Travelers from around the world are finding something extraordinary in a place called Medellín, Colombia. There are three really important things to know about Medellín if you’re planning to travel here to fall in love with a Colombian city that is capturing the hearts of both seasoned travelers and “hipster” tourists.
The first thing to know about Medellín is that its setting is somewhat magical. The city is nestled in the Aburrá Valley within the Andes region of South America. Travelers get to enjoy a thriving, colorful Colombian city that is set among cloud-piercing mountains and sprawling coffee plantations. The second thing to know about Medellín is that it’s pretty big. In fact, it is second in size only to Bogotá. About 3 million people call the busy, vibrant streets of the capital of Aburrá home today. The third thing to know about Medellín is that TIME named it the most dangerous city in the world just 25 years ago. In fact, Medellín’s claim to fame for many decades has been that it is the hometown of Pablo Escobar. Fans of “Narcos” on Netflix may already know about Medellín’s past. Younger travelers may find it hard to believe that many people consider Medellín to be the cradle of cocaine culture as they walk barefoot in serene spaces or take street-food cooking lessons. Medellín stands as a transformed place today. Modern tourists will find a place that is safe, friendly and stunningly beautiful. Feeling intrigued? Take a look at a quick travel guide for modern Medellín!
Ride the Medellín Metrocable
Every city has its shortlist of must-see attractions. Medellín is no exception! What is the quintessential attraction to add to your itinerary if you have some time to spend in this Colombian hot spot? The Medellín Metrocable offers a great way to cover a lot of the city while enjoying incredible views if you only have a little bit of time. Many people actually credit the cable cars of Medellín with the city’s transformation. The cable cars have made it possible for people from all over the city to be connected in a way that they never were before. In addition, riding on these gondolas that seem to climb up the Andes is a real treat! The Medellín Metrocable actually operates four separate lines. The best part is that each ride costs less than a dollar.
Hit All the Big Attractions
It’s okay to approach Medellín like you would any big city. There are plenty of mainstream attractions, museums and public squares to keep you busy. Here’s a roundup of the totally touristy places to check out while visiting Medellín:
- Jardin Botanico de Medellín.
- Plaza Botero.
- Antioquia Museum.
- Parque Explora.
- El Castillo Museum and Gardens.
- Santa Fe Zoo.
- El Tesoro Shopping Park.
One really special place to go is a neighborhood called Comuna 13. This neighborhood was once the epicenter of violence and murder in the city. It is now considered to be the main attraction in Medellín. No place speaks to the extreme transformation of Medellín the way Comuna 13 does! Today’s visitors find vibrant streets filled with vendors selling mango ice cream, kids playing soccer and musicians creating beats. Be sure to look for the famed graffiti of Comuna 13 while you’re visiting the neighborhood!
Do a Food Tour
Medellín is having a foodie moment right now. Tons of tour agencies currently offer specialized tours that will show you all of the Colombian dishes that are popular in the region. In addition, most tours will expose you to both tasting sessions and cooking lessons! The nice part about taking a food tour of Medellín is that you’ll probably meet some really fun and interesting people from all over the world as you go on a Colombian taste odyssey! One of the superstars of the Medellín food scene right now is a dish called bandeja paisa. While the dish has some variations, it typically consists of red beans with pork, plantains, white rice, ground meat, fried egg, chorizo, black pudding, avocado and lemon.
Enjoy Coffee in the El Poblado Neighborhood
Most tourists find themselves in Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood eventually. This really isn’t a bad thing. El Poblado actually features many of the best coffee shops, restaurants, nightclubs and bars in the city. Drinking coffee is a big part of life in the city. In fact, you may want to consider adopting a caffeine habit during your stay even if you rarely touch the stuff at home. Stick to the Parque Lleras area if you’re unsure about where to go to find popular, trendy places. This lovely square lined with trees and shrubbery is full of places that serve coffees from local roasters. Keep in mind that most businesses in the city are closed on Sundays!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Bargain
Medellín has some pretty incredible markets. In fact, you can’t really say you’ve experienced the true vibe of this city if you haven’t explored a few markets. You’ll find vendors offering clothing, leather goods, wool creations, jewelry and trinkets that will make great keepsakes to bring home from your trip. The big thing to know is that bargaining is totally acceptable here. What’s more, bargaining at Medellín’s markets is actually encouraged. You can typically negotiate a price down by as much as 30 percent if you’re relentless!
Take a Day Trip to Laguna de Guatape
A visit to stunning Laguna de Guatape requires a two-hour drive outside of Medellín. The journey will bring you to the real Colombian countryside. In fact, you’ll see cattle and farms during your journey to this beautiful area of lakes and steep peaks. Most people come to Laguna de Guatape exclusively to see the views from the monolithic rock that is found here. You should know that getting to the top of the monolith at Laguna de Guatape requires 650 steps. Be sure to pace yourself to avoid getting out of breath!
It’s a Great Time to See Medellín
The nice thing about visiting Medellín right now is that it’s a place that’s still in the process of being discovered by world travelers. Most people who fall in love with the city after visiting are shocked to discover that it is still so unknown in the mainstream tourism world. Of course, this city’s obscurity lessens with each day. Put Medellín on your must-visit list while it’s still an undiscovered treasure!
Source: frugal travel guy