Medellín is a beautiful city with gorgeous views and lots of interesting things to explore. We spent two full days wandering the city, and despite continuous rain being in the forecast, we had 48 nearly-rain-free hours to get to know Medellín. Here are our highlights.
1. Taking a Sunday Stroll Through Town
Just as in Bogotá, every Sunday, some of the city’s main arteries are closed off to auto traffic and open to cyclists, runners and wanders. They call it Ciclovia Sundays. We walked from El Poblado down to Centro to take in the city. It’s hot, and there’s not a lot of shade, so wear sunscreen!
2. Visiting Botero Plaza
Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist and sculptor from Medellín. His style is known as “Boterismo” and features large, exaggerated figures. We love Botero’s art, so visiting Plaza Botero was a highlight of our time in Medellín. The Plaza is beautifully set against the unique and extraordinary Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. Also, the Museo Antioquia features Botero’s painting and sculptures as well as a fantastic collection of modern art. It’s right next to the plaza and well worth a visit.
3. Exploring Medellín by Rooftop
The views are amazing from many locations in Medellín. We didn’t opt to see the city by cable car, but we did check out a few rooftop bars. The swanky bar, Envy, at the Charlee Hotel near Parque Lleras is pricey but super cool. We went for the Sunday brunch, which included delicious paella, crostini, muscles, cooked-to-order omelets and more. The place draws a young crowd of locals and travelers, the music is loud and the festivities included wine-chugging contests … so yeah, there’s that. We felt a little old but it was still super cool and worth it for the food and views. We also went to the rooftop bar at Hotel 47 downtown to recuperate after our 4-mile walk to Centro.
Then we hopped in an Uber to go back up north to El Poblado. Uber is readily available, though you may have to wait about 10 minutes for your driver.
4. Alambique for Dinner
Alambique is a lovely little rooftop restaurant near Parque Lleras. It doesn’t have a city view like the restaurants mentioned above, but it does have a great vibe, excellent cocktails and delicious Colombian food. It’s difficult to find because, though Google maps will take you right to it, there’s no sign. The entrance is marked only by blue double doors that take you upstairs to a little art gallery. You have to walk through the gallery to another set of stairs that take you up to the restaurant. We suggest making a reservation.
We had a perfect seat overlooking the street performers below. Service was friendly, though a bit slow. The pulpo ranked in the top two octopus dishes we’ve ever had. Seriously amazing!
5. Staying at Viaggio
Our boutique hotel in Medellín deserves a nod. Honestly, for less that the price of the Airbnb that cancelled on us at the last minute, we got this beautiful, spacious and luxurious room with stunning views at Hotel Viaggio. What a score!
That 🛀 ! The staff was so nice. The included breakfast had rice and beans and fresh fruit and juice and cook-to-order eggs. It was in walking distance to Parque Lleras and easy for Uber to find us and take us to Centro. This was a special find for sure.
6. Dinner at El Herbacio
We had a truly memorable dinner at El Herbacio. It was an 8 minute walk from Hotel Viaggio and served a world-class meal. We had ceviche, pumpkin soup, the fish of the day and a steak. We felt a bit pretentious talking about the flavor profiles, but seriously, the food was fresh and delicious—so complex flavor-wise without going overboard with cream or foam or anything else. The ambiance was swanky, fun and comfortable 🙂
*Bonus*: Here are the things we didn’t do that we wish we did. So, Parque Avri is accessible by cable car and is apparently a great outdoorsy place to explore. It was closed on Mondays, so with only two days in the city, we didn’t get to go. The modern art museum was a short walk from our hotel but also was closed on Mondays. We wanted to go to the botanical gardens, which actually were open, but the heat, altitude and pollution got to us and we had to take a long siesta in the middle of the day. Plan for exhaustion. Even as seasoned travelers, we had to adjust to the environment here. If we had one more day, we would’ve explored more, but we’re so glad we added a few days in Medellín to our trip to Cartagena.
We love Colombia and the Colombian people so much, and we are looking forward to exploring more of this amazing country.