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Medellín , officially the Municipality of Medellín, is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the department of Antioquia. It is located in the Aburrá Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America. According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics, the city has an estimated population of 2.44 million as of 2014. With its surrounding area that includes nine other cities, the metropolitan area of Medellín is the second-largest urban agglomeration in Colombia in terms of population and economy, with more than 3.7 million people.
In 1616 the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Campuzano erected a small indigenous village ("poblado") known as "Saint Lawrence of Aburrá" (San Lorenzo de Aburrá), located in the present-day El Poblado commune. On 2 November 1675, the queen consortMariana of Austria founded the "Town of Our Lady of Candelaria of Medellín" (Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín) in the Aná region, which today corresponds to the center of the city (east-central zone) and first describes the region as "Medellín". In 1826, the city was named the capital of the Department of Antioquiaby the National Congress of the nascent Republic of Gran Colombia, comprised by present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. After Colombia won its independence from Spain, Medellín became the capital of the Federal State of Antioquia until 1888, with the proclamation of the Colombian Constitution of 1886. During the 19th century, Medellín was a dynamic commercial center, first exporting gold, then producing and exporting coffee.
As home of the now defunct Medellín Cartel, the city was once known as the most violent city in the world. However, its homicide rate has decreased by 95% and extreme poverty by 66%, thanks in part to a string of innovative mayors who laid out plans to integrate the poorest and most violent hillside neighborhoods into the city center in the valley below. Medellín is now considered safer than the US cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit and New Orleans, which appear in the CCSPJP's top 50 list.
At the beginning of the 21st century the city regained industrial dynamism, with the construction of the Medellín Metro commuter rail, liberalized development policies, improved security and improved education. Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have lauded the city as a pioneer of a post-Washington consensus "local development state" model of economic development. The city is promoted internationally as a tourist destination and is considered by the GaWC as "sufficient" to be a global city.
The Medellín Metropolitan Area produces 67% of the Department of Antioquia's GDP and 11% of the economy of Colombia. Medellín is important to the region for its universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals and nightlife.
In February 2013, the Urban Land Institute chose Medellín as the most innovative city in the world due to its recent advances in politics, education and social development. In the same year, Medellín was announced as the preferred corporate business destination in South America, and won the Verónica Rudge Urbanism Award conferred by Harvard University to the Urban Development Enterprise, mainly due to the North-Western Integral Development Project in the city. In September 2013, the United Nations ratified Colombia's petition to host UN-Habitat's 7th World Urban Forum in Medellín, from April 5–11, 2014.
The most recent survey on the global status of the Smart Cities by Indra Sistemas catalogs Medellín as one of the best cities to live in South America, sharing first place with Santiago de Chile, and alongside Barcelona and Lisbon in Europe. Medellín won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2016. The award seeks to recognize and celebrate efforts in furthering innovation in urban solutions and sustainable urban development.
|POPULATION :||• Municipality 2,441,123|
• Metro 3,731,447
|FOUNDED :||November 2, 1616|
|TIME ZONE :||UTC-05|
|AREA :||• Municipality 380.64 km2 (146.97 sq mi)|
• Metro 1,152 km2 (445 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||1,495 m (4,905 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||6°13′51″N 75°35′26″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||4|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+57 4|
|WEBSITE :||Official website|
Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia. It has over 2 million people and is the capital of the department of Antioquia. It's set in a valley running south to north and just a one-hour flight from Bogotá.
Medellín is a vast city built north to south in the Aburrá valley and surrounded on either side by majestic mountain ranges. The wealthier classes live in the well-protected hillside neighborhood of El Poblado, and the more traditional suburban neighborhoods, Laureles and Envigado. This is far removed from the action and commotion which are found in the city's center. There are the busy markets and a thriving street life that make up much of the city's charm. The city is home to a half-dozen universities, accounting for a vibrant cultural and nightlife scene fueled by thousands of young adults from all over the country. Medellín is also Colombia's largest industrial center, and home to factories making everything from designer clothing to Toyota SUVs. The city's northern hills are flooded with rural refugees from the ongoing civil war and their ingenuity in making a living is impressive. People sell anything from crayons to guinea pigs to garden earth in the bars in order to make a living.
As a relatively new city, the architecture has a decidedly modernist appeal, which goes hand in hand with the progressiveness of its residents. Medellín also has the first (and only) Metro system in Colombia. For international travelers, Medellín is perhaps most famous for the Botero Museum, whose namesake is arguably the most famous modern artist alive today. It is also known for its perfect climate with its nickname "city of the eternal spring".
Medellín is surrounded by 8 smaller towns and together they form the Area Metropolitana with almost 3.5 million people. These other towns are: Bello, Itaguí, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Caldas, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. The neighboring town of Envigado does not belong to this administrative association even though it is closer than many of the mentioned above. Medellín is a true conglomerate of towns and you will find it difficult to tell the borders between these municipalities. Located east of Medellín is the valley of Rionegro which is larger and higher in the mountains. This area holds some of the most important factories, recreational grounds and suburbs of the city, as well as the International Airport.
Spanish discovery of the valley
In August 1541, Marshal Jorge Robledo was in the place known today as Heliconia when he saw in the distance what he thought was a valley. He sent Jerónimo Luis Tejelo to explore the territory, and during the night of August 23 Tejelo reached the plain of what is now Aburrá Valley. The Spaniards gave it the name of "Valley of Saint Bartholomew", but this was soon changed for the native name Aburrá, meaning "Painters", due to the textile decorations of the natives.
In 1574, Gaspar de Rodas asked the Antioquia'sCabildo for 10 square kilometers (4 sq mi) of land to establish herds and a ranch in the valley. The Cabildo granted him 8 square kilometers (3 sq mi) of land.
In 1616, the colonial visitor Francisco de Herrera y Campuzano founded a settlement with 80 Amerindians, naming it "Poblado de San Lorenzo," today "El Poblado Square". In 1646 a colonial law ordered the separation of Amerindians from mestizos and mulattos, so the colonial administration began the construction of a new town in Aná, today Berrío Park, where the church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Aná ("Our Lady of Candelaria of Aná") was built. Three years later, the Spaniards started the construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, which was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century.
Growth of the town
After 1574, with Gaspar de Rodas settled in the valley, population started to grow. According to the church records of the San Lorenzo Church, six couples married between 1646 and 1650, and 41 between 1671 and 1675.Gold mines were developed northeast of Antioquia, thus they needed food supply from nearby agriculture. The Aburrá Valley was in a strategic position between the gold mines and the first provincial capital of Antioquia, Santa Fe de Antioquia.
The provincial capital, Santa Fe, started to lose importance and gradually became poor, as trade and prominent personalities of the region came to the Aburrá Valley, where rich families started to buy land. Soon, the first settlers asked for the creation of a Cabildo (council) in the valley, thus getting a separate government from Santa Fe. The Santa Fe government fought this, but Mariana of Austria signed the edict creating the Cabildo on November 22, 1674. The governor Miguel de Aguinaga proclaimed the royal edict on 2 November 1675. The new city was given the title of Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria It is the second largest city in Colombia .
During the Spanish colonial period
Before the creation of the town, the inhabitants were scattered throughout the valley, with only a few families concentrated at the confluence of the Aná (today called the Santa Elena) and the Medellín rivers; others lived in El Poblado San Lorenzo. After the royal edict, the settlers chose the Aná site as the heart of the future city, with the Candelaria Church at its center.
Their first buildings were simple, with thatched roofs. The houses of the most important people were two stories tall, and the church and the Cabildo were unimpressive. It was only during the 18th century that the church was improved. Only one story, the Cabildo was located at the western part of the plaza. It had a thatched roof until 1742, when tiles were put on. In 1682, traders and foreigners started the construction of the Veracruz Hermitage, which was consecrated as a church by the Bishop of Popayán in 1712.
In 1675, the first census during colonial times was taken: there were 3,000 people and 280 families. Another census was not taken until the colonial Visitador (royal inspector) Antonio Mon y Velarde ordered one between 1786 and 1787: there were then 14,507 people and 241 families. In 1808, two years before Colombia won independence, the city had 15,347 people and 360 families.
In 1803, the Royal College of the Franciscans was founded in the Central Plaza, which is Berrío Park today, with the initial departments of Grammar, Philosophy and Theology. Soon after, the college moved to a new building in the small San Ignacio square. In 1821 it was renamed Colegio de Antioquia, and it became the University of Antioquia in 1901. The University also had the first vocational training school, the first cultural radio station in Latin America, and the first regional botanical garden.
In the first half of the twentieth century, the population of Medellín increased sixfold, from 59,815 inhabitants in 1905 to 358,189 in 1951. The Thousand Days War (1899–1902) stopped the industrial development of the city, although the civil war did not affect the region directly. Under reforms by President Rafael Reyes after the conflict, the city continued its industrial development and founded a Chamber of commerce. The Chamber developed a regional transport project that connected Medellín to other Colombian regions and other nations.
Despite the importance of gold production in the early development of Medellín, the export of coffee contributed the most impetus in the 20th century for the city's growth. Trade grew to international dimensions as the main export of Colombia became coffee. The industrial and commercial dynamism of Medellín also created a caste of traders and entrepreneurs, who founded the first nationwide industries in Colombia.
Growth in second half of 20th century
Colombia entered a new era of political instability with the murder of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in Bogotá in 1948. Political violence spread in the rural areas of Colombia, and farmers fled to the cities. The Valley slopes became overpopulated with slums.
As the population of Medellín grew quickly during the 1950s, industrialists, traders and local government created the "Medellín Master Plan" (MMP) (Plan Piloto), a plan for the expansion of the city into the Aburrá Valley that would lead to the creation of the first metropolitan area in Colombia. Paul Lester Wiener and José Luis Sert were the architects who led the project. Among the main features of the MMP were the canalization of the Medellín River, the control of new settlements on valley slopes, the creation of an industrial zone in the Guayabal District, the planning of the city to be in harmony with the river, the construction of a city stadium, and an administrative center in La Alpujarra.
In 1951 the city had 358,189 inhabitants, but 22 years later, in 1973, the population had tripled to 1,071,252. The population explosion had several consequences for the MMP. The urban limits of the city grew to areas that were not contemplated in the MMP, so that Medellín now reached the urban areas of other cities of the Aburrá Valley, like Envigado, Bello and Itagüí; the new Medellín settlers were poor families without enough credit to buy their own homes, so several neighborhoods were built beyond the MMP; several old downtown buildings were demolished to construct tall towers, offices, and avenues. The beautiful and traditional Junin Theatre along the Santa Elena was demolished to build the Coltejer Tower. The huge migration into Medellín provided workers for the expansion of textile factories, being modernized in this period, but it also created new problems for the city: higher unemployment, lack of services for poor areas, urban violence in several districts, and collapse of any hope of a transport system.
The position of Medellín as the second industrial city in Colombia has been a main factor in overcoming its crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Metro, a massive urban transport service, became the pride of the city, and so far the only sign of the Medellín Master Plan of the 1950s. The construction of the Plaza Mayor of Medellín, an international center for congresses and expositions, was designed to showcase the globalized economy of Colombia to the world.
Social exclusion has eased due to the development of a transport infrastructure; the Metro, a new system of public buses, is being planned with the so-called "Metroplus", already inaugurated, and a network of chair-lifts in the poorest barrio communities called the "MetroCable". Additionally, an electric escalator 1,260 feet long was inaugurated in Comuna 13, one of Medellín's poorest neighborhoods, on December 26, 2011, making it the first and only one of its kind in the world. Today's Medellín includes spaces for art, poetry, drama, the construction of public libraries, the foundation of new ecological parks, and the inclusion of people of the city in its development.
The city administration has pursued policies that have been lauded by researchers at the Overseas Development Institute as helping pioneer a post-Washington consensus 'local development state' model of economic development.
In 2012, Medellín was among 200 cities around the world, including New York and Tel Aviv, nominated for Most Innovative City of the Year due to a great advancement in public transportation, with more than 500,000 residents and visitors using its Metro train system each day; a public bike-share program; new facilities and landmarks, including the España Library and a cultural center in Moravia; a large outdoor escalator the size of a 28-story building, enabling residents of the city’s elevated Comuna 13 neighborhood to safely ride down the steep hillside; and a Metro system which reduces Medellín’s CO2 emissions by 175,000 tons each year. Medellín has the biggest research-dedicated building in Colombia called University Research Building (Spanish: Sede de Investigación Universitaria -SIU-) a facility that concentrates the top research groups of the University of Antioquia.
The weather in Medellín is quite mild it well deserves its common motto of 'City of eternal spring'. Average daily temperatures are 22°C (71°F), range from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (60º-85°F). Humidity is comfortable in the 50%-70% range. Due to its proximity with the equator there is little variation with the seasons. Due to the high altitude and moderate overcast skies Medellín stays cool, with an occasional couple hours of strong sun light.
As Medellín is located in a tropical country, the absence of air conditioners in Medellín often takes foreign visitors by surprise. Air conditioning is used in downtown areas. Fresh air comes from the mountains surrounding Medellín on all sides, and provides Medellín with the perfect climate. At night time the temperature is usually in the 10-15°C (50-60°F) range, and depends mostly on if its raining or not. The majority of restaurants are in open air environment, without walls, because of the perfect climate.
Climate data for Medellin
|Record high °C (°F)||33.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||27.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||22.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||17.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||9.5|
|Source: Instituto de Hidrologia Meteorologia y Estudios Ambientales|
As a municipality, Medellín has an area of 382 km2 (147 sq mi). It has 16 comunas (districts), 5 corregimientos (townships), and 271 barrios. The metropolitan area of Medellín lies within the Aburrá valley at an elevation of 1,500 meters (about 4921 feet) and is bisected by the Medellín River (also called Porce), which flows northward. North of the valley are the towns of Bello, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. To the south of the valley lie Itagüí,Envigado, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas.
Medellín is one of Colombia's economic centers. Its economy is led by a powerful group of people from the private sector known as the Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (Antioquian Enterprises Group). The group was formerly known as theSindicato Antioqueño (Antioquian Union) but after being mistaken abroad for a labor union, which hampered its international growth for many years, a new formal name was chosen. It is represented by David Bojanini, head of Grupo Suramericana, a, Banking, Asset Management and Insurance conglomerate); Carlos Ignacio Gallego of Grupo Nutresa (food industry); José Alberto Velez of Cementos Argos (a multinational cement company); and Carlos Raúl Yepes, head of Bancolombia. This group has an aggregate market capitalization of approximately US $17 billion and employs more than 80,000 Colombians.
This group also participates in other sectors of the city industry and is an active trader in the Colombian stock exchange. Medellín serves as headquarters for many national and multinational companies.
Medellín's main economic products are steel, textiles, confections, food and beverage, agriculture (from its rural area), public services, chemical products, pharmaceuticals, refined oil, and flowers. Fashion is a major part of the economy and culture of the city. Medellín hosts Latin America's biggest fashion show,Colombiamoda.
Aerolínea de Antioquia has its headquarters on the grounds of Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín. West Caribbean Airways had its headquarters on the grounds of Olaya Herrera Airport. ACES Colombia was headquartered in the city. VivaColombia, the only low-cost Colombian airline, has its hub at Rionegro's Airport. Fresita is an ice cream and paleta maker in the city.
The city belongs to the Medellín Metropolitan Area, which is made up of ten municipalities. Medellín is divided into six zones and these are subdivided into 16 communes. The neighborhoods and urban institutional areas make up the communes. More than 249 neighborhoods and five townships are part of the municipality of Medellín.
- South-eastern: El Poblado communes.
- South-western: Guayabal and Belén communes.
- West-central: Laureles, La América and San Javier communes.
- East-central: La Candelaria, Villa Hermosa and Buenos Aires communes.
- North-western: Castilla, Doce de Octubre and Robledo communes.
- North-eastern: Aranjuez, Manrique, Popular and Santa Cruz communes.
- Corregimientos (townships): San Sebastián de Palmitas, San Cristóbal, Altavista, San Antonio de Prado and Santa Elena.
- International country codes: Colombia 57, City code Medellín 4. When calling a mobile from outside Colombia dial 57-3 (I.E.+57 311 xxx xx xx don't double the 3).
- To make an international call from Colombia, dial the access code 005 (Orbitel), 007 (ETB) or 009 (Movistar), followed by the country code, area code and party's number.
- Many local phones are blocked for direct international calling, but calling through an operator will work many phones: Call 159 for the operator.
- For all local phone calls you have to dial only 7 digits.
- When calling from a local phone into a cell phone you have to dial '03' then the 10 digit mobile number.
- When calling from a Mobile to a local phone: dial 03 + (city code) + 7 digit phone number.
- Emergencies dial 123
Mobile services: There are several mobile phone companies in Colombia (Claro, Movistar, TIGO, Uff!, UNE, ETB and Avantel). Calling mobile phones is more expensive than calling local numbers but not prohibitive. In crowded places is common to find people selling 'minutes' to make calls from their cell phones, usual range of prices from COP 100 to 200 per minute for domestic calls. All mobile numbers have 10 digits (The digit 3 is always first).
There are many internet cafes throughout the city. The appendix for Colombian web addresses is .co
Regular mail in Colombia is quite dismal [www] as you can not attach the stamps yourself and always have to go to a post office. There are very few offices in each city, usually downtown. With this background, private mail couriers have flourished with better service and more offices. There are close to 10 different companies, among the most popular are Coordinadora and TCC. Both have agreements with international delivery services and cover the world over.
There are 4 daily newspapers in town:
- El Colombiano is the second largest paper in the country with somewhat conservative views. Interestedly it has a few vignettes with the most important news in English - look for 'Antioquia Bilingue '.
- El Mundo has a liberal point of view. [www]
- The small format news outlets Q'hubo and ADN are easily available.
For the country Colombia Reports is a good source of news in English. [www]
A good monthly paper about life downtown, with long articles (sorry, only for masters of the Spanish language), is Universo Centro. [www]
- Paisa Estereo is an online radio station streaming to more than 174 countries from Medellín
Prices in Medellin
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$0.78|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$8.60|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$15.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$30.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.10|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$1.70|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$0.90|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$4.30|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$4.20|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.07|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$1.55|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.80|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$57.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$80.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.65|
34 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
95 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Medellín is served by José María Córdova International Airport (IATA:MDE) [www], located in the nearby city of Rionegro. International non-stop flights are available from Caracas, Lima,Panamá, Quito, Curaçao, San José (Costa Rica), Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City and Madrid with easy connections to Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paulo, Rio and other places.
Airlines serving this airport are: American Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines,LAN, Spirit Airlines, Insel Air,Satena. VivaColombia a new low-cost airline with a hub at this airport, started operations on May 2012.
Domestic flights have frequent service to Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, San Andrés Islas, Santa Marta and Pereira. There are taxis that can take you down to the city. As of September 2015, a taxi from Rionegro's International Airport to the city is a set price to Medellin at 60,000 COP, taking around 45 minutes.
Combuses run buses (9000 COP, one hour) to downtown Medellín dropping you behind the Nutibara hotel, near the Parque Barrio metro station. Taking the bus/metro/walking combination from the airport may seem attractive from a price point, however depending on where you are going in the city, it can be up to 2 hours to your destination, in addition to having to buy another metro or bus ticket. Parties of 2 or more can easily just get a cab instead for not much more expensive.
There is a small local airport Olaya Herrera (IATA: EOH) [www] close to downtown and it is very convenient for regional and domestic travel, with non-stop flights to 23 destinations. Airlines: LAN (Merged with Aires), Aerolínea de Antioquia -ADA-, Satena, EasyFly. Also charter flights from Searca.
Medellín has two bus terminals (North and South) managed by the same company and share a single website [www]. Both terminals have mid-size shopping malls in the premises. For a complete list of the cities check the webpage.
- The North terminal is much larger and it is connected with Metro station Caribe and the rail system (Although passenger rail transport in Colombia is quite limited). It serves cities North and East of Medellín (Cartagena, Santa Marta and Bogotá included).
- Bogotá: 9h30 - 55-60.000 COP with Bolivariano, Arauca and Magdalena (March 2016)
- Guatape: 2h - 12-13.000 COP with Sotrasanvicente and Sotrapeñol (March 2016)
- The South terminal is next door to the much smaller domestic airport (closestMetro station El Poblado but not within walking distance). Serves towns South (Manizales, Pereira, Cali).
There are four roads leading to Medellín from all cardinal points. From Bogota you can take Autopista Medellín and head west 7–9 hours with beautiful scenery. From Pereira, Cali and the south take road 25 towards Medellín. If coming from the Atlantic coast (Cartagena, Barranquillia) take route 25 south to Medellín (approx. 11 hours). Of note, there is no road connecting Panamá with Colombia.
- Trains are scarce and unreliable in Colombia. It is not possible to arrive in Medellín by boat.
Transportation - Get Around
Most of the city of Medellín is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr, Cra, K, kra or Crs and run parallel to the river from South to North. The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll or Cl. Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida el Poblado or Avenida Oriental. There are a few streets calledTransversales which usually refer to wide Carreras atop the mountains in El Poblado neighborhood. The most famous are transversal Intermedia, Inferior and Superior. Along Laureles neighborhood you can also find Diagonales andCirculares.
Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 50 # 65 - 8 which indicates that the building is on street 50 (Calle 50) 8 meters ahead from the intersection with street 65 (Carrera 65). The most central point, Parque de Berrio, is located by convention on the crossroads of Calle 50 and Carrera 50.
Metro and Metroplus
Timetables : Monday through Saturday from 4:30AM to 11PM Sundays and holidays from 5AM to 10PM
Frequency Peak hours: trains every 5 min, non-peak every 7 min.
Fare : single ride 2,150 COP as of Jan 2016 (includes Metrocable transfers) The new touristic Metrocable line L costs 4,850 COP, from 9AM to 6PM
Traveling trough the city is easy and quick, with the Metro system, you can go to anywhere in the city with The Metroplús (Bus extension to the Metro) and the Metrocable, a sky train or cable car that has revolutionized transport in the city. The 'southern extension' of the metro to Sabaneta opens August 2012, while the station to the town of La Estrella is under construction. The new project will add 2 km of lines to the system. Trains run from 5.00h to 23.00h on workdays and from 7.00h to 22.00h on Sundays and holidays. Single tickets are 2,150 COP, transfers between the Metro trains, cables and buses (Metroplus Line 1) are free. The Metrocable to the ecopark Arví - Line L - opened 2010 with a fare of 4,850 COP for the 4.5 km trip up the mountains. Transfer is available at the Santo Domingo station of the Metrocable Kline.
The Metroplus system opened on December 2011 with 32 stations. Consists of long articulated buses powered with natural gas for a more environmentally friendly option. They run on exclusive roads and enclosed stations. Only the station Hospital offers transfer to the Metro.
See the transit map where the Metroplus is the thin green line Bus linea 1 [www].
Taxis and Buses
Taxis are cheap and plentiful. All taxis have meters, make sure they use them. Minimal fee costs about 4.600 COP. Taxis should always be called by phone for safety reasons and not be hailed on the street. As in most Latin American countries, their driving can be harrowing, so hold on tight.
There is also the TuriBus, a modern bus that goes around the city showing its parks, attractive neighborhoods, and historical parts; it only costs 15,000 COP. While they do not guarantee this, many times their guides also speak English and are happy to translate for you.
If you want to go around downtown or neighborhoods near the downtown area without using Taxis, try using the Circular Coonatra. There are various routes, marked on the front and back of the busses. These cost about 1400 COP and require exact change.
This unusual system allows underserved indwellers to climb up the mountains in the way to their homes, the escalators go up equivalent of a 28-story building. Opened in December 2011, rides are free [www]. They are located in the west of the city - San Javier area - which can be a rough neighborhood. It is not in walking distance of the San Javier metro station, which is the nearest. Similar examples were only for tourist purposes, they are found in Bilbao near Portugalete, in the way down to the Vizcaya Bridge, and Monjuic Hill in Barcelona, Spain.
Renting a car in Medellín, Colombia can enhance your visit, so it´s definitely worth considering. Take a day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Helena, El Peñol or Llano Grande in Rionegro. Driving from Medellín allows for spectacular views as you climb up and out of the city into the surrounding mountains that lead to your day trip destination. Car rental in town or at the airport [www].
Scooter or motorbike rentals
Since the steep hills of Medellín stops many tourists from biking, an appealing alternative is to rent a scooter or motorbike/motorcycle. But as of April 2016 only two companies are renting out to tourists. If staying in the El Poblado have a look at Medellín Scooter Rentals (Cra. 38 #1040, Medellín).
Biking is not easy in the city since many neighborhoods are in the hills. There is a small bike-route in the Laureles and Estadio areas. There are few areas designed to park bikes. On nights and weekends some major avenues are closed for the popular Ciclovia when you can safely ride a bike in the company of many other people exercising.
Walking is safe in some areas, not so in other parts of town. Read the 'stay safe' section for advise.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
Colombia is famous for its coffee and Medellín is only a few hours from the coffee growing centers of Colombia. You can find coffee flavors of everything you can imagine, from ice-cream to arequipe (sweetened milk). The ‘Starbucks’ coffee culture is growing, with the most prominent brand being Juan Valdez coffee shops. The Juan Valdez chain is owned by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, and sells a variety of Colombian coffees.
Aguardiente Antioqueño: Schnaps with a special flavor, much like black licorice.
Ron Medellín: The local Rum, excellent! The quality of this rum was elevated to the highest standards during 2009 and the 8 and 12-year bottles are great presents.
Despite the claim of being the textile capital of Colombia, Medellín is not a shopper’s paradise for clothes for North American tourists, but prices can be attractive to visitors from other latitudes. The main malls sell a limited variety of clothes, (especially men’s clothes), at only slightly discounted prices from the US, although there are always bargains to be found if you look hard enough. The style of clothes for women in Medellín is very revealing and sexy, so it perhaps more suited for gift buying than shopping for yourself. When planning your shopping for clothes bear in mind that the local weather is very mild, so the options for winter and summer clothes are limited. Near Parque Lleras you can find via Primavera, a little zone full of local young designer's shops with unique garments that you will surely won't see anywhere else.
- On the first Saturday of the month there is the Mercado de San Alejo, an open market right on Parque de Bolívar, hours: 8AM a 6PM A large variety of local handcrafts sold primarily by the artisans themselves. Right in the middle of Parque Lleras from Thursday to Sunday you may as well find some handcraft being sold.
- Centro Artesanal mi viejo Pueblo. Cr 49 # 53-30. Phone +57 4 513 7563
- El Tesoro Parque Comercial, Cra. 25A # 1A Sur - 45 / Loma El Tesoro con Transversal Superior (Access only by taxi or private car), . 9AM-11PM. A large shopping mall located in an unusual location: in very steep mountain overriding a creek. Many upscale stores, technology shops and good restaurants. El Tesoro is bilingual; they have an Information Center where tourists can get any information in English, every day from 14:00 to 21:30. Furthermore, it is possible to access this service calling 321 10 10 ext 111-112. And just for tourists to go shopping without any problem, the mall made a brochure with all the terms and expressions they need, in English and Spanish. Ask for it at the information desks.
- Oviedo centro comercial, Av El Poblado Cr 43 A # 6 S 15, . Large shopping area with nearby hotels and restaurants.
- San Diego centro comercial, Calle 33 No 43 16 (at the crossroad of Las Palmas, Avenida Oriental, Avenida San Diego and calle 33), . The first shopping mall built in Colombia over 30 years ago is still a nice place to stroll, eat and of course shop. You will find good prices for top notch merchandise.
- Outlet Mayorca is directly connected to a Metro station and also has a movieplex. [www]. Metro Itagui.
- Premium Plaza (Centro comercial), Carrera 43 A 30 - 25, , e-mail: [email protected]. 10AM a 10PM. Premium Plaza has more than 115,000 square meters, with 1,427 cells free parking, over 350 shops to choose from entertainment, shopping, large financial services five banks, cinemas in 35mm and 3D formats, gym, amusement park, two squares of meals, the largest casino in the city and synthetic soccer courts.
- Monterrey (Centro comercial), Avenida 62 (Carrera 48) x Calle 10. Only 2 blocks from Poblado metro station. This mall is the place to go for anything computer or cell phone related. Many small shops selling all manner of electronic equipment and accessories. There is also a 5-screen movie theatre in this mall as well as a salon offering excellent massages (store #126).
- Santa Fe centro comercial, Cra 43 A # 7 sur - 170 (Av El Poblado & Loma los Balsos, 300 mts south of Oviedo), , e-mail: [email protected]. 10AM - 9PM, restaurants and Jumbo until 11PM. The newest shopping mall in town opened May 2010, 5 levels of shopping, entertainment, food and more $$.
- For leather goods for women visit Bon-Bonite with 10 locations in town. Features many handbags in leather and ethnic materials, as well as shoes and accessories. [www]. Available In most shopping malls.
The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP). Bank notes come in denominations from 1,000 to 50,000 pesos. Coins are available in 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos, starting in 2012 the circulation of a new edition of coins paying homage to endangered wildlife species [www] (former set of coins is intended to circulate alongside the new one for a limited time, after which it will cease to be accepted). It is strongly recommended to use the exact change on taxis, because the drivers rarely have the exact amount. US dollars and Euros are rarely used, except for tourist oriented stores.
Using Credit and Debit Cards is frequent in Colombia but not prevalent as in developed countries.
ATM limits: ATMs strictly limit withdrawals on foreign and domestic cards. You may only be able to get out 1,2 million pesos per day, so plan to visit the ATM often or hunt around for a more relaxed limit. There are 5 major international banks with local offices, if by chance you hold a card of any of these banks your rates are usually lower (Citibank, HSBC, RBS, Santander and BBVA). The largest Colombian bank is Bancolombia with ATM's everywhere.
When withdrawing money from an ATM it is highly advisable to avoid any located on streets for safety purposes. It is recommended to withdraw from ATMs inside shopping centers. Be sure not to take a taxi straight after withdrawing, it is not unusual for people to be followed out and mugged soon after making a withdrawal. Keep an eye out to be sure you are not followed. If you plan to withdraw a significant amount of money, it is recommended to ask the police to escort you (at no cost).
Colombian cuisine is varied and regional. The more typical dishes are referred to as comida criolla.
Some examples are: sancocho de gallina (chicken soup), carne en polvo (ground beef), arepas de choclo (fresh corn tortillas), empanadas (meat-filled fried turnovers), ají (hot sauce), ajiaco (Bogota's chicken and potato soup), bandeja paisa, natilla, buñuelos (fried cheese puffs), hojuelas (fried puff squares), rice with coconut, Antioquian beans, sobrebarriga (flank steak) mantecada (bun made with lard), papas chorreadas, pandeyuca (yucca bread) and carne desmechada (shredded meat).
A typical breakfast in Medellín consists of baked corn arepas (Flat unsweetened corn pancake) topped with butter and fresh white cheese, coffee or hot chocolate.
One treat that will leave anyone stuffed is the "Tipico Antioqueño"; arepa con queso (small flatbreads with cheese on top), beans, chicken, rice, fried eggs, chicharron (salted and fried unsmoked bacon) and patacon (deep-fried plantain pancakes). Topping that off with a Colombian beer and a cup of "chocolatte" (pronounced the Spanish way - it's milky, sweet hot chocolate) makes for an excellent meal. An excellent place to eat typical food is Hatoviejo.
There is a large variety of restaurants all throughout Medellín, especially concentrated around the ‘Zona Rosa’ which is in Poblado between Parque Poblado and Parque Lleras. You can find a fine display of places with whatever food you desire, with good quality for comparatively cheap prices compared to the US, although there is a shortage of authentic Greek, Indian and Thai restaurants. Sushi is increasingly popular and may be found at the larger malls or supermarkets that are more "international."
Colombia also has an incredible variety of tasty fruits. A few of these are: guanábana, lulo, zapote, mamoncillo, uchuva, feijoa, granadilla, maracuyá, tomate de árbol, borojó, mamey and tamarindo. Ask for a "Salpicón": a mix of fruits marinaded on orange or watermelon juice.
Colombia is well known for its coffee, and Medellín is no exception. As with any large city, there are the usual chain restaurants, however the American "fast-food culture" has not made a huge splash in the country. Mc Donald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza and most recently Hooters can be found there.
- HatoViejo (Local dishes), Calle 16 #28 - 60 Via Las Palmas (Across the street from Hotel Intercontinental), . Great food for the last 30 years. Mostly meat, regional dishes. Decorated as an old farm. Also outdoor areas $$$.
- Las Luisitas (Typical & Local), Carrera 37A No. 8A-50, +57 4 311 5615 and 312 6064. Simple and well done Colombian meals in this tiny place with lots of character. Prices used to be modest, now expensive. $$$.
- La Provincia (Seafood & Italian), Calle 4 sur # 43 A - 179 (Near Oviedo shopping mall), . Mon-Sat Noon-3PM, 7PM - midnight. Really good food, well prepared and well served. Closed Sundays. $$$.
- San Jorge de Manila (Grill & Seafood), Carrera 43 B # 12 - 101 (Calle de la Buena Mesa, near El Poblado), . Mon-Sat noon-3PM, 7PM-Midnight. Lunch menu available at discounted price. Closed Sundays. $$$.
- Al Patio (Mexican - Seafood), Carrera 38 # 19 - 2- 65 (Carretera Las Palmas), . Noon to 4AM. Restaurant and Bar. Overlooks town, great outdoors. $$.
- Herbario (Steak & Seafood), Carrera 43 D # 10 -30 (Near el parque El Poblado), . Mon-Sat Noon-3PM, 7PM-11:30PM. Short and Exquisite menu. $$$.
- Mystique (By Juan Pablo Valencia), Cra. 33 # 7 - 55 (El Poblado - Provenza, not far from Parque Lleras), . , (Mobile)Nicely prepared meals with option of 1 to 4 dishes in the Chef's Menu. Nouvelle Cuisine at its best. A short menu with the options changing every 2 months. $$$.
- Casa Molina (Eclectic cuisine), Calle 11a # 43b- 41 (Barrio Manila, El Poblado), . By appointment only. Seafood and steaks. $$$.
- Bijao (Latin food), Cra. 37 A # 8-66 (Parque Lleras, El Poblado), . Noon-2:30PM, 7-11PM. Closed Sundays. $$$.
- LouCalen (Seafood & Steak), Calle 8 # 43 A 57 (One block south of Parque el Poblado), . Spacious and elegant. $$$.
- El Cielo (Molecular cuisine), Cra 40 No. 10A - 22 (El Poblado), . Noon- 3PM, de 7-11PM. Molecular cooking is a complex science, here you can sit down and enjoy it. Ignorance is bliss. $$$.
- Anita's (Cafe), Calle 4 sur No. 43-A 97 (Near Oviedo shopping mall and McDonald's), . Bfast-Lunch. Modern cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. Eggs any style, bacon or French toast. Sandwiches (ciabatta or baguette), salads (Caesar, tuna, Thai or Italian) as well as delicious coffee and fruit juices. $$.
- Milagros (Mexican), Cra. 48 # 10 - 45 local 149 (Near Hotel Plaza Rosa), . Authentic Mexican food. Basic wine list. $$.
- La Fiambrería (Seasonal and Harvest), Cra 43 B # 8-52 (Parque el poblado, Southwest corner), . Lunch and Dinner. Nice lunch menu for under 10,000 COP. Try the meat in a Bailey's sauce. $$.
- Bonuar (At the Museo de Arte Moderno), Carrera 44 Nº 19A-100 (Ciudad del Rio, on the side of the Museum). Great outdoors. Easy free parking $$.
- Lion's Den Sports Pub (American), Car. 36 No. 10-49 (Three blocks from Parque Lleras. Go up Calle 10 and turn left on Car. 36, we are 5 buildings down on the left), , e-mail: [email protected]. 5PM - midnight nightly. Watch NFL, college football, NBA, baseball, soccer and more international sports. Please call to see if we can get your game. Menu : Black bean nachos, chicken wings, burgers and sandwiches (grilled chicken, tuna salad, etc). Multiple plasma/LCD/wide screen TVs. $$.
- Verdeo (vegetarian), Carrera 35 # 8a-3, , e-mail: [email protected]. Lunch. Bakery. Salad bar. Cooking classes. $$.
- El Café de Otraparte ((in Envigado)), Calle 27 Sur, 43A - 61, Envigado (adjacent to Casa Museo Otraparte, in Ave. El Poblado), . 3PM - Midnight. Next door to the museum. Open-air and open-minded café. $$.
Laureles, Suramericana, Estadio
- Vitto's (Trattoria Italiana), Calle 33 # 74 B - 310 (Ave. 33, 300 mts up from Bulerias Circle), . Well done Italian food, home-made pasta. Great sauces. $$.
- Zen Wei (Taiwanese), Calle 33 # 74B-240 (near Bulearias circle), . Vegetarian buffet for lunch $.
- Fenicia (Middle Eastern cuisine), Cra. 73 # circular 2 - 41 (Ave Jardin, Laureles), . M-F noon to 8:30PM, Sundays/Holidays Noon-4PM. Mainly Lebanese dishes in this unpretentious restaurant. Good food. $$.
- Hari Om (vegetarian), Carrera 66 B, Diagonal 4-7, . Some vegetarian Indian dishes. $.
- Salud Pan, Circular 4 # 70-78 (not far from Mondogo's), . Bakery, vegetarian, seeds, nuts, also gluten free food $$.
- El Arbol de la Vida (vegetarian), Carrera 64 C # 48-188, . Well served vegan dishes, low in salt - hey, the use of salt shaker is free -
- Versalles, Carrera 49 # 53-39 (Metrostations Parque Berrio or Prado), . Restaurant along carrera Junin downtown has basic Argentinean fare at reasonable prices.
- Moli (Vegetarian), Calle 54 # 47 - 105, local 132 (Centro comercial El Parque), . Downtown location.
- In situ restaurante (Jardín Botánico), Calle 73 # 51 D-14 (Metro Universidad), , e-mail: [email protected]. Reservations recommended. Nice restaurant located in the middle of the Botanical Gardens. The menu offers a combination of local food, some organic choices and all plates are well presented. Outside the restaurant there is a little garden with herbs and aromatic plants. $.
- Restaurante Vegetariano, Carrera 51 D # 67-30, . Daily menu, burgers.
- Agua Clara (Typical), Carrera 49 No. 52-141, 2nd floor (Metro station Parque Berrio), . lunch. Regional food. $.
- Lenteja Espress (vegetarian), Calle 53 # 42-17, . Vegetarian burgers (Chickpeas and lentils), Mexican vegan, lasagnas. Also features a Poblado location at Carrera 35 # 8A-75 $.
Oriente - Eastern Suburbs
Multiple locations & Online - Delivery
- J y C Delicias offers typical arepas with a variety of toppings, good for lunch or dinner. A few locations: in Laureles neighborhood Carrera 76 # 33 A-62, phone +57 4 250 4861. In El Poblado Calle 4 Sur # 43 A-8, phone +57 4 312 6656, AND El Tesoro Shopping mall. $$.
- Mondongo's, Carrera 70 # circular 3 - 43 (Right hand side on avenida 70, 3 blocks from Universidad Bolivariana), . A famous and traditional local restaurant with tow locations in town, and one additional in Miami for the homesick. Offers a local soup made up with tripe. If not adventurous you can go for regular beans and other delicacies. Additional location in El Poblado Calle 10 # 38 -38, phone +57 4 312 2346. $$.
- El Astor (Dessert house), Junín: Carrera 49 # 52-84 (1 block away from Edificio Coltejer), . 9AM - 7PM. Traditional cakes, pastries and desserts. Tea house. Metrostation Parque Berrio. $$.
- Pasteleria Santa Elena, Parque el Poblado (Carrera 43 # 8 - 36), . Great desserts, pastries and the locally famous 'Pastel de Gloria' filled with guava paste and arequipe.
Also downtown at Ave. La Playa Carrera 45 # 50-64. Many locations throughout town.
- Food and Deliveries (Online only - Deliveries only), Virtual, . 11AM- 9PM. Meat, fish, soups, rices. Nice trays, still hot when the meal arrives to your home/hotel. You can also order via Microsoft Messenger. $$.
Sights & Landmarks
- Pueblito Paisa is a reconstruction of a typical but tiny Antioquia village. It's located on top of el Cerro Nutibara and has a pleasant view over the city. It's within walking distance from the metrostation "Industriales," but as the walk to the top requires hiking uphill for a while, visitors might find that a taxi ride is a smart choice.
- Los Alumbrados, the Christmas lights decorating Medellín, make it the most beautiful Latin American city for the holidays. The lights stay put from the beginning of December to mid January. The most impressive parts are centered around the Rio Medellín at the 'puente de Guayaquil' and downtown. Large statues made of lights can be found throughout the city.
- The Metropolitan Cathedral, which holds the record as one of the buildings in the world with the most bricks -over 1'1 million-, located along the Bolivar park in the city heart. Cra 48 calle 56. Metro station Prado.[www] .
- The Junin pedestrian street is a cobbledstone street in downtown area from Colteger building to Bolivar's park shows the history of city with Astor tea salon and Versalles salon.
- The Parque de la bailarina I.C.R.C (Ballerina's I.C.R.C. Park) [www] Carrera 43 E between 7 and 9 street. Is a park located in El Poblado. You can find art that is made by artistic an cultural corporation Alas de mariposa [www] since 2008, every month.
- Parque de los Deseos (Park of wishes). The near Antioquia's University, has an Indian context, beautifully emmarqued with the planetarium, and large display of science experiments. You can find free open air movies and discussions with film directors Saturdays at 7PM. Metro station Universidad.
- Plaza de Cisneros (o de la luz - Plaza of Light). The is in the heart of the city, it borders some beautiful buildings from the 20's, the EPM library, and a sector that was full of drugs and poverty many years ago, but is now a place to visit and have a great time. Metro station Alpujarra.
- Also visit the Parque de los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot park) [www] for a Zen experience in the heart of town. Outdoor cafés, cultural activities. Metro station: Alpujarra or Cisneros.
- Plazuela de San Ignacio depicts Colonial and Republican style buildings. This little plaza witnessed in 1803 the birthplace of the largest university in town. The main lecture hall or Paraninfo de la Universidad de Antioquia is still in use and available for public view, even though the University moved 45 years ago to a big campus 2 km. north. Cra 44 at calle 48. Metro station: Parque Berrío. Walk uphill 6 block east.
- Parque Berrío is in the heart of town at the crossroads of Carrera 50 and Calle 50. Has the buildings of the Stock Exchange, Bank of the Republic, La Candelaria Church and the busiest metro station. It has the unofficial meetingplace for the locals -right at the sculpture of the 'Fat Woman' or 'La Gorda de Botero'. Connects directly to Plaza Botero and Plazuela Nutibara. Metro station Parque Berrío.
- The Parque del Periodista (journalist park) is a small square right in the center of the city. It is where the 'bohemian' and 'alternative' people meet. The bars play music varying from reggae and old salsa to alternative rock. You will find most of the people hanging outdoors instead of inside the bars. Metro station Parque Berrío.
- Parque San Antonio is a large, newer development right downtown. Hosts a handcraft bazaar and an infamous sculpture of a fat dove, bombed by criminals a couple of decades ago during the hard times of violence. By request of the artist the piece of art has not been repaired. Metro station San Antonio.
- The Parque de Boston is an attractive area that leads down to the main promenade La Playa where people can be found gathering at night to see street acts.
- Jardín Botánico (Botanical Gardens), Calle 73 # 51 -298 (Metro station Universidad), . Mid-size gardens with a vast collection of orchids and many tropical flowers, plants and trees and a beautiful lake. Unfortunately no information is provided on the plants except for their name - thus, bring a smartphone for lookup up information on wikipedia if you are botanically curious. The covered area for display of flowers is an architectural marvel. The annual orchid exhibit every August [www] is world class. Closed for one or two days each month for private events - check their website. Also has a purportedly good restaurant. Free except during the orchid exhibit.
- Zoo (Zoologico Santa Fe), Ave Guayabal. 9AM-5PM. Around 1,000 animals are displayed here. COP 8,000 adults, 4,000 kids.
- Parque Juanes de la Paz is of limited touristic attraction since it has mostly sport courts and is in an under served neighborhood. With the help of the world famous singer work began in 2006 on a recreational park for the rehabilitation of the handicapped. The 68,000 square meter facility cost was around COP$11 billion, financed in part by the government of Medellín, it was completed in 2008. [www]. Metrostation Tricentenario.
- The new Arví park in the eastern slopes of the valley, close to a beautiful dam. This park (free entrance) promotes ecotourism with well marked trails for hikers and mountain bikes, a picnic area, and a butterfly dome ($5000). To get to the park you can take the Metrocable L line ($4850, 20 min) which takes you over the tree tops into the park. Or take the Santa Elena bus ($3000) from Cra 42 & Calle 50 close to Parque Berrío. [www]
- Parque El Salado is in a beautiful natural setting on the mountain overlooking Envigado. There are good paths for walking. The main attraction is a short canopy tour/zip line with about five stops. (The complete is longer but the additional length is reserved for members). Take the Metro to Envigado and then take the connecting bus that goes to Parque El Salado. The bus ride itself is worth the trip as it winds its way through neighborhoods up the mountain with some great views along the way. [www]
- Ferrocarril de Antioquia - Old train station is a fine building at the corner of City Hall and the Governor's Hall. Has a small exhibit area with free admission. Cra 52 # 43-31. Metro station Alpujarra. [www]
- EPM building also called the Intelligent building for its computerized self-control. An icon of contemporary architecture. Cra. 58 calle 42. Metro station Alpujarra.
- Edificio Coltejer has been the symbol of the city for over 40 years, shaped as a threading needle for this textile company. Calle 52 cra 47 (Crossroads of La Playa Ave and Junín). Metro station Parque Berrio.
- Prado neighborhood - formerly it was the wealthy neighbourhood of the city so many huge houses were built there. It still has some of these beautiful old houses, though it should be visited with caution as it's near the center of the city. Metro station Prado.
- El Poblado neighborhood - this upscale part of town is built in steep hills and has many modern buildings which complement the nearby Andes forest. Most of the trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants of Medellín are located in this neighborhood. Safe to walk around at any time. Recommended. Take metro to Poblado station and walk East on Calle 10 for approximately 1 km.
- West of the Medellín river are the middle-class neighborhoods of Laureles, Estadio and Suramericana which are modern. Carrera 70 in Suramericana is where many of the best Salsa clubs are, and represent an excellent way to take a break from the trendiness of Zona Rosa and see some real Colombian dancing. The line B of the Metro runs along 'Estadio' near all major stadiums and sport facilities.
If you only have a day
In the morning take the metro to a downtown station, visit some churches - most are open early in the morning -, then head to the park outside Museo de Antioquia to see the sculptures, enter the museum at 10AM and visit until lunchtime. Have lunch either at the museum's restaurant or cafe, or take the metro to Metrostation Universidad, enter Jardin Botanico (Botanical Gardens) and eat there. Rest a little while strolling the gardens, then go across the street to Parque Explora or Parque de los Deseos. Before sunset take the metro to Acevedo station, hop on the Metrocable for spectacular views in the way up, and a city of lights upon your return. Take the metro back to any station near El Poblado, go shopping and then for dinner and a bar afterwards.
Things to do
- Metrocables. There are two cable car extensions of the Metro: For the line K take the a metro train to Acevedo station and from there take the Metrocable up to Santo Domingo for a nice view over the city. The cablecar is included in your metroticket. Go during the day and walk around to see what working-class people live like. The area at the top sees tourists so there are little stands set up and people selling empanadas and other things. You can stop at a little bar and have a beer. Don't stray too far or off the beaten path in this neighborhood, though. For those so inclined, there are young people that give tours waiting at the top wearing t-shirts that said "guia" (guide). Also recommended is taking the metrocable located at San Javier up to La Aurora (J line). Although there is nothing special to see or do at the top of the cable car route, the trip itself is longer and more interesting than the cable car that goes to Santo Domingo.
- Stroll along lively Carabobo street, Carrera 52 [www] in the heart of downtown, recently converted to pedestrian-only. Safer during daytime. Metro stations Parque Berrio, San Antonio or Alpujarra. Along the street see Plaza Botero (read under Museums) and also:
- Basílica de la Candelaria built in 1767, a National Monument. Cra. 49 # 50-85, just off Carabobo. [www]
- Edificios Vásquez y Carré built at the turn of the XIX century by a French architect. Nowadays in public use, with stores, cafeterias, etc. Cra. 52 x calle 44. [www]
- La Veracruz colonial church, built in 1682. Cra 51 # 52-58. [www]
- Palacio Nacional Circa 1928, is now a large shopping mall. Styled with Romantic and Modern influence. Cra 52 # 48-45. [www]
- Turibus is a good option to get a general overview of the city. You can take it to many of the main tourist attractions for 17,000 COP. The tour lasts four hours and allows 20–30 minutes per stop for sight-seeing and photos. Turibus departs from the south side of Parque Poblado at 9AM and 1PM. You must return to the same bus after each stop, it is not a hop-on/hop-off service. Spanish is the only advertised language, however many times at least one guide speaks English and is happy to translate [www].
- Another operator is Zorba, with interesting bilingual tours.
- Medellín has a very active cultural life. There are four major theatres in town: Metropolitan Theatre, Pablo Tobon Uribe, Teatro de la Universidad de Medellín and Teatro EAFIT(page not updated since 2014). They offer a variety of Music concerts, Opera, Theater, Ballet and other events with international and local performers.
- There are several good quality contemporary and classic theater companies, such as Matacandelas, Hora 25, Pequeño Teatro, Oficina Central de los Sueños and Teatro Popular de Medellín. There is an annual Theater Festival held in the last week of August, organized by Medellín en Escena
- The city sits to classical music orchestras: Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín and Orquesta de EAFIT. [www]
- The annual opera program is held in September, organized by Prolírica de Antioquia. [www]
- Go to the movies: most movies are projected in their original language with Spanish subtitles. For independent flicks try the Centro Colombo-Americano with downtown and El Poblado locations.
- The Arepa: Medellín's English Magazine is a resource guide while in the city. They also have a weekly radio show talking about the events in the city.
Medellín sports various "unidades deportivas" - "sport units", which are essentially parks with sport facilities: Soccer, basketball, swimming, archery ranges etc. Admission is free for most parts (pools might ask a small fee), but they are popular destinations for locals as early as 6am and thus might require some waiting time until a facility is available. As a historical side note: These places were created to get potential criminals off the streets and the people of Medellín welcomed them very much.
- Watch a soccer game at one of the two teams based in Medellín, Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín. Attending a home game at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium is recommended for any football - soccer fans, or those wanting to experience the famed South American passion for futbol! Games generally take place on Wednesdays and either Saturday or Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium. Metro station Estadio.
- The neighboring town of Envigado also has a professional soccer team [www]. Metro station Envigado.
- The neighboring town of Itagüí also has a recently classified as professional soccer team [www].
- The Juvenile Soccer World Cup was held in Colombia during July - August 2011 (Also called Under-20 by FIFA) with Medellín as one of its venues. [www]
- Try the new Skateboarding track at Parque Ciudad del Rio. Opened July 2009, this colorful bowl-like ramps allow lots of fun for skaters and spectators. Metro station: Industriales.
Festivals and events
Fairs, Shows & Exhibits
- Visit the city during the first days of August for the local festival "Feria de las flores" (Flowers festival). There are all kind of events during one week including the "Desfile de Silleteros" (Parade of flower carriers).
- The new freshwater Aquarium inside the Parque Explora opened in December 2008 and depicts a great variety of river and freshwater wildlife, abundant in Colombia. It is probably one of the largest aquariums [www] in Latin America and certainly one of few specialized in freshwater fauna. Metro station Universidad.
- Planetario Municipal, . Was renewed with new digital equipment. Reopened in June 2012. See the outer space at the Planetarium for COL 12,000. Cra 52 # 71 - 112 at Parque de los Deseos. Metro station Universidad.
- Medellín has one of the most important Poetry Festivals in the World. Every year, usually in July, poets from all around the world (including Nobel Prizes) come to this amazing event.
- Full moon night. Do a visit to an old Cemetery (Cementerio de San Pedro) where former presidents and beautiful sculpted graveyards are found. Metro stations Hospital or Universidad.
- The Convention Center Plaza Mayor is the main site for big events including the fashion and textile industry related annual shows Colombiamoda (July) and ColombiaTex(January) [www].
- The Fourth International Tango Festival will convene with world renown artists. Free admission to all events. Every year in June. [www]
- Tangovia is a monthly street fair in the neighborhood of Manrique, with great tango performers (singers, groups, dancers and more). Calle 45 x Carrera 73.
- Aguardiente - A popular alcoholic beverage in Colombia with sweet and licorice-flavored, made-up of sugarcane. The local brand is Aguardiente Antioqueño and it is usually drank straight followed by an ounce of water or slices of mango.
- Ron - Rum is also popular with locals. The domestic brand is Ron Medellín Añejo aged either 3, 8, 12 or 30 years, typically served mixed with Club Soda, Coca-Cola or lemon juice [www].
- Cerveza - Beer is available almost anywhere, the one most enjoyed by people is Pilsen a light golden in color, German Pilsener or Lager type of beer. Also admired by locals and foreigners is Club Colombia a finer premium beer, made-up of 100% malt [www]. Other popular national beers include Aguila and Costena. A small company brews beer locally: Tres Cordilleras makes Wheat, American Pale and Amber Ales. Bogota Brewing Company operates a restaurant in the Poblado neighborhood with good craft beer at uncompetitive prices. Their bottled beers are available at bars and restaurants throughout the city.
- Refajo - A kind of cocktail made by mixing beer and the local soft drink Colombiana. It is refreshing and a little sweet.
- Cocteles - Due to the great variety of tropical fruits and its juices your imagination will be boundless when creating Cocktails in Medellín. Start with Lulo juice with vodka, or try the many recipes with passion fruit (Spanish: Maracuyá).
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the main days to party in Medellín; the rest of the week the mainstream nightlife isn't really exciting. Bars close at 2AM, but you will find plenty of clubs that close at 4AM, and if you need to stay up later just look for the techno or electronica clubs.
Colombians love to cook out and party. Check out some of the culture shots here : Colombian Festival Tour Photos
- Babylon. Best known for its Thursday night all you can drink, 35,000 pesos to enter, OPEN UNTIL 4AM. Located in Las Palmas. It's popular with gringos and 'gringo hunters'.
- El Blue. A popular place with cross-over music (a mix of rock and local music). It's popular with gringos and 'gringo hunters'. Thursday is the night to go.
- Circus. A new venue with great views over Medellín. Very popular with the beautiful, in-crowd and normally plays cross-over music.
- Cuchitril Club-Bar, Calle 10, #52-87. The name translates as "hovel," which can only be thought of as a tearm of endearment for this salsa club. It's actually very nice inside, with decor somewhere between arabesque and neon plus chandeliers. There is a fair amount of room to dance, including a space on the wonderful courtyard patio/garden in the back. Sundays are the best nights, when all sorts of great salseros and salseras converge in this part of town for the party.
- Eslabon Prendido (Salsa & Tropical), Calle 53, #42-55 (Maracaibo street) (Downtown, half block east of Parque del Periodista). Probably the most famous salsa club in the city, with live bands Tu Th (it's more or less closed the rest of the week). The name of the place plays with words: Hot -or Burning- Link instead of Missing Link. It's fairly small inside, but the dancing spills well into the street. There are tables inside, if you are looking to just watch, but they are claimed way before the party gets started. Its location downtown warrants some precaution. $.
- Mangos. The most famous of clubs here in Medellín and has a reputation of being visited by rich mafia-related Colombians but is also usually full of incredibly hot women (proceed with caution, some women are paid for). Also it is very very expensive at about $5 per beer and $25 for a small bottle of rum, Auto Pista Sur. OPEN TIL 4AM
- Palmaia (Autopista Sur). The newest, biggest and arguably best club in Medellín and has a capacity of 3,000 people. Standard crossover music with a boxing ring for girl-fights!
- Red. Opposite El Blue, offers electronic music and local music.
- Sabor Antillano (Salsa & Tropical music), Calle 38 sur # carrera 43. Envigado (Two blocks down from main plaza). A fun tiny place. Classic salsa with songs coming from vinyl. $$.
- VIVA (Dance club), Calle 51 # 73 - 100 (Close to baseball stadium). Large 2-story dance club with mostly gay clientele $$.
There are a few districts for bars. Foreigners prefer Parque Lleras in El Poblado, safer, more upscale, nicer crowds. The middle class also mingle outside Museo de Arte Moderno, near Carlos E Restrepo neighborhood; and the so-called Urban Tribes meet at Parque del Periodista (downtown). Other areas with bars are: Carrera 70 near Estadio, Carretera Las Palmas and Avenida 33 in Laureles.
The area around Parque Lleras, (la Zona Rosa), has a concentration of restaurants, bars and is great for people watching. It is active on most nights and a must visit for those looking for Colombian nightlife. The major restaurants on the corner, El Rojo and Basilica are great for food, drinks and people watching. Occasionally they have live music or big screens when important football matches are played.
Parque Lleras is interesting any night of the week although admittedly Thursday, Friday and Saturday are far more lively. There are places, mostly electronic music venues open till 6 or 7AM outside of the city limits as the laws forbid any bar to remain open after 3PM. People however gather around Parque Poblado until dawn drinking, smoking and chating. You can buy cigarettes, alcohol and anything else you could wish for from the street vendors until the last man standing.
A more upmarket experience can be had at La Strada just south of Parque Lleras on Aviendo El Poblado. The centre features numerous bars, restaurants and clubs. La Strada has become the weekend destination for the more affluent of Medellín's residents. Expect to pay more for drinks and food than in la Zona Rosa, bars close at 1AM.
Just outside of Medellín, there are some venues in the neighboring towns of Sabaneta, Envigado and Itagui. Sabaneta has not yet caught on with foreigners, making it the place to go if avoiding gringos is your thing.
- Arte Vivo Mostly a local crowd. a great 80's and 90'live band (arguably the best in town) playing rock-pop greatest hits and local rock. Prices are affordable, with a nice upscale crowd, and beautiful women. Located in el Poblado across the Monterrey Shopping center (Calle 10 x Las Vegas).
- "El Alamo" The cheapest bar in Parque Lleras, free rum for girls. They show American football games if you need your fix.
- B-Lounge is an electronic disco with rich, beautiful women as is...
- La Kasa which are both good on Thursday nights as it's Ladies Night.
- Niagara (5 puertas), Cra 38 (2 blocks south of Parque Lleras, El Poblado). Opens in the afternoon until 2AM. Has been a classic for local crowds for over 30 yrs. Informal, beer, chat$$.
- La Camerata has offered classic music to its costumers for over 25 years. Occasional live appearances. Calle 49 between carreras 64 y 65, near calle Colombia.
- San Marcos, . Bar and video has mostly gay clientele, located near Unicentro shopping mall Calle 34 # 66B - 53, Barrio Conquistadores. [www]
- Vinacure An incredibly trippy place - expensive to get in but definitely worth seeing once, entry is about US$4. The entire club is designed by a noted Colombian sculptor. Try to go when German, the owner, is about so you can check out The Naked Room, an interactive art exhibition that must be experienced (sometimes) naked. This is a very interesting, unusual and fun art-museum/bar. It's truly unique. To get there, take a taxi to the beginning of Caldas (carrera 50 No 100D Sur 07, Caldas). Or you can take a bus.
- Casa Gardeliana (Tango bar), Carrera 45 # 76 - 50 (Manrique), . Since 1973, has been the meeting place for tango lovers. Live music, dance.
- Salon Málaga (Tango and Bolero bar), Cra. 51 Bolívar # 45 + 80 (Between Amador & Maturín streets), . M-Sat 7AM - 2AM, Sundays/holidays 8AM - Midnight. A classic bar right downtown. All social classes mingle here with nice music and local drinks. Dance. Only half a block away from the main Metrostation San Antonio (Lines A and B). $-$$.
- Dulce Jesus Mio (Mi Pueblo), Calle 77S # 46B-90 Sabaneta (Next to Texaco gas station), . 4PM- 1AM. The whole place is a replica of a traditional 'paisa' town. The locals from the village will greet you and be your host, ask you to dance and party all together. Every midnight is new years' eve. Really fun. $$.
- Bolero Bar, Cra. 67 B 51 A 98 Local 101 (Near Exito calle Colombia), . Tangos, boleros. Ph +57 4 230 3259 $.
- Bermellón, Calle 23 Sur # 42B-107 Envigado, . Tango, et al.
Things to know
Spanish is the official language in Colombia. Few locals are bilingual, and when so it is usually English as the second language. You will find many signs written both in Spanish and in English, especially in the more tourist areas.
Disadvantaged youths in the city have assembled a wealth of new expressions that have fascinated scholars and artists. Many local movies like La Vendedora de Rosas depict this urban language called Parlache in its own idiom. Dialectologist have gather together a dictionary [www].
Safety in Medellin
Medellín is generally a safe city for tourism, depending on the part of town you visit and the hours (like most other cities) and is much safer than in previous years. It was reported that in 2009 the murder rate in Medellín was the lowest in 30 years, while murder rates have since doubled in 2010 in a new surge of violence. According to the US State Department, murders have involved tourists and U.S citizens, and there remains a risk of "terrorist" actions in the urban area. Much of the violence is concentrated within the city's hillside slums and among known drug traffickers, although richer parts of town have also been afflicted by the latest surge in crime. The poorer neighborhoods in the north-east and north-west of the city should be avoided at both day and night to avoid trouble. Most of the inner city is best avoided at night, maybe excluding El Poblado. Most travelers to Medellín will tell you that they never found themselves in any danger while there, as the city center and touristy neighborhoods and attractions are all heavily policed. Therefore the following advice should not deter your plans to travel there.
Don't travel alone after dark. Almost anyone who knows anyone who has gotten into trouble in Medellín will tell you that they were doing things that you shouldn't do in any city, i.e. walk around after dark alone, especially leaving clubs after having been drinking. If you must, travel with a few friends, and at night call a taxi instead of taking it off the curb.
Avoid straying off of the main areas outside of the Santo Domingo Metrocable station, especially after dark; basically, try to stay within sight of the station and library, and you will be fine. Avoid areas of downtown at night, such as the Parque San Antonio area (including outside of the Metro station), Parque Boliviar, and areas directly to the north of Parque Barrio, where there is a lot of prostitution and other shady dealings. During the day, these areas are all perfectly safe with the normal precautions.
As in most large cities, petty crime can be a problem; it is advisable to carry a color copy of your passport rather than the real thing, avoid carrying a wallet and to keep varying amounts of cash in several pockets, socks and bras. Only carry what you will need for the day, and always have enough hidden somewhere to get back to your hotel. However, at most tourist sites, the police have a very heavy presence, so you can feel safe taking pictures and walking around during the day. Avoid parks, muggers with knives wait for tourists in parks near hotels in the affluent areas of the city, such as El Poblado.
Avoid accepting drinks from strangers. One common organized scam reported recently involves girls being overly friendly to gringos at a club, buying them drinks and then asking to go home with them. The drinks end up being drugged, and the girls make off with money, credit cards and other valuables. Note that it is not very common for Medellín locals to go home with other locals to hook up; rather, cheap hotels are used. So one should be suspicious of overly friendly girls asking to come to your hotel or residence from a club.
Many people sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the small-time vendors selling anything from fruit, ice cream, cigarettes, lottery tickets, cell phone chargers, trinkets, hats, etc. However, a simple "no, gracias" will deter them from bothering you.
As Colombia is still a country with a "macho man" mindset, women might be the subject of lewd comments, cat-calling, or whistling. Women shouldn't take this personally - although women have the same rights as women in the US and elsewhere, it's just the culture.
Do not, under any circumstances, make any jokes about the use of cocaine or bombs. The Colombian police take jokes as threats, and you may find yourself in a police station explaining yourself to unsympathetic police officers. Under normal circumstances, police officers are usually kind and helpful towards tourists.
The age of consent in Colombia is 14. The drinking age is 18. Minors are not allowed to be in possession of alcohol at any time, and they may not enter night clubs of any kind. If a minor is found to be in a night club, the entire club will be immediately closed for violating a national law (Enforced more in nicer neighborhoods).
Always change your money at the airport or at a bank. Bancolombia is the largest national bank, is based in Medellín and has ATM's almost everywhere. "Street changers" offer tempting rates for your dollar, but be on guard. "Street Changers" palm several of the biggest bills for themselves. Do not flaunt large amounts of money around. ATM machines are your best bet for dealing with the complexities of various money changers.
When using an ATM machine (only delivers pesos) it is wise to use machines in a mall (Spanish: centro comercial), one of the large superstores (such as Exito, Jumbo or Metro) or grocery stores (such as Carulla), then take your time walking around a bit. Don't rush out the door. If someone is watching people at the ATM, they will wait for you to leave, and possibly rob you on the street down the road. Using ATMs on the street is not advisable in Colombia.
- The water in Medellín is potable, although bottled water is always available everywhere for the extra-cautious.
- In Medellin, you are at no risk of many tropical diseases like malaria, cholera, yellow fever, leishmaniasis or Chagas disease because of its altitude and a very good vaccination program that eradicated all vectors for those diseases.
- If only staying in Medellin and/or Bogoto no extra vaccinations are required. Though, if traveling to the far south a yellow fever vaccination is required and one might be asked to provide proof of it; you can get it for free Monday to Saturday, from 7am on, at Carrera 45 # 50-48 (El Palo con la Playa), Edificio El Doral, Consultorio 203 (first floor) - note, though, it takes 10 days to become effective.
- Altitude is generally not a problem for foreigners since Medellín is approximately 1,500 mts (4,921 ft) above sea-level (about the same as Denver, USA). However, some who reside at or around sea-level may experience some minor effects their first night. If this is the case, it is advisable to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol on the way there and on the first night.