Medellín in a few words
Located in a valley surrounded by mountains at an altitude of 1475 m, Medellín, the country’s second largest city, is considered the economic capital. Since the end of the drug cartels, the city has rapidly transformed itself into the most dynamic in the country. The attractive areas of this metropolis are very well served by a comfortable and fast metro system, unique in Colombia.
The city has 3.7 million inhabitants. They are called “Paisas” and they are the biggest traders in the country. Its inhabitants, who are kind and hard-working, have nicknamed Medellin “the city of eternal spring”. It is also famous for its wealth of cultural activities, a variety of museums, theaters, art galleries, its active night life (especially the tango) and the many bars and nightclubs. Medellin, capital of Antioquia, it is also the capital of textiles and fashion. Its fashion show, the Colombiamoda, is the largest in its sector and attracts more than 1,400 international buyers from 21 countries and over 6,000 domestic buyers.
Medellín: A bit of history
The development of the city began in Santa Fe, where Basque and Jewish Spanish emigrants settled to develop agriculture and livestock. Later, due to its strategic location and commercial vocation, Medellin was declared the capital of Antioquia in 1826.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the arrival of the railway and the boom in coffee production transformed the town. Mine owners and coffee barons invested their profits in the textile industry and the gamble paid off. The city and the department have seen an acceleration in many economic areas since the 2000s, making Medellin one of the most dynamic cities in Latin America today. It is worth noting that the region is rich in gold mines which account for 70% of the country’s production.
When to visit Medellin
Medellin, named the city of eternal spring, has pleasant temperatures all year round (an average of between 19 and 25 degrees). The rainiest months are April, May, October and November.
How to get to Medellin
BY PLANE: Medellin has two airports :
- The José Maria Córdova airport which serves national and international flights. Unfortunately, the airport is quite far from Medellin (28 km). By bus, it takes 1h30 and 10.000 pesos. By cab, count 45 min / 1 hour of road and 70.000 pesos. You can also take a collective cab for 15,000 pesos per person.
- The Olaya Herrera airport is smaller and serves the national flights of the companies Ada, EasyFly and Satena (it is the main airport to reach the Colombian Pacific coast). It is located in the center of the city next to the South Bus Terminal.
BY BUS: There are two bus stations in Medellin: The North Terminal which can be reached easily and quickly by metro, and the South Terminal which, from El Poblado, is a 5-minute cab ride.
How to get around Medellin?
BUS City buses crisscross the city and cost between 1,900 and 2,000 pesos. The MetroPlus (a small equivalent of Bogotá’s Transmilenio with its own bus lanes) cost 2,300 pesos per trip.
METRO: This is the only city in Colombia with a metro. It is modern, clean and serves the center quickly and conveniently. The metro service also has the Metrocable (cable car), a real tourist attraction that allows you to admire the city from above. The metro is also aerial and offers beautiful views of the city. Count 2.300 pesos for a trip by metro and 4.600 for the line L of the Metrocable which leads to the Arvi Park.
There are a large number of TAXIS that crisscross the city, all equipped with a taximeter. Uber also operates in Medellin.
Security: is Medellin a dangerous city?
Medellin was long known for its drug cartels, notably that of Pablo Escobar. After his death in 1993. The city went from being the most dangerous in Colombia to the most innovative in Latin America. A stunning change, managed by a very good organization of the city hall, and the renowned professionalism of the “Paisas” (name of the inhabitants of the Antioquia region). The cartels were dismantled in a short period of time and the violence decreased a lot to become today one of the safest cities in Latin America. The expression “No Dar Papaya” is still in force, and as in all the big cities of the world we advise you not to show your valuables in the street.
What are the main cultural events in Medellin?
- March 28-29:Theater Week with street performances and various events throughout the city.
- Late June: the Annual Tango Festival.
- Late July: Colombiamoda, fashion festival.
- End of June, beginning of July: the National Craft Fair.
- Late July, early August: the Fair of Flowers (feria de la Flores), with parade of Chivas (traditional hand-decorated buses)*.
- Early December, early January: Los Alumbrados (Christmas lights), among the most beautiful in the world.
- Last week of the year: Festival of the Diablitos in Santa Fé de Antioquia. The oldest carnival festival in the department.
*The Medellín Flower Fair.
This is the August event not to be missed! The Festival of Flowers of Medellin is one of the event most anticipated of the year by Colombians and also by foreigners. The first flower festival was held on May 1, 1957. Flowers are ubiquitous in the streets of Medellin. It is an event that honors the values and culture paisa.
Most impressive: the beautiful flower and horse parades. The most emblematic characters of this floral festival are the merchants and itinerant flower carriers, who present us with unique floral arrangements in the world, which they usually arrange on their backs. It is a really cheerful and family festival, which we strongly recommend you to know, at least once..