Jardin Botanico de Medellin – The Botanical garden is a large, tranquil park near the Universidad Metro station, an oasis in the hustle and bustle of Medellin’s downtown. One of the main highlights of the garden is the impressive orquideorama, a large architectural wooden structure that showcases the botanic garden’s orchids, bromeliads and carnivorous plants. There are various zones within the park including a cactus garden and butterfly house. Although you won’t be as immersed in nature as you would in Parque Arvi, there is still a surprising amount of wildlife – small monkeys, exotic birds, and iguanas are all welcome residents of the park. I strongly recommend getting a coffee at the “hip” train car converted to cafe and spend a couple hours just roaming around. The park is a perfect place for meeting up with a friend or significant other. You can combine a visit to the park with Parque Explorer which is just across the road, and the Planetarium alongside that. Be sure to leave before it gets too dark to not tempt would-be robbers. The hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm. Check out their website to see what events/concerts are being held at the garden.
Cuidad del Rio (MAMM) – The Ciudad del Rio Park is a long span of grass interspersed with the peppering of park benches, sculptures, creative graffiti, a skatepark, and various concrete structures. There are often food vans serving great gourmet burgers, burritos and suchlike. Like many parks in Medellin a lot of people go there to smoke weed however there is a strong police presence who regularly do bag searches to discourage this type of behavior. The park is right next to the Museum of Modern art, so you may want to tackle both in one day. You can get there by walking from Poblado (about 20-30 mins from Parque Lleras) or hopping off at the Industriales Metro Station (10 mins walk).
Parque Arvi – just outside of Medellin this nature reserve is perfect for spending a half, or whole day, amongst pristine nature. The forest reserve is the ideal city escape to get away and inhale a few pure breaths of fresh air. Feel free to just wander around and relax whilst taking in some of the beautiful scenery tucked away from Medellin’s hustle and bustle. Parque Arvi is easy to get to – take a metro 2,000 COP to the Acevedo station for a Metro cable car and then switch to the Parque Arvi cable car with costs an addition $4,600 COP. It’s a 15 minute over the top of the forest which is pretty cool. Within Parque Arvi there’s several zones to explore including an Insect museum and butterfly sanctuary which are both worth checking out. The park hours are: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. On weekends and public holidays ensure you arrive early or you might find the cable car booked out. Also make sure you return prior to the last cable car to avoid a long bus ride home.
Parque Presidenta – Conveniently located right off of Avenida Poblado alongside the Dann Carlton hotel, this park is mainly characterized by the winding river that runs through it. The stone path curves through the park and there are bridges over the river – feel free to plant yourself on any one of the numerous sitting areas to enjoy the murmur of the river. Perhaps take some empanadas (preferably at the nearby Macheticos) and a friend with you for a complete urban escape. There is also a farmer’s market in the centre of the the park every Sunday that sells local farm fresh produce.
Parque de Los Pies Descalzos – This slightly quirky and awesome park, also known as Barefoot Park, has several areas where you’re invited to kick off your shoes and enjoy the sand or water with your toes. Perhaps how all parks should be experienced. There are sections of sand to traverse, a bamboo garden, and a grassy area ideal for picnics. Barefoot park may be one of the most relaxing and interesting places in Medellin. Get there by taking a taxi or metro to the Alpujarra station and it’s a few minutes walk.
Cerro El Volador – This park is known for it’s great views of the city. It’s also adorned with a “gymnasio publico”, or a public gym, to satisfy the athletes who climb the hill for their workouts. In the past safety has been an issue however these days there should be a guard on duty, however it’s probably best to go with a local just to be sure. Enjoy the wandering butterflies and other wildlife that visit the park.