Traversing Colombia: 72 hours in Medellin

Medellin, the pride of  ‘paisas‘, known by foreigners as the city of Pablo Escobar. Now a trending city, filled with delicious world food, fun parties, nice weather and all types of activities.

If you only have 3 days this is the perfect itinerary.

Day 1

We arrived at 7 am (horrible 5 am flight from Bogotá) got to the hostel in El Poblado: the party and restaurant area. The hostel seemed good, at first; the horrors would come later. We were hungry so we looked for a place, there are panaderias and restaurants from all price range: 6.000 for eggs, bread and coffee until 20.000 for bagels or french toast with fresh juices.

After breakfast we went to Parque Explora. It’s a very cool science park and aquarium, you can also pay extra to go into the planetarium. It has a ‘mind’, ‘time’ and ‘on stage’ section. Everything is very interactive, you can have contests in the mind section like how fast can you jump, with how much force you hit a football, etc. If you are with a friend it will be very fun! You can spend there more than 3 hours running around and enjoying life. The Jardin Botanico is right next to it and it’s free. I saw a huge lizard just chillin around in the grass.

Iguana in Garden

You can bring food to have a picnic at the Jardin, but there are not a lot of supermarkets nearby, so be prepared. Next activity: nap time!   

As you have probably heard the metro of Medellin is amazing, I have to say it is. Its the cleanest and widest metro I have seen. Not one paper on the floor, the carts are very comfortable and its very well signaled. It is the pride of ´paisas´ (with reason) and it makes us from Bogotá jealous 🙁

We ate at an Indian restaurant in Poblado, legit Indian food, I almost died by accidentally taking a dip of a truly spicy sauce, but fortunately I survived to enjoy the rest of the food. El Poblado has food for all tastes: korean, arabic, colombian, mediterranean, italian.

At night the chaos started. El Poblado is the extreme party area of Medellin so at night it’s very crowded and loud. The options are endless, pubs, clubs, salsa bars, reggaeton bars. we went out for a few beers and wanted to sleep early to go to Guatapé the next day. Did not happen. When we got back, we realized our room was right next to a club, the walls had no sound insulation so we welt we were inside the club: tortureee!! Of course we couldn’t sleep so we changed plans. We stayed up and chilled with some people from the hostel and decided to do Guatapé on monday.

Recommendation: If you want to sleep before 3 am make sure your hostel is NOT next to a club. Walls in colombia have NO sound insulation

Day 2

We had really nice breakfast at D’André: Delicious!! They have arepas, pancakes, crepes, bagels, fresh juices and good coffee. Highly recommended if you don’t mind paying more than 15.000 pesos. With the people we met the night before, we decided to go to Parque Arví. Spoiler alert: we didn’t make it. It was the first three-day weekend of 2016 so the city was packed with tourists using their last days of Christmas break. The metro station where we had to take the cable car to reach the park had a one hour line minimum to access the cable car. Then it took an hour to get to the park and the last entry was at 1pm. It was 1130 so no way we were gonna make it. I really wanted to ride the cable car, everyone loves it and recommends it.

We decided to go to Plaza de Botero, the central plaza at metro station Parque Berrío. You can go to the Museo de Antioquia, also on the Plaza but we didn’t, also you can walk around the area, sit, relax, watch people and take pictures with all the Fat Statues. Botero is a colombian sculpture famous for this style

Plaza Botero Medellín

Friends around a Fernando Botero statue

After aimlessly walking we went to the Museo el Castillo. Its a small castle built by a wealthy family. It has nice gardens to take some pictures, but the inside is not that impressive. Its filled with replicas from European castles, furniture, pianos, paintings etc. So, if you are not into that I don’t recommend it.

Girl in Garden


That night we needed to party. We went bar hoping around Parque Lleras, a lot of places have free drinks for girls 😉 

Day 3

Guatapé. We decided to go by ourselves. Big mistake. There is a tour that takes you to the el Peñol rock, Pueblo de Guatapé, and stops along the way. We should’ve left way earlier, but we didn’t count on the traffic, so we arrived nearly at lunch time. We ate and according to our time calculations we had to be back at the hostel at 5pm to pick our bags and go to the airport (we didn’t realize that the airport was on the way from Guatapé to Medellin, so we could have taken a bus directly from Guatapé and not go back to Medellin, rookie mistake)

three people with a lake in backgroundThree people with a lake in backround    Flooded lake

Anyway, we climbed the rock, all 700 steps and it was totally worth it. The scenery is truly breathtaking. Then, we rushed to the Guatapé town, had a 10 minute tour and got back to take our ‘bus’ back to Medellin. It is a different place that the normal touristic town, it was built after the region was flooded for a damn, and the houses were painted with the beautiful colors that exist today.

This was our ride to Medellin, a Chiva, typical colombian transportation:

Chiva: traditional colombian bus Chiva: traditional colombian bus

It was surprisingly less uncomfortable than the bus.

We got to the hostel, picked our bags and got to the airport safely. It was a fun and relaxing trip. I didn’t get to ride the cable car, do some tours I wanted, or go to Parque Arví, but that’s more reason to go back to Medellin.

Other things to do in Medellin:

Free tour: Only on weekdays and saturday mornings.

Graffitii Tour: I’ve heard its very cool and talks a lot about the history of Medellín and the effects of Pablo Escobar.

Pueblito Paisa: Its a replica of a typical ‘paisa’ town. I’ve heard its not worth if you have the time to go to an actual town like el Peñol.

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