Like an ageing rock star, the Colombian city of Medellin has given up the hard drugs, the fighting, the crime and the general misbehaving and transformed itself into one of Latin America’s safest cities. It’s cleaned up its bedroom, made its bed, cooked you breakfast, and held your hand at night. Quite a turnaround.
Not that Medellin doesn’t want to show you a good time. So dance your way through its streets to see the Museo El Castilloand Jardín Botánico, and keep the culture comingat the Museo de Antioquia, the second-oldest museum in Colombia. And even if Medellin has cleaned up its act, the locals are more than willing to take a little dance on the wild side, so head down to the Casa Gardeliana for some tango tips you can take with you into the night.
Medellin’s Top 10
10. Cementerio de San Pedro Detailed tombstones and decorative graves. Not your average cemetery.
5. Jardín Botánico Joaquín Antonio Uribe Includes 600 species of trees and plants, a lake, herbarium, auditorium and the amazing Orquideorama.
9. Parque Explora Kids and geeks alike will love the interactive displays on physics, biology and nanotechnology.
4. La Gorda Probably the biggest female torso you’ve ever seen. If it’s not, you’ve got some explaining to do.
8. Parque de las Esculturas Very cool outdoor sculptures in a city that is itself rather like a massive gallery.
3. Río Claro Valley Hummingbirds (lovely) and vultures (scary) fly over intricate shapes carved by the river into its marble bed.
7. Pájaro de Paz This artwork was seriously damaged by a bomb that also killed 23 people. Take a moment while you’re there.
2. Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe The tongue-twisting host to a multitude of events.
6. Social Realist-inspired Murals Just one of Medellin’s many exhibitions.
1. Catedral Metropolitana We bet you can’t play ‘Chopsticks’ on the pipe organ!
- Pueblo Paisa – This area is a reconstruction of a small, typical Antioquia village with a lovely view of the city of Medellin.
- Metropolitan Cathedral – This structure was made using more than a million bricks, which is the world record.
- Plazuela San Ignacio – A town square that features examples of republican and colonial-style buildings.
- Edificio Coltejer – The unique shape of this textile company building has been a symbol of Medellin for over 40 years.
- Monumento a la Raza – This monument recounts the story of Antioquia through twisted metal.
Medellin Art & Culture
- Museo de Antioquia – Home to a collection of contemporary art, sculptures and paintings, including pieces by Botero.
- Museo de la Universidad de Antioquia – A combination of six collections, including one with nearly 20,000 pre-Columbian objects.
- Casa Museo Fernando González – Visit this traditional home and gardens and get to know the local writer and his legacy.
- Museo Etnográfico Miguel Angel Builes – Home to a large collection of handcrafts made by natives from different parts of Colombia.
- Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin – This local modern art museum has a restaurant and café.
- Centro Comercial Palacio Nacional – Housed in a large 1925 building in the centre of Medellin and offers more than 200 fashion stores.
- Plaza Minorista Jose Maria Villa – A huge busy marketplace with thousands of stalls, including a lot selling local food.
- Parque San Antonio – This place has a handicrafts shopping area.
- El Tesoro – An upmarket place with lots of variety and American and European shops.
- Vizcaya – Another upmarket shopping centre with lots of great designs and fashions.
Gay & Lesbian Medellin
- Labios VIP – A unique club in Medellin and a great place to meet new friends.
- Calle Barbacoas – A friendly and welcoming club to hang out amongst gays and lesbians.
- El Club Discoteca – A cosy place that fills up to the brim on Saturday nights.
- Cantina de Javi – This disco features a variety of dance music and a diverse gay crowd.
- Club de Tobi – Considered one of the best gay saunas in the city.
- Los Alumbrados – This festive season sees Christmas lights adorn the city of Medellin.
- Parque de los Deseos – A park area that includes a planetarium, science displays and open-air movies.
- Plaza de Cisneros – A local square and wonderful place to visit and have a great time.
- Parque de los Pies Descalzos – Enjoy a zen experience in the Barefoot Park or get a bite to eat at one of the outdoor cafes.
- Parque de Berrio – The meeting place for locals and home to Botero’s “Fat Woman” sculpture.
- Watch an Atlético Nacional football match at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium.
- See the Media Maraton Int'l Ciudad de Medellin half-marathon race through the city in mid-September.
- Cheer on bullfighters (or the bulls) at the La Macarena Court during January and February.
- Enjoy ecotourism sports and activities at the Arvi Park.
- .Take a peek at the breathtaking Medellin Sports Coliseum.
Spain charges into town for January’s bullfighting fest, Feria Taurina de la Candelaria. The best matadors in the world come to show off their skills.
Semana Santa Catholic Colombia’s important Easter celebration. Time to hit the prayers…
Strut your stuff at July’s ColombiaMODA, the most important fashion event in South America.
Nature lovers unite for La Feria de las Flores in August, the city’s leading cultural event.
December comes to life with the Festival of Christmas Lights.Take a tour of the best exhibits and let the festive spirit wash over you.
When To Go
- Known as the ‘City of Everlasting Spring’, there is little variation between the seasons.
- Temperatures average around 22ºC (72ºF), but can reach 30ºC (86ºF). Although there is no distinct wet or dry season, there tends to be more rain from March to May and September to November.
- Because of the consistently warm weather, many restaurants and bars operate outdoors year-round.
Buses are easy to jump on and off during the day, but stop running at around 10 or 11pm.
After 11pm, when the buses and the metro have stopped, there are plenty of taxis around for getting back to your hotel. They are safe and not too expensive.