This ultimate guide to 2 days in Medellín offers a flavor of the cultural attractions and outdoor excursions in the City of Eternal Spring. Read on for what to do when you have only 2 days in Medellín.
Folded into a verdant valley in Colombia’s Andes, Medellín has transformed remarkably from the “murder capital of the world” to one of Latin America’s most progressive cultural hubs. Once infamous for its drug-related violence—a reputation not helped by its portrayal in the Netflix series “Narcos”–innovative urban developments and a vibrant creative community has made the City of Eternal Spring one of South America’s most exciting cities to explore. This ultimate guide to 2 days in Medellin will help you discover the best things to do in Colombia’s dynamic second city.
Cultural Sights to Visit During 2 Days in Medellin
Casa de la Memoria
For an insight into Colombia’s turbulent past, a trip to Medellín’s Casa de la Memoria is sobering but essential. Interactive exhibitions and moving video testimonies pay tribute to the memory of the victims of armed conflict and drug violence and map out historic and ongoing peace-building processes. Colombia’s dark recent history should never be allowed to become its single story; this free museum helps to unpack the contexts that have shaped the country’s contemporary triumphs and challenges.
Follow a visit to the Casa de la Memoria with an uplifting tour of the hillside neighborhood of Comuna 13, a living embodiment of Medellín’s miracle turnaround. Once a hotbed of violence and a stronghold for some of Colombia’s most notorious drug gangs, public investment in infrastructure and social initiatives, married with a resilient community spirit, have helped to revive one of the most exciting districts in Medellín. Local guides help visitors explore the neighborhood’s rich cultural history through safe and socially responsible tours that celebrate Comuna 13’s vibrant arts scene and its residents’ resilience and creative energy.
Plazoleta de las Esculturas
Plazoleta de las Esculturas is more than a central square in Medellín’s historic La Candelaria neighborhood; it’s an outdoor exhibition featuring 23 oversized bronze statues by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist. By day, the leafy plaza—colloquially known as Plaza Botero—is one of the best spots in the city to grab an alfresco coffee and an empanada. Things get a little livelier in the evenings when street performers and live music create a carnival atmosphere. Don’t miss out on a visit to the nearby Museum of Antioquia, a grand neo-classical masterpiece of colonial architecture which houses iconic works by Botero and other celebrated Colombian artists.
To most people in Medellín, the notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was a violent criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. His legacy has been described as an “open wound” in Medellín, but it has also been commodified through Escobar-themed attractions that cater to the rising trend in narco-tourism.
In Medellín today, you can visit the Pablo Escobar museum run by family members or buy t-shirts and keyrings emblazoned with his mugshot from street vendors. Once his cartel’s headquarters, the country estate is now a family-friendly theme park, El Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles, where you can ogle Escobar’s collection of antique cars and a herd of “cocaine hippos” he imported from Africa.
But before taking part in any Escobar-themed experience, consider how locals might view these attractions. Critics argue that glorifying Escobar, the gangster, disrespects the victims and survivors of his crimes and brings back memories that the people of Medellín would sooner forget. More meaningful and respectful ways exist to engage with Medellín’s history, including visits to Casa de la Memoria and Comuna 13. Or visit a different reformed neighborhood with local community leaders through Real City Tours. These experiences celebrate how Medellín has emerged from its violent past instead of honoring the controversial figure responsible for that violence.
Outdoor Activities While Spending 2 Days in Medellin
Medellín’s stunning scenery and balmy year-round climate make it ideal for outdoor activities, and the city boasts many gardens, urban parks, and green spaces to enjoy. The pick of the bunch is Parque Arví, a 40,000-acre nature reserve nestled amidst the rolling hills that surround the city. Arrive by cable car on the Metrocable for panoramic views of the park before ambling the winding hiking trails that traverse its wild forests and bubbling brooks. Horseback riding and mountain biking are among the other outdoor activities available here.
Jardín Botánico de Medellín
A trip to the Botanical Gardens is another tranquil setting to get close to Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity—for free. This living museum is home to over 1000 plant species, a butterfly farm, and a desert garden. The best time to visit is during Medellín’s annual “Feria de las Flores” (Flower Festival), Colombia’s best-smelling celebration, when the gardens host a dazzling orchid exhibition.
Parque de los Pies Descalzos
For a unique experience, the Barefoot Park (Parque de los Descalzos) in the heart of downtown Medellín offers a zen-inspired take on green urban spaces. It’s designed as a sensory experience, with a series of muddy and grassy surfaces and shallow pools to allow visitors to connect with nature on a physical level.
Day Trips from Medellin
2 Days in Medellin is enough time to take in some of the city’s best urban and outdoor attractions, but some unmissable day trips should be built into a longer itinerary. The most popular day trip is to Guatapé, a charming colonial village set amongst lush green hills and a serene reservoir. The landmark attraction here is El Peñón de Guatapé (the Stone of Guatapé), a towering granite rock that stands over 650 feet tall. A winding staircase allows tourists to scale El Peñón and enjoy the breathtaking vistas from the viewing platform at the summit. Guatapé is just a two-hour drive from Medellín, but to make the most of the experience, it’s better to book with a tour operator. Tours Guatapé offers round-trip transportation and an English-speaking guide to walk you through the town’s highlights.
Colombia is the world’s number one producer of arabica coffee, and Antioquia’s mountain region is particularly renowned for coffee growing. Visit a plantation to see how traditional farming and coffee production methods remain at the heart of this multi-billion dollar industry. Medellín Day Trips allow visitors to enjoy a hands-on role in the production process with an immersive experience that offers a flavor of the farmer’s coffee-growing experience. As with all good day tours that engage stakeholders in the rural communities being visited, these trips help to support local businesses and keep their sustainable agriculture practices alive.
Where to Stay for Your 2 Days in Medellin
Nightlife lovers will especially love the Marquee; you won’t find a better base camp in Medellín. This stylish boutique hotel towers over the city’s lively El Poblado district, where a thrum of restaurants, clubs, and bars cater to every type of partygoer. Those who might prefer to enjoy the revelry from afar will be grateful for the sky-high sanctuary offered by the Marquee’s rooftop pool lounge, where classy cocktails and conversation can flow into the early hours.
Back in the rooms, glossy floor-to-ceiling wood paneling contrasts with a monochromatic color scheme and huge round bronze porthole-style windows to lend an intriguing natural-meets-futuristic character that sets it apart as a design-led boutique. The pick of the rooms is the Jacuzzi King Suite, where you enjoy some of the best views in Medellin from the comfort of your mood-lit pressure-jet bathtub.
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2 Days in Medellín
This ultimate guide to 2 days in Medellín offers a flavor of the cultural attractions and outdoor excursions in the City of Eternal Spring. Many visitors to Medellín go on to explore some of Colombia’s other popular cities, including the capital Bogotá and the colorful colonial town of Cartagena. But nowhere in the country quite provides the variety of experiences that can be enjoyed in Medellín, one of the most remarkable and resilient South American cities. Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning a trip to South America or nearby Central America. Looking for more ideas on where to go if you have a long weekend or want to extend a business trip? Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate 2-Day Guides.