Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and once the most dangerous city in the world. Medellin is now one of the biggest success stories and even won the Most Innovative City Award in 2013 for its turnaround.
Situated in a valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains, Medellin is smaller and more contained than Bogota, and is known as the City of Eternal Spring because of its year-round warm temperature (27’c). Nearly everywhere you go in the city has amazing views and the city is vibrant with a latin culture with al fresco dining and locals socialising in the many parks. For a great view of the city, take the Metrocable, a clever transport system designed to reach the suburban areas of the city. Take the second cable car to Parque Arvi, a natural reserve where you can go horse riding but make sure you hire a guide here instead of exploring on your own.
Other places not to be missed are Plaza Botero with the famous over-sized sculptures, and the Botanical Gardens, an area of 40 acres of tranquility in the city. For the adventurous, paragliding here is one of the cheapest places to take flight in South America and you get a bird’s eye view of the city.
female business etiquette and customs
Colombia is a country very much overlooked by female travellers but the majority of Colombia is surprisingly safe for women. Being part of Latin America, it is still a very machismo society but you’ll find women dressed up in Medellin, wearing skinny jeans and tight clothing so there’s no need to worry about attracting the wrong type of attention or feeling that you will stick out for dressing for your curves. Medellin has come a long way in the last decade and is now a safe place to visit.
The key to business in Medellin is to dress to impress, and embrace your femininity. Jeans and casual wear is a no go. Ladies tend to stay away from trousers and wear skirts or dresses but avoid short skirts and opt for a pencil skirt instead. Women in Medellin dress immaculately with straight styled hair, perfect make-up and plenty of jewellery with manicured nails and high heels.
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT
Getting around Medellin is easy and very inexpensive. There’s a really good metro system which gives a picturesque view of the city as you travel overland. If you’re going to be there a few days, it’s worth buying a metro card and loading it with Colombian pesos to save money on the journey. There’s also the Metro bus which operates in addition to the train. For all other areas of the city, buses run regular routes, which are smaller than a long bus and some even are minibuses. Bus stops are just bus shelters but you don’t usually wait longer than 15 minutes until one comes along.
If you need to get somewhere quickly, taking a taxi is effortless, and the small yellow cabs are everywhere. You just need to stand with your arm out to catch one. To pre-order a taxi, there is a really useful app called Easy Taxi which shows you a profile of your driver with his photograph, and even the number plate so you know that you’re getting in the right cab. At the time of writing this, Uber has just been introduced to the city, a taxi service where you can set up an account and your payment details – perfect for claiming back your expenses.
There are parts of the city that you should avoid alone at night. Areas such as Bolivar Park, and Plaza de la Luz, are fine by day but venture in at night and you’ll encounter the city’s vagabonds. By day, most of the city is safe. El Poblado is one of the safest areas in Medellin and even when getting a taxi home by yourself at night. Medellin lies in a valley, and the further out in the mountains The further out of the city you go, the poorer the barrios (neighborhoods). Although the government has helped to integrate some of these neighborhoods with the use of the Metrocable, and also outdoor escalators connecting these communities with the city dwellers.
Ambassador: LISA ELDRIDGE
I am a travel writer and self-confessed travel addict. My background in the travel industry fueled my passion to see the world and since the age of twenty one, I have travelled extensively as a solo traveller, living and working in numerous counties. I have been lucky enough to have visited more than 85 countries and nearly 50 of these alone.
Originally from England, I left in April 2014 on a one-way ticket flying to Cuba then Colombia. I never left. In all my travels I have never come across anywhere as magical as Medellin in Colombia and I have now chosen to make this city my home. With Latino culture, friendly locals and a passion for dancing, Medellin is my perfect city. The skyline at night never fails to impress me and there is a warmth in this city that keeps me coming back again and again. I have lived in various cities in the world but since arriving in Colombia, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I would love the chance to be your Medellin ambassador and show you this amazing city through the eyes of an expat. Contact me here or follow me on twitter