Traveling to Medellin? Here’s the best things to do with 3-4 days in Medellin!
As the capital of Antioquia, a city with year-round pleasant weather, nestled among the hills and mountains of the Andes, and with an interesting yet very complicated past, Medellin is a popular tourist destination in Colombia.
Travelers all around the world love this city, and it is particularly popular with backpackers and digital nomads. Locals are known to be friendly, there is a variety of attractions, and you can find a lot of good food and good nightlife.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how to spend 3 days or 4 days in Medellin, including an in-depth look at all the spots I recommend and insider tips for visiting Medellin!
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How Medellin is Pronounced
In Colombian Spanish, the double-L in Medellin is not pronounced as a “y” sound, it’s actually pronounced more like a “j” or “ch” sound. So Medellin is pronounced like “Meda-jeen” or “Meda-cheen.”
A Few Fun Facts About Medellin
- Medellin was the first city in the world to use cable cars for public transportation
- The term paisa refers to a person from Medellin
- Medellin was home to one of the most infamous (and deadly) drug lords in the world – Pablo Escobar
- Medellin has been recognized as one of the most innovative cities in the world
So, How Many Days Should You Spend in Medellin?
Obviously, since the title of this post is 3 or 4 days in Medellin, that gives you a pretty good idea to my answer to that! 😉 However! Before we dive in, I want to break down this answer a little bit further:
Two days in Medellin is enough to see the highlights of the city.
If you have 3 days in Medellin, you can see everything the city has to offer OR you can spend your third day in Guatapé, a delightfully charming and colorful city about 1.5 hours outside of Medellin.
With 4 days in Medellin, you can see everything in the city and visit Guatapé too!
A Proposed Itinerary for 3 to 4 Days in Medellin
To help you better gauge, and to better illustrate how many days you should spend in Medellin, I’ve put together a proposed itinerary for the city. The following sections have a detailed breakdown of what to do in Medellin for 2-4 days, including my best tips for each spot.
At the end of the Itinerary section, you can find a summary of each day in Medellin and suggested things to do.
Finally, at the very, very end of this post, I’ve included a lot of helpful information for visiting Medellin in particular, and Colombia in general (like how to get around!).
Medellin Day 1 Itinerary
For day 1 in Medellin, you’ll be spending the majority of your time in Candelaria, plus 2 great stops at the beginning and end of the day. If you only have one day in Medellin, this is a great way to experience a lot that the city has to offer.
This little town, or “pueblito” is set on a hill in Medellin, with views overlooking the city. It’s a touristy re-creation of a typical small, Colombian village, with the town square and church and colorful buildings.
I know I’m probably supposed to be a little disparaging of the place since it’s obviously a blatant tourist attraction, but we actually really liked it.
I’m sure a big part of that is because we arrived here at 8:30am, about 1/2 hour before the shops and restaurants open, and right before most tourists arrived. There were only a few other people in the area as we walked around, admiring the colors and the cute little setup.
Besides having the town square, and associated shops and cafes, there are several nice walking trails, and some truly great views over the city. It was a fairly peaceful and beautiful spot early in the morning. We thought the area was charming and sweet and a great thing to do in Medellin first thing in the morning.
I’d highly recommend you also come early, and then stay longer if you want to shop and eat up at Pueblito Paisa.
There is a walking path up to the top of the hill where the pueblito is, but it is quite a long walk. Cabs can take you all the way to the top, and that might be the better choice if you’re not up for a decently long uphill walk.
- Hours: Shops start opening around 9am
- Cost: No cost to enter
Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellin
This beautiful, large, brick cathedral sits on the Parque Bolivar in La Candelaria of Medellin, and was such a gorgeous and interesting church to visit. The entirely brick interior was unique and lent an interesting feel to the structure.
Note: The area around Calle 57 in the Estacion Villa neighborhood (west of the Metropolitan Cathedral) was super sketchy – I would not enter. Just make sure you head south from the cathedral (which is the direction of all the tourist sites, you should be going that way anyway) .
San Alejo Handicraft Market in Parque de Bolivar
If you’re visiting Medelin on the first Saturday of the month, you must stop at the San Alejo market in Parque de Bolivar.
Note: You will see Bolivar parks, monuments, and plazas all over Colombia (and much of South America) as he led the revolution against the Spanish. He is the South American equivalent of George Washington and has similar acclaim and namesakes. This plaza features a nice statue of him and some informational plaques.
This market had dozens and dozens of stalls of handmade goods and handicrafts. We noticed mostly jewelry, purses, wallets, clothing, and art pieces for sale. The market had a chill and pleasant vibe to it, with people unhurriedly strolling around, and it wasn’t too busy.
The area right next to the church is more of a flea market, and the part of the market furthest from the church had some food for sale. This is where we tried solteritas (a crunchy, orange-flavored snack served with orange jelly and creme), and where we got some fresh-squeezed sugar cane + lime juice.
If the market hasn’t satisfied your shopping itch, keep going south from the Parque de Bolivar down Carrera 49 for a nicer shopping area.
Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe
This was one of the most unique buildings we saw in Medellin – with it’s cool checkerboard exterior done in a Gothic Revival style. Originally, the “palace” was built to be the seat of government, but before it was even finished, it was changed to become a cultural center.
The building is most interesting to look at from the outside. However, there are some art galleries inside, and you can go up on the roof for a view over the plaza.
This building sits right on the Plaza Botero, and is a funky and cool backdrop for all the Botero sculptures situated around the square.
This wide open plaza is shaded by trees, is right next to the Palace of Culture and the Museum of Antioquia, and houses 23 very large sculptures by Fernando Botero. Botero is a contemporary artist, and is the most famous artist in Colombia, possibly all of Latin America currently. His style is very distinctive – called “boterismo” – with large, exaggeratedly fat subjects.
This is really a one-of-a-kind plaza – it’s rare to see so many amazing works of art just out in the open for the general public to enjoy. This is a must do spot to visit during your 4 days in Medellin!
All of these sculptures are extremely large scale, and are done in shiny a shiny bronze metal – the distinctive style of Botero sculptures.
Note that on a map, the Botero Plaza looks like it’s a park or a greenspace. While there are trees, it is definitely paved. We noticed this a lot – squares and plazas are often marked in green on Google maps (which usually indicates a park), but in reality they are usually plazas featuring paved paths, some trees, and very little grass.
Museum of Antioquia
Bordering the Plaza de Botero, this museum is dedicated first and foremost to the works of Fernando Botero.
Botero personally donated over 100 to the Museum of Antioquia. The top floor of the museum is completely dedicated to his works (mostly paintings), with the first and second floors holding paintings from other Colombian and international artists.
This is a great place to see more of the works and paintings of one of the greatest and most-esteemed artists in Colombian history.
- Hours: 10am-5:30pm, closed Sundays
- Cost: 21,000 COP (5 USD)
Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
This church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, is a beautiful colonial church right in the heart of Candelaria, and just opposite Parque Berrio. This area is extremely crowded and busy – as you can see from the picture, there are many vendors set up right in front of the church, and Parque Berrio (again, more like a square) is full of people and vendors and people entering/exiting the metro.
Once you go inside, however, the experience becomes much more serene. The church is designed in a stark white with dark wood design, with some beautifully tiled floors. I liked the Metropolitan Cathedral more, but this was still a nice church to stop by.
Walking around the Candelaria area is an interesting way to see a lot more of what Medellin is like, particularly because different areas have very different feels to it.
For example, we really liked Calle 52, which curves into Calle 50. It was a really nice street, with wide sidewalks, trees, nice shops, many food options, and still many street vendors, but it also wasn’t too crowded or chaotic.
The area around Carrera 53 (particularly between Plaza Cisneros and heading north) had a totally different vibe. It was really busy, crowded, and the sidewalks were lined with stalls and street vendors, in addition to the regular storefronts in the buildings. It was a cacophony of sites and sounds, but also interesting to see and observe.
You could find stalls specializing in all sorts of different niches. For example, one stand sold exclusively office supplies, another sold cleaning supplies, another sold pest control. There are a lot of clothing stores in this area as well – I bought a cute skirt here!
As I mentioned above, I would avoid the Estacion Villa/Calle 57 area of Candelaria, as it felt extremely unsafe as we drove through.
Museo Casa de la Memoria (only if you have time)
The House of Memory Museum Museum of Remembrance had some very interesting interactive and multimedia exhibits, that paid tribute to the many victims of the violence from drug cartels and guerilla groups that terrorized Medellin for years.
We definitely got a sense of sadness and the toll of the violence, and the complicated history of Medellin. However, we felt that the exhibits did not really tell the “story” very well, which we would have enjoyed. It was more of a tribute to the people that died and the violence they endured.
I don’t want to downplay the awfulness of that period of time, but we felt the museum was a bit piecemeal in its exhibits, instead of guiding you through the story, timeline, and what happened.
For Colombians who are very aware of the intricacies of Medellin’s history, this was probably a good museum. For foreigners who were still learning the history, we were left wanting more information.
Some of the exhibits have English captions, but many do not. We used the Google Translate app (not the browser) and used the camera translate feature to read a lot of the text of the exhibits. You just hold your phone camera over the text and the translation will appear on top of the Spanish words on screen.
NOTE: Because I think this is a good and interesting museum, but not a MUST SEE place, I would only do this museum if you have time during your morning/afternoon in Candelaria before you go to the Comuna 13 tour. If you don’t end up having time, I think it’s okay to skip it.
- Cost: Free, but you do need to register at the entrance
- Hours: 9am-6pm Tues-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat-Sun, closed Mondays
Comuna 13 Tour
Comuna 13 is what Medellin is best known for, both for its history and for its present day tours. It was for sure the thing I was most excited to do during our 4 days in Medellin, and was such an interesting experience.
Comuna 13 used to be the center of the drug trade in Medellin, and was controlled by drug lords and guerillas for years. In fact, it was actually completely cut off from the rest of the city of Medellin for a long time. In the early 2000’s, the government decided to launch a few operations to take down the drug lords and guerillas, which ended up being fairly successful.
However, the years after the operation were almost equally brutal for the citizens of Comuna 13, as the paramilitary group the government tasked with patrolling was also corrupt and terrorized the people of the Comuna.
Today, drug trading is still prevalent in the Comuna, but the neighborhood really has undergone a transformation, is open to the rest of the city, and is considered a safe place to live and visit.
Interestingly, graffiti and street art became a big source of relief and expression in the Comuna, with beautiful and meaningful pieces popping up all over the Comuna.
This is one activity you can’t miss in Medellin – I would recommend it to anyone and everyone visiting the city.
This tour is one of the best Comuna 13 tours in Medellin. The guides are fun, interesting, and engaging, telling stories and in-depth details about the history of the Comuna, the city of Medellin, and showing and describing the significance of the beautifulu pieces of art you’ll see. 👉Book this Comuna 13 graffiti tour here!
Parque de las Luces
This square, officially known as the Plaza Cisneros, is filled with 300 skinny stone pillars. By day they are interesting, but they light up at night, creating a really cool effect. This area used to be a very dangerous spot, but was revitalized and renovated into this really lovely square. A library is right next to the plaza, and there are benches and places for people to hang out – although it wasn’t too crowded.
If you come to see the lights at night, take a taxi, and don’t linger. It’s not particularly dangerous, but I would still exercise caution.
Pay attention here to the giant birdhouses tucked away in the trees! You’ll actually find these at every plaza with each having a unique style.
Day 2 of Your 4 Days in Medellin
For the second of your days in Medellin, you’ll be doing a few fun activities outside the city center.
This is one of the funnest activities you can do during your 4 days in Medellin. Thanks to its proximity to the Andes Mountains, you can do a fun and relatively inexpensive paragliding adventure just outside of the city.
This activity went from about 8am-12pm, which included the driving time there and back, the flying time, plus the time we had to wait for the winds to cooperate
. We went ahead and booked a driver through the tour company (another 100,000 COP – about 23 USD) for the morning. This was a good choice, as buses didn’t go nearby the paragliding spot and we didn’t see any taxis go by either.
We had a fantastic time paragliding over the hills near Medellin, with the city visible in the distance and farms, jungle, and waterfalls beneath. The company was really professional and had a really efficient and smooth operation going. I felt very safe and well-taken care of here!
You can add on a GoPro the day of for 50,000 COP (about 12 USD)
This is a really fun adventure that is suitable for many ages and levels of fitness – I mean, how often do you get to say that you’ve gone paragliding in the Andes? 👉Book this paragliding adventure here!
Parque Arvi/metrocable K/L
A popular excursion in Medellin is riding the cable cars that have been installed in the outskirts of the city to help connect the different comunas to the main city thoroughfares. You can check out the metro/cable car map here.
To get another perspective on Communa 13, you can take the J line from San Javier to La Aurora.
However, the most popular route for tourists is to take the K and L line up to Parque Arvi, a quiet and serene woodland park at the top of the mountain.
To do this, take metro line A direction Niquia and get off at Acevedo. You can transfer to Line K at this station. Line K is a cable car that takes you over the neighborhood and partway up the mountain. You’ll get off at the Santo Domingo station, and transfer to line L, which is the cable line that will take you the rest of the way up and over the mountain to Parque Arvi.
You will need to buy a separate ticket for Line L at Santo Domingo, as this section is more a tourist attraction than part of the public transportation system. A ticket for Line L costs 11,000 COP each way per person.
Taking the metrocable car from Santo Domingo to Parque Arvi is a whole attraction in its own right. The trip took about 20 minutes – a really long time for a cable car ride! You ride up the mountain, passing houses stacked close together. The farther up you go, the more you see animals grazing in pastures, and the scenery becomes more wild and natural, covered in greenery.
When you get to the top of the mountain, you think you’re almost done, but no! The line actually continues for a really long time across the top of the mountain, crossing over the tops of trees in the forest. It was incredibly scenic and beautiful, and we really enjoyed this ride up.
At Parque Arvi
When you reach the exit the cable car at Parque Arvi, you can wander around and explore the area. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot to do unless you are willing to drop some more money.
There is sometimes a little market with food and souvenirs to buy. There’s a cafe, and a few, short walking paths, even a r-ecreation of an ancient home. You can also take a guided tour through the more natural paths in the trees. During the daytime hours, there are some activities for kids.
You can walk about 30 minutes to a waterfall area. The waterfall was a fairly gentle cascade, but the stream was pretty, the path was nicely maintained, and there was a playground and picnic tables, and just general areas in nature to enjoy. There is also a bus from this area that you can ride back into town (dropping you off near La Candelaria).
For us, the funnest part of visiting Parque Arvi was the ride up to it.
A Bit of Very Specific Advice: If Line K Isn’t Running
I should mention that if Line K is not in service, I would just skip Parque Arvi altogether. When we went, Line K was down for maintenance for several weeks. I don’t think this happens all that frequently, but it does happen. It was very tricky and disruptive to get from the Acevedo station to the Santo Domingo station, since we couldn’t take the cable car.
We tried calling an Uber or Cabify, which did not work. We tried hailing a cab, but there were very few cabs and a really high demand for them, so that was unsuccessful. Eventually we found a bus that said they were going up to Santo Domingo.
That bus ride took well over 1.5 hours, and involved this large bus swinging through tiny, narrow, switchback streets as it went up the mountain. We were literally stopped at one point for 10 minutes while our bus going up and a bus coming down the street tried to navigate around each other.
When we were almost to the top, we again ran into the most massive traffic jam, made practically impossible by the large busses and number of cars trying to navigate streets that really should only accommodate one-way traffic. We (and a bunch of other people) eventually got out and walked the last ten minutes to the metro station, past all the stopped cars.
Then on the way back down from Parque Arvi, we just took a bus from the park, down the backend of the mountain, to the middle of Medellin and skipped that whole mess altogether. This bus ride still took 1.5 hours, though, but at least we knew we weren’t going to get stuck in the street.
I know this is very niche advice, but if Line K isn’t running during your 4 days in Medellin, it’s not worth trying to go up. If you still want to ride the cable cars, I would head over to the J Line and take the cable car over Comuna 13 instead.
Futbol Game OR Parque Ileras
South American futbol is something else! If there happens to be a game when you’re in Medellin, I would definitely try to go!
As an FYI, the most intense fans sit right behind their teams’ goal. If you want a somewhat calmer experience, buy tickets for the sidelines. but the real party is happening behind the goal!
For the schedule and tickets, search “Atanasio Giradot Stadium schedule” to see upcoming events and various ticketing sites.
Alternatively, if you want to have an authenic Colombian futbol adventure, consider this activity where you go to the game with a local who’s an avid futbol fan. Our experience going with a local to a futbol game was LIT.
You’ll be taken to the best spots before, during, and after the game to cheer with fans and other travelers who are all excited to watch their favorite clubs compete. It’s a whole different experience in its own right! (And includes tickets in the price)
👉Book this Futbol Game with a Local experience here!
Option 2 – Parque Ileras
Although I think going to a futbol game in South America is a fun and cultural event in its own right (whether or not you like soccer/futbol) if sports just are not your thing, then I would recommend spending your evening enjoying the nightlife in the Parque Ileras area.
Parque Ileras is known as the party area and is home to many bars, clubs, and restaurants. If you don’t go to a game, then hit up the nightlife in this neighborhood. The actual park that is this area’s namesake is quite small, but the entire area has lots of options for eating and drinking.
Medellin Day 3 – Take a Day Trip to Guatapé
Guatapé is one of the most colorful little pueblos in Colombia! Near the town is the large monolithic rock, La Piedra del Penol, which you can climb up to get a view over the reservoir of Guatapé, which has dozens of little inlets and craggles.
Our day in Guatapé was one of our favorite days during our entire Colombia trip – you should for plan to spend one of your days in Medellin on this day trip.
The town is about 1.5 hours outside of Medellin. You can read all the details about how to get to Guatapé and what to do there in this dedicated guide!
Medellin Day 4
Plaza Minorista Market
To kick off the final day of your 4 days in Medellin, hit up the Plaza Minorista! This fruit market is a large produce market in a covered warehouse outside of La Candelaria. It sold a mix of wholesale and direct to consumers, and was full of hustle and bustle as people wove their way through the stalls, searching out the best produce.
We saw some really interesting things here! Of course, there was a huge variety of tropical fruit that you just don’t see in the US, but there were also beautiful displays full of vegetables, or interesting products being sold, like banana leaves, unique drinks/sodas, candies, flowers, and more.
There were also some areas that were grouped with like products, like the corn on the cob row. This row was super entertaining to walk down, as each stall was filled with corn on the cob, and workers would be using a special tool to quickly “shave” all the corn off the cob. An entire cob of corn was removed in just a few seconds – it was crazy to watch them work!
This is a great place to come where the locals are and visit a really authentic part of Colombian life. However, do watch out for pickpockets here, and definitely, definitely take a taxi there and back and don’t wander around the streets in the neighborhood. The area surrounding the market is one of the more dangerous in town, but you’ll be just fine if you just visit the market.
Hours: 4:30am-6pm (closes 3pm on Sunday)
Note: There is another local produce market in Medellin, the Placita de Florez market. This one is within walking distance from the rest of the tourist sites in Candelaria. Because of it’s proximity in downtown, the Placita de Florez is definitely the more convenient market to visit, but it is significantly smaller than Plaza Minorista.
We really liked the vast size and huge variety of produce here at Plaza Minorista, and do think it’s worth coming out to see. However, if you’re short on time or just prefer to stay closer to downtown, the Placita de Florez market is a good second choice.
Cerro El Volador Natural Park
Cerro el Volador is a large nature preserve in the middle of the city. Its name means “floating mountain.” While you can take a taxi to the base of the hill, vehicles are blocked from continuing to the top about a third of the way up. You’ll need to climb the remainder yourself.
This climb is just along the road, but there are also more trails through the trees you can find. One of these starts by the parking lot the taxi drops you off at and others connect to the road as you climb.
Once you get to the top, there is a loop that goes around the top of the mountain. This loop is on a nice walkway, but you are more in nature, have some great viewpoints over the valley, and are seeing some more exotic plants and flowers.
Along this top loop, there are a couple spots where you can cut up to the top of the hill in the middle of the loop. This gives you the best views over Medellin, and the most “nature-y” experience, as you are finally off the paved road and can go up and over some grassy areas. These grassy areas are also an ancient cemetery, with some tombs.
This is also the nicest place to hang out if you want to just relax and have a picnic. We also saw people flying kites here.
There are some food stalls, restaurants, and bathroom options on the loop at the top of Cerro el Volador. It’s a nice, peaceful spot, and it wasn’t very crowded even on a weekend. This was one of our favorite places in all of Medellin, and felt like a hidden gem in the city.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 5am-5pm most days, 5am-7pm Tuesday and Thursday
Parroquia El Señor de las Misericordias Church
This church, the Lord of Mercy Parish, was one that we saw from the metro and thought looked interesting, so we wanted to come back and check it out. It was a really pretty church, with a very tall, inspiring spire with cool carvings along the top. At night, the spire lights up, which is very beautiful.
This church is in a slightly dodgy part of town. We felt okay-ish during the day, but for sure would not want to wander here at night. It’s not far from the next two attractions on this list below, so I would consider taking a taxi to and from this church when you are on your way to the other spots.
Cementerio Museo de San Pedro
This hidden gem in Medellin was a delightful little spot to visit on an afternoon. This is a working and functioning cemetery, but in “1999 it was declared a national Asset of Cultural Interest by the Ministry of Culture, due to its historical, aesthetic, architectural and ritual values.” (source)
The grounds are beautiful, as palms and tropical plants provide shade to the walkways, large tombs are lined up along the path, and the curved wall of the mausoleums of tombs provided a lot of visual interest to the cemetery.
At the back of the cemetery was a chapel with music playing. It’s a nice spot to stroll through and is definitely a hidden gem on this 4 day Medellin itinerary.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 8am-5:30pm, daily
On the weekends there are a ton of friends and families out together in this park. It is quite large and hosts a variety of different types of trees, but not many flowers.
- Hours: 9am-4pm daily, closed Monday
- Cost: Free, but you do have to register on site with an employee, who will ask for your ID
Mirador Las Palmas
This spot is very well known and offers a pretty view over the city and an excellent sunset location. It’s very very busy at sunset though! Cars were parked several rows deep and there were so many people. You’ll also find plenty of vendors selling food.
This spot is a bit father away from the city — I think you’d have a hard time getting a taxi or driver from an app up here to pick you up, so if you want to go, arrange a ride where the driver will wait. We stopped here on the way to the airport, as it’s right on the way.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Medellin?
As you can see, with 4 days in Medellin, you can see everything and have a lot of fun and unique experiences, and take a daytrip to Guatapé. If you have just 3 days in Medellin, I would still do the daytrip and then hit up the rest of the spots that you can in the city.
Since we loved our day trip to Guatapé so much, I would recommend that however long you spend in Medellin, you spend one of those days in Guatapé.
A Summary of Your Itinerary for 2-4 Days in Medellin
Medellin Day 1:
- Pueblito Paisa
- Candelaria: The Metropolitan Cathedral, the San Alejo market (if you’re there on a first Saturday), the Palace of Culture, the Plaza Botero, the Museum of Antioquia, and the Basilica Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, plus the Museum of Rememberance if there is time
- Comuna 13 tour
- After the tour, head back into La Candelaria and see the Parque de Las Luces.
Day 2 in Medellin:
- Head outside the city for a paragliding adventure
- Back in the city, head up north and take the cable car up to Parque Arvi
- Finish up your day at a futbol match, or down at Parque Ileras
Medellin Day 3:
- Enjoy a day trip to Guatapé
Day 4 in Medellin:
- Plaza Minorista Fruit Market
- Cerro el Volador
- Parroquia El Señor de las Misericordias Church
- Cementerio Museo
- Jardin Botanico
Where to Stay in Medellin
We chose to stay in the Laureles neighborhood of Medellin – we liked that it was quiet, residential, and there seemed to be hardly any other tourists around, just locals. There were a lot of great restaurants in the neighborhood, and it felt safe to be walking around at nighttime.
We stayed at the Hotel Asturias Medellin, a charming and affordable hotel with really friendly and helpful staff (many of whom were English-speaking), located on a quiet side street.
We enjoyed the free, traditional Colombian breakfast every morning, the strong wifi, and a nice place to come back to at the end of the day. We also really liked the little takeout restaurant across the street – the pastels there were delicious!
The TL;DR is that this is a great hotel in a really nice location for exploring Medellin. 👉Book Hotel Asturias Medellin here!
How to Get Around Medellin
The metro system in Medellin is safe, efficient, and easy to use. However, it is limited where it runs, so there are times when you won’t be anywhere near a metro line. You can access the metro line map here.
To get a ticket for the metro, you’ll buy tickets at the ticket stand – there are actual humans working the ticket stand, it’s not a machine. Rides cost 3000 COP (about 75 cents USD) The first time you ride, you’ll also need to buy the refillable card (it’s just a plastic “credit” card), which is 6000 COP. You can add as many rides as you want on here, but you do need to pay in cash.
The nice thing is that couples or families can share the same card – just scan and walk through and then pass it back to the next person.
The bus system was honestly really confusing to us (and we’re usually pros at navigating public transit!). Schedules and routes weren’t posted anywhere, you really just had to ask bus drivers that came by. This is one means of transportation I really wouldn’t recommend in Medellin.
Ride Sharing Apps
There is Uber in Medellin, but most people use Cabify or InDriver. Cabify works exactly like Uber, but InDriver is different in that the passenger puts in an fare offer, and then the driver can accept or counter that offer. Cabify is linked to your credit card, but with InDriver you will pay the agreed-upon fare in cash.
All of the ride-sharing apps in Colombia only worked marginally well. We often would try to get a ride through these apps, but more often than not we would never actually get connected with a driver, and ended up having to grab a taxi off the street.
We always preferred using an app, because they would have the address already in the app (instead of us having to tell them in our non-existent Spanish). We also just had genuinely better experiences with the drivers we got through the app.
That being said, we also had plenty of totally fine experiences riding in taxis… but I recommend the apps if they work for you.
It was pretty easy to hail a cab in Medellin, and generally, we had okay experiences with the taxi drivers. Fares start at 3800 COP, so make sure the driver resets to that amount when you get in. Occasionally, we didn’t get exact change from a cabbie, but this was generally in very small amounts (e.g. rounding from 2400 to 2500 COP – literally pennies).
💰 Almost all of our rides in the city in taxis or Uber equivalents were between 8,000-14,000 COP (about 2-3 USD)
Traffic in Medellin
The traffic in Medellin was some of the craziest we’ve ever experienced (and we’ve driven in Morocco, Rio de Janeiro, and Costa Rica.) While Morocco did have some aspects that were crazier, the amount of scooters, people just zipping around and cutting people off, and just how wild people drove was A LOT. So be prepared for some wild rides.
Also, be prepared for the fact that almost no taxis or Cabify/Indriver cars had seatbelts. I don’t understand this, but literally no one seemed to use seatbelts there.
Getting From the Airport to Medellin
The Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Medellin (MDE) is pretty far out of the city and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to reach the city.
There’s no metro line to the airport, and buses take longer and would require a transfer/taxi/long walk anyway. I recommend just taking a taxi, or getting a ride through Cabify/InDriver.
We talked to several taxi drivers at the airport in Medellin and the lowest they would go was 100,000 COP. However, we were able to get a driver from Cabify for 70,000 COP. While I said above that we didn’t have good luck getting connected with drivers on the apps, the airport was the exception – we had great luck getting rides via the ride-sharing apps at the airports.
👉Prefer to handle as few logistics as possible? You can also book a private car from the airport to your hotel in Medellin.
Other Practical Information and FAQ for Spending 4 Days in Medellin
What and Where to Eat in Medellin
I actually have two other posts fully dedicated to food in Colombia and/or Medellin: 9 Best Restaurants in Medellin, and 34 Traditional Colombian Foods to Try in Colombia.
Is Medellin Walkable?
With some areas, Medellin is very walkable. For example, most of the tourist attractions are in the Candelaria neighborhood of downtown, and you can easily walk between them all.
However, there are definitely some sites (e.g. Parque Arvi, Cerro el Volador, and the Plaza Minorista, to name a few examples) you will not be able to walk to and you will need to take some form to transportation to get to.
Additionally, the two most recommended areas for visitors to stay are Laureles and El Poblado. These areas are clean and safe for visitors, but they are also well outside the city center and not close to hardly any sites – you will definitely need to transit in from where you are staying.
Best Time to Visit Medellin
Medellin maintains a very pleasant average high temperature of about 77 F/25 C year round. (They don’t call it the City of Eternal Spring for nothing!) Here are a few more things to know about weather in Medellin:
Medellin does tend to be mostly cloudy or completely overcast throughout the year, though you will have periods of sun as well. The wettest seasons in Medellin are the spring and fall, with the dry season running mid-December to mid-February. Mid-June to mid-August is kind of a shoulder season for rain, with more rain than the winter, but less rain than spring and fall.
The best time to visit Medellin for the best weather would be the winter months of December and January. Tourism is then, unsurprisingly, high during these months. The summer is a secondary good option for traveling during good weather. The spring and fall are best if you want to avoid other tourists.
For more climate data on Medellin, click here.
Is Medellin Safe?
A big question people have before visiting Medellin (or even Colombia in general), is if it’s safe. While Colombia has had a very turbulent past, today it is considered a safe destination for travelers.
That being said, I would exercise caution and mainly stay in the tourist areas during your days in Medellin. Some neighborhoods in Medellin can be dangerous – I would be hesitant to wander far off the tourist track.
While it’s generally safe during the day, Candelaria is less safe after dark. I would exercise caution at night and tend to take a taxi or an Uber/Cabify after dark. I generally wouldn’t recommend staying in La Candelaria, and instead definitely recommend staying in Laureles or El Poblado.
Petty crime is common, particularly getting your phone snatched. Be extra vigilant with you belongings and phone, and be cautious about pulling it out on the street. We liked using these wrist lanyards for our phones to provide some extra security if we needed to have it out .
Walk confidently, be careful with your phone and money, say no immediately to people who come up to you on the street, don’t be out late, and stay in the tourist neighborhoods and you should be just fine.
Is Medellin Expensive?
No, I felt like Medellin was very inexpensive and a reasonably priced city in Colombia.
Taxis were around $2-4 around town, although it was between $16-23 to get to/from the airport. Restaurant meals were between $10-15 total for two people, and our hotel cost about $40/night. Entrance fees were pretty low (museums were free, others cost $2-5).
Overall, we enjoyed doing a wide variety of things with our 4 days in Medellin without spending very much money.
A Few More General Tips for Visiting Medellin
➡️ELECTRICITY: Colombia uses 110 voltage and type A or B plugs. This is the same voltage and plugs as the USA, so if you are coming from the states, you won’t need any type of travel adaptors.
➡️TIPPING: A 10% tip is often automatically added to your bill at a restaurant. If it is not added, its polite to leave 10%.
➡️ CAN YOU DRINK THE TAP WATER: Yes, the tap water is safe to drink. However, know that if you ask for water in restaurants, they will bring you bottled water.
➡️MONEY: The currency is the Colombian peso, which uses the sign “$” and is abbreviated as COP. At the time of writing, about 4500 pesos equal 1 USD.
Cash is king in Colombia – while occasionally you will find a restaurant or hotel that takes credit card, the vast, vast majority of the time we had to pay in cash. ATMs are plentiful around the city.
➡️LANGUAGE: Spanish is the main language in Colombia, and most people in the country do not speak English. Do not plan on speaking to locals in English in Colombia. We do not speak Spanish hardly at all (just a few words) and we got along okay by relying heavily on Google Translate.
I would highly recommend downloading the Google Translate app – it works a little bit faster than the web browser, and there are options where people talk to text translation feature, as well as a camera translation feature.
The camera translation is a nifty little feature in the Google translate app. In the app, point the camera at a paragraph of text and the translation will appear over the words on the screen. This feature is very helpful for reading restaurant menus and placards in museums).
➡️PLUMBING: Do not flush your toilet paper in Colombia – the plumbing pipes are old and not set up to handle the TP in the system. Just toss your toilet paper in the bin next to the toilet.
Also, occasionally at public bathrooms, there won’t be toilet paper in the stall, there will be a dispenser at the entrance to the bathroom that you have to take toilet paper from and into the stall with you. We only saw this a few times, but it does happen, so be aware.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance When Visiting Medellin!
Securing some travel insurance is an important part of prepping for any international trip – you never know when something might happen, and your regular insurance generally won’t cover you overseas. Costs for a medical emergency on vacation can add up extremely fast, so it’s just better to be safe than sorry. (If covid has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what could happen!)
I like booking insurance at Insure My Trip, as they offer a variety of plans with different coverages to choose from, so you can find the right option for you. Plus, they have great customer support if you need help before, during, or after your trip.
Spending 3-4 Days in Medellin: Final Thoughts
Medellin has some really cool sites to see and an interesting culture. This guide includes a lot of the top sites and a lot of hidden gems as well, which hopefully gives you a lot of ideas for your trip. Most travelers really enjoy their days in Medellin, and I hope you do too!
Check Out My Other Colombia Articles:
- Bogota vs. Medellin: Which Colombian City Should You Visit
- 14 Best Things to Do in Salento (A Travel Guide)
- How to Get from Pereira to Salento
- Where to Stay in Salento (3 Best Areas + Hotels)
- A Detailed Guide To the Cocora Valley Hike in Colombia in 2022
- 3 Days in Bogota: Absolute Best Things to Do
- Where to Stay in Bogota: 4 Best Areas + Hotels
- How to Spend a Perfect 3 Days in Cartagena
- How Much Does a Trip to Colombia Cost? Our Colombia Travel Budget