Not only is Medellín a fantastic city, it’s also perfectly positioned to access other pueblos in Antioquia. There’s really no excuse not to explore beyond the City of Eternal Spring and escape into the quainter, more traditional areas of the department. Santa Fe de Antioquia (often shortened to Santa Fe) is one of the most popular spots, known for its hot weather, festivals, and beautiful nature.
Whether you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Medellín, or simply see more of Colombia, here’s your guide to Santa Fe de Antioquia, including what to take, how to arrive, and things to do.
What to bring
– Light and floaty clothes
– Practical shoes and sandals
– Sun cream
– Reusable water bottle
– Swim suit
– Spanish words and phrases
How to get there
Buses to Santa Fe run daily from Medellín, departing from the north bus terminal (Terminal del Norte). To get to the station, either take a taxi or the metro to Caribe on Linea A. Once at the bus station, ticket desks will display ‘Santa Fe de Antioquia’ on the window, but if you’re unsure, just ask an employee. Buses leave very regularly, so you shouldn’t have any issues buying on the day. However, for Saturdays and Sundays, try to get your ticket early in the morning.
A one-way journey costs around $12,000 – $15,000 COP and you won’t be able to buy a return ticket until in Santa Fe (we recommend doing this soon after you arrive to ensure you have a seat back). The route from Medellín takes roughly one hour but can be longer on weekends and Colombian festivos due to traffic.
Things to do
Stay in a finca
Santa Fe de Antioquia is considerably hotter than Medellín, being located some 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) lower in elevation, situated in a valley between the Río Cauca and the Río Tonusco. As a result, Santa Fe is a (literal) hotspot for Paisas and extranjeros alike looking to sunbathe and relax by a pool with a drink in-hand.
It’s no surprise then, that Santa Fe is home to an impressive selection of fincas (farm houses, essentially villas) that can host large groups of people. In Colombian culture, families and friends hire fincas for a weekend and spend their days partying and soaking up the sunshine. Because fincas can accommodate big groups, the cost is normally quite low split between everyone.
If you prefer a quieter getaway, there are similarly a number of hotels and apartments with pools to create a home-from-home in the heat.
Wander through the cobbled streets
From 1584 up until 1826, Santa Fe was the capital of Antioquia. Subsequently, the pueblo is renowned for its stunning colonial architecture, which is some of the best-preserved in all of Colombia.
Santa Fe retains the feel and character of a centuries-old town, with narrow cobblestone streets, a picturesque plaza that serves as the social center of town, whitewashed buildings, and grand churches.
Spend a few hours strolling through streets and Plaza Bolivar, admiring the beautiful architecture and timeless feel of Santa Fe before settling down at a restaurant for a refreshing jugo natural (natural juice).
The Catedral de Santa Fe de Antioquia is the centerpiece of the main plaza, but don’t forget to venture around the corner to the Baroque-style church of Iglesia Santa Barbara, as well as the adjacent park and garden.
Puente de Occidente
Situated about a 20-minute drive from the center of Santa Fe, Puente de Occidente is an old bridge that crosses over the Río Cauca.
The easiest way to get to the bridge is to hire a motochiva (tuk tuk) from the main plaza. You’ll have to barter the price with the driver, but you can ask them to meet you at the other side of the bridge while you walk over, and get a better rate for a round trip.
The Puente de Occidente was built at the end of the 19th century and is considered one of Colombia’s first civil engineering works, as well as one of the most important civil engineering projects of its time. It was declared a National Monument in 1978.
When it was finished in 1895, the Puente de Occidente was the third-longest bridge in the world and the longest in South America at approximately 300 meters.
Towering over the muddy and roiling river below, the bridge is not for the faint-hearted. Traffic alternates from one side to the other via one lane, and when there’s strong winds, the bridge can even sway. That said, the views and novel experience are a must in Santa Fe, and there’s often a lively buzz of people nearby enjoying a beer and watching groups tentatively cross.
Tunel de Occidente
Technically not a tourist activity, but a fun fact about the route to Santa Fe is that it goes via the Tunnel de Occidente. Completed in 2006, the Tunel de Occidente is the longest tunnel in all of South America.
The construction of the tunnel reduced the distance to the pueblo from 50 to 32 miles and cut approximately an hour off of the travel time.
Planning more trips to towns near Medellín? Check out our guides to Jardín, Guatapé, and Santa Elena. To really get the most out of your Medellín experience, hire the best personal travel VIP concierge service in the city.