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Comuna 13 in Medellin | © nigel burgher / Flickr
Comuna 13 in Medellin | © nigel burgher / Flickr

The Most Unique Experiences to Have in Medellin, Colombia

Picture of Chris Bell
Updated: 25 September 2017

Travelers love Medellin nowadays! The formerly no-go city has enjoyed a huge renaissance in recent years and is now an essential destination for backpackers and travelers in Colombia. But what is there to do that’s so special in Medellin? The good news is there are plenty of unique activities to enjoy, from paragliding to cheering on the local football team. Here are some of the best.

Paraglide over the city

Paragliding is an amazing experience no matter where you try it, but taking a flight over the green mountains of Antioquia with an epic panorama of Medellin in the background has fast become one of the most popular backpacker activities in the city. Flights leave from nearby San Felix, but the view over Medellin is unparalleled anywhere in the region.

Paragliding with Medellin in the background | © nigel burgher / Flickr

Cheer on Atlético Nacional

There’s nothing like going to a football match to experience the pure love that Colombians have for the beautiful game. Although you can see a team play in most major Colombian cities, the best place is easily the Atanasio Giradot Stadium, home of Medellin’s beloved Atletico Nacional. The noise, passion and endless green (their colour) is an experience unlike any other in Medellin.

Climb El Peñol

Although not technically in Medellin, the surreal giant rock of El Peñol, near the colorful town of Guatape, is a popular day-trip and is easily one of the most unique activities to enjoy in the city, if not the whole of Colombia. After 740 grueling steps to the top, you are rewarded with a stunning panorama of the regions’s lakes and islands stretching miles into the distance.

The stunning view from the top of El Peñol, rock | © JoseDGL / Flickr

Ride the Metrocable to Parque Arvi

The Medellin Metrocable public transport system has become world-renowned as a model for inclusive urban public transport, so riding these excellent cable cars isn’t just moving around the city, it’s also traveling in a little slice of history! Taking the Metrocable through Santo Domingo neighborhood – formerly far too dangerous to visit – up to the sprawling country park of Arvi in the mountains is an amazing Medellin experience.

Discover the Comuna 13 street art

Once a strictly no-go part of Medellin, Comuna 13 was plagued by violence for many years, until progressive social programmes and heavy investment made the area much more secure. Today, it’s home to a burgeoning and creative street art scene and a popular spot for graffiti tours. Just being able to explore this neighborhood and be part of its renaissance is one of the most unique experiences to have in Medellin.

Stunning street-art in Comuna 13 | © nigel burgher / Flickr

Experience the Christmas lights

Medellin takes Christmas decorations incredibly seriously: every year on December 7, the city celebrates El Alumbrado – literally ‘the lighting’ – when the epic Christmas lights are turned on. Literally millions of lights are strung up throughout the city and there are many huge light sculptures depicting classic Christmas figures. Medellin was even selected by National Geographic as one of the top ten cities to view holiday lights!

Experience urban glamping

Most people associate glamping – glamorous camping for those of you who’ve been living under a rock! – with rural areas, but try telling that to the proprietors of Bambú Glamping City Hostel. Located in the heart of popular backpacker neighborhood El Poblado, this innovative hostel puts others to shame. Built next to a pretty stream and surrounded by trees, it’s easy to forget you’re in a big city – the main attraction being the two giant outdoor tents built on raised wooden platforms! You’ll really feel like you are camping in the woods, a unique experience in the heart of a city.

Take your shoes off at the park…

The Barefoot Park is one of Medellin’s most beautiful and relaxing green spaces – and there’s a lot of competition – standing out as a unique and fun experience for…you can probably guess the reason, right?! Yes, in this park you have to take your shoes off and enjoy the feeling of grass and water between your toes! In the pleasant climate of Medellin, it’s a perfect way to enjoy an afternoon.