There are many reasons to book your next vacation in Medellin, Colombia. Known as “the City of Eternal Spring,” in recent years, the city has recently been attracting travelers from all over the world like never before. Medellin has put its dark past of violence and drug trafficking behind it, and has blossomed into a safe, affordable, and innovative city.
Spending your vacation in Medellin is one of the smartest things you could ever do. “Medallo” (one of the city’s nicknames) has a cool, springtime climate year round. You will never have reason to complain about the weather; even when it rains, it only lasts for about an hour. The city is extremely green, and seated securely in the mountains. Driving into Medellin from Rio Negro airport, you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful vegetation.
Colombians like their food fried. The chorizo (sausage) is fried, the chicharron (pork crackling) is fried, the platanos (plantains) are fried, the empanadas (meat pies) are fried…the list goes on. Once you are in Medellin, you must try two traditional dishes, bandeja paisa and mondongo. Bandeja paisa, which originates from the Antioquia region where Medellin is located, is the national dish of Colombia. Be warned: It’s a lot of food. In this one dish, you get chicharron, chorizo, beef, fried plantains, rice, beans, avocado, arepa, and a fried egg. It’s almost enough for two people. Mondongo is Colombia’s version of the Mexican menudo – a rich soup that’s a great choice for lunch, or for curing a hangover.
There are a lot of things to do and see in Medellin. There is an old castle that’s been turned into a museum, and appropriately called El Castillo Museo, where a tour costs only 10,000 pesos (about $4 US); it’s also a great site for a picnic date. Another awesome spot to eat outdoors is the botanical garden, and admission there is free. Near the botanical garden is Parque Explora, an aquarium and interactive museum of science and technology. There are also many tours that will take you outside the city and into the nearby pueblos.
The majority of travelers who come through Medellin end up returning – or even moving to the city – because of the people. Paisas (natives of Antioquia) are very friendly and welcoming, hard-working and humble. Colombians in general love to party, and know how to party. If you are ever invited to a Colombian house party, quinceanera (girl’s 15th birthday party), or wedding, attend. It will be a great experience, and you will really get to see how friendly paisas can be. Paisas also love to help foreigners visiting their city, so don’t be shy about asking someone how to get to the supermarket or to a commercial center.
Spending December in Medellin is a must. The whole month is one big party, with block parties every weekend. You can ride a Chiva, which is a party bus – passengers dance and drink as they travel around the city. The river that runs through Medellin is decorated with elaborate lights; every year it is a different theme.
Another great time to visit Medellin is during the first week of August, when the city hosts the Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers). This week-long event is packed with parades and parties every day, expressing the paisa culture. It’s attended by Colombians from all around the country, making it an event you don’t want to miss. GoToMedellin highly recommends that you plan your next trip around either of these times, in order to have a truly unforgettable vacation in Medellin.
To get around the city, and make your vacation in Medellin easier, you can take a taxi, the bus, or the metro. The city has a metro cable to take riders to the upper barrios and to Parque Arvi. In the Centro (the downtown area), they are in the process of building a trolley that will travel from downtown, up into the mountains to the barrios. This will allow people living in those neighborhoods to have an easier time getting to their jobs.
Medellin has a lot to offer, and wants the world to know it is progressing and improving every day. New transportation systems and city parks are under construction right now. In 2012, Medellin was named Most Innovative City, beating Tel Aviv and New York, and the city hasn’t stopped evolving since. All that’s left is for you to see it for yourself!