Medellin is, without question, one of the most rapidly improving (and improved) cities in South America. Once synonymous with violence, drugs and Pablo Escobar, it’s rapidly gained a reputation as one of the most desirable places for an expat to live in Latin America, as well as a must visit city on any itinerary. This post takes you through two days in the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, though I’ve no doubt you’ll want to stay more.
Start out your day at the Medellin Botanical Gardens. A quick stroll through the beautiful greenery here will set you up for your day perfectly, but if you pack a picnic and spend the day it’s worth it, and pick up a coffee or lunch at Cafe del Bosque. You can even enjoy the restaurant here at dinner time, In Situ. You can enjoy proper Colombian food here.
From here, if you didn’t stay, you can get yourself to the Museo de Antioquia and the Plaza de Las Esculturas and see one of Medellin’s defining areas. It’s here that locals come to sit and contemplate life, lunch or their plans for the evening. The Museo de Antioquia itself hosts a great collection of Botero’s paintings, as well as some internationally-renowned names. The surrounding buildings are also worth a photo or two.
Finish up here and head for lunch. Today we’re sticking the the main parts of the city, so check out El Poblado’s restaurant scene and hunt down Cazuelas de Mi Tierra, at Hotel 10, for a delicious meal. Having relaxed in the sun a little and eaten lunch, it’s time to explore some of the architecture and churches. First, head to the San Jose del Poblado Museum. It’s a beautiful building in itself, and houses an interesting collection. From here it’s not far to the Metropolitan Cathedral, built by the Spanish entirely in red-brick. It’s the largest cathedral of its kind in the world.
Having walked around and enjoyed the views, it’s time for dinner. Again I’d recommend staying around El Poblado. For an unusual experience, try El Cielo with its molecular cuisine. It’s delicious food served in a totally unique fashion, and a dining experience you won’t forget.
After dinner you should head to Parque Lleras to get your taste of the nightlife.
Wake up and nurse your hangover by having a huge brunch at Brasarepa Restaurante. Huge, typical meals that come recommended by Anthony Bourdain. The restaurant is found at Calle 46 Sur 42-75, Envigado.
This should set you up until dinner, so it’s time to get a little adventurous. Lose those extra pounds you just gained by having a wander up Cerro Nutibara. The 80m high hill offers great views of the city and, once you get to the top, you’ll find Pueblito Paisa, an attractive remake of a typical Antioquian town. All the buildings house small displays dedicated to the typical lives of Paisas in history. It’s a charming, fascinating insight into the region and should occupy you for a couple of hours.
After this, head down into the Metro and take it until you can join the MetroCable. This was built in the past decade in order to connect vulnerable neighbourhoods in Medellin ‘Comunas’ to the main city, thus offering them better opportunties for work. The project worked and now it’s possible to take the MetroCable up into the mountains, where the comunas are, and enjoy te spectacular views of the city. If you like, you can get off at the stop where you’ll find the Spanish Library, and enjoy the unique architecture of the building.
Once you come back down to the center of Medellin you should be aching for something to eat, so if you fancy something affordable and relatively light (compared to the monster you ate for brunch), check out Cafe Le Bon in El Poblado.
After dinner you can either stick around Parque Lleras again (the most popular part of town for partying), or head to the old Zona Rosa and find El Tibiri (Kr 70 # 44b). Tucked away in a basement, this place is all about sweat, salsa and… well, salsa. A welcome change from the hyper-modern city of Medellin, it’s a place that really reveals the true depth of the city’s character.