The Best Places to Escape Medellin for the Day or the Weekend

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A magical mix of wonderful weather, friendly locals, urbane aesthetics and great value vacation rentals and long-stay apartment options has made Medellin a honey trap for travelers with even the itchiest of feet. 

If you’ve  been hooked on the laid-back charms of this mountain metropolis but you still don’t feel ready quite yet to relinquish the ‘nomad’ of the digital nomad description on your Instagram profile, you’ll be happy to learn that there are some brilliant weekend escapes within a four hour drive from Medellin that will more than satisfy your wanderlust. Nature, culture and healthy, outdoor pursuits abound in the mountains that flank Medellin and there are some lovely, little boutique hotels that will surpass all your weekend escape expectations. If you need a car, driver or even a helicopter to get to your preferred destination check out our guide to escaping Medellin.

Santa Fe de Antioquia
Brimming with colonial charm, Santa Fe de Antioquia, used to be the capital of the department of Antioquia until Medellin surpassed it in importance in 1888. Blessed with sunny climes with an average temperature of 25.5 °C, the cultured, cobblestone streets, petite galleries and museums and an eclectic collection of bars and restaurants make this the most popular weekend escape for a fun-loving crowd. Just an hour from Medellin, the city’s new money rides into town on Friday nights so try going during the week if you want the place to yourselves.

Stay: Hotel Mariscal Robledo
Sip sangria by the pool, enjoy a coffee tasting at Cafe Canelo and catch up with some quality zzzzzs in one of their sumptuous beds.

T. +57 (1) 587-5210 
IG: @hotelmariscalrobledo

Eat & Drink: Soak up the history and maybe one too many craft brews in the picturesque patio of La Casa Solariega or enjoy some fantastic people watching on the plaza in the timeless corner bar, Piel Roja. 

Explore: Cross the River Cauca on foot using the Puente del Occidente suspension bridge, a 19th century marvel of engineering. 

It’s hard to imagine that the ever popular Peñol rock wasn’t always the number one weekend escape from Medellin. It was once an unloved impediment to agricultural development, an unwanted barnacle for the farming family that owned the land on which it sits. It was only with the creation of a man-made reservoir in 1972, that the granite and quartz of this geological pimple was converted into gold, when the rock’s privileged pinnacle became one of the world’s most spectacular viewing platforms.  The lush, emerald lakes, created to generate electricity for Medellin are now the principal reason to climb the 740 steps to the top of the rock providing a photogenic backdrop to the second homes of some of the wealthiest families and celebrities in Medellin. The climb and the ride through the charming, colonial village of Guatape, where each house is decorated with the economic activity of the inhabitants, have become an obligatory weekend escape for visitors to Medellin. By road it’s a four-hour round trip, or there’s a cinematographic helicopter ride that can whisk you there from the Olaya Herrera airport in the center of Medellin in just 30 minutes.

Stay: Hotel Joinn 
Cuddle up with your special plus-one in these modern, Nordic-style cabins lined up to look out onto the lake.
IG @joinn_houtel/
T. +57 301 664 7000

Deluxe self-contained apartments with wonderful views of the lake and a “beach club” equipped with an impressive host of watersports options.
T. +57(4) 460 0510 

Eat & Drink:  The food in town isn’t amazing but the Amazonas Vegetariano serves up healthy options with a pretty view of the rock. If you’ve rented a boat to explore the lakes take a lazy lunch at Luxe.

Explore: Climb the 740 steps to the top of the Peñol rock for an unrivalled photo opp, take a tuk tuk ride through the picturesque town and rent a deluxe planchon to take you on a floating tour of the lakes. 

Jardin, Tamesis & Jerico
Drive four hours south-west of  Medellin and you’ll find some of the prettiest little villages or ‘pueblos’ in Colombia. The route takes you in the direction of Colombia’s famous coffee triangle, a lush, verdant landscape punctuated by colonial villages filled with the typical scenery, architecture and characters you’ve probably familiar with in Colombia’s Juan Valdez coffee adverts. For photo opps and a top-notch coffee tour, Jardin’s probably the pick of the three. If you’re looking for a more authentic understanding of Colombia’s coffee culture, Salamina’s for you and Jerico’s offers a more sober, religious variant on the same theme. Less visited, Tamesis, has some spectacular waterfalls and tropical forests and bird watching which is very popular with hardcore twitchers. 

Stay: Hotel Plantacion, Jardin 
This eco-friendly with seven rooms is the real deal.  A sustainability school disguised as a hotel with a  great plant-based restaurant and stylish design. 
T. +57 313 850 1833

Eat & Drink:  Veggies will like Consulado Vegetal (@consuladovegetal) at Hotel Plantacion for a tasty plant-based menu, while the Brazza will keep the carnivores more than content.

Explore:  Learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee from the bean to the cup on the Finca Los Angeles coffee tour and support a local family making amazing coffee. 

If you want to feel the heat, head down into the valley that lies between Colombia’s western and central Andean mountain ranges and dive into Colombia’s tropical forests and free-flowing rivers. Doradal lies four hours from Medellin almost half-way to Bogota. Famed as the gateway to Hacienda Napoles, the impregnable HQ of Pablo Escobar’s notorious drugs’ empire in the 1980s. You can see why he liked to escape Medellin to enjoy the heat and the lush tropical scenery that grows on the banks of the rivers that flow into the River Magdalena. Some hippy chic, ecolodges have started to spring up to give the place a more healthy feel in recent years, providing some laid-back basecamps to enjoy the fantastic swimming, rafting, kayaking and birdwatching on offer in  Rio Claro and Rio la Miel.

Stay: Entreaguas Eco-lodge (@entreaguasecolodge, T: 310 465 0237) is a special collection of wooden cabañas in a tropical forest between Rio Claro and Rio la Miel. Natural Eco Hotel is (@naturalecohotel, T: 314 607 5537)

Explore:  Take a kayak down Rio La Miel or visit the Rio Claro Nature Reserve and marvel at the emerald green pools and the riotous wildlife in the resplendent tropical rainforest. Families might want to visit the OTT water theme park, Hacienda Napoles that now occupies Pablo’ Escobar’s former finca

San Rafael
For an altogether more off-the-beaten track adventure, skip the crowds in Guatape and keep driving another half an hour towards sleepy San Rafael. A weekend escape in San Rafael will take you to a pretty little village siting on the Guatape River with relaxing natural waterfalls and thick tropical rainforest that’s home to an incredible array of wildlife including howler monkeys and scarlet macaws. A good 1,000 m (3,281 feet) lower in altitude than Medellin, the climate is hot and humid, ideal for spending the day messing about in the river. 

Stay: Hotel Joinn 
There aren’t many places to stay in San Rafael so its best to return to Medellin or find a place on the lake in Guatape. Cuddle up with your special plus-one in these modern, Nordic-style cabins lined up to look out onto the lake.
IG @joinn_houtel/
T. +57 301 664 7000

Deluxe self-contained apartments with wonderful views of the lake and a “beach club” equipped with an impressive host of watersports options.
T. +57(4) 460 0510

Cocorna sits on a strategic junction on the road to Rio Claro, two hours from Medellín. The town is a brilliant basecamp for Antioquia’s adventure playground with adrenalin on tap with rappelling in the nearby waterfall, paragliding through the picturesque valley and nearby options to go white-water rafting, canyoning or caving. There are also plenty of popular places where the paisas converge to drink beer and get merry in the river.

Stay: Ecolodge Tierra de Agua
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. 

Discover the best day trips and weekend escapes within four hours of your luxury Casacol apartment by visiting our blog with information on the best places to escape Medellin for the day or the weekend. Link in bio.👆🏻 

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