25 Free Things to do in Medellin, Colombia
Medellin is an awesome city with year-round perfect weather that is also very affordable. But there are also many free things to do in Medellin to keep your budget even lower.
We spent 2 months living in Medellin as digital nomads and ranked the best free things for you to do below, enjoy! 🤠
1. Visit Plaza Botero (Best free thing to do in Medellin’s Centro)
Plaza Botero📍is named after the iconic Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The square contains many bronze statues in Botero’s signature style that he donated to the city for free.
Botero liked to paint and sculpt people in a very particular way which is quite interesting. The people in his art were always very chubby.
He stated that he did not paint his characters fat but rather with increased volume. To me, they all look fat, but it will be up to you to decide for yourself! (Let me know in the comments below)
Walking around Botero Square is one of the best free things to do in Medellin whenever you visit La Candelaria aka the “historic center” of Medellin.
If you enjoy the style of Botero’s statues then you can visit the Museum of Anitoquia📍It is located on Botero Square and has a collection of Boteros paintings inside. Tickets are 24,000 pesos (5 USD) for foreigners.
Tip: Only go to Botero Square or anywhere in La Candelaria during the daytime. It’s not a safe area of the city. Make sure you leave before 5 pm and watch out for pickpockets 👀
2. Go inside Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe for free
The Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe📍is located on Plaza Botero and is a beautiful historical building that is free to enter.
The Palace was originally designed by a Belgian architect to house the administration of the local government. However, due to construction delays and other problems, it was never used by the government.
Construction originally started in 1925 but it was never finished for many, many years. Eventually, in 1982 it was designated a national monument to house cultural attractions.
There is an art gallery inside and a nice view from the rooftop. So it is a good place to pop in before or after visiting Plaza Botero. Watch out: It shuts early at 2 pm.
Tip: Entrance is free but you need to show your ID (a picture on your phone is enough)
3. Withness Dark History at Parque San Antonio
Parque San Antonio📍is not a particularly nice square. In fact, I highly recommend only coming here during the day before 5 pm. But this square also has some Botero statues donated to the city. Unfortunately one of the statues here has a dark history.
On the 10th of June 1995, a concert was being held in San Antonio Square when there was a huge explosion from one of the statues. The explosion killed 23 people and injured over 200.
It is still a mystery who detonated the bomb. But the decision was made (requested by Botero) to leave the statue that was blown apart as a memorial to the victims of the attack.
Botero made an identical replacement statue (without the hole) that now sits beside it. It is shocking to see the force that must have been generated to destroy such a solid statue.
4. Join a Free Walking Tour (Best free thing to do for First-timers)
One of the first things we always like to do when arriving in a big city is to do a free walking tour. They are a great way to get an overview of the history of a city and also meet some other travelers.
Plus they are technically free. The tour guides survive off tips so if you like the tour you really should tip. But it is up to you how much so it can also be a very cheap activity.
In Medellin, we did a free walking tour with City Tours and it was excellent. Our guide Milo was one of the best guides we have ever had on a walking tour. He was passionate about his city and had so many interesting insights into the history and daily life in Medellin.
We enjoyed his tour so much that we did another paid tour with him. The Barrio Transformation tour took us around a different neighborhood and talked a lot about the daily lives of most Colombians. It was super interesting and we can highly recommend it if you want a more in-depth tour of Medellin.
Read also: 18 Free Things to do in Mexico City 🇲🇽
5. See Art at Centro Comercial Palacio Nacional (Hidden free gem in Medellin!)
Medellin is a city with very few beautiful old buildings. One of them is the Centro Commercial Palacio Nacional📍which also has a free art gallery inside.
Entering the Commercial Palacional Nacional is strange because the lower floors are filled with sneaker stores. But once you go above these stores there are five stories full of art galleries and beautiful architecture.
All of the rooms are filled with art from different artists. So there are all kinds of different styles mixed within one room. Pretty cool!
Once you get to the top floors many of the artists have studios where you can buy their art. We spent well over 1 hour exploring in here and it was unexpectedly one of our favorite free things to do in Medellin.
Tip: Make sure you go to the very top floor. There is a very nice bar that is a great place to grab a drink or coffee for little dinero and will make you feel fancy 🍹
6. Time Travel at the Memory House Museum for free
The Memory House Museum📍is a free museum that documents Medellin’s struggles with armed conflict. It is well known that Medellin was once the most dangerous city in the world. Unfortunately, the people that suffered most from this were the residents of Medellin.
This museum tells the story of many of the victims and also will give you greater insights into the conflicts and reasons for so much violence in Medellin.
It is not a light-hearted museum but is one of the best free things to do in Medellin if you want to learn about the history of Medellin.
7. Learn about Comuna 13’s Transformation
Comuna 13 is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Medellin. It was once one of the most dangerous barrios in the city and in the early 2000s, it was one of the most dangerous areas in the whole world (!) to live in.
But over time the city has made many changes to improve the lives of residents. Many of them involved getting youth involved in the arts to keep them out of gangs. This has resulted in the area being full of street art and local cafes and restaurants have also started to open up.
One of the other changes that was made in the neighborhood was to construct an outdoor elevator to help residents move around easier. Overall it is a very interesting area to visit and one of the best free things to do in Medellin.
Most people visit Communa 13 on a free walking tour. We did one with Zippy Tours which was excellent. This tour works on tips so you just have to pay what you feel the tour is worth.
But you can also visit Communa 13 totally free by just traveling there by yourself and walking around. However, I only recommend this if you are an experienced traveler who speaks a little bit of Spanish.
Read also: Top Tips on visiting Comuna 13 🚍
8. Hike up Cerro de Las Tres Cruces (Best free thing to do in Medellin Outdoors)
Medellin sits in a valley with high mountains on either side. So the best views of the city are from up on these mountains.
The Cerro de Las Tres Cruces📍is a hiking trail that will take you high up one of the mountains for an amazing view over the city. It is one of the best free things to do in Medellin for exercise.
Tip: For safety reasons go on the weekend when plenty of people will be around. Muggings have been reported during the week. We went on a Sunday and felt totally safe.
At the top, there is also an awesome free outdoor gym. So if the hike wasn’t enough exercise for you the top will take care of the rest!
We loved hiking up Cerro de Las Tres Cruces and it was our favorite free thing to do in Medellin while getting some exercise.
Read also: 3 best free Outdoor Gyms in Medellin 🏋️
9. Breath Fresh Air at the Botanical Gardens
One thing that Medellin lacks as a city is parks and green spaces for people to relax in. But luckily the Medellin Botanical Gardens📍is really nice and is free to enter.
The Botanical Gardens cover over 32 acres so there are plenty of paths and walkways to explore. It is full of over 1,000 types of different plants and is a great place to go for a walk.
While we were there many locals were also hanging out in the grassed areas having a picnic. So if you are looking for a picnic spot then head to the botanical gardens.
Tip: It is free to enter but you must show an ID (a photo on your phone is fine)
10. Exercise on Car-free Streets on Sunday
Every Sunday Ciclovia takes place in Medellin. This means that many major roads around the city are closed down for people to run, walk or cycle on.
It is super nice to walk or cycle in El Poblado on this day because the streets are car-free and quiet. Every other day of the week the same streets are packed with traffic.
This has been happening in Medellin for the last 15 years and was originally started in Bogota in the 1970s. In Medellin over 7 km (4 miles) of El Avenida is closed down in El Poblado. It is called Carrera 43A on Google Maps📍
So head down there and run, walk or bike with the locals! It’s a perfect non-touristy thing to do on a Sunday in Medellin.
Read also: How to stay fit on the road for free 💪
11. Stoll at Parques del Rio
Parques del Rio📍is a very nice recently developed modern park at the edge of Laureles. It is not a place that I would go out of my way to visit if you do not have long in Medellin.
But if you are staying longer in Medellin or Laureles, Parque del Rio is a great place to go for a walk along the Medellin River or relax on the grass with a picnic.
The Medellin River is usually quite ugly and polluted. But the city has done a good job redeveloping the area with cafes, artwork and playgrounds. It’s one of the non-touristy things to do in Medellin.
Read also: 12 Unique things to do in Guatapé 🪨
12. Explore Green and Walkable Laureles
We spent 2 months staying in Laureles and one of the reasons we loved it is the green leafy streets. It is one of the nicer areas to stay in the city and one of the reasons for that is that it is so walkable.
The streets are full of great cafes and restaurants so you can stop in for a coffee while you walk. Check out our best cafes in Laureles article for all our favorite cafes we found exploring Laureles including a rating for online working.
Read also: Best coffee tour in Medellin ☕️
13. Workout at an Outdoor Gym (Best free thing to do in Medellin for fitness)
We like to stay healthy while we travel so are always looking for a good gym. But luckily in Medellin, there are awesome outdoor gyms that are free to use.
During our time in Medellin, we stayed in Laureles and the outdoor gym in Belen📍was our favorite It has all the machines you need to get a workout that you usually need a gym for. There was also always a great atmosphere and you get to exercise outside in the sun.
Read here: 3 best outdoor gyms in Medellin near you 🏋️
14. Wander at San Alejo Handicraft Market at Parque Bolivar
The San Alejo Handicraft Market happens on the first Saturday of every month at Parque Bolivar📍There is a wide selection of arts and crafts for sale from different artisans. You will also find an interesting collection of second-hand toys and other old-school things.
It is a great day to visit the park because unfortunately when there is no market the park is a little sketchy. But if you visit on the market day there is a great atmosphere and it is a nice time to walk around.
Tip: Try the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice!🥤
15. Experience the Medellin Flower Festival
Growing flowers is a big industry around Medellin with the region selling over $200 million worth of flowers every year. The flower festival is a week-long party at the start of August to celebrate the flower industry.
But it is not just all about flowers. It would not be a Colombian celebration without lots of live music. There are all types of concerts, parties, a classic car parade and a group bike ride happening during that time. So there is something for everyone.
Tip: If you will be in Medellin at the start of August make sure you find out what is happening on this website and join the celebrations! 🌸
16. Enjoy the View at El Tesoro Shopping Mall
We usually never recommend going to shopping malls. In fact, I usually try to avoid malls at all costs! But visiting the El Tesoro Shopping Mall📍is an experience. It is located high up on the valley above Medellin and there is an outdoor walkway with an awesome view over the city.
If you like shopping then you will also find everything you need in there. There is also a huge indoor playground with a pirate ship and trampolins for kids.
Two other nicely designed malls in El Poblado are:
Tip: For a meal with a great view head to Merka Organico📍It is a large organic market with a wide range of products. It is a bit pricey but a really good place to find high-quality food.
17. Hang out at Parque Lleras (Best free thing to do in Medellin for Night Owls)
Parque Lleras📍is the center of nightlife in El Poblado. But if you visit during the day it is a nice green park with a lot of colors on the ground.
There are also quite a few nice cafes and restaurants around the park. But they will usually be a bit pricier as this is a wealthier area in the city.
If you go at night Parque Lleras will transform into a party zone. It is not for everyone. There will be loud music and pushy club promoters. So if you are a party animal head here but if not stay away.
Read also: How to get free accommodation for travel 🏠
18. Go inside Casa Museo Otraparte for free
Casa Museo Otraparte📍is a small free museum dedicated to writer and philosopher Fernando Gonzalez in Envigado. It is a great free thing to do in Medellin for people looking for a quiet relaxed museum to learn some local history.
You will not need a lot of time to visit the museum. But it is an interesting place with a nice cafe on site. It’s also a great free activity in Medellin that you can combine with visiting Envigado, a green, hip and family-friendly part of Medellin.
19. See the Light Poles at Plaza Cisneros
Plaza Cisneros📍is a park that is full of hundreds of light poles that light up at night. For many years Plaza Cisneros was not a very nice place to visit. To be honest I still would not visit it at night now!
So in 2002, the city decided to rejuvenate the park by adding light poles. It is an interesting area to walk around for free in the La Candelaria.
Tip: I don’t recommend coming here at night as it is not the safest area. Your best chance is to drive past the park at night in an Uber to see the poles lit up.
20. Spot Details at Monumento a la Raza
The Monumento a la Raza📍is a large sculpture located outside the Antioquia government offices in Medellin. It is an interesting sculpture that symbolizes the culture of Antioquia.
There are a lot of interesting details if you look closely. The monument is located across the street from Plaza Cisneros so it is a good idea to combine looking at both on the same trip.
Read also: Complete Guide to Laureles with Insider Tips ✨
21. Look after a Cute Pet and Stay for Free (Best free thing to do in Medellin for pet lovers)
When we travel to a new destination we always check out Trusted House Sitters. On this platform house owners look for trustworthy people to look after their pets while they are on holiday.
It’s a responsibility but you get to live like a local, a cute pet and a free place to stay. We love it! There are not tons of housesitts in Colombia, but we saw Medellin come up the most. So make sure to have a look before you go.
Read also: How to get 25% off your THS membership 🐶
22. Discover New Fruits and Vegetables at Plaza Minorista Market
We were blown away by the crazy selection of fruits and vegetables in Colombia. Even though we have spent more than 2 years in Mexico, we have spotted at least 10 things we have never seen before.
The Plaza Minorista Market📍is a great place to go and popular with tourists, but any market in your neighborhood will do. Just make sure to Uber there (even from Plaza Botero!) as it is not in the safest area of Medellin.
Real City Tours Medellin also offers a food tour there. It’s not for free but a fun thing to do in Medellin on a budget as you will be able to try tons of new things!
Read also: How to eat cheap and healthy while traveling 🌮
23. See Medellin from Above at the Museum of the City
The Museum of the City📍shows Medellin from above in miniature size. The museum only has 2 rooms and it won’t take longer than 20 minutes to see everything.
It’s a fun little activity to do when you are already near by but I’d not go out of my way to see it. The best part: Entry is free! And if you like it you can leave a few pesos as a donation.
See more on their website 🏛️
24. Snap a Photo with a Medellin Sign
You can’t leave Medellin without taking a photo with one of the Medellin Signs. There are quite a few scattered throughout the city. We spotted one in Laureles, Poblado, Botero Square and Parque Avi. Let us know in the comments below if you come across more!
📸 Medellin sign at Botero Square
📸 Medellin sign in Laureles
📸 Medellin sign in El Poblado
📸 Medellin sign at Parque Arvi
Read also: How to get to Parque Arvi cheap
25. Wander through Bamboo at Parque Telemedellin
While walking the main Avenida (Carrera 43A) through El Poblado that gets shut down for cars every Sunday we came across Parque Telemedellin📍a were surprised about all the bamboo growing there.
It’s a cute little green park in the otherwise concrete jungle of Medellin’s city. So if you are close by I recommend walking through it and soaking up some nature.
Enjoy our favorite free things to do in Medellin!
Medellin is an amazing city and we loved spending 2 months there. It is a very affordable place and a great city to be a digital nomad.
I hope this list of the best free things to do in Medellin helps you enjoy your time there even more and find some hidden spots. What are your favorite free activities in Medellin? Let us know in the comments below!
- Go on Medellin’s best Coffee Tour
- Visit Comuna 13, Medellin for free
- Best free outdoor gyms Medellin
- How to get to Parque Arvi cheap
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