Santa Fe de Antioquia: An easy Medellín day-trip to a characterful Colombian pueblo
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Not often visited by tourists, but still with enough of an eye for tourism to cater to non-residents, Santa Fe de Antioquia is an excellent day trip from Medellín if you’d like to see more of small town Colombia. With cobbled streets and brightly painted doors, a walk through the old town feels a little like going back in time. Coming down the hill to the newer parts of town is a lot less polished, but still interesting to see how most Antioqueños live outside the urban hubs.
Santa Fe de Antioquia isn’t too packed with things to do, but that’s kind of why we like it. Sit back and enjoy the small town vibes!
After this guide to Santa Fe de Antioquia, you may also like to read:
Coming from Medellín, a decrease in altitude means you’ll notice an increase in temperature, and unlike the city, where jeans are popular despite real-feel 30*C, the locals here actually dress like they live in a warm climate, so pack your shorts!
4 things to do in Santa Fe de Antioquia
1. Walk across Puente de Occidente – once South America’s longest suspension bridge
Our favourite thing to do in Santa Fe de Antioquia was to visit the semi-famous Puente de Occidente, the longest suspension bridge in South America. At an impressive 291m, this bridge is amazing both to walk and to view from afar. Views of the river and countryside around the bridge are breath-taking.
Legend has it that a man and his pregnant wife once sat on the riverbank and asked each other is anyone would ever be courageous enough to build a bridge to the other side. The man that eventually built the bridge in 1895, José María Villa, was their son.
You could technically walk to the Puente de Occidente from Santa Fe de Antioquia, but the road is super hilly, there isn’t much space with cars and trucks whizzing past, and the heat is sticky AF. Instead, take a tuktuk from the centre of town. You should be able to barter down. We got a tuktuk for 20,000 and were sort of sure we got ripped off, but were feeling too hot to bother haggling too hard.
The bridge is a few miles out of the town, so it will take around 10-15 minutes to drive there. Make sure your driver stops at the viewpoint at the top of the last hill so you can take some epic pics. Your driver should then drop you off at the start of the bridge and drive across it, so that you can walk one way and drive back the other (unless you particularly want to walk both ways).
Take your time enjoying the views, and afterwards you can opt for food or drink at the small restaurant (but check that’s ok with your driver first!).
2. Chill in Plaza de Bolívar
The main plaza is where the action happens. During the day, you’ll see old men daydreaming on park benches, and at night, you’ll see old men daydreaming on park benches with a shot of aguardiente in hand. Evenings on the square are generally chilled but still have a lovely community buzz to them. We recommend eating a Menú del Día at PielRoja on the corner and then taking a beer to the square’s garden to wile the night away.
3. Barter in the markets of Santa Fe de Antioquia
As we mentioned, Santa Fe de Antioquia does have a teeny bit of tourism, so you will find a few artisanal markets scattered here and there. Have a quick browse through the collection of stalls to the left of the church on the main square, or the market in La Chinca square.
4. Go back in time at Museo Juan del Corral
This is a free museum which is dedicated to being a guardian of historical heritage, keeping artefacts from the story of the region. There are 7 rooms of exhibitions in this villa, including the table where Antioquia’s independence was signed by dictator Juan del Corral in 1813.
Where to eat & drink in Santa Fe de Antioquia
For a traditional breakfast, try one of the many small restaurants in the old town, or for a really traditional experience (and if you look particularly gringo, to get laughed at) grab a Pony Malta at the bar of one of the cafes on the main road near the bus terminal. This is where boys people-watch with their fathers and grandfathers before heading to work on a weekday.
We had a traditional brekkie – complete with hot chocolate served in a bowl – at San Antonio on Calle 10 with with Carrera 6, a few blocks from the main plaza.
For an afternoon coffee, we highly recommend Cafe Canelo, which can be found on La Chinca. Not only is the coffee excellent, but also the staff are super friendly and chatty, and the seating area has a pool in it.
And as previously mentioned, for lunch or dinner, Restaurante Piel Roja on the main plaza serves amazing Menu del Días all through the day.
How to get to Santa Fe de Antioquia from Medellín (and back!)
Pretty easy. Santa Fe de Antioquia is only a 90 minute bus ride from Medellín, and the buses leave frequently in both directions. At Medellín Northern (Caribe) terminal, head right towards the row of ticket offices for local bus routes and check the signs for Santa Fe de Antioquia. There are 2 or 3 companies that provide this service, all next to each other. We went with Sotrauraba, which at 8000 COP per person one way (£2) was a few thousand pesos cheaper than the others.
To return, just go to the Santa Fe de Antioquia bus terminal on the main road ( a very short walk from the old town) and buy your ticket at the desk. The main bus companies leave every 30 minutes, but you’ll find smaller colectivos there as well, which leave when full. Buses run from very early to fairly late (always check for latest times at the ticket office!) so you can definitely see Santa Fe de Antioquia as a day trip from Medellín instead of staying overnight.