The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia after Bogota. It is a city located in the Aburra valley in the Andes Mountains. Medellin is also known as the city of Eternal Spring due to its comfortable weather all year around. It is one of the cities in Colombia that every tourist should visit. Besides there being lots of things to do in Medellin, there are also a ton of fun things to do and places to visit outside the city. Here is the complete guide to Medellin with all information needed to make the most out of your trip.

The Best Time To Visit Medellin

As I have mentioned before, Medellin is the city of Eternal Spring. Weather here is comfortable all year around. It can rain sometimes, but usually it will stop in an hour or two, so it won’t ruin most of your plans. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin: Safety

Medellin is a popular tourist destination, therefore it is quite safe. Especially the Poblado neighborhood, where all the best restaurants and bars are. Even the most dangerous neighborhood in the past in Colombia – Comuna 13 is now a tourist magnet.  

Of course if you are looking for troubles, you will find them. But for people who follow common sense there is nothing to be scared off. 

However, always be cautious about your surroundings. Petty theft can happen once in a while. So, pay attention to your valuables.

How Long Should I Stay In Medellin

Medellin is a quite big city with a lot of things to do. There are also a bunch of charming small villages that you can visit around Medellin, therefore I would advise you to stay in Medellin at least a week. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

If you decide to stay longer, you won’t regret it whatsoever. I spent a month and a half in Medellin and just loved it. 

Medellin is probably the easiest place for those who want to start living in Colombia. There is a large expat community that helps you with transitioning from the lifestyle you had in Europe, the US, or elsewhere to the Colombian lifestyle. 

Where To Stay In Medellin

Medellin has many great neighborhoods, but the best one for tourists is the Poblado neighborhood. It is one of the safest neighborhoods in Colombia and it is used to tourists. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

In Poblado a tourist will find everything they need. Cute breakfast cafes, high end restaurants, fancy bars and clubs are all over the Poblado neighborhood. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

With accommodation there are also no problems. Poblado is full of hotels, hostels and apartments for rent for any budget. 

The Best Restaurants In Medellin (International Food)

Relato

Relato is an upscale restaurant that serves Colombian – Asian fusion dishes. 

The place is very charming with a beautiful bar area. It is great for date nights and special occasions. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

At Relato they don’t really have a dress code, but you would want to dress up a little bit. 

Location:Cra 33 ## 7-115, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

OCI.mde

OCI.mde is a very popular place that makes it hard to get a reservation. They might be a bit less crowded during lunches, but if you want to get a table for dinner, you better make a reservation a few days in advance.

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

The food at OCI.mde is great. I would recommend you to try slow cooked short ribs here. 

Location: Cra 33 #7-21, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Restaurante Mistura Provenza

Mistura Provenza is yet another restaurant that you can put on the list of upscale places in Medellin. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

This place serves delicious cocktails that you should try. The menu has a wide selection of dishes, including sushi. 

Location: Cra 33 #7-55, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Tika Dogs Gourmet

Tika Dogs Gourmet serves gourmet hot dogs. They are the best hot dogs in Medellin. 

Tika Dogs Gourmet

The restaurant is quite small, and has just a few tables, but it is still cozy. Service is good and fast. It is a great place to have a quick dinner. 

The prices might be a bit high for hot dogs, but I still think it worth it. 

Location: Cra. 34 ##7-29, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

ANIMAL COCINA PROVENZA 

ANIMAL COCINA PROVENZA is a restaurant that serves burgers. And I can also say that considering the price and the quality, ANIMAL COCINA PROVENZA is the best burger place in Medellin. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: ANIMAL COCINA PROVENZA 

During a month and a half in Medellin, I visited this place a lot of times and tried almost all the burgers here. My favorite three are: burger with pulled pork, onion ring burger, and roquefort cheese burger. 

Location: Cra. 36 #8 A 53, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

678 KOREAN BBQ

678 KOREAN BBQ is a great place that offers Korean style BBQ. It is quite popular among locals and expats, so you should always make a reservation for this place (reservation accepted just through WhatsApp and calls). 

678 KOREAN BBQ in Medellin Colombia

I visited this place a few times and the meat was always fresh, and the sides were full of flavor. 

I highly recommend this restaurant for those who love Korean BBQ, you definitely will enjoy it

Location: Cra. 35 ##10b-29, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Douraku

Douraku restaurant serves Hokkaido style ramen. It is a small place that doesn’t look like much, but they serve great Japanese food here. 

Douraku

The menu has just a few choices of ramen, and two or three starters, but they really specialize on those dishes, so those taste always good. 

Location: Cra. 42 ##10 – 64, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Taquería Cuernavaca Laureles

La Taquería Cuernavaca Laureles is a vibrant Mexican restaurant. It is a quite popular place and often it gets very crowded. But even so I highly recommend this place. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Taquería Cuernavaca Laureles

Taquería Cuernavaca Laureles’ food is a good example of Mexican cuisine, especially their tacos.  

Location: Av. 39d #74 – 62, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellin was the place where I spent the most time in Colombia, so I actually created two separate lists that you can check out: Where To Get Breakfast In Poblado, and The Best Restaurants In Medellin

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Things To Do In Medellin

Visit Comuna 13

Comuna 13 is a must visit place in Medellin. It isn’t just a vibrant and fun place, but also a place that has a long and sad history that every tourist in Medellin should learn about. 

A guide To Comuna 13 in Medellin Colombia

At one point in history Comuna 13 was the most dangerous neighborhood in Colombia. This was the home base of the gangs that controlled almost all the drug traffic in the country. 

In 2002 the Colombian government decided to do a special operation called Orion. The reason for this operation was to clean the streets of Comuna 13 from the gangs. They brought their army to this neighborhood, including helicopters and tanks. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Visit Comuna 13

You might think that it is not a bad decision to clean the streets from bad people, but there were a hundred thousand civilians in this neighborhood. And as we all know it, stray bullets don’t choose to kill a gang member, or an innocent civilian. 

The whole population of Comuna 13 neighborhood got caught in the crossfire. Lots of people were killed and injured, lots were arrested, and some just disappeared (their families still don’t know what exactly has happened to them). 

Visit Comuna 13

Nowadays Comuna 13 is a center of art and music in Medellin. Colorful murals on the walls tell people about the tragic history of this place, and also attracts many tourists. 

Today Comuna 13 is a very safe area that is very tourist oriented. And after the government installed escalators that help to connect the upper area of Comuna 13 with the rest of the city, this neighborhood started to thrive. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Visit Comuna 13

On every level of this neighborhood you’ll see many art galleries and museums, cozy cafes, eclectic bars, and souvenir shops. It is a great place to visit and definitely a must do in Medellin

Salsa Classes

Salsa is a very popular dance not just in Medellin, but everywhere in Colombia. In Medellin however, it is very easy to start dancing Salsa for those who have never tried it. 

There are a lot of dance clubs (including in the Poblado neighborhood) that offer Salsa classes. If you know how to dance Salsa and don’t want to attend classes – not a problem. Salsa dance is very popular and there are a lot of local bars and clubs that you can visit. 

The amazing thing is that there is no shortage of people, everyone dances in Colombia. So, if you don’t have a dance partner, no worries, there will be someone for you for sure. 

Visit A Fruit Market

Colombia is known for its amazing variety of fruits (click here to check a list of fruits in Colombia that you must try). And to get all the exotic fruits you can at one of the fruit markets in Medellin. 

Visit A Fruit Market

I visited Central Mayorista de Antioquia market. It is a huge place that has not just fruits, but many other things like dry goods and meat. At the beginning I even got lost a little bit, but then I saw a fruit section. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Visit A Fruit Market

Fruit section at the market is a huge inside space with hundreds of vendors. Most of them have similar things, but look attentively, there will be a few vendors that have some unique fruits.

Besides fresh ripe regular fruits here, I got some that I have never tried before (including a few varieties of passion fruit I haven’t seen before).  

Visit Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia is a museum in Medellin that at one point was a city hall. This is one of the few museums that has a big exhibition of Botero work (kinda like the Botero museum in Bogota). 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Botero

Fernando Botero was born in Medellin and is considered to be one of the most famous Colombian artists. His style is very unique and memorable, he creates (on a canvas, or as a statue) people and objects by exaggerating their sizes. Some of his work can look funny, and some sarcastic and judgy. 

Of course Museo de Antioquia has exhibited other artists’ work and not just Botero, however Botero will be the one you remember the most (at least for me and my friends).

Take a Day Trip To Guatape

Guatape is a small town that is located 2 hours drive from Medellin. It is a popular location for day trips from Medellin, however you can do an overnight stay in Guatape as well (there is a lot to do around the town).

Take a Day Trip To Guatape

Guatape is mostly famous for the Guatape rock (also known as El Penol), a monolithic granite rock (second biggest in South America after the Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro) that you can climb up. It has 659 steps that lead to the top of Guatape rock.

Take a Day Trip To Guatape

The top of el Penol de Guatape opens up to a beautiful view of a lake (man made freshwater reservoir). To climb up will take between 20 and 30 minutes, and I can say that the effort is definitely worth the view. 

A day trip to Guatape from Medellin

At the top of El Penol you will be able to relax and even get some refreshments at the cafe (michelada is especially delicious). Surprisingly the prices at the top are very reasonable, I even can say cheap. There is no elevator that can take all the goods up the rock. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to carry things up all those stairs?

Besides the famous rock, Guatape town also has a lot to offer. The streets of Guatape are full of color and buildings are famous for its zocalos (colorful panels on the facade that can tell you everything starting from the history of the town to how the building is used). 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Take a Day Trip To Guatape

Another popular activity in this area is water sports. Guatape lake is quite big, so activities like jet skiing, kayaking, boat rides, and others are very popular here. 

Whether you do a Guatape day trip or a Guatape few days trip, you will enjoy it all the same. It just depends on how much time you have.  

Visit Jardin Town For a Few Days

Medellin is a great city to visit and to live in. One of the reasons that this statement is true is the large number of charming small villages and towns around Medellin that you can visit. 

Visit Jardin Town For a Few Days

One of our favorite towns that we decided to visit while staying in Medellin was Jardin. 

The cheapest way to get to Jardin town from Medellin is by public bus which you can take from Terminal Sur. Jardin might not be as close as Guatape town, but it only takes around 3 to 4 hours by bus. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: the complete guide to jardin colombia

Jardin town is a place to see the real Colombia, its traditions, and the lifestyle. People here, like a hundred years ago, are still working hard during the day, and relaxing on the main square with their friends in the evening. 

The streets of Jardin town are full of colors. Every corner here offers perfect scenery for photos. 

Cock-of-the-rock
Cock-of-the-rock

Besides exploring the town itself, there are actually many things to do around the town. Bird watching tours are very popular here. This town is actually a great place to see the Cock-of-the-rock, an extremely rare bird. Another popular activity is to visit the Cave of Splendor, an amazing place in the mountains with a beautiful waterfall. 

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: the cave of splendor

One of the big pluses of visiting Jardin town is that there are a lot of great accommodations that you can stay at. Some of those accommodations are also coffee farms which you can explore and learn more about the coffee making process. 

Take The Metrocable From Santo Domingo to Parque Arvi 

Parque Arvi is a popular hiking spot. To get there you can take the metrocable. And it is definitely an activity of its own. 

By taking the cable car you will get a panoramic view of the city and mountain range. 

At the park you can enjoy some art work, have a beautiful walk, or just get some refreshments and take it easy. 

Some people even camp at Parque Arvi overnight, which apparently is allowed. I of course didn’t have equipment to do this, but it surely sounds like fun. 

Visit The Botanical Garden 

The Botanical garden in Medellin is a great place to visit, and it is completely free. The Botanical garden has a big collection of orchids as well as other flowers. There you will also find a butterfly garden. 

Jardín Botánico de Medellín is a great place for family picnics and dates. If you are into nature, a visit to the Botanical garden in Medellin is a must do. 

Bird Watching Tour 

If you are a birder then Medellin is a great place to base yourself. Even in the city there are spots to see beautiful tropical birds like the botanical gardens or Parque Arvi. However I also recommend you to take a guided tour around La Romera.

Bird Watching Tour 

The birds at this nature reserve are colorful and loud, and the view from the top of the trail offers a beautiful view of Envigado. There are a few professional birders offering tours, so just find one you like. I can personally recommend Laura on AirBnB who is a wonderful, knowledgeable bird expert.

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia: Bird Watching Tour 

You can read about the full bird watching tour in La Romera here!

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia

The Complete Guide To Medellin, Colombia
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