After enjoying nature and hiking way too much in Colombia’s coffee region, we headed back to the city–Medellín that is! Even though I was plagued with illness most of the time while in Medellín, I really loved the city and look forward to going back one day. Read on to learn all about our highs and lows in the City of Eternal Spring.
The Bus Ride
After chilling in the jungle for a few days in Colombia’s Coffee Region, we took a ridiculously long bus ride to Medellín. Part of what made this bus ride so long, so terrible, so nightmarish is that the night before we left was the night I Got My Parasite (again, I don’t know if it was actually a parasite but I shit for two weeks straight, constantly, and lost seven pounds and that sounds PRETTY PARASITIC TO ME, LADIES). So in addition to the fact that I get horrendously carsick even on an interstate, I had diarrhea and we sure did not drive on an interstate. They were hills, people! The Colombia equivalent to Brindle Ridge Road! And the road was just about as narrow! Because I have dealt with terrible carsickness ever since I learned how to drive (I only get sick when I’m not driving!), I thought maybe sitting in the very front would help since then I could see the road, thus, simulating the driving. Honestly, that made it even worse because then we could see how dangerous making the drive from Armenia to Medellín can really be. How many times did we almost die? Countless! I tried to sleep for the majority of the time to avoid the multiple sicknesses I was experiencing but as I drifted in and out of consciousness, all I witnessed was my life flashing before my very eyes. I cannot tell you how many times the driver tried to pass a semi or work truck on the twisty, dark roads and had to quickly pull back behind it to avoid crashing with oncoming traffic. I cannot explain how one of the movies shown on board, El Coco 3, haunts me to this day. And I will never forget the moment the driver’s assistant decided to windex the entire window while barreling down a dark, curvy road in the rain…and then wiped away the windex with the same plastic bags he passed out earlier for people who get carsick…
So if you are faced with needing to get from Quindío to Medellín (or vice versa) and your budget allows it…fly! Flying is probably safer and will definitely save you time, because even though the drive is advertised as taking 6 hours, it took us 9.5 hours. Learn from our mistakes! Flying with a budget airline such as Avianca will probably not even cost that much more than taking the bus so save yourself the trouble! If you wish to ignore all of my advice…well…it’s your own funeral. JK but here are the only tips I’ve got for you.
- Leaving Quindío, you have a few options of where to leave from: Armenia, Salento, and Pereira. Where you leave from is really just dependent on where you are and how you get around. We landed in Armenia but spent our entire time a little bit outside of Salento in an area called Boquia. But since we landed in Armenia, we rented the car in Armenia, so we just returned it that morning and went to the Armenian bus station from there (and once again, we returned the car with literally one minute to spare…we’ve had terrible luck returning rental cars if you haven’t read the Mendoza blog post from last year, you really should).
- Pack your lunch! You only get one stop between Quindío and Medellín and you will get hungry! Except maybe if you’re me and you’re sick the whole time! Hehe
Things to do in Medellín
So once you’ve got to Medellín, either by road or plane, what is there to do? Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia, following Bogotá, and is often referred to as the City of Eternal Spring because of their great weather. Even though the weather was amazing during our stay, we weren’t able to see all of the city, because, like I’ve said, sickness! However, let’s get in to what we did do during our three full days in Colombia. Please note on our second day in Medellín, we took a day trip to the famous La Piedra Del Peñol and the touristy little town of Guatapé. This is covered in another blog post here.
Leaving from our Airbnb in El Poblado, we took the metro to see our sights for the day. First up on the list of things to see was pretty much right off the metro stop: the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, which sits at the back of a crowded plaza. I got a few pictures, popped inside to get a look around (super quietly and quickly because there was an actual service going on which was a first!) and then we headed to The Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. This unique looking building is a cultural center, art museum, and is dedicated to the life of Rafael Uribe Uribe. Only one floor of the Center was open but we really enjoyed our little walk through.
After visiting the Cultural Center (which is free BTW!), we went to the Sculpture Park (Plaza Botero) and the Museo de Antioquia right next door. One of Colombia’s most famous artists is Fernando Botero. Plaza Botero features 23 sculptures by the artists. You are able to get a good look at the sculptures but forget about getting good pictures of them. The Plaza is crowded with different merchants and they are all leaning up against the platforms of the sculptures. I’m all about the hustle but can you move a few inches over for a picture? lol (This is a joke please don’t message me about how I am being a bitchy tourist.) The plaza is also next to a very charming little church called Parroquia de la Veracruz. We didn’t go inside but I did get the cute picture below.
Then we headed inside Museo de Antioquia which is an art museum primarily featuring artists from Antioquia (the department where Medellín is located). There is also an entire wing dedicated to some of Botero’s most famous paintings (but the real deal is the Botero Musuem in Bogotá!). The entrance price was 18,000 pesos. After walking through the museum, we were pretty hungry and decided to commit a tourism sin: eat at the museum restaurant but luckily, it was absolutely delicious!
However, after eating, I was ready to head back to our Airbnb because ILLNESS. The rest of the day we took it pretty easy, only venturing out that night to get some medicine and food for Andrew to eat.
On our last full day in Medellín, I really wanted to do a graffiti tour of Comuna 13. Comuna 13 was once one of the most dangerous and deadly communities in the world ravaged by narcotrafficking and Pablo Escobar. We decided to do a free Zippy tour of the community. We did NOT go on a “graffiti tour.” The tour offered is a tour of Comuna 13 and its long history and recent transformation. I learned a lot, however, I will say Andrew found the guide to be very biased. Some of the tour felt like a very one-sided lecture. I would rather be presented with historical facts rather than the opinions of a 19 year old tour guide but you get what you pay for (which you pay in tips! Nothing “free” is actually free so make sure to tip your guide PLEASE). The tour ended around the center of much of the graffitti so we did get to see some of the beautiful artwork but mostly we got to learn about the history of the Comuna and how the people have been able to transform it. Also they have the only public escalators in Latin America (think Barcelona!) and they certainly need it! The neighbor is built haphazardly right into the side of a mountain. Talk about an incline. As we headed back to the metro station, we spotted a jugo de caña (they call it guarapo) vendor making the delicious juice near the station. Andrew said we HAD to try it and wow, my life has changed. Sugar cane juice? Is it good for you? Uh, no. Is it amazing? Absolutely. Hell yes.
After the graffiti tour, we headed back towards our neighborhood to get some shopping done because like I said in the Bogotá post, Andrew needed some new shorts. We went to a huge mall and the BEST PART? It was decorated for Christmas in the best way possible. It was amazing. A dream come true. Loved it. After shopping for what felt like hours, we headed back to our Airbnb for the night and debated ordering some of the delicious UberEats we ordered our very first night in Medellín. We didn’t because we were full from lunch but I wish we had because listen…it was the best burger I think I’ve ever had in my life and if you’re in Medellín and eat meat…please go to or order (like us) from Buffalo City. Yes, it was a buffalo burger. I had the Buffalo Burger Costeña which included plátano and it was like HEAVEN. I dream about this burger.
What I Wish We Would Have Done
As I’ve said so many times in this post, I was pretty sick the entire time I was in Medellín so there were times when instead of doing something cool or fun, I was dying in the closest bathroom! Fun! Travel! Adventure! Here’s what I wish we would have done:
- Parque de Las Luces/Plaza Cisneros – The Lights Park is pretty much what it sounds like: a park of lights.
- Monumento a La Raza – It’s a very large sculpture near Plaza Cisneros.
- Mercado Del Río – It’s a very large, modern food market with over 50 trendy restaurants nestled inside. I would have loved to have gone here for lunch or dinner one day but food wasn’t necessarily something I was that into consuming while we were there.
- Bolívar Park/Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellín – I saw this from the window of one of our metro rides but we didn’t actually visit the church. Y’all know me, I’m obsessed with visiting churches so I would’ve liked to have seen this one.
- Gone to one of the many, famous rooftop restaurants all the bloggers talk about. Alas, I was way too sick to afford such a luxury.
SO, that’s about all, folks, for this round of Colombia blog posts. To read about about our day trip to La Piedra Del Peñol and Guatapé, check it out here. I hope you’ve liked this blog post even though we didn’t really get to do all that much in Medellín. If you’ve been or plan on going, make sure to let me know what you loved about it or what you’re excited to see or do in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
As always, thanks for reading!