If you’re thinking of seeing Pueblito Paisa in Medellín, you’ve probably seen lots of mixed reviews and claims that it is a tourist trap. Well, Pueblito Paisa was renovated and expanded in 2021, and I can confidently say that now it is definitely worth visiting.
This post will cover what you need to know and see at Cerro Nutibara (Nutibara Hill) and Pueblito Paisa. Put on your workout clothes and bring your water bottle because walking up the hill is half of the experience!
If you’re visiting Medellín, prepare yourself with this post of 10 crazy, cool things in Medellin you have to see to believe.
Pueblito Paisa is on Cerro Nutibara and it is right in the middle of the Medellín, which is why its 360 degree views of the city are so great. It’s an easily-accessible way to feel like you are “escaping” the city. Yes, you can get to Pueblito Paisa by taxi or Uber or DiDi, or even on a tour with a pimped-out chiva bus. However, being in the middle of the city, it is easily walkable from the closest metro station, Industriales.
There are two roads that wind up the hill. Both roads are accessible by foot, but the Northern route is not well marked and will require some walking next to the highway (Autopista Sur to Carrera 63). As safety is an issue, it’s better to stick to the well-traveled and easier Southern route. Take the metro line A to Industriales and follow the pedestrian bridge northwest towards Calle 30 (30 street), crossing the street. Follow the signs to Vias Cerro Nutibara. You’ll find a small snack stand to fuel up on juices and drinks at the bottom of the hill.
Walking up Cerro Nutibara
As you start up the hill, you can follow the road, which has a separate bike lane and wide sidewalk, or take one of the paths of stairs that are steeper, but more direct. The road winds you around and up the hill. Make sure to stop at the Parque de Toboganes, a small park with some loooong cement slides. They are fast and not for small children or the faint of heart!
If you are an art lover, don’t miss the various metal sculptures dotting the hill that make up the sculpture garden. There are also lots of secluded places with seats to stop for a picnic or a rest.
No matter which route you take, you’ll pass the upper or lower entrance of the Carlos Vieco open-air theater that hosts music and cultural events. With a capacity of 1,500 spectators, this newly-renovated space is expected to hold many more events in the future.
If you’re in reasonably good shape, you should be able to make it up the hill in under 30 minutes, including photos and a trip down the slide. At the top of Cerro Nutibara you’ll find Pueblito Paisa. Entrance to this area is free, and you can easily walk around and down the hill anywhere.
If you’d like to go with a guide, check out this tour of Medellín parks that includes Pueblito Paisa. For a bit more money you can book a private day tour.
Pueblito Paisa is a life-sized replica of a traditional town in Antioquia, the Colombian department where Medellín is located. It was first inaugurated in 1978 and materials from the nearby town of El Peñol were used. In 2021 it reopened after a major expansion.
You’ll first see the main courtyard or plaza, which has a white church with the surrounding buildings sporting the brightly colored balconies so associated with Colombia. Take your picture with the I heart Medellín sign, and grab some fresh juice or an oblea. The paper-thin wafers of the oblea sandwich dulce de leche, or arequipe, as it’s called here.
To the right of the plaza is a line of row shops. When I visited during the pandemic, most of these weren’t in use, and the souvenirs that were being sold were the same black and white sombreros vueltiaos and ponchos that you could find in any part of Colombia. Hopefully in the future, these will house real artisans and artists, but for now, don’t expect any true crafts or souvenirs that you haven’t seen before.
On the other side of the rowhouses are a number of small restaurants and food stands, a sort of food court selling traditional specialties including the Antioquian heart-attack-on-a-platter bandeja paisa. Diners share common eating areas but there is personalized table service.
Past the restaurants, at the end, is a lookout point with plenty of space to enjoy views of Poblado and the hills of the city. You may have to wait your turn for the Instagramers to pose though.
There are still more views to be seen. I said 360 degree views, didn’t I? On the other side of the hill behind the small city museum, you can look off to the mountains of the West.
Museo de ciudad
The city museum is easily mistaken for a cement and metal TV tower, but it has a cool mock-up of Medellín for you urban planning and geography nerds. The detail is impressive, and you can pick out individual buildings that you may know. Entrance to the museum is supposedly free or by donation, although I was charged $2,000 COP (but I’m not complaining about $0.50 US).
Surrounding the model are numerous works of art by Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, the same artist that created the towering Monumento a la Raza sculpture downtown. On the lower level of the museum is an artsy gift shop that is almost as big as the museum gallery.
As you exit the gift shop on the lower lower, there is a statue of the legendary indigenous leader, the Cacique of Nutibara, who the hill is named after.
Safety and When to Visit
The best time to visit Pueblito Paisa is in the morning, when it may be more likely to be sunny and not raining, and also during daylight hours for safety reasons. I had no safety concerns there during the day, and there are tourist police present. You can climb Cerro Nutibara from around 5:00am to 11:00pm. The City Museum is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and most of the shops and restaurants will be open from 9:00am to 9:00pm, but this depends a bit on the tourist numbers. Whenever you decide to go, you’ll enjoy Pueblito Paisa!