Published: April 2023
Medellin, Colombia is one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in Colombia. It has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, going from one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia to a hub of art, culture, and innovation.
This is your ultimate guide to Medellin Colombia – I will showcase the best things to do, see, and visit while travelling to Medellin, Colombia.
Comuna 13 is a neighbourhood located on the western side of Medellin, known for its steep hills and many homes.
The neighbourhood was once infamous for drug trafficking and gang violence but has since transitioned to a community of innovation, art, and peace with the help of the municipality.
Now, it has become a cultural and social center within Medellin. It’s home to top-rated graffiti murals, street art, and hip-hop dance battles, and has also developed a reputation for its unique escalator system.
We embarked on a half-day walking tour of Comuna 13, and it was by far one of the best things we did during our visit to Medellin.
Our tour guide was a local from the Comuna 13 area, who shared the history of the area and the vibrant culture of the locals with us. The graffiti in the area is also stunning, and we learned that only select artists are commissioned by the government to paint murals within this area.
Medellin is home to some of the most spectacular street art and graffiti murals in the world. The colourful, intricate, and powerful art tells the stories of the neighbourhood and its inhabitants.
For walking tours, I personally love Freewalk.com and Guruwalk.com to book free walking tours in almost every city. Please note, that while these walking tours are free, the guides and companies do ask for tips, which are very well deserved at the end of the tour.
We also had to visit the famous escaladers of Comuna 13. Since Comuna 13 is located atop a steep hill, the government has built a set of escalators to take locals and tourists up and down the hills. There are a variety of sellers, shops, and cafes nestled between the escalators that I highly recommend checking out.
Medellin is famous for its unique, seven-tiered outdoor escalator system that was built to provide the citizens of the neighbourhood with access to the city center. Riding these escalators is an experience, providing you with panoramic views of the neighbourhood.
The one rule we learned from our tour guide: “Never walk while on the escalators!”
Overall, I would highly recommend the Comuna 13 tour to anyone who has not yet visited Colombia. This was an amazing experience that truly showcased the local beauty and culture that has made Medellin, Colombia the city that it is today.
You can reach Comuna 13 through various transportation modes, depending on your starting point. Here are your options:
Take the Metro to station San Javier and then ride the urban cable car to the Santo Domingo station. From there, you will see the first section of the escalators.
⦁ Get off at the San Javier de Metro station and ride the cable car up to Santo Domingo station.
⦁ You can also take an Uber or taxi to reach Comuna 13 – Simply type in Comuna 13 as the destination in your app.
Parque Arvi is a large ecological center, atop one of the biggest mountains in Medellin.
From any metro station, you will take the metro to the San Javier station. From there, you will need to take a bus or a taxi to the San Javier cable car station, which is only one stop away from arriving at your destination, Parque Arvi.
When you arrive at the cable car station, you will need to purchase a ticket. The cost is 2,700 Colombian pesos (about $0.90 USD) for a round trip. The cable car ride takes about 20 minutes and will take you to the entrance of the park on the mountaintop.
Parque Arvi is one of the biggest parks in Colombia. I highly recommend visiting for a full day, as there is so much to see. You could easily spend one week exploring this park.
It’s important to know that there are two ticketing options when you arrive at the park. You can walk the park for free, or you can pay 50,000 pesos for a foreigner, or 10,000 pesos for a local Colombian, and you can use the park’s private trails.
The reason that they have built these private trails is that the park can be somewhat dangerous if you take the free trails.
Since the park is so big, it’s not uncommon to hear of robbing and muggings within the park while walking the free trails. This is important to note and something that I want to make sure as a visitor of Medellin you are aware of.
We did hear a few different stories of people getting robbed at gunpoint while visiting Parque Arvi, even with a tour guide, so it is important to have safety as your first priority when you are visiting Parque Arvi.
While of course these robbings and muggings can happen anywhere in the world, I would still highly recommend checking out Parque Arvi, but of course, having safety top of mind during your visit.
El Poblado and Provenza are two of the most popular neighbourhoods in Medellin, and for good reason. Both areas offer a wide variety of activities and nightlife, which I highly recommend checking out both during the day and nighttime.
In this ultimate guide to Medellin, Colombia, of course, the amazing Medellin nightlife has to be mentioned!
El Poblado is home to some of the best nightlife in the city, as well as plenty of shopping and dining options. Provenza, on the other hand, is known for its more laid-back vibe and its abundance of art galleries and cafes. Regardless of what you are looking for, you are sure to find it in one of these two neighbourhoods.
During the daytime, these areas have many different cafes that you are able to visit and get work done from if you are a digital nomad or remote worker.
By night, Provenza is the biggest party scene in Medellin, where you can find both foreigners and locals alike.
There are bars that do get somewhat expensive, as I paid around $9 USD for one glass of wine. However, that is not the norm in most bars, and there are certain bars that are much cheaper if that is within your budget.
You can take a taxi to Provenza from anywhere in the city for less than $10 or $15. I highly recommend taking an Uber there at night and checking out all that this area has to offer.
Make your experience unbelievable and unforgettable when you will be visiting Medellin by visiting the enchanting botanical gardens.
Visitors will have a chance to experience mesmerizing views of the natural beauty showcased in the gardens, unique plants and trees, and experience different animals in the garden.
Entrance to the Botanical Gardens is at a cost for local Colombians, however, for foreigners, it is completely free to visit.
This is a great place for photo opportunities and to enjoy a relaxing day. Be sure to bring some drinks and snacks, and you can have a picnic in the gardens!
One thing I was surprised by within the Botanical Gardens was the many Iguanas. I was walking along one of the trails, and I found a huge Iguana in front of me!
While Iguanas are harmless, they did scare me, so don’t be alarmed if you see multiple Iguanas.
The city center of Medellin was declared a national monument in 1984, and since then it has been protected by law.
During your visit to Medellin, Columbia, of course, you want to visit the city center. We stayed very close to the city center in our Airbnb, however as a foreigner, I would recommend staying closer to the Provenza or Laureles area if you want to meet more foreigners or digital nomads.
While the city center is something you must visit during your stay in Medellin, it can be dangerous, and I would recommend not bringing much money with you during your visit.
Be sure not to visit the city center at night, however, there are beautiful churches, markets, and great technology markets that I would recommend visiting during your day trip to the city center.
If you are looking for a mall to visit for your day out, I highly recommend visiting Viva Envigado.
Located near the Provenza area, this mall has options for shopping, a large selection of food options, outdoor bars, football and volleyball courts, a Ferris Wheel, and more.
Viva Envigado is one of the malls that we checked out during our stay in Medellin, and I was quite impressed by how vast this mall was. This mall also features an Authorized Apple Store Reseller, which is excellent as Medellin does not have an Apple Store.
The reason we first discovered Viva Envigado Mall was due to its cinema. Many of the movies offered in their cinema feature English movies, so that’s a bonus if you are a foreigner looking for a cinema night out!
Visiting the Castle Museum is a unique cultural experience. This Museum celebrates the city’s transformation and showcases its rich history and culture.
The Castle Museum in Medellin is a great place to visit if you are interested in learning more about the history of the city and doing a half-day trip.
The museum has a large collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the local area, which gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the past and historical figures of Medellin.
What would an ultimate guide to Medellin be if it didn’t include a visit to Guatapé?
Visiting Guatapé Village is an adventure you won’t want to miss! Located on the outskirts of Medellin, this unique attraction is a must-see for any traveller looking for a fun, unique day-out adventure.
If you are planning a trip to Guatapé Village & El Peñol Rock, you can expect to take the bus for about two hours, from the Medellin bus station to the base of the rock.
Head to the Terminal North bus station in Medellin, and go to the bottom floor. Find counter number 14, or simply ask someone who works there, and they will direct you to the bus to purchase a ticket. One way ticket was about 14,000 Colombian pesos, and it is a 2-hour bus ride from the terminal to the base of the rock in Guatapé.
You can spend about 2-4 hours hiking El Peñol Rock and enjoying the view and treats at the top. You can easily do a day trip to Guatapé, but as this area is so beautiful, I would recommend staying for one or two additional days.
During our stay in Medellin, I did need to visit the doctor. This ended up being a full-day event and took many visits to different hospitals to try to find a good doctor.
We came across quite a few doctors who wanted one million Colombian pesos upfront before seeing the doctor, and we promptly left the office.
After many hours, I found a good hospital near the city center that offered a same-day appointment, for only 47,000 Colombian pesos.
The number to call to book an appointment is below… you don’t even need to go to the office until your appointment time! Please note, you will need to speak Spanish to book an appointment.
Medellin is a great city for digital nomads… and there are coworking spaces and Wi-Fi available almost anywhere!
Of course, Medellin is well known for being a digital nomad hotspot, and visiting Medellin certainly did not disappoint. While we had the opportunity to connect with many other digital nomads while in Medellin, we also noticed that there was quite a bit of coworking available.
Of course, you have your Selina’s and WeWork’s for coworking, however, I was quite surprised by the availability of Wi-Fi and coworking options throughout the city. There are coworking spaces available even in the malls, with office spaces and a café.
Be sure to also check out the area of Provenza, as there are many cafes within that area that offer great Wi-Fi and a good community of nomads.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting Medellin, either as a traveller or a digital nomad. The city has so much to offer, from outdoor adventure, networking and coworking, and indoor discovery.
Enjoy discovering the beauty of Medellin, Colombia!
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