HotelsInColombia

Travel Guide Medellín - City of Eternal Spring

Medellín is Colombia’s second-largest city and overflowing with style and activity. The city has reinvented itself since the mid 1990s by rebuilding both its image and its infrastructure. It now has been developed in a pleasant city in the centre of a valley, flanked by lush mountains. This modern city boasts leafy streets, thriving art galleries, an aquarium, sprawling parks, many restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Its year round spring-like weather also makes up much of the city’s charm.

The neighboring countryside of Antioquia is as attractive as everything the city of Medellín has to offer. Jaw-dropping rocks besides a man-made lake, picturesque colonial towns and lush mountains within close distance, make Medellín a striking destination. The paisas, known for their friendly nature and entrepreneurship, are the city’s other strength.

Medellín hosts several popular events such as Colombia’s annual fashion week and the 10-day flower festival. During La Feria de las Flores you can see parades, concerts and people dancing in the streets. Visitors can experience this Medellín tradition best during the Desfile de Silleteros. In this parade farmers (silleteros) carry flower arrangements on a silleta (chair-like wooden frame), turning in circles while walking the streets. The event is a colourful representation of the Antioquian culture and a joyful feast with thousands of people taking over the streets. Don’t forget to bring your sombrero and a bottle of Aguardiente (the anise-flavoured national liquor). The Fair takes place at the end of July and early August. December is also a great time to visit since the city is decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. Christmas decorations, illuminated structures, sweets, traditional food and other Colombian products are on display around Rio Medellin and in various other parts of the city.

Getting there and around

Air - Medellin has two airports, so make sure you head to the right airport for your flight. The José María Córdoba International Airport is the principal airport to serve Medellin. It is located about 45 minutes outside of Medellin in the municipality of Rionegro. The airport serves all major international and domestic routes. The Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport is another airport located in the south-west of Medellín, which serves smaller aircrafts carrying out regional flights. To get to your hotel from the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport you can easily take a taxi.

From José María Córdoba International Airport there are several ways to get to your hotel. You can either take a taxi for about COP 60,000 ($31/€23), a shared taxi (taxi colectivo) for around COP 15,000 ($8/€6) when split between four passengers or an airport bus for about COP 8,000 ($4/€3) which drops you off at several central points in the city from where you can grab a taxi. Most airlines also offer a shuttle bus service from José María Córdoba International Airport to Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport for around COP 10,000 ($5/€4).

Bus – Medellín has two bus terminals. The North terminal (Terminal de Transporte del Norte), connected with metro stop Caribe, serves cities north and east of Medellín such as Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Bogotá. The South terminal (Terminal del Sur), next to the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport, serves cities south and west of Medellín such as Cali, Manizales and Pereira.

Taxi - taxis are an easy way to travel around Medellín. Taxis can be flagged down on the street, however it is safer to call a taxi service. Ask your hotel to book a taxi on your behalf.

Metro - Medellín is the only city in the country with a metro system. Travelling by metro is easy and quick, the metro line serves most tourist’s attractions. The metro is connected to two cable car systems (Metrocable) which take passengers up the mountains to the poorer neighbourhoods of Medellín, offering sweeping views of the city.

Things to do and places to visit

Parque Arví – a nice Sunday activity is to catch the cable car (Metrocable) to Parque Arví. On a mountaintop at the north-eastern part of the city, this new ecological park hides a forest, a beautiful lake, nature trails and picnic areas. To arrive at Parque Arví, head to metro station Acevedo from where you take Line K of the Metrocable to Santo Domingo station. From here you can take Line L which is connected to Parque Arví. The cable car was originally designed to connect Medellin’s poorest neighbourhoods which were built on the mountain slope, with the city. Because of its sweeping views, the cable car also lures many tourists. If you have less time take the cable car as far as Santo Domingo station where Biblioteca España is built. This black library complex has helped to stabilize Medellín’s most vulnerable areas. This look-out offers great views of the city.

Pueblito Paisa – Pueblito Paisa is situated on top of the Nutibara Hill. With a fountain in the middle of the plaza, a picturesque church and whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs and colorful doors and balconies, it is a replica of a traditional Antioquia town. At lunchtime grab a seat at one of the open-air restaurants to enjoy a typical Paisa dish. The hill offers 360-degree views of the city.

Parque Lleras - on the weekends Parque Lleras is the center of entertainment. Parque Lleras is filled with bars and restaurants surrounding a park. The streets are crowded with partiers and vendors selling everything from chewing gum to bracelets. Watch the crowd and opt for a refreshing refajo (a mixture of beer and Colombiana, a Colombian soda) in one of the open-air bars lining the square.

Plaza Botero – since Medellín is the hometown of the famous artist Fernando Botero, it is blessed with the world’s largest collection of his bronze, chubby sculptures. At Plaza Botero, in the busy centre of the city, many of his sculptures can be admired. Across the plaza is one of Colombia’s finest museums, the Museo de Antioquia which houses more of Botero’s work, as well as work by other national and international artists. The nearby Palacio de la Cultura is one of the architectural symbols of Medellín.

Jardín Botánico - enjoy and learn from over 1,000 species of flowers and plants in this pleasant public space, including the Cattleya orchid, the national flower of Colombia. “Joaquín Antonio Uribe” Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to escape the traffic in this bustling city. The Orquideorama with its wooden meshwork and geometric patterns is an architectural gem in the heart of the garden.

Parque Explora – in this science center there is more than enough to do for young and old. The building features exhibits in an interactive form, guiding the visitor through physics and geodiversity. View the terrarium with poisonous frogs, pythons, tortoises and tarantulas native to Colombia. But the main attraction is the aquarium which is the most diverse freshwater aquarium in South America. In the area outside the building there are more scientific and technological attractions to do and discover.

El Peñol & Guatapé - El Peñol and Guatapé are a great day trip from Medellín. El Peñol, located about 2 hours east of Medellín, is a majestic monolith besides a man-made lake. If you climb the stairs etched in the rock, you are rewarded with unbeatable views of the surrounding landscape. 15 minutes from El Peñol lies Guatapé, a charming lakeside pueblo where the bottom of the houses are brightly painted.

Food and Drink

Mondongo – a hearty soup made from beef tripe, pork, pieces of chorizo, potatoes, cassava, onion and cilantro. It is accompanied by white rice, avocado, bananas and lime wedge.

Ron – rum is the preferred spirit for paisas. The domestic label is Ron Medellín Añejo, enjoyed with ice, lemon juice or Coca-Cola.

Bandeja Paisa – this must-try dish includes so many ingredients it is usually served in a large tray. The traditionally bandeja paisa consists of beans, white rice, chicharrón (pork rind), carne en polvo (Colombian-style powdered beef), chorizo (sausage), fried egg, fried plantain, avocado and arepa.

Restaurants

Mondongo’s – for typical Colombian flavors Mondongo’s is a sure thing. The adventurous eater can try the hearty mondongo soup in this local eatery. El Poblado, Calle 10 No. 38 – 38; (57 4) 3122346.

Mystique – the mystic kitchen of Chef Juan Pablo Valencia with influences from Spain, Italy, France and the Caribbean coast makes from every dish a masterpiece. With its open kitchen, high chairs, white tablecloths and calm atmosphere, this fine-dining restaurant is a top spot for lovers of mouthwatering dishes. El Poblado, Carrera 33 No. 7 – 55; (57 4) 3118221.

J&C Delicias - a favorite lunch spot for an arepa (Colombia’s version of the tortilla made of corn flour) topped or filled with meat, chicken, fish, cheese and many more. One of the must-try dishes Colombia has to offer. They have different restaurants in the city, including one in Centro Comercial El Tesoro.

Sushi Light – for the city’s best sushi head to Sushi Light in Centro Comercial Santa Fe. The menu offers a list of sushi, nigiri, sashimi and other Asian dishes. Centro Comercial Santa Fe, local 3319.

Bars and Clubs

Divina Disco - located on the second floor of the La Strada shopping mall, this nightclub represents a luxurious night of partying with celebrity clientele and good-looking crowds, great music and tasty drinks. Centro Comercial La Strada, Carrera 43A No. 1 Sur – 150.

Trilogia Bar – the Colombia neighborhood in the old industrial area of the city, has evolved to become one of the favorite spots for partiers. Grab a table near the live band at Trilogia Bar and dance the night away on music like salsa, merengue and rock. Barrio Colombia, Carrera 43 G No. 24 – 08.

Dulce Jesus Mio - be ready to party in this club designed as a small paisa town. The over-the-top decoration includes comic characters, lights in different colors and many balloons. Arrive early to ensure a table. Very soon the stage fills with circus-like dance performers gyrating to the sounds of Colombian vallenato, reggaetón, merengue and salsa. The funny show and the DJs that spin the hottest music tracks keep the crowds on their feet all night long. Las Palmas, Carrera 38 No. 19 – 255.

Population

Estimated 2,400,000 inhabitants

Climate

Medellín has a year-round, spring like temperature which ranges between 18°C (64°F) and 28°C (82°F).