As someone who much prefers rural landscapes over crowded cityscapes, I have come to really adore Medellín. Well, actually I’ve come to adore Colombia as a whole, but Medellín in particular got under my skin over the week and a half I spent there. And for good reason - it has some great perks going for it and it's even more impressive given the violent history it and its people have endured. Here are a few of my favorite characteristics of Medellin (in no particular order):
#1 its Plentiful Parks
On almost every corner in Medellín there is a park or plaza of some sort where individuals and families gather to relax, play games, or socialize. My personal favorites are Parque de Los Pies Descales (Barefoot Park) where fountains and sandpits offer hours of fun for kids and Parque de las Luces (Park of the Lights) whose tall, white spires light up at night like beacons.
#2 Free Entrances To Many Parks and Museums
I was astounded when I learned that entrance to the Botanical Gardens is free. Same as entrance to the museum Casa de la Memoria and the walking tour of downtown. Both free. While you do have to pay to gain entry to some museums and attractions, there are quite a few that are gratis.
#3 The Metro System
Medellín’s metro system may be the fastest, cleanest, most efficient metro system I’ve ever used. It’s incredibly cheap too - less than a dollar to ride - and the views through the city are fantastic. The best part of the network, though, are the cable cars that carry you high above the roofs of houses and whisk you up the slopes of the mountains that cradle Medellín.
#4 The people
Are there nicer people than Colombian citizens? I’m not sure. Everyone I’ve met in Medellín and outside of Medellín have been so friendly and so accommodating. Smiles, laughter, and the willingness to help in anyway are a big part of what make Medellín a special place. As a solo female traveler I didn't feel unsafe once. Of course you still need to use your street smarts, but for the most part it's a very safe and very friendly city.
#5 Free Wifi Zones
Throughout Medellín, there are free wifi zones that anyone can access. They’re typically located in parks or plazas and they make traveling without cell service so much easier!
#6 Exercise Equipment Stations
Throughout the city there are little squares filled with exercise equipment that anyone can use anytime for free. They’re chained to the ground, of course, and I’m not sure anyone wipes them down, but still…. City money put to great use in my opinion.
#7 The Street Art
Medellín’s streets are filled with colorful, beautiful murals of all sizes, dimensions, and depictions. Comuna 13 especially has some amazing works of art that are mind-blowing.
#8 The Weather
There’s a reason Medellín is dubbed the City of Eternal Spring. The weather is pretty damn near perfect. It rarely gets too hot nor too cold thanks to its elevation of 4,900ft and its proximity to the equator. There are two rainy seasons, though, that can make it a bit soggy but the good news is that it doesn’t rain all day every day. Just some scattered thunderstorms and such, which I’m a huge fan of so that makes it even better!
#9 The Coffee
Need I say more?
#10 Sunday fun day
Every Sunday the police block off a section of Medellín's streets and let people run, bike, or walk through their city. At first I thought there was a race taking place, but then I realized that this happens every Sunday. How cool is that? America, you have some things to learn from Medellín.