I think no trip to Medellin is complete without taking a day or half day to go somewhere outside the city!

Medellin is in a great location as a “jumping-off” point to try other activities for every type of traveler. For us, the best day trips have been hikes in the nearby beautiful nature, visiting the multi-colored historic towns and trying out Colombian buses to get there!

In this list, I’ve put together our favorite day trips, plus a full range of private and guided tour offerings that can spare you the headache of figuring out buses and taxis, if your time is limited.

Let’s get started with which day trips from Medellin to choose during your trip!

Guatapé

A day trip to Guatapé from Medellin is probably our top recommendation. Going to this colorful town with a giant rock (El Peñol) is what m any travelers consider a “must.” We’ve wound up there twice now, once as a day trip, and once as an overnight trip.

At approximately 2 hours from Medellin, Guatapé is the most popular day trip to take, especially to see more Colombian culture. Aside from hiking up the steps of El Peñol for the spectacular views and strolling around the hand-painted multicolor village, there are lots of activities for hire as well.

For all your planning, check out our guide on how to get from Medellin to Guatapé, as well as the best things to do in Guatape once you arrive.

If you prefer to avoid figuring out the bus station and the local buses that run daily from Medellin to Guatapé, opt for a guided all-inclusive tour that’ll get you there even faster. We have a recommendation here.

Santa Fe de Antioquia

I don’t remember how we found out about Santa Fe de Antioquia, but our trip there felt like finding a hidden gem. There’s something special about walking around a small Colombian town and feeling like you went back in time. Going to Santa Fe de Antioquia, for us, was a unique destination outside Medellin!

This small town in the hills is also a 2-hour trip from Medellin, northwest of the city (whereas Guatape is east of Medellin). You could head out early to go to Santa Fe de Antioquia for a day trip, and be back by evening. Or, you could make the journey into an overnight stay, like we did.

While there, we liked sitting in the town square with ice cream to cool off, seeing a silversmith shop, eating the “comida tipica” of the region, trying the local coffee and heading to the town market. This is a place where we could wind down and also sit by the pool at our hostel, where we stayed for a night.

For seeing more about this day trip idea, check out our complete travel guide for Santa Fe de Antioquia and get inspired. It’s also possible to hire a day trip operator, with our suggestion here.

Parque Arví

While we also recommend Parque Arví as one of the best things to do in Medellin, the fact is that it’s a nature reserve on the outskirts of the city. It feels like worlds away. Getting there is an adventure, too!

I went to Parque Arví with a group of friends for half a day. We took Medellin’s metro cable car (Metrocable) there! The ride itself is unique, as you ascend out of the brick city and into the forest and the clouds. The thrilling ride, as well as the park itself, are why Parque Arvi is one of the recommended things to do with kids in Medellin for families.

Once in Parque Arví, we saw a farmer’s market, and then started our hike. What I like about Parque Arví is that you can get as adventurous as you’re comfortable with. We hiked near a stream, and walked on small wooden bridges over other creeks. Throughout a lot of the reserve, you can walk on paved ground.

Parque Arví has a city website in Spanish (you can choose an English translation), where you can visit how to get to the park, when to visit the park and learn more about the park, from hiking trails (“Senderos”) to the wildlife (“Fauna y flora”).

Overall, visiting Parque Arví is a nice way to escape the pollution, traffic and congestion of Medellin. You could spend an entire day, or an easy half-day, with time to get back to the city for dinner.

If it looks daunting to figure out Medellin’s metro and cable cars on your own, you can go with a local guide!

El Retiro

We would’ve never found out about El Retiro if not for our friends Alex and Ryan, who are American expats living in Medellin and chose to go live in El Retiro for a year! El Retiro is a traditional Antioquian town only 35 minutes from the Medellin International Airport (and southeast of Medellin).

Surprisingly, El Retiro is still a secret, considering how close it is to the city, and how far away it feels. With a one-day trip, you can sit in the town’s plaza next to the “iglesia” (church) and explore the streets with brightly-colored painted doors.

If you’d like to get more into your day with visiting El Retiro, hire a trip like this one, which picks up travelers from their hotels in Medellin and visits two other locations in the mountains as well.

Jardin

In other travel guides for day trips you can take from Medellin, I see Jardin listed as an idea. In all transparency, we did a Jardin trip on our own and visited Jardin by taking a bus. It was a LONG day of travel, and then we stayed overnight. We continued our trip southward toward Salento.

It IS possible to visit Jardin as a day trip from Medellin, though! If you’re OK with an early start and with a limited amount of time in this beautiful mountain town, you can pick an all-inclusive day trip that will get you there. Going by private van with a guide will spare you the various stops that a bus from the bus terminal would take. This is my best advice, having made the trip with ample time on our hands.

To see what the town of Jardin is all about, check out our Jardin travel guide, which lists all the things to do there, and has our photos! A private tour is recommended here.

Hiking trips from Medellin

From anywhere in Medellin, you can see the gorgeous green hills and mountains. A good way to appreciate nature while in Medellin and the Antioquia region is to go hiking for a day trip!

The only hiking we have done in the Medellin area has been with groups and with proper guides. I’d recommend this, as a lot of hiking in the forests near Medellin involve small waterways, hiking on slippery rocks and even wading through little streams. It’s smart to go with an expert who is familiar with the conditions.

Behold the beauty, though! You can see how green and lush the hiking offerings near Medellin are, in our photos here. To book a day trip for hiking or doing other waterfall activities like rappelling, start with an organized tour.

Jericó

Friends of ours chose to take a day trip to Jericó, one of Colombia’s “Heritage Towns,” similar to Jardin (but closer to Medellin). Jerico is a 2-hour-40-minute drive from Medellin, if you were to drive on your own. A bus may take longer. If this sounds like a doable day trip for your taste, read on!

Jericó is a charming ‘pueblo’ that will take you back in time through its preserved architecture, hilly streets, red-roofed buildings and unique painted doors. At every corner, there is an opportunity for a great photo. Our friends who took a day trip there were very glad that they did, and inspired us to want to do the same.

Part of the charm in going to a traditional Colombian village like Jericó is the draw of sitting back to enjoy how life looks there. Remember a camera!

Check out this sightseeing guide for Jericó from our friends at Latitude Adjustment Blog.

Hacienda Napoles

Hacienda Napoles is a family-friendly theme park quite a ways outside Medellin. It has a strange history, though: it was formerly Pablo Escobar’s estate. It’s over 90 miles past Medellin, and unless you rent a car and drive directly, going with a small group and a driver is the way to go.

Note: as the drive is 3.75 hours outside the city, going to see what Hacienda Napoles is all about requires leaving around 4am! I’ve done day trips like this (namely in Peru, to see Colca Canyon — I think we left at 3am!) and it’s tiring, but if you are set on visiting a place you’ve only read about online, it’s the way to go.

Coffee farm day trip in Antioquia

Even though most coffee farms that welcome visitors are located in the Zona Cafetera where you’ll find Salento, there are opportunities outside Medellin to check out coffee at the source.

If you find yourself with limited time in Colombia, having half a day to pack in a coffee tour is a cool (and delicious) idea. With Medellin’s moderate temperatures, coffee-growing is possible, not too far from the metropolitan area. If you are indeed pressed for time, the best way to visit a coffee farm and have a tour of the growing-to-roasting process is with a guide and a host there. TripAdvisor has lots of offerings like this private coffee tour from Medellin, or a highly-rated 6-hour (half day) trip like this one.

Santa Elena

Lesser-known Santa Elena is a village only 45-60 minutes outside Medellin, so it’s a proper distance for a day trip! This town is a stop for ecotourism, with the best things to do being coffee tours, an orchid garden, a rainforest visit, farm experiences and a SkyWalk bridge through the jungle.

Santa Elena is known as Colombia’s “Flower Capital,” and is the home of Colombian flower displays as well as tropical species of flowers. Many are exported abroad. It’s a beautiful area that will be fun for Medellin day trippers. A helpful Santa Elena town guide is from MedellinLiving.

More activity day trips from Medellin

Many specific day trips can be done most effectively with a private ride and local guide. Here are a few handy ideas!

Colombia’s “Dream Hammocks”

We did a waterfall half-day trip and it was the most hands-on adventure I had done in ages. If you want to get wet and explore Medellin’s natural wonders from a few different vantage points, a day trip tour like this one will be memorable!

Paragliding half-day trip

Paragliding was one of the first day trip activities I stumbled across back when I went to Medellin for the first time. It’s not for the faint of heart! Paragliding over the city will be a half-day trip.

ATV Forest Tour

We have friends who went ATVing outside Medellin, and if this is your style, join a group for a day in the region’s forest.

Horseback riding outside Medellin

After you’ve experienced Medellin, you can have a day of alternative experiences all grouped together in a day trip like this one. It includes horseback riding, followed by a coffee farm visit and a spa.

Enjoyed our article?

Consider supporting us! We're a 2-person team (learn more about us here) and your support enables us to create quality content. Thank you!

Buy us a coffee

Pin Your Favorites on Pinterest!