Are you looking for day trips from Medellin? Medellin is Colombia’s second-largest, and busiest city. It also just happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world, the vibe in Medellin is unlike anywhere else. When I’m here I pretty much spend all my time dancing salsa and bachata, improving my Spanish skills, and drinking coffee.
One thing I would say though is it’s more of a digital nomad city or a city you want to stay in for a while. 3 days in Medellin isn’t really going to be enough to get under the surface of the city. But after a few weeks living in Medellin, you are going to want to get out and about and do some exploring!
To help you navigate your way around I’ve put together this guide to some of my favorite day trips from Medellin, including some notes on how to get there.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $39. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy. I also use Travel Insurance Master for short trips.
Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies.
1. Roam Around Guatape
Guatape is a colorful town with fantastic views of lush and green mountains located at the east of Medellin. The Guatape tour is one of the most famous tours, and the amazing viewpoint from El Peñol is a must on your to-do list if you are in Medellin.
The bright and vibrant colors of the buildings with colonial heritage give a happy and sweet vibe. From almost every hotel terrace visitors can appreciate an incredible view of the mountain El Peñol. El Peñol is a 200-meter-high rock, and why is this interesting? Well, you can climb the 270 stairs to reach the top of the rock to appreciate the astonishing view.
You can easily get to Guatape by bus from El Poblado bus station. However, I decided to just book on a tour to save the hassle of dealing with public buses. I’d say if you want to go and spend the night, go on the bus. If you want to do this as a day trip, do a tour, it’s not expensive and it will save you time and hassle.
If you do choose to do the tour by yourself, I would recommend getting off the bus at El Peñol, climbing the rock first, and then getting a tuk tuk from here into the town. You can then spend the day exploring the adorable town, get some yummy food and then can get a boat tour around the lake at whatever time you choose (if you want). This is cheaper if you have a few people to split the cost with.
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2. Relax at Arvi Natural Park
This is a regional natural park close to Medellin you can reach by public transportation, metro cable, or by car directly from Medellin. The huge Arvi park is located northeast of Medellin surrounded by the Andean Mountains. There are several activities close to nature you can choose from.
Because of the size of the park, there is only part of it you will be allowed to enter without a guide. If you want to really explore the park you will need to book a tour. To make things a bit more interesting you can also book horses to ride, bikes, or you can just hike!
As well as all of the flora and fauna there are lots of birds to spot for any birders out there.
The last time I went to Arvi park I went with Colombian Buddy. I had such a great day with Mau my guide. This is a great option if you are new to the area and don’t want to go to the park alone. To learn more about Colombian Buddy click here.
3. Visit San Rafael
San Rafael is an “off the beaten path” town close to Medellin where you will find fresh-water rivers and lagoons, this is an undiscovered paradise tourist attraction. It is at a much lower altitude, so the weather is warmer which is perfect for swimming in the fresh waters coming directly from the pristine mountains. It is definitely another perfect place for nature lovers.
You can easily get here by public bus, or you can do it as a tour with Guatape if you are short on time.
4. Drink Colombian Coffee at Jardin
Yet another town about four to five hours away from Medellin where coffee is life. This is a colorful town with cafes and restaurants that take their tables out on the cobblestone streets from where you can have a view of the coffee plantations in the surrounding mountains. The small town consists of almost 14000 residents and is a relaxing place away from Medellin’s bustle.
Jardin is a quieter and less developed version of Salento, without the palm trees! It is a great place to go the escape the hustle and bustle of Medellin and another great option for nature-lovers. The main activities to do around here are hikes and swimming in waterfalls. (But make sure you bring a lot of bug spray). There was also some amazing food here, so if you do get the change to visit – Bon Appetit or Bella Italia are a must-see (albeit not very Colombian).
Getting here can be a bit of a hassle and the roads may raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but the journey is equally as stunning as it is scary and the colorful Chiva buses make for a fun ride! There is only one bus a day which would get you to Salento from here (at 8am), so if this is your plan make sure to go to the booking office the day before to ensure there is space!
5. Go Paragliding at Cocorna
This is a small town located less than two hours away from Medellin well worth visiting for a day trip from Medellin. Why do people come here? Mostly to get their blood pumping by paragliding.
You can see the whole city, mountains, and rivers just like a bird. So I’d say you strap up and get ready for paragliding over Medellin and have an amazing experience of a lifetime! I would book this ahead of time with a company that will pick you up from Medellin to save the hassle of getting yourself there.