We’ll be honest with you. It never crossed our minds to visit what’s widely believed as a “very dangerous” country until Jason decided to attend a conference in Medellin. Most of our family and friends’ reactions when we told them we were going to Colombia fell along the lines of: “I hope you guys return safely”, “Be safe!”, “Omg, you mean where Narcos happened?”
And we diligently followed every online travel safety tip:
- make several copies of our passport/itineraries for each luggage
- constantly update our family about our whereabouts
- use a fanny pack to avoid purse pick pocketing
- only carry minimal cash for street food/metro/emergency
- don’t look too touristy, meaning put those DSLRs and selfie sticks away
We even went as far to purchasing water purifier tablets (just in case!).
Safety precautions like these should always be taken, especially if you’re solo traveling. However, we were surprised to feel “over-prepared” and pretty safe during our short time here. We stayed in El Poblado, which is Medellin’s prestigious neighborhood. Like most big cities, there are areas you should avoid and the general safety rules apply. Medellin turned out to be a very accessible and friendly city.
The city has faced a huge development increase during the last few years, with lots of reconciliation efforts in uniting the politically split country. There’s been improvements, such as new metro trains, to help fill the wealth gap. Coincidentally, Pope Francis was visiting to promote peace during our stay. ✌
Overall, we highly encourage you to add Medellin to your travel list.Surrounded by red-brick high rises and mountain peaks, the city was a love at first sight and our favorite stop in South America.
We stayed in Art Hotel Boutique, a 4 start hotel located in Parque Lleras. The hotel comes with a roof top bar that closes at 10pm, and the rooms are spacious, dim lit, with an industrial/modern appeal. Beware if you’re a light sleeper, as it is close to the bars and clubs in la Zona Rosa! Our favorite part was the breakfast buffet 🙂
1. Boutique Shop in Vía Primavera
If you’re into boutiques, you can easily spend a couple hours wandering and shopping on this street. The clothing quality isn’t the best, but the prices are inexpensive. Near the shops are hip restaurants and cafes. We left with a cute ceramic vase and a locally sewn cap.
With Pope Francis visiting and the isolated rain storms, we didn’t get the chance to visit all of the hot spots, but we’re happy we got to explore Plaza de las Esculturas and el Museo de Antioquia. This museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Fernando Botero artwork. We found the modern artist’s “inflated” art style to be quite cute!
Enjoy the nightlife of La Zona Rosa
Parque Lleras is Medellin’s night life district and where the glamorous youth of el Poblado come out to mingle. Here, you can wander through the maze of clubs and bars, learn salsa dancing, eat late night munchies, or just people watch near the beer stand.
Eat a traditional desayunero! The rice and beans were so soo good 🙂
We particularly liked the corn empanada and ravioli.
3. Eden Bistro
Our street food hearts tell us that this was our favorite in Medellin. It’s a hole in the wall open stand that serves quick on-the-go empanadas. With some lime and hot sauce, they are to die for! Perfect for drunchies.
We decided to fancy on our last night! Although fancy in Medellin is still pretty affordable in US dollars. We both went with appetizers, a main course, dessert, and wine – all for $80!
Medellin brought us new experiences in many ways. Being tucked away in the mountains, the city brought us a surrounding view that made us feel far away from home and alive! It’s truly a beauty of its own, and we highly recommend you to visit!
Eunice & Jason
P.S. All photos were taken by the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the iPhone 7+