The City of Eternal Spring is fast climbing the bucket lists of travelers all over the world. The weather, landmarks, music, locals, and beautiful scenery all make Medellín perfect for an adventure getaway. What’s more, Medellín’s location in the department of Antioquia is ideal to escape the confines of the busy city and venture into the smaller towns nearby, as well as get a taste of authentic Paisa countryside life. For those hoping to experience as much of Colombia as possible, here are the best day trips from Medellín.
Just under two hours from Medellín by bus, Guatapé is arguably the most popular day trip for foreigners. The pueblo (town) is famous for Piedra del Peñol – the 2,135-meter rock which towers over the network of lakes below. Visitors here can climb the 469 steps to the top and admire the incredible views. After, head into the town for quaint, colorful streets adorned with paintings of llamas and campesinos, or stroll along the recently-renovated lakefront. If you’re eager to stay active, there are various water sports like jet-skiing, paddle-boarding, boat rides, and even a zip-line across the lake to keep you entertained.
Guatapé is also a hot spot for fincas (farmhouses which can be rented by large groups), so if you’re staying overnight, we recommend booking a fancy place on the water. For a full rundown of how to arrive, where to eat, and what to do, see our Guatapé guide.
Santa Fe de Antioquia
For travelers in search of the sun, Santa Fe de Antioquia is significantly hotter than Medellín and a brilliant destination to tan and swim. The old colonial town is a firm favorite with Paisas, who often flock here for a finca break or día del sol (day of sun). While the town has a selection of tasty restaurants and markets for the evening, days here are normally occupied by the waterpark (Kanaloa) or relaxing next to a pool in one of the many finca hotels. Elsewhere, the Puente de Occidente is a suspension bridge only a short drive from Santa Fe over the Río Cauca. The bridge is an architectural spectacle and makes an impressive backdrop for photos.
Less than an hour from Medellín, Santa Fe de Antioquia is one of the easiest pueblos to get to. That said, traffic on the weekend or over festivos is particularly bad, so it’s best to leave early to avoid long waits.
Roughly four hours south of Medellín, Jardín is a traditional town filled with cowboy hats and coffee. Known for its rolling hills and horse rides, Jardín is great to get back to nature for a few days. ‘The Cave of Splendor’ (La Cueva de Esplendor) is the biggest draw to the town, being a 10-meter waterfall that cascades through an opening in a cave, into a small pool below. However, reaching the cave isn’t easy. Dedicated hikers can take the six-hour hike or private transport can be arranged to drive up the hillside. Similarly, horses are the primary mode of getting around in Jardín, so you can always saddle up and ride off into the distance if you prefer.
Oh, and one ‘must’ while in Jardín is the small cable car that runs over the river. It looks more like a shed on a wire, and isn’t for the faint-hearted, but is well worth the novelty. For more hidden gems in Jardín, check out our Jardín itinerary.
Southwest from Medellín, Jericó is a relatively unknown pueblo that only locals and committed-Colombia travelers have heard of. Akin to Guatapé, the town is brightly colored and lined with cobbled streets, and is fantastic for budding photographers. Equally, Jericó has a lookout point above the town called Morro El Salvador. Here, visitors can find a small Christ the Redeemer statue, paths to wander through the hillside, and a breath-taking view of the sunsets.
While there are interesting churches and cultural centers in Jericó, if you want an activity to get your blood pumping, paragliding is the best extreme sport in town. Your hostel or hotel should have the contact details for professional paragliding companies who can collect you and take you on the flight of your life up in the clouds!
Another town with picturesque vistas, Santa Elena sits atop the valley Medellín is in. The connecting feature between Medellín and Santa Elena is the 16,000-hectare Parque Arví. The park is a welcome respite from the noise and pollution of the city, boasting beautiful flora and fauna, walking trails, streams, picnic spots, and more. Meanwhile, in Santa Elena’s town center, there are plenty of statues and information points about the area’s role in the annual Feria de las Flores. Learn all about the flower cultivation, silleteros, and rich history of the parade to get an insight into one of Antioquia’s biggest events.
The weather in Santa Elena is surprisingly different from Medellín. To arrive fully prepared, our Santa Elena guide is packed with tips.
Need help planning a trip?
Organzing a day trip from Medellín can be tricky if you don’t speak Spanish, are pressed for time or don’t know how to make the most of all the activities. Luckily, there are Medellín-based services to help you create your dream trip without having to worry about the details. Casacol’s VIP concierge service personalizes any excursion in Colombia to ensure you have an authentic, safe, and fun vacation.
With the concierge service, visitors have access to an expert, fully bilingual member of staff nearly 24-hours a day. After completing a brief questionnaire to establish preferences, travelers receive a daily itinerary according to their budget and lifestyle. Additionally, travelers can reach out to their guide at any time for:
– Restaurant, club, bar, travel recommendations
– Spanish translations
– Concert, theater, sports tickets
– Medical advice and appointments
– Transport advice and bookings (private, taxis, metro)
– Tour bookings
– Meals cooked by a private Colombian chef
– Personal fitness, private dance lessons, gym locations
– Custom romantic couples packages
– Special services for children and pets
– Notary, banking, legal, and real estate advice