We look at the eight best pueblos near Medellín worth a visit including Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Jardín and Jericó. We also look at four hidden gem pueblos near Medellín that you won’t find in most of the English language guidebooks.
Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Jardín and Jericó are four of the best pueblos near Medellín that are the most visited by foreign tourists. But there are other hidden gem pueblos near Medellín that aren’t yet visited by many foreigners but are worth a visit.
Some of these best pueblos near Medellín are fairly close to the city. So, they can be easy day trips from Medellín. And others are further away so are better for a longer visit like on weekends.
Here is our list of the eight best pueblos near Medellín that are all worth visiting:
1. Guatapé – a Very Popular Pueblo with a Gigantic Rock with Incredible Views
Picturesque Guatapé is a very popular pueblo to visit from Medellín. It’s a great place for a day trip or a weekend getaway from Medellín. In my opinion, no trip to Medellín and Antioquia would be complete without a trip to Guatapé.
Guatapé is located next to the massive man-made lake that was created for a hydroelectric dam built in the 1970s. So, it’s now a lakeside pueblo with many sidewalk restaurants and cafes plus water activities in the area.
Also, there is El Peñón de Guatapé, which is a gigantic rock with incredible views. One of the most popular things to do in the area is to climb this huge monolith rock near the pueblo, which offers fantastic views of the area.
If you visit during the weekends, you’ll typically see the pueblo packed with Colombian tourists. Also, on the weekends, the boardwalk fills up with local vendors selling art, food and souvenirs. During the week, there are much fewer tourists, so you’ll you have the pueblo more to yourself with the colorful locals.
In addition, Guatapé is easy to get to. It’s only about two hours away from Medellín. So, you can go for a day trip or stay longer. Also, Guatapé is extremely colorful with the homes painted many colors and many have additional decorations.
Location: about two hours east of Medellín – depart from the North Bus Terminal (Terminal Norte).
2. Jardín – a Tranquil Weekend Escape from Medellín
Colonial Jardín is a tranquil get-away from Medellin that boosts breathtaking mountain views and less tourists than the popular pueblo of Guatapé.
All the travel guidebooks recommend Guatapé as a ‘must-do’ day trip from Medellin. But if you are looking for a longer weekend break – to a destination with fewer backpackers – then the valley pueblo of Jardín is just the ticket.
Jardín (pronounced har-deen) is one of the most well-kept colonial towns in Colombia. Most noteworthy, it’s virtually unchanged architecturally for the last 140 years.
This quaint pueblo is bursting with vibrantly colored houses which pop-out against the surrounding green of the banana-leaf and ceiba tree-covered mountains.
It’s a place where men ride down the unpaved side streets on horses with cowboy hats. Where locals congregate around the central square on a Saturday night. And where it is okay to take life a little bit more slowly.
For those wanting a quiet retreat from the bustle of Medellin, it’s a perfect getaway. The pueblo with less than 20,000 people offers both the tranquility of whiling-away the day in a hammock or reading a book. In addition, it offers nature lovers a haven of outdoor adventures nearby.
The bottom line is that Jardín is a great place for a weekend getaway from Medellín and is worth visiting.
Location: about 3 to 4 hours southwest of Medellín – depart from the South Bus Terminal (Terminal Sur).
3. Santa Fe de Antioquia – the Perfect ‘Escape the City’ Day Trip
Santa Fe de Antioquia is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and cobbled streets. And it’s the perfect pueblo for a day trip from Medellín.
The weather is nearly perfect in Medellín almost every day. The people are friendly. The mountains are beautiful. But sometimes, you just need to escape the city.
Sometimes you just want a change of scenery and some fresh air. And Santa Fe de Antioquia is a good place to go. Also, a road-trip to Santa Fe takes you through some spectacular landscapes.
Founded in 1541 by Jorge Robledo, Santa Fe de Antioquia reigns as one of the oldest settlements in the region. It is also one of the best-preserved pueblos in Colombia.
Affectionately called by some as ‘The Mother City’, Santa Fe, was originally the capital of Antioquia. However, in 1826 the Government of Antioquia moved to Medellín, taking with it all the money for investment in infrastructure. Consequently, it left Santa Fe a beautiful preserved pueblo where time has essentially stood still.
When you stroll through the town, you will encounter a plethora of architectural gems from historical churches to bougainvillea lined plazas. All of which have been declared a national monument.
Santa Fe de Antioquia popular due to its well-preserved colonial architecture, cobbled streets and many things to see and do.
Location: about 1.5 hours northwest from Medellín – depart from the North Bus Terminal (Terminal Norte).
4. Jericó – a Picturesque Pueblo and a Good Weekend Getaway Location
Jericó in Southern Antioquia is known as the Athens of the Southwest and proudly displays all the necessary ingredients for the perfect touristic destination.
It has religious attractions, a well-preserved colonial architecture and heritage, generous nature all around, hiking and paragliding. And Jericó is one of the best coffee towns in Colombia, which is culturally rich.
Any nature lovers, walkers, hikers and paragliders, will be content with what the landscape of Jericó has in store. This little pueblo is located in the foothills of the Western Mountain Range at a height of 6,400 feet (1,950 meters) above sea level.
Also, it overlooks the canyon of the Rio Cauca, which is the second longest river in Colombia. At such height, Jericó offers incredible viewpoints.
These are many of the reasons why Jericó should be on your bucket-list while you are in Antioquia or even in Colombia.
If you want to discover an authentic side of Colombia, a blend of nature, sports activities, a religious destination, well-preserved architectures and identity, visit Jericó.
Located only about three hours from Medellín, discover what is considered one of the best pueblos in Colombia.
Location: about three hours south of Medellín – depart from the South Bus Terminal (Terminal Sur).
5. Barbosa – a Hidden Gem Pueblo that is Overlooked
Barbosa, Antioquia is a pueblo or small town located only about 35 minutes from Medellín.
Surprisingly, Barbosa is off the beaten path and it’s a hidden gem, as it surprisingly hasn’t yet been discovered by many foreign tourists.
This is due to Barbosa not being in any of the English-language Colombia guidebooks and not much information about this pueblo is available on the Internet.
Barbosa is a close and great getaway from Medellín with streams, waterfalls, natural swimming pools, hiking, horseback riding and many other things to do nearby. And it’s located at the northern end of the Aburrá Valley.
In addition, Barbosa has trails linking the town with surrounding villages. So, there is ample opportunity for hiking or horseback riding while being surrounded by nature for those who like getting off the beaten path. Also, this is also a kid-friendly location with many water activities for kids.
But it’s located so close to Medellín that it makes for a very easy day trip. In addition, there is much to do in Barbosa and nearby making it also a nice weekend getaway location.
So, it you don’t have time to visit one of the Antioquia pueblos that are located further away, Barbosa is a much closer option that is worth visiting.
Location: about 35 minutes northeast of Medellín – depart on a metro bus from the Medellín metro Niquía station on Line A.
6. San Carlos – a Hidden Gem and Amazing Undiscovered Pueblo
San Carlos is a small pueblo near Medellín that hasn’t yet been discovered by many foreigners. But it’s a hidden gem surrounded by mountains, rivers, waterfalls and nature.
I was looking for a new pueblo to go to on a long weekend. And a Colombian friend recommended San Carlos. So, I went and I was amazed by all the water activities and hiking available near this small pueblo. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t tell me how long some of the hikes are in the area or I would have spent more time there.
In addition, San Carlos can be seen as a major success story of a troubled pueblo in Colombia with a bloody past that has completely turned things around with the help of the Colombian military and it is now considered a safe place to visit.
San Carlos is a small pueblo near Medellín that is definitely worth visiting, particularly if you like hiking and nature. And it’s completely off the beaten path of foreigner tourists.
When I visited San Carlos, I didn’t hear English once in the three days and two nights I was there. Furthermore, some local shopkeepers told me there are rarely foreign tourists in the pueblo.
Location: about 4 to 5 hours east of Medellín – depart from the North Bus Terminal (Terminal Norte).
7. Abejorral – a Hidden Gem Pueblo with Dazzling Landscapes
Abejorral is a small pueblo only about three hours from Medellín that hasn’t yet been discovered by many foreigner tourists.
But it’s a hidden gem with dazzling landscapes that is a perfect opportunity for hikers and rock climbers to escape Medellín.
Abejorral is a small pueblo that currently has a population of about 20,000. Its economy is primarily related to agriculture, cattle raising, mining and floriculture.
However, it’s hoped that tourism will increase in the area. Abejorral has tourism opportunities, since it has old houses of typical Antioquia architecture. And there are also waterfalls and dazzling landscapes nearby.
The pueblo of Abejorral is quaint, colorful and traditional. The colonial architecture that is so popular in Colombia is displayed prominently here, leading the historical center of the town to be considered a Colombian National Monument in its own right.
Abejorral is a picturesque pueblo that makes for a great weekend trip from Medellin. Also, it’s off the beaten path of foreigner tourists, so you likely won’t hear much English.
But there are many things to do, especially if you have an adventurous streak. And the area around the pueblo features spectacular views of the Colombian countryside.
Location: about three hours south from Medellín – depart from the North or South Bus Terminals (Terminal Norte or Terminal Sur).
8. El Carmen de Viboral – the Heart of Colombia’s Ceramics Industry
A traditional craft in Colombia that is often less highlighted is the country’s world-renowned ceramics industry. And the heart of that industry lies in the small pueblo El Carmen de Viboral near Medellín, which is definitely worth visiting. El Carmen de Viboral is located only 34 miles (54km) from Medellín in the Eastern Hills.
Colombia’s ceramics industry is also starting to become more well-known and is quite interesting. El Carmen de Viboral has the added benefit of not yet being on the foreign tourist trail, which makes a visit there all the more authentic.
This unassuming pueblo is a hidden gem – still waiting to be discovered by foreigners. It’s full of pottery shops and a number of still surviving workshops. The brightly colored ‘Ceramics Street’ adds to its charm. And it’s the perfect day-trip from Medellín to learn about the ceramics history in Colombia and to pick up a bargain souvenir.
The pocket-sized pueblo of El Carmen de Viboral can justifiably claim to be the heart of Colombia’s ceramics industry. This is because there are still several factories and workshops in existence that produce artisanal, individually hand-decorated ceramics.
Also, the ceramics production in El Carmen de Viboral focuses primarily on exquisite tableware, kitchen utensils, washbasins, candlesticks, and vases. It’s renowned tradition of ceramics making has even placed El Carmen de Viboral on the world map.
Known as the cradle of artisan ceramics in Colombia, pieces from El Carmen de Viboral are even owned by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Location: about 1.5 hours east of Medellín – depart from the North Bus Terminal (Terminal Norte).
The Best Pueblos Near Medellín – Problems with the Travel Guidebooks
The English language Colombia travel guidebooks in my opinion don’t do a good job of covering the best pueblos near Medellín. The most widely sold travel guidebook about Colombia is the Lonely Planet Colombia Travel Guide.
In August 2018, Lonely Planet published a new edition of their Colombia guidebook. And in my opinion, this new Lonely Planet guidebook isn’t much better than the previous edition published in 2015. I reviewed the 2018 Lonely Planet Colombia travel guide in a separate article.
For example, the 2018 Lonely Planet Colombia (Travel Guide) only includes three pueblos near Medellín: Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia and Jardín. So, they are missing five of the eight pueblos in our best pueblos near Medellín list.
Throughout Lonely Planet’s Colombia travel guide they are missing many of the best things to see and do in Colombia including a number of the best pueblos. Plus there are inaccuracies and out-of-date information.
Other English language travel guidebooks about Colombia are also missing many of the best pueblos near Medellín. So, unfortunately some of the best pueblos near Medellín remain hidden gems that are off the radar of foreigner tourists visiting the city.