9 Stunning Day Trips From Medellin (2020) You Will Love

9 Stunning Day Trips From Medellin (2020) You Will Love

With its green valley, colonial towns, outdoor activities and beautiful Fincas, there are many weekend and day trips from Medellin you can organize to explore the department of Antioquia.

You could stay one month traveling in Antioquia without being bored! Let’s see our favorite day trips from Medellin.

Day trips from Medellin: What you must know

Where: Medellin is situated in Antioquia.

How to get to Medellin: Read our Medellin travel guide to know all the transportation options.

Why should you visit Antioquia: Antioquia is one of my favorite departments. There are many hidden-gems like colonial towns, mind-blowing outdoor activities, and treks through the paramos.

Hiking trips from Medellin: There are tons of hike you can do around Medellin with Kinkaju. Also, you can plan a day trip to the Paramo de Belmira or a 3-day expedition to the Paramo del Sol (Urrao).

River trips from Medellin: If you’re fond of crystal-clear water rivers and waterfalls, then you must head to San Rafael and San Carlos.

Outdoor activities outside of Medellin: Get your adrenaline fix with a 2-day trip rafting on Rio Verde, some rock climbing in Abejorral, and extreme sports activities in Tamesis.

Lovely colonial towns nearby Medellin: Guatape is the most famous Colombia attraction. Do it on your own or book this excellent group tour. Pair a visit to Horizontes and Santa Fe de Antioquia to get off the beaten path and plan a weekend trip to Jardin or Jerico to be soaked by the Colombian farmer’s daily life.

Stunning accommodations and glamping: Pick Casa en El Aire or La Peña to do some rock climbing, Rio Claro to sleep in a Natural reserve. If you want some glam for your vacation, you will love Bosko and TEVA retreat.

Cultural trips from Medellin: Head to Santa Elena to learn about the Silleteras tradition or contemplate the best ceramic objects made in El Carmen de Viboral.

Discover our guide on Medellin to access, in a few clicks, all the practical information to visit our favorite Colombian city.

Read our Medellin travel guide

Where to travel after Medellin

Where to stay? What to do? How to get there? Find easily the answers HERE

Get our FREE guidebook to decide where to travel to Colombia

Table of contents: Day trips from Medellin

  1. Lovely colonial towns
  2. Untypical accommodations
  3. Chasing waterfalls
  4. Our Free Colombia guidebook
  5. Lay back while we do the hard job

Colonial towns: Day trips from Medellin

After a stay in Medellín that you will have organized according to your desires for the things to do in the city of eternal spring, why not enjoy its surroundings?

In Antioquia, there are several colonial towns that worth the visit!

1. Guatape And The Monolith El Peñol

Day trip from Medellin

View from el Peñon Guatape

Guatape 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 town. Each house is painted with bright colors that give a happy Arlequin-sweet vibe to the streets. In the main square, local restaurants suggest the menu of the day and cold natural juices.

Downhill, visitors, enjoy water games and do a remake of “Pirates of the Caribean” with their new pedalo. But, they still have to improve their Jack Sparrow’s Charisma.  

Colorful Balconies Guatape day trips from Medellin - E - Anamaria Mejia
A colorful house in Guatape

Credit: Anamaria Mejia /Shutterstock

Scattered among the lower slopes, hostels welcome the broken backpackers while upscale hotels put out the flowers for their guests. From the terraces, the travelers have a great view of El Peñol, a colossal monolith standing alone, braving the bad weather for thousands of years.

The Colombian government has built a long stairway (740 steps) to reach the top and enjoy the astonishing view.  

Don’t hesitate to contact Medellin Day Trips (Private transport + tours in English).

Read our Guatape Travel guide

How to get to Guatape (+)

  • Bus at the North Terminal (Metro Station Caribe).
  • There are two counters: 9 & 14
  • Bus Medellin to Guatape: 2 hours – 1 Way

Must read: How to get from Medellin to Guatape

How many days in Guatape (+)

It’s an easy day trip from Medellin, especially if you start early. However, It would be even more enjoyable if you decide to spend the night in Guatape. Thus, you can lay back nearby the lakes, plan a kayak trip or swim in the rivers next to San Rafael.

There are many hostels and hotels with a great view of the lakes and El Peñol from the outside.

  • Number of days I recommend: 2 days

Where to stay in Guatape (+)

View of the monolithe El penol day trip from Medellin

We recommend: Visit a coffee farm and Guatape in one day

2. Santa Fe De Antioquia And The Bridge Puente Del Occidente

Day trip from Medellin

Church Santa Fe de antioquia Day trip from Medellin
Santa Fe de Antioquia

 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.

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 a bit like Japanese constructions – No I’ve never been to Japan.  

How to get to Santa Fe (+)

  • Bus at the North Terminal (Metro Station Caribe).
  • There are 3 counters: 13-19, 32 & 34
  • Bus Medellin to Santa Fe de Antioquia: 1h30 – 1 Way

How many days in Santa Fe (+)

You should only travel to Santa Fe de Antioquia if you want to spend the night. Thus, you will be able to enjoy the freshness of the night while you pick up a restaurant before singing with locals in a karaoke bar.

Then you can leave early the next day.

  • Number of days I recommend: 2 days

Where to stay in Santa Fe (+)

Hotel Mariscal is an old colonial building hotel in the center of Santa Fe de Antioquia with a large pool and cozy rooms. Luxury hotel

Hotel Caseron del Parque is a cheaper option than Hotel Mariscal. The bedrooms are comfortable and the pool is huge. Located on the main square of Santa Fe de Antioquia.

Santa Fe de antioquia Day trips from Medellin
A Little square in Santa Fe de Antioquia

Pair it with a tour to Horizontes

Horizontes view

Horizontes is a little and peaceful town, up a hill, with a mind-blowing view of Antioquia’s mountains. The friendly inhabitants all know each other, and they even write their name above the colorful wooden doorways.

To get to Horizontes, you must first arrive at Belmira then take a Chiva. It lasts 4-5h from Medellin.

Otherwise, you can ask us to organize it for you!

3. Jerico, A Religious Colonial Town Lost In The Clouds

Multi-day trip from Medellin

The colonial town of Jerico

 Jerico is a colonial town where Sister Laura Montoya, the saint Colombia’s first was born. A cathedral, a sanctuary, and a few churches watch out the village. It’s damned good protected from Lucifer. 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 great landscapes made of coffee plantations and steep slopes.  

Above the village, after 30 min walk, Parque de Los Nubes offers astonishing viewpoints and secret spots for picnicking.  

Read our Jerico Travel guide

How to get to Jerico (+)

  • Bus at the South Terminal (Metro Station Poblado).
  • Counter: 18
  • Bus Medellin to Jerico: 3h – 1 Way

How many days in Jerico (+)

It would be silly to come all the way down from Medellin without spending the night in Jerico. Wander among the cobblestone streets, Chill at the Parque de Los Nubes and visit the different religious sites

I recommend staying for 3 days.

Where to sleep in Jerico (+)

Las Cometas Hostel is a cheap place near the city center. Unfortunately, the mattress are really bad.

Cabañas El Rincon Paisa is probably the best economical option in Jerico. The decoration is original and the owners are friendly and helpful.

Hotel Despertar is a luxury option with excellent value for money. Large rooms with comfortable beds and outstanding views from the jacuzzi.

Cabañas y Flores is less than 5min by tuk tuk from downtown. The garden is incredible, the view of the surrounding mountains is great and the small colourful huts have charm. The place is peaceful and the welcome is warm.

A colorful street in Jerico

Lay back while we include Jerico in your itinerary

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

A Multi-day trip from Medellin

Jardin Colonial Town weekend trip from Medellin
The main square in Jardin

Credit: @paintrose2017

In the colonial town of Jardin, coffee is a religion. On the main square, in front of a large and gorgeous basilica, locals drink the brown gold beverage sit on colorful wood chairs. Cowboy hats protect their smiley eyes while life goes on around them. In case of 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.

Jardin is located in a valley surrounded by coffee plantations and waterfalls. It offers to the visitors a perfect balance between activities and moments of relaxation. Moreover, the two old fashion cable cars are a fun way to get a stunning view of the grid pattern made by the cobblestone streets.

Don’t forget to check out the Cock of the rock reserve (Weird beautiful bird with a red head) if you decide to take a weekend trip to Jardin from Medellin.

Read our Jardin travel guide

How to get to Jardin (+)

  • Bus at the South Terminal (Metro Station Poblado).
  • Counter 34 or 2
  • Bus Medellin – Jardin: 4 hours – 1 way

How many days in Jardin (+)

In Jardin, there are excursions to different waterfalls and the visit of coffee plantations. Moreover, easy trails allow travelers to hike around the colonial town and explore the area.

I recommend staying at least 3 days in Jardin.

Where to sleep in Jardin (+)

Sgt Pepper’s hostel is a cozy place with a cool patio in the center of Jardin.

Plantacion is a luxury hotel, eco-friendly, with comfortable rooms and a delicious restaurant.

Lulo hostel is a perfect pick for travelers on a shoestring budget. The establishment is pretty new.

The bed & Breakfast La Boira is situated outside Jardin and the view from the rooms is astonishing. Moreover, the owner is a friendly-original-funny lady.

Casa Pasiflora is a charming boutique hotel located in the heart of the village. The building is pleasant with a lovely garden/jacuzzi area. The rooms are top class and the staff is very attentive.

More information about Jardin (+)

Jardin Colonial Town weekend trip from Medellin
View above Jardin

Untypical lodgings: Day trips from Medellin

When traveling, we love staying at unusual places like a treehouse, inside a nature reserve, in luxury glamping or a hostel hooked on a cliff – yes, it’s literally a cliff. Let’s find out where you can stay!

5. Get your adrenaline fix in Casa En El Aire

Multi-day trip from Medellin

Casa En El Aire - Weekend trip from Medellin
Not the worst spot to enjoy the sunset

Credit: @Oscasisu

Casa En El Aire is unique and can’t be found anywhere else in Colombia. From Abejorral, a truck picks up the explorers ready to get their shot of adrenaline. And after a short drive, they still have to hike through bushes and trees for 20 min to finally get the first glimpse of their future accommodation, 40m above the edge.

Indeed, Casa en el Aire is a freakish hostel made of woods and anchored to a cliff. Beating the view is hard.

Two options for getting in: There is a long and steep rock stairway or you can use the zip line.

During your stay, the hostel offers different activities like enjoying the sunset from suspended hammocks, rappelling and short hikes (with additional cost).

Watch a video of Casa en el Aire on Youtube

How to get to Casa En El Aire (+)

  • Take the bus at the South Terminal (Metro Station Poblado) to Abejorral. Inform the hostel of your arrival in advance as they will send you a driver
  • Counter 23 or 9
  • Bus Medellin to Abejorral : 3 hours
  • + 30 min truck drive
  • +20 min hike

How many days (+)

1 or 2 nights (The rappelling takes 8 hours)

6. Stay in Rio Claro, a stunning nature reserve

Multi-day trip from Medellin

Mode adventure: ON

Credit: @falkenberg_photo

Rio Claro is a natural reserve of 650 hectares near the famous Hacienda Napoles (Pablo Escobar’s mansion) that flanks a crystal-clear river of the same name. In Spanish, Rio Claro means Clear River.

In this fantastic environment, trails lead to a series of cabañas, caves and natural beaches made of sediments. Thus, visitors can wander alone or with a guide through an eerie deep green rainforest to admire the vast biodiversity of birds, butterflies, and plants. And, the river is always within sight distance to cool off during your sweaty expeditions.

The key point is that you can live within the natural reserve for a few days. Accommodations are entirely incorporated into the environment and offer a great view of the forest and the river from the rooms. There is no noise pollution. Here, the Sandman is a lush jungle with bird whistles and river songs to help people to fall into sleep.

How to get to Rio Claro (+)

  • Bus at the North Terminal (Metro Station Caribe)
  • Counter 7
  • Bus Medellin – Rio Claro: 3 hours – 1 way
  • Accommodation in the Reserve: From 120 000 COP (3 meals included)
  • More information: Official Website

How many days in Rio Claro (+)

You should stay in Rio Claro at least 2 nights.

7. Romantic Glamping you don’t wanna miss

Multi-day trip from Medellin

There are several beautiful glamping in the department of Antioquia. It can be an excellent stop before taking your international flight.

  • Bosko is super romantic glamping in Guatape.
  • TEVA Retreat offers top-notch facilities nearby the airport in Rionegro

We give here all the tips and info to enjoy your glamping experience in Colombia.

Crystal-clear water: Day trips from Medellin

Antioquia is also an incredible place to swim in crystal-clear water rivers and organize cool activities like canyoning and tubing.

8. San Rafael: A smart alternative to Guatape.

Multi-day trip from Medellin

San Rafael River

San Rafael is a little town at a 45-min bus drive from Guatape. The town itself isn’t appealing, but the atmosphere it’s 100% authentic and without any tourists.

Also, San Rafael is surrounded by natural pools and waterfalls. Some of them are accessible on foot!

Here is my tip when creating your itinerary around Medellin. If you decide to visit Guatape, consider only spending the day there then take another bus to San Rafael. It’s an excellent combo.

Read our San Rafael travel guide

How to get to San Rafael (+)

  • It’s the same bus as the one going to Guatape.
  • You can stop in Guatape, then take another later the same day.
  • It’s 3h from Medellin

Where to stay in San Rafael (+)

How many days in San Rafael (+)

Leave early for Medellin and stay 2 nights

9. San Carlos: Spanish School and waterfalls

Multi-day trip from Medellin

San Carlos (1)

San Carlos was a war zone, and almost all the inhabitants had to run away during the darkest time of Colombia. Fortunately, the situation improved a lot for the last 10 years, and nowadays San Carlos is an example to follow for many other towns.

Like in San Rafael, travelers who like being wet won’t be bored in San Carlos. Indeed, the town offers various canyoning opportunities and hidden natural pools. Between 2 activities, you can also stroll along the ecological path that leads to a lovely waterfall or hike to the top of El Tambor to enjoy a stunning view of the valley.

Read our San Carlos travel guide

How to get to San Carlos (+)

  • Terminal North
  • It’s a 4-5h bus

Where to stay in San Carlos (+)

  • Hotel Jireh is an unpretentious, quiet and cheap hotel.
  • La Cascada is an old mansion on the way to a lovely waterfall.

How many days in San Carlos (+)

  • You can stay 3 nights if you’re a fan of waterfalls and canyoning.
  • Otherwise, 2 nights could be enough.

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Day trips from Medellin
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