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Amazing Day Trips From Medellin – Colombia Travel


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Claribel Mccluskey


Guatapé: The Town of Colorful Zocalos

Located just a few hours outside of Medellin, Guatapé is a charming and picturesque town that should be at the top of your list for day trips in Colombia. Known for its vibrant and colorful zocalos, it is often referred to as the most colorful town in Colombia. These intricate and detailed frescoes that adorn the facades of the houses depict everything from traditional Colombian scenes to abstract designs, making for a stunning visual experience.


One of the highlights of visiting Guatapé is climbing the famous El Peñón de Guatapé. This massive rock formation looms over the town and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. With its 740 steps, reaching the top requires some physical exertion, but the panoramic vistas that await you are well worth the effort. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Guatapé’s beautiful lakes and rolling hills.


Aside from the colorful zocalos and the rock climb, Guatapé also boasts a vibrant waterfront promenade. Stroll along the Malecón and soak in the laid-back atmosphere while enjoying the stunning lake views. You can also take a boat tour of the Guatapé Reservoir, where you can spot picturesque islands and even dine on a restaurant boat.


For those interested in history and culture, a visit to the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen is a must. This church, located in the central square, is a great example of colonial architecture and is a focal point of the town. Inside, you’ll find beautiful religious artwork and stained glass windows.


Finally, don’t forget to indulge in some of Guatapé’s culinary delights. The town is known for its fresh trout, which is often served with a traditional Colombian twist. Pair it with a refreshing local beer or a delicious cup of Colombian coffee, and you’ll have the perfect meal to complement your day in Guatapé.


Guatapé offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and historical charm. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a colorful escape from the city, a day trip to Guatapé is guaranteed to leave you with unforgettable memories.


Santa Fe de Antioquia: A Historic Colonial Escape

If you’re longing for a trip back in time, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the perfect destination for a day trip from Medellin. This enchanting town, founded in 1541, is a living testament to Colombia’s colonial heritage, with well-preserved architecture and a rich history that transports visitors to a bygone era.


As you explore the cobblestone streets of Santa Fe de Antioquia, you’ll be greeted by stunning colonial buildings adorned with brightly colored facades and flower-filled balconies. The town’s central plaza, Plaza Mayor, serves as the heart of the town and is lined with charming cafes and shops. Admire the stunning Cathedral Basilica Metropolitana, with its intricate Gothic-Renaissance style and impressive artwork.


One of the must-see attractions in Santa Fe de Antioquia is the Puente de Occidente, a suspension bridge that spans the Cauca River. This engineering marvel, built in the 19th century, is considered one of the longest bridges of its kind in South America. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge and marvel at the breathtaking views of the river and surrounding landscapes.


If you’re interested in art and history, be sure to visit the Juan del Corral Museum. Housed in a colonial-era building, this museum showcases a collection of religious artifacts, art pieces, and archaeological exhibits that highlight the region’s history. From pre-Hispanic artifacts to colonial-era paintings, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the cultural heritage of Santa Fe de Antioquia.


To immerse yourself in the local culture, pay a visit to the lively Mercado Municipal. Here, you can wander through the vibrant market stalls, taste traditional Colombian snacks, and shop for handicrafts. Don’t forget to try the local delicacy, hormigas culonas (big-bottomed ants), which are a delicacy in this region.


For nature lovers, the surrounding countryside of Santa Fe de Antioquia offers opportunities for outdoor activities. Take a hike to the nearby Puente de Occidente waterfall or enjoy a horseback ride through the picturesque landscapes.


Santa Fe de Antioquia is a charming colonial escape that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Its well-preserved architecture, rich cultural heritage, and serene surroundings make it an ideal destination for a day trip from Medellin.


Jericó: The Land of Coffee and Stunning Views

When it comes to experiencing Colombia’s rich coffee culture and breathtaking landscapes, Jericó is a hidden gem that should not be missed. Tucked away in the lush mountains of Antioquia, this charming town offers a perfect blend of coffee plantations, colonial architecture, and panoramic views.


Known as the birthplace of coffee in Antioquia, Jericó is surrounded by rolling hills covered in coffee plantations. Take a tour of a local coffee farm and learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee beans. Discover the secrets behind brewing the perfect cup of Colombian coffee and enjoy a tasting session to savor the flavors and aroma of this renowned beverage.


Strolling through the streets of Jericó feels like stepping back in time. The town is home to well-preserved colonial architecture, characterized by colorful houses with ornate balconies and cobblestone streets. Visit the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, a stunning neo-Gothic style church that dominates the town’s skyline. Step inside to admire the beautiful stained glass windows and intricate woodwork.


For breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, make your way to the Mirador del Cristo Redentor. This hilltop viewpoint offers panoramic vistas of the mountains, valleys, and coffee farms that stretch as far as the eye can see. Take a moment to soak in the tranquility and capture some stunning photographs.


Jericó is also known for its religious festivals and traditions. If you visit during Easter week, you’ll witness elaborate processions and rituals as the town comes alive with colorful decorations and festivities. Experience the passion and devotion of the locals as they commemorate this important time in the Catholic calendar.


To fully immerse yourself in the local culture, explore the Mercado de Plaza, where you can find an array of fresh produce, traditional crafts, and local delicacies. Indulge in some delicious treats like arepas de chocolo (corn pancakes) or panela, a traditional sweet made from sugar cane.


Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Jericó offers a unique and unforgettable experience. From sipping freshly brewed coffee on a plantation to admiring the stunning landscapes, this charming town will captivate your senses and leave you with a newfound appreciation for Colombia’s coffee heritage.


Santuario de las Lajas: A Majestic Church in the Canyon

Nestled in a lush canyon in southern Colombia, the Santuario de las Lajas is a marvel of architecture and spirituality. This stunning church is perched on the edge of a gorge, with its striking Gothic Revival design and breathtaking surroundings making it a must-visit destination for both religious pilgrims and architecture enthusiasts.


The Santuario de las Lajas is famous for its picturesque location, with the church spanning the Guáitara River gorge. As you approach the sanctuary, you’ll be greeted by the sight of the beautiful stone bridge that leads to the entrance. Take your time to marvel at the intricate detailing of the church’s facade, adorned with spires, arches, and a central rose window.


Inside the church, the grandeur continues with its high ceilings, stunning stained glass windows, and decorative altars. The main altar is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and pilgrims from near and far come to pay their respects and seek solace in the peaceful atmosphere of the sanctuary.


For the best views of the Santuario de las Lajas, make your way to the Mirador del Cañón. This viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of the church, the river, and the surrounding lush greenery. It’s the perfect spot for capturing breathtaking photographs and taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of this architectural marvel.


Legend has it that the sanctuary was built in the 18th century after a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary on the rocks of the gorge. Today, the Santuario de las Lajas serves as a place of pilgrimage and spiritual devotion for many Colombians and visitors alike.


While the Santuario de las Lajas is a popular day trip destination from nearby cities, such as Popayán or Pasto, it is also worth staying overnight to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility and mystique of the area. There are a few accommodations available nearby, allowing you to wake up to the soothing sounds of nature and continue to explore the surroundings at your leisure.


Whether you’re a believer searching for an inspiring place of worship or a traveler in search of architectural wonders, the Santuario de las Lajas will leave you mesmerized. Its unique location, stunning design, and spiritual significance make it a truly majestic sight to behold.


Jardín: A Charming Coffee Town in the Andes

Tucked away in the picturesque countryside of Colombia’s coffee region, Jardín is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, coffee culture, and colonial charm. This vibrant town, surrounded by lush mountains and rolling hills, is a haven for coffee enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


Jardín is renowned for its coffee production, and exploring the coffee farms is a highlight of any visit. Take a tour of a local coffee plantation and learn about the entire process, from picking the ripe coffee cherries to roasting and brewing the beans. Immerse yourself in the rich aroma and flavors as you sample freshly brewed Colombian coffee, gaining a deeper appreciation for this beloved beverage.


As you wander through the streets of Jardín, you’ll be captivated by the town’s colonial architecture and colorful facades. The central square, known as Parque Principal, is the heart of Jardín and a perfect spot to relax and soak in the atmosphere. Admire the beautiful Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, a white-washed church with its intricate woodwork and stunning views from its bell tower.


For a unique experience, take a ride on the iconic Willy Jeep, a colorful and nostalgic form of transportation that dates back to the 1950s. These open-air jeeps are a fun and adventurous way to explore the surrounding countryside, revealing breathtaking vistas and hidden waterfalls along the way.


Nature lovers will be enchanted by Jardín’s stunning landscapes. Head to the Cascada del Amor, a majestic waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip in the natural pools surrounded by lush vegetation. Explore the nearby Rio Claro Nature Reserve, known for its crystal-clear river, vibrant flora and fauna, and thrilling activities like zip-lining and river tubing.


As you explore Jardín, don’t forget to indulge in the local culinary delights. Savor traditional Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa, a hearty platter that includes beans, rice, meat, plantains, and arepas. Pair it with a cup of freshly brewed coffee to complete your gastronomic experience.


With its charming beauty, rich coffee culture, and stunning natural surroundings, Jardín is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re sipping coffee in a traditional finca, wandering the colorful streets, or immersing yourself in the region’s natural wonders, Jardín promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Colombian Andes.


Rio Claro Nature Reserve: A Paradise of Biodiversity

Tucked away in the heart of Colombia’s Antioquia region, the Rio Claro Nature Reserve is a pristine paradise that beckons nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. This hidden gem boasts a stunning natural landscape, unique geological formations, and a wealth of biodiversity that will leave you awe-struck.


The centerpiece of the Rio Claro Nature Reserve is its crystal-clear river that winds its way through a deep gorge, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. As you explore the reserve, you’ll be captivated by the vibrant colors of the flora and the melodic sounds of exotic bird species that call this place home.


One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Rio Claro is by taking a guided hike through the reserve’s intricate trail system. Trek along scenic paths that lead you through lush canyons and across suspension bridges, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the rainforest.


Another popular activity at Rio Claro is river tubing. Hop on an inflatable tube and float down the calm sections of the river, allowing you to take in the surrounding natural beauty at a leisurely pace. The river is also perfect for swimming, so take a refreshing dip in its cool waters and let the tranquil ambiance engulf you.


If you’re seeking a bit more adventure, Rio Claro offers thrilling activities like zip-lining and rock climbing. Soar through the treetops on a zip-line and marvel at the breathtaking views below. For those with a head for heights, tackle the challenging rock walls and experience the rush of conquering the cliffs.


In addition to its natural wonders, Rio Claro is also home to a diverse range of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for exotic butterflies, colorful reptiles, and even monkeys swinging through the treetops. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the opportunity to spot species like toucans, hummingbirds, and parrots.


To fully appreciate the tranquility of Rio Claro, consider staying overnight at one of the reserve’s eco-friendly accommodations. Wake up to the symphony of bird calls and immerse yourself in the peace and serenity of your natural surroundings.


If you’re looking to escape the bustling city and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty, the Rio Claro Nature Reserve is the perfect destination. Discover a paradise of biodiversity, where stunning landscapes, thrilling adventures, and a rich tapestry of flora and fauna converge to create an unforgettable experience.


Piedra del Peñol: Climb the Famous Rock

In the heart of Colombia’s Antioquia region lies an iconic natural wonder that has captured the imaginations of visitors for decades – Piedra del Peñol. This massive rock monolith, also known as “The Rock of Guatapé,” attracts adventurers and nature lovers from around the world with its towering presence and breathtaking views.


Rising an impressive 220 meters above the surrounding landscape, Piedra del Peñol offers a thrilling challenge and a rewarding experience for those who dare to conquer it. As you ascend over 700 stairs built into the side of the rock, each step reveals a more awe-inspiring panorama of the picturesque Guatapé Reservoir and the rolling hills of the Colombian countryside.


Reaching the summit of Piedra del Peñol is a true testament to your physical endurance, but the effort is well worth it. Upon reaching the top, you will be rewarded with an unparalleled 360-degree view of the surrounding area. From the vast expanse of the reservoir’s sparkling blue waters to the lush greenery stretching as far as the eye can see, the panoramic vista from the summit is nothing short of breathtaking.


While the main attraction is the climb itself and the stunning views, there is more to discover once you descend from the rock. At the base of Piedra del Peñol, you’ll find a vibrant plaza lined with shops selling local handicrafts and delicious Colombian treats. Take a stroll around the surrounding area and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you sip on fresh fruit juices or indulge in a savory empanada.


To complement your visit to Piedra del Peñol, consider exploring the nearby town of Guatapé, known for its colorful zocalos and vibrant waterfront promenade. Take a boat tour of the Guatapé Reservoir, visit the local market, or simply wander through the charming streets and soak in the lively ambiance.


Piedra del Peñol is not only a natural marvel but also holds cultural significance for the local community. It has become a symbol of pride and resilience, standing as a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of the people who built the stairs that allow visitors to reach the top.


Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, a nature lover craving stunning vistas, or simply someone eager to witness the marvels that the natural world has to offer, a visit to Piedra del Peñol will leave an indelible impression and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Hacienda Nápoles: The Former Estate of Pablo Escobar

Deep within the Colombian countryside, remnants of a notorious past can be found at Hacienda Nápoles, the former estate of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. This sprawling complex, located near the town of Puerto Triunfo, offers a unique and controversial insight into the life of one of the world’s most notorious criminals.


Hacienda Nápoles was once a decadent and luxurious retreat for Pablo Escobar, complete with opulent mansions, a private zoo, and even a personal airstrip. Today, it has been transformed into a theme park that aims to both educate visitors about the dark history of the estate and provide entertainment for families.


Visitors to Hacienda Nápoles can explore the various attractions and exhibits that shed light on the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. The grounds are home to a museum that chronicles his life, displaying personal belongings, photographs, and even a replica of his prison cell. The guided tour provides detailed information about the drug empire that Escobar built, as well as the impact it had on Colombia and the global drug trade.


One of the most popular attractions at Hacienda Nápoles is the zoo, which was originally home to exotic animals that Escobar imported from around the world. Today, visitors can encounter a range of wildlife, including hippos, giraffes, and elephants. There is also a water park with pools and water slides, offering a fun-filled day for families seeking entertainment.


While Hacienda Nápoles has attracted controversy due to its connection to Pablo Escobar, it has also been seen as an important site for remembrance and reflection on the consequences of the drug trade. The transformation of the estate into a tourist destination has allowed Colombia to confront its dark past and educate visitors about the dangers of drug trafficking.


It’s important to note that a visit to Hacienda Nápoles may not be suitable for everyone due to the sensitive nature of its history. However, for those interested in delving into the story of Pablo Escobar and experiencing a unique aspect of Colombia’s past, Hacienda Nápoles offers an opportunity to engage with history and contemplate the far-reaching impacts of the drug trade.


Whether you choose to visit for educational purposes or to enjoy the recreational offerings, a trip to Hacienda Nápoles provides a fascinating and thought-provoking experience that sheds light on a chapter of Colombian history that is both tragic and captivating.


El Peñón de Guatapé: A Natural Wonder with Breathtaking Views

Rising out of the Colombian landscape with sheer magnificence, El Peñón de Guatapé is a massive rock formation that beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts from far and wide. This natural wonder, located near the town of Guatapé, offers not only a challenging climb but also unrivaled panoramic views that will leave you in awe.


Also known as “The Rock of Guatapé,” El Peñón is an imposing monolith that stands at an impressive 220 meters (725 feet) tall. Its distinctive shape and vertical sides attract thrill-seekers eager to conquer its 740-step staircase and reach the summit. As you ascend the staircase, the surrounding landscape unfolds before you, offering glimpses of the sparkling lakes, lush green forests, and rolling hills of the region.


Reaching the top of El Peñón de Guatapé is no ordinary feat, but the breathtaking views that await you make it all worthwhile. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a jaw-dropping 360-degree panoramic vista of the surrounding countryside. The stunning Guatapé Reservoir stretches out as far as the eye can see, with its labyrinthine network of islands and peninsulas creating a mesmerizing scene.


The unique geological history of El Peñón de Guatapé adds to its allure. Legend has it that the rock was formed millions of years ago during a volcanic eruption. The walls of the rock are adorned with interesting natural markings, unique patterns, and crevices, making it a visually captivating attraction.


Once you descend from El Peñón, explore the vibrant town of Guatapé located at the base of the rock. Known for its vibrant and intricate zocalos (colorful painted scenes), Guatapé is a charming town with colonial architecture and a lively waterfront promenade. Take a stroll through the streets lined with brightly painted houses and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.


Before leaving Guatapé, indulge in the town’s culinary delights. Sample local cuisine and delicious Colombian snacks from the food vendors in the area. Be sure to try the famous bandeja paisa, a hearty platter that includes beans, rice, meat, plantains, and arepas.


A visit to El Peñón de Guatapé is an adventure that combines natural beauty, physical exertion, and unforgettable views. Put on your hiking shoes, take on the challenge of the staircase, and prepare to be mesmerized by the stunning landscapes that El Peñón reveals. This natural wonder will leave you with memories and photographs to treasure for a lifetime.


Santa Elena: Explore the Picturesque Flower Valley

Just a short drive from the bustling city of Medellin, the charming town of Santa Elena awaits, offering visitors a tranquil and breathtaking escape into the enchanting world of flowers. Known as the “Flower Valley,” Santa Elena is renowned for its vibrant floral displays, lush green landscapes, and rich agricultural traditions.


One of the best times to visit Santa Elena is during the annual Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers) held in August. This vibrant event showcases the region’s colorful flora and pays homage to the country’s flower-growing heritage. The festival features parades, concerts, exhibitions, and the iconic “Desfile de Silleteros,” where farmers display their vibrant floral arrangements on traditional wooden frameworks carried on their backs.


Even outside the festival season, Santa Elena is a haven for flower enthusiasts. Explore the local flower farms and nurseries, where you can witness the meticulous cultivation of a wide variety of blooms, including sunflowers, roses, orchids, and more. Take guided tours to learn about the cultivation techniques and discover the secrets behind the town’s thriving floral industry.


For those seeking outdoor adventure and natural beauty, Santa Elena offers hiking trails through picturesque landscapes. Embark on a trek through the lush cloud forests of Arví Park, where you’ll encounter stunning waterfalls, vibrant bird species, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.


Immerse yourself in the charm of Santa Elena’s town center, where you’ll find colorful houses adorned with vibrant flower arrangements. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit the local market to stock up on fresh produce and handmade crafts, or stop by a quaint café to savor a cup of aromatic Colombian coffee.


Visiting Santa Elena is not just about the flowers, but also about celebrating the town’s rich cultural heritage. Visit the Museo Casa de la Memoria to learn about the region’s history, traditions, and the challenges it has faced. Participate in workshops and cultural activities that highlight the local customs and traditions, and interact with the warm and welcoming residents.


For breathtaking views of the entire valley, make your way to the Cerro Pan de Azúcar viewpoint. From this vantage point, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas that showcase the patchwork of flower fields, rolling green hills, and the distant cityscape of Medellin.


A visit to Santa Elena allows you to escape the city and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural richness of Colombia’s flower-growing region. Whether you’re attending the Feria de las Flores or exploring the landscapes throughout the year, Santa Elena promises a truly enchanting experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for nature’s beauty.