On top of the most important avenue in Medellín and right next to the river that divides the city in two is Parques del Río, the most modern linear park in Colombia, which was created with the aim of reconnecting the city’s residents with their major water source.

Parques del Río is my favorite place in Medellín, because it mixes nature, sports and recreational activities, culture, good gastronomy and the most interesting events like no other place in the city (and I dare say in the whole country).

Before this park existed, the Medellín River was a isolated place, which was present as a dividing line between the east and west of the city. Next to it was the so-called “Avenida del Río”, the road that runs from end to end throughout the city.

This road was (and still is) the closest point to the river, and due to the lack of platforms, appreciating the river and the nature around it was something you could only do if you were in a car. Therefore, walking along the river was not only unattractive, but highly unsafe.

But since Parques del Río was built in 2015, the city connected to it in a wonderful way. The cars literally went down, through a tunnel that gave rise to thousands of meters full of paths, green areas, places to rest, sunbathe, practice sports activities and, what I like the most: eat.

After visiting and enjoying this place a few times, I am going to give you all my recommendations so that you get the most out of it and discover why I think it is the best attraction in Medellín.

Location

Parques del Río is located in a quite strategic area of the city. To the west it connects with the Conquistadores neighborhood (which is part of the Laureles sector) and to the east it connects with the industrial sector, where the most important places for holding events are located: Plaza Mayor and the Metropolitan Theater of Medellín.

It is also very close to Pueblito Paisa, which is a replica of the typical Antioquia town where you can enjoy local cuisine and have a privileged 360 view of the entire city.

How to get?

The best ways to get to Parques del Río are by Metro, by taxi (or ridesharing apps, such as Didi, Uber or Cabify) or in your private vehicle.

Undoubtedly the cheapest way to get there is through the Metro. On line A there are two stations that are very close to this place and you will only have to walk for 15 to 20 minutes after leaving the stations until you reach the park. The two stations are Exposiciones and Alpujarra. As long as you don’t have a problem with walking a bit, taking the metro is a great option.

If you decide to arrive from the Alpujarra station, you must walk along Calle San Juan to the west. On your journey to Parques del Río you will be able to appreciate some iconic places in the city. One of them is the Plaza de La Alpujarra, which is the administrative center of Medellín and Antioquia. There you will find the buildings of the Government of Antioquia and the Mayor’s Office of Medellín.

You will also pass through Plaza Mayor, the Parque de los Pies Descalzos Park and finally you will arrive at Parques del Río. This is a great walking option to visit on weekdays. But I do not recommend that you do it on weekends since the streets will be very lonely and you may feel a little unsafe.

The other option is to go by metro from the Exposiciones station. To get to Parques del Río you will have to take Avenida 33, which is a busy commercial sector where there are clothing stores and many places to buy accessories and vehicle parts. Personally, I like this route a little less, since there are no tourist attractions along the way and it’s really really busy.

In both cases, I advise against walking back at night, since both sectors (Alpujarra and Exposiciones) are quite lonely from 6 p.m onwards.

If you are in your private vehicle (bike or car) you can also bring it with peace of mind, since Parques del Río is quite safe and also has a parking service (outdoor parking). Of course, do not forget to bring local currency cash with you, since it is the only way to pay for your parking.

Finally, you can use the Encicla public bicycle system, which has a station right at the northern entrance point of the Park.

What to do?

One of the things I told you at the beginning is that Parques del Río is a very diverse area, where you can do and appreciate many activities in one. Here I tell you some of the favorite activities of the visitors

Taking the sun

One of the activities that I see many people doing in the park is just getting some sun. And this is not only because of the spring weather in Medellín, but also because there are dozens of very comfortable places to lie down for a while, get some sun or read a book.

Walk with your pet

One of my favorite plans is to go with my puppy Leo (the one in the photo) and see him happily walking and jumping over the multiple “obstacles” that the park has. This is a very open place, where your dog will be able to run many meters and where you will never lose sight of him.

If you don’t bring yours with you (which I can imagen is the case), you can still enjoy the views and plays of the puppies in the park.

The place is fully suitable for pets and despite its proximity to the river, there are several barriers and separation meters that make it very safe for your furry.

One important thing is that you bring with you a bag and the necessary items to clean in case your pet relieves itself. You will find several bins specially arranged for this purpose.

If you visit with your pet on a very sunny and hot day, my recommendation is that from time to time you wet its little footprints, since part of the park is made of cement and it could get hurt.

Practice outdoor sports

People skating, running, bicycling, yoga, or playing with a ball. These are recurring scenes from the Parques del Río setting. And it is not a surprise, because in such a wide and beautiful space it makes you want to move your body.

In fact, one of the things I like the most about the place is that it has multiple points to drink water comfortably and for free, so you don’t need to bring a bottle with you.

Eat delicious food

There are not many restaurants in Parques del Río, in fact there are only four. But the ones that exist are quite good and with very affordable prices, both for tourists and locals. They also have a privileged view.

I have my favourites. The first is “Dulce Suiza”, a Pasta, Pizza and Pastry restaurant, where you can order a delicious ‘4 quesos pasta’ and a chocolate and passion fruit mousse like the one in the image above. (average price of the dish: $25,000 cop / $5usd)

The other is a restaurant called “La Ribera”, where you will find a delicious mix: craft beers, American cuisine and a music environment that will make you feel like you are at the very origins of salsa and tropical rhythm. The Chicken Sandwich seemed like the bomb. Average price of the dish ($30,000 COP / $6 USD)

Have a beer

If you want to support local commerce, you will find many street-carts like this one where they will sell you very tasty preparations with beer (micheladas). Perfect for a hot day and at very good prices ($6,000 pesos / $1.5 usd)

Appreciate christmas lighting

Finally, if you arrive in Medellín in December you can go to Parques del Río at night to practice the favorite activity of the paisas during the Christmas season: see the lights. The river lighting is a tradition that has been going on for decades.

In them you will not only be able to appreciate the Christmas lights, but you will also be able to find many typical desserts and street artists.

Admission price

Entering Parques del Río is completely free, although it is possible that during certain seasons some areas of the park may be restricted due to holding events.

Where to stay near Parques del Río?

The Conquistadores neighborhood is the best area to stay near Parques del Río. Although the hotel offer in this sector is limited, you will find a few very good options at a good price. The Parque del Río hotel, which is literally inside the park, is a very good and cheap option (one night costs only $99,000 Colombian pesos $20 USD).

Personally I wouldn’t stay in this area, since appart from Parques del Río, there’s not a lot to do. You better stay in the heart of “Laureles”, close to Avenida Jardin or Calle 70. You will be in a reasonable distance from Parque del Río, and still will find a lot of activities to do during the night close to your lodging point.