Medellín in Colombia, is a bustling cosmopolitan city and has a lot to offer! I have visited the city many times and always love being here. Explore the city with this list of things to do, tips and restaurant hotspots and start to love the city as much as I do.
Background information & historical facts
For years, Medellín was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The Medellín cartel led by Pablo Escobar dominated daily life in every respect. Certain parts of the city, including the center, were no-go zones for the average citizen. Tourism was something nobody didn’t even think of. When Escobar died and the cartel fell apart, the city slowly started to transform.
Nowadays the city houses more than 2.5 million inhabitants and is internationally known as a bustling metropolis. Many foreigners and international companies settle in the city. Countless events and concerts take place. And the tourism industry keeps on growing. Even though the opinions about safety and gang problems are divided, local people are proud of their “new” Medellin and they are right! The city has so much to offer! This is a list with best things to do, including the nicest restaurants, cafes, cocktail bars and work spots.
Hotspots and tips for Medellín, Colombia
1. Shop, dine and go out in El Poblado | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
Medellín is known as the fashion capital of Colombia. This can be seen in the streets around Parque Lleras. Many designers have their little boutique and pop-up stores here and its nice to stroll around. You will also find nice restaurants, cocktail bars and coffee-shops in this area. It’s the perfect base for starting or finishing your day and finding a convenient place to work on your computer.
2. Take the cable car and enjoy the views | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
The metro system in Medellín is a convenient way of traveling within the city. But also a perfect way to enjoy some wonderful views. Take the orange metro line from the San Antonio station in the city center, to San Javier station. Change here to the cable car line (yellow line). This cable car brings you over the slums to the Aurora station. During this ride you have an incredible view of the city and slums. It is best to make a round trip and get off back at San Javier station. Interesting is it to know that the construction of the metro system, connecting the different outskirts of the city, along with plenty of art projects, was a big government investment in the nineties, to radically transform the city of Medellín.
3. Dance the salsa | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
Even though Cali is the salsa capital of Colombia, Dance Free is thé place-to-be for dance classes in Medellín! They offer private and group classes, including salsa and bachata. I would definitely recommend taking private classes, to make sure you really book some progress. Have a look at their schedule as well, as there are many events with live music, where you can practise your moves after class.
4. Visit the famous Comuna 13 | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
Comuna 13 used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Medellín. It’s incredible how things have changed. Nowadays this neighbourhood is one of the main tourist hotspots of the city, due to its history, cool street-art and social projects. It is interesting to visit the neighborhood with a local, so you get an insight view and have the chance to meet the who are people living there. Sometimes it’s even possible to visit one of their social projects.
5. Get inspired by modern art in the Museo de Antioquia | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
This museum includes a large collection, with work of the Colombian artists Fernando Botero. The third floor is entirely dedicated to his art, with countless paintings and sculptures, including his important painting showing the death of Escobar. But you will also find works by other well-known Latin American artists, such as the Cuban Wilfredo Lam, the Colombian Pedro Nel Gómez, the Chilean Roberto Matta and the Mexican Rufino Tamayo.
Read more about famous painters and artists in Colombia.
6. Get some pictures with Botero sculptures | Hotspots & Tips Medellín Colombia
As a proud Paisa (the way local people from Medellín call themselves), Colombia’s most important artist, Fernando Botero, donated 23 of his characteristic sculptures, to his hometown Medellín. What used to be a no-go area in the past, became one of the most visited places in the city. The scupltures are located at the Plaza Botero and became a photo hotspot in Medellín. The sculptures are controversial, weird and funny at the same time. As I’m a big fan of Botero’s work, I can’t resist taking pictures, everytime I am in the city.
Best restaurants in Medellín
Looking for a nice place to eat, drink or work? Make sure to visit these places in El Poblado! From charming rooftops, local food, great work spots and culinary food experiences.
Alambique is a charming rooftop bar and restaurant with lovely food and amazing cocktails. The nice wooden interior, including different chairs and decoration give it a cozy atmosphere. The menu includes a selection of Latin American dishes. It is located above an art gallery in the Poblado district. It can be a bit hard to find. Look for the smaller double doors, painted light blue. Behind is a staircase leading up to the art gallery and Alambique.
Café Velvet is a wonderful place for coffee, tea and cake. And it’s perfect for opening your computer and do some work.
Enjoy a local meal at La Hacienda
For a serious local meal, including the famous local dish Bandeja Paisa (meat, potatoes, beans, avocado, egg, chicken), make sure to visit la Hacienda, on the Strada!
Enjoy a culinary experience from the modern Colombian kitchen
For a trendy dinner and a true culinary experience, don’t miss El Cielo and Carmen. Of course you will find prices being considerably higher but compared to the rest of the world it is still affordable. El Cielo, founded by Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos Valencia, has three restaurants, in Miami, Medellín and Bogotá. The restaurant in Medellín has been included in the list of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants for years. El Carmen is a nice trendy restaurant with a branch in Cartagena and Medellín. The tasting menu where you are getting an introduction into the modern Colombian fusion cuisine is highly recommended!
Looking for tips and things to do in Bogotá? Read on here.
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