Being the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital city of Antioquia, Medellin has quite the checklist of sites to see, sounds to hear, smells to discover, and stories to bring back for everyone! In order to not overwhelm you with too many amazing options, we’ve picked the top five things to do/experience in Medellin, Colombia. Check ‘em out!
- Cable Cars
Medellin is the only city in Colombia with a Metro system. This public transportation helps all people who live up in the hills or a little further from the city center. One of the bigger challenges was to figure out a way to connect those people with the city. Before, these people did not believe they were part of this city. They felt like outsiders who didn’t belong, so the Cable Cars were implemented to connect people with their workplaces and homes, and now they feel this is truly their city, too. Plus, the views aren't too bad either!
- Botero Square & Antioquia Museum
Located in the heart of the city, this is possibly the most interesting place in the city. Twenty-three giant sculptures of Botero are displayed for you to touch and admire. His beautiful paintings are displayed inside the Museum for your enjoyment as well. In fact, an entire floor is dedicated to him and explains how he finds inspiration for his artwork. On one corner you can admire the outstanding architecture of Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. Enjoy a cup of amazing, genuine Colombian coffee at Laboratorio de Café, just to top off the whole experience. You know what they say: when in Colombia, you must have their world-famous coffee!
- Barefoot Park (EPM Building)
When the utilities company (Empresas Públicas de Medellín, or EPM for short) designed the park, they didn’t expect people would love the idea as much as they did. This park was originally designed just for EPM employees, but once the public found the park, they fell in love! So much so that the utilities company eventually decided to donate it to the city for everyone’s enjoyment. There you can find incredible water mirrors, a small bamboo forest, and a sand lot. It is a perfect place to relax, appreciate the outdoors, and really do whatever you want!
- Outdoor Escalators
In Comuna 13, an historically dangerous place, there are escalators built into the sidewalk to get up the hill. Just to give you a little background, in the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Colombia faced some of the highest crime rates in the world. A powerful and deadly gang known as the Medellin Cartel, led by Pablo Escobar, brought the city into the darkest era it had ever seen. Thankfully, with the death of Escobar and the dismantling of his cartel, this era ended. This gave various communities the opportunity to reinvent themselves from the ground up. One of the hardest hit neighborhoods was Comuna 13. These escalators started as a social project, but eventually, the people of community decided to make them a permanent installment in their neighborhood. They are symbols of new beginnings and new growth. At the top of the hill is the stunning panoramic view of the city. You can't miss this view!
- Mango Ice Cream
For those who love the local food this is a must. A sweet, sour, and salty flavored treat takes an ice cream form in this classic community staple. And it’s definitely the best thing you’ll ever taste for less than a dollar! The catch is, you can only get this in Comuna 13. Seriously, you have to try it!
These are just a few examples of what makes Medellin so incredibly unique and that's only one city! Imagine what you'll discover in the rest of Colombia. Between the mountains, the rainforests, and the coral reef coastline lies this small but resilient nation. Since the liberation from Spanish rule, Colombia has endured rampant carnage from civil war, violent drug cartels, and catastrophic poverty levels, but from the darkest depths, it has risen from the ashes to become one of the most amazing travel destinations in the world. Don't just take our word for it--Lonely Planet just named Colombia the 2nd best country to visit. Go explore the wonders of Medellin, Colombia and find your own top 5 favorite experiences!