El Retiro


El Retiro, Antioquia
45 min from Medellin
32 km( 21 miles)


Average 23c (73f)

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If you’re in Medellin and searching for a short and easy day trip from the city, look no further than the charming town of El Retiro. Located in the department of Antioquia, just 45 minutes away from Medellin, El Retiro is the perfect place to spend a day. While it may not have a long list of attractions, it offers a wonderful escape from busy city life, providing a taste of small-town life.

History of El Retiro

The history of El Retiro, a charming town in Antioquia, Colombia, traces its roots back to the early 17th century when Spanish conquistadores, primarily of Basque origin, ventured into the highlands of eastern Antioquia.

In 1734, a pivotal moment in the town’s history occurred when Don Ignacio Castañeda and his wife, Doña Javiera Londoño, settled in the region that is now El Retiro. Their purpose was to exploit the mines and pastures of El Guarzo with the help of their enslaved workers. El Retiro, with its foundation dating back to 1790 and its recognition as a municipality in 1814, owes its existence to pioneering families who settled here.

Things to Do in El Retiro

Like many popular towns in Colombia, El Retiro boasts cobblestone streets lined with colorful homes. It’s a traditional Antioquian setting that’s perfect for walking around and enjoying a day of relaxation. There are a few things to do in and around the town. Let’s explore the most eye-catching ones.

Visit the Town Square and the Church

Typical of Colombian towns, El Retiro features a town square with a church as its centerpiece. Take some time to wander around the square, enjoy a traditional paisa lunch, and explore the historical church.

Salto de Tequendamita

For nature enthusiasts and waterfall lovers, a visit to Salto de Tequendamita is a must. This waterfall, named after the famous Tequendama Waterfall near Bogota, stands at an impressive 20 meters tall. Pack your bathing suit and a towel, because during this outdoor adventure you might get wet.

Parque Ecologico Los Salados

Near the town, you’ll find Parque Ecologico Los Salados, an outdoor park for nature lovers. The park offers scenic views, a serene lake, fresh air, lush vegetation, and the chance to observe local fauna and flora. It’s a great spot for a family picnic or romantic picnic, and the park is pet-friendly, making it a great destination for an afternoon of chilling. . You can bring your own food and grill or purchase snacks at the park. It operates from 9 am to 5 pm.

Check out the Rustic Local Shops

While El Retiro may lack big commercial stores, it compensates with charming small shops where you can find unique gifts and souvenirs. Supporting these local businesses contributes to the local community, making it a rewarding experience.

Restaurants & Dining

El Retiro is known for its traditional Colombian cuisine. Local restaurants often offer a “plato del dia” (plate of the day), which includes a soup and drink at no extra cost. If you want to pick something different from the card you will find many traditional Antioquian food like bandeja paisa and sancocho.

Drinking Coffee

As you explore El Retiro’s streets, you’ll pass by numerous coffee shops. Colombia is renowned for its coffee, so be sure to step into one of these charming cafes to get a taste of this local drink. If you’re interested in learning about the Colombian coffee-making process, pay a visit to Cafe Retiro, where you can gain insights from knowledgeable locals.

Where to Stay in El Retiro

While El Retiro is suitable for a day trip from Medellin, there are a few hotels in the town if you decide to extend your stay. Nature enthusiasts may also explore nearby glamping spots or cabins. However, keep in mind that these accommodations are not budget-friendly, so if you’re on a backpacker’s budget, spending the night in Medellin might be a more suitable option.

Getting to LLano Grande from Medellín

Located just 45 minutes away from Medellin, El Retiro is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here’s a quick explanation to the different transportation options for reaching El Retiro:
Taxi: Taxis offer convenience and a direct route to El Retiro. They are readily available in Medellin and can take you directly to your destination in the town. Taxis can be relatively expensive compared to other options, especially if you’re traveling solo. The cost will depend on your starting point in Medellin, so be sure to negotiate the fare or use a taxi app to estimate the cost beforehand. Similarly, using ride sharing services like Uber or InDrive provides a comfortable and convenient way to reach El Retiro.
Car: If you have access to your own vehicle or a rented one, driving to El Retiro offers flexibility and freedom. You can explore nearby attractions at your own pace and convenience. The main challenge for travelers with their own car may be navigating unfamiliar Colombian roads and dealing with parking in El Retiro, which can be limited in some areas. It’s essential to have a GPS or a navigation app to ensure a smooth journey.
Bus: Taking a bus from Medellin to El Retiro is one of the most affordable transportation options. Buses are a common mode of travel in Colombia and provide a cost-effective way to experience the region. Head to Terminal del Norte in Medellin, the primary bus terminal serving destinations to the north and east of the city. Look for buses bound for El Retiro. The buses are often marked clearly with their destination. Purchase a ticket at the terminal counter or directly from the bus driver, and be sure to ask about the departure times and prices.
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