures in one day from Medellin.

Let’s see which ones!

1# Guatapé and La Piedra del Peñol

Guatapé is the most famous day trip from Medellin, and the fantastic view from El Peñol is one of the highlights in Colombia.

Artificial lakes and green hills surround the colonial village. Each house is painted with bright colors that give a happy Arlequin-sweet vibe to the streets.  

Scattered in the surroundings, hostels welcome the broken backpackers, while upscale hotels put out flowers for their guests. From their private terrace, they have a great view of El Peñol, a colossal monolith standing alone, braving the bad weather for thousands of years.

Why planning this Medellín day trip

  • You can climb the 740 steps to reach the top of the Piedra del Peñol and enjoy the view.
  • It is pleasant to walk through the streets of Guatapé, with its Zocalos and colored walls.
  • Drawback: It’s too crowded on weekends

How to plan this Medellín day trip

  1. Be at the North Bus terminal at 8 am (during a weekday) and grab a 2-h bus to Guatapé.
  2. Stop at La Piedra del Peñol (5-min before Guatapé) and get to the top.
  3. Once done, you can grab another bus (raise your hand, and it will stop) to get to Guatapé.
  4. Buy in advance your return ticket (4, 5, or 6 pm). Here.
  5. Visit the town and order a tasty lunch. There are many options.
  6. Once your belly is full, rent a pedalo or a kayak and venture between the islets.
  7. Don’t forget your bus.

Our favorite tours

Don’t want to bother with the organization? This excellent group tour is affordable and well-organized. And if your budget allows it, the experience will be even more incredible with this private tour — it includes a coffee farm visit!

Guatape landscape

11h to enjoy Guatapé & its surroundings

👉 See availability

More than 10,000 travelers have already used our Colombia travel guide

I’ve been exploring Colombia since 2015 and put all my knowledge into one E-book. It’s free and accessible now. 👇

2. Santa Fé De Antioquia and el Puente del Occidente

Santa Fe de Antioquia is another colonial town close to Medellin. There is a massive cathedral on the main square, a lovely park, and cobblestone streets.

The paisas (inhabitants of Medellín) love to stay there on weekends, taking a room in a hotel with a pool.

10 min outside the city, travelers can cross the Puente del Occidente, a large suspension bridge above the Cauca river. This national monument is supported by 4 pyramidal towers that look like Japanese constructions – No, I’ve never been to Japan.  

Why planning this Medellín day trip

  • It’s a beautiful colonial village with an impressive church and few museums.
  • You can discover the fascinating history of gold seekers and silversmiths (I recommend booking a private tour).
  • Cross the famous Puente del Occidente.
  • Drawback: It’s hot.

How to plan this Medellín day trip

  1. Be at the North Bus terminal at 8 am (during a weekday) and grab a 1h30 bus to Santa Fe de Antioquia.
  2. Order your 2nd breakfast in the beautiful hotel Mariscal Robledo on the main square. Don’t forget to drink a good cup of coffee too.
  3. Find a tuk-tuk in the street and ask him to drive you to El Puente del Occidente. It takes 15-min. The same tuk-tuk should bring you back.
  4. Now it’s time to eat lunch in a lovely colonial house. La Casa Solariega or Sabor Español are 2 excellent options.
  5. There is nothing better than a little digestive stroll between the magnificent religious buildings of Santa Fe de Antioquia.
  6. End with a visit to the Juan del Corral Museum of History (closes at 5 pm)

Our favorite tours

The history and culture of Santa Fe de Antioquia are fascinating, but you will have a hard time learning on your own. Cathy offers an excellent one-day tour to meet the gold seekers and other village artisans.

8h to enjoy Santa Fe de Antioquia & its surroundings with a private tour

👉 Speak with Cathy

👉 The following 3 colonial villages are at 3h+ from Medellín. I recommend to travelers to spend at least one night there. Nevertheless, some travelers like to go there and back during the day

3# Jerícó, a religious town in the middle of the clouds

View Canyon Cauca Jerico

Jericó is a colonial village where Sister Laura Montoya, Colombia’s saint, was born. A cathedral, a sanctuary, and a few churches watch out for the village. It is a pilgrimage village, and many Colombians come here for Holy Week.

Buses have to take a long and winding road among high green hills to drive visitors to Jerico. Travelers can enjoy the quietness of the place and the incredible landscapes made of coffee plantations, and impressive views of the Cauca canyon.

Why planning this day trip From Medellín

  • Visit several religious museums and churches.
  • Learn more about coffee.
  • Enjoy the spectacular views of the Cauca Canyon
  • Buy a carriel bag.

How to plan this Medellín day trip

  1. Be at the South Bus terminal at 5h30 am (you can also try at 8 am) and grab a 3h00 bus to Jericó. Bus schedule here.
  2. Take your breakfast at Cafe Don Rafa.
  3. Do a coffee tour.
  4. Have lunch in La Gruta.
  5. Stroll among the colorful street of Jericó, pass by the botanical garden, and enjoy the view from the mirador El Cristo.
  6. Afterward, grab a tuk-tuk and ask him to head to the paragliding center Nube Extrema (5 min). Enjoy the experience.
  7. You must be back before 6 pm. It’s the last bus to Medellín.

Our favorite local partner

Cathy is a French girl who fell in love with Jericó. She offers exciting tours to learn about Jericó’s culture and discover the best highlights. I’m a huge fan of La Finca de Ariel. You can learn more about her tours (and contact her) through our partner page.

Because your schedule is tight, you should at least book your activities in advance.

The best local agency in Jericó

👉 Meet Cathy

4# Jardin, a place for coffee lovers and waterfall hunters

The view from the mirador Cristo Rey Jardín (1)

In the colonial town of Jardín, coffee is a religion. In front of a large and gorgeous basilica on the main square, locals drink their hot beverages sit on colorful wood chairs. Cowboy hats protect their smiley eyes while life goes on around them. In bad weather, tables are pushed against the white walls, and the customers use the roofs as shelters. The aroma of the coffee mixes with the smell of the rain while the hot cups warm the worker’s hands.

Why Planning this Medellín day trip

  • Jardin is located in a valley surrounded by coffee plantations and waterfalls (the most famous one is Cueva del Esplendor).
  • There are many outdoor activities like hiking, canyoning, and horse riding.
  • Lovely cafés and delicious restaurants.
  • Observe the Andean Cock of the Rock bird.

How to plan this Medellin day trip

  1. Be at the South Bus terminal at 4h45 am and take a 3h30 bus to Jardín. Double-check the Bus schedule here.
  2. Take your breakfast in Café Macanas, on the main square.
  3. Do a tour to the waterfall La Cueva del Esplendor.
  4. Once back in town, jump on a tuk-tuk and head to the Mirador Cristo Rey for lunch. The view is great too.
  5. Go down the stairs and walk around Jardín. I suggest the loop from Cascada del Amor to the cable car la Garrucha.
  6. Don’t miss the last bus to Medellín.

Our favorite local partner

Claudia runs a local agency that offers many nature tours and coffee tours. It is possible to have a bilingual guide. You can learn more about her tours (and contact her) through our partner page.

Because your schedule is tight, you should at least book your activities in advance.

The best local agency in Jardín

👉 Meet Claudia

5# San Rafael, crystal clear natural pools

Canyoning San Rafael

San Rafael is a little town located 1h from Guatapé.

It is a relatively quiet village during the week, but it comes alive on weekends when the local farmers come to sell their vegetables and drink cold beer.

Why planning this Medellín day Trip

  • Beautiful crystal clear river where you can swim.
  • You can include a stop in Guatapé then go swimming.
  • Plan cool aquatic activities: tubing & canyoning.

How to plan this Medellín Day Trip

  1. Be at the North Bus terminal at 6h45 am (during a weekday) and grab a 3-h bus to San Rafael.
  2. Plan a tubing or canyoning activity.
  3. Have lunch at El Carbón (good meat).
  4. Take a tuk-tuk and relax nearby the river at Las Tangas or Playa Del Rio Arenal.
  5. Don’t forget to take the last bus (around 5h30 pm). Ask the terminal.

Our favorite agency

With Manuel, we went on 2 canyoning and 2 tubing adventures. He and his guides have all the required certifications, and they use adequate equipment. You can see his page here.

Sportive Outdoor Adventures

Rafting Rio Verde Jule Medellín

Want to discover incredible places hidden in the Antioquia mountains? You will find your happiness in this section.

6# Rafting trips from Medellín


Lots of rain, pleasant warmth all year round, and mountains are a paradise for kayaking and rafting lovers.

Jules’ agency proposes you discover the most beautiful rivers of Antioquia on a raft, in the middle of luxuriant vegetation.

He and his guides have been doing this for many years, and they organize Medellín day trips flawlessly. And believe me, the logistics are not that simple!

Why planning this Medellín Day Trip

  • Perfect for a group of friends or families who want to have fun.
  • Class 3 & 4 waves and rapids.
  • The scenery and the cristal clear river are outstanding.

What are your options?

  • Travelers who are not used to rafting can enjoy a 3 hour trip down the Río Calderas, located 1.5 hours East of Medellin — Class 3 & 4 rapids. You’ll also have some free time to swim and relax.
  • Travelers who are physically fit and like challenges will love rafting on the Río Verde. After a 2.5-hour jeep trip, you will have to walk 1.5 hours to reach the riverbed. Then it’s off for a 25km rafting trip through class 3&4 rapids. This experience lasts 14 hours. It’s not for the novices.

Want to do it?

Find out more about Jules’ agency and contact them directly with our online form.

The best rafting day trips from Medellín

👉 Meet Jules

7# Hiking day trips from Medellín

Mountains surround Medellín.

There are a couple of hikes you can do on your own, 3 cruces being the most famous one.

However, if you wish to venture a little further into the surrounding vegetation, I advise you to take a guide. The trails are not marked, and hikers are sometimes robbed by thugs living on the city’s outskirts— in Medellín, poor districts are on the mountains’ slopes.

But that’s no reason to be discouraged! Here’s what you can do.

Hiking day trips from Medellín (without an agency)

  • You can hike the “tallest natural pyramid” worldwide, aka Cerro Tusa. To do so, leave early from the South Bus Terminal and take a 2-h bus to Venecia (the bus company is Flota Fredonia). Then, find a local guide to plan local transportation (tuk-tuk) and the hike. You’ll need approx 1h30 to get the top and it’s VERY steep (see the picture). The view is beautiful.
  • You can also hike to a beautiful paramó from Belmira. This time, leave around 6 am from the North Bus terminal (info here) and take a 2h bus to Belmira. On the main square, ask around to find a local guide. He will organize for you a 6-hour hike to discover the beautiful landscapes of the páramos and the lagoon “Bebedero.”

Hiking day trips from Medellin (agency)

The best private hikes from Medellín

👉 Meet Jules

8# Paragliding in San Felix or Cocorná

paragliding Tour Medellin (1)

To have a better view of Medellín, nothing beats watching it from the sky.

In the village of San Felix, you will find many paragliding centers. Once you are equipped, your flying partner will ask you to run, run, run to the cliff until the wind rushes into the paraglider’s canvas and takes you up.

It may sound a bit scary, but it’s an experience with little thrill (except for the taking off).

Travel tip: The visibility is usually better in the morning.

Why planning this Medellín Day Trip

  • The view of Medellín from the sky is beautiful.

How to plan this Medellin Day trip

  1. Be at the North Bus terminal early and take a 1-h bus to San Felix (company Expreso Belmira).
  2. Meet at your paragliding center.
  3. After your 20-min flight, go to the restaurant Mirador de San Felix and order a panchocha.
  4. Then go down to Medellín.
  5. Don’t want to bother with public transportation? Ask these guys to plan it for you.

You can also pair it with another activity

  • Jules’ agency can organize your paragliding experience in Cocorna and pair it with a half-day tour in rafting.
  • Or you can include a tour to Guatapé and then head to Cocorna to fly in the sky. You’ll need to use private transportation and pass by this local agency.

Cultural Medellín day trips

In this section, you will find among the best tours in Medellín to understand the culture of Colombia better and bring back lovely souvenirs for your friends and family.

9# Coffee tours from Medellín

I guess you know the reputation of Colombian coffee?

It is one of the best in the world because only the best grains are selected (hand-picked).

To visit a traditional farm and discover the manufacturing methods to produce good coffee, travelers wish to go to the coffee region —given the name, it makes sense.

However, coffee is cultivated in the majority of the departments of Colombia and, in particular, in Antioquia.

If you’re running out of time, you can book this fantastic half-day coffee tour. Or you can pair it with a private Guatapé tour.

👉 But if you want to discover everything about coffee, I advise you to contact Cathy.

A coffee tour to Fredonia

Fredonia is a village located at 1h30 from Medellin and whose history has always been closely linked to coffee.

Once you arrive on-site (by private transport), a family of coffee farmers welcomes you with a hearty and delicious breakfast.

The morning is intended to know the history of coffee and its importance for Colombia, and then to visit the facilities to understand its manufacture from the seed to the cup.

Then it will be time to return to the table for a traditional lunch—no time for a nap. You will then move on to a coffee tasting. You will finally tell the difference between good and bad coffee.

This tour lasts 9 h.

Fredonia Coffee tour cathy

9 h to know everything about coffee

👉 Speak with Cathy

10# Cacao tour and waterfalls

Cacao beans

There is not only coffee in life. There’s chocolate too.

Little by little, farmers are becoming more and more interested in this exquisite seed.

Chocolate production is not as complex as coffee. However, it is even more fun to make and to taste.

Once the seeds are harvested and dried, you must heat them in a pan to remove the peel. All that remains is to crush them in a geared mill to obtain a liquid, bitter and delicious paste.

Few agencies offer chocolate tours. And even less in the surroundings of Medellín. Fortunately, there is Jules’ agency.

A delicious Cacao Tour From Medellín

Decide with Jule’s agency if you want to use public transportation or prefer a private vehicle.

After a 2-h ride, a friendly farmer will show you his Cacao farm, and you’ll get first-hand information about the chocolate process. Did you know that the flesh of the cocoa bean is sweetly delicious?

By the end of the morning, you will probably be hungry. You will enjoy a traditional meal while listening to its inhabitants’ fascinating and sorrowful stories —this is a region that has suffered a lot from armed conflict in the past.

The afternoon is about relaxation, with a digestive walk to beautiful waterfalls and a cocoa skin therapy activity. You, too, deserve to have baby skin on your trip.

A delicious Cacao experience from Medellín

👉 Meet Jules

11# Go shopping in El Carmen de Viboral

Carmen de Viboral is the ideal Medellin day trip to walk around, learn and be amazed.

Located 70 minutes southeast of Medellin, this small village is world-famous for its handmade ceramics.

In addition to the exhibition of these beautiful products on the stalls of the main square, the locals had an excellent idea of using their skills to beautify some streets of the city.

Why planning this Medellín day trip

  • Take beautiful pictures (come during the week).
  • Learn about handmade ceramics.
  • Buy a nice souvenir. You can easily redo all your tableware.

How to plan this Medellín Day trip

  1. Go to the North Bus terminal and take a 70-min bus to Carmen de Viboral (bus company Flota el Carmen).
  2. Walk around the main square and head to the Ceramicas del Dorado workshop. They organize several one-hour tours to show visitors the different stages of ceramic making.
  3. Get lunch at Candilejas.
  4. Walk down the beautiful street Calle de la cerámica.
  5. Buy a gift for your stepmother.

Fun Parks to visit from Medellín

These two Medellin day trips can be an excellent idea for a family-friendly adventure outside of the city.

12# Hacienda Napoles

Once the property of the eccentric Pablo Escobar, Hacienda Napoles is now one of the largest amusement parks in South America.

The government and a private company have invested millions of dollars in transforming this place with a tragic past.

Located a few kilometers before Puerto Triunfo, this park of 1600 hectares hosts more than 20 attractions (mainly aquatic and zoological), 5 hotels, and 5 restaurants.

Of its former owner, only 3 things remain; the plane at the front door, his hippos, and a museum that recounts the horrors committed.

Why planning this Medellín day trip

  • Spend a fun day with your family
  • Drawback: It’s far away from Medellín (3h30)

Tours you can book

Because Hacienda Napoles is far away, you can book a tour from Medellín. This tour lasts 15 hours.

13# Saltos Ecoparques

Los Saltos Ecoparque is located between La Ceja and Abejorral.

It is a park that includes several outdoor activities such as zip-lining, via Ferrata, or hanging a hammock over a canyon to watch the sunset. Beware, all the activities within the park have a fee.

You will also have access to one of the most impressive waterfalls in Antioquia: El Salto del Buey.

A path leads you to the foot of this 90m high waterfall. Its power is impressive. Prepare to get soaked.

If you don’t like to rush, staying overnight is also possible.

Why planning this Medellín Day trip

  • Enjoy the beautiful views.
  • Feel the power of a massive waterfall.
  • Plan some fun outdoor activities.

How to plan this Medellin day trip

  1. Book your activities online
  2. Be at the North Bus Terminal and take the bus at 6h20 am in the direction of Abejorral. 2h.
  3. Tell the driver to stop at Fonda La Aguacatala and walk 25 min to the entrance. If you take your vehicle, be aware that the last stretch of road to the entrance is in poor condition.
  4. The same bus passes at Fonda La Aguacatala at 4 pm for the return journey. More info here.

Closest day trips from Medellín

Don’t want to take a long bus ride in one day?

In this last section, you’ll learn 2 easy trips to organize with public transportation.

14# Envigado: Play Tejo and hike to a secret waterfall

Envigado Tejo (1)

Envigado is located south of Medellín. The two cities are so close together that you won’t see the difference, and you can even go there by subway.

The city itself is not fantastic even if the atmosphere is cool and safe. However, there are still two sites that deserve your attention.

First of all, this is the only place in Medellín where you can play Tejo. It’s an old local game (originally from the Muiscas) that consists of throwing a steel pebble into a box filled with clay. It’s fun, noisy —there are detonations caused by the pebble’s impact on small pieces of paper filled with gunpowder —and you’ll drink beers.

And you can also visit the house/museum of Fernando González (he was a well-known local philosopher). The floral garden that surrounds this beautiful colonial building is perfect to rest a few minutes in the shade of the trees. It’s called Casa Museo Otraparte.

Before drinking beers and coffee, I suggest you start this day trip with a hike to La Cathedral (an old prison built by Pablo Escobar). From there, you’ll find the trail to the beautiful waterfall Salto del Angel. The path is not well indicated, and there are several slippery and/or very steep sections. Speak with Jules’ agency if you want to play it safe.

How to plan this Medellin day trip

  1. Take the metro till Envigado. Leave around 8 am.
  2. Then a 30-min cab to get to La Cathedral.
  3. There is a 4h hike to go to the Salto del Angel Waterfall and Chorro de Las Campanas. Chris gives some great explanations on his website.
  4. When back in Envigado, have lunch at La Gloria de Gloria then rest at the Casa Museo Otraparte
  5. End this beautiful (and exhausting) day with a party of Tejo at the Stadium. Chris is in charge and will organize a 2-h game for you. You’ll have to contact him in advance on his Facebook page.
  6. Take the metro to go back home.

Our favorite local agency

The 4-h hike mentioned by Chris is demanding, and it’s complicated to find the path. Jules’ agency offers you to organize the walk from La Cathedral to Salto del Angel (round trip). This will allow plenty of time (and energy) to enjoy Envigado.

Hike with a local guide around Envigado

👉 Meet Jules

15# Park Arvi and Santa Elena

Cable Car in Medellin going to the Arvi Park

Santa Elena is a vast corregimiento of Medellín —which spreads over the entire eastern side of the city. It includes the vast Park Arvi.

Although I’m not a fan of Park Arvi (few signs and a trail that follows the road), the cable car ride to get there is pretty cool.

The town of Santa Elena is known for its flower fields and its “Silleteros” culture. Every year, during the Feria de las Flores, the people of Santa Elena parade through the streets of Medellín with beautiful flower sculptures carried on their backs — some can weigh up to 70 kg!

Why planning this Medellín day trip

  • Enjoy the beautiful views of Medellín from a cable car
  • Learn about the silleteros culture.

How to plan this Medellín day trip

  1. Go at the intersection between calle 50 and Carrera 41 (here) and take a 45-min bus to Santa Elena.
  2. Then visit a flower farm where you’ll learn about the silleteros. You’ll need a taxi to get there.
  3. Once the tour is over, ask your host to call a taxi and get to Park Arvi. You’ll find a couple of stands at the entrance that sell food.
  4. Walk inside the park (you can make this loop), then take the cable car to return to Medellín.

Note: Arví Park is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. When Monday is a public holiday (in Colombia), the park is open and closes for maintenance on the Tuesday following the holiday.

Plan your private tour to Santa Elena with a local guide

👉 Speak with Cathy

Bottom line: Medellín Day trips

As you can see, there are many Medellín day trips.

You can plan some of them independently, but it might be tricky because of public transportation. Still, give it a try if you can speak Spanish.

The rafting around Medellín is one of the best in Colombia. If you want to include a sports day in your itinerary, don’t hesitate to contact Jules’ agency. You’ll be amazed at the number (and quality) of excursions they can offer.

For travelers who want to get immersed in the Colombian culture, different activities are worth visiting: Coffee, Chocolate, and Flowers!

One last tip for the road.

You will likely want to visit as many places as possible in a few days. However, the colonial villages such as Jardin or Jerico deserve more than a few hours of visit. I advise you to sleep there rather than organize a day trip from Medellin.

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Tomplanmytrip’s sections


I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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