Food, Tours + Lodging
Medellin is a culturally abundant, economically bustling, artistically inclined, wonderful city that seems to be constantly looking for ways to improve itself and the lives of its inhabitants. The city boasts museums, art installations, public libraries, universities, malls, parks, and almost unchanging perfect tropical weather.
WHERE TO STAY
It seems most tourists stay in the neighborhood of El Poblado and we did too. We’d heard it was a great place to go out at night but we can’t offer much advice there. We stayed at a great place called the Ivy Hostel and it was nice and quiet in the evenings. They served complimentary breakfast in the mornings, a room up front with Netflix, comfortable dorm beds and a number of little common areas perfect for gathering, working or reading a book. The outdoor patio was also a cozy place with a bar and grill perfect for hanging with fellow travelers. Ask Sean or one of the staff members to help you plan tours.
El Poblado is just a little bit south of central Medellin, but because it’s such a popular area of the city there is plenty to do within walking distance and anything further is just a metro or cab ride away.
WHERE TO EAT
37 Park – This funky restaurant had good salads, appetizers, and drinks. The décor is cool and the outdoor patio offers nice vibes with their ambient lighting, creative seating and great weather. The live music they had over the weekend made it a fun place to hang out.
Monsieur Burger – so yummy! These are not just your basic burgers AND it’s vegetarian friendly :) We had creative burgers, good fries and a couple of beers. Plus the staff was awesome!
Chilaquiles – we LOVE chilaquiles. So of course we had to try a restaurant named after them. You can order your plate with either verde or roja sauce... OR order it “divorced” to get the best of both worlds! If you’re not in to Chilaquiles don't worry, they have a full menu of tasty-sounding Mexican inspired dishes.
WHAT TO DO
Ride the Medellin Metro!
I’ll admit, it was the MOST crowded metro I’ve ever been on. Like, absolutely insane… and I’ve been on a few (I’m talking more crowded than Berlin, London or New York AT RUSH HOUR). Or maybe we were just on the metro at an abnormally crazy time...? Either way it was fun and interesting to see. Tyler and I ended up VERY far apart and had to use our eyes and nods of the head to communicate when to get off :) P.S. the Medellin metro and bike systems reduces an incredible amount of CO2 admissions each year!
Take the Medellin Cable Cars
Everyone can direct you to these once you arrive. You’ll hop on the metro, ride it to Acevedo Station and pay a separate fee to get on the first leg. You’ll pay yet another fee to switch to the second leg of cable cars at Santo Domingo which will take you all the way to the top! We were there during the rainy season (December) so we didn’t do any hiking when we got to the top. But on a good day we hear there are some nice lookouts (even though the cable cars themselves probably give you some of the BEST views of the city). We DID however, get the chance to eat lunch at the top, underneath the market tents.
On the way down you can hop off where you’d taken leg #2 and visit the brand new public library (it’s still under construction so make sure it’s open before you go). Also visit the electric escalators in Comuna 13. This area used to be the most dangerous in the city but is now more easily linked to other neighborhoods by these innovative new outdoor escalators (the first of their kind).
Real City Free Walking Tour
Black Sheep Hostel organizes this tour (and others – like the Pablo Escobar tour below). Check them out for a number of different things. Most people can tell you how to get there and many of the hostels are affiliated with them so the info is easy to get. The best part about the walking tour… its FREE and gives you a good, guided way to check out the city (just remember to tip).
Pablo Escobar Tour with Paisa ROAD
Where do I begin? It’s become a Hollywood craze with the production of Narcos and then all of the spinoffs and documentaries people have created since… We watched a few episodes of Narcos when it first aired but stopped before the first season ended. When we asked about the Escobar tour in Medellin, we received looks of disdain… people tried to direct us to other tours. During the tour itself we were told by the guide that many Colombians are NOT at all pleased with the idea of a Pablo tour. We wanted to understand…
And that’s exactly what Paisa Road did. In reading the reviews of this excursion beforehand, a few people mentioned it was a little subjective. But we understand why. For some Colombians, there is no such thing as “seeing HIS side of the story” and the only take away from the height of his cartel operation is that a violent war raged on their doorsteps. Family members and friends were murdered or killed in the crossfire and young impressionable boys (and girls) were preyed upon as potential members of the cartel (simply for lacking educational, social and economic opportunity). And those are just a few of the immediate effects of this war. But we’ll let the tours guides tell you the rest...
Did Pablo himself have a story to tell? Of course. Should we hear his side too? It depends on who you ask. But subjective or not, we were glad to have information from a local Colombian because it’s information from a person whose family grew up with him around. And we think that’s an important point of view. Definitely check them out if you go!
El Peñon & Guatapé
You’ll have to leave the city for this one but we think it’s worth it. Touristy, yes… but so much fun.
If you haven't heard of the Rock of Guatapé check out the post below to get a glimpse of this crazy cool way to "get a good view" :)
Again, we did all of this in only 3 days in Medellin and didn’t feel particularly rushed. But you could obviously find PLENTY more to do in this great city if you have more time. We’d LOVE your recommendations for our next trip to Colombia (it’s the kind of place we want to visit over and over).
See you down the road!
Meg (+ Tyler)