Getting to Know Medellin Colombia: A Comprehensive Guide

By Esteban Parcero •  Updated: 03/17/23 •  10 min read

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Getting to Know Medellin Colombia: A Comprehensive Guide

Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, has come a long way since its notorious days in the 1980s and 90s when drug violence was rampant.

Today, Medellin is a vibrant, modern metropolis that has transformed itself into a hub of culture, innovation, and progress.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the streets of Medellin, introducing you to its history, culture, cuisine, and nightlife. Whether you’re planning your first visit to this beautiful city or you’re a seasoned traveler, this guide will give you all the information you need to make the most of your time in Medellin.

History of Medellin

The history of Medellin is deeply intertwined with the history of Colombia itself.

The city was founded in 1616 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Herrera y Campuzano, and quickly grew to become an important center of commerce and industry.

Medellin’s modern history, however, has been shaped by more recent events. In the 1980s and 90s, Medellin was the headquarters of the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

His cartel was responsible for an unprecedented wave of violence that claimed the lives of thousands of people.

However, in recent years, Medellin has undergone a remarkable transformation, and today it is a safe and thriving city that is home to over 2.5 million people.

Getting Around in Medellin

Medellin has an efficient and reliable transportation system, which makes getting around the city easy and affordable.

The metro system is the best way to travel around Medellin.

It’s clean, safe, and easy to use, and it covers most of the city.

The metro runs from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Another popular mode of transportation in Medellin is the cable car system, which provides stunning views of the city and is a great way to get to some of the more remote neighborhoods.

Taxis are also plentiful and inexpensive, but be sure to negotiate the price before getting in.

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Medellin’s Culture and Art Scene

Medellin is a city that is rich in culture and the arts.

It has a thriving music scene, with a wide range of genres represented, from traditional Colombian music to salsa and reggaeton.

The city is also home to a number of museums, including the Museum of Antioquia, which houses an impressive collection of works by the famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero.

One of the most unique cultural experiences in Medellin is the Comuna 13 neighborhood.

Once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city, it has now been transformed into a vibrant hub of street art and music.

The neighborhood is best explored on a guided tour, which will take you through the winding streets, past colorful murals, and to the top of the hill for panoramic views of the city.

Medellin’s Culinary Scene

Colombian cuisine is diverse and flavorful, and Medellin is no exception.

The city is famous for its bandeja paisa, a hearty plate of beans, rice, ground beef, chicharron (pork belly), fried egg, plantain, and avocado.

Another must-try dish is arepas, a type of corn cake that is often stuffed with cheese or meat.

In addition to traditional Colombian fare, Medellin also has a vibrant international food scene.

The city has a large population of immigrants, which has led to a diverse array of restaurants serving everything from local food to international cuisine.

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The Culture and Traditions of Medellin

Medellin is known for its vibrant culture and rich traditions.

One of the city’s most important celebrations is the Feria de las Flores or the Flower Fair, which takes place in August every year.

During this festival, the city is adorned with colorful flowers, and there are parades, concerts, and street parties.

Another significant celebration is the Festival of Lights or El Alumbrado.

It is a spectacular event where the city is decorated with millions of Christmas lights, and people come from all over the world to witness the magical display.

The Medellin people are also very proud of their music and dance.

One of the most popular forms of music in Medellin is the vallenato, which is a traditional Colombian genre that originated in the Caribbean coast.

The city also has a thriving salsa scene, and you can find many clubs and dance schools where you can learn to dance salsa.

The people of Medellin are known for their warmth and friendliness, and visitors are always welcomed with open arms.

They are proud of their city and love to show it off to visitors.

Medellin is a city that is deeply rooted in its traditions, and it’s this strong sense of culture that makes it such a unique and special place to visit.

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The Food in Medellin

Colombian cuisine is a mix of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences, and it’s known for its variety of flavors and colors.

Medellin is no exception, and the city has a vibrant food scene that is sure to please any palate.

One of the most popular dishes in Medellin is the bandeja paisa, which is a hearty platter that includes beans, rice, avocado, plantain, sausage, chicharrón, and arepa.

It’s a filling meal that will keep you energized for hours. Another must-try dish is the sancocho, which is a soup made with chicken, potatoes, corn, and yucca.

It’s a comfort food that is perfect for a rainy day.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try some of the more exotic dishes like the hormigas culonas or the fried ants.

These ants are a delicacy in the region and are usually fried and served with salt. They have a nutty flavor and are surprisingly tasty.

One of the best ways to experience the food in Medellin is to visit the local markets like Mercado de la Playa or Mercado de San Alejo.

Here you’ll find fresh produce, meats, and seafood, as well as traditional Colombian dishes like empanadas, arepas, and tamales.

Getting Around Medellin

Medellin has an excellent public transportation system that includes buses, taxis, and a metro system.

The metro system is one of the most modern in the world and is a great way to get around the city quickly and efficiently.

The metro system has two lines, and it covers most of the city’s main tourist attractions.

The metro also connects with the Metrocable, which is a cable car system that takes you up into the hills surrounding the city.

From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

If you prefer to travel by bus, there are many routes that connect the different neighborhoods of Medellin. Buses are cheap and frequent, but they can be crowded, especially during peak hours.

Taxis are also widely available, and they’re a convenient way to get around the city, especially at night.

It’s important to use authorized taxis, and you can usually find them at designated taxi stands throughout the city.

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The transportation system is cheap, efficient and widely available

If you’re worried about getting around Medellin, don’t be!

The city’s transportation system is one of the most efficient and affordable in the world, with a variety of options available to suit any budget.

The metro system is an excellent way to get around the city, with trains running every few minutes and tickets costing just a few cents.

There are also buses and taxis available for those who prefer a more traditional mode of transport, and bike-sharing programs for those who want to explore the city on two wheels.

One of the most unique transportation options in Medellin is the cable car system, which offers incredible views of the city as it winds its way up the hillsides.

The cable cars are also an important mode of transportation for many of the city’s residents, providing a vital link between neighborhoods and reducing travel time significantly.

The city has a vibrant nightlife

Medellin’s nightlife is legendary, with a huge variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for a low-key evening of live music and cocktails or a wild night of dancing until dawn, there’s something for everyone in Medellin.

One of the most popular areas for nightlife in the city is Parque Lleras, located in the heart of the El Poblado neighborhood.

This area is home to a wide range of bars and clubs, as well as some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes.

For those who prefer a more alternative scene, the Laureles and Envigado neighborhoods are great places to explore.

These areas are known for their vibrant street art and underground music scenes, and are home to a variety of independent bars and clubs.

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The food scene is incredible

Colombian cuisine is some of the most delicious and varied in the world, and Medellin is no exception.

From traditional dishes like bandeja paisa (a hearty platter of beans, rice, meat, and plantains) to more modern fusion cuisine, there’s something for every taste in Medellin.

One of the best places to experience the city’s food scene is at the Mercado de la Ciudadela, a bustling market in the heart of the city that offers everything from fresh produce to street food and artisanal products.

Another great option is the Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a traditional Antioquian village that features a variety of restaurants and cafes serving up traditional dishes.

For those who want to explore the city’s more modern food scene, the El Poblado neighborhood is home to a variety of trendy restaurants and cafes serving up everything from fusion cuisine to craft cocktails.

The people are friendly and welcoming

One of the things that sets Medellin apart from other cities is its people. Known as “paisas,” the residents of Medellin are some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world, always willing to go out of their way to help visitors and make them feel at home.

Whether you’re exploring the city’s museums and cultural attractions or simply wandering the streets, you’ll find that the locals are always happy to strike up a conversation and share their knowledge and insights about the city.

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Final Thoughts

Medellin is a truly unique city that has something to offer everyone, from its stunning natural beauty to its vibrant culture and welcoming people.

Whether you’re planning a short trip or a longer stay, this city is sure to capture your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

So why not start planning your next adventure to Medellin today?

Before you go…

Now you know Getting to Know Medellin Colombia: A Comprehensive Guide, but that’s only the beginning of your journey here at we like Colombia. If you found this post useful there’s more to learn to get you to the next step of your Colombian journey. If you read our next articles you’ll be a step further than most people.

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Esteban Parcero

Esteban Parcero, a Puerto Rican, that has a deep connection with Colombia, which he considers his second home. He has been frequently visiting the country for over a decade, immersing himself in the vibrant culture, music, and cuisine. Esteban has made many friends in Colombia and particularly loves Medellín for its stunning landscapes, nightlife, and people. Through his travels, Steve has gained a unique perspective on Latin American culture and has become an advocate for promoting cultural exchange between different countries.

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