Medellin is a great city. You can easily spend a week or two here as a tourist without needling to leave. But surrounding Medellin are many beautiful towns that you simply MUST visit. We have compiled 8 of our favourite towns around Medellin so that you can really experience the history and culture of Antioquia.
If you think we have missed any Must-Visit places around Medellin just leave a comment below…
These spectacular artificial lakes are one of Antioquia’s main attractions. The strange shape of the lake is a result of a government project in the 1960s that flooded the region to provide Antioquia with drinking water (You can dive down to an old town at the bottom of the lake!). The mystical colour of the water and beautiful surrounding mountains make it an absolute must-visit for anyone staying in Medellin. The famous El Peñol rock stands over the lakes offering unbelievable views from the top but to get there you need to climb up 750 steps so make sure you bring your comfortable shoes! The small town of Guatape is a typical Paisa town with colourful houses and narrow cobbled streets.
Distance from Medellin: 2 hours | Population: 5279 | Website: www.guatape-antioquia.gov.co
Set in Antioquia’s famous Coffee Region this small and busy town is becoming a very popular getaway for both locals and travelers. The town’s main square is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by. Old men sit around under trees in the shade and talk the hours away, you can do the same. However, Jardin is not short of things to do. You can take the cable car to Flower Hilltop where you will get an amazing view of the town and the surrounding mountains. At night the sleepy town transforms as the bars open and locals and tourists have a few drinks.
Distance from Medellin: 4 hours | Population: 6965 | Website: www.eljardin-antioquia.gov.co
6. Santa Fe de Antioquia
After the construction of a new bridge out of Medellin, the journey time to this very popular town has been cut down to only 45 minutes. Locals will proudly tell you that this pueblo is where Medellin started back in the 17th Century as Spanish Colonialists set up camp. Nowadays it has evolved into a beautiful old town that is full of culture, history and things to do. However, be aware that on weekends this relaxing pueblo turns into a thriving hotspot for local and foreign tourists making it too busy for some.
Distance from Medellin: 1 hour | Population: 22765 | Website: www.santafedeantioquia.gov.co
5. El Retiro
Only one hour from Medellin on ‘La Vuelta a Oriente’, a route heading east of Medellin passing several towns, you will find EL Retiro. A classic antioquian town where everything revolves around the main square with it’s white church standing strong at the top. El Retiro is known for its many woodwork shops where you can buy beautiful handmade furniture. If you are going away on the weekend be aware that it can get busy as ‘La Vuelta a Oriente’ is a popular route for locals going on a city break. Makes sure you leave time for a typical Paisa breakfast called Calentado – Very Yummy!
Distance from Medellin: 1 hour | Population: 19108 | Website: www.elretiro-antioquia.gov.co
4. San Antonio de Pereira
At the end of ‘La Vuelta a Oriente’ lies the town of San Antiono de Pereira. A popular destination for locals going on a daytrip. You can soak in the atmosphere by drinking a coffee or a beer on the square. If you’ve got a sweet tooth you have to enjoy the famous ‘Dulces y Postres’ desserts, freshly made in all flavors you can imagine, unfortunately, there are so many you can’t try them all.
Distance from Medellin: 1,5 hours | Population: 6415
3. San Vicente
Not so well know and only 2 hours away from Medellin lies San Vicente, a sleepy little town and one of our personal favourites. Driving into the town you might get the feeling you should continue your roadtrip but don’t. Drive up the steep road to the top of the town until you see the church that dominates the square. Locals might wonder what you’ve come to do and that’s understandable. There is not loads of activities to do but that’s exactly what we like about it. It’s perfect for a relaxing getaway from the city. Wander around the main square, enjoy the calm of the town and eat an affordable breakfast or lunch at one the few restaurants. You’ll head back to your normal life refreshed and ready to take the world on!
Distance from Medellin: 2 hours | Population: 19.273 | Website: www.sanvicente-antioquia.gov.co
Another town that is known for its long history of coffee cultivation, Jerico is a fantastic place to explore the region’s history and culture. There are many places to stay from basic accommodation to beautiful fincas complete with jacuzzi and pool. This quaint town is small so you will find yourself at home in no time. Check out the two impressive churches, visit the town’s modern and interesting museum or drink a locally produced coffee at one of the many cafes. At night the locals come into town on horseback to have a few drinks and chat with their friends. It makes for a lively and loud scene.
Distance from Medellin: 3,5 hours | Population: 12.761 | Website: www.jerico-antioquia.gov.co
1. Santa Elena
Located near Parque Arvi, Santa Elena is only a short ride from the city of Medellin. Though the town itself is very small the surrounding areas are home to some beautiful fincas and hotels where you can stay. The views over the city and the cool climate are perfect for anyone looking to relax. In the day you can hike around the spectacular Parque Arvi and take in the nature. Here you can find a great visitor centre and trails that suit everyone from keen hikers to day trippers. The town is home to a couple of restaurants with more on the road leading into town.
Distance from Medellin: 45 minutes | Population: 10.898 | Website: www.guiaturisticasantaelena.com
These 8 towns around Medellin are our favourites. However everyone has their own personal favourites. Why not leave a comment below, we’re always looking for new destinations. If you want to visit any of the destinations featured in this article you can ask us for a quote today.