Explore thousands of activities with free cancellation and no added fees
Design your experience with airport transfers, excursions, day tours & more.
Get an insider's look in what to book before you travel.
The capital of the mountainous province of Antioquia, Medellín is the second-largest city in Colombia and a hotbed of history and culture. Once considered the most dangerous city in the world—the result of an urban war between drug lord Pablo Escobar and competing cartels—today Medellín is a vibrant destination where exciting city living meets the natural beauty of the jungle. With temperatures that hover consistently at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C), the location has earned the nickname of the “City of Eternal Spring.” Shady parks and plazas attract visitors throughout the year, as does an endless lineup of events including the famous Festival of Flowers. On top of its music, museums, nightlife, food, and sports, Medellín is a progressive destination, having previously been named the Most Innovative City of the World by the Wall Street Journal. It’s public transportation system is one of the most comprehensive on Earth, integrating bus, rail, tram, escalator, and cable car lines. What was once a place to avoid just a decade ago is now one of the prettiest, friendliest, and most advanced cities in all of Latin America.
Split into the east and west by the Medellín River, the urban area of the city is divided into 16 communes, and within those, smaller neighborhoods each with its own unique personality. If visiting Medellín for the first time, these are the places you need to know.
El Poblado — Sitting in the southeast corner of the city, El Poblado is the most visited district in the city, thanks to a large number of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, and museums.
La Candelaria — To the north of El Poblado, La Candelaria is considered the downtown district of Medellín.
Laureles-Estadio — Located on the west side of the river opposite La Candelaria, Laureles-Estadio is a laidback part of the city—a mix of quiet residential streets and easy-going nightlife.
Arví Park — Lying northeast of Medellín in the village of Santa Elena, Arví Park offers hiking trails, boat rentals, an outdoor market, and activities such as nature walks, birdwatching, and ziplining. You can reach the top of the mountains by cable car from the Santo Domingo gondola station in the Popular district.
Head to the commune of Belen for unforgettable views over Medellín. On a platform atop 262-foot (80-m) Nutibara Hill, you’re met with stunning vistas of the city and country that stretch in all directions. The site also features Pueblito Paisa, a quaint model of a typical town in the Antioquia province. Here, you can wander the cobblestone plaza, browse the outdoor market stalls, sample bites of traditional food, or dive into Medellín’s history at the little City Museum. Take a taxi to the top of the hill and then walk back down, winding your way through the abstract artwork in the Sculpture Park.
Explore the must-see sites of Medellín on a tour with your own private guide. Begin in El Centro with a morning stroll among the iconic statues in Botero Plaza. Relax in the warm sun at Bolivar Park and admire the facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest brick church in the world. After a lunch of tasty Colombian classics, cap off your excursion with a cable car ride to see Medellín’s large-scale outdoor escalators—an innovative form of transportation that brings thousands of travelers from the outer barrios to the center of the city.
Travel back in time through Medellín’s notorious past with a tour through the former epicenter of the drug cartels. With a knowledgeable guide leading the way, see the once-home of Pablo Escobar, pay a visit to his tomb, and learn about the changes that began happening after his death. Next, head into San Javier, also known as Commune 13, a district that earned an infamously dangerous reputation during the height of the drug wars. Today the area is a prime example of how Medellín has transformed, with cable cars and escalators connecting the steep slopes of the city to office buildings, libraries, and shopping centers.
To further uncover what Commune 13 has to offer, immerse yourself in its vibrant local culture. A guided tour takes you through the district to see its intricate graffiti and compelling street art. Learn about the factors that contributed to the district’s turnaround and meet with a local artist who led the charge in re-envisioning the area. Soak up trivia about the hip hop movement that has gotten kids off the street and encouraged them to pursue music, dance, and other arts within the community.
Once you’ve explored Medellín, travel out of the city through lush jungle to Piedra de Peñol, a monolithic rock formation towering at 722 feet (220 m). The journey begins at the Trojan Horse, a site showcasing handmade crafts from artisans across the country. When you finally reach the rock, you can opt to climb up the 740 steps to the monolith’s summit for 360-degree views of the valley, mountains, and reservoir. Back down on ground, continue your tour into the city of Guatapé. Walk through the streets to admire Crayola-colored houses before making the drive back to Medellin.