Modern Medellin is a busy regional capital, a creative center, and a growing tourist destination. In just one generation, the city has made a remarkable transformation from a troubled place to one renowned for its innovative cultural sectors and green technology.
Set in a narrow valley in the Andes Mountains, Medellin is surrounded by natural beauty. The best - and probably the cheapest - way to get spectacular views and photos is from the Metrocable, a wonderful cable car service that links the lower city with the slopes.
It is a city of beautiful architecture both old and new, many green parks, and arresting public art installations and spaces like the Plaza Botero that contains the Plazoleta de las Escultura with 23 large bronze sculptures by internationally recognized local artist Fernando Botero. Ornate colonial architecture and gleaming skyscrapers merge in the city's skyline.
Along with its burgeoning creative class and status as a center for the arts and culture, Medellin is a growing magnet for chefs and foodies. A hot nightlife scene rounds out a great experience waiting for you in Medellin.
You can take in the city's rich culture and history just by walking down the street past the Catedral Metropolitana, the decorative neo-Romanesque cathedral dating from 1931, the 18th-century Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria, or the Monumento a la Vida, a modern 45-foot plus metal sculpture near the university. The city's many museums include the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin and Museo El Castillo, housed in what was once a rich industrialist's mansion.
Medellin is a traditional center for textile production if you wish to buy fabrics for bespoke pieces. The textile trade also fuels a thriving local fashion scene. Leather goods of all kinds are also a specialty of the region, including shoes, bags, belts, and more.
There are many ways to explore the Andean countryside in the city, including the Jardin Botanico Joaquín Antonio Uribe, where over 600 plant species live in lush gardens around a lake. The Parque Explora is a museum with fascinating exhibits, a 3D cinema, and a collection of species from the region.
From pubs to discos or trendy cocktail lounges, there is never a shortage of things to do or places to hit for the nightlife scene, no matter what your taste. The city is home to a thriving dance club scene with a diverse selection of music from many different genres, and crowds of stylish partygoers, who will help you dance the night away.
Medellin's foodie scene is heavily influenced by traditional Colombian foods, along with strong European roots from its colonial past. There is an innovative fine dining scene along with many options at every price point. Be sure to try local specialties like ceviche, a marinated seafood dish, and empanadas.
Medellin's nickname is the "City of Eternal Spring" and it speaks to the spring-like weather the city enjoys all year. The mountains moderate the temperatures, which hover around the low 80s during the daytime 12 months of the year, with the most rainfall in May and October.
There is one domestic airport in Medellin, the Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH). International and some domestic flights arrive and depart from José María Córdova Airport (MDE), located in the city of Rionegro, about 18 miles to the east. Metered taxi service to the city from MDE is charged at a flat rate of COL$4,000. Buses make the trip for COL$12,000.
Passenger rail service is fairly limited throughout Colombia and not really a viable option for tourist travel. Trains connect with the North Terminal bus depot.
It's a beautiful 7-9 hour drive from Bogotá to Medellin along the Autopista Medellín. To the south, road 25 connects to Cali and Pereira. Route 25 links Medellin to Cartagena and other points along the coast.
Intercity bus service from cities like Bogotá and Cartagena connects with Medellin at the North Terminal. The South Terminal connects with Olaya Herrera Airport, and also provides service to Cali and other points to the south.
You can treat yourself to modern luxury at the sleek Dann Carlton Medellin Hotel. At the mid-range, Hotel Poblado offers comfortable modern rooms at two great locations in El Poblado and Alejandria. At the Art Hotel Boutique, you can enjoy the minimalist contemporary furnishings and a stylish roof bar.
El Poblado - this is the most popular spot for visitors, with a high concentration of restaurants, nightlife options, and shopping malls. It is a wealthier part of the city and includes the majority of the city's hotels.
Sabaneta - in the southern part of the city, the centerpiece of this town within the city is Parque Sabaneta. An excellent place to connect with locals, the leafy square is full of bars, restaurants, and shops.
La Candelaria - also called El Centro or just downtown Medellin, this area includes the impressive Plaza Botero and the Museo de Antioquia. Parque de Bolivar is a large, busy plaza with a picturesque fountain and trees.
The Medellin Metro (subway) is relatively new and covers most of the city with a 5-line network of urban trains that run north-south and east-west. Fares start at COL$1,900. Metrocable service runs cable cars up the slopes to the suburbs with fares starting at COL$300. They are complemented by the MetroPlus rapid bus service.
There are many taxis in Medellin and the fares are cheap, starting at COL$2,700. The rate is COL$1,200 per 0.62 miles with a minimum fare of COL$4,600.
Traffic is typically very congested during rush hour and lunch hour, but a car can be a good option for getting around town and exploring the area. A compact rental starts at about COL$110,000 per day and companies like Europcar can be found in the city. There is limited street parking available in Medellin, with spots in parking garages starting at about COL$950 per hour.
Avenida El Poblado is where you'll find the Centro Comercial Oviedo and other upscale shopping centers and stores. When it comes to local markets, the Mi Viejo Pueblo Centro Artesanal is geared towards tourists and the souvenir trade, while cheap goods are to be found at the Mercado de San Alejo. Both are to be found near the central Parque de Bolivar.
Exito is a large Colombian supermarket chain with multiple locations in Medellin, with a good selection and reasonable prices. Carulla is a more upscale supermarket with a larger selection of imported products. A quart of milk costs about COL$2,100, and a dozen eggs will set you back around COL$4,300.
Carmen is a fine dining restaurant with an imaginative Latin-American fusion cuisine. A 5-course tasting menu starts at COL$39,000. The minimalist white and glass decor of In Situ only highlights its surroundings in the midst of the botanical gardens. Dishes from its menu of contemporary Latin cuisine start at COL$39,000. El Taxista is where to find cheap, tasty food and rub shoulders with locals from all walks of life. Main dishes start at COL$6,500.