Medellin, officially the Municipality of Medellin, in Colombia is the capital city of the department of Antioquia. It is also Colombia’s second largest city and is located in Aburra Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America. As of 2014, National Administrative Department of Statistics estimated Medellin’s population at 2.44 million, making its metropolitan area, along with nine other surrounding cities, the second largest urban agglomeration in Colombia in terms of population and economy. In 2013, Medellin was deemed as the most innovative city in the world, recognising its recent advances in politics, education, and social development, making it one of the best cities to live in South America. The city also boasts of its flower-growing industry and vibrant festivals and nightlife.
What to see & do
The centre of large events in Medellin takes place in Plaza Mayor. It is the international convention and exhibition centre of the city and is also one of the most modern in Colombia, with 21 meeting rooms and a large space for 3,000 people, as well as 280 parking spaces. It hosts major events including the Colombiatex and ColombiaModa, Colombia’s most important annual trade show.
Covering an area of approximately 20,000 hectares, Arvi Ecotourism Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Medellin. The park is complete with trails, lakes, forests, and streams, catering to several great nature adventure opportunities such as trekking, kayaking, camping, fishing, swimming, sailing, rowing, horseback riding, biking, and of course, picnics. The scenery in the park is also breath-taking as it offers natural landscapes overlooking entire Medellin.
Christmastime is an interesting season to visit Medellin. In December, the city is covered with thousands of Christmas lights, making it to National Geographic’s ten most beautiful in the world. The Avenue la Playa and the Medellin River are the particular places to take note of. Going to the city any time of the year will also still be memorable as Medellin has many festivals and art exhibitions all year round. Medellin city centre is concentrated with sculptures, especially in Avenida el Poblado and Sculpture Park in Nutibara Hill. Artworks of prominent local and international artists are also scattered on the streets of Medellin.
How to get around within Medellin
The city of Medellin has two transportation terminals: Terminal de Transporte Intermunicipal del Norte (North Transportation Terminal) and Terminal de Transporte Intermunicipal del Sur (South Transportation Terminal). Public transportation in Medellin includes diesel buses, taxis, and an urban train, the Medellin Metro – the only metro system in Colombia. Line A of the metro goes from Niquia to La Estrella (north to south), and Line B goes from San Antonio to San Javier (downtown to west). Metrocable, an air cable car, is another transportation option in Medellin, serving those depressed and geographically difficult area. Line K goes from Acevedo Station on Metro Line A to Santo Domingo Savio, while Line J goes from San Javier Station on Metro Line B to La Aurora. There is also a tourist-oriented line, Line L, which connects to Arvi Ecotourism Park.
Metroplus, a bus rapid transit service in the city, has dedicated roads and enclosed stations. Metroplus has 32 stations and operates long articulated buses running on natural gas. The Circular Coonatra buses ply routes downtown and neighbourhoods near the downtown area. Medellin also has a tourist-dedicated bus called the TuriBus, a hop on / hop off bus that goes around the city’s parks, attractive neighbourhoods, and historical sites. Taxis are also abundant in the city, all using meters.
How to get there
There are two airports serving Medellin: Olaya Herrera Airport and Jose Maria Cordova International Airport. Olaya Herrera Airport is for regional and domestic flights, with non-stop flights from 23 destinations, served by airlines including LAN, Aerolinea de Antioquia, Satena, and EasyFly, as well as charter flights from Searca. The Jose Maria Cordova International Airport serves non-stop flights from Caracas, Quito, Lima, Curacao, Panama, San Jose (Costa Rica), San Salvador, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, and Madrid, among others. Airlines operating in this airport include American Airlines, Avianca, COPA, LAN, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, Insel Air, and VivaColombia.
By land transportation the North and South terminals connect Medellin with nearby cities. There are also four roads that lead to the city from all cardinal points. Take Autopista Medellin when coming from Bogota; and Road 25 from Pereira, Cali, and the south; Route 25 from the Atlantic coast.