Plaza Botero square and downtown Medellin at dusk in Medellin, Colombia.
travel tips

Five things to know before travelling to Medellin, Colombia

Daniel James

Contributing writer

If you want to visit a sunny city in the Americas that won't going to break the bank, consider Medellin in Colombia. Situated in the Valle de Aburra, Medellin is the second most important city in Colombia, right after the capital Bogata. There are so many things to do in Medellin that people from all over the country dream of visiting.

The drug violence of the 80s and 90s now well behind it, Medellín is a vast city surrounded on either side by majestic mountain ranges. Along with pleasant spring-like weather all year round and a range of fun activities, here are a few things you can expect from your trip to this fascinating city.

Overlooking houses and hills in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is a welcoming city

On a trip to Medellin, not only will you be greeted as if you were arriving home, but the welcoming vibe of some of Colombia’s most exuberant people will make it so you won’t want to leave. In Medellin you’ll find everything from great coffee, culture, shopping malls, restaurants, day trips and a vibrant nightlife scene.

The Paisas, a group of people from Medellin and surrounding regions, are known all over the country for their strong traditions and good food. One of the most popular Colombian dishes is the Bandeja Paisa, which is a must try for all new visitors to the country.

Statue in Medellin, Colombia

Getting around Medellin is easy

The city’s advanced transport system, which includes a Metro, electric scooters and various cable cars, allows you to reach otherwise difficult areas disconnected from the main city. These areas in many cases serve as an attraction for many new visitors who want to visit places like Arvi Park or Comuna 13 for example.

There are excellent day trips from Medellin

Medellin also serves as an excellent base to get to other popular destinations in Colombia such as San Andres or Santa Marta. The US dollar goes a long way here so you can take part in many activities on a relatively small budget and still have change to spare. For example, there are many coffee tours and ample opportunities to visit nearby towns such as Guatapefor less than $30.

Guatape panoramic view from the Rock (La Piedra del Penol), near Medellin, Colombia

You can find vibrant festivals and nightlife in Medellin

Festive periods are very popular times to visit Medellin, and during the Christmas period more than 4 million tourists visit Medellin every year to see the Los Alumbrados which is a light festival that continues to grow year after year. In Parque Norte you can find a light show which has over 26 million lights on display.

If you decide to travel to Medellin for a weekend and want to experience its vibrant nightlife, the Zone Rosa area located in the El Poblado neighbourhood is a place where you can meet other international tourists.

A coffee car in Medellin, Colombia

You can have a local experience in Medellin

Let’s say you want a more local experience during your visit, you can head to neighbourhoods such as Laureles or even head over to Sabaneta which is located outside the city of Medellin but still reachable by the way of the Metro system.

You may find that you’ll need to learn a few Spanish words before arriving, especially if you are looking for a more local experience in the city. Saying that, don’t let a lack of Spanish language skills deter you from visiting the city of eternal spring - many tourists arrive in Medellin with little to no Spanish and get by just fine.

Not only are the warm weather and culture great reasons to visit Medellin, but it also has a large variety of tourist attractions. One of the best places to live in Colombia, Medellin has a warm and friendly atmosphere that makes it a great city to be for anyone wanting a break from their usual surroundings.

Planning a trip to Medellin? Stay at the Celestino Boutique Hotel near Lleras Park.

Share this article

Daniel James

Author - Daniel James

Daniel James from Layer Culture is a cultural traveler based in Colombia. He dedicates his time to learning Spanish whilst exploring life and leisure in both Central and South America.

Last Updated 22 February 2023

Guatape panoramic view from the Rock (La Piedra del Penol), near Medellin, Colombia


Home to a traumatic but rich history, stunning scenery and some of the continent’s most welcoming and sophisticated people, Colombia is a natural draw for travellers to South America.