Discover Medellin! Four tourist routes with something for everyone

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Cultural tours, gastronomy, nightlife, family activities and Christmas sites: A Medellin guidebook to discover the charm of the “Paisa capital”.

With just over 2.2 million inhabitants and a pleasant, spring-like climate year round, Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and one of the country’s top places to visit. Make the most of your visit to the “City of Eternal Spring” with these tourist tips. And have a nice trip!

Route 1: Cultural Medellin

Besides being internationally recognized for its industrial and urban innovation, Medellin breathes art and culture.

º If you’re looking to visit Medellin’s most traditional cultural sites, stop first at the Plaza Botero. Overlooking the Museum of Antioquia’s main façade, the square is the city’s epicenter of art and culture and a must-see for tourists. Don’t forget to snap a photo with one of Fernando Botero’s 23 giant sculptures. Click here for some fun facts about Fernando Botero.

º Just across the street, visit the Museo de Antioquia (The Antioquia Museum), with its 17 permanent exhibition halls, including the Sala Manuel Ángel Uribe, 19th century portraits and the Sala Pedrito Botero.

º Next, head to Medellin’s Modern Art Museum (MAMM), where you’ll find contemporary sculptures, paintings, photographs and engravings by renowned artists like Débora Arango, Hernando Tejada, Olivier Debré and Henry Gray.

º Independent design lovers should check out the Vía Primavera, between Parque Lleras and the Provenza neighborhood. Don’t miss Pergamino, a cozy spot to enjoy a cup of coffee (Colombian and imported coffees) and handmade pastries.

º To finish the tour with a bang, catch a performance at the Pablo Tobón Uribe Theatre or the Metropolitan Theatre.

Route 2: Restaurants to try in Medellin

The “Paisa Capital” offers cuisine for all tastes. Here are our recommendations:

º Colombian food

For typical Colombian dishes like mondongo (pork, tripe and chorizo soup), cazuela de fríjoles (bean cazuela) or ajiaco (chicken and potato soup), try the restaurants Ajiacos y Mondongos or Mondongos in the Laureles and El Poblado neighborhoods.

To feast of Medellin’s most revered and typical dish, the Bandeja Paisa (Paisa Platter), head to ‘La Gloria de Gloria’ and ‘Chicharrones trifásicos’ in the Envigado neighborhood, ‘La Cantaleta’ on vía Las Palmas, and ‘Hacienda’ in the city center. There, you’ll also find the best chicharrones in the city.

º International cuisine

During your stay in Medellin, enjoy flavors from around the world, thanks to restaurants like Puerto Inka, Triada, Carmen and Café Colombo Credenza, among others. If you have an adventurous spirit, we recommend El Cielo, selected in 2014 as one of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America for its molecular gastronomy offerings.

º Nightlife

In Parque Lleras, in the El Poblado neighborhood, restaurants transform into a quintessential “rumba,” or party site, at night.

Crossover lovers should check out Río Sur and Kukaramakara. And if you’re looking for a more chic evening, head to La Strada, an upscale mall with plenty of bars for a night of cocktails.

To experience the spirit of bohemian Buenos Aires, head to one of Medellin’s tango offerings, in some of the bars in Guayaquil.

Route 3: To see with family

If you’re traveling with family, here are two options:

º In the city

First, stop at Parque Explora (Explorers Park), an interactive center featuring four showrooms, a dinosaur replica pavilion, an aquarium, a vivarium and a 3D playroom, for an unforgettable immersive experience.

Next, head to the Planetarium and the Parque de los Deseos, located near Parque Explora, and then to the Botanical Gardens, known for its Orquideorama, a unique artistic construction that houses tropical plants including orchids, bromeliads and ferns.

º Outside Medellin

For a day out of town, try Guatapé, a village two hours from Medellin, and visit the Piedra del Peñol (Stone of Peñol), take a boat ride on the dam and enjoy a typical lunch before returning to the city; or Parque Arví, where you’ll enjoy the rich cultural and archaeological heritage and the silletera (flower carrier) tradition, while enjoying a horse ride, bicycle tour or guided walk through the forest.

Route 4: At Christmas, don’t miss Medellin’s “Path of Light”

If you’re in Medellin at year’s end, don’t miss the “path of light,” to see traditional Christmas lights in the Paisa Capital. This year (2014-2015), the lights can be seen from 6 pm to 1 am, until January 12, 2015.

The route begins on La Playa Avenue, between the Pablo Tobón Uribe Theatre and Carrera 47, around the Riverwalk, between the Guayaquil and San Juan bridges. The Christmas lights are made up of more than 27 million LED bulbs, and can be spotted from 100 parks, avenues and streets of Medellin.

The Cerro Nutibara and the Pueblito Paisa are two iconic spots from which to see Medellin’s Christmas lights. In a replica of a traditional town, the streets are decorated with colored lights and a lighthouse.

If your trip to Medellin coincides with the Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival), check out these links to learn more (in Spanish):

Medellin’s Flower Festival: a parade of tradition

The “silleteros” of Santa Helena, a tradition made of flowers

Keep in mind:
º Both national and international flights land at Medellin’s Olaya Herrera airport, located in the city limits. Flights to the international José María Córdova airport, located just 50 minutes outside the city in Rionegro, originate from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Mexico City, San Salvador, Willemstad (Curacao), Panama, Quito, Lima and Madrid.
º A taxi from the Olaya Herrera airport to the city center or to El Poblado costs between US$2.30 and US$6.50.
º At the José María Córdova airport, buses and taxis can take you to various points across the city. From the terminal to the city center, a taxi will cost approximately US$23.00 and a bus will cost about US$5.00.
º To traverse the city, options include: Latin America’s most modern integrated transport system, which combines the Metro, the Metrocable and the Metroplús, more than 156 urban bus routes plus the taxi service.
º Medellin enjoys a temperate climate, so cotton clothing is advised. However, we recommend dressing in layers to be sure you’re prepared for the variable mountain temperatures.
º Taxis can be ordered by phone at no additional cost; be prepared for a 20-25 minute trip between tourist attractions. Each taxi is equipped with a taximeter to indicate your fare.
º The city has a very good network of coin-operated public telephones that allow for calls to mobile phones and landlines.

If you found this information useful, share it through social networks with the hashtag #LaRespuestaEsCOlombia.

For more information on Antioquia and the coffee-growing region, check out these articles (in Spanish):

Why should I visit Medellin?

El Yipao: How a Jeep Willys became a symbol of Colombian culture

Antioquia and the coffee-growing region, delicious from beginning to end