Is Medellin Worth Visiting

Is Medellin Worth Visiting? 16 Great Reasons To Visit In 2024

Is Medellin worth visiting? From the vibrant culture of Comuna 13 to thrilling adventures in Guatape, Medellin offers an unforgettable experience. Here are 14 great reasons why you should visit in 2024.

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Is Medellin Worth Visiting?

The short answer is yes. No trip to Colombia is the same without visiting this incredible city.

 

Unlike the hustle and bustle of Bogota, this city offers a unique blend of culture, adventure, and natural beauty.

 

Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, an adrenaline junkie, or a nature lover, Medellin has something special for you.

 

You can sit back and relax with a coffee in one of it’s many cafes, go paragliding off the mountains surrounding it for insane view or take your pick from the many exciting day tours such as Comuna 13 or Guatape.

 

Here are 16 reasons why a trip to Medellin is an absolute must:

Is Medellin Worth Visiting

16 Great Reasons To Visit Medellin

1. Tejo

Tejo is one of Colombia’s favourite sports and it’s well worth spending an evening learning how to play.

 

It’s pretty simple, throw a heavy metal disk at a board of clay that has a metal ring in the middle. Surrounding the ring are small packets filled with gunpowder.

 

If you hit one of the packets, it will crush the gunpowder against the ring and explode. 1 point for you.

 

Throw in lots of beer and you’ve got yourself a great evening.

 

I recommend booking a tour so that you can get a lesson alongside.

2. Laurelles Food Tour

  • Time: 2:30PM (2 hours)
  • Cost: 100,00COP per person (roughly $25 dollars / £20)

Laureles was declared by TimeOut Magazine as the #1 in their list of coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

 

The neighbourhood is full of local cafes, restaurants, and parks, providing a laid-back environment and is celebrated for its relaxed atmosphere and vibrant community life.

 

The best way to enjoy the area is on a food tour with Medellin City Tour. The tour includes a variety of typical Colombian foods and beverages from popular local spots, with a tour guide providing cultural insights into the traditions surrounding each food.

 

This was one of my favourite things I did in Medellin, and I much prefer a food tour to a standard walking tour as you still learn a lot about the area whilst also getting fed.

 

We tried empanadas, bunuelos, arepas, mangostine and a weird fruit salad desert that also had cheese in it. All of them were delicious and I left with a greater appreciation of Colombian culture and food.

Tejo (Medellin, Colombia)

3. Salsa or Bachata Lessons

Another great way to immerse yourself in the culture of a country is to learn the music and their popular dances.

 

For Colombia, you have many to choose from, but Salsa and Bachata are the two most popular. And the best way to get stated is with a free salsa lesson at Dance Free.

 

The free lesson starts from 8PM but it can get crowded. Don’t worry though as the teachers are great and moving the crowd around so everyone gets closer to the front so they can see the moves better.

 

The bar then turns into a salsa dance night afterwards so stick around and practice your new moves.

 

If you enjoy the free lesson, they also offer private classes that can fit most schedules. We did two 1-hour lessons and left feeling much more confident.

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4. Coffee Tasting Experience

Colombia is the third biggest exporter of coffee in the world so it’s a great place to learn more about the plant. 

 

This experience at the Marquee Hotel is hosted by a professional barista named Javier. He coaches you through the coffee tasting experience and you’ll leave you feeling much more knowledgeable about the best coffees to drink.

 

You’ll learn about the process of making coffee from plant to bean, taste 5 different blends and try to guess the best ones using smell and taste. After you’ll leave with recommendations by Javier himself for the best cafes in Medellin to sample the best Colombian blends.

5. Paragliding

  • 15 minutes flight approx: 220.000 COP
  • 20 minutes flight approx:  270.000 COP
  • 30 minutes flight approx:  400.000 COP
  • Pick up service round trip 1 to 4 people: 140.000 COP

If you want the best views of Medellin, then paragliding is a must.

 

I would recommend the 15-minute flight. This is more than enough time to enjoy the views of Medellin. And after you’ll get all the GoPro footage and pictures included too.

See how to fit all these great activities into a 3, 4 or 7 day itinerary in the post below:

 

 

Paragliding (Medellin)

6. Rooftop Pools

Relax at one of Medellín’s rooftop pools and bars for a couple of hours. Escape the heat, enjoy a cocktail, and watch the sun set over the rooftops of El Poblado.

 

Most of the rooftops in Medellin won’t let you go in the pool unless you’re a guest of the hotel, but you can use the loungers and bar for free.

 

Here are some of my favourites:

 

  • La Deriva – good sized pool
  • Envy – slightly more bougie. You need to be dressed properly after 6PM to enter.

7. Visit Guatape

Guatape is a colourful town a short journey outside of Medellin famous for its gigantic rock formation El Peñol and the man-made reservoir perfect for watersports.

 

You can visit if for the day by booking a tour from Medellin or stay overnight.

 

Most tours start by taking you to El Penol. Visitors can climb the 740 steps to the top for panoramic views of the reservoir.

 

After you’ll visit the quaint town for lunch. Guatapé’s unique charm stems from its beautifully painted houses, adorned with “zocalos,” depicting the town’s history and culture.

 

To end, the tour will take you on a boat on the reservoir. The iconic Guatapé Reservoir, created in the 1970s for hydroelectric power generation, offers a variety of water activities, including boat tours and water sports.

Guatape is a short trip from Medellin but you have a few options for how to get there. Head to the post below for all the information you need:

 

 

El Penol, Guatape, Colombia

8. Visit Communa 13

Join a tour of one of Medellin’s most famous neighbourhoods.

 

Communa 13 was considered one of the most dangerous parts of Medellin a few years ago.

 

But over the past decade Communa 13 has had an almost complete transformation. Now it’s associated with impressive art and graffiti, street performances and walking tours.

 

Make sure to try the local frozen mango and passion fruit lollies whilst there!

9. Walking Tours

Take a free walking tour in Medellin’s downtown (El Centro) with a friendly local guide.

 

On this 2.5-hour tour, you’ll explore historic areas and learn about the city through stories and urban legends.

 

You’ll discover traditional parks, squares, and streets, and get to know Medellin’s history, culture, and people along the way. It’s a great way to see the city and learn interesting facts from a local perspective.

 

They have tours at 10:00AM and 2:30PM weekdays, and only 10:00AM at the weekends.

Medellin (Centro)

10. Gondola Ride / Parque Arvi

Take a scenic Gondola Ride to Parque Arvi, discovering the city’s diverse neighbourhoods and lush landscapes.

 

The views of Medellin from the gondola are some of the best you’ll get and once you reach Parque Arvi you’ll find even better views, hiking trails through the forest and a local market with great food.

11. Sample The Best Coffee / Brunch Spots

El Poblado has transformed over the years to cater to the growing expat and tourist community. The number of cafes and coffee shops has exploded so you’re in for a treat if you love 

 

I stayed in El Poblado for two weeks, so I have sampled most of them and here are my top picks:

 

    • Café 11:11 Del Depertar– small and tucked away but one of the best breakfasts I had
    • Hijamia – great selection of food, all day brunch and great coffee
    • Mija Masa Madre – the best eggs around
    • Pergamino – this is the best coffee shop in Medellin! They have two locations and the best coffee
    • Bettys Bowls – super healthy salad bowls
Medellin Gondola

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12. Great Hostels

The best place to stay in Medellin is El Poblado. This is the most popular area for travellers, with the highest concentration of cafes, bars and restaurants.

 

El Poblado is split up into many smaller barrios (neighbourhoods).

 

I recommend staying in Manilla where you can find two of the best hostels – Viajero and Los Patios. Both have great rooftops, but Los Patios has a pool and is my overall favourite.

 

They will organise yoga, salsa, or Spanish classes every day to help you bond with your fellow travellers, and there’s even a gym too!

Los Patios is ranked highly in my top hostels in South America. To see the rest of the list, head to the post below:

 

 

city views in South America
hostel bunk beds

13. Great Restaurants

The food scene in Medellin is next level. I had so many great meals there and felt like I was dining out at high quality restaurants most nights for half the price of what it would cost in London.

 

Here are some of my favourites:

 

  • Alambique – great atmosphere and a unique food/cocktail menu
  • OCI.Mde – recommended to me by one of my Colombian Airbnb hosts. You wont be disappointed by the menu
  • Delirio – Mexican fusion food
  • Idilico – simple dishes packed full of flavour.
  • El Botanico – great cocktails

14. Amazon Food Experience

Taking a trip to Leticia whilst in Colombia? Leticia is the gateway to adventures in the Amazon in Colombia.

 

If you don’t get the chance, then the next best thing is dinner at La Chagra.

 

La Chagra is a Amazon inspired restaurant with a tasting menu of 11. Your dishes will include around 50 different ingredients sourced from the Amazon in Colombia. I won’t ruin every dish for you, but you’ll be trying everything from giant river fish to bullet ants!

 

You can also pair it with a cocktail tasting – 4 cocktails, again all inspired by the Amazon.

 

This is an incredible food experience, but we also learnt so much about the Amazon from our waiters. Not for the faint of heart though as there are bugs!

Medellin From Above
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15. Nightlife

The nightlife in El Poblado is unrivalled in South America. Whether you are going out for a few cocktails or staying out until the early hours of the morning, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Start in Provenza on Carrera 35 for a strip of bars and restaurants. Vintrash is one of my favourites.

 

If you are looking for clubs, head a couple of streets down to Parque Lleras. Make sure you go to Perro Negro. Bad Bunny wrote a song about it so it must be special!

16. Stay In A Top Class Airbnb

If you like to treat yourself every now and then whilst on the road, then stay in a fancy Airbnb in Medellin!

 

Medellin is home to many high-rise complexes, and they all have built in gyms, pools and saunas. So why not stay at one for a night or two over a weekend?

 

We found one inside the Wake building which has a steam room, gym, pool, outside hot tub. Depending on which room you book, you can also get a hot tub on your balcony.

 

Here’s the one we stayed at.

 

Well worth it for a night or two to escape the constant hostel grind and just relax!

How Many Days In Medellin 9

Why Skip Medellin?

You may want to skip visiting Medellin for a couple of reasons:

 

  • Crime – local crime has in been back on the rise in 2024 and tourists are often the target. This includes anything from petty theft to armed robbery. Stay at a hostel in Medellin for a week or more and you’ll hear stories of backpackers getting robbed.
  • Touristy – as more backpackers and expats have flooded El Poblado, it has become more touristy. You’ll find your fast-food shops, bougie cafes and homeless people begging for money. If you want a more authentic experience, I recommend staying in Laurelles.
  • Expensive – as more and more expats flood El Poblado, the area has become more expensive. Whilst breakfast and a coffee at one of the cafes I recommend will cost a lot less than it would in the UK or US, you’ll be able to find food cheaper outside of El Poblado. If you want to save money and enjoy more local prices, I recommend staying in Laurelles.

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Colombia?

When it comes to planning your Colombian adventure, January and February are two of the best months to enjoy the best weather.

 

With sunny days and comfortable temperatures, these months offer ideal conditions for exploring Colombia’s diverse landscapes and captivating cities.

 

Additionally, the shoulder seasons of March and September can also provide favorable conditions, blending warm weather with fewer crowds, ideal for backpackers looking for the best deals on tours and acommodation.

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

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