You’ve undoubtedly heard of Medellín by reputation though you might not be aware of what an incredible place it is to visit now. This is a city on the rise that has made great strides to clean up its act.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It’s now growing increasingly popular with tourists and for a great reason—there is a lot to do in Medellín and the people are warm and friendly. The drug cartels have been replaced by industrious, hard-working, and honest people who are proud to be Colombian and to share their country with you.
There is a lot to see and do in this developing city. You can see a lot of the highlights if you spend 2 days in Medellín and here’s a fun itinerary to show you how.
This is a guest post by Sam of My Flying Leap!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.
Table of Contents
- 1 Two Days In Medellín: Where To Stay?
- 2 How To Spend 2 Days In Medellín, A Perfect Itinerary
- 3 Medellín in 2 days: Day One
- 4 Practical Information For Your 2-Day Medellín Itinerary
Two Days In Medellín: Where To Stay?
Hotel Du Parc Royal is in the heart of Poblado, a central neighborhood that’s popular with tourists. It’s only two blocks from Parque Lleras, which has lots of great restaurants and bars. It’s also close to Avenida El Poblado, a shopping district that’s a tourist favorite. Visitors love the modern and luxurious rooms inspired by French architecture and the personalized service. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
York Luxury Suites is in the same Poblado district, close to shopping and fantastic restaurants and nightlife. It offers a lot of amenities including a gym and a pool, and the restaurant is top-notch, especially the breakfast. Click here for more information and check the latest prices.
Inntu Hotel is a great option if you want more of a local feel. It’s located in Laureles, outside of the “gringo” area. This hotel prides itself on being a comfortable and well-appointed “home away from home” featuring free WIFI, a flat-screen TV, a hot tub, and a 24-hour front desk with a concierge to meet any needs. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
How To Spend 2 Days In Medellín, A Perfect Itinerary
Medellín in 2 days: Day One
City Center Walking Tour
Start day one in Medellín with a walking tour in the city center called El Centro. There’s no better way to get to know a city and the people who live there than with a local guide.
The El Centro neighborhood does have some patchy areas that you need to be careful in to avoid as pick-pocketing is a problem, so it’s a good idea to explore with a local. Real City Tours is a great free walking tour.
You’ll learn about “dar papaya,” a Colombian saying that essentially means you should not put yourself in a position where people can easily take advantage of you. There are certain areas of El Centro where you are best being in a group and staying vigilant with your belongings, and your guide will advise you.
Explore the most historic parts of Medellín and learn what it was like to live there over the last few decades. When taking a walking tour in El Centro, you can’t help but fall in love with the Colombian people and their resilient, unconquerable spirit.
Visit Botero Park
The most popular place to visit in El Centro is Botero Park. Though you may stroll through during your walking tour, go back to spend some more time here.
This square is named for the world-renowned Colombian sculptor and painter born and raised in Medellín, Fernando Botero. Even if you’re not familiar with his name, you have undoubtedly seen his work. He donated many pieces of his work to his country, and 23 of his large and unique statues are in this square.
Museum of Antioquia
If you enjoy Botero’s work and like abstract art, check out the Museum of Antioquia, also in Botero Park. It includes some sculptures by Botero and a lot of paintings, almost 120 in total.
Interesting fact—you’ll see a number of paintings of a woman with a mole on her right buttock, and they are of his wife. There are a lot of other impressive artists showcased in this museum, the second oldest in the country.
If you’re hungry, try a buñuelo just outside the museum. It’s made of fried cheesy dough and it’s a bite of heaven. There’s also a great empanada place a few shops down for another local treat.
Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture
Before you leave this area, admire the architecture around you. The Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture is a striking building worth walking around to admire the view from its very different sides. And, Iglesia de la Cruz is a beautiful white church that’s very old in this square.
If you don’t have time to take a day trip to visit the stunning town of Guatapé and the replica of Old Peñol, check out Pueblito Paisa (meaning “little town.”) It a traditional Spanish Colonial town, and though it’s a recreation, is a recreation, it’s very picturesque. This style of architecture was very common in this area.
Wander the town square and enjoy the soothing sound of the fountain in the center. Visit the church, the one-room schoolhouse, and the Mayor’s office. You can almost get the feeling of what Medellín once was many years ago.
There are a number of great restaurants and food carts here so it’s a great place to grab dinner. Explore the shops to purchase handicrafts and other local items. And enjoy the city views while watching an amazing sunset.
If you do decide to take a day trip to Guatape have a look at this Guatapé, Piedra del Peñol and Boat Tour from Medellín
Medellín in 2 Days: Day Two
Communa 13 was once one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in Medellín. It’s now in the midst of revitalization through art and one of the most popular places to visit in Medellín.
You’ll see this neighborhood adorned in incredible murals telling stories from the past and of their creator’s hopes and dreams. Watch the aspiring young talent putting on music shows for anyone interested in watching. Their talent and industriousness are inspiring!
To see this neighborhood, definitely go on a walking tour with a local. Your heart will break over the first-hand accounts of the horrific violence they lived through which makes the transformation you’ll see all around the neighborhood all the more powerful.
The memory walls with hand-made planters or bricks painted for the name of the missing or deceased are a somber reminder of that past. It’s an emotional morning, but to see something so beautiful arise from such a dark past is truly amazing.
You might be interested in this Private City Tour with Metrocable and Comuna 13.
Grab a Traditional Medellín Dish
Bandeja paisa is a dish popular in this area and you’ll see signs everywhere in restaurants for it. It’s no fancy dish but it’s filling and tasty. It often starts with soup and aguapanela, a drink made from boiling sugar cane to a paste then adding water. It has a taste similar to a light iced tea.
Then, the main dish has meat like chicken or ground beef, white rice, red beans, plantain, fried egg, arepa (corn cake), avocado, and a small salad. It’s pretty massive and you could easily split it with someone and have plenty to eat. It’s generally quite inexpensive, and only around 8k COP ($2.55 USD).
Ride the Metrocable
It may seem a bit strange to see riding public transportation on an itinerary but it’s a popular thing to do in Medellín. You get to enjoy some incredible panoramic city views for around $1 USD a ride.
Pick up the Metrocable at San Javier station and take it to Santo Domingo. It’s a great area to stop and walk around for the views. It’s a poor part of the city but it’s safe for travelers. If you have the time, continue on to Parque Arvi, another great area with nice views and lots of local vendors.
Party in Parque Lleras
Whether you’re up for partying or just looking for a nice restaurant for the evening, Parque Lleras is a great place to go. It’s located in the Zona Rosa (red zone) in the Poblado neighborhood, not far from where many of the hotels are located.
It’s the place to be for bars, shops, dance clubs, and restaurants. By day, it seems pretty chill but by night it’s lit up and quite a place to see to enjoy your last night in the city.
Practical Information For Your 2-Day Medellín Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Medellín?
Known as the “city of eternal spring,” Medellín has beautiful moderate weather all year-round.
Temperatures in Medellín throughout the year average around 72°F. They actually don’t tend to vary by more than ten degrees +/- so it’s quite temperate all year.
However, Medellín does have a rainy season and it tends to be quite humid during this time. The best time to visit Medellín is from July to September or December to March during the dry seasons.
How to Get From the Airport to the City Center
If you are traveling internationally to arrive in Medellín, you will fly to the José María Córdova international airport in Rionegro, around 21 miles from Medellín. It’s an incredible drive into the Aburrá Valley where Medellín is located, which takes around 30 minutes. Most people take the white airport taxis and they offer a fixed fare posted at the airport.
If you fly in on a domestic flight from within Colombia, you’ll likely arrive at Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín. Taxi is the easiest option and inexpensive, or you can walk a block to the South Bus Terminal to take a bus to the city.
As of this writing, Uber is illegal in Colombia. You will see it is sometimes available, but it’s not a good idea as there are some reports of repercussions by taxi drivers.
How to Get Around the City
Public transportation in Medellín is top-notch. The Metro is clean, modern, efficient, and incredibly cheap. It includes cable cars and tram cars. Just don’t forget to validate your ticket as you may get a fine if you get caught.
There are also buses available, called collectivos. Where the Metro is cheap and really easy to navigate, the buses are not as there aren’t maps or timetables.
Why You Should Visit Medellín
Medellín is an incredible city and you can almost feel the local aspiration for continued growth and improvement. It’s a city on the rise filled with so many hard-working dreamers that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with it, rough edges and all.
Bio: Sam is a travel-obsessed animal lover on a quest to create a life of travel with her dog. She loves learning new things, snuggling a dog, architecture, hiking, and bold red wine. Join her in creating a life to dream about at My Flying Leap!