A Day in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia is an increasingly cosmopolitan city. The city’s struggle to fight crime and stay clean has actually yielded certain benefits for those visiting the city. With an ongoing campaign to modernize the city while simultaneously keeping the attractions affordable, you won’t have any problem carving out the perfect day in Medellin.

During a recent visit to the city, I versed myself, unintentionally of course, in How to Make The Most of A Day in Medellin. Check it out.

1. The Botanical Gardens. Start your day off with a stroll through these lush gardens. Boasting free entry and more than 5,000 individual plants, you won’t find urban nature organized this well anywhere else in Medellin. Pack a breakfast and picnic beside the water. Tip: You can find some slightly overpriced but still not that expensive stuff worth buying in the gift shop. From attractive leather wallets to a tiny little rag doll key chain (now hanging on my niece’s backpack), this gift shop isn’t nearly as mundane as what I’m used to.

2. Once you’re through with breakfasting and plant-admiring, why not soak in even more beauty? Take a trip to the Medellin Museum of Modern Art where you’ll be impressed with the architecture, gift shop, and yes, you guessed it, even the modern design of the building itself. Tip: If the Botanical Gardens gift shop is cool, the museum’s gift shop is ridiculously cool. From vinyl record coasters to earrings I would definitely wear, my only complaint about my experience with the museum’s gift shop was that I didn’t have enough time to buy everything I wanted to buy. And while you’re there, check out the graffiti across the street from the museum.

%Gallery-112374%3. For lunch, try out En Casa de Oliva. It’s this so-cute-it’s-kind-of-kitschy but still impressively authentic restaurant in Poblado. It’s open-aired and as you dine, you can ease your eyes with the surrounding beauty that takes shape as a casual indoor garden. I tried a little bit of everything here and I recommend it all-especially the lemonade. Tip: The portions here are big. Consider sharing.

4. After lunch, take a walk. This section of town is optimal for shopping. You’ll find boutiques, clubs, salons, coffee shops, and other specialty stores in this area. Make sure you stop by a grocery store while out shopping. You won’t regret picking up some coffee or chocolate for the folks back home. Tip: The security at Medellin’s airport can be surprisingly strict. Keep this in mind when you’re buying goods to take home. A few bags of coffee is cool. A suitcase full of coffee might cost you some time.

5. Take yourself and any respective travel companions on a 70 cent cable car ride. You can pick up the cable car from the Medellin Metro and ride it to its peak. The cars ascend into the Andes and the ride up is breathtaking. The cars can fit 6-8 people, but you can snatch one just for yourself if you’re sly and have good timing. Plan it so you’re on this thing around sunset and you’ll catch a picture-perfect view of Medellin glistening in the valley on your ride down. Tip: if you’re thirsty, hungry, or curious at the top, there are usually vendors around up there. And by the way, ‘up there’ is currently a giant park still under construction.

6. Drop down to Parque Lleras in the Poblado area for dinner. Bijao has excellent food and a superb wine selection. My personal recommendation: the tuna.Tip: Definitely use the toilets here. They’re luxurious in a way you’ll only understand after you use them.

7. Have your nightcap at any one of the nearby bars or clubs. This district is a nightlife hotspot, so don’t be shy. Tip: Keep your wits about you. Medellin is a big city and just like other big cities, you’re going to have to be aware of your surroundings, and your belongings, if you want to stay safe.

Have other suggestions for a perfect day in Medellin? Share it with the rest of us via comment.

[photos by Ben Britz]