The city of Medellin can look back on big uprise since it was rated the most dangerous city in the world in the early 90s. Things changed a lot since those times and the conflicts between Guerilleros, paramilitary groups and the Narcos seem to be solved today. Also the shadow of Pablo Escobar is loosing its power over time and the city is a perfect example of successfully integration of different social groups and ethnicities. Nevertheless the city is still some issues to handle and has its dangerous areas, where being alone at night I cannot recommend. The climate in Medellin is very warm but no too hot, so that they call it also the city of eternal spring.
One quick recommendation regarding getting to the city: The bus from Bogota is scheduled for 8h ride, but the way through the mountains is so unpredictable that for example in my case had 4h delay. So be aware that this bus ride won’t probably run smooth and if you are under time pressure, I would suggest rather to Takte the plane (They are normale around 50$ to 20$ for the bus).
Other than other Colombian cities Medellin doesn’t have a Colonial center, so the buildings in the city center are more modern. The metro statio San Antonio is right in the center of the area and a god starting point of your exploration tour. But be warned: the city center is a dangerous place with lots of pickpockets etc. To explore the city I can highly recommend the free city tour from: realcitytours.com
The city also dedicated an entire place to the countries most famous artist: Fernando Botero. You can find in the entre area 23 bronze sculptures of the artist. On the lower side of the place you can find the museum of Antioquia and on the upper one the cultural palace.
Next to the so called metro station there is the actually park, which is a meeting point for musicians and the older generation of the town. It is quite crowded but gives you indeed a very authentically vibe of the city.
Centro Comercial Palacio National
The former palace of justice is now a big shopping center with a very amazing architecture.
The square of lights is a piece of modern art with over 300 enlightened pillars. Unfortunately I was there at the daytime but is was a nice view tough.
Parroquia de la Veracruz
This small church in the city center is the second oldest in town. Caution: the corner is not the safest as it is a hot spot for sex workers.
City and around
The blue metro line A a few stops to the north at the university you can find the botanic garden, the exporter park and the Planetarium of the city.
The Parque explore is an interactive museum area with lot of things to discover, which I want to lay down more in detail. Just be aware as it is a very interactive museum there will be a lot of kids around. And when I mean a lot, i mean hundreds.
On the 3rd floor you can find 4 rooms with dedicated topic driven exhibitions. When I was there it was on the human mind, the history of music, moving images and food. The entire exhibitions is super interactive and not like a normal gallery. You can try out every piece.
On the top of the 3rd floor in the outside area, there a models of dinosaurs placed.
Aquarium and Terrarium
My personal highlight was the aquarium area on the ground floor. The species shown where both form the oceanic and Amazonas part of Colombian. I let the pictures speak for itself…
Across the street of the Parque Explora there is the very famous botanic garden of Medellin. There is no entry fee at all, what makes this spot a ideal one to spent a relaxing afternoon in the nature. The area is not that big and you can easily walk it in 30min. There is also quite some wildlife to discover inside: on my visit i spotted iguanas, ducks, turtles, squirrels and dozens of different birds. You will also see a lot of locals chilling in the gras as it is the perfect place to escape the hectic city.
This district in the west of the city was once an illegal settlement and a very dangerous place where the ongoing conflict of Columbia was Vers present. But it is also an example of how things can shift in quite some short time. Today it is one of the cities tourists attractions and the locals are proud of showing you around in their neighborhood. The city is built onto a hill and is characterized by stiff stairs and hardly any formal roads. Also a unique feature are the escalators built by the government some years ago. From the very top you are going to have a nice round-view over the city. Pay also attention to the many great pieces of street art in the area mostly dealing with the history and die conflicts of the Comuna 13.
The Parque Arvi is a national resort just 15min ride with the cable car from the city away. To get there you need first to take the cable car link K until Santo Domingo and change there to line L which brings you directly to the park. The ride wit line L is not included in your metro ride and costs extra 12.500 COP per transport. The extra costs are definitely worth it cause in just 15 minutes you can find yourself in a pure nature experience. At the top there is a little food area and the starting point for further explorations. If you are not in your hiking shoes, it is also an option to walk on the asphalt roads that connect the main spots. Myself did a hike through the forest to the nearby lake. That was a nice rounders and lasted around 2h.
Guatapé is a small town in the Medellin area (Antioquia) an around a 2h drive from the city away. The town is very famous for its colorful houses and streets. The city center is not too big and it is an easy walk to explore all the streets. One street is very special with full of hanging umbrellas. Normally travel agencies offer day trips form Medellin its several activities & lunch. I booked mine with https://toursguatape.com/
Piedra del Penol
El Penol is a huge volcano stone monolith just next to Guatapé city. It is possible to climb the huge thing, but be prepared for 700 steps to the top. The top view is just amazing and gives you a extraordinary impression of the surrounding landscape with its canal like set of lakes. The water you see is all not there by natures desire, but rather because people build a huge dam for hydropower generation.