You’ll never have enough of Medellín. This vibrant and fascinating city offers endless options of places to visit and things to do.
History, Art & Culture
Start your tour from the Plaza Botero, an open-air public gallery where you can admire the magnificent rotund statues of the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Botero donated 23 of his bronze statues to Medellín, his hometown, as a tribute to the city. In this way, people can connect with art in a space that is attractive and pleasant to walk. In front of the Plaza Botero you’ll have the opportunity to visit Medellín’s most popular museum, the Museum of Antioquia, and also, the landmark building of Rafael Uribe Cultural Centre. In the south of the city, where previously was a steelmaker factory, you’ll find the edgy Museum of Modern Art, an important art space of the city. This museum was founded by artists and local entrepreneurs and has the largest selection of Débora Arango’s paintings, one of the most outstanding Colombian artists. Another thought-provoking museum is the Casa de la Memoria where you can meet and contemplate the city’s violent past through the eyes of the victims.
Another great plan is to visit Medellín’s botanical garden, a 13-hectares space featuring a lake, a tropical forest, a garden of palms and a desert. You cannot leave Medellín without visiting the city’s most trendy neighbourhood, El Poblado, home to top-notch restaurants, boutique hotels, bars and nightclubs. In case you’d like to have a more relaxed plan, you can go up to Nutibara hill to see the sunset and enjoy an incredible panoramic view over Medellín. On the top of the hill there’s also the Pueblito Paisa. In this 33-hectares space you’ll find a replica of a typical Antioquia style town of the 20th century.
Medellín’s most representative dish and maybe the most famous in Colombia is the bandeja paisa. It’s about a massive platter that traditionally includes minced beef, fried pork crackling, beans, rice, fried egg, chorizo, avocado, ripe plantain and arepa. It might sound like a bomb of carbs and fats but is definitely worth a try as it represents the region’s flavours. Other typical dishes of the department of Antioquia are the mondongo soup (thick soup made from pork, intestines and chorizo), the arepa paisa (made from corn dough and usually topped with butter, salt and cheese), the patacón (fried green plantain served with a variety of sauces) and the sancocho antioqueño (beef soup with potato, tapioca, carrot, corn and green plantain). Now, if you’d like to try the Antioquenian gastronomy, the Hacienda restaurant offers some good options of typical dishes from this part of the country and has various outlets across the city.
The innovative character of Medellín can be noticed all over the city. From the development of modern transport systems, like the Metro and Metrocable (cable car system) that directly connects poor neighbourhoods with central parts of Medellín, to the transformation of the Comuna 13 district from a no-go place to a must-visit tourist site.
During your stay in Medellín you can go on a guided walking tour to Comuna 13 and learn about its history and dark past through fascinating street art, music and dance performances by the local people. Once considered as one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Medellín, today Comuna 13 attracts increasing numbers of visitors every day. As soon as you arrive, you’ll come across a great novelty of the district – the open-air escalators. This public transit system allows people to easily ascend extremely steep inclines and hundreds of exhausting steps. The escalators are definitely one of the most effective and inclusive social projects ever put into effect in the city. They serve as a symbol of solidarity, hope and demonstrate a great example of Medellín’s rebirth.
The neighbourhood of La Candelaria is definitely one of the most beautiful parts of Bogotá’s historic centre and a major tourist attraction. Here you’ll find old streets with beautiful colonial buildings and also the legendary Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo filled with street performers and the traditional chicherías. These are local producers of a fermented corn drink which is consumed by hippies and local artists.
One of the most popular activities for tourists and locals is the graffiti tour. Bogotá as well as Medellín are artistic epicentres and one of their principal manifestations is the street art. Through the graffiti tour you can experience the capital’s great urban artwork and learn about Bogotá’s past and present, its social movements and the recent history that has moulded the city.
The Plaza de Bolívar is also located in the area, where you can admire Bogotá’s Primary Cathedral and other neoclassical buildings surrounding it, including the National Capitol, the Palace of Justice and the Liévano Palace, seat of the mayor. If you’re interested in the religious art, in about three blocks on the southern side of the plaza you can visit the Santa Clara Museum. The museum is located in an old church, just next to the presidential building Casa de Nariño. On the other side, north-east of the Plaza de Bolívar, you can visit the Independence Museum – Casa del Florero. A historic place where the battles that lead to Colombia’s independence originated from. Just a few steps from this museum you’ll find the old restaurant Puerta Falsa with more than 200 years of history. This restaurant is famous not only for the Colombian tamales (corn dough with pork or chicken wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed), but also for the traditional Bogotanian dish ajiaco (chicken soup with different kinds of potatoes, corn and guasca herbs garnished with sour cream, capers, rice and avocado). The area around the Plaza de Bolívar is full of history and activities for every taste.
The bohemian neighbourhood of La Macarena is another place in the historic centre worth visiting. In this area you can find plenty of restaurants with different types of cuisine, including Asian, Italian and Spanish. In case you haven’t tried the famous Peruvian cuisine, there are a couple of good options as well. You’ll also find restaurants serving Colombian dishes, and a good place to try the typical beverage chocolate con queso: small pieces of sweet cheese submerged in hot chocolate (it’s not as appalling as it sounds!). This is a Bogotanian kind of beverage that you can’t miss.
Learn about the history and art through excellent museums
One of the most visited museums in Bogotá is the Museum of Gold featuring large collections of unique archaeological objects and thousands of gold pieces. In this museum you can learn about the indigenous societies, like the Muisca people that lived in today’s territory of Bogotá and its surroundings. The Museum of Gold is located on the east side of Santander Park in the city’s downtown and is open daily except Mondays.
Another outstanding attraction is the Botero Museum, housed in a beautiful colonial style house in La Candelaria. It was founded in 2000 after a donation by the famous Colombian painter and sculptor, Fernando Botero. The artist handed over a private collection of 208 pieces of art, from which 123 are of his own making and the other 85 are of other international artists, including Picasso, Dalí and Monet. The museum is open daily except Tuesdays and the entrance is free.
In the city centre and across the Park of Independence you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá (MAMBO) housed in a four-storey building of postmodern architecture. The museum exhibits pieces of contemporary art mainly of artists from Latin America. You’ll find it open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Just next to the museum there is an open-air local market taking place every Sunday and public holiday. At the Mercado de las Pulgas you will find unusual handicraft items, books, old furniture, clothes and antiques. For more than 30 years this market has been considered as a cultural meeting place.
Enjoy the view of the city from the top of Monserrate Hill
During your stay in Bogotá, don’t miss the opportunity to go up the Monserrate Hill to enjoy the panoramic view of the city from an altitude of 3,152 metres. The best time to visit this site is at the late afternoon hours so you can also spot the beautiful sunset and enjoy the view of the entire city with its lighted buildings.
The easiest and shortest way to reach the top of the hill is by cable car or the funicular railway. If you feel adventurous enough and you’re in a good physical condition, you can also hike the trail that leads to the top. The path is open from 05:00 to 16:00 (last entry to go up is at 13:00) and it takes roughly an hour. As soon as you get to the top you’ll find various restaurants and stores selling handicrafts and souvenirs. You can also visit the church Basílica del Señor de Monserrate and the restaurants of Casa Santa Clara and San Isidro, both housed in beautiful buildings. Lastly, pay attention to the nature around you, as it’s very likely you can observe adorable hummingbirds flying free in short distance.
Discover an incredible variety of exotic fruits
If you want to have an authentic experience and get to know a great local market, the Paloquemao Market is the best choice. Local farmers come together in this place from 04:00 to 16:00 to sell their products. Here you’ll find yourself surrounded by endless amounts of exotic fruits, vegetables and flowers among other products. It’s about an explosion of colours and smells, with plenty of vendors selling all kinds of fresh produce, street food and local handicrafts.
Don’t forget to try delicious empanadas (fried pastries filled with beef or chicken and potato), a portion of lechona (an entire pork stuffed with rice and vegetables and roasted for hours) or the classic meal corrientazo: soup for starter, a piece of meat with plantain, potato, rice and legumes for main, served with a glass of fresh fruit juice (a dish particularly popular among workers which is worth to try).
Have fun like locals
In the northern part of Bogotá you’ll find the district of Chapinero, famous for hosting some of the best restaurants in the country, shopping malls with international brands, trendy hotels, and also renowned for the good nightlife. Among others, there’s Tejo Turmequé, a trendy playground that brings together the traditional habit of having a beer and playing tejo – a traditional Colombian game that’s about exploding small triangles of gunpowder with a metal disk on a surface of clay. If you’re into an experimental and contemporary cuisine, you might like to try one of the city’s innovative restaurants, such as Villanos en Bermudas, Salvo Patria or El Chato. For brunch lovers, Club Colombia by Harry Sasson (one of the most prestigious chefs in the country) is a good option where you’ll find a wide range of traditional dishes.
Further to the north of the city there’s the upscale neighbourhood of Usaquén. Here you can try good quality Colombian coffee in one of its lovely coffee shops. We recommend Colo Coffee, Catación Pública or Café San Alberto. The latter is a good option as well if you want to have a coffee tasting experience and learn about the collection and production process. Lastly, Usaquén is famous for its fancy flea market where people sell handicrafts and local products every Sunday.