Less than 10 years ago this was the 2nd most dangerous in the world. Today Medellin, Colombia is safe and an awesome travel destination.

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    1. Didn’t even bother with the Escobar trail. Visited comuna 13 with a young local guide (picture), rode the cable cars for an awesome view of the city and went on a 3 days trek in the tropical forest that surrounds the city. There’s a bunch of other things to do and the nightlife is awesome if you’re into that.

      1. Depending on who you took the tour with, I may have taught English to your Comuna 13 guide! Out of curiosity where did you do the 3-day trek?

        1. Our guide was 19 and learned English for free as part of the Prime program. We trekked from San Francisco to Sonson. About 2-3 hours away from Medellin.

          1. Volunteered through Prime for ~4 months, the people in that program are the best!

            Edit for anyone curious: Stairway Storytellers is the name of the tour.

        1. Colombia is a big country with 6 weeks of solid things to see. Everyone I met who ended their trip in Colombia were disappointed if they ran short on time.

          My suggestion would be to do the Galapagos if that’s why you’re going to Ecuador and then try to make your way to Colombia knowing it’s a cheap flight back from the US for next time since you’ll have to skip a lot.

          If you’re not doing the Galapagos consider starting in Colombia and going to Ecuador when you’re ready. You could do the Amazon there instead for example. There’s a nice couple routes down to Tulcan going through San Agustin, Popayan, Tierra Dentro, Tatacoa, etc depending on how you want to go or if you’re going to Cali.

        2. If you don’t have that much time I’d recommend maybe 2-3 days, 5 max. I’d really recommend getting to some of the small towns nearby, they’re usually pretty neat and offer some incredible hiking. Guatape, Jardin, and Santa Fe de Antioquia, and then Salento further South into the coffee region if you’re headed in that direction.

    2. The city is beautiful, the food is great (and cheap), the people are really friendly. Take a walking tour, ride the cable cars, wander the markets. It’s just a lovely place to *be* for a little while.

      1. Respectfully disagree about the food

        It is terrible.

        Compare Medellin food to Peruvian food on the coast, LMAO.

        Arepas colombianas are inedible.

        1. If you say so. We were pleasantly surprised by Colombian food, as we’d heard nothing but bad news about South American food in general. Is Colombian fare the best food in the world? No, certainly not. Terrible? I wouldn’t go that far, for sure. We had some very good (and some bad) Arepas, lots of excellent fruits and fruit juices, and good food in various restaurants. I haven’t been to Peru, so can’t compare the two, but I’ve been quite a few places around the world and wouldn’t rate what we ate as anything near terrible. To each their own I suppose!

          1. To call food “terrible” means that it’s so bad that you don’t want to eat it…but Colombian cuisine is the most boring/bland I’ve ever had in my life. I loved the country but the local food was pretty bad. I had plenty of great meals there but only at non-Colombian restaurants.

        2. To be fair I didn’t think the food was that great either. Still pretty good but definitely not the best in South America.

    3. the [Museo de Antioquia](https://www.museodeantioquia.co) is a wonderful museum that has a great collection of Colombian art. They’re famous for the Fernando Botero collection. The plaza that the museum sits on is named for him, and has several of his sculptures dotting the landscape. It’s a lively plaza, and great to just sit back and watch people go by in.

      The [Medellin Botanical Garden](https://www.botanicomedellin.org) is another great place to hang out. The gardens are beautiful, and go on for a lot longer than I would have expected. It’s a good picnic spot too. They also have a nice butterfly garden.

      Medellin has a [Planetarium](http://www.planetariomedellin.org) as well. It’s down the street from the Botanical Garden and right next to [Parque de Los Deseos](http://discovercolombia.com/park-of-wishes/).

      Medellin also has regular [Ciclovias](http://www.medellincolombia.co/medellin-city-guide/ciclovia/), where they will shut down a section of road for people to walk and bicycle down. It’s a really fun environment.

      The cable cars that OP mentioned are pretty cool too, and OP didn’t even mention the [Libraries](https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/finding-inspiration-in-medellins-library-parks), which were what drew my partner and I out there in the first place.

      Honestly, though, the best things about Medellin transcend the museums and the infrastructure. They are watching the city pop out from the winding hills on your way in from the airport. They are waking up to perfect 70 degree F weather and making fresh fruit juice in the blender while the birds squawk. They are wandering up and down the streets, smelling sausage, bread and empanadas; watching the afternoon rain roll in from a sheltered hammock; and sitting under the metro at night with a coke and a steak, wondering what you ever did so right that this is your life at that moment.

    4. If you’re not looking to party all night and/or hire hookers, not too much, in my opinion.

      I found Medellin interesting because of its transformation but I failed to see what all the hubbub is about. I had an infinitely better time in the *eje cafetero*.

      1. I think the transformation is what makes the city so special. I grew up in the late eighties/early nineties when Colombia was THE battlefield in South America. Everything I knew about Colombia, I heard through the evening news. Then I met a guy from Medellin traveling through Hamburg, Germany. All I could say was, “Oh, Pablo’s city!” I’m sure he didn’t like that very much, but he played along. That same night I met a Colombian girl who I’d end up traveling with for a month, and then I would visit her country a few years ago. I fell in love with Colombia, and especially Medellin, because it was nothing like what I had heard about in my youth. It’s an amazing, beautiful country full of amazing, beautiful people. Sometimes that’s all a city needs to be awesome — plus an unbeatable nightlife.

    1. Chicago isn’t even in the top 10 in the US. It’s easy to forget that Chicago is a massive city and a large part of it has relatively low crime, whereas a city like Detroit in the recent past had fewer stable areas. Still i would assume at any given time no city in the US would rate in the top 10-20 given the instability in several South American and African countries.

      10 years ago probably would have been somewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq, i would guess. Or Juarez, Mexico, which i believe has since calmed down some as the cartels in power shift and move around. I’m sure Monrovia, Liberia would be up there as well.

    2. Jesus, I’m from Chicago and it shocks me that someone thinks it’s the most dangerous in the world (or any us city for that matter).

      I also happen to have family from Venezuela…. despite what all you other first worlders think about the us, it has nothing on the crime of Venezuela, Brazil, El Salvador, and plenty of the other dangerous third world counties out there…..

  1. It’s amazing how places change over the years. I was just reading Murder on the Orient Express and one train was passing through Syria. Another passed through Yugoslavia (which would include Bosnia).

    It’s crazy to think about how much Syria has changed since then and what was going on in Bosnia in the 90s.

    1. Was in Syria in 2011, was a fabulous destination 🙁

      I remember in the 1990s when Peru, Azerbaijan/Armenia, Balkans, South Africa and Cambodia were off limits.

    1. Comuna 13 definitely wasn’t safe 10 years ago though. It’s come a long way considering 15 years ago it was a war zone.

      1. > Comuna 13 definitely wasn’t safe 10 years ago though.

        And that’s immaterial because there is ZERO reason a casual, short term tourist ever be there except for a tour.

      1. > Medellin was rated 2nd most dangerous city in 2010. 7 years ago.

        That’s a fairly misleading statement and a fairly dumb, overly dramatic statistic. It makes for a nice subject line for your post but the dangerous parts were areas a casual short-term tourist should never go. /u/pedrotheterror is correct, with proper street smarts and common sense Medellin hasn’t been difficult for the typical backpacker for quite some time now.

        Source: Invest in property there in 2003.

        1. Exactly, this is like saying Rio is super dangerous all based off of the favelas (I know Rio can be dangerous).

          Basing the safety of a city off a part of the city that the only reason you are visiting (probably should not be visiting in the first place) is because you watched a show on Netflix, is way off base.

  2. Such a great city it inspired my username! Besides the perfect weather, vibrant culture, and beautiful women – the friendliness of the average paisa is enough to bring me back time and time again

    1. This picture doesn’t depict poverty at all..the houses are made of different materials, smaller and closer together than what you’re used to and you assume it’s widespread poverty?

      You must not have an idea of what real poverty is. True poverty, in terms of South American/Central American/African countries, means no clean water..no schools..no stores..lacking in food and resources..lacking in overall infrastructure. Medellin has all of that and more. Obviously there is lower income areas, but that’s true of every American and European city also.

      1. As a Spaniard, those houses are poverty houses here. No middle class or lower class here live in houses like that. Only drug dealers and gypsies live in such houses here in Spain.
        I don’t think the people who live in those houses from the picture want to spend the rest of their lives in such neighborhood. Of course that is not extreme poverty but if that is middle class, it sucks, and if that is lower class it sucks as well. Lower class where I live have better homes.

        1. You’re making a pretty snap judgement from one picture. This is a rather large city and these houses you are seeing are on the outskirts and they all have clean running water. Like most massive cities, the further you get out the lower the class becomes.

          However, compare this to the slums outside of say Madrid where they don’t even have clean running water. I was in Medellin for 6 months and I didn’t see any comparable slums to the ones found outside of Madrid.

  3. Looking forward to going back to Colombia! So many cities to visit. Does anyone have a particularly favorite city out of Cartagena, Bogota, Medellin or any other?

    1. Medellin all the way. Cartagena is beautiful but very small and we got bored after about 3 days. Bogota is a very large city (7 million people I believe) but felt a little too chaotic for my liking.

  4. I was there for the last 6 months. For those interested in travelling there, here are some suggestions for things to do visit when you are there.

    * Guatape and El Pedro: This town is super quaint and will take an entire day as it is about 2-3 hours away from Medellin. El Pedro is a large mountain with one of the most amazing views but it is a massive hike. If you are older you can just walk to the edge of the parking lot and the view there is impressive. After El Pedro you can take a tuk tuk to the Guatape which is a super quaint town. You can get a private boat ride for pretty cheap and see Escobar’s private night club and burned down house but the most amazing thing is the views of El Pedro.
    * Botancial Gardens in Medellin.
    * Sky Tram to park Arvi. Two separate trams, one to the top of the mountain and then another connected one that gives you a 30 minute ride over the park Arvi canopy.
    * After park Arvi you can take a bus to Santa Elena which is tiny town with some cafes. You can then take the bus back to Medellin.
    * Salento is a bit further out and takes nearly 6 hours to get so you will want to stay the night. Salento has the world’s largest palm trees and some amazing hiking trails.
    * Angel Falls is up in the mountains and requires a certain level of physical fitness and ability to get wet but it is rewarding if you can reach the end.
    * Pueblito Paisa is a tiny traditional town but the coolest part is a short walk from it where you can get a panoramic 360 view of the entire city.

    There are some good city tours you can take that are fairly cheap and will go to many of the places. Most will not take you on the Park Arvi sky tram. Escobar’s grave is in a cemetery in Sabeneta. It is a short 10 minute walk from the closest metro station. You can save yourself several hundred just going by yourself instead of doing one of the tours.

  5. Some neighborhoods*

    My friend was mugged in the stadium district, and I was constantly harassed.

    It is certainly ‘safer’, but it is still not comparable to most ‘safe’ cities in the USA/Canada/NZ/Aus/Western Europe parts of the world.

    It’s still a wonderful city and I recommend traveling there. But don’t go with the idea that it safety can be an afterthought.

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