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Medellin
Travel Guide


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Medellin at a glance

Medellin, Colombia’s second city, used to be famous for all the wrong reasons. The seat of Colombia’s most infamous drug cartel led by kingpin Pablo Escobar, Medellin spent decades at the center of a bloody civil war and was most certainly not a tourist destination. Now, all that has changed. Medellin has witnessed one of the biggest turnarounds of perhaps any city in the world, and is now one of the safest, cleanest and most popular destinations in Latin America. Medellin is known as the City of Eternal Spring because of its idyllic climate, and Medellin’s beauty in the Aburra Valley surrounded by the impressive peaks of the Andes is rivaled only by its position as the Silicon Valley of South America, such has been the investment in innovation and tech infrastructure. Medellin is thriving, and many foreigners who come to visit end up making Medellin a temporary home for six months to a year. Medellin is a melting pot of excitement, and its powerful mix of cultural attractions, pretty open spaces, historic buildings and contemporary urban design merge with the city’s harrowing recent history to make it an enigmatic place to visit.

Medellin Bucket List - What not to miss!

  • Highlights of Medellin City Tour
  • Excursion to Guatape & El Peñol
  • Get out into nature at Rio Claro
  • Tour to the town of Jardin
  • Willys Jeep into the magical Cocora Valley

Experiences around Medellin

What not to miss

Medellin’s attractions and activities are spread out all over the city, so a trip to the City of Eternal Spring will take you far and wide on your explorations. A Medellin walking tour is one of the best ways to see everything. The Antioquia museum, Plaza de Botero, Candelaria Basilica and the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica are all found in Central Medellin, but the city is also known for its bars, restaurants, clubs and nightlife, which dot throughout the metropolitan region. Medellin is broken into 16 comunas (districts), 5 corregimientos (townships) and 271 barrios (neighborhoods), but a new transport system makes it easier than ever to get around the city and see the expansive views from the hills that surround the valley. One of the best day trips out of the city is to Laguna de Guatape, a scenic town with beautiful views over a collection of lagoons and islands. People from Medellin are known locally as Antioqueños, a name derived from the department of Antioquia in which the city is located. Culturally, the locals are part of the paisa culture, an ethnicity that comes from the coffee region which is close to Medellin. The Paisas have strong cultural links to their Spanish forebearers, so it is no surprise that the Catholic religion is highly visible in Medellin. Check out the Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a turn of the century town located on a hill in central Medellin. The Antioqueños are fiercely proud of their city, but are also a mild mannered, cultured and hard-working lot. They are invested in making Medellin appealing, which can be seen and felt all over the city. Despite its size, Medellin has the feeling of a provincial town that is built on community, and its friendly residents will make you feel welcome and generously offer advice on how best to experience their city.

Highlights of Medellin City Tour

Today, you’ll be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the metro station where you will take the metro and then climb aboard Medellin’s aerial Metro cable to soar over the city. You will continue to the city center, where you will visit Parque Berrio and Plaza Botero, a square dedicated to the Colombian artist Fernando Botero and locally known as La Plazoleta, an eye-opening park is home of around twenty chubby Botero sculptures and a great spot to grab some arty photos. You will also visit Parque de las Luces. You’ll then continue to Paisa Town “Pueblito Paisa,” a depiction of a typical village of the region, before heading back to your hotel.

Excursion to Guatape & El Peñol

Today you will visit the lovely town of Guatapé and El Peñol, a huge granite monolith set on the edge of an enormous lake with dozens of small little islands. Also known as ‘Pueblo de Zócalos,’ the town of Guatapé is famous for its pastel colored houses which are a joy to admire while strolling through the charming cobblestone streets and main street which runs alongside the reservoir. Don’t forget to have a look at the bottom half of the houses, as they are brilliantly decorated with the most marvelous paintings and sculptures, ranging from cartoon characters to landscapes and animals. The somewhat tough climb to the top of El Peñol is more than rewarding, as it offers an amazing view over the stunning landscape. If you are not in for the climb to the top, you will have the choice to take an optional boat excursion to the El Peñol dam and Guatape Lake which will give you a great view of the El Peñol Rock and also take you by one of Pablo Escobar’s holiday homes.

Get out into nature at Rio Claro

Take a breather from the humdrum of the city with this thrilling outdoor adventure tour to Rio Claro, a hidden natural playground with beautiful scenery to boot. You’ll be collected from your hotel early in the morning for the two-hour journey to Rio Claro, accompanied by your own private guide. The Rio Claro private nature reserve was founded in 1970 to protect the tropical rainforest surrounding the marble canyon and the river. It’s a perfect backdrop for an active day beyond the bright lights of Medellin. After some time to soak up the scenery, you can choose from a handful of heart-thumping activities, including white water rafting, zip lining and cave trekking. Once you’ve exhausted your appetite for adventure, you’ll begin the trip back to Medellin.

Tour to the town of Jardin

Jardín is a municipality located southwest of Antioquia . Jardín has 14,000 inhabitants, 7,000 women and 7,000 men. Jardín is bounded on the north by the municipalities of Andes, Jericho and Tamesis, on the south by the department of Caldas, and west again with the population of Andes. The town is 134 kilometers from the city of Medellin, capital of Antioquia department.

Willys Jeep into the magical Cocora Valley

In the streets of Salento and throughout the Coffee Region you’ll notice colorful Willy Jeeps making their way along the picturesque roads. You’ll have a unique experience as you board a traditional Willy Jeep (hopefully in your favorite color), which will take you into the magnificent Cocora Valley. With its rolling green hills and huge Quindio wax palm trees, the scenery is like something out of a magical land in a Dr. Seuss book. The Cocora Valley is home to Colombia’s national tree, the Quindío wax palm tree that can grow up to 190 ft. tall. These tall, thin trees stand like giants guarding the valley, the farmland, avocado plantations, wandering cattle and of course coffee plantations. While in the National Park, your guide will provide you with information on the surrounding flora and fauna before you take part in a wax palm tree ceremony. Already included in today’s trip is a donation towards helping to reforest the Quindio wax palm tree. Because of its limited geographic range, the wax palm is unfortunately at risk of extinction. Here you’ll plant your own Quindio palm tree which you’ll be able to come and visit whenever you feel like it. Boarding your Willy Jeep, you’ll head back to the town of Salento and your hotel.

Fast Facts on Medellin

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Medellin.

When to go

As its nickname proclaims, the City of Eternal Spring has a beautiful climate all year round, so it can really be visited at any time of the year. Out of the twelve months August is perhaps one of the most interesting times to visit, as this is when the city’s Festival of the Flowers, Medellin’s most important celebration, takes place. The city beams with flower-filled floats, beauty pageants, live music concerts and classic car shows. Medellin’s average annual temperature sits around 72°F (22°C), creating a warm and temperate climate. Summer is another great time to visit, as the city installs lots of Christmas decorations, and party buses, or chivas, ferry locals and travelers to all of the main sights so they can enjoy the festivities first hand.

How to get there

Medellin’s Aeropuerto Internacional José María Córdoba receives both domestic and international flights, and is located 22 miles (35km) outside the city near the town of Ríonegro. Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera is next to Medellin’s Terminal del Sur bus station, and this smaller airport receives regional and domestic flights. All internal flights and transfers will be arranged as part of your itinerary, so just speak to one of our travel experts and they will advise you on the best route. If you are arriving to Medellin by bus, you will arrive to either Terminal del Norte, which handles buses coming from the north, east and southeast, or Terminal del Sur, which handles buses coming from the west and south.

Infrastructure

Medellin has wide array of accommodation depending on your travel goals and budget. Many people choose to stay in the El Poblado neighbourhood which is located close to La Zona Rosa’s bars and restaurants. La Setenta is another up and coming neighbourhood that offers a more authentic local experience. Biking around Medellin is a great way to see the city, and there is a free public bicycle system called Encicla, where you can use your passport to take out bicycles for short trips. Medellin’s highly sophisticated public transport network means you have a choice of buses and metros, but many people also choose to take taxis. There are also a number of cablecars that service the poorer neighborhoods higher in the hills, but provide great vistas out over the city en route. Medellin is also known for its street food, so check out a crispy potato empanada with garlic aioli, fresh fruit smoothies from a car or a cordito coffee from a street vendor.

Tour Packages to Medellin

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