What’s not to like about La Ciudad de La Eterna Primavera? Nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring due to its moderate yet tropical climate that’s generally 75 and sunny year round, Medellín, Colombia has become my home away from home. I’ve always had an affinity for South America, especially Buenos Aires – the Paris of South America – but when my mid-life crisis manifested during the pandemic, my “Covid splurge” was a sight unseen, new construction condo within the heart of Lalinde in Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. It ultimately came down to proximity to the States (under 3 ½ hours nonstop flight from Miami) and value.
Lalinde is a more residential, yet extremely walkable and accessible central area that’s a stone’s throw away from the most popular tourist attractions in the city, which is the second largest in Colombia, and just a 45-minute flight to its capital of Bogotá. From there, one can take a 2-hour long drive to Guatapé, a colorful Andean resort town featuring ample water activities and the giant granite rock Piedra Del Peñol—which if climbed, lends itself to some sweeping panoramic views.
I’ve never felt the need for a car, preferring to make my way through the city on foot. I’ve found it to be a great means of getting your bearings and exploring foreign land. Also, Ubers and taxis here tend to be cost effective.
The majority of my recommendations below are within close proximity and walkable from Lalinde, and with most travelers only having a few days to cover a lot of ground, it’s a good jumping off point if you want to make the most of your visit.
WHERE TO STAY
CLICK CLACK HOTEL
I’ve had the pleasure of staying at both their Bogotá and Medellín locations. The Medellín venue is newer and also a terrific, central location just up from Calle 10, Parque Llleras, and Provenza. Their Egeo Mediterranean and Mekong Thai restaurants are tops, and is also home to the Deriva rooftop bar/restaurant/lounge, inclusive of a pool. Reasonably priced and friendly staff. Great design and the epitome of a hip boutique hotel.
Cra. 37 #10A 29 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.6043232
I’ve stayed here multiple times, but their rates have doubled since my initial stay. It’s on top of the recently redone Parque Llleras, so noise and tourist traps abound, but the rooms and hotel itself have a unique, rustic meets industrial design, and their balconies are spacious and virtually sound proof if you utilize the enclosures. There’s also a newly remodeled restaurant and a very popular rooftop Club Envy featuring great views and a see-thru pool.
Cl. 9A #37-16 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.4444968
HOTEL PARK 10
A more traditional option in comparison to some of the other hip and trendy boutique hotels, but has very attentive and helpful staff, great value, and is in a great location. It’s also home to a delicious restaurant, Lussac, which is no frills in terms of ambience, but offers a complimentary breakfast buffet and an eclectic, tasty menu inclusive of some Colombian favorites.
Cra. 36b #11-12 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.43106060
Though I’ve not personally gone the AirBnB route during my many visits, it’s a seemingly popular and cost-effective means of experiencing the city
WHERE TO EAT
Trio of neighboring restaurants in El Poblado from chef owners Carmen Angel and Rob Pevitts; two of which have venues in Cartagena as well. Carmen is my favorite establishment in Medellín. The menu strives to provide an authentic flavor experience from the various regions of Colombia, and though I’ve enjoyed every morsel, their burger combined with foie gras is the best I’ve ever experienced. I always choose to sit at the bar since I befriended superstar mixologists Maycoll Ramirez and Carlos Restrepo who stir and shake up my nightly medicine.
Cra. 36 #10a-27 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.316.6254896
Don Diablo is more of a traditional steak house with a local twist. They take pride in their meats and aging process, and it shows in terms of both taste and presentation.
Cra. 36 #10A-45 2nd piso / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.318.8431198
Moshi is their renown sushi restaurant conveniently located beneath Don Diablo, and in addition to a la carte options, offers a popular chef’s tasting menu
Cra. 36 #10A-45 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.318.8431198
Featuring multiple locations inclusive of Provenza and Laureles, El Correo is another great options for either lunch or dinner for meat lovers. Whether you’re a fan of beef, chicken, pork, or fish, you can’t go wrong. Their chicharroncitos and grilled provoleta are a good starting point as well.
Cra. 52 #3 sur- 85 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.4441920
Can’t get much more traditional than the likes of Mondongos and nearby Ajiacos y Mondongos. Mondongos even has a Miami location, and the extensive menu features every imaginable cuisine from the Antioquia region, inclusive of my favorite Ajiaco soup—which, alone, could feed an army.
Cl 10 #38-38 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.6048116
AJIACOS & MONDONGOS
Opens at Noon and has been a favorite of locals and tourists alike for 25+ years. No frills, but offers the best of typical Colombian food.
Cl. 8 #42-46 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.43122520
Serving breakfasts and onward with multiple locations, Mundo Verde offers a good balance of healthier fare from fresh juices (my favorite is a combination of the tart lulo and sweet pineapple) to wraps and beyond. Great option for take out or delivery as well.
GANSO Y CASTOR
Again, with multiple locations throughout the city inclusive of a nice option within the Modern Art Museum, it offers a nice gastronomic experience with a slight lean towards French cuisine. Great breakfast or lunch spot. My go-to items are the breakfast burger and croque monsieur.
Cra. 43E #11a-30 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.2669353
The name says it all. If homesick for a traditional smash burger and fries, they offer the best in town. It also neighbors Lafond—a great, tiny boutique.
Cra. 34 # 7 – 129, El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.42685020
Nice Italian restaurant with a menu specializing in homemade pasta, pizza, antipasto, fish and meat. Nice wine selection as well.
Cra. 36 #10b-80, El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.313.5166782
Located kitty corner from the Click Clack Hotel, this tiny bakery offers amazing freshly baked cookies, brownies, and cakes all for a reasonable price. Let the addiction ensue.
Cl. 10b #36 – 57 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.314.7910777
Located within the heart of Provenza, they offer an assortment of artisanal donuts.
Cra. 35 #8a24 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.301.7786455
Offers the best, fresh seafood in a sustainable way. In addition to the Margarita Lulita, I recommend the Queso Frito (diced Caribbean tempura style cheese), the Garlic Prawns served over Mashed Plantain, or what I consider to be one of the best deals in town; Grilled Lobster Tail for the equivalent of around $22USD—if you’re lucky enough to order before they sell out. Features a live, musical duo which can make conversation a bit of a challenge, but adds to the ambiance.”
Cra. 38 #10-55 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.311.6489818
Popular Thai, Asian, sushi fusion restaurant with a cool décor. Reservations encouraged.
Cl. 8 #43A- 29 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.314.7486275
If you have a craving for ice cream, you can’t go wrong with Amoracuyá. The display case is just as impressive to ogle as it is to sample. My only complaint is that their hours of operation are a bit inconsistent.
Cra. 36 #10b-31 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.314.7449815
One of the most popular restaurants in El Pobaldo for foreigners and locals alike; it’s a great spot for lunch or dinner. They tend to mix-up their menu a couple of times per year, so you’re liable to experience a whole new menu from one visit to the next. My favorite dish is the Crispy Chicken, which is some of the tastiest I’ve experienced to date. Like Carmen, the chef tends to incorporate a selection of the best local products.
Cra 33 #7-21 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.4488203
Neighboring OCI.mde and El Correo along restaurant row, El Botánico offers an eclectic menu for both food and beverage; a couple of my favorites include the Hummus with Crispy Lentil appetizer and Creamy Rice with Chicken and Leek.
Cra 33 #7-41 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.300.2345904
Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian twist. Great presentation and the best fried rice I’ve ever experienced.
Barrio Provenza, Cl. 7 #33-4 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.2059871
Tiny pizzeria in the heart of Provenza, it’s the best I’ve found in town. Like the giant neon sign indicates, “Home is where pizza is”. I often get it to go while enjoying a Cerveza as it’s made to order.
Cl. 8a #37-08 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.320.8595721
WHERE TO DRINK
Established local hangout for locals and visitors alike. The most lively of their locations is smack dab in the heart of Provenza and frequently spills out into the streets with an abundance of tables, cocktails, local bites, and entertainment. On weekends and Holidays, it tends to be the most lively gathering spot in town. Kick back with a Club Colombia, some chicharron, and perhaps an Aguardiente (essentially a licorice flavored schnapps) to wash it all down. One of their locations in nearby El Poblado has a more laidback, neighborhood vibe.
Cra. 35 #8A – 8 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.43229860
In the epicenter of Provenza, it neighbors a popular public outdoor workout area inclusive of basketball court. Featuring both indoor and outdoor seating, the latter is known for its trademark tree stump seating and checkered table tops immersed in the shade of a cluster of trees. Great place to enjoy a Cerveza with a group of friends.
Cra. 37 #8a-4 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.310.5966293
With a décor and concept more festive than Carmen Miranda’s famed headpiece, it’s the most popular LGBTQ+ venue in town (located in Provenza) inclusive of the occasional drag show.
Cra. 37 #8a-88 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.304.2185842
Fun and lively hang-out in the heart of Provenza featuring live DJs, inclusive of their very own radio station if you’re inclined to tune in from afar.
Cl. 8a # 33 – 40 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.43113233
PARQUES DEL RÍO
This is their most popular destination for all ages during the holiday season due to their incredible light display along the river walk, which puts the Magic Kingdom to shame. This year’s motif coincidentally celebrated Disney’s Encanto film. Located in Laureles, it features a walking and cycling route along a manicured riverside corridor of trees, flowers & public artworks.
Auto. S, Laureles / Estadio, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.44444141
COMUNA 13 GRAFFITI TOUR
Dating back to the ’80s and ’90s, Comuna 13 was considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world as an epicenter for paramilitary, guerilla, and gang activity. Though the sprawling hillside favela continues to be a densely-populated and low socio-economic zone, it has since transitioned into one of the go-to tourist attractions in the city thanks to the cluster of colorful brick homes and incredible graffiti art and murals that decorate almost every inch of wall space. Much of the art reveals the city’s rich history, which is best told via the various tours available to explore the region. In addition to local eats and performing dance troops, once you ascend the escaleras electricas (a series of outdoor escalators) you’re able to experience some of the most breathtaking vistas of the city.
Estación Poblado del metro / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.302.3744448
An impressive gondola lift system running throughout the city which is a great means of public transportation and permits you to cover a considerable amount of ground in a relatively short amount of time, while taking it all in from a bird’s eye view. Designed to reach some of the city’s steep hillside topography, you can ride the gondolas all the way to Comuna 13.
4410 N 40th St / Phoenix, AZ 85018 / 602.840.7777
BIBLIOTECO DE ESPAÑA
Located in the Santo Domingo hillside barrio and noted for its unique architecture, you can catch a glimpse of it if you embark on the Metrocable system.
Yet another local destination accessible via the Metrocable, it’s a must-see for any nature lover. It’s essentially a huge park featuring thousands of acres of forest, plants and ecosystems which can be toured via mile after mile of hiking trails. In addition to hiking, there are nature tours, cycling, and a plethora of adventure sporting activities to experience.
Via a Piedras Blancas – Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia
Located within the Old Quarter and heart of Medellín, the plaza is home to both the Museum of Antioquia and the Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. The Palace is literally a checkered phenomenon. Neighboring the plaza is one of the most impressive produce markets in the world, Mercado Telejo, which offers an array of exotic fruits and vegetables; some of which appear to have been plucked straight from a Dr. Seuss story.
Av. Carabobo / La Candelaria, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia
The Museum offers an impressive display of art, surrounded by 20+ signature exaggerated sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
Cl. 52 #52-43 / La Candelaria, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.2513636
INSTITUTO DE CULTURA Y PATRIMONIA DE ANTIOQUIA
Additionally, the Instituto de Cultura y Patrimonio de Antioquia (Institute of Culture and Heritage) celebrates the vast art and culture of the various municipalities of the region.
Cra. 51 #52-08 / La Candelaria, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia
MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO DE MEDLLÍN
I’m not one to frequent museums in my hometown, but when in Rome… or Medellín, MAMM has proven to be one of my favorite destinations. Whereby it’s a long walk, I trek there all the way from my residence to enjoy the permanent installations and rotating exhibitions of contemporary art inclusive of an impressive theater space. Depending on the time of year, there are often outdoor fairs and markets on site, a great gift shop for souvenirs, and is home to a great brunch/lunch spot, Ganso y Castor.
Cra. 44 #19a-100 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.4442622
The botanical garden is an urban ecosystem that features both a living museum and science center. It’s a worthy visit for all ages and tends to be a fun family hangout, especially on weekends.
Cl. 73 #51d-14 / Aranjuez, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.4445500
A popular attraction for students and families with young children.
Cra. 52 #71-117 / Aranjuez, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.5168300
SHROOM SHAMAN ESTABAN PULIDO RESTREPO
My wildcard recommendation comes in the form of a local Shroom Shaman who typically hosts groups for a spiritual experience in the nearby wilderness of Santa Elena (approximately 45-minute drive outside of town). I opted to personalize my experience and hosted he and his super-talented musician friend, Andres Leon, for a three and a half hour journey of meditation and awakening. Even my dog was in a trance by the end of the trip, which, inclusive of the playlist and live serenade, consisted of sound bath, bells and chimes, a hot chocolate-like tea, fresh fruit to ingest, breathing exercises, tarot cards, and potentially my favorite aspect, Rapé – powdered medicinal herbs that are inhaled in advance so as to enhance the experience.
WHERE TO SHOP
A carefully curated concept boutique featuring emerging local designers and offering a creative selection of clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home furnishings for women, men, and children.
Cra. 37 #10-35 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.305.2232590
Conveniently located below Makeno in El Poblado, Breathe offers a wide assortment of affordable eyewear.
Carrera 37 # 10-35 Estudio 305 / Medellin / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.300.8113836
Tucked away on a second story in the heart of Provenza, Palmeramia sells a variety of streetwear with a portion of each purchase benefiting communities without access to drinkable water; hence the palm tree theme to many of their designs.
Cra. 52 #71-117 / Aranjuez, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.5168300
EL TESORO PARQUE COMERCIAL
This indoor/outdoor mall rests atop the hills of El Poblado. Once you make your way up the twisty ascent, you’ll find a variety of global and local favorite brands and services—inclusive of The Blue House which offers contemporary home furnishings, as well as restaurants, and movie theaters. Can’t beat the view either.
Cra. 25a #1a Sur 45 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.604.3211010
CENTRO COMERCIAL SANTAFÉ/FALABELLA
Also, in El Poblado, but arguably less of a trek, Santafé is a multi-level indoor mall featuring an abundance of global and local boutiques and restaurants inclusive of the Falabella department store. The center of the mall features an impressive display of impressively manicured flowers and/or ice skating rink contingent upon the season, above which sits a retractable roof.
Carrera No 7, 43A # Sur-170 / Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.1.800.0958787
Home furnishings showroom in El Poblado featuring the latest in handcrafted Colombian designs.
Cra 43D #10-50 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.312.8894725
CASTOR MUEBLES Y ACCESORIOS
Inspired by the natural and cultural abundance of Colombia, like 902 showroom, Castor is produced by local artisans. The newly opened Medellín showroom is located in the heart of the lively Manila neighborhood.
Cra. 43F #12-19 / El Poblado, Medellín / Antioquia, Colombia / 57.317.5777979
Located in the heart of Provenza, Cocora sells a vast selection of fragrances for men and women. My favorite is Dark Oak.