Medellin’s Growth in Tourism Over the Years 

Medellin’s Growth in Tourism Over the Years

TLDR? Medellin has significantly increased the numbers in tourism, and has adapted forms of memorial and urban tourism to tell its story to foreigners.

About twenty years ago, the city of Eternal Spring began building its tourist industry. Now, it’s one of the city’s greatest strengths. The city today is using art and culture as a means to change the public perception of Colombia and tell the story of Medellín. 

However, that wasn’t always the case. Keep reading and discover how Medellin has grown touristically during these years.

Why Tourists Choose Medellin

Tourists Choose Medellin

If you said you wanted to visit Medellin in the 1980s to the 2000s, people would call you crazy and risky! 

These were difficult years for the city, in which drug trafficking and organized armed groups besieged the paisas.

After this, new administrators and governments proposed reconstructing the neighborhoods around art and culture as a means to put aside the war. 

Medellin is a city that has grown significantly after all the darkness. Today, it’s quickly becoming one of the most important destinations in Colombia.

The city that was one of the most dangerous in the world became the “most innovative in the world.” Thereafter, it became the cradle of international events of great magnitude.

On a brighter note, the gorgeous weather has always remained the same! A perfect spring reigns all year, maintaining an average climate of 22 ° C.

And the paisas are among the kindest people you’ll ever meet, dedicated to their services and recognized for their great human warmth.

Some Relevant Data

Some Relevant Data

At the beginning of 2019, the number of tourists in Medellin increased by more than 50% in the last 3 years.

By 2019, Tourism in Medellin generated more than 290,000 jobs per year and contributed 8.2% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the city.

Likewise, in 2020, 321 thousand people visited the city’s museums, despite the pandemic significantly reducing many types of tourist activities, even stopping the departure and arrival of commercial flights for a long period of time.

2022 has been a very relevant and decisive year for tourism in Medellin.

In May, hotel occupancy reached its highest numbers since 2006, clocking in at 72.5% occupancy, with a 12% increase compared to numbers during the pandemic.

Between January and May of this year, 472,826 travelers passed through immigration controls, exhibiting a 38% growth when compared to 2019. 

In terms of the economy, the Medellin bureau estimated the expenditure of national and foreign tourists at 26 million dollars.

These figures show accelerated growth in tourism in the City of Eternal Spring, surpassing Bogota, the capital, and Cartagena, a tourist destination in Colombia.

Tourists from the United States take the lead in visitors, with 39% of all travelers coming from America. Mexico comes in second with 16%, and Panama with 12%. 

89% of visitors come to Medellín for leisure, proving the city to be a top tourist destination, and more than 70,000 international flight reservations are projected for June to November 2022.  

Of all the hotel reservations made in the city, 21.4% were made for a stay of between six to eight nights. 

Tourism Cluster

Tourism Cluster

In Medellin, there is an organization connecting different companies in the tourism sector such as:

  • Airlines
  • Airports
  • Travel agency
  • Ground Transportation
  • Hotels
  • Gastronomic sector
  • Taxis

This coalition played an important role in establishing tourism as one of the most prosperous and fastest growing businesses in Medellin, which in turn as achieved positive economic circulation. 

Alongside this organization, Medellin celebrated fairs and organized commercial agendas at a national and international level. 

This coalition has become an important key for tourism to consolidate itself as one of the most prosperous and growing businesses in Medellin, which in turn has achieved a positive economic circulation.

Hand in hand with this organization, Medellin celebrates fairs and organizes commercial agendas at a national and international level.

Spaces for Memorial and Cultural Tourism

Memorial and Cultural Tourism

There’s something for everyone in Medellín, from ecotourism to cultural and artistic tours, to walks through historical sites, delicious restaurants, and amazing nightlife. 

The most visited sites during 2021 were the museums, the Arvi Park, and the Botanical Garden. 

Urban tourism and memorial tourism are also in full swing, displaying Medellin’s transformation through art. Spaces have been set aside for the enjoyment and education of foreigners, such as: 

  • Comuna 13
  • Memorial space where Pablo Escobar’s Monaco Building was
  • House of Memory Museum
  • Gardelian House Museum
  • Articulated Life Units (UVAs)
  • Parks Library

In this way, tourists can experience a space once seen as “dangerous” to the outside world transformed into a cultural site where the story of the city is told through dance, music, or graffiti. 

Adaptations of the City to Tourism

Adaptations of the City to Tourism

Medellin has achieved impressive changes in two decades.

The infrastructure of this city allowed great changes and many projects that have improved the quality of life of locals and tourists. 

A great example of this is the airport or eastern tunnel, which has made it possible to travel from the airport to Medellin in a fast, safe way, reducing the travel time from an hour to just thirty minutes. 

Another megaproject up for discussion in recent months is the expansion of the international airport with the addition of a new terminal and runway to accommodate the high flow of flights arriving in Medellin. 

Medellin and Covid-19


The health emergency caused by Covid-19 certainly had an effect on tourism in the city, with many popular places like bars and restaurants forced to close their doors. 

Luckily, the city is currently reactivating tourism, with a 162% increase in tourism compared to pre-pandemic numbers. 

Medellin’s hotel occupancies are the second highest in Colombia, surpassed only by San Andres. 

Festivals and events of national and international stature helped promote the entry of visitors from all over the world. Some of them include:

  • Colombiamoda & Colombiatex
  • Flower Festival
  • Karol G concert
  • Expocamacol
  • International Poetry Festival
Most Popular Neighborhoods to Stay

As in all major cities, there’s one neighborhood known as the best to stay for its location and endless amounts of restaurants, bars, and tourist spots.

Medellin is no exception, the most recommended areas to book your hotel or Airbnb are Poblado, Parque Lleras (located in Poblado), and Laureles. These neighborhoods have great hotels, are well connected by public transport, are in the vicinity of many points of interest, and are the safest in the city.

Although these neighborhoods are a bit more expensive than Medellin’s other comunas, prices are still quite reasonable and budget friendly. 

The Empire of Rhythm

Empire of Rhythm

Colombia is known for its music, characterized by different rhythms from all over Latin America, and Medellin is the epicenter of the music scene. 

Throughout the city’s nightlife, you’ll find places specializing in different genres of music, or dedicated to all kinds of audiences, even those with eccentric musical tastes.

Although artists such as Daniel Santos, Benny Moré or Celia Cruz visited the city in the 1940s and 1950s, the 1970s established the Afro-Cuban rhythms known as salsa. 

However, there are many other genres born in Colombia, such as vallenato.  The majority of vallenato music you’ll find in the city is romantic, and it’s one of the types of this genre preferred by the locals. Tango and bolero are two musical genres of yesteryear that you probably didn’t know.

You may not know that Carlos Gardel, an important figure in the Argentine tango world, spent his last days in the City of Eternal Spring. 

There are still many fans of the oldies in Medellin, and if you’re one of them I recommend visiting the Salon Malaga,  a meeting space for old-world music lovers.

In the last few years, Medellin has excelled the growing stardom of many singers, dancers, and actors. In fact, the beautiful city of eternal spring is also called the factory of reggaeton since it was the birthplace of many world-renowned artists, such as 

  • Maluma
  • J Balvin
  • Karol G

So, whether you want a little party time in your life or just want to learn a little more about Colombian music culture, Medellin is your ideal tourist destination.

Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure

The city is committed to sustainability and the care of the environment. A few ways they’re doing this is by promoting public transport and the use of the EnCicla bike system. Tree planting, vertical gardens, and more are some of the renovations that are made annually to maintain the eco-friendly side of the city.

And not only for the growth of tourism but also for the welfare of the city, many buildings in the metropolitan area have decided to modernize and bet on green infrastructure.

A small example of the change can be the water mirrors of the EPM building, which were originally designed as a protection against terrorist attacks during the escalation of violence in the 80s, today are its greatest aesthetic attraction.

Surprisingly, in two decades, Medellín went from being known under the title of the most violent city in the world to receiving the “Nobel Prize for Cities”, the Lee Kuan Yew World City prize in 2016. Due to the commitment to nature and the large number of green spaces that are open to the public.

Medellin and Its Surroundings

Medellin and Its Surroundings

The growth of tourism in Medellin has not only benefited the city, but also the surrounding towns. They’ve been able to leave behind their violent past and reactive their economy to become must-visit spots in Medellin.

Towns like Guatape or Jardin have become amazing tourist destinations you need to add to your travel schedule. This is true whether you go for their attractions or simply for the quiet atmosphere and clean air. 

Foreigners and locals alike have decided to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life for the great outdoors. 

Fortunately, the city has put a lot of effort into improving transportation to these rural areas. Today, it currently takes less than an hour to reach towns like Girardota using the public transport system of Medellin.

Coffee culture is also a major factor in the movement of tourism through the surrounding villages of Medellin. In fact, many coffee lovers and professional tasters are attracted to these places in search of coffee tasting tours. They look for coffee beans of the best quality.

The diversity of coffees that vary in body, aroma, flavor, and acidity makes the coffee villages of Medellin a treasure. As a result, they’re places that only the most passionate about this drink dare to discover.

Medellin, an Increasingly Attractive City

Medellin is a city with great recognition worldwide for all kinds of art and culture. Plus, it’s renowned for the improvements to make it a more innovative city with state-of-the-art infrastructure.

From good food, ecotours, visits to colonial towns, extreme sports, and memorial tourism, this city has it all. As a result, Medellin is equipped to meet the growing numbers of tourism skyrocketing statistics.

Visit Medellin and let yourself be surprised by everything this city has to offer!

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