Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Medellin (Colombia), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
El Castillo Museo y Jardines
The Castillo Museum and Gardens is located in the Poblado neighborhood, in a Medieval Gothic building from 1930, inspired by castles in the Loire Valley.
The building is fantastical, and it first served as the house of José Tobón Uribe before changing hands to Diego Echavarría Misas. His widow, Benedikta, donated the house and it was converted into a museum with a beautiful collection of porcelain, art, antiques and stained glass.
Museum Pablo Escobar
This controversial museum was dedicated to the drug lord, Pablo Escobar. A cocaine mafia leader, he has been the subject of much interest as one of the primary figures in South America’s drug trafficking.
The museum of Pablo Escobar is dedicated to his life, run by his own brother, and it displays Escobar’s belongings, from his pink Harley to a gun used by Al Capone. The entrance fee is steep at $30, but the museum is quite unique.
The Metrocable of Medellín is the public cable car transportation system. Opened in 2004, it was designed to help fill in gaps in the city’s metro service, which didn’t reach some of the neighborhoods in the steep hills of the city.
The Aburrá Valley, where Medellín is located, is surrounded by hills, some of which are so steep that not even a bus can reach them. It has five lines, and it’s also a great way to get a bird’s eye view of Medellín.
Arvi Park is one of Medellin’s most popular attractions. The gigantic park stretches out over 39,500 acres in the Santa Elena neighborhood on the city’s outskirts. It is an ecological nature reserve where people go hiking, picnic, ride horses, and bike.
The park opened in the 2000s and got its own link to Line L on the Metrocable in 2010. Featuring a huge selection of birds, butterflies, and animals, the park also holds remains of some pre-Hispanic buildings and infrastructure.
When you visit, shop at the market (best on weekends, check out the Environmental & Cultural Center Ignacio Vélez Escobar, and go down the zipline in Comfama.
Laguna de Guatape
About two hours outside Medellín, Laguna de Guatape is one of Colombia’s most charming small towns. Surrounded by water, the landscape is gorgeous, especially when viewed from the El Peñol rock, which towers above Laguna de Guatape.
700 steps are all it takes to enjoy the gorgeous views. The center of town is full of colorful buildings, with painted tiles and bright paint jobs. The lake itself is also worth enjoying, and it’s possible to swim, rent jet skis, take a boat trip, or even zip line over the Laguna.
Making a day trip to Laguna de Guatape is one of the best things to do in Medellin if you’re longing for an outdoor adventure.
Jardín Botánico de Medellín
The Medellín botanical gardens are splayed out over 34 acres in the city of Medellín. The Jardín Botánico is actually considered a museum, and when you consider its 1,000 living plant species it makes sense.
Locals come to the gardens, which are free to enter, to sit and have picnics, a great plan on a sunny day. However, you can also go in tourist mode, to see the desert farm or butterfly garden.
Or why not as a concertgoer, there to see the many events that take place in the Orquideorama, the park’s outdoor theater.
Museo de Antioquia
Antioquia is the region in which Medellín is located, and this museum was the first to be founded in the region (and the second in the country!) in 1881.
Right off Botero Plaza, the museum holds a collection of art including works by Medellín’s most famous sons, like Fernando Botero and Pedro Nel Gómez.
The museum is significant in the fact that it questions the social constructs of fine art and is very linked to its surrounding community.
Estadio Atanasio Girardot
Estadio Atanasio Girardot is the stadium in Medellín that is used for the soccer matches of Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín. Originally built in 1953, the stadium was renovated for the 2011 FIFA World cup game, and currently has a capacity of 40,043.
Part of the Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex, it is accompanied by the Medellín Sports Coliseum, the Luis Alberto Villegas Stadium, and the Alfonso Galvis Duque Stadium.
Casa de la Memoria
The House of Memory Museum is a unique museum in Medellín. The focus is not on the history of art or pre-Columbian cultures; instead, it focuses on memories, especially of the violence that plagued Medellín for so long.
With a haunting collection of videos, sounds, photos, and objects, the museum takes you into the Medellín of the 1980s, rife with drug problems and violence.
Go Salsa Dancing
Salsa is hugely popular in Colombia—it’s a part of any family reunion, birthday party, and social gathering. Although it originated in Central America, its roots are deep in Colombia, and Medellín has some of the best salsa clubs in the world.
Take a salsa class or two before visiting one of the many clubs, so you can brush up on basics first. While there are many clubs, two of the best are Son Habana and Tibiri.
Son Habana is a classic salsa bar, with live bands on the weekends. Tibiri is also focused on classic salsa, and despite its no-AC basement, it is a must place to visit for a memorable dancing experience.
Plaza Minorista Market
This local market is a must-see in Medellín. More than a mere farmer’s market, the Minorista market bursts at the seams with brightly colored fruits, flowers and produce.
Bargain with local vendors and sample tropical fruit juice at this market, which opened in 1984, created to replace the Guayaquil market that had been destroyed by fire. The two-floor market also sells clothing, chocolates, grains, animals, and other assorted items.
Comuna 13 and Las Escaleras
Comuna 13 is a neighborhood of Medellín, which earlier this century was one of the most dangerous in all of South America. After a study by an urban development company, steps were taken to change the risk factors of the neighborhood.
One of which was the installation of these electric stairs, which connected the area with the lower neighborhood, which was connected to the larger city by public transport.
The stairs number nearly 400 and cost $3.5 million when they were built in 2010. Another sight in the neighborhood is a tour of street
Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín
The Modern Art Museum in Medellín was inaugurated in 1978, built from the beginning to be a living space where encounters with contemporary art can be had by residents of the city.
Previously located in the Restrepo neighborhood, the museum was moved to the Talleres Robledo building in Ciudad del Río as part of an expansion in 2009. Popularly known as the MAMM, it is considered one of the foremost museums in Medellín today.
Mercado del Río
Medellín’s markets aren’t all traditional: Mercado del Río is a large food hall in Medellín, opened in 2016. With over 50 restaurants and bars in one place, the variety of cuisines available is mind-boggling.
Whether you’re craving coffee or Colombian food, pizza or Peruvian, you can find it all at this food hall. The former warehouse is a fun place to pass an afternoon, just be sure to come with an appetite.
Plaza Botero is actually a very large square-turned-sculpture park. Across its 7,000 square meters, you can find 23 different sculptures by the famous Medellín artist, Fernando Botero.
From curvy women to chubby cats, the sculptures are playful and done in Botero’s signature bigger-is-better style. The plaza is lined by the Palacio de Cultura Uribe and the Museo de Antioquia.
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