Medellín, Colombia

••• ván Erre Jota/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Medellín is Colombia's second largest city, a principal manufacturing and industrial area, as well as a commercial flower growing region, particularly orchids. But for years was best known as the center of The Colombian Cartels. With the death of Pablo Escobar, Medellín is slowly recovering but is not yet a full-fledged tourist destination. However, there is plenty to do and see in the city itself and the scenic surroundings.

Medellín is a beautiful city, modern and yet true to its regional characteristics. It was founded in 1616 in the scenic Aburrá valley but remained small until the coffee boom. It later became the center of a textile industry, and today is a modern, vibrant city.

Location and Practical Information

Antioquia department in northwestern Colombia is in the mountainous region between the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Central. Here, the temperate climate gives Medellín, the capital of the Antioquia, the names of "The Land of Eternal Spring" and "Capital of The Flowers".​

Getting There and Around

  • Cheap flights from the UK and cheap flights to Medellin use the international José María Córdoba airport 30 km southeast of the city. Regional flights use the old Olaya Herrera airport. ​You can also browse for hotels and car rentals. There are shuttles into the city.
  • Bus service to and from major Colombian cities from the Terminal del Norte or the Terminal del Sur.
  • Medellín is the first Colombian city to have a metro serving the city in both north-south and to the west.

When to Go

With a climate of perpetual spring, any time of the year is a good time, but perhaps early August, when the Fería de Las Flores is scheduled, is the best time.

Things to Do and See

  • Fería de Las Flores begins with a caballero a horseback parade through the city, either alone or in groups, for almost the entire day. Music, dances and cultural events celebrate the Antioquiana customs, but the highlight is the Desfile de Silleteros, where campesinos come down from the mountains carrying flowers.
  • Basilica de la Candelaria is one of the few colonial buildings left.
  • The Basilica Metropolitana in the Parque de Bolivar was completed early in the 20th century and is thought to be the largest brick church in South America.
  • Pueblito Paisa is a replica of a typical Antioquiana village, complete with handicraft shops.
  • Plaza Botero displays a number of works by Fernando Botero, the internationally known Medellín sculptor who specializes in oversized human figures. More of his works are in the Museo de Antioquia.
  • Plaza de Toros la Macarena
  • The JardÍn Botánico JoaquÍn Antonio Uribe has an annual orchid exposition in the Orquideorama.
  • Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín is an annual event held in July.