Let’s speak about the Colombian “City of Eternal Spring” today! Once known as the most dangerous place on Earth with the highest homicide rate during the era of Pablo Escobar and his drug cartel, Medellín has become a vibrant travel destination which was even declared as the most innovative city in 2012. As a great example of urban planning, it scored even better than New York or Tel Aviv that year! Nowadays, the city is relatively safe to visit if you follow the basic precaution measures and the people of the whole Antioquia region are very nice and less reserved than in the Capital Bogotá.
We noticed how Medellín is big already when sitting in a taxi from the airport after coming from Santa Marta where we had some relax time in the Tayrona Park. The drive from the airport to our accommodation in Poblado district took about 45 minutes to 1 hour, descending downhill into the valley. It was dark and we could see all the little lights of houses on the hillsides, it was magical and reminded me of Cusco. We checked in and in the morning we were awakened by the fresh spring air.
Based on our online research we were not really convinced whether to stay longer in Medellín before continuing our journey somewhere else. In the end, we stayed here three full days before heading to Salento and maybe it could have been a bit longer. Medellín is such a culture-rich and vibrant city and there is plenty of fun things to do and see! We were truly impressed and enjoyed Medellín during our visit. Here I share with you some tips on what to see and do in Medellín which will help you to better plan your stay or even convince you to come if not yet on your list!
What to See and Do in Medellín (Our Tips)
Using public transport in Medellín is a great experience. Sometimes the metro runs on bridges and you can enjoy spectacular views, not even talking about the views from the cable cars! The city has very good public transport infrastructure and so you can easily get to the most places you need to go so you can save some money for a taxi.
Start with Plaza Botero in the city center where you can see some 20 bronze plump statues from the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. You can also visit the Antioquia Museum and a very interesting building Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. Not far from there, you can also find a market and get some tasty fruit.
If you like street art, then you will really love Communa 13. This used to be a very poor and neglected district but in 2011, escalators were built here in order to connect this district with the rest of the city and it quickly became a place for social and political expression. Nowadays it is one of the coolest parts of the city and actually not only for street art but also for the views.
Something you would not expect to see in South America, in general, is probably a castle in European style. But in Medellín, there is one! Gothic castle Museo El Castillo was built in the first half of the 20th century as a residence of a businessman José Tobón Uribe who brought the plans from Paris. Nowadays you will find here a museum housing works of both Colombian and European artists and a collection of decorative arts. Have walk or picnic in the gardens and enjoy the view of the city from there! More information here.
Hike up the hill Nutibarra where you can find a tiny replica of typical Antioquian village known as Pueblito Paisa with its own cobblestone square, fountain, and a church. You can also enjoy one of the best views of Medellín from here.
If you prefer to discover more from the surrounding nature than to limit yourself only on the stay in the city, book at least one afternoon for the visit of Parque Arví. Take a metro to Acevedo station and from there get on the cable car which will take you up. You can enjoy one of the hiking trails in the extensive forest high above the city. More information about the park here.
In case you are looking for some evening fun such as a large choice of restaurants and bars, head to El Poblado district. We even discovered here Café Velvet, a place that also exists in Brussels and is of the same owner where you can enjoy a cup of Colombian coffee with a Belgian accent. Although El Poblado is a more expensive quarter and probably the favorite place to be of foreigners in Medellín, so it will not give you an authentic Colombian experience. In any case, it is here where you will probably find most offers for accommodation and is considered quite safe.
Make a day or weekend trip to one of the colorful closeby villages: Jardín or Guatapé. We went for a day to Guatapé and loved it! It was probably the most colorful village we have ever seen, so pleasant to stroll in its small streets! You can get there easily by bus from Terminal Norte and the bus ride takes about 1h30m. We first got off the famous rock Piedra El Peñón to enjoy a breathtaking view of the specific lake landscape and then took a tuk-tuk to Guatapé town.
Once you are ready to leave Medellín, it’s a good idea to hit the Coffee Triangle to learn more about Colombian coffee and see an amazing nature around (to be continued soon…). 🙂
So, have I convinced you to visit Medellín or do you plan to do so? Or have you been to Medellín and have some other tips? Please leave your comment below the text!
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What an amazing country to visit. Pictures are beautiful. Loved your write-up … and also coffee too!
Thank you for your lovely comment! It is indeed an amazing country 🙂