Once known as the most dangerous city in the world- as a result of the drug cartels war in the 1980’s- Medellin has turned into one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I fell in love with its magical mix of scenery, art and cuisine.
My trip to Medellin was one of my best trips ever. I was lucky enough to have a Mexican friend who moved there for a few months before my visit. Needless to say, I had quite a local experience rather than a touristic one. My friend took me exactly where I wanted to go instead of me wandering around and guessing what I would like to see.
I arrived at 1 am coming from Mexico City and got a taxi from the airport at the standard price of 65,000 Pesos. I didn’t have any cash since I just got there so I asked the hotel to pay the taxi driver and add it on my bill (best way to avoid negotiating the price after arrival). I stayed at NH Collection Medellin Royal Hotel. It was a good hotel, nothing fancy though. It was clean, good location, good service, very nice breakfast and very comfortable room layout. During my stay there, I used Uber a few times everyday which was both good and efficient and cheaper than hotel cars.
I listed the best places and experiences that I had in Medellin below with some of the photos I took during my trip. It still puts a smile on my face going through the photos of the great memories I made around the time of Christmas 2016.
5 Top Things To Do in Medellin
1. Artesanias Caballo de Troya
If there’s only once place where you could shop for the best handcrafted Colombian products from all the regions in Colombia and not just Medellin, I would recommend you go to Caballo de Troya. It was an overall positive experience before even going there till we left. I had my hotel call them to check their opening hours and guess what? They had a free pick up and drop off service. They sent a car to my hotel that picked me up and took me there (it’s close to the airport- 45min from my hotel) and then when I was done shopping, the driver took me back to my hotel.
I got almost everything that I needed from there. I got a genuine leather red cross-body bag that I have been using almost all the time. I got most of the products made from the famous La Chamba- Colombian black clay (pots, casseroles, soup bowls, etc). I also got all the gifts and accessories that I could possibly carry from there. Their prices were actually better than the stores in Pueblito Paisa and the variety as well makes it a more fulfilling shopping destination.
2. Pueblito Paisa
Pueblito Paisa is situated on top of Nutibarra hill and it’s basically a small replica of an old town in Antioquia with all the cultural and artistic elements (the stone fountain in the middle of the town square, the barber shop, etc). It has very nice souvenir shops, traditional cafes, small restaurants and some of the local Colombian accessories shops (a little bit more fancy and pricey than souvenirs). It’s also the perfect spot to get a bird eye view of the city with the surrounding mountains and valleys- see photo on top.
Some of the very famous sculptural expressions of the last century are out there in Pueblito Paisa. The one I really liked was that of Cacique Nutibarra- photo below.
3. Museum of Antioquia
I think this is one of the most beautiful museums that I have seen. I took 581 photos inside the museum so deciding which ones to post here was quite challenging for me. Entry fee was around 18 USD and you can book guided tours in the museum by phone. Since my friend Ruben was showing us around – and he knew everything there is to know about Botero’s work- we didn’t need a guided tour. The majority of the art in the museum was donated by Fernando Botero was who born and raised in Medellin.
One of the things that touched my heart in the museum of Antioquia and still does whenever I see the photos I took there, is the Gallery of the Reliquaries: The Perception of Absence by Erika Diettes. You could see bullets, stuffed animals with blood stains, a torn slipper, pieces of a picture and many other belongings of the victims of violence during the drug cartels war. You can see family members of the victims comforting each other and some of them crying in silence and solitude. It took 7 years of work to have this masterpiece completed.
4. Lleras Park
So it’s not the park itself as much as the surrounding streets and restaurants that I really liked here. One my first nights out there, I had dinner at Al Patio Restaurant which offered both delicious Colombian food and amazing service with a great view. It’s located on the hill going up Las Palmas within walking distance from the park. We enjoyed our daily walks in the streets around the park especially in the evening.
5. Velvet Cafe
On Sunday morning, we had breakfast in Cafe Velvet with the most rich and delicious Cappuccino with honey. I liked the coffee so much that I actually bought a bag of each type of coffee that they had available. Ruben gave me a valuable piece of advice; to buy as much coffee as I can from different Cafes and not the commercial ones sold at the airport and supermarkets. I spent my evenings walking between Cafes, tasting their coffee and buying different types as gifts and for myself as well.
The coffee experience was out of this world, so next time you’re in Colombia, take an extra bag just for the coffee. As I said, I went to many cafes in Medellin, but the one cafe where the vibe and service stood out was still Cafe Velvet.
Finally, Medellin has a special place in my heart, mostly because of its kind and friendly people. I felt safe walking around the hotel block even at night without having to worry about my safety. Overall, it was a very nice experience that I would definitely want to repeat again sometime soon.
If you’re heading there anytime soon and still have questions, please let me know in the comments section below.