After living in Colombia for 6 months, I get this question all the time: “How much time should I spend in Medellin and Bogota?” Start here to plan your trip with my advice on where to travel in the country and how long to spend in each city!
Medellin is the City of Eternal Spring, which means that the weather is always perfect for hiking. When I’ve had a long week with the other 2.2 million people that live here, sometimes I just need to get away from it all and into nature.
I’ve lived in the city for six months, so I’ve found a lot of fun things to do in Medellin. However hiking in Medellin at the Arenales waterfall, Parque Arvi, and Parque Salado is always my go-to day trip when I’m craving some fresh air and wide open spaces.
How to Get to the Arenales Waterfall
This weekend, I really needed to get out of the city and out of my head. So, Daniel and I decided to try to find the Arenales waterfall on the directions of two very old, poorly written blog posts. We weren’t optimistic, BUT it’s actually super simple to get to the Arenales waterfall!
All we had to do was go to the Envigado metro station and catch the bus that’s waiting at the Arenales sign. The fare is only $0.69, and the drive is about 20 minutes.
WARNING: if a giant bus taking hairpin turns on the side of a cliff isn’t your idea of a good time, you may want to sit this one out.
Once we got off the bus at Arenales (it’s the last stop), we found ourselves standing at a fork in the road. We took the left road and followed the trail, which luckily turned out to be the correct choice.
Our walk started out lush and green, and we soon began crossing back and forth over a river as we went deeper into the forest. You may lose the trail at times here, so wear sandals and be ready to wade through cold water once or twice.
After hiking for around an hour, Daniel and I reached the Arenales waterfall. It’s totally secluded and best of all, has a deep swimming hole. We had the falls to ourselves on a sunny Saturday afternoon… so worth the challenging hike!
After a picnic and some time warming up in the sun, we hiked back the way we came. Then we got some ice cream, enjoyed the view of the city from the park, and finally grabbed the bus to head back home.
All in all we only spent a total of around $6 for the outing.
PS You can also do this hike backward (downhill), starting at Pablo Escobar’s infamous prison “La Catedral.” For more info, check out this guide.
How to Get to Parque Arvi
Park Arvi is another phenomenal day trip if you want to get away from the city a bit. With that said, it’s also one of the most popular places for hiking in Medellin, so our day started on a crowded metro ride. Get off at the Acevedo stop and from there it’s quite easy to find your way to the cable car.
The aerial views of Medellin during the cable car ride are breathtaking, so the ride is worth it for that alone. At the halfway point, we switched to a new cable car at Santo Domingo (which has an extra charge because it’s not part of the metro system) and begin the ride into the park itself.
Entering Parque Arvi is like a breath of fresh air… literally. First we grabbed a cheap lunch, fresh fruit, and a few local craft beers from the market at the entrance before starting our hike.
At the main stand ask for a map with different trails. I’ve done a few different hikes here. One was just on the surrounding trails, and another was at Piedras Blancas. This part of the park is a short 10 minute bus ride from where the cable car lets you off, and you can walk around the lake, rent a rowboat, enjoy the butterfly house, and so much more.
How to Hike in Parque Salado Ecologico
This small park is perfect for hiking in Medellin, especially if you live in Envigado. The taxi from our apartment was only $10,000 COP / $3.50 USD, or you can grab one of the many buses heading up into the hills to take you there even cheaper.
The entrance fee to hike in Parque Salado Ecologico is $1 each, and it’s totally worth it. The park has a beautiful river running through it with plenty of rocks around to lay out on and pass the day reading, sun bathing, or taking a snooze. You can even jump in the river if you don’t mind reallllyyy cold water. Finally, there are short (but beautiful) hiking trails up into the mountainside that you can explore.
Daniel and I usually pack a picnic for our hikes in Medellin, but there is also a restaurant in the park to eat at. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even check out the zipline course running through the canopy of trees.
Whether you’re in town for a week or a year, visiting at the Arenales waterfall, Parque Arvi, and Parque Salado Ecologico all provide escapes that are perfect for a day of hiking in Medellin.
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