How to Spend 48 Hours in Medellín, Colombia

There are 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero on Plaza Botero in Medellín
There are 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero on Plaza Botero in Medellín | © Oscar Espinosa / Alamy Stock Photo
Chris Bell

Medellín is one of the most popular travel destinations in Colombia, but many visitors don’t want to linger too long in a city when there is such amazing nature and culture to enjoy in the rest of Colombia. The good news is you can easily enjoy the best of Medellín in a short period of time, so here’s a guide on how to spend 48 hours in the city (based on an itinerary of two nights and one full day).

Keen to visit? You can do so in the company of a local insider and a small group of like-minded travellers by joining Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Colombian Andes adventure, which features a guided walking tour of Medellín.

Day 1

Arriving in Medellín in the late afternoon, the first thing you’ll want to do is check into your hostel or hotel. With just a couple of nights to spend in the city, it’s worth staying in the Poblado neighborhood: it’s certainly more touristy, but many of the best restaurants and bars are also here, so it’s a good place to be based. The Charlee Hotel is highly recommended if you’re after somewhere nicer to stay. Once you’ve checked in, you can head to the rooftop bar, Envy Rooftop, for a drink (even if you’re not staying here, it’s worth it for the view).

The rooftop bar at Charlee Hotel offers great views of Medellín

Once you’ve had that sunset drink, you’ll want dinner: head to OCI.mde in Poblado. This hip, modern restaurant serves upscale Colombian classics and is easily one of the best restaurants in the city. You’ll need to make reservations in advance, but it’s totally worth it for the quality cuisine. Then, you’ll most likely want to call it a night: tomorrow will be a long day!

Day 2

This is your one full day to enjoy Medellín, so you’ve got to take advantage of it! Get up nice and early, and go for coffee and a pastry at Pergamino Cafe in Poblado – it serves some of the best local coffee in the city, which is the perfect pick-me-up for a long day ahead. From Pergamino, head to the meeting point for the Free Walking Tour of Medellín, probably the best tour available in the city. It takes all morning, but you will be able to visit all the key tourist sights in the center of Medellín, including Parque de Las Luces, Plaza Botero and Plaza San Antonio, learning about the city’s history at the same time.

Plaza Botero is one of the main tourist sights in Medellín

Once you’ve finished with the tour, stick around Centro, and grab a bandeja paisa (a typical Colombian platter) for lunch at Hacienda Junin – this hearty dish is easily the most representative dish of the region, so you don’t want to miss out! From here, jump on the Metro, and head north towards the Medellín Botanical Gardens and Parque Explora. You can spend a great afternoon wandering the gardens, enjoying wonderful sightings of iguanas and even monkeys, before enjoying the fun interactive science and technology museum of Parque Explora – with a 3D cinema, aquarium and interactive exhibits, it’s a fun experience, for sure.

There is a lot to see a the Medellín Botanical Gardens

If you still have time, head up nearby Nutibara Hill to visit the mock Antioquia village known as Pueblito Paisa, and enjoy the dusk views over Medellín – the sight of the lights coming on in the city as night approaches is one of the best vistas in Medellín. Then, head back towards Poblado for dinner – try and visit Carmen restaurant tonight (make sure to book if it’s a weekend). As one of the best restaurants in the city, it’s another practically unmissable Medellín dining experience.

If it’s a weekend and you still have the energy for a night out, then be sure to visit the nightclub Calle 9+1: this hipster-friendly establishment plays a great mix of techno, funk and electronic music, attracting a lively young crowd.

Pueblito Paisa on Nutibara Hill, Medellín, is a mock Antioquia village

Day 3

Get up nice and early, and head out of Medellín towards San Felix to go paragliding! The views over the city are spectacular – easily the best view of Medellín – and there’s nothing quite like soaring through the air with nothing but the wind keeping you airborne.

Unforgettable views are guaranteed when you go paragliding over the mountains near Medellín

Once you’re back in the city, grab some lunch, then jump on the Medellín Metrocable, and ride up to Parque Arvi, a pretty natural park in the mountains to the east of the city. Spend the afternoon hiking the forest trails and enjoying local snacks from the market stalls. Then, head back down on the cable cars and take the Metro towards Poblado to pack your bags and call your taxi to the airport. You’ll surely be sad to be leaving such a beautiful and fun city but satisfied that you packed as much as possible into your 48 hours in Medellín.

Arvi Park is a natural park east of Medellín

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