GENERAL INFO - helpful info if planning to visit Medellin

Medellin Travel Blog

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I HAVE BEEN TO MEDELLIN MANY TIMES, so there are many stories here and different journals with information.

In the previous journal entry you will see a link to the blog I wrote for my first trip to Medellin, and other journal entries to come will have more helpful info and random stories and pics. On this entry I will just go over the things I think highlight Medellin and are important things to consider for someone that is considering visiting the region, and possibly saving you from having to read all my blogs ;)

PRONUNCIATION - people in that region say anything with "ll" or "y" with a "j" sound. Also add to that the different ways vowels sound in spanish, so the name "Medellin" itself sounds more like "Medajean" to english ears.

HOSTELS - there are many hostels in Medellin. Some of them in the "party zone" and some in more tranquil settings, so it just depends on what your looking for in a hostel(environment, location, price, etc). I believe for the most part you will find similar pricing for normal shared rooms, with some hostels having higher prices for fancier private rooms and shared dorm rooms with more space or private bathrooms. The big difference will be the atmosphere and the people you encounter as well as the location of the hostel. The party and nightlife area is called "parque lleras" in a nice area of the city called "Poblado".  If you want to be close to that scene then look for places in Poblado or near lleras. If you want a calm place thats near the metro station and almost all major bus routes, i suggest The Wandering Paisa Hostel which has weekly events like a language exchange and free salsa lessons, is close to the Stadium complex which is great for free swimming, and also close to other things. Another hostel that is in the same general area is called "palm tree hostel" this has small private rooms with a bed for 2 people for a decent price and is also close to the stadium area, grocery stores and the metro. These 2 hostels are the only ones i have been inside of and or heard much info about and i can personally vouch for the owners of TWP(the wandering paisa) and how they treat people. Hostels are a great way to get help and advice and the workers usually are fluent in 2 or more languages, and you can meet new friends from the hostel to maybe travel around with.

** if your visiting the awesome area of Guatape and el penol(la piedra)(2.5 hours bus ride from medellins north terminal), may i suggest "hostel el encuentro". I have been to the hostel and I like the scenic location, and i have known the owner for 4 years.  Take a bus from "terminal de norte". last i checked , the Guatape bus is at spot 14. I suggest telling the bus driver when you get on that you wish to get off the bus at "el penol". you then can walk 15 monutes of the road to the base of the rock and pay the fee(about $4 ??) there is a small restraurant as you walk up the road to get gatorade or water. NOTE: this is outside the Medellin water zone, so unlike Medellin you might not want to trust the water from a tap. You can find a "cheeva" bus or "tuk tuk" taxi to take you into guatape or to the hostel for a few dollars. FYI - there is a small zipline(canopy) ride on the lake front in guatape.

If you need a more private setting and or maybe are traveling as a family, you can find rooms or apartments in other ways , including www.airbnb.com . I have used this site successfully in the past in Hawaii and in Seattle.

BUS TERMINALS - There are two bus terminals that will take you to the other cities and towns in Colombia, and they are known as the "north(norte)" and "south(sur)" bus terminals. SOUTH TERMINAL(terminal del sur) = i have never walked it, but from the map it appears to be 4-8 blocks from the poblado metro station(estacion poblado) I say 4-8 because you need to keep in mind that in Medellin their idea of 4 blocks is 8 of my blocks :) from most of the hostels in town it is easiest and cheap to just take a taxi there.  NORTH TERMINAL(terminal del norte) = this terminal is located next to a metro station. Just walk to the north end of metro station "Caribe" and walk 2 minutes across a foot bridge to the bus terminal. You will find police and security at both stations so safety is not a concern. Make sure you are certain of what station you need to go to. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT MANY OF THE ROADS ARE WINDING AND THE BUS DRIVERS GO A BIT FAST, SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER MOTION SICKNESS PILLS(I TAKE THEM THERE).

* * * IMPORTANT bus turnstyles - Keep in mind that most Colombians are relatively"skinny" and many of the bus's have turnstyles on them based on that, so for larger people it could be an issue. The same at the metro stations, but the police can let someone through the wheelchair gate if they are bigger or on crutches for example.

** OVERNIGHT BUSES - to places like Cali, Cartagena, and Bogota, you can take night buses and arrive the next morning, which allows you to maximize your time and get some sleep maybe and be ready to go when you arrive and have the sunlight again.

METRO - This is an above ground subway/train system that will help you get around town. There is the main line that runs north and south, as well as a line that runs from the center of town to the west and also a couple of cable car systems that run up the hills into the steep hill neighborhoods and 1 takes you to an area called parque arvi. I suggest you take the cable cars(metro cable) as they give you a unique view of parts of the city and might be a new experience. You do not need to pay extra for the cable cars unless you want to go all the way to parque arvi. Keep in mind that at certain times of the day the metro is very busy, so you will be very tightly squeezed in, so don't try to bring big suitcases on at "horas pico"(peak hour). https://www.metrodemedellin.gov.co/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&id_link=153&parent_link=0&Itemid=153&lang=en

city buses - As of january 2012 the price for most buses in the city is 1,600 which equals about 85 cents in US currency. There are now some buses that have their own special lanes in traffic(metroplus) and green/white metro buses(you will hear the term "integrado") that will take you from certain areas straight to a specific metro train station(you can buy combination tickets that will give you a ride on the metro train and the metro bus as well if you need to for a reduced price, just about 2,000 pesos or $1 usd). The rest of the buses are a little trickier, you have to learn the name of the bus and maybe the number, if you need to go to "robledo" there are like 20 robledo buses so you need to pay attention to the number. Most of the hostels are within walking distance to a metro train station so its very possible you will not need to use the inner city buses if just there a few days. also there is the bus systems that works with the metro train, they care called intergrados or the "plus" system. https://www.metrodemedellin.gov.co/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&id_link=153&parent_link=0&Itemid=153&lang=en

TAXI - Most people in Medellin rely on public transportation to get around, so taxis are plentiful and they are reasonably priced if your coming from many parts of the world. Often you can just walk out into the street and put your arm up and wave down a taxi within just minutes, or to be safer you can call the company. If you call from a landline phone they automatically know where to pick you up, they will give you a special number to tell the driver usually and how many minutes until the driver will show up to get you. 

* * NEW PHONE APP FOR GETTING A SAFE TAXI EASILY - "TAPPSI" story about it

cell phones - if calling a landline number you need to dial 034 before the number.. you can buy chips cheap, but adding time is not cheap, or should i say you burn through minutes quickly

pueblos in range - santa fe, guatape(north terminal spot 14), tamesis, santa elena/parque arvi

sites//links

* * * ONE OF THE MANY BIKE SHOPS and my personal favorite because of my confidence in the owner is  bicilaverde . Also another shop is Benotto ,  both are located about a 5 minute walk from the estadio metro station(just around the corner from each other). (can also get cheap bikes at places like (carrefour)

language exchange events - there are weekly events at twp hostel and at tinto tintero in parque lleras, and you can also go on cs and create your own events if you want

bad places - most of the city is safe in my mind, the areas you would not want to go are areas usually up in the hills and at night time is worse, most of the tourist attractions are in decent areas and have police in the area, just be smart and be careful of pick pocket thieves like in most other places in the world(i have a simple phone there and try not to be flashy with clothes or jewelry).

websites that will help you -

www.couchsurfing.org  ....  i suggest you add the medellin group and the sub group "intercambio de idiomas" to your CS profile so that you can see what other people will be there at the same time, and see what events and activities you can join in on or maybe create your own or ask questions. There are some wonderful locals on this site and i have met some great people and found out about and attended many cool things because of using CS when in medellin. http://medellinliving.com/

best events / best times of year to visit - in my opinion based on events and weather the best times to go is around christmas and new years and the last few days of july into the first week or so of august when they have the flower festival(la feria de las flores)and all the events(mostly free) associated with the festival. In most of december and until the first week of january(approx.) they have a cool light show(display of lights) on the river that runs through the city, and after you walk the river and have some food from the vendors you can climb some stairs to pueblito paisa(cerro nutibara) and see the big metal christmas tree lit up and see a nice night time view of the south part of the city at night and enjoy the other things there. there are lots of free concerts and events in december as well, the weather is good around the holidays(not much rain) and the spirit of the city is cool(mostly catholic population). the flower festival is awesome, the weather is a bit hot then but manageable and all the free concerts and events make it well worth while.. you can see the main parade for free or if you want to sit in seats and have shade from the sun you can pay to sit in special sections of covered bleachers.

I WILL ADD MORE WHEN TIME...

RIGAS says:
Colombia es passion!!!
Posted on: Sep 10, 2014
swampfox says:
Thank you for all the info. You rock!
Posted on: Jul 10, 2014
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Medellin
photo by: caliphil007