Medellín, Colombia is one of the most fascinating places I’ve traveled to. Nested between the staggering mountains, this beautiful city is rich in culture, has a diverse community, and is very welcoming to anyone looking to visit or make Medellín their future home. You can tell the Medellín is bustling but the city has such a quaint, laid back, and easy going feel. It has become a featured location among travel enthusiasts, expats, and other nomadic types.
I went to Medellín with a friend who I have traveled all over the western hemisphere with. We love to visit new places and now that I’m married, I get to experience new destinations with Mrs. Happy Frugal.
After we arrived in Medellín, we made a friend at one of the local cafes who introduced us to his friend who does private tours of the Medellín region. Always nice to meet a friend of a friend. We met her the next day and we had an absolutely amazing time. She hooked us up with a great tour of some of the Medellín highlights and a couple of destinations off the beaten path.
Here are a few of my favorite activities we experienced in Medellín.
1. Parque Arvi
Parque Arvi is a beautiful nature preserve outside of Medellín. It’s a long but pleasant ride up the metro’s cable car but well worth the unbelievable views. It’s a family friendly park that offers a lot to see and do.
When I went, they had art projects and crafts for children. There were also many raw fruit stands that would make fresh juice or allow you to sample some of the exotic fruits Colombia has to offer.
There are nature trails for hiking and many spots for breathtaking views. It truly was a highlight of my trip.
2. Parque Explora
This science museum is a must see for anyone visiting Medellín. There are many exhibits to see and interact with. I made some friends at the hostel I was staying at and we all decided to go to the museum since it wasn’t too far from where we were staying and had great reviews. Once we got inside we were not disappointed. Along with the exhibits, science displays, and vivarium, there is an aquarium that boasts many indigenous species of fish. Watch out for the piranhas!
3. Plaza Botero
Fernando Botero is a famous artist and sculptor from Medellín. This plaza features 23 Botero sculptures and normally has street performers, fresh fruit stands, and hosts the wonderful Museo de Antioquia art museum. This plaza is a great place to hang out, drink coffee from one of the street cafes, and view some amazing art by a prolific artist.
4. Museo de Antioquia
Speaking of Botero, he has donated many of his art pieces to this museum. And it’s not just Botero art. The Museo de Antioquia features incredible pieces from other Colombian artists as well. Between the Plaza Botero and the Museo de Antioquia, you can spend several hours here taking in the rich history Colombia has to offer.
5. Laguna de Guatape
Okay, this isn’t in Medellín. In fact, it’s a couple of hours away, so it will probably be a full day trip but it is totally worth it. You can catch a bus, or find a tour group that will take you there. The Guatape region highlights lush, jungle-like vegetation, and beautiful bodies of water. It is also home to the Colombian national monument El Peñón de Guatapé. The large rock dome that overlooks Guatape. There are 740 steps to the top and boasts insane 360-degree views. Make sure you don’t miss this one.
6. Pablo Escobar’s Lake Mansion
You can’t leave Escobar off the list! The infamous drug lord owned many properties around Colombia and while we were in Guatapé, we took a boat out to his lake mansion. This was my favorite parts of the entire trip. Docking up to the island and exploring the ruins of a once immaculate home owned by one of the most notorious gangsters of all time was quite an experience. We walked through the shambled house and visualized what the property must have looked like in its prime. It was haunting to think Escobar himself walked the very halls we wandered through. A truly amazing experience that will not be soon forgotten.
I hope you enjoy this list and you get to visit the beautiful city of Medellín. It truly is a stunning destination.