Medellin is a vibrant cosmopolitan attracting seasoned travellers from all corners of the globe. Labelled as one of the most innovative cities in the world, residents have strived to lose the stigma that once was and have concentrated efforts on turning the negative into positive through open access libraries, internationally acclaimed art galleries, stunning architectural heights and progressive public art spaces.
The music filled streets of the Zona Rosa now overflow with cafes, bars, and an assortment of nightlife entertainment. The lively inner city hubs are thriving with the young and beautiful. They’re here to have a good time and enjoy all that this thrilling city has to offer.
From the coffee connoisseur to the gourmet enthusiast, the relaxed hipster, the adventurous nature-loving souls, the art lover and the nerd-at-heart to those just looking to dance the night away – there truly is something for everyone in this valley sunken, expansive city of lights. Trust me, Medellin is a destination that will not disappoint!
8 reasons the wild at heart are flocking to Medellin
1. You are surrounded by an abundance of nature.
Medellin lies at the bottom of a sunken valley, situated in the middle of the Andes Mountains. As you can imagine, this makes for some pretty spectacular sunsets and as soon as you venture out from the city centre you will find yourself amidst parklands, coffee farms, mountainous plains and rolling green landscape.
Jump on board the Metro Cable cars to take the scenic ride up to the National Park Arvi. The views alone are worth making the trip but you can easily spend the day exploring the numerous walking and hiking trails, adventure activities and local artisan markets. With average annual temperatures of around 22 degrees celsius, Medellin sports an almost perfect climate for spending time outdoors. Although it does rain, like any tropical climate, it rarely gets cold. I guess the city got it’s nickname ‘The city of Eternal Spring’ for very good reason.
2. Weird Science
Your inner child will love the interactive scientific playground that can be found at Parque Explora. Geek out by spending an afternoon wandering through the Time, Space, Nature, Media and Mind exhibits that let you see, touch, hear and play to your hearts content.
3. The Art, The Architecture, The Vibe
Set amongst some of the most beautiful and intriguing inner city dwellings – the Plaza de Botero is a full sensory experience. This bustling square is just made for people gazing. Order a take away coffee from the Gallery Café and watch the numerous street performers, food vendors, craftsmen, musicians and fellow tourists pass you by before wandering through the Museo de Antioquia. Don’t forget to have your photo taken with the larger than life Botero statues – and if you’re craving more, visit the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin.
4. All the colours of the rainbow
Nestled atop of a rather steep hill, Pueblito Paisa is a little piece of history that has been preserved throughout time. White washed buildings, flower lined windowsills and winding cobble stoned paths await your exploration. Cute-as-a-button, the Paisa presents itself as the perfect afternoon coffee stop. But beware, there are many, many steps that will need to be climbed before you reach this little gem! My advice? Take the scenic route – although it is the long way around, this path will lead you to the top via an art trail through the parklands before reaching your destination.
5. Put your runners on & get active
Get to know the real roots of this mysterious city on the free walking tour. Four hours on foot will see you visiting the cities hotspots, local favourites and hidden gems at the guiding hands of a local Pisa. With many stops along the way don’t forget to take your camera to capture a few #instaworthy shots along the way. Learn firsthand about the trials and tribulations, the controversial history and the plight for change and innovation. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
6. Get outta town!
If you have a little extra town a side trip to Guatape is a must! Spend a day (or a night or two) in one of the most colourful towns in all of Colombia! Lush and green, the township lies on the banks of interconnecting aquamarine water channels – it is serene, peaceful and honestly; it’s quite breathtaking. With so many activities on offer you can take your pick of options from horse riding, water sports, zipping through the winding roads on a motor bike or exploring the colourful streets and stores.
Quick tip – stay the night to explore the nearby towns, waterfalls and natural swimming holes then climb El Penol (the second largest natural rock in the world) the following day for the most spectacular views!
7. Feel the rhythm with a night of Salsa dancing
Dance the night away at infamous salsa and jazz bar, Club Son Havana. There is no way around it… this salsa bar is of the Richter scale. Get carried away with the smooth sounds of the live band, 2-4-1 cocktail happy hour and bottomless bar snacks – your night is set. And, the best thing about this club? Everyone come to have a good time! The dance floor is packed with the young and old alike and oh my goodness, do they know how to have a good time… the swinging of hips and quick footwork, this is a sight to behold. No dance partner? No worries! One of the locals will happily twirl you around the dance floor for a song or two. Be prepared to shake what ya mamma gave ya well into the wee hours of the morning.
8. Food & Coffee lovers unite!
Medellin is home to some seriously amazing restaurants and they’re all reasonably priced. Head out for dinner in El Poblado and Laureles to discover a range of international and regional gastronomy delights. If you’re feeling a little adventurous try sampling the local cuisine. A great choice to begin with would have to be the Bandeja Paisa – a traditional dishes of meat, beans, rice, avocado and plantain. Take a pause between courses for a cheeky aguardiente, Colombia’s anise-flavored national liquor — beware, it burns! So make sure you order a chaser of iced water.
Where to stay:
Friends To Be – Modern mixed with retro, this new hostel could at first be mistaken for a chic hotel. Think exposed brick, matte black pendent lighting and distressed palette beds. Hipsters unite! A double room will cost you a mere $25 AUD per night including breakfast. With only a handful of rooms available, the sense of home here is undeniable.
Hotel Boutique Laurels’ – a boutique hotel set in the residential suburb of trendy Laurels’. If you’re looking to escape the chaos of Zona Rosa, yet still be in the vicinity of nightlife hotspots and delectable cafes, this is the accommodation for you. Walking distance to the city metro, numerous parks, organic coffee shops and the cities hottest salsa bar, it’s a great place to kick off your dancing shoes and rest your weary head.
Art Hotel – Think brick, exposed beams and concrete chic. This beautiful hotel focuses on a minimalist style with pops of bright colour, it’s elegant and rustic all at once.
Hotel Charlee – This highly acclaimed hotel boasts a geo-design structure, park views and a rocking rooftop bar.
*For the party goers there are many great alternate options including the Happy Buddha and Casa Kiwi.
Where to eat:
Naturalia Café – Rustic and trendy, serving organic and vegetarian wares. Pizza, salads, wine and craft beer – the perfect place for a quick, yet intimate dinner.
–Delirio Exquisito (Mexican) – Holy Guacamole, the servings are huge. And, that’s just an entree! A fancier affair, the service and food is impeccable. Tips for new players: the meals are very filling. Hold the dessert and opt for an after dinner ‘Kiwifruit’ margarita instead. Heck, have two! They’re THAT good.
El Cielo – This molecular gastronomy is one for the senses. With a fixed menu, you will experience more than 10 “moments,” each fusing local ingredients and indigenous flavours.
- For the best coffee head to – Pergamino & Cafe Revolucion – Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. You are in Colombia after all.
- For the best local cuisine head to Mondongo’s (and finish the night with an Aguardiente at the bar next door!)
- For the best brunch – You are spoilt for choice! A few favourites include: Cambira Cafe Resto, Café Dulcinea, Buenavida Cafe & Café Velvet. Great coffee, good atmosphere, gluten free & organic options are also available.
- For the best bar – Easily missed, Panorama is one of the city’s coolest night haunts. Settle in for the evening at the rooftop bar and order a classic gin and tonic, crafted table side with fresh herbs.
- For the best local bar – El Social is a local favourite. With an expansive outdoor bar, the vibe is fun and relaxed. Try the mixed-fruit mojitos, yum!
- For the best spa – The Diez Hotel has a beautiful mountain view spa complete with a steam room, sauna and a Jacuzzi. For full body relaxation book in for the “Secrets of The Amazon” treatment which includes a relaxation massage and body peel.
Feature images: medellinguru.com, booking.com