One of the most recurring questions people ask me is “What’s your favorite visited city?”. A million dollar question, right?? To me, it is almost impossible to give a unique answer to this question. In each city I have been, I’ve found a profound attraction with. It could be because of the architecture, because of the people, the culture, food and so on. I never could have picked One city, until I’ve visited Medellin in Colombia.
I was in Colombia for my first time in 2016, and since then I promised to come back at least once every 2 years or most frequently. I can’t explain the feeling I have when I am in this amazing country. Most of all when I am in Medellin I feel at home, surrounded by people whom I merge perfectly with. I cannot tell you that Medellin is the most beautiful city in the world, but definitely one of my favorite so far.
An Antioquian Hearth
My love for Colombia has taken me back there already 3 times, with the chance to focus more on certain city and region. I can say that I am a Colombia’s expert, and I see the country with both an analytic and loving eye. Being Colombia one of the 17th most bio-diverse countries in the world, you don’t need to make more than 100 km to move from a geographic landscape to another, felling to be in 2 different countries. From the Caribbean Sea to the Oceanside, from valleys and mountains to the huge coffee fields and Colombia does not miss deserts. Furthermore, the country has got a huge historical and culture potential, with some of the most ancient cities in the world such as Santa Marta. With its biodiversity and many annual events at an international scale (like the Barranquilla’s Carnival), Colombia is marked as one of the top world destination, good to be visited all year long.
Today though, I would like to throw your attention to what to do and see in Medellin.
Medellin Capital of Antioquia
I could visit Medellin million times without getting tired of. My love for this city begun at first sight. I did not take more than 5 minutes I entered Medellin that I felt I could call the city “Home”. With a very difficult past, marked by drug dealing, Medellin had suffered and still does of scars that makes the city looks like a “Far West”. Far too many people think that Medellin is all about drug and people shooting each other on the street. Let me tell you that this is not true. I cannot lie, there are situations, and the specific location where it would be best not to hang at. Also, it would be better to avoid to go around splashing off your jewelry. Medellin, for those who are visiting in their first time, for those who do not the city well yet, simply need more careful than other European cities.
What to see:
Located on top of Nutibarra hill, “Pueblito Paisa” is the replica of a traditional Antioquia town. You can either walk up through designed paths or bike or even by transport. I personally suggest to either hike up or use a bike to better enjoy the natural experience and breath fresh air. Once you are on top of the Nutibarra, visit the village and perhaps stop to get a refreshing drink or ice-cream. This place is family-friendly as well. Also on the way down you can find interesting piece of art.
Located by University metro stop, the Garden offers many sights to see and activities to enjoy. On top of a huge variety of plant, flowers, and animals, the garden is space for many events. From music to books events, fashion and food and much more. A place where both youngster and adult can use as rendezvous or once a week outdoor activity. Once you are there try to visit also the nearby Parque Explora, Parque de los Deseos and for the bravest (use some care to walk around) walk up to the Cemetery of San Pedro, a real cemetery-museum.
La Candelaria of Medellin
Once you are in the center of the city, you will have to visit la Candelaria Barrio with its major spots. Plaza Botero and it stunning statues resembling women’s curvy bodies. San Antonio and its daily market, where you can find any sort of article and street food. The administrative district of Alpujarra. Plaza Cisneros and it’s light (if you can pop here at night time, it would be more suggestive as the lights go on). The center of Medellin tend to be very lively and busy daytime, so always keep an eye to your belonging, as you would do in every busy city center in the world. This doe snot has to stop to enjoy to talk to local people, who will give you important tips and city directions. Also stop trying the street food: from local pastry like Arepas de Queso or deep fried Patacones (plantain) and tropical fruit salad.
For the nature lovers and for the ones want to escape the city, you do not need to leave Medellin! yes, you hear right, you can find a huge natural park just on top of Medellin: Park Arvi‘. All you need to do is to jump on 2 different cable car and you will be there in 30 minutes.. Arvi Park is both an ecological nature preserve and Pre-Hispanic archaeological site on the eastern slopes of Aburrá Valley. There are several paths to take and many outdoor activities to enjoy. Keep in mind that one day won’t be enough, so if you can come back at least twice. At Arvi’ Park the air is fresh and clean, making it the perfect place to restore your lungs.
If you want to know more about the real tragic past of the city, and you want to explore a different side a Medellin you have to visit Comuna 13. Unfortunately, the city has still a high level of poverty, and this poverty is mainly based on what people in Medellin call “Comunas”. These are mainly based on the suburb of the city, up to the several hills, making difficult for the same local to have an easy life. This, in the past, has developed far too many carnages, most of the which because of the drug business. You must know, that for a matter of safety you cannot enter every Comuna on your own, you must know someone local to escort you. This is different for “Comuna 13”, being the most developed of the area.
To reach there: Take the Metro to the San Javier station, then jump on every bus named “Escalas Electricas”, where you will be dropped.
Once you are there, I suggest to join a free tour with one of the local guys: none more then they can really tell you the Comuna history. Please tip well these guys, as nevertheless, they will escort you around, but you will have lots of fun with them.
From here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city and also you can taste some very succulent fresh fruit juice for less than 1 dollar.
As big fan of local market, I have to suggest you to pay a visit to the largest food market in Town: La Minorista. From spices and herbs to fresh fruit and vegetables and km. zero meat, the market offer a huge variety of product. I can’t help to visit every time I could and buy my favorite “Flor de Jamaica” I ever got : hibiscus. There are few organized tour, but I believe you should visit on your own. Is quite safe to visit and to reach, just get on a yellow cab.
Night life in Medellin
Regardless many tourists will be direct to “El Poblado”, the most famous city spot in terms of the nightclub, I would rather prefer to tell you about other sites.
Both “La 33 in Laureles” and “Carrera 70” and “Floresta” have an extended variety of bar and disco club, for everyone taste. From commercial music to local dance such Vallenato and Salsa, you won’t get bored. Some of the most mentioned clubs are Son Havana, Luxuri and La Garganta.
Unless you are an alcohol-free, do not miss a taste of local Rum “Ron Medellin” and “Aguardiente”. Always careful on not to drink and drive and not to over-drink. . The nights go until at least 4 am, and then after a long night shaking your hips, you can satisfy your anger with more street food!
Last but not least, for who loves Salsa like I do, you must go dancing at El Eslabon Prendido on a Tuesday. You won’t regret it!
Folklore and traditional music : La Chispa
For a real taste of traditional Colombian music and local folklore, you have to join the guys of “La Chispa”. La Chispa is a cultural house in Pardo, where a group of young talented guys, organize music events. These guys have reassessed the use of traditional instruments, into old and new music bits.
If you are looking to get involve with the local community and to know a real side of Medellin, you cannot skip this experience. For more info on how to get there visit my Instagram: a_wanderlust_love
Casa en el aire: sleeping in the air
For the braves, for who is not afraid of height, “Casa en el Aire” is a must do! Not far from Medellin you will meet one of the scariest accommodation in the world. You will have the opportunity to sleep on little wooden bungalow overhanging the “Cerro San Vicente”. You can reach the bungalow only climbing the mountain or with a cable. On top of sleeping, you can also take advantage of some very interesting adventure activities like abseiling, zip line and more climbing.
El Penon de Guatape’
Another nice place to visit at only 2 hours away from Medellin is “El Penon” in Guatape’. This giant Monolith is based in the municipality of Guatape’ and you can reach by direct bus from Medellin.
The monolith was first climbed in 1954 using nothing but wooden planks, it took 5 days. Today you can reach the upper part of the Stone climbing the 740 staircases: worth the amazing view. In fact from the top of the stone, you can see the plant “Pitcairma heterophila” and surrounding lakes and islands.
There is an entrance fee of a few dollars, and you can also take a ride on a helicopter for an aerial view.