From bad boy to superstar: discover all the things to do in Medellin, Colombia’s most sparkling rising star.
Medellin is not unlike those young, handsome Hollywood Brat Pack actors from the 1980s. You know, the ones who did all the wrong things and who epitomized the whole ‘bad boy’ act. For years, the world thought nothing would come of them and then suddenly, and rather miraculously, they all seem to have evolved into perfectly respectable and infinitely talented men.
Yes. Medellin is the Rob Lowe of Colombia.
Medellin may have been the epicentre of Colombia’s unfavourable reputation for years but this vibrant city, nowadays, cares very little about that. This is a superb travel destination, one that showcases its own treasures and scars with fervour; one which offers the curious traveller a totally different Latin America experience. Away from the hordes of tourists which seem to have taken over the whole continent, you’ll discover a spellbinding country, and culture, that’ll sweep you off your feet. Coupled with an outstanding mountainous setting, great food and warm and friendly locals, you’ll truly feel like you’ve just discovered South America’s best kept secret.
- You have.
Medellin’s Best Highlights
Awarded the “Most Innovative City in the World” title by the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, Medellin is literally growing from strength to strength. A city that is equal parts modern and traditional, avant-garde and utterly charming, Medellin is a sprawling metropolis of more than 3 million, which can be overwhelming for the unaccustomed. However, tourist hubs are plentiful, the climate is just about perfect all year long, it has a thriving university community that makes everything young, arty and fun and, perhaps more importantly, one feels not just safe here, but downright protected. Locals love tourists and are genuinely delighted to see them back. Your trip will be made all the better for meeting them.
Top things to see and do in Medellin:
El Poblado – This is the more prosperous part of town and the spot most foreign visitors choose to stay. It’s a great base for exploring the city and also the most international, so here you’ll find locals who speak English and will help you get around should you get lost. Many of the city’s trendy bars, clubs, restaurants and cafés are located here, so it’s great to know you can take a walk of an evening close to your hotel, be entertained and feel perfectly safe.
El Centro – A great collection of sightseeing gems, including Plaza Botero (filled with the artist’s beloved curvy sculptures), Parque Explora (a gorgeous aquarium and planetarium) and the Botanical Gardens, which make for a delightful reprieve from the frenetic energy of the city. The garden’s café is ideal for a relaxing lunch. Don’t forget to admire the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral, and take a leisurely stroll down pedestrian-only Junin, not forgetting the dozens of beautiful churches scattered about the centre.
Museums – Medellin is a city that’s bursting at the seams with museums, from ancient and modern art to history, culture, anthropology, planetariums and more, the list of museums here is quite extensive. We often joke that whatever it is you’re into, we’ll undoubtedly find a museum in Medellin that ticks your box.
Metrocable – If you only do one thing in Medellin, then make it a ride on the Metrocable at sunset on a gloriously clear afternoon. The vistas are simply out of this world, with the peak’s urrounding blocks also granting a refreshing insight into everyday life for Medellin-dwellers.
Sport & active recreation – Given Medellin’s young and active population it is no wonder the city offers a plethora of really fun outdoor pursuits. Have more days up your sleeve? Then why not throw yourself off the edge of a mountain (with a paraglide, of course) or enjoy a zipline, ATV or horseback ride adventure? And if you’re feeling particularly jetlagged, don’t forget to ask about the coffee tours on offer as well. They’re bound to inject some good old Colombian life into you!
Cultural nights – The performing arts are thriving in Medellin and the city is home to several theatres which host contemporary and classic performances, as well as two philharmonic orchestras. There’s a good chance that a ballet, theatre, opera or concert will be held in town during your visit, so try to nab tickets for a cultural night out in Medellin.
Medellin’s Metro system is clean, modern, safe and efficient so if you’re feeling energetic then skip the taxi and Metro Medellin instead.
How to Reach Medellin
The city is exceptionally well connected with the International Airport offering nonstop flights to various international cities, from Lima (Peru) all the way to Madrid (Spain). Domestic flights to Bogota, Cali and Cartagena abound.
And just for the record, the Colombian countryside is sensational, filled with coffee plantations and archaeological sites. There are many provinces throughout the country that are safe for foreigners to overland through. If you do have some extra time to explore Colombia more thoroughly, do include a few road transfers (rather than flights) and your experience will be all the more rewarding.
We love Colombia, can you tell?! And we’re quite sure you will too. For more info and any help in planning a personalised itinerary to Medellin and further afield in Colombia, simply contact us.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”