Is Medellin Value Visiting? Explaining The (Over)Hype

Medellin was once near to the remaining position any person would pass.

For many years, it was once referred to as the bottom of Colombia’s maximum notorious cartel, the house of Pablo Escobar, and (within the early Nineties) for actually having the arena’s easiest crime fee. Yep, it was once very a lot no bueno.

Then, Medellin stepped forward… so much.

I first visited Medellin again in 2014 simply sooner than it actually hit the highlight. I feel for plenty of vacationers it was once a beautiful wonder to determine Medellin was once more secure, livelier, and extra habitable than they’d imagined. Quickly, many expats and virtual nomads additionally started to acknowledge Medellin as an reasonably priced and engaging position to are living.

Phrase unfold. Medellin was a factor.

Now, as I revisit Medellin in 2022, it sort of feels the pendulum has swung the opposite direction.

In recent years, Colombia go back and forth boards and discussion groups debate whether or not Medellin is ‘puffed up’. Some vacationers surprise what the fuss is all about. Some virtual nomads are even turning their noses up at Medellin having develop into a ‘gringo the city’, overtaken by means of foreigners like themselves.

So what took place? And must you continue to seek advice from Medellin?

Let me provide you with my 2 pesos.

Is Medellin price visiting?

From a vacationer’s point of view, I feel Medellin is without a doubt price visiting for a minimum of a number of days. I’d even say it’s one of the crucial profitable locations in Colombia. However… it’s helpful to have the correct expectancies.

Medellin is really a fashionable town with many red-brick rental blocks in addition to many shanty cities at the slopes of its surrounding hills. There isn’t that a lot of a ancient outdated town if that’s what you’re hoping to seek out.

Many of the attractions and issues to do in Medellin also are arguably extra of passion to citizens. It has some pretty parks, a botanical lawn, a amusing science museum, and lots of renovated public squares — however that’s possibly now not what you got here the entire means right here for. So far as cultural sights of key passion to vacationers, I feel Bogota has extra of them (for instance the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum).

That stated, Medellin is without a doubt the position to be informed about its fashionable historical past and the drug cartels. It’s additionally interesting to look how poorer spaces were utterly reinvigorated. Comuna 13 was once probably the most town’s most threatening spaces; now it’s a humming vacationer vacation spot famed for its side road artwork and sure vibes.

Medellin has nice nightlife and numerous global delicacies, particularly within the prosperous community of Poblado which is well liked by expats and vacationers.

Purely at face price, I imagine Medellin could be a smidge disappointing if it’s been hyped as much as you a large number. On the other hand, I nonetheless assume Medellin is a great town — and I imagine the important thing to appreciating it’s to actually know its tale.

As soon as this tale, Medellin will undoubtedly click on for you in a large means. No less than, I will be able to say it completely did for me.

Figuring out Medellin

There are two sorts of people that have visited Medellin: those that have accomplished the Medellin Actual Town strolling excursion and those that haven’t.

I’ve accomplished actually numerous strolling excursions all over the world, however I nonetheless believe this one the most effective I’ve ever accomplished.

If you wish to perceive Medellin’s previous and provide from a deeply non-public point of view, then the Actual Town strolling excursion is a should. It’s run by means of locals and all the guides lived thru Medellin’s ‘dangerous years’ somehow.

(Via the way in which, I don’t earn the rest from this advice. It’s simply my best go back and forth tip for Medellin!)

A ways from the standard cookie-cutter excursion, the tales instructed by means of my information left me deeply affected. Born and raised in Medellin, as a kid he witnessed other people getting gunned down with computerized rifles proper in entrance of his area. He additionally describes a horrific grenade assault at a metro station and a marketplace bombing that killed two dozen other people.

Via listening to from any individual who in truth lived thru all of it, you achieve a actually bright image of what Medellin was once like only a few many years in the past. On the other hand, this excursion isn’t just in regards to the dangerous days, however about hope and development.

Listening to in regards to the dangerous from the previous makes you admire what Medellin is lately. And also you’ll actually get started seeing it with other eyes.

You’ll acknowledge how Medellin went thru a complete transformation. Squares that have been as soon as the scene of brutal killings were was colourful public areas. Libraries and galleries have sprung up all over. A construction that was once as soon as a shelter for criminals is now, fittingly, town’s Centre for Training.

At the left, a sculpture that after exploded in a bombing assault. The artist, Fernando Botero, insisted town stay it as-is, with a brand new sculpture positioned subsequent to it as a reminder of previous and provide.

Whether or not you are taking the Actual Town excursion or just spend sufficient time in Medellin, you’ll certainly quickly pay attention of “Metro Tradition”. It’s any other piece of Medellin’s tale.

The Metro gadget was once constructed all the way through the peak of the Violence (it will get written with a capital V). It temporarily was town’s primary image of exchange. Take a more in-depth glance and also you’ll see the metro gadget is in reality a supply of delight a number of the Paisas, completely freed from any graffiti, chewing gum, or cigarette buds.

The metro traces its connecting cablecars have been an city making plans masterstroke, serving to to tie town in combination and combine the slums with town right kind, thus elevating alternatives for the deficient. Within the outer barrios, you’ll see posters subsequent to city renovation initiatives with slogans equivalent to, “right here too the Metro Lifestyles lives”, appearing how the Metro has develop into a shorthand for Medellin’s revival.

When you see Medellin on this context, it turns into a LOT extra attention-grabbing.

Alternative ways to experience Medellin

What I additionally like about Medellin is that you’ll get to grasp the Colombian tradition, in addition to the use of it as a perfect base for day journeys within the area.

Except finding out the historical past, to get probably the most out of Medellin right here are some things I like to recommend:

Take a commute to Guatape

K, this can be a bit touristy, however it’s actually amusing.

Guatape is a village famed for its vibrant properties with superbly sculpted depictions of village existence decorating the decrease halves of each area. It’s a lovely position to spend a while.

Additionally it is house to the rock of Peñol, an excellent inselberg with 650 steps resulting in the highest, from the place you’ll watch a fantastic lake-strewn panorama.

It’s reasonably simple to get to however it takes just a little of time: take the Medellin Metro to Terminal del Norte, from there it’s a 2-hour bus journey to Guatape costing about 11,000 pesos.

For a extra guided and entire enjoy you’ll additionally take a excursion, equivalent to this Guatape day commute on GetYourGuide (which additionally features a boat commute) or this Guatape day commute on Viator. The excursions are quicker as they come with resort pickup and no public transit.

Move paragliding

The hills round Medellin are very best launching spaces for paragliding. Tandem flights require no particular abilities, are slightly affordable, and be offering impressive perspectives of town.

It prices round $50 for a flight. You’ll be able to e-book this simply thru Viator or thru GetYourGuide.

Take a commute to Jerico or Jardin

Those colourful cities within the coffee-growing area south of Medellin are very amusing to seek advice from. You’ll see a lot of espresso farmers and cowboys milling in regards to the streets and markets and a number of the rolling inexperienced hills you’ll seek advice from waterfalls or take a espresso excursion.

It takes about 4 hours to Jerico or 3 hours to Jardin, so you could want to keep in a single day to make it well worth the commute.

See a football/soccer fit

No longer being into football a lot myself, this was once extra of an anthropological workout than the rest, however I liked seeing how passionate the Colombians get about this game. Move with just a little crew (or a excursion) because the stands can get very mosh-pitty and loopy.

Move on an unique culmination excursion

I did this excursion and I liked it because it offered me to a large number of lesser-known tropical culmination such because the soursop, guavasteen, candy granadilla, and the West Indian Locust fruit (a.ok.a. the smelly ft fruit).

You get to head to a few native markets and take a look at out about 20 other scrumptious issues (or much less scrumptious… see: smelly ft).

Take salsa courses

On some days you’ll get unfastened courses at specific hostels (as an example on the Wandering Paisa) when you occur to be the cheap traveler. There also are salsa courses presented at most of the salsa bars and faculties.

Dive into the nightlife

The nightlife in Medellin is without a doubt numerous amusing, whether or not you’re the cocktail bar kind or wish to pass clubbing (lots of the song is latin). Your perfect guess is to visit Parque Lleras within the Poblado space, which is a small park surrounded by means of streets with bars and eating places, all of that have open terraces with other people spilling out onto the streets.

Visiting vs. residing in Medellin

I feel numerous the variations of opinion about Medellin stem from whether or not other people keep for a couple of days, or for for much longer.

Medellin has so much going for it as an reasonably priced position to are living, with a light year-round local weather, a lovely just right high quality of existence, and lots of issues to do. That’s why it’s been very well liked by virtual nomads and faraway staff (I additionally assume the courting scene is a huge appeal for some nomad sorts).

Even though Medellin stays a big virtual nomad hotspot, very similar to Mexico Town, Chiang Mai, or Lisbon, its reputation turns out to have peaked just a little bit. Costs rose and gentrification set in, which has led to a few grumbling about it being “puffed up”.

There’s additionally been some backlash to sleazy foreigners coming to Medellin to seek out prostitutes and medication and such. Some Fb teams for Medellin have needed to get started a “no jerks” coverage.

Some citizens additionally don’t just like the lifestyles of Pablo Escobar-themed excursions, short of to place this ugly generation at the back of them.

However when you’re visiting as a vacationer for a couple of days, you’ll almost certainly be 100% unaware of those controversies.

Whilst Medellin isn’t a town with any colonial or historic historical past and even many conventional “vacationer websites”, it gives a perfect window into Colombian tradition and its newer historical past. In the event you’re on a bigger commute thru Colombia, I without a doubt wouldn’t skip it.

Is Medellin nonetheless bad?

Medellin is now not the area of Pablo Escobar, however it may nonetheless be just a little tough across the edges. Don’t put on dear jewellery, stay your telephone to your pocket, and take professional taxis at evening (or ride-hail apps) while you’re going out.

Peachy Poblado space

I’ve requested locals in regards to the protection in Medellin on a lot of events. I as soon as requested a bunch of locals who I’d befriended in the event that they’d ever been robbed or had the rest occur — I gained moderately the collective eye-roll. One lifelong Paisa instructed me the entire barrios (standard neighborhoods) are mainly protected and that most effective one of the communas (hillside shanty cities) may also be bad nowadays.

I do assume the location could be a bit other for vacationers, as they could also be extra centered than born-and-raised locals.

The most secure community is undoubtedly Poblado, which is the place maximum vacationer lodging is. This space is moderately prosperous and global even though, so it’s just a little decrease on native vibes. Laureles is any other nice space to stick. The metro gadget may be very protected and protected, so you’ll use it to get round with none issues.

Normally, Medellin isn’t bad, however being a large town in South The usa it’s nonetheless sensible to take some elementary protection precautions.


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Posted OCT 18, 2022 (Up to date Oct 20, 2022)