Exploring Medellin, Colombia
(by Vincent)


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Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia.  It's historic, edgy, and utterly breathtaking.  The metropolis of 2.4 million is situated within the picturesque Aburra Valley in the northern reaches of the Andes.  The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks on all four sides and with moderate temperatures year-round, it is known as the city of eternal spring. 

While the city does have a checkered past it has recently been given a new lease on life thanks to innovative social and political policies.  If you've been contemplating a Medellin excursion now is the time to visit.  The city is flourishing and with an influx of visitors it's rapidly becoming one of Latin America's hottest tourist attractions.



What to do:

First, you'll want to explore the city's fascinating history at the Museo de Antioquia.  Set in a historic, art deco palace the museum is the second oldest in Colombia and boasts a stunning collection, including pre-Columbian, colonial and modern art collections.  For a firsthand look at their colonial architecture stop by the Basilica de la Candelaria.  Arguable the city's most important church, it was constructed in 1770 and houses a historic, German-made pipe organ.  Keep in mind that this city also has a thriving art scene.  Take in the vast array of sculptures in the Plazoleta de las Esculturas or check out the paintings at their Museum of Modern Art.

If you're looking to escape the urban chaos for a bit, head to Parue Arvi.  Situated in Santa Elena, this stunning, 18 square kilometer reserve boasts hiking trails, canopy lines, lakes, and a butterfly enclosure.  It is easily reached by cable car and is a major tourist attraction.  Of course, the city also serves an excellent jumping off point to explore the Andean scenery farther afield.  If you have the time take a day trip to the beautiful Rio Clar Valley in eastern Antioquia.

 

Where to eat:

Medellin's fine dining scene is burgeoning.  Stop in for a meal at Carmen, run by two Cordon Bleu trained chefs.  And of course, you will want to make it a point to try some traditional Colombian cuisine.  Mondongo's, a local favorite, serves up traditional Colombian meals, as does Los Toldos.

Where to stay:

Their blossoming tourist industry has meant a rise in high-end accommodations.  If it's opulence you're looking for, seek accommodations at the Charlee Hotel.  With vast park view balconies featuring Japanese grills and hot tubs, this boutique hotel was listed on the exclusive Conde Nast 2012 Hot List.  Of course, if you're traveling on a budget the city also has a variety of excellent hostels.  Try the Palm Tree Hostel or the Casa Kiwi Hostel.


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