Medellin Weekend Escapes: Cool Destinations Outside the City

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No time to read? There are a few great getaways, but the best weekend escape from Medellin is Santa Fe de Antioquia.

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

But, that doesn’t mean that the only fun things to do are found in the city! There are some brilliant weekend escapes within a four-hour drive from Medellin that will more than satisfy your wanderlust.

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, this guide is for you.

Let’s check out the best Medellin weekend escapes that you can enjoy in the surrounding countryside.

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.

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for a great place to stay, you can’t miss Hotel Mariscal Robledo. Sip sangria by the pool, enjoy a coffee tasting at Cafe Canelo and catch up with some quality z’s in one of their sumptuous beds.

What to Eat and 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. We’re confident you’ll enjoy both the food and the atmosphere.

What to Do

Cross the River Cauca on foot using the Puente del Occidente suspension bridge, a 19th-century marvel of engineering. It’s a truly stunning sight to see and will transport you back in time as you explore this quaint town.

Guatape

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. In other words, 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 were converted into gold. That’s 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. There, you’ll catch 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.

Where to Stay

Hotel Joinn is a cute and cozy hotel that we’d definitely recommend checking out. These cabins are situated on the lakefront and are a wonderful place to snuggle up under the stars.

What to Eat and Drink

The food in town isn’t amazing but the Amazonas Vegetariano serves up healthy options. At the same time, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty view of the rock. If you’ve rented a boat to explore the lakes take a lazy lunch at Luxe.

What to Do

Climb the 740 steps to the top of the Peñol rock for an unrivaled photo opp. What’s more, we recommend taking a tuk-tuk ride through the picturesque town. Or, rent a deluxe planchon to take you on a floating tour of the lakes. 

Jardin, Tamesis and Jerico

Drive four hours southwest 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. This is a lush, verdant landscape punctuated by colonial villages filled with the typical scenery, architecture and characters you’ve probably familiar with from Colombia’s Juan Valdez coffee adverts.

For photo ops 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. Finally, Jerico 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. 

Where to Stay

Hotel Plantacion is an eco-friendly hotel with seven rooms is the real deal.  A sustainability school disguised as a hotel with a  great plant-based restaurant and stylish design. 

What to Eat and Drink

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, be sure to check out the Consulado Vegetal. This restaurant offers tasty, plant-based meals that are packed with nutrients.

For the carnivores, there are plenty of other great restaurants. Check out the Brazza for a meal you won’t forget!

What to Do

Learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee from the bean to the cup on the Finca Los Angeles coffee tour. Plus, it’s a great way to not only enjoy delicious beverages but also to support a local family making amazing coffee. 

Doradal 

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 halfway to Bogota. Famed as the gateway to Hacienda Napoles (a pitstop for any fans of the Netflix series Narcos), this small town is home to a super popular theme park.

The heat and the lush tropical scenery that grows on the banks of the rivers that flow into the River Magdalena are just two of the draws to this beautiful town.

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 for travelers.

If you visit the area, be sure to enjoy the fantastic swimming, rafting, kayaking, and birdwatching on offer in  Rio Claro and Rio la Miel.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of eco-lodges in the area. These spots are a special collection of wooden cabañas in a tropical forest between Rio Claro and Rio la Miel.

What to Do

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 which now occupies Pablo Escobar’s former finca

San Rafael

For an altogether more off-the-beaten-path adventure, skip the crowds in Guatape. Then, keep driving another half an hour towards sleepy San Rafael.

A weekend escape in San Rafael will take you to a pretty little village sitting on the Guatape River with relaxing natural waterfalls. Plus, you’ll love the 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. That makes it ideal for spending the day messing about in the river. 

Where to Stay

Now, there aren’t many places to stay in San Rafael. So, it’s best to return to Medellin or find a place on the lake in Guatape. 

One option is to cuddle up with your special plus-one in modern, Nordic-style cabins lined up to look out onto the lake. Or, if you prefer, check out the self-contained apartments with wonderful views of the lake and a “beach club” equipped with an impressive host of watersports options.

Cocorná

Cocorná sits on a strategic junction on the road to Rio Claro, two hours drive from Medellín.

The town is a brilliant basecamp for Antioquia’s adventure playground with adrenaline on tap. Enjoy rappelling in the nearby waterfall, paragliding through the picturesque valley.

In the town, there are nearby options for you to go white-water rafting, canyoning, or caving. Additionally, there are also plenty of popular places where the paisas converge to drink beer and get merry in the river.

Where to Stay

Ecolodge Tierra de Agua is a truly unique getaway located in Cocorná, and one that we can’t get enough of. It’s unlike any experience you’ll find anywhere else.

Plus, it’s a hotel that doesn’t have a negative impact on the planet. That’s a win-win in our book!

Plan Some Medellin Weekend Escapes to Explore Antioquia

Ready for a little adventure? Medellin’s more than just a mountain metropolis. It’s also 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. We provide you with information on the best places to escape Medellin for the day or the weekend.

If you like this blog, you might like the Casacol Instagram page to keep up with all the new articles. Anything we need to update or correct? Care to contribute? Email us at [email protected].

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