List of the best FREE or (basically FREE) things to do in Medellin

Metro cable San Javier

The metro cable was a government project to help the people living in poorer communities on the outskirts of the city commute to and from Medellin to help them work. The cable car runs from the metro station San Javier to a station on the valley La Aurora. The best thing about this ride is that you have a bird’s eye view of one of Medellin’s most interesting neighbourhoods, The Communa 13. If you get out up the top of the cable cars at the last station and walk over to the right then you will have an amazing view of the city looking down over where you have just come from. The view is spectacular both during the day as well at night. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a not so polished and more authentic part of our beloved Medallo!

Cost: 1 metro ticket 2300 pesos. Approx 0.85 USD. Or if you are on the metro for another reason then you can utilise that ticket and not pay any extra

How to get there from Ondas

Walk the 2 blocks down to La Floresta train station. Take the metro to San Javier metro station (3 stops). It’s also the last stop on the train line so everyone has to get off. Then without leaving the station you join the queue for the cable cars.

Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa which translates into “Little Paisa Town” is a replica of what a traditional Paisa village looks like. Showcasing the typical housing and small-town structure that can be seen whenever you travel to the smaller towns dotted throughout Antioquia. The architecture and color schemes were the standard during the turn of the century. Whenever I walk around this place I feel like I’m out in the countryside and almost wish that it was surrounded by farms and you do feel like you have stepped back in time. Pueblo Paisa is set up with a traditional stone fountain in the middle of the town square and is surrounded by the church and rectory, the mayor’s office, a barber shop, and a one-room schoolhouse. There are also several restaurants where you can eat typical Paisa food including bandeja paisa, cazuela, sancocho and obleas. If you walk up to the lookout as well you will have a nice 360 degree view of the city from its unique perspective of being propped on a lone hill situated right in the middle of the city. Or you can take advantage of the small museum that they have which includes a display may crafted onto the table in the centre of the room.

Cost: Free

How to get there from Ondas: Pueblito Paisa is located in a tricky position in terms of public transport. The easiest way to get there is by taxi (approx 10mil pesos or $3.50 USD). You could walk if you were feeling full of energy (approx 45minute walk) or get the metro to Exposiciones and then walk from there (approx 15minute walk from the station). The reason why we recommend the taxi is because you have to climb up the hill to reach the pueblo. If you can split the cost between some other people then it’s by far your best option.

pueblito-paisa
Pueblito Paisa

Jardin Botanico

The botanical gardens in Medellin are a great escape from the urban development that every city has. A 5-acre sized park that can offer you the perfect escape from city life and when you want to get back to nature. Filled with various species of plants, flowers, insects and animals and architecture. Often the host for events throughout the city including cultural festivals, music concerts, and the book festival held every year in the gardens you can see why the organisers choose the same spot every year. Surrounded by various neighbourhoods, a university, Parque Explora the gardens are always filled with a large variety of people including young couples, families, university students and people just wanting to relax and enjoy some nature. There are several different paths you can choose to follow or just make your own way around the gardens. There are plenty of educational sign posts helping you identify all of the different species. Make the most of this natural escape from the city for a few short hours, feed the iguanas which roam around freely, or setup a picnic next to the lagoon were the turtles and fish swim around. There are plenty of vendors selling all sorts of snacks, treats, coffee and drinks to make sure your nice and comfortable.

Cost: FREE

How to get there from Ondas: Walk the 2 blocks to La Floresta metro station. Take the train to the end of the line and get off at San Antonio station. As you leave the train turn left (this will take you to the trains heading north) and go down the stairs to the next platform (Don’t leave the station you are just changing train lines) from there you take the metro to Universidad station. From there you will see the park right next to the station. Simply walk down the steps and make your way towards the entrance.

jardin-botanico
Jardin Botanico

Comuna 13

Check out our separate post dedicated to the Communa 13. Definitely, my favorite place to recommend to tourists in Medellin.

Cost: Free

How to get there from Ondas: Take the train to San Javier metro station. There you can take the bus that says Communa 13. Or you can take a taxi (approx 7 mil pesos $2.25USD)

comuna-13
Comuna 13

Estadio Atanasio Girardot

I love this place. I feel like you can go through there at any time throughout the day and see a whole bunch of activities happening at any one time. This complex is huge, and it needs to be. Hosting up to 9 Pools, 1 full sized soccer stadium as well as smaller training fields, baseball diamond, athletics track, basketball courts, yoga studio, weightlifting training, free outdoor gym, beach volleyball courts, fencing, gymnastics arena, skate park and many more. It’s your sporting entertainment centre regardless of your chosen sport. This includes being a spectator in the amazing soccer stadium when watching the very animated and exciting local teams Atletico Nacional or Independiente Medellin. Check out this article to read all about soccer in Colombia. There are also regular outdoor free dance classes. More aimed at fitness than traditional dancing each class always pulls a big crowd and is a fun way to work up a sweat when you need a break from your regular training. If you register with Inder then you can often utilise the facilities for free, you just need to make your reservation in advance online. But other parts like the outdoor gym and the dance classes can be used for free without reservations.

Cost: FREE

How to get there from Ondas: You can walk to the stadium in 10minutes by walking towards the metro station, passing underneath the train line and then turning right and following that all the way down to the stadium. You can’t miss it. Or you can take the metro to Estadio station from where you will see the sporting complex to one side.

estadio-medellin
Estadio

Free Salsa Classes in one of the city’s best Salsa Clubs “Son Havana”

Being an Australian guy I never considered myself a dancer and I would even go as far to say that I hated organised dancing (in terms of following a structure aka with steps), but it didn’t take me long to change my mind. One of my most favourite things to do in the city now is go out dancing, much to the surprise of my friends and family back home. Part of Colombian culture is to dance and only after one weekend in Medellin you will learn this fact. One of the best styles of dancing is Salsa and even though most clubs will play crossover music which will include bachata, reggaeton, merengue, electronica, salsa and latin pop there are a few dedicated clubs in the city to the love of Salsa.

One of those is Son Havana which apart from offering free salsa classes every Wednesday and Thursday nights from 7.30PM also has live music on either the Friday or Saturday as well. It’s only a small venue but it is always packed and prepare to witness some of the best dancing in the city. Always a very friendly and open atmosphere the place can really turn electric once the music starts playing. Guys and girls will be asking you to dance left right and centre and don’t expect to dance with the same person for more than a couple of songs. Only a 10 minute walk from Ondas it’s a must-see for anybody with a keen sense of adventure.

Cost: Salsa classes are free. Friday and Saturday nights has a 10mil cover charge to pay for the live band.

How to get there from Ondas: Its just a short stroke from Ondas however the quickest way to go is very zig baggy so you may get lost. Confirm on the map first where you are going or the alternative is to walk up to San Juan and then head down towards La 70 until you hit the 73 and then you go left one block. Alternative option is to take a taxi (5mil or approx 1.75USD).

havana
Son Havana

Plaza Botero

An outdoor museum with 23 famous statues crafted by the famous Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. In the dead center of the city, tourists can come to enjoy the Colombian artwork and walk around visiting museums, cathedrals, and other attractions right around the plaza. Plaza Botero is extremely accessible, located right outside of metro station Parque Berrio. A lot of people think that Botero’s style is to portray people in an overweight fashion but the truth is he displays people and objects in a disproportional fashion. There is a slight difference in what the artist is trying to portray. Pay attention to the male and female sculptures where you can see where the paint has worn away due to the large magnitude of people who have rubbed their genitalia for good luck.

Cost: FREE

How to get there from Ondas: Walk the two blocks to the metro station. Take the metro to San Antonio station, from there exit left and walk down to the lower platform and take the train 1 stop to Parque Berrio. From there you get off the station and walk towards the castle. There you will see the statues as well as numero street vendors selling all sorts of fruits, hats and wristbands.

botero
Plaza Botero

Centro/Downtown

Probably one of my favourite things to do in the city due to the fact that it’s so raw and untamed. Centro whose nickname is “El Hueco” or “The Hole” in English is basically a gathering of sellers and buyers trying to do business. If you want to find the cheapest place in the city for various things including shoes, tools, backpacks, phones, kitchenware, wood, some forms of electronics, linen, bedding, fabric etc then centro is the place for you. I always like going down there because apart from the hustle and bustle from people moving about, you will see a whole assortment of regular people going about their daily lives. This is an un-censored part of the city so expect to come across homeless people, beggers, prostitution, drunks, drug addicts, thieves, buskers, groups of people playing dominos, school kids, families all going about their own business. During the day the area is relatively safe as long as you don’t go looking for trouble but at night you have to be more on your guard.

Cost: FREE

How to get there from Ondas: Walk the two blocks to the metro station. Take the metro to San Antonio station, from there exit the station and you are in the heart of centro.

Museo Casa De La Memoria

This museum came about from the “Victims of Armed Conflict Care Program” and the mayor of Medellin deciding to open a museum that offers a place for the victims of the armed conflict and their families to dignify, collect their memories, and disseminate their views on the violent town and country.

For all of those who are interested in learning about Colombia’s violent past though the use of videos, written statements, real life talks from past survivors, photographs and various exhibitions displaying a whole array of interesting and intriguing insights then this is the place for you. Instead of choosing to ignore the past, my hat comes off the mayor of Medellin for his vision in creating this museum. And the best part is that it’s free to use.

One of the lasting affects that this museum has had on me is the way that everything feels very very real, through the testimonies and the imagery you will literally leave with goosebumps. Done in a very respectful and educational manner this is a truly eye-opening experience. This isn’t a museum for the light-hearted as you will come face to face with broken families and immense pain.

Cost: FREE

How to get there from Ondas: Walk the two blocks to the metro station. Take the metro to San Antonio, from there you leave the metro station and mount the Tram line (tramvia). Take it to the station bicentenario and from there its a short walk to La Casa De La Memoria.

casa-memoria
Casa de la Memoria

Plaza La America

Plaza La America is a farmer’s market five minutes walking from Ondas. The Market is packed with the freshest fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, herbs, plants and even artisanal products. In the market, you will get a very cheap and authentic local experience with local residents all over this none touristic neighborhood going to shop for their groceries for the week. Colombia is famous especially for its fresh fruit varieties so what better place to try them all by going down to where their farmers sell their produce direct and wholesale.

Cost: Free

How to get there from Ondas: Plaza la America is only a short 5 minute walk from the hostel. Head out and go to LA 80 the main road and turn right. At the second set of traffic lights turn left and take the first right which will hook you around and have you walking slightly uphill along side the river canal. About 100m on your left-hand side you can cross the canal and then turn left and you will find the market about 50m on your left-hand side.

Ondas Language Night

Of course, our famous Language Exchanges had to make the list. You can read about them in full detail with this article _____________________ but now with 2 every week its hard not to see why they are so popular. Sitting on the rooftop with a drink listening to good music and meeting your Colombian neighbors you is the perfect way to relax and learn Spanish at the same time.

Cost: Free

How to get there from Ondas: Make your way up to the rooftop terrace or the cafe every Wednesday and Friday.

Ondas Hostel Medellin – Kitchen
Cafe Ondas Rooftop Language Exchange

Ciclovia

Every Sunday (and public holidays) the city of Medellin closes its major streets to allow cyclists, Runners walkers and everyone in between to exercise safely on the streets. Promoting outdoor physical activity the local government sets up space all over the city to allow people to enjoy some outdoor activities in a safe environment. Expect to see a lot of local sport enthusiasts, couples, families with their dogs, young to the very old, out and about while enjoying their Sunday morning. If you are interested in exercise or just want to wander around the city with all the other exercise enthusiasts you will enjoy this aspect of Medellin.

Cost: Free

How to get there from Ondas: The meeting place changes every week. Check their Facebook page.

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