Welcome to The City of Eternal Spring: Medellín. This city is located in the department of Antioquia. It is known for its idyllic weather, its captivating flowers and its welcoming people, the 'paisas’ – as the folks from Medellín are known.
Once famed for being a place drowned in the war of drugs, Medellín is today a reborn city and a hugely popular tourist destination in recent years.
Here are 11 great things to see and do in the beautiful city of Medellín!
- 1. Step inside the Antioquia Museum
- 2. Visit 'La Plaza Botero'
- 3. Go to 'Parque Explora'
- 4. Spend an afternoon at 'El Jardín Botánico'
- 5. Take part in 'The Flower Festival'
- 6. Eat 'Bandeja Paisa' at 'El Hato Viejo'
- 7. Go on a day trip to 'Guatapé'
- 8. Visit 'Pueblito Paisa'
- 9. Explore 'Comuna 13' and its amazing Street Art
- 10. Visit the 'Hacienda Nápoles'
- 11. Party like a local at 'Sixttina'
1. Step inside the Antioquia Museum
As the second oldest museum in the country, this place exhibits over 5,000 pieces of work from different periods in history of both the Antioquia province and the rest of Colombia.
A permanent exhibition of paintings and sculptures from the famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, is also available in this museum.
Entrance is free of charge!
2. Visit 'La Plaza Botero'
Right in the heart of the city and facing the Antioquia Museum, you’ll find the Plaza Botero. This square is home to 23 of Fernando Botero’s bronze sculptures and it’s actually the world’s largest open-air exhibition of this talented Colombian artist.
If you want a guided tour to visit the Plaza Botero, the famous Pueblito Paisa, 'La Comuna 13' (both mentioned below) and many other iconic places in this city, take a look at this tour. It is a 6-hour tour during which you'll explore this incredible city and learn about some interesting local customs. Click below to book your place:
3. Go to 'Parque Explora'
With over 4,000 living species, this place features South America’s largest freshwater aquarium, The Explora Aquarium.
This attractive science museum is a combination of indoors and outdoors spaces designed to give visitors the chance of getting involved in games demonstrating the laws of physics. You can also take a look at its 3D auditorium, planetarium and television studio.
If you’re looking for a break from the city noise, this is the place to go! Apart from being the perfect spot for some peace and quiet, this place features more than a 1,000 different living plant species.
This place is perfect for a relaxed afternoon! You’ll see families, students, and groups of friends wandering around the colorful gardens and open spaces that this place offers.
The Botanical Garden is free to enter!
5. Take part in 'The Flower Festival'
As the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, Medellín is surrounded by natural beauty all year round, but in early August of each year, this city dresses up in colors for the Flower Festival. This celebration has taken place every year since 1957 and holds events such as concerts; caravan of ‘chivas’ – rustic bus adapted to be used in rural Colombia –; ‘cabalgata’ – horse ride through town –; orchestras; fireworks; and the world-famous parade of ‘silleteros’ – saddler’s parade. For this parade, flower farmers prepare beautiful arrangements, which are then carried on their backs. Each saddle can weight up to 70kg, measure 5 meters in diameter and is made of up to 25 different varieties of flowers!
6. Eat 'Bandeja Paisa' at 'El Hato Viejo'
El Hato Viejo is a restaurant that has been preparing traditional dishes from the Antioquia region and the rest of Colombia for over 30 years now. Its delicious food, excellent service and comfortable spaces that evoke traditional Colombian architecture and the paisa culture, make of this restaurant a must dine out place in the city of Medellín.
Delight yourself with their delicious ‘Bandeja Paisa’* and I’m sure you’ll be able to say, as we Colombians do, ‘¡barriga llena, corazón contento!’ (a full belly and a happy heart!).
There are 4 locations of this restaurant, but I recommend going to ‘Hato Viejo Las Palmas’ because of its beautiful green surroundings.
*It includes: beans, white rice, chicharrón, chorizo, fried egg, ripe plantain, avocado, arepa and powdered beef.
7. Go on a day trip to 'Guatapé'
Guatapé is a beautiful and picturesque village located about 2 hours by bus from Medellín. It’s the perfect day trip from this city if you want to enjoy spectacular views or take part in water-related activities.
Climbing la ‘Piedra del Peñol’ in this town should definitively be first on your list of things to do! Grab a comfortable pair of shoes and prepare yourself to climb 740 steps to get to the top! Believe me… IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT! The views you’ll take in are simply gorgeous!
Water activities are also available. I recommend exploring the lake by kayak or with a stand-up paddle.
One of the best ways to visit this spectacular place is by going on a day trip. If you're wondering how to get there, I highly recommend to take a look at this day trip. It is a very affordable tour with transport, breakfast, lunch and travel insurance included. You get enough free time to wonder around on your own and at the end of the day trip there's a guided walking tour of the picturesque colonial town of Guatapé.
8. Visit 'Pueblito Paisa'
‘Pueblito Paisa’ or ‘Little Paisa Town’ is a charming town featuring traditional Colombian architecture. You’ll fall in love with its cobblestone streets, its traditional stone fountain in the middle of the main square, and its small but cozy church.
Due to its ideal location (on the top of ‘cerro nutibarra’ or ‘nutibarra mountain’), visitors can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city of Medellín and its surrounding mountains and valleys.
9. Explore 'Comuna 13' and its amazing Street Art
Once labeled as the most dangerous zone in the city due to the paramilitary, guerilla and gang activity, ‘La Comuna 13’ is today a reborn neighborhood. Residents started voicing their discontent and anger with the violence through art and music (specially Hip-Hop). The walls of this neighborhood where turned into a colorful canvas to tell its history, beautifying the area, bringing peace to residents and attracting lots and lots of visitors.
10. Visit the 'Hacienda Nápoles'
Once the countryside home of Pablo Escobar, Hacienda Nápoles is today a family-friendly safari-themed park located about 4 hours by bus from Medellín.
As Pablo Escobar grew in power and his wealth increased, he began importing exotic animals such as hippos, giraffes, elephants, zebras and ostriches. When the Colombian government went after him, he abandoned the Hacienda, leaving many of the animals to die of starvation. Those who survived are now being taken care of by the Colombian government or were relocated to different zoos.
Nowadays, Hacienda Nápoles is one of the main tourist spots in Medellín.
11. Party like a local at 'Sixttina'
By all accounts, ‘Sixttina’ nightclub is one of the hottest clubs in town. Located on the 7th floor of the ‘Rio Sur’ mall, the club plays crossover music and often hosts live shows.
Order a bottle of ‘aguardiente’ – a local anise-flavored liquor derived from sugar cane –, prepare your best dance moves and hit the dance floor all night long!
Don’t give it a thought…Get yourself down to Colombia and visit Medellín and its beautiful surroundings!