Once acquired the notoriety of a city where crime and drug trafficking are flourishing, these days Medellin, Colombian has changed. Today, tourists are actively flocking here seeking cultural recreation. Medellin is located on one of the slopes of the Aburra Valley. The beautiful nature of the valley creates excellent conditions for hiking, zip-lining and horseback riding. Make your way through the dense jungle to the foot of El Penon de Guatape, and then climb to its top, overcoming 740 steps – at the end of this journey, unforgettable views will open up to your eyes.
Medellin is called the city of eternal spring. It is located in the mountains, but at a relatively small height – about 1500 feet above sea level. And if in the high-mountain Bogota (2400 feet above sea level) there is constant coolness, then the climate in Medellin can be safely called perfect: there is almost never hot or cold, and the temperature stays comfortably at 70-75 degrees.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MEDELLIN
• Visit Botero Square: Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero was born in Medellin. He quickly became famous throughout the country and abroad for his characteristic style of painting: Botero draws everyone and everything thick, be it people, animals and inanimate objects – guitars or fruits. Today, his amazing sculptures that adorn one of the central squares of the city, every day cheer up both the numerous tourists and local residents.
• Communa 13: Here in this Medellin barrio, you will find modern escalators drowning in endless rows of tiny houses and fancy graffiti. It is not surprising that many tourists decide to climb into these slums, despite the obvious risk. To ensure that everything goes safely, it is best to hire a guide or use only the above-mentioned escalators and metrocable cableway for transportation. Only these parts of the slums are carefully guarded by the police. There’s a free tour offered by Zippy Tours at Freetour.com
• Cableway Metrocable: Cable cars in Colombia and Venezuela became one of my favorite rides, and I tried not to miss them in any city. Unlike European counterparts, which for the most part exist only to lift a passenger to a certain height, the cable cars of South America take you far into the distance. Sometimes even outside the city, raising over hills and forests.
• Pueblito Paisa: Located on a small hill in the center of the city, Pueblito Paisa is a small village, each house is occupied by a souvenir shop or cafe. In general, this settlement has an important historical value, because it was here that the first settlement was located, later becoming the city of Medellin. However, small houses, if they have been standing since those times, have been restored so carefully and modernly that it is quite difficult to believe in it.
• Orchidarium: This miracle, unfortunately, is not available to tourists all year round. Orchidarium, which is nestled in a botanical garden, is an open area where flowers grow in natural conditions. Therefore, they bloom towards the end of summer and bloom throughout autumn, bringing bright colors to the rainy season.
• The Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica, which is sure to interest tourists not only with its powerful, monumental architecture, but also the surrounding area with fancy-shaped trees.
• The tiny church in Pueblita Paisa on the hill of Cerro Nutibara is a curious structure, radically different from the massive Catholic cathedrals. If you can ignore the noisy environment and feel the peace in a small building with open doors, you will surely enjoy the unusual atmosphere prevailing in the church. The main thing is to be prepared for the fact that most tourists run here during a break from visiting souvenir shops, talking and noisy.
• The church of San Ignacio de Loyola seemed to me the crown of architectural creation in Medellin. Built in the best colonial traditions, it reflects the sophistication and unshakable faith of that era.
• The Museum of Antioquia tells about the features of culture and history of the region, the capital of which is Medellin.
• Medellin Planetarium is truly worth a visit, especially if you are traveling with children. Throughout the day, there are screenings of 3D educational films and excursions.
• Museums and gardens Castillo is an unusual theme park with a castle in a medieval style.
TYPICAL COSTS WHEN TRAVELLING
Accommodation – Accommodation rates in Medellin start at $ 15 per room in a hostel and go up to $ 100 per room at a 5-star hotel.
Food – As well as throughout Colombia, the catering system is well developed in Medellín – people open a cafe on the first floors of their homes, train stations and markets, offering visitors tasty and hearty dishes for ridiculously cheap prices. For example, dinner at a cafe for local will cost you 2-3 USD, while in a tourist restaurant it will cost from 15 USD and above including drinks.
Transportation – Public transport in Medellin is developed just wonderfully – there is a cheap taxi, fast buses and a modern metro, which is the pride of all Colombia.
Like other major cities in Latin America, a tourist bus runs across Medellín. One day of sightseeing trips in a comfortable bus will cost you 13 USD per person, two days – 18 USD.
Medellin is also an excellent place for cycling – there are several modern bicycle paths, and each metro station has secure bicycle parking.
As in other cities of Colombia, a taxi in Medellin is cheap enough (the minimum cost of a trip is about 3 USD, however, only cash is accepted for payment), and there are so many cars in the city that there will be no problem finding a car even in the earliest time days. Also, Uber is also readily available for those who would prefer a cashless trip.
Suggested daily budget is 60 USD considering 30 USD for good 3-4 star hotel, bill for one meal in a restaurant for two people is 10-30 USD, taxi costs 5 USD.Don’t forget to add there the price of excursions.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
1 Find cheap accommodation! If you’re on a budget, use Airbnb where you can get a room ac cheap as $14/night with a private bathroom, and if you’re really scraping pennies and comfort is not the main point of the journey, then you will not be hard pressed to share with any of the locals using couchsurfing.
2 Don’t use the service of travel agencies: In Medellin, you do not have to take excursions, because the main attractions here are concentrated in the city center, and the rest are completely outside of it, so it is much easier to get to them using public transport. However, on the tourist streets of the city there are enough agencies that offer day and night tours of Medellin from 15 USD, as well as one-day excursions around the area for 30–40 USD and more.
3 Don’t be afraid of shopping: There are many modern shopping centers and outlets, which are mainly located on the outskirts of the city.
Their prices will be much lower than in the stores of Cartagena or Bogota, but you will have the most pleasant impressions of visiting these places: in the ability to sell something, Colombia really competes with prices in a worthy manner.
4 Ask about the price of trip before catching a taxi. If you don’t ask preliminary cost of the trip by taxi, you are likely to hear a price that is twice or thrice bigger that the one expected.
ON THE SCENE?
There are a lot of nightclubs with amazingly bright shows and incendiary discos until the morning in Medellin. Most of them are concentrated in the Poblado district, so you can not choose a club in advance, but rather take a walk through the bustling streets of this crazy district and choose something to your taste. Entrance to most discos is free, but if a show is held at the establishment (for example, a group performance, as well as a dance or erotic program), the ticket price can be from 5 to 30 USD per person.