Colombia Travel Guide , Adventures and Places to Visit
The city is situated in a beautiful valley, offering mountain views from every angle. Combine the natural setting with Spring-like temperatures year round, Medellin offers a very comfortable climate both day and night.
Nightlife in Medellin is a big draw among younger travelers, as paisas love to dance, drink, and party. The women are reputed to be the most beautiful in Colombia, if not all of South America, and that reputation alone continues to attract more and more male travelers.
Most foreigners know little about Medellin other than it was the former home and stomping grounds of Pablo Escobar, and therefore once listed as the most dangerous city in the world. In the last few years, several companies have set up organized tours to cater to the tourist-demand for information on this tragic chapter in the city’s history.
Best Things to See and Do
Medellin is home to Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. In the city center, you can walk through Botero Plaza and get your picture taken amongst a few dozen of his large metal sculptures.
The plaza also features the Museo de Antioquia which features some of Botero’s paintings, as well as other Latin artists.
One of the reasons Medellin is a popular place for expats to live in Colombia is the metro system. Medellin features Colombia’s only metro train. From the main train line that runs North/South through the city, are several cable cars (like ski gondolas) that run up the mountains to poorer neighborhoods.
These cable cars are meant to give residents easier access to the city, however they also offer a cheap and fun way to get panoramic views of the entire city.
If you prefer adrenaline-pumping activities, paragliding is available for as little as $45 per 25-minute flight.
Where to Eat in Medellin
For a taste of the local cuisine, head to Mondongo’s where you can try the mondongo (tripe) soup. Mexican food is often done well, and I’m a fan of 1910 Revolucion Mexicana for the stylish decor as much as the food. And if you’re craving excellent creole or north Brazilian food, head to Bonuar, which is adjacent the Modern Art Museum, and features live Blues during the week.
Where to Drink and Dance
While the bars and discotecas around Parque Lleras are always busy on the weekends, there are many more places to party with locals than the Zona Rosa. A paisa favorite is the raucous Dulce Jesus Mio, which is decorated like a mock Antioquian pueblo. Workers dress up as caricatures of typical townspeople. Get there early (9 pm), and ensure you have at least one girl with you, to get a table.
For some of the city’s best live salsa music, head downtown to El Eslabon Prendido on a Tuesday night (around 9:30 pm if you want a table). If you actually want room to dance, then go to the upscale Cien Fuegos, which features the biggest dance floor in town.
Best Area for a Night on the Town
Parque Lleras is the most accessible — you can just walk around until you find a bar or discoteca that looks like fun. Or, hop a cab to nearby Barrio Colombia and you’ll have a dozen different discotecas to choose from, all within a few square blocks. And you’ll see fewer foreigners than in Parque Lleras.
More adventurous visitors will go a bit further to La 33, or La 70, a five-block strip of salsa bars and clubs on the West side of the city.
Getting Around Medellin
Medellin is a large city, so while you’ll be able to walk around within neighborhoods, you’ll need public transport to get you around the city. Bus rides, which can be confusing at first, cost about 65 cents each, while a single ride on the metro will run you 85 cents.
The metro is very easy to use, clean, and generally safe (there’s security at every station and platform). Taxis are metered, and you can go from one end of the city to the other for $6-7.
Events and Festivals
In early July, Medellin hosts Colombia’s annual salsa festival. The weekend event is a combination of salsa workshops, competitions, and at night, social dancing.
As the fashion capital of Colombia, Medellin hosts Colombiamoda (fashion week) every July as well. The 3-day event is open to the public during the day (a pass costs about $40), while the runway shows are invite-only.
La Feria de las Flores, the city’s annual flower parade, runs from the last week of July through the first week of August. The weekends are busy with parades, including La Cabalgata horse parade, an antique car parade, and the flower parade. There are also lots of concerts and special events held during the 10-day celebrations.
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