|Staying at Galería Estación Hostel in the cool Poblado barrio, in August 2016, we spent four days seeing the sights, taking the cable car up to Parque Arví, going on the unmissable free walking tour with Pablo from Real City Tours, heading up to Comuna 13 with Medellín Graffiti Tour, salsa dancing at Son Havana and Octavo Bar and sampling the cafés on carreras 34 to 37 in Poblado. Loved the city and would love to spend more time there.
Update: Went back for another four days in February 2017 and love the city even more. More cafés and sport, less dancing this time though. Managed to get to Guatapé this time too!
Clean and friendly city of eternal spring. Try do free Real City Tour on your first day if possible as gives you a wonderful perspective and brings the dynamics – good and bad – to life. You have to book your place and they release places 1.5 days before the tour (there are morning and afternoon ones).
PLACES TO VISIT IN MEDELLIN
o Poblado is a popular place to stay. The neighbouring Manila area is super nice too and a bit more chilled.
o Espiago is another option but is further from centre
o The streets: Calle 37, up La Curva and around Calle 35 are great for shopping cafes and bars.
TOURS IN MEDELLIN
The ‘free walking tour’ with Real City Tours is unmissable. It brings the city and its story to life, giving you a good grip on the dynamics of the country. Due to its popularity, you have to register online, with registration opening 1.5 days prior to the tours (there are two per day). Make sure you follow directions and confirm by reply to their confirmation email. Pablo and the other guides are amazing.
o Medellin Graffitour –The Graffiti Tour great tour up in Comunidad 13 – much more than graffiti.
o Take the cable car up to Santo Domingo and onwards to Parque Arvi too if want to escape the city
o The metro is easy to navigate. Just buy a metro card for the number of journeys you want to take
Didn’t do but were recommended: Day wondering round the Laureles district in Medellín (nice shops and cafés)
HOSTELS IN MEDELLIN
o Galería Estación (where I stayed – nice and chilled)
o Galería (party hostel) – the more lively sister hostel closer to Parque Lleras
EATING IN MEDELLIN
o La Hacienda for Bandeja Paisa and excellent traditional food – the steak, fish and cazuela meals come recommended – several locations
o Lenteja Express on Calle 37 – scrumptious veggie food – hummus, amazing nachos, great burritos and soya protein ceviche
o Criminal Taquería – taco bar on Calle 37 opposite Lenteja Express
o Subulm – excellent salads next to Lenteja Express
o Mondongos for Colombian food
o Café Zorba for delicious pizza and great music
o Ceres Organic store for wholesome snacks and smoothies
o Hija Mia in Poblado/ Manila – Kiwi run – great flat whites and the best brownies I have found in Colombia
o Tomasa y Al Alma diagonally opposite from Hija Mia in Poblado/ Manila – absolutely AMAZING capuccinos and carrot cake
NIGHTLIFE IN MEDELLIN
Poblado and the centre have a buzz on Thursday – Saturday nights. The places I went to or was recommended are below
o Erre Bar roughly around Calle 9-43B just below Parque de Poblado is great little Cuban bar with local feel and chilled salsa option (although when I visited it again in Feb 2017 they had strung up two big incongruous TVs – a pet hate of mine)
o Son Havana – great salsa club near Metro Estadio. Had an amazing suitably sweaty night out here!
o Dancefree have great teachers – particularly for private classes – English speaking person (Dill) who will talk you through the qualities of each instructor so you can choose to suit you.
o El Acontista Librería – has jazz Mondays and lots of other goings on – in the centre.
o Cuchitril Club Bar in the Centre was recommended but I never made it there
o Buenavista salsa club (didn’t go but heard good things)
o (don’t bother going up to Jesus Dulce Mio…I learnt the hard way!)
KEEPING FIT IN MEDELLIN
o Alpha Fitness & Lifestyle – great variety of drop-in classes
o Flying Tree Yoga in Laureles
o Happy Yoga in Poblado/ Manila
o Free outdoor gym just up from 37 Park Bar
DAY/ OVERNIGHT TRIPS FROM MEDELLIN
Day/ overnight trip to Guatapé – the public buses go from Terminal del Norte (metro stop Caribe) and take 1.5-2hrs (COP 13,500 in Feb 2017). Recommend Hostel Casa Encuentro by Haus (8 mins walk further on from the town and a great place to choose to hike on a 3hr route around the lakes to the Peñol) and Galería Guatapé (near the Peñol – the rock) for accommodation.
Overnight trip to Jardín – I didn’t get round to doing this sadly but heard great things about the colonial town, an approximate 2 hr drive from Medellín