Medellin practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Medellin

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All our practical information for visiting Medellin, a sprawling city nestled in a valley and surrounded by mountains. It’s warm, it’s sunny, it’s the city of eternal spring.

To come to Medellin is to discover its cultural vitality and its most illustrious figure, Fernando Botero! To visit Medellin is to want to understand a city battered by years of violence and injustice.

It’s also about stepping outside the clichés to discover how isolated neighborhoods are trying to reinvent themselves, with comuna 13 at the forefront, but not the only one.

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Medellin General information

Medellin Travel Guide

Medellin is a city apart in Colombia. It is the capital of the “paisa”, the strong culture of the Antioquia region, which extends all the way down to Quindio. It’s one of the richest regions in the country. The paisas have always claimed a special status, and some have even gone so far as to seek independence from the rest of Colombia.

Medellin is also a city at the cutting edge of modernity in the solutions developed over the years to change the city and its urban planning. For example, Medellin is the only city in Colombia with a subway metro system.

Medellin practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Medellin
  • Foundation: March 2, 1616
  • Natural region: Andes
  • Department : Antioquia Antioquia
  • Population: 2.2 million
  • Average altitude: 1,500 m
  • Climate: temperate tropical mountain
  • Averageminimum temperature: 16 °C
  • Average maximum temperature : 27 °C
  • Dry season: December to March and June to August
  • Rainy season: March to May and September to November (peak in October)

Best things to do in Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

Medellin is not a very interesting city in terms of architecture. The city doesn’t have a particularly remarkable historic center. No, if you come to Medellin, it’s to discover what makes it Colombia’s most developed and modern city.

We come for the Botero museum, for its open-air sculptures, for Comuna 13 and the street art that tells its story, for the bars and cultural venues, to learn more about the city’s transformation processes, to take part in the Feria de las flores, to discover the markets, and much more!

More info on not-to-be-missed tours

You’ll find all our tips for sightseeing in Medellin in our dedicated post. Click below for lots of ideas.

Visits we recommend in Medellin

Guided tour of Medellin in English

The agency, run by Cathy, offers community-based tourism that benefits local residents and initiatives.

Kaanas Travel Medellin (#10)

To contact Cathy directly, our local partner in Medellin, you can use the form below. You won’t pay any more, but it will let her know you’ve come from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

Best things to do around Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

There’s so much to do around Medellin, it’s worth staying longer than you’d like in the Antioquian capital. If you stay in the area for a week, you can really make the most of it and discover the region, with day trips or 2 or 3-day excursions. Of course, there’s Guatape, but there are many other less touristy places to visit.

Sightseeing in the area

More information on things to do around Medellin

Click below for information on things to do around Medellin.

All our posts about Medellin and surroundings

Medellin Travel Guide

Visit Guatape travel guide: best things to do in one of Colombia’s most colorful villages

Visit Moravia Barrio Tour: the sowers of life in Medellin

Medellin weather: when is the best time to visit Medellin?

How to get around Medellin and how to get to/from the airport

Around Medellin Travel Guide : best things to do and see in the area

Visit Medellin Travel Guide : the best things to do in Medellin

Visit Jerico travel guide: one of the most beautiful village around Medellin

Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

Visit Comuna 13 travel guide: the Graffiti Tour in Medellin

Medellin City Tours and local english tour guides to discover Medellin’s region

Where to stay in Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

If 10 years ago, only one neighborhood was recommended for a stay in Medellin, today it’s a completely different story. The city has calmed down, and it’s possible to stay in a variety of neighborhoods offering different experiences.

Poblado district

This has always been THE neighborhood for foreign tourists. It has developed an impressive range of hotels, bars and restaurants.

Manilla
To the north of Poblado, this is a small, quiet district with many hotels and restaurants.

Laureles district

This is the new trendy district, quieter and more residential than Poblado, and a little less touristy, although this is changing, with lots of new bars and restaurants

Estadio
A little to the north of Laureles, this is a livelier district around the famous 70, south of the Estadio station, where you’ll find restaurants, bars and discotheques

Our Medellin hotel and hostel recommendations

Here’s a selection of places to stay in Medellin, apartments, hotels and hostels, tested by us or recommended by our friends and readers, and with very good recommendations on the web.

Medellin, the best hotels

574 hotel

574 hotel

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A small hotel with a neat and pretty decor. It has very good reviews for cleanliness, service, breakfast and location. We think it could be good value for money

Laureles, Medellin, the best hotels

Appartment Laureles Stadiuam

Appartement

Appartment Laureles Stadiuam

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

Really affordable apartments, super clean and perfectly located in the trendy new district of Laureles!

Laureles, Medellin, the best hotels

Appart'Hotel Loma verde

Appartement

Appart’Hotel Loma verde

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

For those looking for the comfort of a hotel and the convenience of having a kitchen and space in an apartment, Loma Verde offers beautiful, well-decorated apartments in a convenient location away from the noise of Poblado!

Laureles, Medellin, the best hotels

Avanti apartments

Appartement

Avanti apartments

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

Several apartments for 2 people in Laureles, Medellin’s trendy new district. Well-equipped, comfortable, conveniently located… what more could you ask for?

Medellin, the best hotels, Poblado

Patio del mundo hotel

Hotel

Patio del mundo hotel

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

So let’s face it, we’re dreaming of spending a night there! May the gods of travel hear us! El Patio del mundo is a beautiful place to spend an exceptional moment… what else!

Medellin, the best hotels, Poblado

Garden of Blues Hostel

Hostal

Garden of Blues Hostel

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

Located in the El Poblado district, the Garden of Blues hostel is everything we love: a green space in the middle of the city. The whole place is dedicated to plants, and the atmosphere is just great!

Medellin, the best hotels, Poblado

Yolo Hostal

Hostal

Yolo Hostal

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

Located in the El Poblado district, it’s one of Medellin’s best-selling hostals, but still gets rave reviews. Bonus: you can eat well on site.

Santa Elena

Forest house

Finca

Forest house

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

Located in Santa Elena, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all! Carlos, the owner, will make you feel right at home, and you’ll never want to leave.

Santa Elena

Monte Helicon Ecolodge

Eco Lodge

Monte Helicon Ecolodge

Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

Located in Vereda Piedra Gorda, the Monte Helicon eco-lodge is a little bubble of luxury in the middle of nature, with its spa and treatments, it’s the perfect place to relax and be pampered.

How to get to Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

Medellin is a central Colombian destination that’s easy to fit into any itinerary. The city is very well served, and can be reached by bus and plane, or by car if you have chosen to rent a car in Colombia.

More info on how to get to Medellin

Click below for more information on how to get to Medellin.

Getting to Medellin by bus

Bus terminal

  • Website: terminalesmedellin.com
  • Address: Terminal Norte: Carrera 64C #78 – 580
  • Terminal Sur: Carrera 65 No. 8B – 91
  • Telephone: Terminal del Norte: 57 (4) 444 8020
  • Terminal del Sur: 57 (4) 444 8020
  • Mail: informacion@terminalesmedellin.com
  • Facebook: facebook.com/TerminalesMedellin

From Poblado to Terminal del Sur

  • Cab: about 10 minutes
  • Metro: Line A

From Poblado to Terminal del Norte

  • Cab: about 30 minutes
  • Subway: Line A

Getting to Medellin by plane

José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

Cab to/from airport

  • Duration: approx. 30 minutes by cab
  • Fare: approx. $98,000 COP

Olaya Herrera Regional Airport (EOH)

To/from the regional airport
The regional airport is located right in the center of town, and can be reached quickly and easily by cab.

Online payments on Colombian websites

Refusal to pay often happens when you want to pay online. For example, this has happened to us several times on the San German Express site, the Satena site and the Avianca site. We solved the problem by using our VPN and locating it in Colombia. This enabled us to bypass local restrictions and the payment was accepted.

Getting around Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

Medellin certainly has the best transport system in Colombia. In fact, it’s what has made its reputation. You could even say that the transportation system has changed the face of the city and contributed to its urban transformation.

The metro and the integrated transport system

Built in 1995, Medellin’s metro is the pride and joy of the city! It is part of a global system that integrates cable cars, reserved-lane buses, streetcars and the metro. A card system (Carte Civica) allows you to use all the transport services in the network at the same time.

So it’s easy to get around Medellin by public transport. Connections between the metro and other means of transport are well thought-out and super-convenient for getting to your destination. The metro is safe and very well maintained.

Cab

The official cabs in Medellin are yellow and numbered. This is the easiest way to get around, and fares are fairly affordable. Today, it’s possible to take a cab on the street, although at night it’s always advisable to order a cab by phone (ask your hotel) or via an app.

More on how to get around Medellin

Click below to read our full post on transport, how to get around by metro, cab and airport transfer.

Uber

Uber needs no introduction. It has been legal and authorized in Colombia since February. It is the world’s leading VTC, or private chauffeur-driven vehicle. It’s easy to find an Uber quickly using the dedicated app on your smartphone.

Rent a car

Renting a car to explore the Medellin area is well worth the effort. The roads are in pretty good condition, and you can enjoy beautiful landscapes and villages within a 2-hour drive.

Some examples of distances to places to visit around Medellin:

  • Medellin to Santa Fe de Antioquia: 60 km and approx. 1h30 travel time
  • Medellin to Guatape: 80 km and approx. 2h drive
  • Medellin to Rio Claro: 160 km and approx. 3 hours travel time
  • Medellin to Jardin: 130 km and approx. 3h travel time
  • Medellin to Jerico: 120 km and approx. 3h travel time
  • Medellin to San Felix: 20 km and approx. 40 min travel time

Rent a car In Colombia

To rent a car, we advise you to use the Rental Cars comparator, which gives you a complete overview of the different rental companies in Colombia.

Safety in Medellin

Medellin Travel Guide

Medellin has long been the crime capital of the world, and its reputation still sticks. Since the 2000s, however, the city has been transformed into a safer and more pleasant place to live. That said, there are still a few rules to observe when visiting Medellin. For more general information, please read our post on safety in Colombia.

General safety recommendations

  • Take only the money you need for the day with you
  • Keep your valuables and papers in your hotel safe if possible, otherwise put them in different places in your bags.
  • Avoid showing off your wealth when traveling.
  • When traveling at night, take a cab by phone (ask at your hotel or restaurant) or via a mobile app (Cabify or Uber).

Safety in Medellin’s neighborhoods

  • Poblado: Medellin’s historic tourist and security district
  • Laureles: the new trendy, residential and safe district
  • Le Centre: the plaza Botero is a safe place, but the surrounding area is less so, and it’s best not to show signs of affluence (put away your phones and cameras)
  • Comuna 13 : the tourist part of comuna 13 is now safe during the day, so you can walk around on your own without any problems
  • Other comunas : you should visit the other comunas with a professional guide or someone you trust who knows the area well.