Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia and capital of the Antioquia province. Things to do in Medellin Colombia include;
- El Poblado
- Plaza Botero
- Parque Explora
- Museum of Antioquia
- Botanical garden of Medellin Colombia
- Metrocable to Aburra valley and Arvi park
- Day Trip to Rock of Guatape
- Day Trip to Hacienda Napoles, former home of Pablo Escobar
It’s also said that the Spanish spoken in Medellin is the most beautiful to listen to. I recommend you stay choose a hotel in the El Poblado area of Medellin. It’s worth nothing that Medellin is famous for its eternal spring climate therefore you can visit anytime of year and experience good weather.
You’ll find that the best area in the city to stay is El Poblado, you’ll feel safe during the day and night here. Also from El Poblado it is easy to get to the metro and go to other parts of the city. There is a park called Parque Lleras and around here you’ll find lots of restaurants, bars and discos. Additionally, there are shopping malls and all kinds of city life. Furthermore, the El Poblado skyline is an impressive point of interest of Medellin too.
You can easily take the metro from El Poblado to downtown Medellin. Take note that you should only visit downtown in daylight hours, it doesn’t feel too safe. On the other hand, there are lots of tourists who choose to stay downtown. The famous Plaza Botero is located in the center of downtown Medellin. In Plaza Botero you’ll find larger than life sculptures of famous Botero paintings. Of course, Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, for this reason they celebrate his unique artwork here.
The largest fresh water aquarium in South America is located inside Parque Explora. In addition they often have different exhibitions. When I visited there was an interesting Charles Darwin exhibition. Visit the Parque Explora official site to see what’s showing when you visit.
As with the Parque Explora, the Antioquia Museum is often showing different exhibitions. One exhibition which is always there however is the Botero collection which is located in the Pedrito Botero room. For the latest exhibitions visit the Antioquia Museum official site.
Botanical gardens of Medellin Colombia
Located alongside the Parque Explora are the Botanical Gardens of Medellin Colombia. It’s worth taking a walk through these gardens as you’ll see some colorful flora and fauna. In addition, it’s likely you’ll see, butterflies, squirrels as well as small turtles. For more information and latest events visit the Botanical Gardens official site.
Metrocable to Aburra valley and Arvi park
As Medellin is a located in a valley it’s not possible to build a metro up the hills. The solution to this problem was resolved by building a Metro cable, essentially a cable car which climbs the hill. Commuters use this metrocable to connect to the city. Tourists however, use the metrocable for a panoramic view over Medellin. When you reach the first station, there are a couple of restaurants but you’re more or less in a favela. I don’t recommend walking too far away from the metrocable station! If you take the metrocable to final station however, there’s a park and restaurants there.
Day Trip to Rock of Guatape
The rock of Guatape is a 2 hour bus ride from Medellín. As you can see from the above photo, it’s a worthwhile journey just for the views from the top of the rock. From the terminal del norte bus station, take a bus to Guatape and get off when you see the rock. Alternatively, you can visit Guatape on an organised tour.
There are 650 steps to ascend up the rock. You don’t have to count them however as every 50th step is numbered. Returning from the rock, just stand at the opposite side of the road to which you got off and flag the next bus to Medellin down. Alternatively, you could make your way to the colorful town of Guatape which is less than 10 minutes away.
Guatape is a small Colombian town which is perfect for Instagram photography. There are several Spanish colonial buildings which are in perfect condition. Additionally, these buildings are some of the most colorful in Colombia!
Day Trip to Hacienda Napoles
Hacienda Napoles is the former home of the famous drug lord Pablo Escobar. It’s possible to visit Hacienda Napoles on a day trip from Medellin by taking a Coonorte Bus from terminal del norte to Doradal. From the Doradal bus station you must call for a rickshaw to pick you up and take you Hacienda Napoles. Make sure you stop at the gates to get a photo at the famous entrance (above).
I highly recommend you hire a rickshaw for the day which is around 50,000 pesos. The hacienda is huge and it can get quite hot so being driven around helps. Additionally, it will pick you up from the bus station, take you all around the park and back to the bus station in Doradal afterwards.
In the park, the rickshaw driver can take you anywhere you want, he can suggest a route, or you can plan it with him. As he works there everyday he has a good idea of the best route to take to see everything in the time frame you have.
In the park you will find:
- Pablo Escobar’s house
- Family and friends houses
- Pablo Escobar’s dinasaur collection
- Mini airport and landing strip
- Pablo Escobar’s Hippos
- Water park
- Butterfly enclosure
- African museum (In Pablo Escobar’s converted bull ring)
Hacienda Napoles is definitely worth a visit, be it on a day trip from Medellin or on an overnight stay on the way to Bogota.
How to get from Medellin to Cali
To get to Cali you can take a Bolivariano bus service, from terminal del sur bus station. There are 2 bus stations in Medellín, generally buses going south leave from terminal del sur, and those going north or east leave from terminal del norte. The journey time is around 9 hours and should be around 50,000 pesos. Remember, you can bargain the bus prices in Colombia, especially if it’s quiet and other companies are running the same route. Check out these headphones to listen to music on the bus.