Medellin, Colombia is one of those must-visit destinations that’s increasingly popping up on travel itineraries. And with Colombia making the list of Lonely Planet’s top hot travel spots for 2017, we’re pretty sure the “City of Eternal Spring” is only going to continue to grow in popularity. We think that’s a good thing, because as we’ve written before, there’s a lot to love about Medellin. If you’re ready to give this city a go, then here are our top tips for what to see and do while you’re there:
Exploring Medellin: What You Shouldn’t Miss
Our very first visit to Medellin was around seven years ago. One of the first things that caught our interest then (and we still think is a must-visit) was the metrocable, or the cable car that connects downtown Medellin with previously marginalized favela communities. For the cost of a metro ticket, you can take the metrocable all the way to Biblioteca Espana.
Once at Biblioteca Espana, be sure to hop out of the cable car and explore the cultural center. It’s a free resource to the community with computers, books and classes. Then, continue to take the cable car all the way to the top to arrive at Arvi Park. This 1,761-acre valley offers lovely views and hiking opportunities.
The heart of Medellin is around the Parque Berrio metro stop. Start here and walk towards San Antonio to experience the energy of local life while also passing many of the city’s most popular attractions.
The Statue Park and Botero Museum
The whimsical Botero Statue Park is a plaza with 23 sculptures by Botero, the famed Colombian artist known for his “voluminous representations” of people and things. Botero is one of the most recognized and quoted living artists from Latin America, so you won’t want to miss the chance to see his work in person.
The Statue Park is adjacent to the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture and the Museum of Antioquia. The museums house over 100 pieces of Botero’s artwork and sculptures, all of which have been donated.
This park is fun for children of all ages. Here you’ll find a “no shoes allowed” sandbox and waterfall, encouraging people to get grounded and re-connect with Mother Nature.
Parque de Las Luces
Wander down Medellin’s popular pedestrian road, where hagglers sell knock off shoes and clothing, and eventually you’ll arrive at the Parque de las Luces. An old warehouse where Pablo Escobar used to process cocaine, today the area has been transformed into a historic site with a park that lights up at night.
For a chance to see what a typical old Antioquia town looked like, stop by this life-size replica. It’s a bit touristy, but the central square and surrounding bright buildings are also charming. From here, enjoy great views of downtown Medellin.
El Penon de Guatape
If you have the time for a day trip, this iconic rock is worth the visit—and the workout. Climb 659 steps to arrive at the top of the rock and take in the 360-degree views of the surrounding lake and islands. There’s hiking and kayaking in the area, as well as the colorful town of Guatape. El Penon de Guatape is around a two-hour bus ride from Medellin.
This is just the start that all Medellin has to offer. Be sure to allow for a few extra days in your schedule so you can fully explore all this burgeoning city has to offer!