Hey travelers! My name is Nikki Wagar and I have a travel blog called The Everywhere Blonde where I share travel guides and tips in hopes to inspire people to get out there and live their best lives. In this Medellin travel guide, I will be sharing my experiences in the wonderful city of Medellin, which was the main destination I was based in on my 10-day Colombia trip.
I grew up in Upstate New York and studied nursing. I did that for a few years before embarking on this blog journey – I love helping people! But travel has always been my passion since I was a kid. As soon as I was old enough to drive myself, I began taking road trips all over the US – from New Jersey all the way to Florida. I love experiencing new places and things.
One new place I had the pleasure of experiencing recently was Medellin. My trip there was honestly my favorite trip I have ever taken! Indeed, it was my first solo travel experience out of the USA. Medellin is a magical city with so much beauty, culture and rich history on offer. Not to mention the absolute friendliest people I have ever met. I felt so at home in Medellin.
What Inspired me to Visit Colombia
Colombia was never on my radar for travel (at least not right away) and my trip there was definitely spontaneous! I was traveling in Costa Rica when I met someone who mentioned they were going to Colombia next. This sparked my interest, so I started looking for things to do and places to visit.
I was intrigued by what I found during my research. The culture of this South American country looked amazing. Then when I looked up flights, it was next to nothing to fly there from Costa Rica. So I just said to myself: “Why not check off another country real quick”? And that is how I landed in Medellin. I didn’t even book my hotel until I was in Colombia at the airport!
I spent a week and a half in Colombia on my first trip. I was based in Medellin and just traveled around that area. I’m currently back in Colombia now exploring Cartagena – the walled city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast! As soon as I got back to the United States after my first trip, I just knew I would be visiting again sometime in the near future. And here I am now!
Favorite Place in Colombia: Guatape
The one place that stole my heart on this first Colombia trip was Guatape. It’s the cutest, most colorful little town located two hours east of Medellin. I climbed El Penon de Guatape which had some of the best views I had ever seen at the top! I also enjoyed walking around the colorful streets and Plazoleta de Los Zocalos – a public plaza with brightly painted structures.
Even better and more importantly, the locals of Guatape were so sweet! I had such a great day there. No trip to Medellin (and Colombia) is complete without spending at least one full day exploring the highlights of Guatape.
Top 5 Things To Do in Medellin
1. Take a Walking Tour of Comuna 13
Today Comuna 13 is known for its graffiti, street art and walking tours but there is a lot more to this neighborhood than pretty murals and photo ops! I loved learning about the history of this community in Medellin and what they have overcome over the last few years. A war zone turned into a booming tourist attraction, it’s such an amazing success story for Colombia.
2. Spend a Full Day Exploring Guatape
A two hour drive from Medellin lies the cutest little town of Guatape. I instantly fell in love with its colorful houses, cobblestone streets, tuk-tuks and the friendliest people I have ever met! And if you are a sucker for a good view, you can climb El Penon de Guatape for an epic panoramic view.
They also have boat rides and other water sports on the lake. It’s definitely worth putting aside a full day on your Medellin itinerary for Guatape. If you have more time, you can spend a night here in a cute accommodation.
3. Climb El Penon de Guatape for Epic Views
Also in Guatape, you can climb up 740 steps to one of the most incredible panoramic views in Colombia – El Penon de Guatape. At the top you will see sparkling blue waters and hundreds of little green islands with the peaks of the Andes Mountains surrounding them. It’s breathtaking!
4. Paraglide over the City with Paragliding Medellin
If you are adventurous then you have to do this! Imagine being way up high in the sky gliding over the city – with views of the greenery, mountains and waterfalls. Colombia is such a beautiful country, especially from high above! I had the best experience with @paraglidingmedellin. These guys are amazing and they are so passionate about what they love to do.
5. Enjoy a Ride on the Metrocable of Medellin
For more amazing views, take a ride on the Metrocable. These cable cars are a symbol of a new destination: a city that has transformed from one of the world’s most dangerous into an innovative, creative and safe place.
My Best Experience in Medellin
One of my favorite memories from Medellin was walking around Comuna 13. I feel like I learned so much about Colombia and its history. I love to see new places and things but I also love learning about the history of the places that I visit. It makes the experience so much more meaningful!
Incredible Food Scene of Colombia
Medellin was in a type of lockdown when I visited, so unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to check out too many restaurants during my visit. But if you like a good smoothie bowl I highly recommend Betty’s Bowls. Their bowls are fresh and delicious, and it doesn’t hurt that they are pretty too.
Also, you have to try Colombia’s Pan de Queso (cheese rolls). It’s a national staple food! Pan de Queso is just basically a cheese bread. If you go to the right place to get fresh ones, they are so delicious hot out of the oven!
Where to Stay in Medellin
I suggest staying in El Poblado. It’s the nicest neighborhood in Medellin and I felt super safe there. For a unique stay outside the city (20 minutes away), there is a glamping spot called La Montana Sagrada. I spent a few nights there and it was so nice to be away from everything and just be with nature. It was peaceful and the views were absolutely incredible!
Need to Know Before you Go
Medellin has a reputation of being a dangerous place which intimidates and stops most foreigners from visiting. But it was honestly my favorite place I have ever been to! What happened years ago doesn’t define the country or the people today. Colombia has changed for the better.
The people in Colombia are some of the most genuine people and they love to welcome visitors with open arms. The country definitely gets a bad rep but I love to help spread the word of what a beautiful country it is. The culture is amazing and there are so many unique destinations to visit.
This being said, you should still be a bit careful when you travel there (just like any other country though). Be aware of your surroundings when traveling alone. Try and visit places with other travelers or locals if you can. This way you will have someone to share the experience with and stay safer.
I also recommend brushing up on your Spanish before you visit. It’s not like Mexico or Costa Rica which are more Americanized. Most people don’t speak any English in Colombia. It would be hard to get by not knowing any Spanish at all. Apart from that, just immerse yourself in the culture and have a good time! I’m sure you will fall in love with Medellin just like I did.