Top 10 things to do in Medellin, Colombia

Updated: Apr 29

Well, I spent a month living in Medellin in March & couldn't get enough. This city has a piece of my heart. I've left to explore other parts of Colombia but something about this city always brings me back. It's special, its vibrant, lively and I personally just can't get enough of Medellin <3

The nightlife is always fun, amazing restaurants, great coffee shops to work from (see my blog article on cafes), a lot of history, a blossoming art community, wonderful salsa dancing and super welcoming people.

Me ENCANTA Medellin :)

To help you make the most out of your visit, here are my top 10 things to see and do in Medellin bebe.

  1. Take a day trip to Guatape

  2. Explore Communa 13

  3. Go to a soccer game

  4. Arepa cooking class

  5. Visit the coffee farm

  6. Walking food tour

  7. Pablo Escobar tour

  8. Attend a Gringo Tuesday

  9. Salsa dancing

  10. Visit San Rafael waterfalls

Medellin is one of the best destinations for remote workers and is now one of “it” cities in the world. Tourists swarm it, and digital nomads are settling here. It was the most cosmopolitan and international city I visited in Colombia. I stayed for over a month and will be coming back.

If you’re looking to visit Medellín (and I don’t see why you wouldn’t be if you’re in Colombia), here is a list of my favorite things to do:

1. Day trip to Guatape

Guatapé is an easy day trip from Medellín, accessible on a quick public bus but I highly recommend using a tour guide. I used Carlos from Wingman Adventures and he is amazing. Steal a day away from Colombia’s most innovative city to explore the vibrant Guatape if you can!

The absolute best way to marvel at the view over Guatapé is atop La Piedra del Peñol (the rock), a hulking 220-metre monolith said to be the 3rd largest rock in the entire world. You’ll have to climb nearly 700 steps to get to the top, but it’s a very short workout for a spectacular reward. The views are amazing at the top and there is a bar to grab a michelada with mango while you get awesome pictures.

Once you hike back down the 700 steps you can go to the colorful town of Guatape. It has lovely restaurants, bakeries and tourist shops. Some of the best photo opts are in Guatape so be sure to make your way to visit!

2. Visit Communa 13

Add Communa 13 to your list! Again, I took a guide (Carlos from Wingman Adventures) with some friends visting to Comuna 13. I highly recommend visiting Comuna 13 with a local guide who can add context and narrative to the experience.

Comuna 13 is known for its vibrant street art, large-scale murals and escalator. Walking through this open-air gallery is an immersive history lesson: You’ll learn a lot about the events of the past, including Medellin’s gang violence, and most of all witness how hopeful people are for a brighter future. There are amazing spots for pictures by the colorful graffitti murals. I found the cutest jean jacket with a cool grafitti design on it and there were a lot of swimsuits or t-shirts that they would create a custom design for you on.

We stopped at local street food eatiers for empanadas while we explored and watched the the kids breakdance in the streets. They were so talented. Going back to the food, we got some of the best fish at this little restaurant tucked away called Berracas de la 13. Seriously make sure you go there while you are visiting Communa 13.

3. Go to a soccer game

Soccer gamers (futbol) here are so fun! If there are games when you’re in Medellin you should really try to see one. Medellín has two local teams: Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín. Football (soccer) is a way of life in Colombia just as it is in many other parts of Latin America. To feel the pulse of the city and be part of one the nation’s most beloved traditions, why not attend a local match at Atanasio Girardot Stadium.

You can't drink at the games so if your into that then be sure to have a couple drinks beforehand. They have non alcoholic beer at the games and amazing arepas. The spectators are always standing, cheering and dancing to support their team so get ready for a fun night!

4. Arepa cooking class

Get a taste of traditional Colombian cooking, made by your own hands, with a private cooking class and meal at the home of a local. I went to the home of a local woman in Poblado with some girlfriends where she served us drinks, told us about her life and showed us how to make amazing arepas.

Highly recommend if you want to learn authentic recipes and gain hands-on experience creating classic arepas with guidance and insights provided by the host. Enjoy the personalized experience of a private lesson, and choose a dinner or lunchtime visit to suit your busy travel schedule!

5. Visit the Coffee Farm

This was one of my favorite day trips! You’ll learn the history of Colombian coffee, try your hand at harvesting beans, then sit down for a coffee tasting and delicious traditional Colombian meal. You'll get to go into the coffee fields and fill your baskets with coffee beans like a true farmer. One you fill your baskets you will get a cherry-picking tutorial, and a walk through the entire process of de-pulping, fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding. Don't miss out on seeing this!

6. Food walking tour

The food tour is must-do in Medellin for all my foodies! I love trying new restaurants and exploring. I mean who doesn't?!? It's a great way to see the city and try exotic fruits, delicious Colombian cuisine and fresh juices lead by a wonderful tour guide. It’s even better when you do it in a massive market with hundreds of stands. Ready to taste the best food in Medellin? Book a food walking tour!

7. Pablo Escobar Tour

Explore the past of the drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar. Learn about the harmful and positive effects that his organization had on Colombia. Explore the world of the infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar and hear stories about the man who formed the Medellin Cartel and was known as one of the most powerful criminals in the world. The tour takes you to significant locations from his life, including the cemetery where he’s buried, the jail, the forest and the memorial. If you are into history and loved the show narcos then I would highly recommend this tour.

8. Attend a Gringo Tuesday

Every Tuesday there is a weekly language exchange that evolves into a wild international party in Provenza. You can meet with other locals and travelers for a few hours to practice your Spanish.

Once that’s over, the real party begins and goes late into the night. It’s a fun, social night out if you’re looking meet fellow travelers.

9. Salsa Dancing

Medellin is predominantly a Reggaeton city, salsa is also quite popular among those who love it.

I’m not much of a dancer, but I’ve given salsa dancing a try a few times, and it’s a blast. Medellin has a few really popular salsa clubs, so if you’re going to go, make it one of these three:

  • Son Havana located near Laureles

  • El Tibiri located along 70 near Estadio

  • El Eslabon Prendido located in El Centro

Son Havana is one of my favorites! Any of these locations is sure to be packed on a Friday night and you’ll see some pretty impressive dancers. Medellin is also a great place to take salsa lessons if you’re keen to learn, rather than flail. Monday salsa dance classes at 8pm at Selina are one of my favorites and a great way. to meet other travelers. After the lesson it turns into salsa dancing all night.

10. San Rafael Waterfalls

A trip to San Rafael to chase some waterfalls is a must while your in Medellin! Take a break from the busy streets of Medellín and immerse yourself in the Colombian countryside. The landscape of eastern Antioquia near the town of Guatapé is dominated by reservoirs, streams, and waterfalls. Go for a swim in the turquoise waters of San Rafael Nature Reserve. You will love it!

The rivers are splendid and represent one of the major assets of San Rafael. The water is crystal clear, and some natural pools like Las Tangas or Trocadero are easily accessible! So, if you’re like me and are looking for an epic jungle waterfall in Guatapé, I’ve got you covered! Visit La Cazuela, an amazing freshwater swimming spot just a short hop from Guatapé town.

The La Cazuela Waterfall is a small, 2.5 meter tall waterfall plunging into a deep, emerald pool. It’s located in a very small rural town and surrounded by lush jungle. From Guatapé, expect a roughly 25-30 minute ride. There’s a nice undercover restaurant at this waterfall with a bar-table around the edge facing the Guadapé waterfall. This is a great place to grab lunch or quick snack after your swim. There are a couple other hidden waterfalls you can find after a bit of a hike too as well.