Medellin is known as one of the most cycling-friendly cities in Latin America. With over 100km of separated bike lanes throughout the city, several high-profile weekly cycling events and some of the best high-altitude climbs in the country, there are some spectacular routes to enjoy in Medellin. Here’s our pick of the best.
This small hill in the centre of Medellin – with the pretty, mock village of Pueblito Paisa perched on top – is a popular spot for local cyclists, especially for training purposes. It’s a tough but short climb, so for repetition training, it’s the perfect spot. However, for the more casual cyclist, it’s also home to some pretty trails through the woods, and the spectacular view over Medellin makes up for the tough ascent.
This cycling tour is easily the best way to enjoy exploring Medellin by bike, particularly if you’re new to the city and don’t really know your way around that well. A 19km route spread out over five hours, it’s not an excursion for hardcore cyclists but offers the perfect introduction to riding in Medellin. Beginning at Alpujarra Metro station, and taking in the Parque de Las Luces, Atanasio Giradot Stadium, Nutibara Hill, the Barefoot Park and Museum of Modern Art, the Bicitour is highly recommended for bike-loving travelers in the city.
This climb is arguably the most popular route in Medellin these days, used by many cyclists all day, every day! The route is essentially 17km uphill on the road to the airport in Rionegro, so be prepared for some tough incline training on this one. However, the reward for the climb is a spectacular view over the city below, and a popular local roadside restaurant, where most cyclists stop for a hearty breakfast, before enjoying the exhilarating descent back into Medellin.
This road climb is less popular than Alto de Las Palmas, but no less challenging or enjoyable. Leaving from the Buenos Aires area of Medellin, the route climbs into the mountains to the east of the city, passing through the pretty little town of Santa Elena and Parque Arvi en route. It’s also possible to link this route to the airport and then return to the city via the Las Palmas descent.
El Volador is one of the seven so-called ‘Guardian Hills’ of Medellin and, due to the discovery of important archaeological sites on the hill, it was named as a National Patrimony Site in 1992. Today, it’s an eco-park offering activities such as cycling, birdwatching, hiking and camping to locals and visitors alike. As with Nutibara Hill, El Volador is a short, tough climb for cyclists, but offers beautiful panoramas over the city.
Just like in Bogota, every Sunday Medellin hosts the wonderful urban cycling phenomenon known as ciclovia – between 7am and 1pm, tens of kilometers of roads are closed all the way from the south in Envigado to El Centro in the north. It’s a great way to see the city by bike without having to worry about traffic (which can be tough to navigate if you’re new to the city) and the perfect Sunday activity.
Another great urban cycling initiative, La SiCLeada is a weekly cycling event which has been running since 2010. However, it’s a ride with a difference: every Wednesday, beginning at 8pm in Carlos E. Restrepo neighborhood, more than 1,000 cyclists cycle around 20km on ever-changing routes through the city. It is seen as a way of taking back the streets from cars and pollution, and there’s a great sense of community spirit (even if progress can be achingly slow at times!). La SiCLeada is the best way to enjoy a ride and get involved in Medellin’s cycling community at the same time.