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Medellin is one of the most beautiful cities in Colombia. A perfect mix of urban city, lush mountains, great nightlife, and chill vibes, this city has it all. It’s no wonder it’s becoming increasingly popular among tourists, digital nomads, and backpackers. So if you’ve been considering visiting, we highly encourage you to!
After visiting a few times and even living in the city for a while, it is no secret that we absolutely love Medellin! But since there’s so much to see and do in Medellin, it can be hard to know where to start. We discovered tours were a great way to get the most from your visit and delve deeper into the culture.
Our extensive time here allowed us to try a ton of different tours and get really familiar with the region. And after enjoying many, we narrowed it down to the 12 best options. So if you’re planning a trip to Medellin soon, keep reading! You’re bound to find one (or a few!) that’ll help you explore this magical city.
- 1. Medellin Free Walking Tour
- 2. Day trip to Guatape
- 3. Comuna 13 Walking Tour
- 4. Paragliding
- 5. Medellin City Tour
- 6. Dream Hammocks
- 7. ATV Tour
- 8. Coffee Tour
- 9. The Dark Days Tour
- 10. Ziplining and Waterfall Tour
- 11. Horseback Riding in Medellin
- 12. Electric Bike City Tour Medellin
Why Tours in Medellin are so Highly Recommended
When planning a trip through Colombia, I always book at least one tour in each city. Booking a tour allows you to explore the city more in-depth. You’ll learn about the history, culture, and people in a way you might not be able to alone.
One of my favorite parts of booking tours in Medellin in particular is that they are priced well – and are often private tours. While I do love meeting new people on tours, private tours allow you to go at your own pace, and I find you get way more from the experience.
Plus, guides have a lot of great insight into the neighborhoods and give you an authentic local perspective on the area you’re exploring. We also found that all our tour guides in Medellin were incredibly friendly and accommodating and spoke great English which is perfect for travelers.
Another great reason for booking a tour in Medellin is that it will increase your safety when traveling around the city. Local guides are familiar with the area. They know where they are going and what they are doing. So not only will they keep you on track, but they’ll also keep you safe.
1. Medellin Free Walking Tour
One of my favorite tours of Medellin is actually free! This 4-hour free walking tour is very well-organized and offers a unique insight into Medellin’s past and present. You’ll explore the streets on foot, as your guide shares interesting (and useful!) info about each area. You really have nothing to lose!
However, you have to reserve your spot online 24 hours in advance. You can book this walking tour on Real City’s website, and they usually have both morning and afternoon options depending on the day. I definitely recommend booking as opposed to just showing up since you might be turned away.
Tours start by the Alpujarra Station downtown, so you can just take the metro to get here. From there, your tour guide will show you all the best spots downtown – an area tourists don’t often get to explore.
This tour really gives you a window into the culture, history, and people of Medellin. And I loved having a knowledgeable guide to answer all my questions! Keep an eye out for any places you’d like to return to once the tour is over.
Whenever anyone visits Medellin, I also recommend this tour to them, especially if they’ve just arrived. It’s a great way to explore the area and learn more about this magical city. But please remember to tip your guide – they definitely deserve it! $10 – $15 USD per person should be good.
Related Read: If you’re traveling around Colombia and love taking tours, check out our favorite tours in Cartagena as well!
2. Day trip to Guatape
If vacationing where the locals vacation sounds nice to you, take a day trip to Guatape! Located 80 km (50 mi) east of Medellin, the drive should only take about 2 hours drive. This Andean town is one of the most picture-worthy places I’ve been, with cobblestone streets, brightly colored buildings, and a beautiful lake. There are also many things to do in Guatape, including outdoor activities such as hiking, and watersports.
There are many tours that head to Guatape from Medellin. So below, we’ll share our two favorites with one group and one private option.
This full-day group tour covers all the highlights of Guatape as well as a traditional Colombian breakfast and lunch (gotta love the local coffee and food!). Then, you’ll head to the top sights in this adorable town. You’ll climb up the 740 steps to the peak of Piedra del Peñol (Guatape Rock), one of the best things to do in Colombia! Afterward, you’ll take a boat ride through the lake and walk through the quaint downtown area.
The tour only costs $35 USD per person with children under 3 costing $5 USD each. It includes both breakfast and lunch, a tour guide to take you around the city, and round-trip transportation from Medellin. Hotel pickup is available for an extra $11 USD per person. It’s a great deal overall so check availability and book it online here!
If you want to see all the same sights but prefer a private tour, I suggest this full-day tour through Guatape. You’ll have the convenience of hotel pickup by 8 am followed by all the activities from the group tour. However, what I loved about this private option is that it feels more personalized. You get to move at your own pace and have the guide’s full attention.
The price varies from $70-$93 USD per person depending on your group size (max 15 people). It also covers breakfast, lunch, your tour guide, and comfy round-trip transportation. If private tours are more your thing, book this one online here!
Both tours are run by Viaja Medellin and are offered in either English or Spanish. I recommend bringing cash along as the tours do not include the price of climbing Peñol Stone which costs roughly $6 USD (20,000 COP) and must be paid in cash. These are long day tours, so I recommend wearing comfortable clothing with good walking shoes.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
3. Comuna 13 Walking Tour
If you know much about Colombia, you may have heard about Comuna 13. This area was once considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world. In the ’80s and ’90s, the area was a low-income community used as a hub by gangs and guerillas to transport drugs in and out of the city.
Nowadays, the area is considered one of the safest in the entire city and is a very popular tourist hotspot. People love coming here to understand the history of the area, and a tour is the perfect way to do this!
On this art and food-filled tour, you’ll learn about Comuna 13’s history and enjoy awesome graffiti and street food. Over 3 hours, you’ll explore the streets, seeing top sights and learning about the fascinating meaning behind each piece of street art. Bring your appetite too because you’ll be snacking on mango ice cream, empanadas, and more.
This was one of the most authentic tours I’ve taken. You’ll be guided by someone who lived in the area and even visit local residents’ homes. You’ll also learn all about the history of the area and how it got cleaned up so quickly.
The graffiti and street art tour costs $17 USD per adult, $10 USD for kids (ages 5-10), and kids under 5 are free. Tours leave at 9:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:30 pm from the meeting point in Comuna 13 – so you’ll need to make your own way there by taxi or Uber. Wear walking shoes and get ready to learn, see beautiful views, and snack on delicious treats! However, these prices are based on a special promotion, so hop online to grab this great deal soon!
If you don’t want to worry about transportation, go for this private tour of Comuna 13 which also includes a focus on the life of Pablo Escobar. They pick you up at your hotel in Medellin and take you on a cable car ride before heading to Comuna 13’s top sights.
You’ll get familiar with Pablo Escobar’s life by visiting his jail, the house where he died, and even his grave. The guides are incredibly friendly and do a great job of showing you around Comuna 13 and teaching you about the area’s rich history.
Tours begin between 7 am – 8:30 am or 1 pm – 2 pm. The price of this 5-hour tour costs between $58-$84 USD each depending on group size (max 15 people). Because it’s a private tour, it’s more comfortable, convenient, and flexible. If that sounds more like your style, book this tour online here!
Related Read: For those that appreciate street art, there’s one tour you absolutely must take in Colombia. Click here to read our complete guide on the Bogota Graffiti Tour – you’ll see why we love it so much!
My favorite adrenaline-pumping activity in the city is this paragliding tour over Medellin. Trust me, you’re in for a treat with the birds-eye view of the city and forest! Since you ride tandem with a guide, you don’t have to do anything and can just sit back and enjoy the flight. Both newbies and experienced paragliders enjoy this experience, and everyone we went with felt completely safe.
The city is in a valley surrounded by mountains, so it’s actually the perfect location for this sport! You’ll begin your flight on a high hill, taking in the beautiful view as you descend into the valley. I enjoyed this tour because not only did it provide an awesome rush, but I also got to see the city from a completely new perspective.
I also love that this paragliding company is super professional and based on a good cause. They rescue kids from dangerous upbringings and give them the opportunity to become pilots one day. They even have a short film, Children of Heaven, that highlights their story and won a film award!
Paragliding is a bucket-list activity in Colombia. And with daily flight options, it’s also really easy to book this tour online. There are tours every day starting between 8:30 am – 3 pm, and the whole thing last about 3.5 hours.
If you drive yourself, you can meet at the meeting point along the Medellin-San Pedro Road. Otherwise, you can have the option of adding transportation for about $35 USD per car (up to 6 people) which we felt was well worth the investment. Since it’s a private tour, it’ll just be your group!
The cost of this tour depends on how long you’d like to spend in the air. You can choose between a 15-minute flight costing $55 USD, a 20-minute flight costing $63 USD, or a 30-minute flight costing $99 USD. If you want a cool souvenir (and photographic evidence of your bravery), opt for the 15-minute flight and Go-Pro photo package for $68 USD.
This is definitely the tour for adrenaline junkies or just those looking for an unforgettable experience. So pick your date, flight, and pay online here!
5. Medellin City Tour
If you want to get a feel for the city quickly, this Private Medellin City Tour is your best bet! We took this tour on our first day here, and we immediately fell in love with the city. It also helped us get familiar with all the different areas of Medellin.
Your tour guide will pick you up in a private vehicle in the Poblado or Laureles areas. Then, you’ll be whisked away to see the best areas in the city! When we went, we loved our tour guide who made us feel well taken care of and gave us a really authentic experience. Plus, he taught us loads about the area’s history and culture as we went.
On this private tour, you’ll pass by churches, a palace, and other architectural gems while learning about the cultural significance of each. You’ll visit Pueblita Paisa (a replica of a typical colonial town) and Plaza Botero, which is full of local sculptures. Afterward, you’ll ride in a safe cable car and metro, learning about the modernization of this beautiful city.
You can choose between a 4-hour morning or afternoon city tour, or you can book an upgraded tour (which we did and highly recommend!) that lasts about 6 hours and includes a cable car ride through Arvi Park.
The price for this tour depends on the number of people booking and the tour you choose. Two travelers doing the 4-hour tour costs $90 USD each with the upgraded 6-hour experience costing $120 USD each. Kids between 2 – 10 years old cost $70 for the basic city tour and $99 USD for the upgraded version.
This tour is awesome for newcomers or those that want to understand the area better. If that sounds like you, pick a date and book it online here!
6. Dream Hammocks
If you have an adventurous soul like mine, then you should not miss this opportunity! This Dream Hammocks tour provides the ultimate fun-filled day in nature – it really did feel like a dream. And if you don’t believe me, just check out the picture above!
You’ll spend a full day in La Ceja nature reserve outside the city. Experience gorgeous views as you hike and zipline through the forest! You’ll take in stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls every step of the way.
But that’s not all you’ll get to do on this epic tour! My favorite portion was definitely the hammock. Imagine yourself floating in a net (or even napping!) at 492 feet (150 meters) above ground. There’s nothing quite like chilling on one of these high-strung hammocks with stunning surroundings. Sounds like a story to tell your grandkids, right?
This tour really is one you’ll remember forever. And for $205 USD a person (or cheaper for groups of 3+), it includes transportation, a guide, all the activities, and insurance. However, you have to take your own drinks and food/snacks.
The heights and adventure elements of this tour aren’t for everyone. But if you are up for the challenge, don’t hesitate to book this 8-hour Dream Hammock tour online here! Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Related Read: If you’re all about adrenaline, you should definitely visit San Gil, Colombia! To learn why, read all about the epic things you can do in San Gil here.
7. ATV Tour
This Medellin ATV tour was one of the best experiences we had in the city. We ripped through off-road trails, experiencing different terrains outside the city. We rode through mountains and forests and passed rural farmlands. It was such an incredible day – so if you’re an ATV fan or have been wanting to try one, here’s your chance!
You will start with a 45-minute drive out of the city to the base of the mountains. The drive itself was awesome because it showed us more of the countryside. I personally love getting off the beaten track in Colombia and seeing things you wouldn’t be able to in major cities!
Once at the base camp, our guides spoke perfect English and went over a thorough safety briefing. They helped us get all the gear fitted and familiarize us with the ATVs before we left. Everyone was very comfortable, even the few first-timers in our group!
What I also appreciated about this ATV tour was they gave us time to stop and enjoy the scenery. There were lots of opportunities to take photos so bring your camera! And at the end, we had a delicious lunch at a local trout farm, which is an experience in itself.
The 5-hour tour costs $170 USD per person including lunch, all the gear and ATVs, guides, and round-trip transportation from the city. So for an ATV adventure in a remote region of Colombia, book your tour online here!
8. Coffee Tour
Colombia has a reputation for growing some of the best coffee in the world. So when we visited, I knew we had to take this coffee plantation tour. If you’re a coffee drinker and curious about the coffee farming process, this is an absolute must!
When you get to the farm, you’ll immediately get to taste various types of coffee. Similar to a wine tasting, you’ll learn about the different flavors, compounds, and qualities of each coffee before heading out to the fields. Once in the fields, you’ll be involved in every step of the coffee-making process including picking the beans, de-pulping, fermenting, washing, and drying.
As a coffee drinker, I loved that this private tour got us involved in every step of the process and made my appreciation for coffee that much stronger. You really get the full-blown coffee production and tasting experience! Plus, tours leave every half hour between 7 am – 2 pm, so it’s easy to fit into your Medellin travel itinerary.
This is a private tour so naturally, the price fluctuates based on how many people are in your party. If you’re flying solo, it’ll cost $175 USD. If you have 2 people it drops to $93 USD each, and if you have 15 people (the maximum), it’s $36 USD each. Children 6 and under are free, although kids don’t tend to love coffee (but they do enjoy the farm portion!).
This price includes round-trip private transportation, a guide, all farm and tasting fees, and some snacks along the way. It’s such a cool way to experience local agriculture and enjoy lots of coffee! To book this tour, check prices and pick a date online here!
Related Read: Bogota is also full of awesome coffee tours and shops. Check out our full list of the best things to do in Bogota here!
9. The Dark Days Tour
The stories of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar are world-famous. But, there’s still so much you don’t know! To get a unique window into his life, I highly recommend this private Dark Days half-day tour.
When I took this tour, I felt like I was walking through a true crime documentary. You’ll learn all about Pablo Escobar, step into his home and on-site prison, learn about his mysterious death, and even visit his gravesite. To end the day, you’ll stop at a hillside monastery with beautiful views.
This tour includes round-trip transportation from your accommodations in the city and a great guide who teaches you the detailed history as you go. Since it’s a private tour, the cost depends on the number of people in your party. For 2 people, the standard 4-hour morning tour costs $75 USD each.
However, you can choose to combine this tour with another for $195 USD per person. You can add on a city tour which includes Botero Plaza, a cable car ride, and Comuna 13. Or, you can combine the Dark Days tour with a visit to the Pablo Escobar Museum (and meet his brother who runs the place!). Your last option is to add on the Park Arvi tour which takes you on a cable car ride into a lush nature reserve.
There’s no better place to learn about this notorious drug lord than on a Colombian tour. So pick your favorite tour option online here.
10. Ziplining and Waterfall Tour
If you’re looking for a great way to spend the day in the Colombian jungle, this private full-day ziplining and waterfall tour was amazing!
You can sit back and enjoy the 1.5-hour drive to the La Ceja nature reserve, taking in the beautiful scenery on the way. Once you arrive, your day will be full of adventure and beautiful views! You’ll hike through forests, eat lunch on top of mountains, and learn all about the area.
My favorite part was definitely soaring across two 2,300-foot (700-meter) ziplines. They took us across deep canyons and into the lush forests. We also saw several powerful waterfalls and our guide shared the interesting science behind them. It was the perfect balance between both adventure and relaxation in a beautiful setting!
This private tour requires a fair amount of hiking so it is important that you are physically fit. You also must be under 218 lbs (99 kg) to ride the ziplines. Being a private tour, the guides do a great job of working with your group and going at your own pace. They really made sure everyone on ours had a wonderful time!
The tour includes round-trip transportation from Medellin and the price depends on your group size. It ranges from $133-$295 USD per person, with a maximum of 10 people. However, you’ll need to bring your own lunch.
If you love nature, you’ll want to experience these stunning waterfalls and fun ziplines! So check availability and book your tour online here!
Related Read: For those that love more remote destinations, read our guide on visiting Costeño Beach in Colombia!
11. Horseback Riding in Medellin
For horse lovers, this half-day private horseback riding tour is a great way to explore the Colombian countryside! You’ll spend two hours exploring 10 km (6.5 miles) of the backcountry on horseback. What’s great is that it’s tailored to your group’s experience and comfort level. The horses and route you take will be chosen based on your preferences and needs so you can have the best time!
As this is a family-friendly private tour, you can choose to start anytime between 7 am – 2 pm. We did a morning riding tour which was great because the weather was perfect and I spent the whole time enjoying the amazing mountain views.
The private tour includes round-trip private transportation and your wonderful guides. They were really great, and you could tell how much they loved these horses – they were so well-trained and taken care of! Since the tour takes roughly 4 hours overall, make sure to bring some snacks (horseback riding made us surprisingly hungry!).
The price depends on the number of people in your group, ranging from $38-$175 USD, with a maximum of 15 people. We had 4 people which cost $62 USD each.
Both budding equestrians and experienced riders love this tour – which is why it sells out fast! So check availability and book it online here.
12. Electric Bike City Tour Medellin
Another great way to see the city is on this electric bike city tour through Medellin. I love e-bike tours because you see more than walking tours but still have a more intimate view than if you were in a car. On this tour in particular, you hit up the must-see tourist spots as well as hidden gems. You’ll glide through multiple neighborhoods and get an authentic overview of the city.
When I took this tour, I really felt like I was a part of the city. We wove down back roads, biked past parks, and stopped to take photos at viewpoints. One of the highlights was the neighborhood of San Antonio, where we got to try delicious local food and drinks. And since we were on e-bikes, we never got tired!
Even though it’s not a private tour, there’s a maximum of 15 people so it still feels quite personal. The guides are great and give lots of local tips and secrets about the city to get you thoroughly acquainted with the city. In total, you will bike around 20 km (12.5 miles) of the city with minimal effort (thanks to the battery-powered bikes).
This 4-hour tour costs $38 USD per person and allows you to choose between a morning, afternoon, or evening bike ride. Along the way you can expect many stops to take photos, try some local food, and, of course, drink some Colombian coffee (all included!).
Due to the small group size, I recommend booking ahead of time. So pick your date and time online here!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Other Things to do While You’re in Medellin, Colombia
- Explore El Poblado – This is one of the safest and most touristy areas in Medellin, and it’s home to some of the best restaurants, bars, and shopping. In fact, your hotel might even be located here! Head to the local square of Parque Lleras for live music and dancing in the evenings!
- Dance the night away! – Medellin is a great place to learn how to salsa! Most locals have been dancing since they were kids and will be happy to show you a few steps at a salsa club. Son Havana is a fun salsa bar with live music that got us moving. To learn the basics before you hit the club, this salsa and bachata lesson pairs you with a pro for a 1-hour crash course in the steps for only $21 USD!
- Go whitewater rafting – Although not your typical tourist activity in Medellin, Rio Verde is just two hours from the city and offers beautiful hiking and rafting excursions. We took this full-day whitewater rafting tour from Medellin and loved it! It includes transport, meals, and an awesome journey down the river!
- Eat amazing food – There are flavors and styles galore, so get a taste of Medellin by joining a private food tour! You get to try traditional Colombian food and drinks as your guide helps you order at some of the best local spots. If you’re looking for a great meal on your own, the vegetarian pizza at Cafe Zorba’s is a personal favorite of mine!
- Ride a cable car to Parque Arvi – There are cable cars around Medellin that double as a scenic way to see the city along with transportation. If your tour doesn’t already include one, hop on the cable car up to Parque Arvi where you’ll see the entire city from above. Once you’re at the park, get out and explore the amazing hiking trails. If you’re here on a weekend, don’t miss the farmers’ market!
Where to Stay in Medellin, Colombia
Medellin is one of the best places to visit in all of South America. However, picking the right area to stay in a big city can really affect your experience, and Medellin is no different.
For most people, safety in Medellin is the most important factor when deciding where to stay. So below, we’ve listed the best areas to stay in Medellin along with accommodation options for all budgets.
This vibrant upper-class neighborhood offers amazing nightlife, top restaurants with cuisine from all over the world, and a safe friendly atmosphere. The streets in El Poblado are safe to wander day and night providing you use some care when it’s really late.
This area is a perfect base to explore other parts of the city and the area I recommend staying in Medellin. It’s also the starting point for many of the tours on our list. If this sounds like the area you want to stay, some places I recommend are:
Los Patios Hostel – A great budget option for backpackers. this hostel is famous in Medellin, and the place is beautiful. There’s a rooftop swimming pool, communal spaces, and a fun terrace. Rooms are themed according to different regions in the country which is a nice touch. While dorm beds aren’t the cheapest (starting at $26 USD), the reviews and standards are really good. You can book Los Patios on Booking.com or Hostelworld.
14 Urban Hotel – This medium-budget hotel is stunning and perfectly located in El Poblado. The rooms are spacious and modern, the staff is friendly, and the price includes a delicious breakfast. Plus, this hotel can cost as little as $63 USD a night when booked in advance.
Café Hotel Medellín -Cafe Hotel is your typical hotel and comes with everything you’d expect from classic hotel brands such as Hilton. The location is a little up the hill from the main restaurant and bar area of El Poblado, but this makes it much more of a quiet stay. It has a beautiful view and a rooftop jacuzzi which is perfect for relaxing after a long tour! Rooms start from $69 USD a night.
For luxury travelers, Elcielo Hotel & Restaurant is easily the best choice. Not only is it still affordable (starting at $234 USD), but the hotel comes with a fantastic location, luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and fantastic views of the city. It’s beautifully decorated, and the quality of the service and on-site food is superb.
Laureles is another upmarket neighborhood that’s a great area for tourists to stay. This area is where the stadium in Medellin is located, and it’s very similar to El Poblado.
The reason I like Laureles is that it’s closer to downtown and more central so you don’t have to travel as far to visit many attractions in Medellin. Some places to stay in Laureles are:
The Wandering Paisa Backpackers Hostel is a top choice for backpackers in Laureles. It has a fantastic atmosphere perfect for meeting other travelers, a great location, and clean facilities. What more could you want? Plus, a bed in a shared dorm starts from just $9 USD a night. You can book The Wandering Paisa Backpackers Hostel on Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Hotel Vivre – If you want a quiet and comfortable stay then Hotel Vivre will suit you. It’s right off the strip with lots of shops, bars, and restaurants nearby. The rooms here are modern and clean, and breakfast is included in the room rate (which begins at just $44 USD).
Thanks for reading!
Medellin is such a wonderful city, and tours are a great way to experience it. Whether I was exploring the city, paragliding over it, or ziplining through the nearby jungle, I had so much here! So if you are visiting Medellin, I highly recommend booking some tours to help you get the most from your visit.
I hope this list has helped you find a few tours you’d enjoy. Also, be sure to read my other blog about Colombia, including these related blogs below:
Your Guide to the Old City in Cartagena
The ULTIMATE Guide to San Andres Island, Colombia