After being cooped up inside like battery chickens for far too long we all need a little free range action and a chance to get back in touch with nature. There are some wonderful parks to be discovered in Medellin including Parques del Rio, a sensational piece of urban planning that bridges the river to provide a special spot to get some sun, grab a coffee, or stretch your legs in the heart of the city. City hall has been investing heavily in new parks and greening the streams that connect the city to its natural surroundings and urban interventions like the UVAs or (Articulated Life Units), the city’s name for places to exercise, have injected new green spaces into the city’s urban fabric. Visiting them is a pleasant way to get to know some of the city’s different barrios and if you’re really looking to stretch your legs and indulge in some forest bathing there are some spectacular trips that can be organised by car or by bike (for hardcore cyclists) high up into the hills looking down on Medellin.
To max out your time in Medellin’s great outdoors and spend a weekend getting up close to nature check out our guide to the best glamping options within a four-hour drive of Medellin, or some of our favorite day trips that involve a double dose of fresh air. If you need a car, driver or guide then check out our guide to getting around in Medellin.
Trekking in Parque Arvi
Exploring Parque Arvi and Santa Elena is one of the easiest, but equally infuriating ways to get out into nature in Medellin. It’s easy to get there. Simply jump on the metro to Acevedo and then take the cable car to Santo Domingo before changing into a second cable car for a wonderful 20-minute ride over the pine tree forests that cover Medellin’s biggest natural park. The infuriating bit is that when you get there it’s difficult to work out where to go next. There’s very little signage and if you want to go off-road and make the most of your trip up there and enjoy a rigorous trek through some wonderful woodlands you should think about hiring a guide to discover some of the best nature trails in Medellin. If you don’t take someone who knows their way around you’ll end up following the rest of the masses walking along the road aimlessly until you get bored and want to come back. If you’re a seasoned trekker and want to venture off the beaten path then there are some great trails in Wikilocs.
Explore: Head into the woods and enjoy some of the best nature trails in Medellin.
How to get there: Metro, cable car to Parque Arvi or head to Santa Elena by car with a guide and surprise your travel companions by taking the cable car back into town on the way back. The view arriving is spectacular.
Trekking & Mountain Biking in La Romera
High up in the hills above Sabaneta, the smallest municipality in Colombia, has created a nature reserve that’s blessed with wonderful trails cutting through the 200 hectares estate, La Romera. The lush Andean rainforest that flanks the steep climb up to La Romera Ecological Park, is a rich playground for more than 190 species of birds – that’s almost 10% of the total number of species in the world’s number one country for bird watching. As well as being an early morning paradise for bird watchers, the climb is a popular challenge for hardcore mountain bikers and trekkers. The climb takes you up almost 750 m in altitude to 2,650 m above sea level. When you reach the former farm house high up in the hills, the real fun starts with the chance to explore some of the best preserved examples of native Andean rainforests in close vicinity to Medellin. Trails reveal the waterfalls and rivers that supply most of the city’s drinking water reserves for Sabaneta and some spectacular views of Medellin from above.
Explore: Book a trip with Palenque Tours for the best trekking and bird watching, or mountain bike experience from La Romera to La Catedral – a 30 km bike ride for cyclists that enjoy a challenge.
How to get there: Take a car, bus or metro to Parque Sabaneta from where you can find transport to take you up to the gate of La Romera. From there climb from 1,800 m above sea level to 2,650 m above sea level on foot or bike. It’s not for laggards, the walk will take an hour up and an hour back down. There’s a small café at the top of the hill.
Medellin’s Botanical Garden, found in the heart of the city, is a paradise for nature lovers that want to experience an impressive selection of the flora and fauna that makes Colombia, mile for mile, the most biodiverse country on earth.
With a wonderful mix of Colombia’s biological riches including 1,200 different species of butterflies, tropical rainforest, desert cacti, rare orchids, wetlands and spectacular public spaces given over to morning yoga and exercise sessions, festivals or celebrity weddings, the Jardin Botanico is one of the highlights of any visit to Medellin. Families will enjoy the playful, science museum Parque Explora opposite and the landscaped gardens of Moravia, a former rubbish dump that was inhabited by some of Medellin’s most desperate residents gives a fascinating insight into the transformation taking place in the city.
Explore: Check the cultural agenda of the Jardin Botanico to time your visit with one of the city’s events. Del Bosque Restaurante Café is a great spot to grab lunch and do a little work in a spectacular setting and El Situ is a good option for a date. Picnics are allowed also. To combine with the a visit to Moravia book a trip with Palenque Tours.
How to get there:
By metro, disembark at the station Caribe or take a taxi.
Empresa Publica de Medellin has a hand in most of the public spaces and schools being built by the mayor and the UVAs or Articulated Life Units as they are called were the latest initiative to improve the quality of life for the city’s residents. Each of these exercise areas have converted areas for life, exercise and culture, acting as public parks where people can get out and let off steam. The UVA below El Tesoro shopping center is one of the most interesting culturally as it has created a democratic space in upscale Poblado where all segments of society meet. It’s steep incline makes it a good place for a workout as well as people watching. As well as getting you into outdoors mode, the UVA’s are great examples of urban acupuncture and a window into understanding why Medellin is considered one of the most sustainable and innovative cities in the world.
Explore: Walk down and back up the Parque UVA El Tesoro then enjoy a well-earned ice cream in the upscale mall.
How to get there:
Grab a taxi to El Tesoro Shopping Center and the park is just below.
High up in the hills to the north-west of the city, the thermal conditions in San Felix are perfect for paragliding and grabbing a bird’s eye view of Medellin. Soar high over the city on an exhilarating tandem trip with a fully qualified instructor. As well as paragliding there’s a chance to rappel down one of the nearby waterfalls and trek into the paramos of Las Baldias. The paramos are the ecosystem of the regions above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snowline and the source of Medellin’s rich water reserves. The diverse scenery in the surrounding area offers up special opportunities to get some fresh air and spectacular views.
Explore: If you are going to trek to Las Baldias, you’re advised to go with a qualified guide. Book a trip with Palenque Tours.
How to get there:
Rent a car or hire a car with a driver that will take you to the popular paragliding point or organise a car and a guide with Palenque Tours.
Ready for a little adventure? Medellin’s more than just a mountain metropolis, it’s the gateway to some of the most stunning scenery in Colombia.
Leave your comfort zone and get out and about by visiting our blog with information on the best places to explore Medellin’s natural riches Link in bio.👆🏻