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.
I have lived in Medellín for over eight years and have been to Parque Arví over 20 times. When we have visitors from out of town we always take them to Parque Arví. And all the visitors we have taken to the park have all enjoyed Parque Arví.
Several Medellin Guru readers had questions about this park. So, we provide the following comprehensive guide to Parque Arví, which is based on my many visits to this park. Note three of the above photos are courtesy of Parque Arví.
History of Parque Arví (Arví Park)
This large park reportedly was originally discovered by Mariscal Jorge Robledo in 1541. And Parque Arví was essentially forgotten for about 450 years.
Also, with the overwhelming urbanization of the Aburrá Valley and that of Rionegro it was miraculous that the park didn’t really experience any damage.
Thanks to the joint work of many Antioquian companies (EPM, Medellin Metro, Comfenalco, and several others) the park opened about 12 years ago and the Line L Metrocable line to Parque Arví opened in 2010.
Within Parque Arví are actually five parks. One of them is known as Parque Piedras Blancas and has been in existence for many years. In addition, Comfama is building an additional ecological zone in Arví. And the Technology Center of Antioquia, is building the Biodiversity Nucleus.
Also, the Chamber of Commerce of Medellín operates Vereda Mazo, which is known as “El Mercado de Arví”. Finally, there is an area known as Laguna de Guarne.
Parque Arví is huge and includes land belonging to the municipalities of Copacabana, Bello, Medellín, Envigado, Guarne and Rionegro.
Reportedly there are over 70 species of birds, 72 species of butterflies and 19 species of mammals found in Parque Arví. Also, you will find flowers throughout the park including several species of orchids.
In addition, the park features sections of pre-Hispanic construction, including antique buildings, water works, platforms, roads, gardens and ditches. And there is a trail named “Camino Cieza de León” or the “Pre-Hispanic Trail”, which can be more than 1,500 years old. It is built of stone and some parts are still well-preserved.
Things to Do in Parque Arví (Arví Park)
There are many things to do in this large park and here is a list of eight of the most popular things to do in Parque Arví:
1. Shop at Mercado Arví
Mercado Arví is located next to the Arví Metrocable station. This is a market where local farmers and vendors sell everything from local produce, cakes, coffee, agricultural products, jewelry, clothes, crafts and other souvenirs and gifts.
On the weekends, this market has over 40 stands open. And only about 10 stands are normally open during the week. Also, on the weekends there is a small restaurant in Mercado Arví offering bandaja paisa.
There are several trails in Parque Arví for hiking and maps are available near the Arví metro station. Trails (with maps) include:
- Ancestral – 2 hours, medium-difficulty
- The Brooklet – 1 to 2 hours, low-difficulty
- Trail of the hill – 4 hours, low-difficulty
- Orchids, Bromeliads and Anthuriums – 40 minutes, low-difficulty
- Flora – 1 hour, low-difficulty
- Biodiverse – 2 to 4 hours, low-difficulty
- Zango – 1 to 2 hours, low-difficulty
- Guava Gate – 1 hour, low-difficulty
- Vital – 2 hours, medium-difficulty
- Archaeological – 2 hours, low-difficulty
- Bewitched – 2 hours, medium-difficulty
- Myths and Legends – 1.5 hours, low-difficulty
Most of the trails are low-difficulty. In addition, Parque Arví offers guided tours, which are hikes in the park with a tour guide. Most of the guides in my experience don’t speak much English but are very knowledgeable about the park. And with a guided tour you eliminate the risk of getting lost in the large park.
Guided tours depart every 30 minutes starting at 10 am to 4 pm. The duration of the hiking tours is from 1 to 4 hours in the park depending on the trail. The tours aren’t very long or strenuous. So, we recommend them.
The cost of the guided tours is 10,000 pesos for Colombians or 6,000 pesos if affiliated with Sisbén. And for foreigners the cost is 25,000 pesos.
Picnicking is a popular activity in Parque Arví. You will typically see many families picnicking in the park.
In addition, if you don’t want to bring your own stuff, Parque Arví offers a picnic service with varied dining options and the possibility of musical accompaniment.
4. Visit the Environmental & Cultural Center Ignacio Vélez Escobar
This is a center that is used to host various events in the park. It has an auditorium, café, a gift shop and small food court.
The gift shop here is run by female heads of households and the Santa Elena community. It sells a variety of interesting souvenirs.
5. Visit Piedras Blancas
Parque Piedras Blancas is an ecological park located in Parque Arví. This separate ecological park has a total of 44.5 acres (18 hectares) of nature with trails for hiking and a small lake with row boats available. Parque Piedras Blancas is operated by Comfenalco.
Piedras Blancas also has:
- 1,500 meters of paved paths surrounded by nature and gardens.
- Museo Entomológico (Entomological Museum or Insect Museum) with hundreds of insects on display from a collection of over 15,000 preserved insects.
- Butterfly farm enclosure with reportedly 20 species of butterflies.
- Cafeteria with food and drinks.
- Hotel with 24 rooms, spa and restaurant.
- Camping area with showers and toilets.
- Kiosks with barbecue and picnic areas.
We have a separate article about Piedras Blancas with information about how to get there. The entrance fee is 7,500 pesos for the museum plus 5,700 pesos to enter the park. And entrance to the museum is free for kids less than 7-years-old.
6. Visit Comfama’s Parque
Comfama also has the Parque Comfama Arví park with adventure activities for kids and adults, as well as a zip line in the trees.
Activities here include:
- Comfama Adventure – 68 tests with ropes courses in the trees in four circuits: family, sports, explorer and extreme. These circuits last between 45 and 90 minutes at a height of 6 to 39 feet (2 to 14 meters).
- 4D Movie theater – watch a movie with a sensory adventure full of sounds and visual effects.
- Volcano – climb a mountain made of canvas supported by a steel structure.
- The mine of values – learn about the process of alluvial mining in this interactive experience .
- Archaeologists for a day – kids interact with the past, and live the story through the adventure of being an archaeologist.
- Zip line – let the adrenaline rush through your body in this adventure attraction on trees with a height of 98 feet (30 meters).
- Paths through the forest – enjoy tours of the park accompanied by a guide to learn about the history, archeology, anthropology and biodiversity of the Arví area.
Fees for the Comfama park range from 2,300 to 18,000 pesos depending if you are affiliated with Comfama or not. And fees for children range from 2,300 to 9,000 pesos. Also, the fee for adults older than 60 years old ranges from 2,300 to 10,200 pesos.
To get to Comfama’s park, from the Arví metro station walk to the nearby road, which has some restaurants and is also where you can catch buses. On the weekends the Comfama bus runs about every 30 minutes. And Comfama’s park is open only until 5 pm.
There is camping available in Parque Arví at Parque Piedras Blancas.
The Posada Piedras Blancas camping cost is 12,000 peso per person per night. And it’s possible to rent a tent for 2 to 4 people for 30,000 pesos per night.
Also, Comfenalco offers more camping at Piedras Blancas with access to their cafeteria, swimming pools and larger tents available for up to 7 people, which cost about 60,000 pesos per night.
8. Horseback and Bicycle Riding
It’s possible to rent horses in Parque Arví. If you enjoy horseback riding, this can be a great way to see the large park.
The cost for renting a horse is 30,000 pesos for 30 minutes or 60,000 pesos for 1 hour. However, we don’t recommend using horses unless you are with someone that knows the park fairly well. Keep in mind this is a huge park and it’s possible to get lost if you don’t know your way around.
Also, there are bicycles available for rent, which is another good way to see the large park. If you plan to rent bicycles, you should reserve online.
What to Bring to Parque Arví (Park Arví)
Parque Arví is located in Santa Elena, which is a corregimiento (rural area) of Medellín. Santa Elena is at a higher elevation than Medellín. So, it has a cooler temperature but the sun is stronger. It’s normally at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler at Parque Arví than in Medellín.
You will be doing a lot of walking. So, sneakers or hiking shoes are recommended. Here is recommended list of what to bring:
- Comfortable shoes for walking – sneakers or hiking shoes
- Jeans or hiking pants
- Jacket, sweater or coat
- Umbrella and/or raincoat
- Water and snacks or even food for a picnic
- Cash – restaurants and shops only accept cash
Where to Eat in Parque Arví
There is a café and a few restaurants in and near Parque Arví. If you walk from the Arví metro station to the road where you can catch buses there are a few restaurants here with typical Colombian food.
And if you take this road (Vía Parque Arví) down the hill there is El Tambo Retaurante, which is a popular Colombian restaurant with typical Colombian dishes including fish, meats, rice, beans, arepas and salads. This restaurant has big portions, which are perfect after hiking in the park.
Also, in the Environmental & Cultural Center in the park is Café Arví, which only uses Colombian coffee beans and is a good place to stop for coffee.
However, the best restaurant in the area in my opinion is the restaurant located in the Hotel at Parque Piedras Blancas.
Where to Stay in Parque Arví
I am only aware of one hotel in Parque Arví, which is located at Parque Piedras Blancas. The Hotel at Piedras Blancas is a nice hotel overlooking the lake at Parque Piedras Blancas. And the hotel has 24 rooms. It’s a nice and tranquil place to take a significant other for a Saturday night getaway or even to celebrate an anniversary.
Also, the hotel has a spa overlooking the lake and forest plus a restaurant. The hotel has two rates for low season and high season. The hotel rates include accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner and access to the museum, butterfly farm, boats plus accident insurance.
During high season the rate is 188,900 pesos per person and during low season it’s 180,900 pesos. And for kids it’s 65,000 pesos during high season and 61,500 pesos during low season.
There is also a lower rate that doesn’t include meals and also a lower rate if you are affiliated with Comfenalco.
The high rate applies from January 1 to 13, March 25 to 31 (Semana Santa), June 9 to July 2, July 20, December 15 to 31 and on weekends and holidays. Besides this hotel there is also camping available at Piedras Blancas, which we covered above.
Is Parque Arví Safe?
Parque Arví is generally considered safe to visit. However, there have been occasional reports of robberies in Parque Arví in the news.
While these robberies are relatively rare, it’s best to stick to areas of the park where there are other people. Also, we recommend going on the weekends when there are more people in the park.
This is a huge park and if you go off on your own you are more vulnerable. Stay on the trails, don’t flash valuables and don’t stay in the park after nightfall. Also, we recommend the guided tours, which provide a guide for hiking tours of 1 to 4 hours.
Parque Arví Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here is a list of five frequently asked questions about Parque Arví:
- How long does it take to get to Parque Arví? From the Poblado metro station it takes about 50 to 60 minutes including the metro train ride to Acevedo station and two Metrocable rides to the park.
- Are pets allowed in the park? Yes, you will see many families with dogs in the park. Pets must be on a leash and if medium, large or considered a dangerous race you must keep its muzzle on. Also, take care not to lose your pets, as this is a huge park.
- Can you bring food and drinks? Yes, you can definitely bring food and drinks and you will save money by bringing a lunch. And it is common to bring picnic supplies for picnics. But you can buy food in the park and there are restaurants available. Also, don’t forget to dispose of waste.
- Are there maps available? Yes, maps of the park are available at the ticket desk near the Arví metro station. But these maps aren’t that good in my opinion. There are also maps posted at many trail intersections in the park.
- Is there an ATM available? Yes, there is a Bancolombia ATM near the Parque Arví metro station but it isn’t always working so bring cash.
- Is Parque Arví accessible for those with disabilities? There are some ramps in some of the main areas in the park. But the trails in the park would be dicey for wheelchairs. Also, I haven’t seen wheelchairs in the Metrocable but have seen them on the metro train.
How to Get to Parque Arví
The best way to get to Parque Arví is using the Medellín Metro. Take the A Line to the Acevedo metro station. Note there is construction going on in the Acevedo station for a new Metrocable line. So, if you are arriving from the south you should be in one of the first three cars of the metro train or if arriving from the north (Bello) you should be in one of the last three cars of the train.
At the Acevedo metro station walk upstairs and to the right to transfer to the K Line Metrocable (cable car) to Santo Domingo station. And at Santo Domingo station (the third station), transfer to Line L Metrocable to Parque Arví. The Line L Metrocable ride takes about 20 minutes.
The metro fare to get to Santo Domingo station is the standard metro fare of 2,255 pesos if you have a Civica card or 2,550 pesos if you don’t. The Metrocable line to Parque Arví (Line L) has a separate fare of 6,000 pesos unless you are affiliated with Sisbén, which will result in a lower fare. Roundtrip to Parque Arví on the metro is 16,500 pesos with a Civica card or 17,100 pesos without a card.
When you leave using the Metrocable make sure to arrive at the Arví station no later than 5:30 pm as there are normally lines for the return trip. The Metrocable closes at 6 pm. And later than this, there are buses are available to take you to Medellín.
In addition, there are buses to the park from Medellín. The Trasancoop bus company leaves from Calle 50 between Carrera 40 and 41 in front of Institución Universitaria Escolme in Medellín to Parque Arví. Also, taxis and Uber are other options to get to the park but will be much more expensive.
We highly recommend taking the metro to Parque Arví due to the fantastic views of Medellín and the park from the cable cars.
Phone: +57 4 444 2979
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.
Parks and Plazas in Medellín
On the Medellin Guru website, we have looked at 12 different parks and plazas in the Medellín and Aburra Valley area:
- Parque Arví – a very large nature reserve, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellín.
- Parque Lleras – the top nightlife district in Medellín.
- Piedras Blancas – an ecological park near Medellín worth visiting.
- Parque Sabaneta – arguably the nicest park in the Medelllín metro area.
- Plaza Botero – a popular outdoor plaza with 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero.
- Plaza Cisneros – Parque de las Luces, Medellín’s Park of Lights in El Centro.
- Jardín Botánico – the popular Medellín botanical gardens.
- Parques Del Río – Medellín’s ambitious River Parks project along the Medellín River with the first stage open.
- Plaza San Antonio – a large plaza with four Fernando Botero sculptures and sometime has concerts.
- Cerro el Volado – a huge park with incredible views of Medellín.
- Cerro Pan de Azucar – a park with amazing views of Medellín.
- Parque de los Deseos – a popular park in Zona Norte offering a wide variety of free cultural activities.
The Bottom Line: Medellín’s Parque Arví (Arví Park)
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.
You could even consider skipping the return trip to Medellín via the cable cars. Take a bus from the park to the little town of Santa Elena to discover the famous farms where the flowers are grown for the annual Medellín Feria de las Flores Flower Festival. And buses are available from Santa Elena back to Medellín.
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Editors note: updated on July 8, 2019 to add information about Confama’s park based on a reader comment.