Medellin Itinerary: How to Spend 1 to 5 Days in Medellin, Colombia
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This blog is a day by day Medellin itinerary outlining how to spend 1 to 5 days in Medellin, Colombia. If you have limited time in Medellin it’s best to have your Medellin itinerary all planned out to maximize your time – and here you can do just that!
Medellin is one of Colombia’s most impressive cities, making it popular with tourists from all over the world. However, with the huge range of things to do and see, planning your Medellin itinerary can seem challenging.
Well, lucky for you, we’ve been to Medellin on three different occasions and have spent a combined total of seven weeks in the city. So it’s safe to say we are experts when it comes to exploring Medellin as a tourist!
Based on all of the things we’ve done in Medellin we’ve created this Medellin itinerary planning guide. You can choose a combination of any days you’d like to suit the amount of time you want to spend in Medellin and your own interests.
So here we go, an ideal Medellin itinerary suitable for spending 1, 2, 3, 4 OR 5 days in Medellin!
Day 1 – Poblado, Communa 13, and Salsa
Morning – Explore El Poblado
This morning you’re going to take it easy and explore the trendiest neighborhood in all of Medellin which is conveniently located out your front door (if you stay in any of my recommended hotels below.)
El Poblado is a beautiful and safe area in Medellin. Between the luscious parks, boutique stores, and amazing restaurants it is a must-visit on any Medellin itinerary.
Go for a wander, grab an amazing brunch with local Colombian coffee, and get your bearings in this area which will be your “home” for the next couple of days.
Breakfast recommendation: Head over to Pergamino for brunch and coffee. This trendy cafe serves the BEST coffee in Poblado as well as awesome food (try their avocado and feta toast, it’s amazing!)
Afternoon – Communa 13 Walking Tour
No Medellin itinerary is complete without a visit to Communa 13. This neighborhood was once one of the most unsafe areas in all of Medellin, but today it is quite the opposite and boasts beautiful graffiti, views over the city, and a lively atmosphere.
The best way to enjoy Communa 13 is on a guided walking tour. This way, your guide will be able to show you the most interesting areas as well as share stories along the way.
You can choose to take the metro on your own and join a free walking tour or opt for a paid guided tour with pick up in El Poblado. No matter what you choose though, you need to ensure a Communa 13 tour makes its way onto your Medellin itinerary as to me, it is one of the absolute best things to do in Medellin.
Lunch recommendation: You’ll likely still be full from your brunch in Poblado, so just grab some empanadas for lunch. There are tons of street food stands around Communa 13 or on the way to the metro station. Typical empanadas in Medellin are made from beef or potato.
Evening – Pizza and Salsa
After enjoying your afternoon in Communa 13 it’s time to head back to Poblado for dinner. My favorite restaurant in Medellin is a place called Cafe Zorba, and they serve the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Cafe Zorba only serves vegetarian food, but believe me, as a fellow meat-eater I was incredibly impressed with how tasty vegetarian pizza can be. Try the Espinica pizza and you will not be disappointed.
Cafe Zorba also serves massive cocktails for a reasonable price and they often have live music. Try to go for dinner before 7 pm though if you don’t want to have to wait for a table.
After dinner, it’s time for salsa! Head to Buena Vista or take a cab to Son Habana. These are both popular salsa clubs in Medellin. Even if you’re not an experienced salsa dancer it’s fun to go just to watch the talented dancers.
Going to a salsa club in any Medellin itinerary is essential. So, even if you’re too tired to go out on night one, be sure to sneak it in another night!
Day 2 – Downtown, cable cars, and sunset with a view
Morning – Downtown Walking Tour
This morning you’re going to explore “Centro” or the downtown area of Medellin. In all honesty, you don’t need a pricy tour to do this as one of the best downtown tours of Medellin is FREE! The only catch is that you must book it online 24 hours in advance to secure your spot.
Head to Real City’s website and book your free walking tour downtown the day before to prevent being turned away when you show up.
Take the metro to Alpujarra Station and you’ll meet your tour guide here at 10:20 am. The walking tour lasts for about 3 hours and will show you all of the best places in downtown Medellin.
It is also a tour full of history and gives you the chance to ask any questions you might have to the very knowledgeable guide.
Breakfast recommendation: Head to Betty’s Bowls for a healthy breakfast. This restaurant is right in Poblado and is one of the highest-rated places to eat in all of Medellin. They open early at 8 am so you have time to eat there before heading to your tour.
Tip: If taking the metro sounds intimidating, ask your hotel or hostel about directions for navigating it. The metro is very safe and easy to use so you honestly should have no problems. Of course, taxis are also very cheap in Medellin and you can also take a taxi instead.
Afternoon – Parque Arvi
Once the walking tour ends have a bite to eat before jumping back on the metro. Head to Acevedo Station where you’ll transfer on to the “metro cable” or cable cars directly after getting off the actual metro.
This is technically public transport, but it has also become a tourist attraction because of the amazing views from the cable cars. Take the car all the way to the final stop (Santa Domingo) and then get off and transfer to the next cable car.
Keep heading up until you reach Parque Arvi. Once at Parque Arvi you can explore walking trails or just relax. To me, taking the cable cars is more exciting than the park itself, so you don’t need much time here. Be sure to head down around 4 pm so you don’t end up waiting in line forever or missing the last cars down (at 6 pm.)
Lunch recommendation: Grad a “menu del dia” in the downtown area. Almost every restaurant will offer it and you’ll get a Colombian classic lunch for cheap (plus it will be huge!)
Evening – Rooftop Bar Sunset
Head back to Poblado and head to Los Patios Hostel. This massive hostel has a gorgeous rooftop bar with some of the best views in all of Medellin. It costs 10,000 COP to enter, but once at the top beers are cheap. Just visit reception when you get there to get a wristband and access to the rooftop bar.
Enjoy a beautiful sunset overlooking the city here as well as an epic social atmosphere.
Most evenings, the party at Los Patios continues well into the night and you can even jump on a traditional “Chiva” party bus tour from here if you want a big night out (you really need at least one party night on your Medellin itinerary!)
If you aren’t into the hostel bars then a few other rooftop bars are Envy Rooftop, Panorama Rooftop Bar, and La Zotea. these places are a little trendier and located right in El Poblado.
Dinner recommendation: Grab a quick and cheap bite to eat at Criminal Taqueria. This place serves Mexican street food and it is so delicious. It’s a quick “grab and go” type of place but the food is to die for (try the seafood tacos or nachos!)
Day 3 – Paragliding, Pablo Escobar, and Party
Morning – Paragliding
You need a little adventure in your Medellin itinerary so paragliding is the perfect activity. For only about $60 USD you can go paragliding with an experienced instructor and sore above the mountains surrounding Medellin.
Sure, it is an adventure activity but it is also very scenic. Paragliding is easily one of the most popular things to do in Medellin and something you should really consider adding to your Medellin bucket list.
Breakfast recommendation: Paragliding typically starts pretty early in the morning (for the best weather) so just grab a quick bite to eat at your hotel before leaving.
Afternoon – Pablo Escobar Tour
As many tourists know, Medellin is known for its history including Pablo Escobar. You can jump on a half-day Pablo Escobar tour to learn all about the history of Pablo in Medellin as well as visit some of the most iconic spots.
Of course, this tour doesn’t appeal to everybody and if you prefer you could instead spend the afternoon at the Botanic Gardens.
Lunch recommendation: Mundo Verde offers incredible healthy food at reasonable prices. It is a place where you can either sit down or just grab something to go. I personally recommend their Mi Tierra bowl or even just a smoothie. Eat here before heading on your afternoon tour.
Evening – Parque Lleras
Parque Leearas in Poblado is a vibrant place to hang out in the evenings. Fairy lights surround the square and there are dozens of places to enjoy happy hour beers or cocktails.
It seems like a simple thing to do, but trust me on this, an evening at Parque Lleras should be on your Medellin itinerary!
Dinner recommendation: The Greek Connection right next to Parque Lleras is delicious! The owner has greek restaurants all over the world and his passion for Greek food is apparent. It isn’t cheap, but not too expensive either and a main meal costs around 35,000 COP.
Safety Note: Poblado and Parque Lleras is a safe area in general. However, pickpockets are starting to become more of an issue as tourism increases in the area. Keep your money in your front pockets and leave your passport and other valuables at your hotel.
Day 4 – Food, Coffee, and Football
Morning – Food or Coffe tour
This morning you have the choice of two different tours depending on your interests: a food tour or a coffee tour!
If you’re heading to Salento or Jardin then maybe skip the coffee tour for now as you’ll get your fair share of coffee and coffee tours there. But if not, a coffee tour is a must-do activity while in Colombia
Medellin is also famous for its amazing food, which makes a food tour a great addition to any Medellin itinerary. This particular food tour includes as much food as you can eat! You’ll get to try a range of street food, drinks, exotic fruit, and Colombian specialties!
Breakfast & Lunch Recommendations: Azul Selva is an amazing breakfast place in Poblado. You could have a bite to eat here before your chosen tour. Although, if you are going on the food tour be sure not to eat too much before. Also, lunch is included in both the food and coffee tours I link to above.
Late Afternoon/Evening – Football Match
Colombians love their football (also know as soccer!) There is no better place to watch a game than in Medellin where the games are frequent and the crowd is enthusiastic.
You do need to book this particular activity according to when a game is on, however they are frequent so it shouldn’t be too hard!
You can either get to the stadium yourself and buy a ticket when you get there. Otherwise, you can book an organized tour that will get your ticket for you and also organize group transport. I went on this particular tour and loved it purely for the lack of planning I had to do and that I was with a group of travelers!
Day 5 – Guatape!
All-day – Day trip to Guatape
Guatape is Colombia’s most colorful town – it is just beautiful! But besides the colorful streets, there is actually a lot to do and see in Guatape. From boat tours to climbing the massive rock, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
From Medellin, the best way to visit Guatape in only one day is on an organized day trip. While you can take the public bus, Guatape is about a 2-hour bus ride away and between waiting for buses and getting to the stations, you’ll waste a lot of time.
This particular day trip to Guatape from Medellin includes climbing the rock El Penol as well as a boat ride on the lake. It lasts for over 8 hours and will consume your entire day. Lunch is also included!
Dinner Recommendation: Head to Toscano in Poblado for fresh homemade pasta. Alternatively, go out to an Argentian Steakhouse such as La Pampa Parilla or grab some sushi!
Where to Stay in Medellin
Choosing the right place to stay is essential for making the most of your time and plans in Medellin. This Medellin itinerary was designed around someone staying in the area of El Poblado near Parque Lleras.
Here are my top choices for places to stay in El Poblado with options for every type of traveler:
Yolo Hostel – Budget Backpackers
We spent a few nights here and really found it to be great value for money! The location is perfect for exploring Poblado and Betty’s Bowls is located right out the front. Dorms and private rooms are cheap and there is a beautiful backyard for socializing including a kitchen. It is a social “chill” hostel, not one for those looking to party.
*Party hostel alternative: Black Sheep is a popular budget backpacker hostel that is much more of a “party scene.” It is also really nice and a great choice. You can book the Black sheep on Hostelworld or Booking.com (but be sure to book in advance because it’s usually fully booked.)
Los Patios – Mid-range Budget
This hostel is as flashy as hostels can get. First of all, it is massive and has everything you could imagine within it (like a gym!) They offer dorm beds as well as private rooms that rival luxury hotels – but do expect to pay more than any other hostel in the area. They host rooftop parties on the weekends and it is a social place to be too.
Click Clack Hotel – Higher-range Budget
The Click Clack Hotel is a very modern hotel located in an ideal location – not far from the action but in a quiet place where you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. They have a gorgeous rooftop with a pool and bar as well as a highly rated onsite restaurant. Breakfast is included in the room rate.
Secure your room at Click Clack Hotel on Booking.com.
Be sure to read our ULTIMATE guide to Medellin, Colombia, it includes tons of useful information to help plan your visit!
Before you go…
I’ve crafted this Medellin itinerary to help others enjoy this amazing city as much as I did. If you have questions or you found it helpful, be sure to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
We’ve also written a heap of other informative travel blogs about Colombia – so check those out too! Some blogs you might find particularly useful are:
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March 30, 2020