What To Do For 36 Hours In Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia - Updated 2024

36 hours in medellin
Anne Marie
Anne Marie 
| 9 min read

World-class art and science museums, lush botanical gardens, and an exhilarating nightlife scene - these words may describe many cosmopolitan European cities on your bucket list. However, they also describe Medellin, Colombia, a city that has been reborn from its shady past to become one of the best destinations in South America. Medellin has undergone a transformation in the past few decades, its rich cultural atmosphere and general happiness and vitality far outweighing the city’s dark history. You could spend months in Medellin and never get enough of its museums, interactive exhibits, botanical gardens, and delicious eateries. However, if you only have a couple of days to explore this incredible city, we recommend reading this itinerary of what to do for 36 hours in Medellin, Colombia.

Day 1: Afternoon

Grab lunch at Restaurante Mondongo's El Poblado

Plated grilled fish
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user pompi used under CC0

Start your visit off on the right foot by having a satisfying lunch at Restaurante Mondongo’s El Poblado. They have an extensive menu with delicious Colombian food like grilled fish, chorizo, and steak strip. Mondongo’s is popular with locals, so you know it has to be good - they even have two locations in Medellín to keep up with the demand! This casual spot with reasonable and tasty food is a great place to get your bearings before your next stop.

Restaurante Mondongo's El Poblado

Address: Cl. 10 ##38-38, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Restaurante Mondongo’s El Poblado

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11:30am - 9:30pm; Fri - Sat: 11:30am - 10pm; Sun: 11am - 8pm

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Admire contemporary artworks at the Medellin Modern Art Museum

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user juliana restrepo used under CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the best spots to get acquainted with the city’s rich cultural scene is at the Medellin Art Museum. The museum’s permanent collection has many artworks by Colombian painters, including Débora Arango, which provides a visual history of this complex and vibrant city. Aside from paintings, the museum contains sculptures, textile works, and even some interactive pieces! The exterior of the museum is a piece of art in itself; it is a large building made of concrete and perforated steel, designed to reflect the stacked homes in the barrios of Medellin.

Medellin Modern Art Museum

Address: Cra. 44 ##19a-100, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Medellin Modern Art Museum

Opening hours: Tue - Wed & Fri: 9am - 6pm; Thu: 9am - 8pm; Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 3 USD

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Travel back in time at Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa
Source: Photo by Flickr user nigel burgher used under CC BY 2.0

Continue learning about Colombian history at your next stop, Pueblito Paisa. This charming town square is actually a replica of an early 20th-century town in the Antioquia region of the country. Surrounding a cobblestone square are buildings like a church, post office, barber, and a few colorful homes, all made with reclaimed materials from an authentic town that flooded. Some of the buildings even have interiors recreated to show what daily life looked like. Pueblito Paisa also sits atop Nutibara Hil, offering stunning views of the surrounding city.

Pueblito Paisa

Address: Pueblito Paisa, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Pueblito Paisa

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

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Day 1: Evening

Learn all about water at the Museo del Agua EPM

Museo Interactivo EPM-FachadaEste-Medellin
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SajoR used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Museo del Agua is a unique museum that focuses on something simple yet essential to life: water. By viewing several exhibits, you’ll learn about the importance of water in the creation of the planet, the beginning of life, and how it shaped several cultures. It is popular with kids because of the interesting, sometimes interactive, exhibits, but adults will come away with a better understanding of how to preserve this precious resource too.

Museo del Agua EPM

Address: Parque de los Pies Descalzos, Cra. 57 ##42-139, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Museo del Agua EPM

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 8:30am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 10:30am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 1 USD

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Visit the city's most popular museum, Museo de Antioquia

Museo de Antioquia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kamilokardona used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Round out your afternoon of sightseeing at the Museum de Antioquia, Medellin’s most popular museum. This institution has a vast collection of artworks, ranging from pre-Colombian sculptures all the way up to present-day pieces. The museum’s crowning glory is the 100 artworks donated by Fernando Botero, a Colombian artist known for his paintings of people in exaggerated size. Outside the museum, in the Plaza Botero, there are an additional 23 abstract sculptures by the same artist.

Museo de Antioquia

Address: 52 Calle 52 43, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Museo de Antioquia

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5:30pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm

Price: 4 USD

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Dine at Restaurante Hatoviejo Centro

Cazuela ecuatoriana
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Paborbor used under CC0

After a long day of sightseeing, rest your feet and eat to your fill at Restaurante Hatoviejo Centro. This colorful restaurant seeks to provide good food and traditional Colombian hospitality. Feast on a variety of amazing local dishes: start off with the ceviche or arepitas as you peruse the rest of the offerings. If you’re in the mood for something hearty, try the cazuela, which is a combination of stock, vegetables, and your choice of meat or seafood. Save room for their divine dessert selections, including cream pudding and caramel custard.

Restaurante Hatoviejo Centro

Address: Cra. 47 #52-17, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Restaurante Hatoviejo Centro

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 10pm (closed on Sun)

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Day 1: Night

Sip on drinks at the iconic Bar el Guanábano

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

For over 25 years, Bar el Guanábano has been one of the city’s most popular rock bars. It was founded back in 1990 by a group of friends who just wanted a place to gather, drink, and play music. Today, it is still seen as a bohemian enclave where diverse visitors can feel free to have interesting conversations about art, literature, and big ideas. It’s a casual and friendly spot, with great musical performances and DJs, perfect for starting a night out in the town.

Bar el Guanábano

Address: Cra. 43 #54-2, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Bar el Guanábano

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 5pm - 2am; Sun: 5pm - 1am

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Dance through the night at Club 1984

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Continue the evening’s festivities at Club 1984! This popular club is a great pick if you love dancing to techno and house music. They have a spacious rooftop bar with incredible views of the city. It’s definitely the place to go on a warm evening to dance under the stars. It is open until the wee hours of the morning, so you can end your first day in Medellin on a high note!

Club 1984

Address: Cra. 44 #25-15, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Club 1984

Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 9pm - 4am; Sun: 2pm - 2am; Wed: 7pm - 12am (closed on Mon & Tue)

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Day 2: Morning

Fuel up for the morning at Cariñito Cafe

Source: Pixabay

After late-night dancing, the first order of business the next morning is fueling up on food and coffee. Grab breakfast at the cute and cozy Cariñito Cafe. The cafe’s coffee specialties are cappuccinos and lattes, and the baristas will make artistic foam designs on the top! For food, they have tons of options: opt for pancakes or choose a tasty pastry from the case. The colorful and spacious interior is a great atmosphere for relaxing before starting on the day’s adventures.

Cariñito Cafe

Address: Cra. 44 #2055, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Cariñito Cafe

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 7am - 9pm; Sun: 8am - 2pm

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Tour the impressive Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Medellín

Catedral de Medellin-Colombia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user laloking97 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

After breakfast, head to Medellin’s largest church, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Medellín. Not only is it Medellin’s largest church, but the cathedral also happens to be the biggest brick church in the entire world. The interior is just as impressive as its exterior. The walls are made of brick and tall columns stretch toward the ceiling. There are also many artworks and paintings inside, as well as a huge organ that was made in Germany and shipped all the way to Medellin in the 1930s.

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Medellín

Address: Cra. 56 #48-26, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Medellín

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

Price: Free

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People watch at the bustling Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero, Colombia, Medellin
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jonathan Hood used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Though Plaza Botero has only been part of Medellin for about 20 years, it is one of the city’s most popular parks. This bustling plaza sits next to the Museo de Antioquia and the stunning Palace of Culture. It is most well known for the 23 bronze sculptures of chubby humans, horses, and other figures by the plaza’s namesake, Fernando Botero. Botero’s work has appeared around the world, but it is thanks to his generous donations that the Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero were built in his hometown.

Plaza Botero

Address: Plaza Botero

Website: Plaza Botero

Opening hours: 6am - 12am (daily)

Price: Free

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Day 2: Afternoon

Have a luxurious lunch at Restaurante IN SITU

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Treat yourself to an excellent lunch in a beautiful atmosphere at Restaurante IN SITU. This elegant restaurant is located in the Jardín Botánico botanical gardens and it has large windows that bring in sunshine and views of the gardens. IN SITU’s menu is just as incredible as the atmosphere - the menu creatively combines Colombian foods with international cuisine, so there are dishes suitable for every palate. Take advantage of the lovely atmosphere to relax and recharge before the afternoon’s activities.

Restaurante IN SITU

Address: Calle 73 N #51D - 14, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Restaurante IN SITU

Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 12pm - 4pm; Thu - Sat: 12pm - 10pm

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Interact with science exhibits at Explora Park

Parque Explora (Medellín, Colombia)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Averpues used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Begin your afternoon by visiting another one of Medellin’s great museums. Explora Park is an exciting, interactive science museum and aquarium with displays that will entice visitors of all ages. Hundreds of interactive displays teach about all kinds of sciences, ranging from neuroscience to physics. Use your body to test your physical stamina and star in your own movies! The aquarium is the most popular attraction at Explora Park. Over 300 species of marine life can be found in the aquarium’s 29 tanks, the most impressive being a huge, central tank showcasing the biodiversity of a flooded Amazonian forest.

Explora Park

Address: Cra 52 ##73-75, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Explora Park

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 6:30pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 7 USD

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Wander around the lush Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden

Joaquin Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Láscar used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re visiting on a nice day, be sure to include a visit to the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden. Though this may seem like just a pretty park, this botanic garden is actually a museum in itself, with hundreds of varieties of plants curated and conserved in a way that creates a refuge for plants as well as a respite for visitors from the hectic city surroundings. The garden’s living collection is hugely diverse, ranging from orchids to ferns and palms to herbs. Some of the plants here are at risk of extinction, and others are appreciated for their stunning beauty, but no matter your interest, this garden is a serene place to spend a few hours.

Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden

Address: Cl. 73 #51d14, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden

Opening hours: 9am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: Free

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Day 2: Evening

Peer into the night sky at the Planetarium Jesus Emilio Ramirez Medellin (from USD 5.0)

As the afternoon turns into evening, duck into Planetarium Jesus Emilio Ramirez Medellin to take in a breathtaking show about the night sky. This modern planetarium has a huge, domed screen that fully immerses viewers into the show. The presentations focus on the many wonders of our galaxy and the universe beyond. Be sure to leave some time before or after your show to tour the galleries and exhibits outside of the theater.

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Planetarium of Medellin Admission Ticket

Duration: 3 hours

Take a thrill ride at Parque Norte

Parque Norte - Medellin
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SajoR used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Medellin is known for its many cultural attractions, but now that your 36-hour visit is winding down, it’s time to let loose! Parque Norte is a theme park that is sure to be a blast. They have all of the traditional theme park favorites like bumper cars, huge slides, and water rides. You can also hop on thrill rides and roller coasters, like the Kamikaze and Maui rides! Another favorite is the real Boeing 727 jet which has been transformed into a flight simulation ride!

Parque Norte

Address: Con calle 77, Cra. 53, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Parque Norte

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 3pm - 12am; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 12am

Price: 12 USD

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Have a farewell dinner at Restaurante El Cielo

Garlic prawns
Source: Pixabay

Go all out on your last dinner in town by heading to El Cielo, a molecular gastronomy restaurant led by one of the best chefs in all of Colombia. Chef Juanma is a talented cook and entrepreneur who has 12 dining establishments to his name. Medellin is his hometown, and it makes sense that El Cielo is the pride and joy of his restaurant empire. The menu displays the inventiveness and care he takes in his cooking, with dishes unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. Molecular gastronomy is a type of cuisine in which the chemical and physical transformations that occur in food as it cooks drive the preparation and presentation of meals. Foods are prepared in unique combinations and stunning displays to create an experience that is a feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds. El Cielo offers two tasting menus ranging from 11 to 20 courses, so you can try tons of interesting dishes at a reasonable price!

Restaurante El Cielo

Address: Cra. 40 ## 10A-22, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Restaurante El Cielo

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 12pm - 12am (closed on Sun)

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Day 2: Night

Have a few drinks at Líbido Bar

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Líbido Bar is located on a bustling street full of salsa bars. However, salsa isn’t the only kind of music you can groove too in Medellin - Libido is an offbeat club that usually features entertainment by hardcore bands! Here, you can have a few drinks while listening to metal or hardcore rock, but they have a wide variety of performers of other musical genres. Libido is a great place to check out the local music scene before you leave Medellin.

Líbido Bar

Address: Cra. 51 #7963, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

Website: Líbido Bar

Opening hours: 7pm - 2am (daily)

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Go on a nighttime bike tour of the city (from USD 27.0)

Medellin is stunning by day, but it looks entirely different at night. Explore the city after dark by joining on this nighttime bike tour! You’ll get to explore spots like Pueblito Paisa and the city stadium, Estadio Atanasio Girardot, which are less crowded after dark without the usual crowds of tourists. See the beautiful lights at Plaza Cisneros and duck into hidden parks in the Parques del Rio neighborhood.

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Medellin Night Tour by Bicycle

Duration: 3 hours

95 reviews

Fall in love with Medellin

36 hours will never feel like enough time in Medellin, but it is better to have experienced the city once than to never go at all! Aside from all of the activities and attractions on this list, the city sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by stunning mountains. If that isn’t enough to make you fall in love, consider the fact that Medellin’s year-round mild temperatures have earned it the nickname “city of eternal spring.” The city hums with activity and beauty, and a short visit will be enough to place it in your heart for a lifetime.

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Anne-Marie, a publishing professional by day, harbors a fervent desire to explore the world whenever she can. Though she hasn't discovered the entire globe yet, her eagerness to learn and write...Read more

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