Narcos, Pablo, Drugs, Bombs, Murder, Cocaine. Lots of Cocaine. Welcome to Medellín!
Ok hopefully you’re laughing. If that’s the image you have or if it’s anything close, you need to let that go.
Before you arrive, you need to think of all those images of drug dealers, the couple of seasons of Narcos you’ve binged on, and all of the old Scarface posters, and get that out of your head. It’s not like that at all.
In fact, in the past couple of years – peace, prosperity, city improvements, and the Metrocable, have all transformed this city in the valley. Sure it’s got the Pablo Escobar stories if you look back, but going forward, you’ll be hearing of this city in the same sentence as friendly Costa Rican towns where expats kick back. You’ll also hear that more and more friends you know are working remote, traveling, or maybe just heading to Medellín and then going to see what comes next.
The city is often called “the land of eternal spring”. Perhaps that’s fitting. The city, and the entire country, are blossoming and there’s a chance to start anew. The conditions in the city are just great for relaxing, meeting travelers and locals, or even starting up a business idea.
Now, since the New York Times has already carved out what they suggest you do in 36 Hours. I’ll just call out some tips I think can help.
WHERE TO STAY
I was a big fan of Poblado and the nearby areas. The first place you’ll check out for drinking in the square, and then for all the outdoor bars, restaurants, and clubs, will be Parque Lleras. It’s an upscale and trendy neighborhood where both locals and tourists hangout. You’ll read that it’s touristy. TripAdvisor will say it’s good and bad. And perhaps if I was going to live here for 6 months or a year, I’d want to be a bit farther off the beaten path – where the rents and restaurants would come in at cheaper prices. But if you’re in town for a few nights, you’ll enjoy your time knowing that your a stroll away from the nightlife or back to your home after a long nigh out.
I stayed at the Hostal Poblado Park and found it worked just fine – cheap cheap (around $10 a night) and it came with a small outside lounge area, a TV, and a kitchen.
WHERE TO GO OUT
Ambling through Poblado and Lleras, you’ll find all you ever wanted: every type of bar and restaurant, and people drinking outside in the streets and main square. Maybe you avoid the prostitutes that gather around the main square and the liquor store that’s the last open spot of the evening (maybe you don’t). I’ll leave that up to you.
If you’re completely overwhelmed and want a spot to grab a dinner and a few beers, or want to grab a seat and look out over the streets and get your center, I’d suggest Basilica Restaurant.
Another great spot for a lunch or dinner is La Matriaca (definitely order the chicken soup!)
For starting off a good party night, I’d tell you to walk up from Poblado to the Happy Budda Party Hostel – their big balcony will be packed with Aussies, Brits, Americans, and you can stir up a conversation or join a group of rowdy fun seekers.
WHAT TO DO
If I can only call out a couple, I’d point you to be sure and ascend the Metrocable to the top, explore the park, walk around, ride it back down. Great views and something you have to check off the list. Here’s a bit of info and check the view below!
For a bit of culture and a good plan to start your day, venture to the city center for the Botero museum. This main square is a large meeting area with the famous, chubby statues, a hallmark of Fernando Botero.
While you are down in the Botero plaza be sure and stop by the El Laboratorio de Cafe. It’s the perfect place if you are craving some San Francisco quality hipster coffee!
And if we are speaking of great coffee, then check out the Honesto Cafe in the Poblado area. (They got some love over on our Instagram page!)
So there you go, a few quick tips on Medellín but you’ll have to go and explore for yourself. Have you been before? Got any tips or recommendations that you can share?
Post as a comment below.