Medellin | How To Spend 72 hours in Medellin, Colombia

How To Spend 72 hours in Medellin, Colombia

2024-06-07

Dubbed the town of “Eternal Spring”, Medellin, is one of the best destinations to spend 72 hours in South America. It’s transformation is part of a trend in Colombia to regenerate former slums into trendy urban areas.

Medellin is Colombia’s second largest town. It has swapped its sulphurous past for the present, where the name of the town evokes art, mouthwatering Colombian cuisine and cutting edge infrastructure.

It lies in a cup-like valley rimmed with mountains, overgrown with lush vegetation.
Yet the weather is mild and it rains often.

It has an international airport, where you can fly not only from Madrid but also New York, Mexico, Panama as well as Santiago and elsewhere.

What is more, it is situated in Antioquia Province, which features stunning nature and unique rural vibe.

I was able to book a private transfer and also eat and stay in the best of the region’s restaurants and hotels.

Table of content
 

Itinerary ideas to visit Medellin

 

Day I

1. El Poblado & Manila

 

When I first arrived in Medellin, on a plane from Santiago, I felt an irresistable urge, a veritable wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the giant Colombian urban sprawl. And so, I made it to El Poblado, a Colombian analogue to Istanbul’s Kodikoy.

Known as a hip area, El Poblado boasts not only trendy restaurants and en vogue accommodation but also unique cultural attractions.

For lunch, I went to El Cielo, a swanky restaurant serving authentic Colombian food. If you would like to put up in El Poblado, one of the city’s most salubrious areas, check into the many glitzy boutique hotels in this area.

I avoided going to Parce Lleras, a somewhat seedy area known as a major nightlife hub.

Also, keep in mind that one must watch out for street crime and must be cautious if moving around at night.

El Poblado | Medellin | Colombia | South America
Photo: MarcPo
  • Manila

Once I did El Poblado, I plomped for a tour of Manila, a quiet leafy area, adjacent to El Poblado, and known for chic accommodation and a bonanza of gastronomic delights.

For authentic Colombian fare, go to Mamasita Medalo. For truly ambrosial pizza swingy by El Zorro y La Gitana, a cosy pizzeria famed for its margaritas.

Keep in mind that the best places to go clubbing in El Poblado and Manila are Bolivar Bailadero & Fresqueria, while the best shopping venues are the following: El Tesoro Parque Comercial, or Centro Comercial Santa Fe.

2. Historic Centre


Then I went for a vespertine stroll, all solo, to end in the entrails of the historic centre.

Beloved for its museums and centuries-hallowed townscape, El Centro, as it is known, is a great area to pass midday hours in.

To escape the midday heat, pay a visit to Museo de Antioquia and Javier Uribe Cultural Centre, two temples of art that allow you to escape the sun and the crowd.

Then make your way to Junin Street. Located at the foot of Coltejer Tower, it is one of the most agreeable streets in town.

Along with Carabero and Paseo Bolivar, it is one of the three main walkways and is prized by gourmands and fashionistas from all over the world.

Note that the word “Junninear” which denotes window shopping derives from the name of the street.

After that, proceed to Plaza Bolivar, nestling at the northern end of Junin Street.

This salubrious-looking space is one of the best spots to mingle with amical locals, serving as a large open air bazaar every first Saturday of the month.

Once you did the downtown I proceeded to Casa de la Memoria, a temple of nonpareil Colombian art.

Casa de la Memoria | Medellin | Colombia | South America
Photo: museocasadelamemoria.gov.co

3. Casa de la Memoria


One of the city’s best museums to visit in town, Casa de la Memoria is devoted to remembering urban warfare and the time of political strife in Medellin.

Located within a walking distance from other museums like Museo de Antioquia,It features a vast array of multimedia materials that will help shed light on the city’s tumultuous past.

I was surprised by the extreme suffering and resilience the Colombian nation has overcome to achieve its current state of prosperity.

4. Laurels

 

Once I did the two most important areas I went to Laurels.

Renowned for its yoga studios, great parks and tea parlours, Laurels is a cool spot to explore in the afternoon before heading to a vibrant nightlife hub such as Setenta Street.

Day II

1. Western Periphery & Communa 13

 

Known as the most sanitised spot of a district once notorious for urban guerilla wars between armed groups, the spot has been converted into one of the most kinetic culture hubs of the town.

I headed here on the morning of day two in Medellin.

The cluster has revived the community’s spirits in fact thanks to state of the art transport infrastructure, such as cable cars which made travelling in and out of the area significantly more hassle-free.

Cable cars | Medellin | Colombia | South America
Photo: jkraft5

2. Hiking out of town in El Penol

 

After I exploted the Western outskirts of Medellin, I jumped into my transfer to set out of town for a rural escapade a-la-Colombien.

Once you made it to Communa 13 and the Western Periphery, order a transfer to escape the hustle and bustle of Medellin, if only for one afternoon. The bloom and freshness of

Antiochia, will plunge you into the hurricane of eternal spring, a never ending ode to youth and hope.

Climb the towering Stone of El Peñol for views of the reservoir and go for a hike that will offer you some of Colombia’s most gob-smacking vistas.

It is one of the most romantic spots to visit in Medellin with your significant other.

Alternatively, opt for one of the many other tours of Guatape, including the Guatape Town Tour or other unique multi-day trips out of Medellin, such as trips to Cali, Bogota and Cartagena.

Guatape | Colombia | South America
Photo: iFerol

Day III

  • Parque Arvi

My first 48 hours in Medellin felt like a kaleidoscopic vortex of emotions.

On the morning of day three I ventured atop one of the city’s tallest hills. I left Medellin at seven in the morning and got whizzed off to Parque Arvi.

Situated high in the mountains, the park sprawls for vast distances of wooded land.

Here you can not only go hiking, but also climb on top of the hill to descend via a famed gondola.

It lies within a 30km distance from Medellin and is not just a bio resort but also a unique pre-columbian archeological site.

It is wise to spend at least five hours hiking and exploring the unique nature site renowned for its diverse flora and fauna.

I returned to town by seven in the evening and went for a caipirinha at my hotel’s bar. Then I went to a festive event on Setenta Street.

Parque Arvi | Medellin | Colombia | South America
Photo: oscar garces
  • Go clubbing on Setenta Street

Known as the street, la Setenta is a bustling thoroughfare known for its unique nocturnal escapades.

The best nightclubs include LA70, an iconic venue known for its Colombian kitsch, and frenetic soirees.

I danced myself to bed and next morning took my flight back to Santiago, Medellin has remained in my heart like the first love met again at the dawn of years, like an eternal feast that clings to you with its springtime freshness.

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Where to eat in Medellin

 

If heading for dinner with your significant other, make your way to Carmen, a chic restaurant serving exquisite dishes like Pacific coast-sourced ceviche and beef tenderloin with Andean potato gratin.

For a truly sumptuous dinner head to El Cielo, arguably one of the most haute de game restaurant chains in Colombia, and one of the best restaurants to dine in style in El Poblado.

El Cielo Restaurant | Medellin | Colombia | South America
Photo: El Cielo Restaurant

For something less upscale, swing by Restaurante Mondongo’s, also in El Poblado.

Don't miss out on authentic Colombian burgers at La Calle Cocina, one of the best Colombian fast foods in town.

To check out a really locavore offer visit Sambombi, where you can not only eat but also drink really delectable house wine.

Where to stay in Medellin

 
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Medellin has many safe areas for visitors. There are parts of the city that are considered unsafe parts of town and some areas are more dangerous than others.

The Western Periphery is one such locale, yet parts of it have been gentrified, as is the case with Communa 13.

For you to profit from safe and secure accommodation in Medellin, pick a hotel in El Poblado, Manila or Laurels.

These areas are not just oasis of safety, they also boast nonpareil gastronomy and entertainment.

Things to do and insider tips

 

Don't forget to walk when in Medellin, and note that there are a number of great cycling itineraries.

Use Uber and don't forget to stay out of El Centro after dark.

Also, avoid putting on display any valuables like phones and laptops.

What is more, beware of using ATMs in public spaces, and use your hotel’s safety deposit box to store your passport and other important items.

Useful info

 

Known as the town of Pablo Escobar, Medellin's bad repute has diminished since the 1990s.

Yet, it is still known for its crime-ridden suburbs and drug culture.

Note that the possession of cocaine under one gram is considered legal yet it is still not recommended to use the substance. Do not transport or consume illegal substances.

Also, keep in mind that even if nationals of most countries don't need a visa to enter Colombia, you will have to fill out an entry registration form 72 hours before your trip.

Also, keep in mind that due to drug and human trafficking you can be subject to a random police check at the airport.

Bonus Tips

 

Medellin is a veritable literary marvel and it has featured in many a novel as a protagonist.

Note that “News of a Kidnapping” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who also authored Hundred Years of Solitude, is set in Medellin

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