Medellin: The city of hope and a thousand activities

The title of this post might sound a little bit tacky, but I couldn’t come up with a more suiting one than this one. Medellin has been known for years as probably one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but has made such a transformation the last decade or so. Nowadays it actually might be quite famous as being one of the most exciting cities in South America, with many travelers stating ‘they could move to Medellin’. You wouldn’t have found many people claiming that back in the 90’s…

So here we are today, in the capital of the proud Paisas, an ever evolving modern city with so much to do. Where to start you’d probably think, right?

cathedral medellin city

square of hope medellin
The square of hope
pillars of hope medellin square
The pillars of hope on the square that was once known as the square of crime

Eye-opening walking tours

Well, start with the free city tour of Real City Tours! A walking tour through the city center guided by two really knowledgable and entertaining local guys, or better said; story tellers. In four hours (time really flies) they tell you all about the history, culture and inhabitants of Medellin, with all its flaws and achievements. Proud as Paisas are, they talk about their city with such admiration and passion even about their horrible history. It’s refreshing to hear the stories behind this city and leave all the prejudice behind. 

Woman statue by Botero Medellin
Fernando Botero statues all over the place
medellin city view from the cable car
Medellin city view goes on and on and on

Medellin from above

The city of Medellin is huge, and that’s not an understatement. To get an idea of the size of the city we took the cable car to Parque Arvi. A thirty minute ride that takes you over the favelas of Medellin into a beautiful park perfect for Sunday picnics. Staying mostly in El Poblado, Laureles and the city centre, this really was a good way of seeing the other, less fortunate, sight of Medellin.

Cable car Medellin
The cable car taking you up to Parque Arvi
Guatape town colorful houses
Colorful streets of Guatapé

A town dipped in colors…

If you’d like to escape the bustling city, there’s plenty to do in the rolling mountains around Medellin. About two hours outside of Medellin there’s a town that seemed to have walked out of a children’s book. The moment you set foot in Guatapé it’s like you just took a time machine to a different world. All the houses are painted in different colors and patterns, the tuktuks have adapted to the houses and the men with their bowler hats fit right in. Just sit on a bench and see how life passes by here.

If you’re keen on walking a 740 steps I would recommend climbing la Piedra del Peñol while you’re there. It’s a bit of a climb, but the view is worth it! Guatapé is surrounded by little islands and the 360 view up on this monolith is one to take in for a while.

view monolith guatape piedra del penol
The view from La Piedra del PeñolGuatape colors house dogTuk Tuk guatape town colors

Paintball in Pablo’s mansion

Does all of this sounds a bit too soft for you? Wanna step up your game? In that case, what do you think about playing paintball in one of Pablo Escobars mansions. After watching Narcos on Netflix, this guy definitely got me fascinated and playing paintball at his house is as ridiculous as it sounds. The ruins of what was once an impressive mansion where the (black) magic happened, are one hell of a good setting for an afternoon game of paintball. Complete with a tour through the whole finca seeing where Pablo himself played a game of soccer, danced the night away and kept his horses, this day couldn’t have been more genius. Book here

Medellin art Botero musuem

The city that never sleeps

I don’t want to bother you with a list of those thousand activities Medellin and its outskirts have to offer, so I think you just have to go there and discover the other 995. Medellin is an amazing city that will spoil you with good museums, amazing restaurants and crazy nightlife (alright, one more; go party at Calle 9). They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but I think they got some serious competition from Medellin. Enjoy this special city and let their hopes become reality!


Ps. Of course you can always shoot me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to be bothered with the other 995, I’m ready to spill them all over you! 😉

Botero street art Medellin metro
Street art by Fernando Botero
Dante inferno statue medellin
Dantes’ Inferno statue in downtown Medellin
gambling ginneapig medellin game
Guess to which house this little friend goes, and you might win yourself a few pesosgame medellin ginneapig gamblingmen playing music on a square in medellinpillars of hope square medellindaily street life medellin church
art work botero medellin
The left statue made by Botero was blown up during a social event in downtown Medellin causing 25 deaths. Instead of removing the art piece, he made an exact copy of the ‘Bird of peace’ remembering this sad day and to prove that the people of Medellin were stronger than that.
blown up art work botero medellin
Pajaro de paz by Botero

woman statue by Botero Medellin

daily life in Guatape men with bowler hats
The local men fitting right instreets of Guatape

little girl walking the street of Guatape

colored house guatape town
The colors of Guatapé
view at la piedra del penol monolith guatape
View over the bay of islands from La piedra del Peñol
la piedra del penol monolith guatape
La Piedra del Peñolview la piedra del penol monolith guatape
colors guatape town colombia
Fairytales, children’s books and rainbows, this town will never make you grumpymotorbike guatape streets medellin view from the cable carfavelas of medellin colombiastreetart in the favelas of medellinfavelas of medellin daily street lifebay of islands in guatape monolith la piedra el penol

Photos by: M. Barends, L. Folkeringa ©

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