Medellin Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to Do and More
Looking for endless travel adventure, dining and experience in a perfect urban mountain metropolis? Medellín, Colombia should be at the top of your list. Medellín is almost always between 63 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit. In Colombia, the weather is dictated by altitude rather than location. With its borders above and below the equator, the country remains hot and scorching at sea level Cartagena, cool on the Bogotá plateau high in the Andes, and, much like the best of Goldilocks heist , Medellin is fair on the right, nestled in the Aburrá Valley under mountains that keep the hot air in and the rain out.
There are almost endless places to visit, see and eat in sunny Medellín. Colorful houses rub shoulders with colonial hotels, modern museums and chic hotels. Music adds spice to the air, as do grilled meats and lights splashing through the evening. Once you’re done with the drinking, the city offers an abundance of urban retreats. Swim, hike, fly in the sky via this manual guide.
(*Speaking of theft, a State Department advisory warns that there is still a pandemic and it hasn’t missed Colombia. Like many places, however, new cases have dropped precipitously since the third wave of the pandemic has subsided. Proof of COVID-19 is required to travel to the country.)
Where to stay
There are a number of wonderful neighborhoods to explore in Medellín. To find the best place to stay, you have to choose between the different neighborhoods, probably between the larger neighborhoods of La Laureles and Poblado.
With over 300 neighborhoods to choose from, visitors should start at the handful where most expats and visitors begin. These include, but are not limited to Central Laureles, Northeastern Laureles, Central Poblado, Lower Poblado, and La Florida, Poblado.
Here’s all the marquee has to offer: sweeping city views, soothing dark brown walls under a light, warm color palette that bring out a stunning collision of modern chic and old-world charm in a downstairs bar. On the rooftop is the requisite sleek outdoor pool and view of Medellín. And when you’re ready to feast, head to Marquee Restaurant for a solid selection of dishes designed by a Colombian chef.
The Marquee is located in the heart of Parque Lleras and the crowded and popular neighborhood of El Poblado. International flights to Medellín land at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE), which is located in the town of Rionegro, approximately 22 km east of Marquee Medellín.
How about contributing to a positive impact on your environmental label in Medellín in a hotel designed for comfort and sustainability? The Terra Biohotel has instituted an intelligent use of resources to create a pleasant environment where you and the planet can breathe more comfortably.
From lush vertical gardens to solar-powered heating, you won’t find a more eco-friendly hotel in Medellín. Ask for one of the upper floor rooms and you can gaze out over the spectacular expanse of the city from your balcony. And head from Terra to the tree-lined neighborhood of Conquistadores, one of the greenest spots in downtown Medellín, with the iconic Nutibara Hill just blocks away. Terra Biohotel is 24 km east of José María Córdova International Airport.
what to eat
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables, Paisa, the food of the Antioquia region (of which Medellín is the capital), is heavy and laden with meats, sausages, beans, eggs and rice. It’s not as spicy as you’ll find food in Mexico and there’s also plenty of sweet to go with the salty, combining to make a nice combo.
- “$” = economy or cheap
- “$$” = medium
- “$$$” = expensive
At Carmen, guests can sample innovative Colombian cuisine in a lush setting lined with plants and trees. Accolade after accolade, foodies must find their way to Carmen.
Run by an American-Colombian couple (both Cordon Bleu chefs), Carmen’s menu mixes Colombian flavors with a strong Californian influence. Delight in innovative meat and flavor combinations like tamarind pork belly or fresh fish swimming in a sweet sauce.
At Carmen, guests have the choice between several dining areas. An elegant naturally lit dining room overlooks an open kitchen and greenery outside floor-to-ceiling windows. Step out of this retro 1950s vibe into the leafy garden for dinner on the veranda.
Ideal for lunch and dinner; $$$.
Browse the menu
For a more continental take on typical Colombian cuisine in El Poblado, you can’t miss Ocio. Modern European influences breathe new life into old-school Colombian dishes. influences such as the incredible Chicharron.
Parisian chef Laura Londoño teams up with her husband Santiago Arango to offer freshly picked and simmered delights like pork belly salad, beef braised for 12 hours and the irresistible “Tres Leches” for dessert.
The icing on the cake ? There are 1980s tunes always on top and a selection of wines and cocktails out front to enjoy an unpretentious meal.
Best for dinner; $$.
Browse the menu
What to do
The city is full of parks, public spaces, cafes, libraries, museums and bustling streets, most of which are accessible by outdoor escalators and public cable cars. In the City of Eternal Spring, flowers have their fairs, colors and art abound in the middle of a green space that leads to forests punctuated with small village lives and to the surrounding nature reserves.
Enjoy coffee culture
Although Colombia is the best place in the world to grow coffee, it was hard to find a cup of Colombian coffee in Medellín ten years ago. Most of the country’s best coffee has been exported, so until a few years ago most Colombians didn’t drink their own local brew. However, that is now changing for the better and you can find some fantastic local coffee in the city.
That couldn’t be truer than the endearing Café Aroma del Barrio. The heart of the infamous Comuna 13 neighborhood was once a no-go zone, but has now become an artistic and entrepreneurial hub. Here at Aroma del Barrio, the baristas know how to make some of the best cappuccinos, limonada de coco (coconut limeade), and other quality coffee drinks Medellín has to offer. The tiny welcomes many local and international visitors, a list that includes former US President Bill Clinton.
Browse the menu
Explore Arvi Park
Looking to fly to Medellín (or at least be transported up a steep, green mountainside)?
Parque Arvi is worth a visit to experience the flavor of the outdoors surrounding the Spring City. Take the gondola from the metro to the park entrance and enjoy magnificent views of the city’s hills, descending valleys, and cityscape.
Parque Arvi covers 16,000 hectares and includes trails over 1,500 years old. At the entrance to the park, you can stop for supplies at a small market and use the place as a starting point for a self-guided or guided walk. It costs between 5,000 and 7,000 Colombian pesos ($1.50 to $2.25) depending on the trail (most trails are 2-4 km long).
Visit dozens of different species of birds and butterflies along the way.
See the park
How to save money on your trip
First of all, a word: you have to be careful in Colombia because it is the gateway between two continents. It means an opportunity for crime as people and goods pass through perhaps the most biodiverse nation in the world. Medellín is like most other places: Be aware of where you’re going, what you’re doing, and where you’re staying.
That being said, saving money in Medellín is as easy as getting there. The US dollar goes very far against the Colombian peso. Be aware of this when deciding where to spend your money. If you can have an amazing time and contribute to the local economy, great.
Medellín is big, so you will need transport to many places. Taxis and semi-legal Uber rides will cost you a lot, but when you get to your destination, there’s often plenty to experience around you. Save money by taking a walking tour of one of the neighborhoods. There is no shortage of free or inexpensive tours.
Real City Walking Tours, for example, offers a great free tour and informative introduction to the city. You’ll get lots of great tips and the guides are great people. Be sure to tip at the end of the tour!
Selina Medellin sits in the heart of trendy Provenza and is surrounded by culinary hotspots, lively bars and authentic cafes. Selina Hostel isn’t the cheapest, but it’s the perfect place to kick off your Medellín adventure. There is a range of accommodation options to suit all travel budgets. Included are a coworking space, a cute bar and cafe, a wellness area for practicing yoga, and even a rooftop music studio.
This curated programming spans art, photography and cooking alongside a melting pot of people from around the world. You can even dance long evenings with local DJs who spin electronic music late into the night.
Localiza has some of the best deals as the most reputable local agency, renting cars for around $30/day. Others like Alamo and Enterprise are also available.