We look at 21 of the best FREE things to do in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley. It turns out that many of the best things to do in Medellín are totally FREE.
Medellín offers tourists visiting the city many free things to do that are absolutely free of charge. So, if you are on a tight budget it is quite possible to see many of the best things to do in Medellín for FREE.
In addition, we recommend getting a Civica card when visiting Medellín. This will permit you to use the Medellín Metro to get around the city for only 2,255 pesos ($0.71) per trip and save 11.6 percent compared to the fare without a Civica.
Every post on the Internet I have seen on the Internet about free things to do in Medellín is missing many of the best free things to do in the city.
So, here is our ultimate guide to 21 of the best FREE things to do in Medellín.
1. See Feria de las Flores– Medellín’s Flower Festival
Feria de las Flores is a 10-day festival is a huge annual celebration of paisa culture. This year is the 62nd annual Feria de las Flores in Medellín. Also, this festival is the most important social event for the city of Medellín. And the Flower Festival is one of the best ways to get an authentic taste of the local culture.
Medellín’s biggest annual festival starts in August on Friday, August 2, 2019. The La Feria de las Flores 2019 (Festival of Flowers) runs from August 2 – August 11 in 2019. There are over 400 events that are part of Feria de las Flores and almost all of the events are FREE.
The three big headliner events during Feria de las Flores each year are the classic car parade, the flower parade and the big Súper Concierto. So, we provided details for these three big events at Feria de las Flores along with expat tips based on my experience going nine times in the past.
Desfile de Silleteros is held the last day of the flower festival and is a unique parade where Paisas of all ages carry flower displays known as silletas on their backs for hours. In the parade each year, the participants range from little kids to men and women in their 60s and even older.
2. See Medellín’s Christmas Lights
No list of the top free things to do in Medellín would be complete without including the world-famous Medellín Christmas lights.
Each year up to 4 million people see the Alumbrados Navideños display in the city. And last year an estimated 90,000 tourists visited Medellín to see the world-class Medellín Christmas lights.
The Christmas lights display in Medellín is extremely popular and you will see many families with children out to see the lights.
Last year, the Medellín Christmas lights were on display from November 30 until January 7.
3. Visit Parque Arví
Parque Arví (Arví Park) is a very large ecological nature reserve in Medelín, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín. Parque Arví is located in in Santa Elena, which is a corregimiento(rural area) of Medellín.
This is a huge park with 39,500 acres (16,000 hectares) of forest, plants and ecosystems. And it has 33 miles (54 km) of walkable trails. Activities include hiking, picnicking, cycling and horseback riding.
Parque Arví is a very popular tourist site in Medellín and in the first six months of 2019 over 450,000 people have reportedly visited this park. And to get to Parque Arví you will get fantastic views from the Metrocable cable cars.
Parque Arví is definitely worth visiting if you like hiking, picnicking, cycling and horseback riding. Even if you don’t like these activities this giant park is still worth a trip to experience the impressive park and the Metrocable cable cars.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; normally closed on Monday. And if Monday is a holiday the park is open on Monday and closed on Tuesday.
4. Visit Jardín Botánico
Jardín Botánico is the popular Medellín botanical gardens, which offers many sights to see and activities to enjoy. The botanical gardens are set in about 34 acres of land (14 hectares). And it has over 1,000 different living plant species.
The ambience of the botanical gardens is relaxed. You will see families, students, groups of friends plus individuals enjoying the green gardens and open space. The botanical gardens are free to enter. It is home to a tropical forest, a small lake, a desert garden, a butterfly farm and much more. And there is a decent variety of birds if you are into bird watching.
Address: Calle 73 # 51D-14, Tel: 4 444 5500
Hours: open daily 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Yet it is sometimes closed for special events or special dates.
5. Take A Free Walking Tour of El Centro (Downtown)
Walking Tours have become one of the best ways to explore a city like Medellín. Real City Walking tours of El Centro are very popular and highly recommended. They operate under the model that they are free.
You can make the decision to make payment after you have done the tour. With this model you tend to get a more enthusiastic delivery from the guide.
All Real City Walking tour guides are born and raised in Medellín. And they can best be described as story tellers rather than guides.
Tours begin with an overview on his city of Medellín explaining the complex environment of politics, extremist groups and drug traffickers that have unfortunately characterized Colombia for many recent decades.
The walking tour of El Centro visits many of the top tourist attractions in El Centro with an English-speaking guide.
The Real City Walking Tours use a very popular model that they are technically free. However, you can make the decision to provide a tip after you have done the tour and we recommend a tip of at least 20,000 pesos. With this “free model” you tend to get a more enthusiastic delivery from the guides.
6. Enjoy the Sculptures at Plaza Botero
Plaza Botero is one of the top tourist attractions in Medellín. Plaza Botero is an outside park in front of Museo de Antioquia that displays 23 abstract bronze sculptures created by World-renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Botero donated the statues and many other artworks found in Museo de Antioquia.
The 23 bronze statues found at Plaza Botero include chubby women and men, a cat, a dog, Adam and Eve and many others. The above photo of Plaza Botero is by Jenny Bojinova. The building in the photo is Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture (Palacio del la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe).
Plaza Botero is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín. Most tourists that visit Medellín go to this plaza as well as Museo de Antioquia.
Medellín’s Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) or MAMM is definitely worth a visit with an intriguing mix of exhibitions located in a striking building.
The building and the terrace views of the Modern Art Museum are worth the visit alone. But the permanent exhibitions are why you should really come.
On the 4th Floor, you will find three permanent exhibitions that show a diverse collection of artworks from Colombian artists. This floor is a real draw.
So often exceptional artists are never shown outside of their home country due to the huge costs of insuring and transporting artworks. Without individuals interested in paying to see them on the other side of the world, they remain hidden gems in their countries of birth.
This museum is recommended as it has an intriguing mix of exhibitions and public space that provides a civilized outing for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Entrance fee: Normally there is a fee to enter this museum but on the final Friday of each month the museum is open later with entry FREE from 6 pm to 10 pm. Other times the entrance fee is: Adults 10,000 pesos; children and students less then 25-years-old 7,000 COP; adults older than 60-years-old 7,000 pesos.
Address: Carrera 44 #19A-100, Ciudad del Rio, MedellÍn, Colombia
Phone: +57 4 444 2622
Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 9 am – 6 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm; closed Monday except on holiday Mondays.
8. Visit Parque Sabaneta
Parque Sabaneta is arguably the nicest city park/plaza in the Medellín metro area. And Parque Sabaneta is worth visiting particularly during the Christmas season. In addition, Sabaneta is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the Medellín metropolitan area.
The daily life in Sabaneta is typically centered around Parque Sabaneta, which is a one square block plaza that is filled with trees for shade. In addition, this park is surrounded by several small restaurants, bars and shops.
This city park in Sabaneta definitely comes alive on the weekends with many people and families from around the Medellín metro area visiting the park. Along the streets near the park on the weekends you’ll find many stands selling typical Colombian street food and arts and crafts.
Parque Sabaneta is considered by locals to be a convenient place in Sabaneta to meet up with friends. In addition, this park is considered to be the epicenter of public events in Sabaneta. Outdoor concerts are sometimes held on the street nearby.
9. See Religious Art at Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Bello
Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Bello is arguably the most beautiful church in the Aburrá Valley. This church is very impressive with the most beautiful interior out over 75 churches I have seen in the Medellín metro area.
Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario is even reportedly considered to be a museum due to all the religious artwork found in the church. And it’s located in the municipality of Bello, which is north of Medellín in the Aburrá Valley.
The church has a decorated façade and decorated columns, walls and arches. In addition, it has a big range of artwork inside including murals, beautiful stained-glass windows, carvings, paintings, sculptures, reliefs and liturgical objects.
Address: Calle 51 # 49-44, Bello
Year opened: 1947
Architecture style: Neo-Byzantine
10. Visit Museo Casa de la Memoria
Museo Casa de la Memoria (House of Memory Museum) is a museum in Medellín dedicated to honoring the victims of urban conflict in Medellín and Colombia. And it’s worth seeing this museum to better understand the history of the city of Medellín.
The museum was created to contribute to the comprehension and overcoming of the armed conflict and the diverse kinds of violence of Medellín, Antioquia and Colombia.
In addition, Medellín’s Museo Casa de la Memoria is a place intended to give voices to Medellín’s victims of violence. Also, it’s intended to provide a place to grieve, reunite, remember, and develop strategies to avoid future violence.
Museo Casa de la Memoria is worth visiting to better understand the controversial history of Medellín and Colombia. The museum does a good job of documenting Colombia’s armed conflict. And it can help you understand how far Medellín and Colombia has really transformed over the past several decades.
Entrance fee: Free.
Address: Calle 51 #36-66, Parque Bicentenario, Medellín
Telephone: +57 (4) 520 2020
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9 am – 6 pm; Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 10 am – 4 pm. Closed on Monday.
11. Visit Catedral Basílica Metropolitana
Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción de María (Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellín) is the main church of the Archdiocese of Medellín and is the largest church in the city and is impressive.
Furthermore, it’s considered the most important church in the city, as it’s the seat of the Archbishop of Medellín. In addition, this large church is considered a tourist attraction in the city.
This Roman Catholic church is reportedly the largest brick cathedral in the world. And it’s supposedly the largest church in South America. About 1,120,000 adobe bricks were used in the construction of the church. This neo-Romanesque style church is located in El Centro, directly north of Parque Bolívar.
Address: Carrera 48 #56-81, El Centro, Medellín
Year opened: 1917
Architecture style: Neo-Romanesque
12. Hike to Pueblito Paisa
Pueblito Paisa is located at the top of Cerro Nutibara (Nutibara Hill) and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín. Also, Museo de Ciudad, the Medellín City Museum is nearby and worth seeing. In addition, it’s possible to hike to Pueblito Paisa.
Pueblito Paisa is a replica of a turn of the century town in Antioquia, complete with a fountain in the middle of a cobblestone town square plus a white church.
Since it is located on a high hill in the middle of the Aburrá Valley, it also offers great views of the city of Medellín and the surrounding mountains.
Due to being a popular tourist spot, there are several shops selling souvenirs. In addition, there are several restaurants serving coffee, ice cream and many typical Colombian foods like bandeja paisa.
We included Pueblito Paisa in our recommended tourist itinerary for a day in Medellín. Pueblito Paisa is a popular tourist location in Medellín that is definitely worth seeing. And Nutibara Hill offers some great views of the city of Medellín.
13. Visit Plaza Minorista
Plaza Minorista José María Villa is a popular farmers market in Medellín with hundreds of small stores. It’s a place where you can find seemingly unlimited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, Plaza Minorista is a good place to find many of the exotic tropical fruits of Colombia.
Plaza Minorista is best known for its fruits and vegetables, which occupy the biggest portion of Minorista. But this market has two floors with hundreds of small shops in several sections. And many of the shops sell other products.
Beyond the huge selection of fruits and vegetables, you can find groceries, meats, fish, birds, plants, chocolates, grains, sauces, drugstore items, clothing, footwear, restaurants and bars.
Plaza Minorista is a very interesting market with low prices and lots of local color. So, it is worth a visit. It’s an old-fashioned market for both commercial and retail customers. And it’s a great place to find a big variety of exotic tropical Colombian fruits.
14. Hike to Cerro el Valador
Cerro El Volador is reportedly the largest natural park located in the city of Medellín, sized at 262 acres.
Furthermore, Cerro El Volador was even named a natural Colombian heritage site in 1993. The large hill and park are located in an area that was once sacred ground for Indians, the original inhabitants in the Aburrá Valley.
Activities in the park include biking, bird watching, hiking, jogging and kite flying. There are even a few places to buy food, snacks and drinks. The park is a popular location for family picnics. In addition, many families take their dogs along.
Also, the park has a small museum with exhibits showing the historical evidence of the indigenous people that lived there in the past. In addition, a guided tour is available that takes you on a historical Indian trail.
Cerro El Volador rises to an elevation of 269 feet and offers very good views of the city. It’s a good place to hike or jog while enjoying the views, read a book or have a picnic and get away from the city. Police regularly patrol the park, but it’s a large park. So, we recommend sticking to the main paths with other people around.
15. Hike to Cerro de Las Tres Cruces
Cerro de Las Tres Cruces (Hill of Three Crosses) in Medellín is definitely worth visiting, as it’s a hill that has some amazing views of the city. Also, it’s a great place to take photos.
However, not many expats living in Medellín or tourists visiting know about Cerro de Las Tres Cruces, as it’s not found in the English language travel guidebooks
Hiking to the top of Cerro de Las Tres Cruces is a short 30 to 45-minute hike for most people or even longer depending on your fitness level and pace. It’s a steep and moderately difficult hike.
Cerro de Las Tres Cruces has some amazing views of the city of Medellín and is definitely worth visiting. Also, it’s a relatively short hike up and down that can be done in about two hours including taking a break at the top.
16. Visit Museo Universidad Antioquia (MUUA)
Museo Universidad Antioquia (MUUA) is an anthropology and natural sciences museum located on the University of Antioquia’s campus in Medellín. It’s worth a visit with a huge collection of nearly 40,000 archaeological and natural history pieces on two floors of the museum.
Also, there are additional temporary exhibits found on two other floors of the museum. The museum has an impressive collection of items on display.
Museo Universidad Antioquia is definitely worth visiting to see the many exhibits in the museum. The most impressive exhibits in the museum are the anthropology and natural sciences exhibits.
Entrance fee: Free.
Address: Calle 67 # 53-108, Bloque 15, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 9 am to 1 pm.
17. Hike to Cerro Pan de Azucar
Cerro Pan de Azucar (Sugar Loaf Hill) in Medellín is worth visiting, as it has some incredible views of the city. However, not many expats living in the city or tourists visiting know about Cerro Pan de Azucar. It’s located on the northern slope of the Santa Elena gorge, which is in the hills east of Medellín.
Over the last few years Medellín has been flooded with interesting, innovative and new projects. One of the most exciting projects in recent years has been the Metropolitan Greenbelt. The Metropolitan Greenbelt project consists of 75 kilometers (46 miles) worth of parks on the slopes of the Aburrá Valley.
The Camino De La Vida (Path of Life) is a paved path that leads to the hilltop of Cerro Pan De Azucar. And it’s an exciting component of the Metropolitan Greenbelt project.
18. See the Tombs at Museo Cementerio San Pedro
Museo Cementerio San Pedro is a cemetery that is also a popular museum in Medellín. It may seem macabre to visit. But this cemetery museum is full of beautiful marble and bronze artwork and it’s also known for cultural events and tours.
In addition, Museo Cementerio San Pedro has a small church with some beautiful stained-glass windows.
This museum is worth a visit to learn about some of the history of Medellín and Colombia. And I recommend going with a tour guide, as there are some interesting stories about many of the tombs, mausoleums and sculptures.
Entrance fee: Free
Address: Carrera 51 # 68-68, Medellín
Phone: +57 4 516 7650
Hours: Daily 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
19. Visit One of the Malls in Medellín
Paisas love to shop and Medellín and the Aburrá Valley has a huge number of centro comercials (shopping centers or malls). We previously looked at several of the largest malls in the Medellín area to find out the 13 best malls in Medellín.
The best malls in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley all have a big selection of shops, fast-food and restaurants plus movie theaters, gyms and grocery stores and more.
We highly recommend the Viva Envigado mall in Envigado, which is reportedly the largest mall in Colombia. This is an impressive mall and arguably has become the best mall in the Medellín metro area.
We also recommend the Santafé mall in El Pobaldo. This is one of the largest shopping malls in Medellín and it is very popular.
20. Visit Casa Museo Otraparte
Casa Museo Otraparte is a small house in Envigado converted into a museum and dedicated to the life and works of Colombian philosopher and writer Fernando González (1895-1964). This museum is considered a hidden gem with its old villa, beautiful gardens and a popular café.
González wrote about art, economics, history, morality, sociology and theology in a creative way. And González is considered one of the most original and controversial writers of Colombia during the 20th century.
This museum with its old house, beautiful gardens and café is considered a hidden gem, which is worth seeing.
Entrance fee: Free
Address: Carrera 43A # 27 Sur-11, Envigado
Phone: +57 4 448 2404
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 am to 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9 am to 5 pm.
21. Visit Parques Del Río
Parques Del Río (River Parks) is an important project of urban transformation in Medellín and the first phase of this park is open.
This strategic project for the city of Medellín includes the improvement of infrastructure, mobility, landscaping and vegetation along the Medellín River.
The first stage of the project, which is complete, is located along the west bank of the Medellín River in the Conquistadores neighborhood of Medellín.
Parques Del Río is a multiple stage project with reportedly eight stages. The first stage (1A) was completed in August 2016 and took about two years to complete. And the second stage 1B is reportedly 70 percent complete and is supposed to open in 2019.
This is an ambitious project that ultimately will cover about 12 miles (20 km) of riverbanks and take up to 15 years to complete.
From this park you get some very nice views of the city. Also, you can get an idea of the vision for this massive project that will ultimately cover about 12 miles along the Medellín river.
The Best of Medellín
Besides this article about the 21 best free things to do in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley, Medellin Guru has several additional best of Medellín articles:
- 35 Top Things to Do in Medellín and Nearby: Top Tourist Attractions
- 21 Best FREE Things to Do in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 17 Top Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Medellín and Nearby
- 13 Best Malls of Medellín – the Ultimate Guide to Medellín Malls
- 12 Best Museums of Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 8 Best Pueblos Near Medellín Worth Visiting
- 7 Best Panoramic Views of Medellín
- 5 Best Neighborhoods in Medellín
- 2 Best Walking Tours in Medellín
- 14 Top Churches in Medellín Worth Visiting
- 20 Best Mobile Apps to Use in Medellín and Colombia
Also, Medellin Guru has several more articles about the best restaurants and coffee shops in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley:
- 17 Best restaurants in Laureles in Medellín
- 15 Best Restaurants in Envigado, Colombia
- 14 Best Restaurants in Sabaneta, Colombia
- 14 Best Pizza Places in Medellín: The Best Pizzerias in the City
- 13 Best Burgers in Medellín: Best Burger Places in the Aburrá Valley
- 12 Best Steakhouses in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 12 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in El Poblado
- 9 Best Colombian Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 9 Best Italian Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 9 Best Places for Brunch in El Poblado
- 8 Best Mexican Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
- 5 Best Independent Coffee Shops in El Poblado
- 8 Top Coffee Shops in Laureles
- 5 Best Nano/Micro Breweries in Medellín
The Bottom Line: 21 Best FREE Things to Do in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
Medellín is becoming a more popular location for foreign tourists with more tourists visiting Medellín from other countries each year.
Enjoying the best of Medellín can be expensive with some expensive restaurants and nightclubs in the city. But fortunately, many of the best things to do in Medellín are FREE.
So, it’s possible to spend several days in Medelín enjoying the best FREE things to do in Medellín. Our above list of 21 best FREE things to do covers a wide range of activities from museums and parks to events and hiking.
In addition, we previously looked at 14 surprising cheap things in Medellín for expats. Also, readers, if you know of any free things to do in Medellín we missed, please let us know in the comments below.
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