Forget everything you've read about Medellín - it's probably old news by now. Yes, the city was the headquarters and principal killing grounds for Colombia's cocaine cartels. But the world press forgot to report Medellín's remarkable turnaround. Today, it's one of Latin America's safest big cities, and also one of its most pleasant.
Although Medellín may lack the sophisticated edge of Bogotá or the sumptuous languor of Cartagena, it has its own unique set of guiles to win over the traveler. Surrounded on all four sides by rugged peaks, there seem to be stunning views wherever you look. With mild temperatures year-round, Medellín deserves the nickname 'City of Eternal Spring.' A dynamic economy, driven by the huge textile industry as well as very brisk business in cut flowers, helps support a lively cultural scene. The narrow streets of downtown, safe once again, are supercharged with pedestrian life. Above all, it's the people who will win you over. Even in ultra-friendly Colombia, they are known for their graciousness and warmth.
Life isn't perfect by any means. The slopes around the city are crowded with makeshift slums, a constant reminder of the inequality that plagues not just Medellín but all of Latin America. Still, the city's residents have a special knack for enjoying themselves, and they're more than happy to have you join in. Medellín is rivaled only by Cali as the capital of Colombian nightlife. And like Cali, plastic surgery carries no stigma whatsoever. Some say all the fake boobs are a lingering reminder of the profound influence drug lords long exerted on Medellín's culture and aesthetic.
Note that there are no distinct wet or dry seasons, though there does tend to be more rain from March to May and September to November.
Best places to stay in Medellín
The cheapest sightseeing tour in the world
The city of Medellín, located in north-central Colombia, has an inspirational story. Only two decades removed from the height of its notoriously violent past, it is now considered to be one of the safest big cities in Latin America, with character, nightlife and public art that any urban area would envy...
Medellín destination guides
Medellín's cultural renaissance
In the heyday of Medellín's notorious cocaine cartel, 4000 people were assassinated a year, including on average one policeman per day. This was the 1980s when local boy-gone-bad Pablo Escobar headed the organisation that put Medellín on par with Mogadishu as a dangerous destination...
Cartagena to Quito
Be a part of Columbia's revival on this exciting overland adventure. Travel through the Colombian countryside and discover quaint cities, coffee plantations, sleepy seaside towns and grand volcanic landscapes. With lots of opportunity to interact with outgoing, friendly locals, this is a great chance to have a genuine travel experience to talk about for years to come.
Pablo Escobar Historical Tour of Medellín
Learn about the life and death of Pablo Escobar, one of Medellín's most famous figures and Colombia's most notorious drug lord. This 2-hour historical tour takes you back in time and inside the life of Pablo Escobar, a man both loved and feared by millions of people.