16 Best Weekend and Day Trips From Medellin

Medellin is an amazing place but there are also so many incredible adventures and experiences when you venture beyond the valley. From charming, peaceful towns and stunning nature to extreme sports, cultural experiences and delicious coffee, Antioquia has so much to offer.

I have lived in Medellin for 15 years and these are some of my favorite places to visit outside of the city for the day or over the weekend. Medellin is wonderful but to get the full paisa experience you really need to pueblear (improvised slang meaning visiting a number of pueblos or small towns).

1. Santa Fe de Antioquia

santa fe de antioquia
Main Square of Santa Fe de Antioquia

📍 Distance from Medellin: 55km (1.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: An affordable and easy way to get to Santa Fe de Antioquia is by bus from Terminal Norte. The North bus terminal is located close to Caribe metro station and is around 20 minutes by taxi from Poblado.

There are a variety of bus companies offering the route and you should pay less than 15,000 COP (US$3.50) for a one-way ticket. Journey time varies depending on the time of day and route but with the construction of new infrastructure it is now possible to get there in just over an hour but it is more likely to be closer to 2 hours.

You will arrive at the town’s bus terminal which is where you can also book your return journey. It is also possible to pay for a private car with a driver or book a taxi but this is quite a lot more expensive but you can arrive in around 50 minutes.

➡️ Santa Fe de Antioquia is famous for its perfectly preserved colonial architecture, cobbled streets, warm weather and friendly rural charm.

Santa Fe was founded in 1541 by Jorge Robledo and is one of the oldest and best-preserved settlements in Antioquia. It is affectionately known as “The Mother City” as it was the capital of the Antioquia region of the country. The regional government moved to Medellin in 1826, leaving Santa Fe a beautiful remnant of the region’s past.

During the week the town is calm and relaxing with locals, horses and mules in the central square as baked goods, fruits and vegetables are sold. At the weekend a large number of tourists visit, giving more of a lively energy.

You can try delish coffee at Cafe Canelo, a stylish cafe where you can learn about the local coffee process. Cafe Canelo is at the Hotel Mariscal Robledo, a major landmark in the village with its beautiful architecture and celebration of sport and film from 1920s and 1930s Colombia.

You can also visit La Casa Solariega, which is a Belgium owned restaurant with a very unique style plus tasty Belgian beer and ice cream. There is the Juan del Corral museum, a villa which is free to enter and features preserved colonial decoration and artifacts from early indigenous communities in the region.

Despite being a small town, Santa Fe de Antioquia has many beautiful churches such as Nuestra Señora de Chiquinquira. You can enjoy the beautiful interiors or attend mass.

Finally there is the Puente del Occidente, the most famous symbol of the town and one of the key sites in Antioquia. Construction on the bridge began in 1887 and was completed in 1895 with the project designed and overseen by José María Villa, a Colombian who also worked on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

It takes one hour to walk to the bridge from the town or it is a short ride on a tuk-tuk.

Puente del Occidente
The meaningful Puente del Occidente

Why I recommend Santa Fe de Antioquia:

  • It has a long and important history in the region which is fascinating to explore
  • The beautiful town has some of the best hotels in the region with good options to fit all budgets
  • Puente del Occidente is an iconic location in Antioquia and the perfect spot for a photo


2. Guatape / El Penol

Dorian enjoying the colorful streets of Guatape

📍 Distance from Medellin: 80km (1.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get to Guatape and El Peñol by bus from the South Terminal which is a very short drive or 35-minute walk to Parque Poblado. There are various bus companies offering the service and the price should be around 19,000 COP (US$4.60).

The bus first stops at the base of the rock at El Peñol before continuing on to the town of Guatape. If you are doing a day trip I would recommend climbing the rock first and then taking a tuk-tuk to the terminal in Guatape. The tuk-tuk ride takes about 10 minutes. You can then decide how much time you want to spend in the town and book a return bus for 2 or 3 hours later.

Return buses can get booked up quickly at the weekend and on national holidays, so you may want to book a return in advance.

➡️ Guatape is a beautiful town full of colorfully decorated buildings, with many bearing symbols connected to the trades or history of the family. The town sits alongside a large reservoir, one of many in the area which were created when the land flooded following the construction of a dam in the 1960s.

You can enjoy boat trips, there is a zip line, water sports and helicopter rides over the beautiful landscape. It is also possible to see Pablo Escobar’s former country house called La Manuela, which was destroyed by a bomb in 1993 and left to decay.

The highlight of a trip to Guatape is climbing the rock of El Peñol. The rock is around 65 million years old with indigenous Tahami people worshiping the rock. It was first climbed in 1954 on an expedition which took 5 days, today it can be done in 30 minutes although the 600+ steps are definitely a challenge.

Once you get to the top and enjoy the spectacular view then you will definitely feel the effort was worth it. Have a refreshing ice cold michelada (beer with lemon juice and some salt around the rim) and survey the amazing Antioquia countryside.

el penol view
Many stairs to climb to reach the top of El Penol. But the view up there is really worth it.

Why I recommend it:

  • The town of Guatape is beautiful decorated and a great place to explore
  • La Piedra (the rock) is a truly unique, internationally renowned landmark with once in a lifetime views
  • It is easy to visit the town for a day or a few days plus there are a lot of activities and excellent rental properties overlooking the lakes.


3. San Felix

📍 Distance from Medellin: 4.5km (25 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can take the metro to Bello or Niquia station and get an uber or taxi. It should take around 20-25 minutes from the north side of Medellin or 50 minutes from Poblado or Laureles.

➡️ San Felix is the perfect spot for paragliding over the Antioquia countryside and the North of Medellin. It is the closest spot and there are a number of companies offering the activity. You run down the hill strapped in with an experienced expert and then take off to enjoy a 20+ minute flight.

The companies can provide Go Pro cameras to record the experience and prices are very reasonable.

If you want to enjoy a great view without the adrenaline, there are also some great spots to enjoy some hot chocolate and fresh air as you overlook the city from high up in the hills.

Why I recommend it:

  • Paragliding from San Felix is very affordable, offers great views and weather conditions are fairly consistent, which means the chance of cancelation is quite low
  • While the weather can be a little cooler than in the heart of the city, it is a great place for a cozy evening overlooking Bello and Medellin
  • It is easily accessible from Bello and the North of Medellin


4. Parque Arvi

📍 Distance from Medellin: 12km (35 minutes by cable car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get to Parque Arvi by taking the metro to Acevedo station then the cable car up to Santo Domingo and then a second cable car to Parque Arvi. The total cost of the journey across the transport network is 12,500 COP (US$3.15) and you will arrive at the entrance to the park.

It is also possible to take a bus that winds down the tight streets or a taxi but the cable car is quicker, cheaper and more fun (as long as you aren’t afraid of heights).

➡️ Parque Arvi is a 40 acres nature reserve just outside of Medellin which is popular with locals for hiking, cycling and picnics. You can book a guide to point out orchids and butterflies as they teach you about local nature while you explore the forest.

Arvi was built to provide local people with the opportunity to escape the city and connect with nature that is all around the densely populated city of Medellin. As you take the cable car up from the river above the barrios up onto the hill then out and over thousands of trees into the park, you really get a feel for the city and its surroundings.

Why I recommend it:

  • Parque Arvi is a short cable car ride away but really feels as if you hours from the city and surrounded by Colombian nature
  • You can enjoy delicious local snacks and buy nice souvenirs in the market
  • The cable car ride up to San Antonio and then out to Parque Arvi is a great experience which is worth the trip on its own


5. Jerico

📍 Distance from Medellin: 113km (Under 3 hours by bus)

🚌 How to get there: The bus from Medellin to Jerico leaves from the South Terminal and you can buy tickets at booth 18 on the lower floor. The journey should take between 2 and a half and 3 hours in total. The first bus is at around 5am and the last is at 6pm, it should cost 32,000 COP (US$7.80).

➡️ Jericho is known as the Athens of the Southwest with well-preserved colonial architecture, surrounding green mountains and Cristo el Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) standing above and overlooking the town from El Salvador.

The small town is an important religious center in the region with a beautiful, open, peaceful church. It is also famous for its long history of high quality coffee cultivation. There is also an interesting museum with locals coming into town on horseback to drink, chat with friends and at the weekend enjoy a bit of a party.

You can also enjoy hiking and paragiding in the surrounding area with the town at the base of the 6,400 feet high Western Mountain Range.


6. Santa Elena

📍 Distance from Medellin: 18km (1.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get to Santa Elena from Parque Arvi by taking the metro to Acevedo station, then a cable car to Santo Domingo then a second cable car. The total cost across the urban transport network is 10,000 COP (US$2.50).

Alternatively, you can take a bus from central Medellin which costs 2,800 COP (US$0.70) or a taxi which will take around 30 minutes and cost about 40,000 COP (US$10).

➡️ Santa Elena is just ten miles outside of Medellin and is a very popular day trip option, particularly during the annual Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival) carnival in the city.

Known as the “village of flowers”, Santa Elena has a cooler climate than the city that is perfect for growing an array of brightly colored flowers which are exported all around the world.

During the Feria the town is full of color and you can visit Santa Elena to learn about the culture. You can meet the growers and try out the “silleteros”, wooden chairs locals strap to their backs to carry floral displays which are paraded during the carnival. Farmers proudly show off their unique designs which represent Medellin, Colombia and local culture.

While Santa Elena is particularly special during the Feria de las Flores, it is a relaxing place to visit throughout the year. You can enjoy a coffee, visit the churches, the streets and stay in a finca (farm or small country house) up in the hills overlooking the city.

Why I recommend it:

  • Santa Elena is at the heart of the city’s biggest annual celebration and it is a great place to enjoy the flower displays and learn about the local culture
  • It is a very calm, sleepy town a very short bus or taxi ride outside of the city
  • The weather is cooler and the air is fresher, if you need a break from the warmer months in Medellin


7. Barbosa

📍 Distance from Medellin: 30km (45 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus direct to Barbosa from Niquia, the final stop in the north of Medellin on the metro. When exiting the metro look for the sign that says “Barbosa”, head down the steps and there should be buses waiting.

You can pay for the bus to Barbosa using your civica metro card. The price for just the bus is 4,000 COP (US$1) or 4,600 COP (US$1.15) for the metro and bus. The bus should take less than 40 minutes from Niquia.

You can also get a taxi which may be a little more comfortable but could end up slower than public transport as you have to cross the city.

➡️ Barbosa is a surprisingly underrated pueblo which is just 35 minutes from Medellin. While it doesn’t have the stunning colonial architecture of other towns in the region, it is surrounded by nature and lots of fun activities.

You can visit streams, waterfalls and natural swimming pools plus go hiking or horseback riding in the beautiful green hills.

On the road between Medellin and Barbosa you can also stop off at the Parque de Las Aguas waterpark which costs just 12,500 COP (US$3.10). The waterpark isn’t what it once was as the large slides have been closed as they are in need of maintenance but there is a large wave pool and it is a nice place to enjoy the sun and go for a swim out of the city.

Why I recommend it:

  • It is very quick, easy and affordable to get to Barbosa on public transport
  • You can get the feel and experience of the region’s pueblos in one day
    The weather is always 3 or 4 degrees warmer than Medellin despite its proximity, so it is a great place to enjoy the sun and go for a swim


8. San Rafael

📍 Distance from Medellin: 65km (2.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get to San Rafael by bus from the North Terminal. Sotrapeñol and Sotrasanvicente offer direct service with tickets available at booth 9. The buses are comfortable with air conditioning and reclining chairs. The journey time is around 2 and a half hours.

You can also stop off at the popular Guatape, which is on the way, if you want to visit multiple towns on the trip.

➡️ San Rafael is another picturesque town which sits on the fast-flowing Gutape river, past the previously mentioned town of the same now.

The beautiful town is, as is often the case, centered around the main square and the San Rafael Arcángel church, an impressive white and yellow structure.

San Rafael was founded in 1864 by a group of miners who were in search of gold. It continues to retain a bit of a wild west feel with lots of horses, cowboys and small lively bars in the evening but it is also very safe and popular to visit.

One of the big attractions of San Rafael is its wide variety of swimming spots with waterfalls, fast and slow moving water, places to dive and some spectacular views. The natural pools of Las Tangas and Trocadero are a great place to relax or you can opt for tubing, rafting and kayaking if you want something more fast moving.

Why I recommend it:

  • San Rafael has lots of great place to swim and enjoy water sports out in nature
  • The town has a classic rural Antioquia cowboy feel and charm
  • It is a great option to combine with nearby Guatape for a full Colombian pueblo experience


9. Jardin

📍 Distance from Medellin: 65km (2.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus from the South Terminal with Rapido Ochoa or Transporte Suroeste. Buses leave from 4.45am up until 6.45pm and take around 3 hours.

Prices range from around 38,000 COP to 41,000 with options of large comfortable buses or slightly quicker smaller microbuses.

➡️ Jardin is a particularly beautiful town in the heart of Antioquia’s coffee producing region where time moves slow and you can really unwind.

You can find a seat in one of the excellent coffee houses surrounding the central square, sit back, relax and watch the world go by. The main landmark is the neo-gothic style Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a church which is impressive but surprisingly large for what is a town made up of just a handful of narrow streets.

You can take a guided tour around one of the local farms to learn about production and coffee culture. There are also two cable cars that can offer incredible views over the town as you travel to the top of the nearby hills. The more modern Cable Aereo was closed for 5 years but is reportedly coming back in service while the more rickety La Garrucha route has stayed open more regularly.

Why I recommend it:

  • Jardin is a great place to enjoy a delicious coffee or visit a farm to see the production in action
    The town is very attractive with a very laid back, relaxing central square
    You can trek up the hills and enjoy the views around the town


10. Cocorna

📍 Distance from Medellin: 81km (1.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus from the North Terminal to Cocorona for 15,000 COP (US$3.70). Buses leave regularly from 5.45am up until 6.30pm and are operated by Flota Granada.

Many excursions to Cocorna also include transfers which can be a simple and comfortable albeit more expensive option.

➡️ Cocorna is the perfect base to enjoy extreme sports, enjoy the rivers, natural pools and dense forests.

You go tubing or white water rafting or relaxing in the warm water pools and waterfalls of the Melcocho river. You can also do paragliding, trekking and horse riding in the area around the small town.

It is a great option if you want adventure and the climate feels quite tropical with warm temperatures and heavy rain.

Why I recommend it:

  • Relaxing in the river and swimming in the waterfalls is incredibly relaxing
  • The rafting is challenging but a lot of fun and you really feel you are on a jungle adventure
  • You get a really distinct experience from Medellin but it is still relatively close and accessible


11. La Ceja

📍 Distance from Medellin: 43km (1 hour by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus from either the South or the North bus terminals for 11,100 COP (US$2.70). The journey takes a little over an hour with the first bus leaving from 5am to 9pm in Terminal Norte (North) and 5.30am to 7.45pm in Terminal Sur (South).

➡️ La Ceja is a picturesque town of just over 50,000 inhabitants set amidst spectacular nature.

While many towns in Antioquia grew as a result of mining, La Ceja has always focused on farming and agriculture, with bananas, mora (a local type of blackberry), caturra, coffee and vegetables central to the economy. This is part of the reason for the excellent preservation of natural beauty with La Ceja Nature Reserve an excellent place to spend the afternoon.

The reserve has some spectacular waterfalls, amazing valleys, jungle and has some unique examples of Colombian flora and fauna. It is a great place to birdwatch and hike, visiting the 10 waterfalls, springs and rivers. You may even spot some rare birds such as the brightly colored Andean Motmot.

Why I recommend it:

  • The town has a great deal of charm and quite style
  • La Ceja Nature Reserve is a great place to enjoy all of the amazing nature Antioquia has to offer
  • You can go on some spectacular and varied hikes in the surrounding areas


12. Hacienda Napoles

📍 Distance from Medellin: 175km (3.5 hours by car)

🚌 How to get there: It is possible to get there by bus but I would recommend driving if you have a car or going on a tour as everything is quite spread out. There is a full day tour available here which leaves at 5am and returns at 9 or 10pm.

➡️ Hacienda Napoles once the lavish country home of Pablo Escobar but today it is a huge waterpark and open without cages in the style of jurassic park.

Escobar kept a large number of imported African animals on the property and these have remained as the property has become a theme park. The hippopotamuses have thrived in Colombia since the 1990s and the rising population has become a problem in the region, with the government now planning to intervene.

The park is huge, covering 3,953 acres which makes Disneyland in California at 85 acres look tiny. It is possible to enjoy the park for one day but many spend more time and stay at the onsite or nearby hotels. The zoo includes crocodiles, elephants, hippopotamuses, lions, meerkats, monkeys, ostriches, tigers, zebras and many others while the large waterpark has 5 distinct zones.

Why I recommend it:

  • The park has an excellent waterpark with reliably warm, sunny weather
  • There is an incredible variety of wildlife living in good conditions in large open spaces
  • It is a nice place to spend a night or two and a lot of fun for families


13. El Retiro

📍 Distance from Medellin: 32km (45 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus to El Retiro from the North Terminal which costs 8,500 COP (US$2.10) and takes around 1 hour.

➡️ El Retiro is a town Southeast of Medellin with an excellent natural park, a beautiful waterfall, a charming square and some very interesting cultural centers.

Los Salados Ecological Park is a very peaceful place to relax close to the town with boats on a large lake and some nice picnic spots. Salsa del Tequendamita is a dramatic nearby waterfall and a central square with a nice church which is particularly impressive when lit up at night.

Tanta Tinta Libros Arte y Cafes is a great place to enjoy an exquisitely prepared cup of coffee while enjoying one of the many books available for visitors. Casa de La Leona (House of the Lion) is another amazing creative space which prides itself on encouraging the flourishing of art, culture, esthetics, education, works, architecture, contemporary design, mixology and gastronomy in the town.

Why I recommend it:

  • El Retiro has some excellent coffee shops and cultural centers
  • The town is surrounded by relaxing nature and some perfect picnic spots
  • The central square is beautifully lit in the evening with friendly locals in the small bars


14. Carmen de Viboral


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📍 Distance from Medellin: 60km (1 hour 15 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get a bus from Terminal del Norte (North) to Carmen de Viboral which takes around 90 minutes. Tickets should cost around 15,000 COP (US$3.70) with Flota el Carmen.

➡️ Carmen de Viboral is a town to the east of Antioquia that has a long history of ceramic production which dates back to the nineteenth century.

The region is rich in feldspar and quartz, making it the perfect location for the industry, techniques combining both indigenous and Spanish traditions. No two pieces are the same and are carefully hand painted while visitors are welcome to learn about the process and come inside the workshops.

The town of just over 70,000 also La Continental Cervecería, an excellent artisan brewery which is a great place to relax. The architecture is a little more modern than some other pueblos mentioned but it still has a large church, central square and friendly locals.

Why I recommend it:

  • It is the perfect place to buy ceramics and artisan gifts to take home
  • The town is very comfortable to visit and a little more modern
  • There are some nice small bars and very friendly locals


15. Parque El Salado, Envigado

📍 Distance from Medellin: 10km (25 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get an uber or taxi from Poblado which will take around 25 minutes and cost about 20,000 COP (US$5). Alternatively you can get the metro de Envigado station and then look for one of the buses that has El Salado in the window at the front.

➡️ El Salado is a natural park in the hills of Envigado, a municipality just south of Poblado in Medellin. The park is fairly compact but has a river which children like to swim in, lots of trees and green spaces.

There is also a climbing wall and the canopy ziplines which run from the top to the bottom of the park crossing between high trees. The zipline is a lot of fun as you fly at high speeds with an amazing view.

Why I recommend it:

  • It is very quick and easy to get to the park in taxi, uber or on public transport
  • Entry is just a few dollars and it is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon
  • Kids and adults will love the canopy ziplines then cooling off by paddling in the clear, cool shallow river


16. San Antonio de Pereira

📍 Distance from Medellin: 35km (45 minutes by car)

🚌 How to get there: You can get the bus from Terminal del Norte (North) to Rionegro and from there get a taxi the 3.5km to San Antonio de Pereira.

You could also get a taxi or uber direct to the town with the price at around 90,000 COP (US$22) including the toll to pass through the TTúnel de Oriente.

➡️ San Antonio de Pereira is known as the “sweetest town in Antioquia” for its amazing assortment of deserts which tempt Medellin locals up the hill to enjoy with family at the weekend.

The town’s reputation dates back almost 100 years with farmers supplying industrializing Medellin with fruits, james, jellies as well as arequipe (similar to caramel) and arroz con lehce (rice pudding).

You can sample some of the finest examples of the region’s sweet favorites such as a four-layered, frosting-topped cake with a range of fruit flavors, Brazo de Reina (the Queen’s arm), a frosted sponge cake filled with jam, cocada, a coconut based sweet, and oblea, a crisp waffle filled with jam and sometimes cheese or other fruit.

The town still retains the beautiful colonial architecture with a small but beautifully decorated church at the head of the central square.

Why I recommend it:

  • A delicious range of amazing desserts for you to sample
  • A quaint central square which is a popular spot at the weekend
  • Cheap and easy access from Medellin and fairly close to the international airport


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