Survive Travel https://www.survivetravel.com Helping You Survive Travel Through Experience Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:37:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 9 Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/9-cool-things-to-do-in-cartagena-colombia/ http://www.survivetravel.com/9-cool-things-to-do-in-cartagena-colombia/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:24:33 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18750 This list of 9 cool things to do in Cartagena gives a short review of each of the things to do in Cartagena, links to more detailed reviews (where applicable), advise on accommodation in Cartagena, and information on getting to Cartagena. There are way more than just 9 cool things to do in Cartagena, but […]

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This list of 9 cool things to do in Cartagena gives a short review of each of the things to do in Cartagena, links to more detailed reviews (where applicable), advise on accommodation in Cartagena, and information on getting to Cartagena.

There are way more than just 9 cool things to do in Cartagena, but I only spent 9 days there.

Cartagena wasn’t somewhere I wanted to spend too much time. It was more like a pit-stop on my way to Santa Marta. Actually, I could just have easily gone straight to Santa Marta from Medellín but since Cartagena is the most visited city in the country I thought I had better go see what all the fuss was about.

Even more of a reason for me to go there was because it’s my mother’s favorite city in Colombia. Also, I think we are somehow related to Rafael Nuñez who was the president of Colombia (4 times!) back in the late 1800’s. Rafael Nuñez was born in Cartagena and there are a few things dedicated to him in the city, including the airport.

9 Cool Things to do in Cartagena

1. The Walled City of Cartagena

The first thing on this list of cool things to do in Cartagena is to check out the walled city. Inside you can admire the colonial architecture, chill in one of plaza’s, eat in an overpriced restaurant, buy souvenirs off the street, check out a museum, etc.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Walled City of Cartagena

Read more about the walled city of Cartagena here.

2. Party on a Chiva Bus

Chiva’s (colorful wooden buses) actually used to be part of the Colombian public transport system, but now they are mainly used as tourist buses around the city.

HiCartagena is one company you can book a tour through and they offer two types. One is in the afternoon and the other is for the party go-ers at night.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Chiva Bus

3. Castillo de San Felipe

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is a Spanish Fort which, back in the day, held off the English armada! Some think that if it wasn’t for this fort, the majority of Latin America would speak English instead of Spanish.

Nowadays it is a tourist attraction. You can walk in and around it, go into the tunnels, watch an informative short film (which I thought was pretty good), and get a pretty good view of the city.

The standard entry fee is 25,000COP and you can also hire a live or audio guide if you want. I wanted an audio guide but somehow I missed it at the ticket booth.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Castillo de San Felipe

View from Castillo de San Felipe

4. La Popa Hill

Apparently, the the best view of Cartagena can be seen from the top of the La Popa hill. I wouldn’t know because I never went there (I felt the view from Castillo de San Felipe was good enough). This is also where the convent of La Candelaria is located.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, La Popa Hill

View of La Popa Hill taken from Castillo de San Felipe

5. Go to the Beach

Number 5 on this list of cool things to do in Cartagena is an activity that some tourists spend 90% of their waking time doing while here… chilling on the beach.

There are a few beaches to choose from not far from the city center, and then a couple more (prettier ones) a short boat ride away.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Playa La Boquilla

Playa La Boquilla.

Read more about the beaches of Cartagena here.

6. Mercado de Bazurto

Mercado de Mazurto is a fairly big traditional market a short bus ride from the city center. Inside you can find a ton of fresh produce, clothing, and lots of other stuff.

One thing I didn’t see inside Mercado de Bazurto was other tourists. In fact, I wasn’t even comfortable to whip out my phone for a picture whilst inside – which is why my picture is from across the street.

Regardless of my apprehension, Mercado de Bazurto is one of the best market places I’ve experienced in a while. It’s definitely worth a look, just be extra careful of your belongings.

6 Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Mercado de Bazurto

7. Palace of the Inquisition – Cartagena Historical Museum

Inside the historical center of Cartagena, next to Bolivar park, is the the infamous Palace of the Inquisition. What was once a house of torture is now a pretty good museum, mostly about the (Spanish) inquisition era in Cartagena.

Although most of the information is in Spanish, there is enough English translation to keep you interested for an hour or two, and if you can read Spanish then you could be in there a long while. Even just looking at the architecture inside the old palace is worth the time.

Entry is 19,000COP and audio guides (extra) are also available. You could also hire a live guide.

7 Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Palace of Inquisition

8. Jardín Botánico “Guillermo Piñeres”

Jardín Botánico “Guillermo Piñeres” was a bit of a mission to get to but it was totally worth it. It is easily my favorite thing on this list of cool things to do in Cartagena. I will even go as far as saying that it is one of the best botanical gardens I have ever been to!

It’s extremely peaceful (I think I was the only one there), very well laid out, and is teeming with wildlife. I saw a massive range of birds, lizards (from very small to really big), monkeys, and more.

8 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Flower

Read more about Jardín Botánico “Guillermo Piñeres” here.

9. Espiritu Del Manglar Park

The last thing on this list of cool things to do in Cartagena is to check out Espiritu Del Maglar Park. I initially didn’t expect much from this place but it was really quite good. Kind of like a mini version of the botanical garden, but much closer (walking distance from town) and free.

I ended up spending more than an hour in there looking at the statues of famous “Cartagenians”, trying to photograph monitor lizards, and just soaking up the wetlands scenery in general.

Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Espiritu Del Manglar Park

Lago Del Caribo from inside Espiritu Del Manglar Park.

Getting to Cartagena

Cartagena is the most visited city in Colombia and it has an international airport so you can fly in from almost anywhere (indirectly).

To get from the airport into town you can catch a taxi or even an Uber. It’s best to use the taxi voucher stand (in the baggage are) to avoid being overcharged by the touts out the front.

You could also use a colectivo (shared taxi) from the front of the airport which will take you to the city for 2,000COP. This same system of shared taxi’s works throughout the city. They generally travel along fixed routes to/from areas outside of town for 2,000COP and can be signaled by showing your index finger.

On my way out of Cartagena I took a bus to Santa Marta from the Terminal De Transportes. I took an Uber to get there from my accommodation and it took 40 minutes or so. It would have been cheaper to use the tapsi app or just haggle with a taxi on the street. I paid 25,000cop and I probably could have got it for 20,000 or even 15,000. Catching a bus is another option, which would only be 2,000cop but would probably take twice as long.

Once at the terminal de transportes I walked straight past the touts (recommended) and bought ticket from Brasilia. There’s a few companies that will go to Santa Marta. My experience with Brasilia (Expresobrasilia.com) was excellent. It cost 30,000cop and took 4 hours including one 15 minute break in Barranquilla. The seating was comfortable (I fell asleep for a while), there was a toilet on board, and they played movies.

If coming/going to Panama you could travel by boat.

There are also numourous companies offering cheap holiday packages to Cartagena and Colombia as a whole.

Accommodation in Cartagena

Whilst doing all these cool things to do in Cartagena I stayed at Apartamentos Vistas del Caribe.

Originally I booked a small apartment of a different name, but owned by the same people. They picked me up from the airport (15,000 COP, although I paid 20,000 COP and received no change) but when I got to the apartment I discovered there was no internet, despite what was in the online description. After explaining (in terrible Spanish) that I needed internet for work I was moved to a different apartment which was both better and worse at the same time.

Worse because I no longer had a place to cook, it was further from town (although still in walking distance and with lots of public transport), and in a neighborhood that I wouldn’t walk around in after 9pm. Better because it had excellent wifi, a small desk to work at, and it was on the roof which meant it was super private and had a nice view.

I paid the same price as I would have for the other apartment. I should have demanded a discount but the people were so nice that it didn’t cross my mind until after I had given up my cash. Actually, I looked up the place afterwards and it turned out to be the same cost anyway.

Cost: 480,000 for 9 nights.

Book your stay at the Apartamentos Vistas del Caribe or some other accommodation in Cartagena.

Here’s a video slideshow of all the pictures taken in Cartagena.

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Cool Things to Do in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Pinterest

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A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/jardin-botanico-guillermo-pineres-cartagena/ http://www.survivetravel.com/jardin-botanico-guillermo-pineres-cartagena/#respond Wed, 06 Sep 2017 15:38:34 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18734 One day I decided to take a walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres. Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres is an awesome botanical garden in Cartagena. It was a bit of an effort to get there, but it was definitely worth it. I dare say that Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres is one of the best botanical gardens […]

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One day I decided to take a walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres. Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres is an awesome botanical garden in Cartagena. It was a bit of an effort to get there, but it was definitely worth it.

I dare say that Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres is one of the best botanical gardens I have been to. It may have helped that I was the only visitor there at the time. I guess its location keeps a lot of tourists away, and also I went on a Tuesday. Perhaps on the weekends locals flock there.

It’s closed on Mondays.

Cost(s): 17,500COP.

Address: Sector Matute km 9 Autopista I-90 (Turbaco), Naranjas, Turbaco, Bolívar. jbgp.org.co.

A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres

After just under a two hour bus ride (on two seperate buses) I finally started hiking up the street that lead to Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres from the main road. It was only about a 15 minute walk and on the way there are some really nice properties.

A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Road in

The road towards Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres from the main road.

At the entrance they informed me that I could take a guided tour, but it would be in Spanish. I don’t think they really wanted to do it for just one person, and I prefer to walk alone anyway. Instead they just gave me a map and a quick “run down” on the place then sent me on my way.

The place is very well laid out. It is basically just one path all the way around which takes you past the 11 points of interest on the map. I did try to stick to it but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked so you won’t get to see all 11 of the places in this post.

I’m not sure what this used to be, perhaps an education center. Whatever is was, it looks pretty cool now thats nature is starting to claim it back.

2 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Old School

The majority of Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres has a real jungle trekking feel, but with fairly well maintained paths.

A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Jungle Path

This is the desert plants exhibition. It’s the only mapped point of interest I actually managed to photograph.

4 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Desert Plants

The whole place is teeming with wildlife. I saw lots of birds, lizards, butterfly’s, frogs, squirrels, and monkeys.

Make sure you take the path to Jacquin’s Garden. It seems to be un-maintained, and I guess that means the animals feel more at home because that is where I saw a couple of huge lizards right on the path. They were surprisingly fast to run (and climb) away from me when I tried to get a photo.

I managed to get one of this much smaller lizard.

5 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Lizard

All the frogs I saw where tiny.

6 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Frog

Of course, there’s also lots of plants. Some of the dedicated sections included palms, medicinal, fruits, ornamental, etc.

8 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Flower

And even a small waterfall.

9 A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Waterfall

In fact, a stream runs right through the middle of the place which gives it a nice ambience, and also attracts mosquitoes. There’s lots of mosquitoes.

A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Purple Leaves

Here’s the stream from a small bridge. It gets somewhat larger in various parts of the garden.

A Walk in Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Stream from the Bridge



Getting to Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres

I originally thought I could get one bus all the way there from my accommodation, and maybe I could have, but it didn’t work out that way.

Actually, it is fairly easy. Catch a bus towards Turbaco. If the bus you get goes all the way to Turbaco proper (if there even is one) then just get off at the road you have to walk up to get to the Botanical Gardens.

Most likely you will just take the first bus (2,000cop) to as far as it goes (turno de los buses de Turbaco) and then swap for a Turbaco local bus (2,000cop) to take you the last 7km to the road leading to the gardens.

Tell the driver you want to go to the Jardín Botánico and he will drop you in the right place. Or if you are like me, then just track yourself via gps and when your there say “Parada Señor” to indicate you want to get off.

From there just walk 15-20 minutes up the road until you get to Jardín Botánico Guillermo Piñeres.

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The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/the-beaches-of-cartagena-bolivar-colombia/ http://www.survivetravel.com/the-beaches-of-cartagena-bolivar-colombia/#comments Sun, 03 Sep 2017 22:17:55 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18708 On my third day in Cartagena I woke up to bright blue skies so I decided to take a walking tour of the beaches of Cartagena. It ended up being a killer walk. Over 10km in the tropical heat, and I didn’t even go for a swim! I do love traveling alone but one of […]

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On my third day in Cartagena I woke up to bright blue skies so I decided to take a walking tour of the beaches of Cartagena. It ended up being a killer walk. Over 10km in the tropical heat, and I didn’t even go for a swim!

I do love traveling alone but one of the biggest downfalls is that there’s no-one to look after your stuff if you want to swim. Fortunately there was a beach within 15 minutes walk of my accommodation so later on I went there with nothing but a bottle of water and my room keys.

The Beaches of Cartagena

There are quite a few beaches close to the city of Cartagena, and a few more not too far away.

Playa Marbella (playa is Spanish for beach) was the closest beach to my accommodation. I had to walk through the barrio for about 15 minutes to get to it.

This is a picture from the rooftop of where I was staying. The beach is in the opposite direction, but this is what the barrio looks like.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, View of Barrio

It was pretty early for Cartagena (10am), and Marbella is one of the less popular beaches, so it was almost empty.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Playa Marbella

This guy was a bit later than the rest to set up his beach tents, but I doubt he lost any business since no-one was there anyway.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Playa Marbella Tents

Coming close to the walled city there were lots of people flying kites. I think this is outside
Baluarte de La Merced. It must be a morning thing because on my way back it was deserted. Just the trash all the people left behind.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Kites

The “Tourist” Beaches

After walking for another long while I started to approach Playa Boca Grande. There are actually a couple more small beaches that I passed by on the way also.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Approaching Boca Grande

Playa Boca Grande is probably the most “touristy” beach in Cartagena. There’s a lot of touts about, as well as police. I got offered almost everything while walking through. From sun-chairs, food and massages, to girls, marijuana and cocaine! I’m sure the last three wouldn’t have happened had I not been a single male.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Playa Boca Grande

After cooling off in the Boca Grande mall I walked another 20-30 minutes to Playa El Laguito. Playa El Laguito is less crowded than Boca Grande, but still has its share of touts.

7 The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Playa El Laguito

Not far past Playa El Laguito is this lake, also named El Laguito (the little lake) – I assume the beach is named after the lake and not the other way around.

The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, El Laguito

That was the end of my “little” walk. I got some lunch and caught a bus back to town from a couple of streets away from the beach. Buses go to Boca Grande and El Laguito along the coast, but back towards town on a different road.

Out of Town Beaches

A couple of days later I went to a beach I read about online, La Boquilla. I went on a Sunday so I expect much less people are there during the week. I only got approached by one tout whilst walking along which was nice. There are a decent amount of little restaurants lined along it and lots of beach tents for hire.

Despite what I had read online, Boquilla beach is quite well developed with a few fairly large hotel resorts along one end of it. Although, in the opposite direction of where this camera is pointing are small restaurants instead of tall buildings.

Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, La Boquilla

La Boquilla is located about a 20 minute bus ride from the city center in the opposite direction to La Boca Grande. The bus costs 2,100COP and has Boquilla written on the front as one of the destinations.

The prettiest of the beaches of Cartagena are the ones on the nearby islands, such as Playa Blanca. I dislike boat rides and tour groups so I didn’t bother going to them, although there is supposedly some spectacular snorkeling around Islas del Rosario.

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The Beaches of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Pinterest

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Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/inside-the-walled-city-of-cartagena/ http://www.survivetravel.com/inside-the-walled-city-of-cartagena/#respond Thu, 31 Aug 2017 14:43:24 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18685 Inside the walled city of Cartagena you can admire the colonial architecture, chill in one of plaza’s, eat in an overpriced restaurant, buy souvenirs off the street, check out a couple of museums, and more. I only did the fist two things, but there’s enough to see just walking around so I had a good […]

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Inside the walled city of Cartagena you can admire the colonial architecture, chill in one of plaza’s, eat in an overpriced restaurant, buy souvenirs off the street, check out a couple of museums, and more. I only did the fist two things, but there’s enough to see just walking around so I had a good time.

Inside the Walled City of Cartagena

My accommodation was a little bit out of town but still within walking distance (less than an hour away).

I chose to take the longer route and walk along Marbella beach.

 1 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Marbella Beach

When I first arrived at the walled city of Cartagena I took a minute to go on the wall with the cannons. Actually, it was more the mural on the building that peaked my interest.

2 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Cannons, Street Art

Inside the walled city of Cartagena the pretty streets are mostly full of tourists and touts, but there are also many “Cartagenians” just going about there business.

3 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Street

This is Plaza Santo Domingo. There are few plazas inside the walled city of Cartagena. My favorite was Plaza Bolivar as there was vegetation, music, and places to sit.

4 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Plaza Santo Domingo

I spotted a couple of pretty impressive balcony gardens.

5 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Balcony of Flowers

There are also a few old cathedrals. This one is Cathedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría.

6 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Cathedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría

Technically I was outside the walled city of Cartagena when I took this, but it is one of the gateways into it. I think it is called Puerta Del Reloj, literally, Door of the Clock.

7 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, Puerta Del Reloj

On my way home I went to the Monumento India Catalina. This is the river running nearby it. In the distance you can see Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas which is what I’ll go check out tomorrow.

8 Inside the Walled City of Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia, River, Monumento India Catalina

Getting to the Walled City of Cartagena

Chances are you are staying really close to it, so just walk there.

If you are out of town (like I was) and you don’t want to walk, you can take a bus, a taxi, or a colectivo, which is a shared taxi. A pointed index finger from your and/or the driver indicates it is a shared taxi. Fare should be 2,000COP.

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25 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/amazing-things-to-do-in-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/amazing-things-to-do-in-medellin/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 15:57:20 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18642 This list of 25 amazing things to do in Medellin gives a short review of each of the things to do in Medellin, links to more detailed reviews (where applicable), advise on accommodation in Medellin, and information on getting to Medellin. After spending 3+ weeks in Armenia, and having no luck with finding an apartment, […]

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This list of 25 amazing things to do in Medellin gives a short review of each of the things to do in Medellin, links to more detailed reviews (where applicable), advise on accommodation in Medellin, and information on getting to Medellin.

After spending 3+ weeks in Armenia, and having no luck with finding an apartment, I decided to head to Medellin to take some Spanish lessons and get a feel for what is widely thought as being the most modern city in Colombia.

A couple of days before I got there I rented a place off AirBnB for 6 weeks, so like it or lump it, I was going to settle there for a little bit. I knew Medellin was a big and busy city before even going there, and although big city living isn’t really my cup of tea I had a pretty good time while I was there.

25 Amazing Things to do in Medellin

1. Graffiti Tour Comuna 13

The first thing on this list of amazing things to do in Medellin is the Graffiti Tour Comuna 13 which is a walking tour through what used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in all of Latin America. Nowadays it is safe enough to walk through (during the day) and you can check out all the local street art and take a ride up the famous outdoor escalator. There’s a great view from the top.

You could do this yourself but I highly recommend doing it with Ardilla Aventuras. It only costs 20,000 COP (+ approx 2,000COP metro fare) and they give you a wealth of information about the areas history and the meanings behind many of the murals.

Amazing Things to do in Medellin

Read more about the Graffiti Tour Comuna 13 here.

2. Learn Spanish

Medellin is widely thought of as being the best place in Colombia to learn Spanish. The city is modern, perfect weather (the city of eternal spring), there are plenty of schools to choose from, and the accent is much easier to understand than in other parts of the country.

Amazing Things to do in Medellin - Survive Travel

Outside Colombia Immersion, where I took Spanish classes.

Read more about learning Spanish in Medellín here.

3. Botero Plaza

In the middle of the city is this plaza filled with sculptures from the famous Medellin artist Fernando Botero. Check out the sculptures, people watch, and eat ice-cream or some other snack from the many vendors.

3 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Botero Plaza, Sculptures, Art

4. Placita de Flores

A couple of kilometers east of the city center is a fresh market called Placita de Flores. Not exactly earth-shattering but worth a look if you’ve never been to a fresh market in Colombia before and have a bit of free time. To get there take the Tranvía to Pabellon de las Aguas.

4 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Placita de Florez, Market, Flowers

5. Feria de Las Flores

Number five on this list of amazing things to do in Medellin only comes around once a year. Feria de Las Flores (Flower Festival) is a two week festival occurring every year in Medellin. I’m not sure if it happens on the same dates every year but I was lucky enough to be in the city at the time. Loads of events happen throughout Medellín during this festival. Parades, music, dancing, eating, and more.



Amazing things to do in Medellin, Survive Travel, Feria De La Flores

The car parade during Feria de Las Flores.

6. Planetario De Medellin

Medellin’s planetarium… is really good!

Not huge, but enough to keep you busy for an hour or two. Lots of interactive displays and includes a dome theatre show (like IMAX). General admission is only 15,000COP and it is very easy to get to. Right next to the University metro station.

Most of the information is in Spanish and English, except the dome show which is entirely in Spanish. I didn’t understand most of it but still thought it was really good.

6 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Planetario, Museum, Planetarium

7. Parque Norte

A nice park with a lake to stroll around. Also contains rides and food stalls.

This is located just north of the University metro station. Free entry.

7 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia, Parque Norte, Park, Lake

8. Sabaneta

Sabaneta is about 20-30 minutes south of Medellin’s city center by train. It’s a nice place to stroll around with some chilled bars and restaurants. I actually wanted to live here while in Medellin but the airbnb I wanted fell through 😔 .

There’s one place close to the park that sells HUGE buñuelos. Delicious and fresh.

9. Barrio Buenos Aires

If I hadn’t lived near here I probably would have never visited. Along the tranvía line, about 15 minutes from the city center, is the barrio of Buenos Aires.

It’s nothing special during the day, but at night (especially Friday and Saturday) it livens up with restaurants, bars, salsa clubs, and street food. Also, it is permanently closed off to cars so apart from the tram every 10 minutes or so you can wander freely in the street.

Worth a look if you like night-life.

9 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Buenos Aires, Tram line, Pedestrian Street

10. Jardin Botanico de Medellín

Claiming spot number 10 on this list of amazing things to do in Medellin is Jardin Botanico de Medellín. The Botanical Garden of Medellin is like no other botanical garden I have every been to, complete with its share of nature mixed with amusement rides, artisan stalls, and of course, lots of food.

The fact that I went on a Colombian public holiday during one of the biggest festivals in Medellin (Feriá de las Flores) probably had something to do with all the action.

10 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Jardin Botanico de Medellin

Read more about Jardín Botanico de Medellín here.

11. Real City Tours Free Walking Tour

A free 4 hour walking tour around the city center of Medellin. Get shown some key spots around the city and learn about the recent history of Medellin.

It’s extremely popular. Multiple groups are run twice daily and you have to book ahead online.

Suggested tip is 20,000 – 30,000COP.

11 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Free Walking Tour

Read more about Real City Tours Free Walking Tour here.

12. Parque La Ladera

There are lots of small parks in Medellin, and I dare say every barrio has at least one. Parque La Ladera is a larger one that was relatively close to my house. I mention it specifically because it also had a pool, activity court (football/basketball), a library, and a pretty good view from the top.

12 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Parque La Ladera, View

13. Museo Casa de la Memoria

Museo Casa de la Memoria (memory house museum) is a small museum about the armed conflicts in Medellín. I went there but did really look in it much. I got side-tracked by Bicenenario Park and the river that runs next to it.

Entry is free. Everything is in Spanish but I think they run guided tours in English. See the website for more details. MuseoCasaDelMemoria.gov.co.

13 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Museo Casa de la Memoria

14. People Watching

Do what the bored locals do on any given afternoon. Go to a public plaza, grab a tinto (3rd grade coffee) or icecream and just watch the people in action.

Parque Berrio in town is one of my favorite spots since they have folk music and older couples dancing.

14 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, People Watching, Parque De Berrio

15. Metrocable

Number 15 on this list of amazing things to do in Medellin is actually part of the public transport system. For the price of a normal ticket you can take the metrocable and get some awesome views of the city.

Walking through the barrios at night is not recommended, but the view from the cable car at night is spectacular, so just take the cable car up and straight back down.

15 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Metrocable

16. Barrio Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is a barrio at the end of one of the metro cable routes. It is the entry point for the joining cable car to Parque Arví, but is awesome to walk through in its own right.

The walk down through this barrio (back to the metro station) is relatively safe during the day, and you can get some great views on the way.

In fact, taking any cable car to the end of the line and then walking back down is quite an enjoyable way to see the different barrios. I ended up doing it a few times.

16 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Barrio Santo Domingo

17. Parque Cerro El Volador

One day I decided to check out the University Museum, but it was a Sunday so it was closed. I noticed on the map the national park Cerro El Volador was not too far away so I went “hiking” in it. It wasn’t the greatest hiking (mostly along the road), the view from the top of the hill wasn’t exactly spectacular, and while I was there it started raining, a lot. Even so, I enjoyed it more than I do most museums.

I never did end up seeing university museum.

17 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Parque Cerro El Volador

Read more about Parque Cerro El Volador here.

18. Explore the City by Bicycle

All around Medellin are free bikes which you use and return to any other ‘free bike’ spots in the city. I never actually did this, but noticed that you need a civica (the transport card) to do it.

18 Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Blue Bicycles

19. Guatapé and Piedra del Peñol

Guatapé is a small colonial town only a few hours bus ride from Medellín. It’s a lovely little town with cute buildings and a river which you can take a cruise down.

Also, only 10 minute bus ride from Guatapé is Piedra del Peñol, a huge rock which you can climb (walk up) for some breathtaking views. Definitely worth a day trip or even a couple of nights stay.

Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Guatapé and Piedra del Peñol

Read more about Guatapé and Piedra del Peñol here.

20. Parque El Salado

Coming in at number 20 on this list of amazing things to do in Medellin is a nice, tranquil park. Parque El Salado is a great place to walk around in nature not too far from the city. Inside is a river, some walking trails, and a couple of miradors (look-out points).

I went on a weekday and I hardly saw anyone else while walking around. It was very peaceful. There is also a rock climbing wall, some places to eat, and what looks to be a zip line through the canopy, although none of these things were open. I imagine it gets busier on the weekends and they open them then.

Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Parque El Salado

Read more about Parque El Salado here.

21. Museo De Arte Moderno

I went here as a spare of the moment decision. Parque El Salado didn’t take as long as I thought it would and this museum was on the way. A friend had previously told me it was good so I decided to check it out.

It was quite good. Not a huge collection, but enough to keep me interested for an hour.

10,000cop entry. Closest metro station is Industriales.

Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Musea De Arte Moderno

22. Parque Arví

Parque Arví is a large national park with a number of cool hiking trails. It is accessed via the metro cable which in itself is quite spectacular. You could also get there by bus or car, but the metro cable gives great views.

Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Parque Arví

Read more about Parque Arví here.

23. Pueblito Paisa and Cerro Nutibara

Pueblito Paisa (Little Town) is a replica of a traditional Antioquían town. It is located on top of Cero Nutibara (Nutibarra Hill), and besides the small town it also offers a small art gallery, a sculpture walk, and a fantasitc view over the city.

Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Pueblito Paisa and Cerro Nutibara

Read more about Pueblito Paisa and Cerro Nutibara here.

These last two items I didn’t actually do. If I stayed in Medellín another week I probably would have.

24. Santa Fe de Antioquia

Sante Fe de Antioquía is a colonial village about a 2 hour bus ride from Medellín north bus terminal. One of the attractions there is El Puente de Occidente (bridge of the west, pictured) which is a single suspension bridge.

Several people recommended that I check this out, but just looking around a colonial village and a bridge didn’t interest me enough to take a 6 hour return journey (it would have taken me one hour to get to the north bus terminal from my house).

25. Jardin

The last thing on this list of amazing things to do in Medellín is to go to the village of Jardín, which has remained mostly unchanged for the last 150 or so years. A friend of mine went and ended up staying a whole week!

Jardín can be reached via a 3 hour bus ride from Medellín south bus terminal (Terminal Sur).

Things to do in Medellín, Jardín, Survive Travel

Getting to Medellín

Before doing all these amazing things to do in Medellin you have to get there!

Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia and you can catch either a bus or plane from almost anywhere in the country as well as from many other countries.

I caught a bus from Salento. Distance wise it isn’t too far but due to the winding mountain roads and traffic in Colombia the journey took 8 hours! It cost less then 50,000 COP but I could probably have got a flight for under 100,000 COP from Armenia, which considering the time saved and comfort factor probably would have been a better idea.

On the way out I flew from the international airport (MDE) to Cartagena. To get to the airport I took the airport shuttle bus from Hotel Nutibara (Carrera 50A #53-13) in the city center, which is across the road from Parque Berrio metro station. It cost 9,000COP, took about an hour, and is labeled Aeropuerto JMC on the front (Medellin A. Nutibarra.

The airport shuttle runs from 3:30 am – 9:30 pm towards MDE, and from 6am – 12pm in the opposite direction (MDE to the city). I read online that it also pick-up/drops off from the San Diego mall which will be easier if you are staying in Poblado or near that area.

A yellow taxi to/from the airport should be a fixed price of $65,000COP.

The domestic airport (EOH) is location next to the South Terminal bus station. Not all domestic flights leave from the domestic terminal, e.g., my flight to Cartagena left from MDE.

Accommodation in Medellin

Whilst doing all these amazing things to do in Medellin I stayed in a short term rental (for 6 weeks) which I got via AirBnB. I rented an apartment about a 10 minute tram ride to the east of the city in a barrio called Buenos Aires. It was fully furnished with everything included (water, gas, wifi, cable, etc.) and the location was good with public transport, supermarkets, and places to eat (and drink) nearby. Also, it was located off the main road and just a bit out of the city so it was quite peaceful.

I felt it was a bit expensive for what I got but that’s expected on AirBnB. You pay a little more for the convenience of a short-term rental and without having to fight the red tape of a rental agreement. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel for six weeks, and I had a whole apartment to myself, so I was happy with it.

The owners were awesome. They helped me out in every way possible. If I ever stay in Medellín for a month or more again I would probably try and rent this same place. It was called “Ambiente campestre en el centro de Medellín” on AirBnb.

It cost about 1,200,000 COP per month.

Book your AirBnB in Medellin.

… or if you are only going short term, I recommend using HotelLook.

Here’s a video slideshow of all my pictures taken whilst doing all of these amazing things to do in Medellin. Im going to buy an actual camera (as opposed to using my phone) in a couple of weeks so look out for (hopefully) way better photos!

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Amazing Things to Do in Medellin, Survive Travel, Pinterest

Got anything to add to this list of amazing things to do in Medellin? Let us know them (or anything else you want to say) in the comments 😀 .

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Street Art of Medellin, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/street-art-of-medellin-colombia/ http://www.survivetravel.com/street-art-of-medellin-colombia/#respond Sun, 27 Aug 2017 21:06:52 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18629 This post is a collection of pictures I took featuring the street art of Medellin. Medellín is the second biggest city in Colombia and is mostly infamous for its drug cartels and Pablo Escobar which caused many problems in the 70s’, 80’s and early 90’s. There are also the ongoing problems with para-military and rebel […]

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This post is a collection of pictures I took featuring the street art of Medellin.

Medellín is the second biggest city in Colombia and is mostly infamous for its drug cartels and Pablo Escobar which caused many problems in the 70s’, 80’s and early 90’s.

There are also the ongoing problems with para-military and rebel groups within the country as a whole. Although the violence has dropped dramatically (Medellín is now quite safe as opposed to 15 years ago when it was basically a war zone) there are still power struggles in the background which impact the community (such as corruption).

Due to this ongoing history, much of the street art in Medellin has a lot significance to the community in the way of political messages and hopes for the future.

This post doesn’t cover any of the awesome street art found in Comuna 13, which is where a lot of the violence was, and hence has a lot of meaningful street art. Comuna 13 has its own post here.

The Street Art of Medellin


Man with cigarette. Reminds me of a typical Colombian man, or more accurately, a typical paisa (Antioquían).


1 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Grafiti Art, Man with Cigarette


This is actually a tiled mosaic.


2 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Graffiti Art, Tiled Wall


The wealth of Antioquía is largely thanks to coffee. Colombia is the 3rd biggest exporter of coffee in the world.


3 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Graffiti Art, Coffee Pickers


Depicting the classic chiva bus. These can be seen cruising the streets with people dancing, drinking, and basically just having a good time on them.


4 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Graffiti Art, Bus on wall


Underneath one of the metro stations, though I can’t remember which one.


5 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Faces


I fund this near the botanical garden of Medellín. Something to do with women’s rights.


6 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Women's rights


Some classic street art under the bridge near the Museo Casa de la Memoria.


7 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Skull, Under the bridge


This is outside Colombian Immersion, where I took Spanish lessons. It is actually where Pablo Escobar died.


8 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Pablos Death


Outside Parque El Salado, an eco-parque not far from the city. Not surprisingly, it has a nature theme.


9 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Wildlife, Parque el Salado


A sculpture of superman. Not sure why. It’s found close to metro station Industriales.


10 Street Art of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Street Art, Superman

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Street art of Medellín, Survive Travel, Pinterest

Have you explored the street art of Medellin? Let us know your favorite piece (or anything else you want to say) in the comments 😀 .

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Exploring Parque Arví, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/exploring-parque-arvi-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/exploring-parque-arvi-medellin/#respond Sat, 26 Aug 2017 14:25:12 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18590 Parque Arví is a large eco-park easily accessible from city of Medellín via the metro cable. Exploring Parque Arví was the last thing on my “must do” list before leaving Medellín. I went there solely for the hiking. I had read on the internet that it was really busy, which I wasn’t looking forward too, […]

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Parque Arví is a large eco-park easily accessible from city of Medellín via the metro cable. Exploring Parque Arví was the last thing on my “must do” list before leaving Medellín. I went there solely for the hiking.

I had read on the internet that it was really busy, which I wasn’t looking forward too, but whoever wrote that must have gone on the weekend. I went on a Friday, and although there were more people there than there was at Parque El Salado, I still found myself alone for most of the time. It probably helped that Parque Arví is huge.

Cost(s): Free entry. Cost for the metro cable is 4200 COP, + transport costs to the metro cable. Total cost there and back will be under 15,000cop.

Address: Via a Piedras Blancas, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. ParqueArvi.org

Exploring Parque Arví

After the very enjoyable cable car ride to Parque Arví I was a bit confused. I had expected an entry fee, and there wasn’t one.

At the entry there seems to be some kind of tour guide system. I didn’t bother to suss it out since all I wanted to do was hike around.

There is also food and artisan stalls near the entrance, as well as a couple of nice flower beds.

1 Exploring Parque Arví, Medellín-Antioquía, Colombia, Flower Bed

After stumbling around for a few minutes I started walking down the road. At the bottom of the hill was a sign to go left to the ecological park, but when I tried to go up that road I was told that to go hiking I should go right instead, so I did.

There were a couple of stalls and restaurants along the way, and then I finally saw a hiking trail at the bottom of the hill.

2 Exploring Parque Arví, Medellín-Antioquía, Colombia, Hiking Trail

There was a few different trails in there but it all seemed pretty random. I walked around for about an hour and then decided to head back. On the way I saw a sign for an actual marked trail (Sendero Flora), so I followed it.

I even spotted some wild-life – I really need a better camera (and some photography skills).

3 Exploring Parque Arví, Medellín-Antioquía, Colombia, Blue Bird

Sendero Flora took me back to where I started hiking, at the bottom of the hill. By this time I was a little disappointed so I started to head back (again). Halfway up the hill I saw another trail entrance that I had missed on the way down, and it had a map showing all the trails in the area. I was happy.

4 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Map of Arvi Park

I’m surprised they don’t give people a map at the start. Anyway, I made a rough hiking plan in my head to circle around the a couple of trails and eventually end up back near the entrance. I started with the trail I was on, Circuito Arqueológico.

People must live nearby because there was this cat just chilling in the bushes.

5 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Cat

There’s a few nice flowers around. All native I presume.

6 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Flower

At one stage while exploring Parque Arví I had to go along the road to get to the next trail (Sendero Vital), and a police car zoomed by me, and then back again a few minutes later. Once I got to the trail I discovered this abandoned motorbike, which I assume is not allowed. I guess the police nabbed them, either that or they were in an accident.

7 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Motorbike

Getting back towards the entrance I started seeing signs about the life cycles of different flora and fauna, such as butterfly’s, toads, and mushrooms.

I guess they didn’t have any real mushrooms growing in the area so they made these fake ones.

8 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Fake Mushrooms

On the way home from exploring Parque Arví I almost got a whole cable car to myself. That would have been awesome, but at the last second a couple got on.

There are some great views over the park and the city from the cable car. If you don’t like hiking, just taking the cable car is worth it.

9 Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, View from Cable Car - Featured

Getting to Parque Arví

You can drive or take a bus there, but I highly recommend the cable car. It is easy and has great views.

Catch the metro to Acevedo (along the line towards Niquía). Do not exit the station, otherwise you will need to buy another ticket. Take the metro cable to Santo Domingo, which is the last stop.

From Santo Domingo you will have to buy a new ticket to get onto the metro cable to Parque Arví. I used my civica, but I think if you pay cash it costs 4,200cop.

You have to buy all the same tickets on the way back. Total cost will be under 15,000cop, assuming you are taking the metro from your starting point.

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Exploring Parque Arvi, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Pinterest

Do you have experience exploring Parque Arví? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/hiking-in-parque-el-salado-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/hiking-in-parque-el-salado-medellin/#respond Fri, 25 Aug 2017 14:45:50 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18571 Parque El Salado is an eco-park about a 30 minute bus ride from Envigado in Medellín. Hiking in Parque El Salado was a great way to get into nature without having to go too far. I went on a weekday and I hardly saw anyone else while walking around. It was very peaceful. Cost(s): 3,200cop. […]

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Parque El Salado is an eco-park about a 30 minute bus ride from Envigado in Medellín. Hiking in Parque El Salado was a great way to get into nature without having to go too far. I went on a weekday and I hardly saw anyone else while walking around. It was very peaceful.

Cost(s): 3,200cop.

Address: Envigado, Antioquia, Colombia.

Hiking in Parque El Salado

The first thing I noticed after entering Parque El Salado was the small river running through it. You can walk along the river which is nice, and since there was almost no people there I was able to just sit by it and listen to the sounds of nature – and nothing else.

1 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, River

In the park are a couple of miradors (look-out points). The views are not fantastic but they are still worth the short climb.

2 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Mirador

There are lots of ornamental flowers around, as well as native species. Some are marked with their scientific names.

3 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Red Flower

Besides some workers and a couple I saw near the entrance, I was the only person in the entire park. It was great to have the whole place to myself.

4 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Path

You can continue walking around through the canopy at “mirador height”.

5 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Bridge

Eventually you get to the second mirador.

6 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Mirador 2

If you climb higher still you can find a non-paved path. I love non-paved paths. I don’t know why, I just do.

7 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Top path

I found a little flower nursery. The main part was locked but there where quite a few samples outside the locked area too.

8 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Pink Flower

Closer to ground level you cross another bridge to go back over the river to the entrance/exit.

9 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Bridge 2

There was quite a few butterfly’s around, more than I have seen in some butterfly farms. It’s so hard to get a good shot of a butterfly with it’s wings open but not moving around. I wish I had a macro setting on my phone. I think I am definitely going to “invest” in a half-decent point and shoot camera. Something water-proof so I can take it snorkeling.

10 Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Butterfly

While hiking in Parque El Salado I also saw a rock climbing wall, some places to eat, and what looked to be a zip line through the canopy, although none of these things were open. I imagine it gets busier on the weekends and they open them then.

Getting to Parque El Salado

Catch the metro to Envigado station. Exit the station and take the bridge over the river to the buses on the side of the road. Catch the one that says Salado, Ecoparque. The fare is under 2,000COP (I think), or you can use a civica transport card.

The bus ride takes less than 30 minutes and you can get dropped off right out the front of the park entrance.

Take the same bus back to Envigado when your done.

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Hiking in Parque El Salado, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Bridge, Pinterest

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Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/climbing-la-piedra-del-penol-guatape-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/climbing-la-piedra-del-penol-guatape-medellin/#respond Wed, 23 Aug 2017 00:34:36 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18540 I had been told by many different people that I simply “had to visit” Guatapé before leaving Medellín. Actually, the colonial town didn’t hold too much interest for me, but climbing La Piedra del Peñol did. For some reason I thought I would be able to boulder on La Piedra del Peñol. I think you […]

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I had been told by many different people that I simply “had to visit” Guatapé before leaving Medellín. Actually, the colonial town didn’t hold too much interest for me, but climbing La Piedra del Peñol did.

For some reason I thought I would be able to boulder on La Piedra del Peñol. I think you can definitely go rock-climbing on it (with a tour group), and maybe just boulder also. Unfortunately, by the time I had climbed up and down it the conventional way (via approximately 750 stairs) I totally forgot about bouldering so didn’t even check to see if I could.

Cost(s): 18,000COP entry fee to La Peidra del Peñol.

Address: Guatapé, Antioquia.

Climbing La Piedra del Peñol

The bus from Medellin dropped me off at the base of the hill that La Piedre del Peñol is on. From there it was about 15 minute walk to the base of the rock. You could also get a lift up, which costs about 5,000COP (depending on your bargaining skills).

Even just the walk up to the base gives you some pretty good views of the landscape.

1 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, View over lakes

This is the best shot I got of the actual rock. You get better views from the bus on the way in.

2 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Big Rock

When I first saw all the stairs I actually had second thoughts about whether I wanted to climb it, but it turned out to be much easier than I anticipated. The average person should be able to get up it within 30 minutes.

Up the top there are a few shops for food and souvenirs. You can climb some more to the mirador which gives you a spectacular 360 degree view.

3 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, View from Mirador 1

A ridiculously good view with a pretty nice day. I wish I had an actual camera as opposed to just my 8mp phone.

4 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, View from Mirador 2

After climbing La Piedra del Peñol I caught the bus to Guatapé for lunch and a walk around. It is a very pretty little town.

5 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Colonial Houses

Along the waterfront you can take a boat tour. Apparently you see about 8 things, including one of Pablo Escobar’s old mansions. I overheard some tourists talking about it and they seemed pretty disappointed as it only went for 1 hour and cost about 10usd per person (pretty expensive for Colombia). I wouldn’t have done it anyway since I dislike boat rides.

6 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, River

A couple of streets away from the town center and the waterfront you can see the “non-tourist” part of Guatapé, which is actually still pretty nice. I even managed to find another lake.

7 Climbing La Piedra del Peñol, Guatapé, Medellín, Antioquía, Colombia, Donkey at lake

Getting to La Piedra del Peñol and Guatapé

Medellín is the closest big city and is where most people leave from when visiting Guatapé, although there are buses to/from Bogota and other places also.

From Medellín, catch the metro to Caribe station and then walk over the pedestrian bridge/walkway to the Northern Bus Terminal. There are a couple of ticket booths selling tickets to Guatapé. They are well signed.

My ticket cost 13,500cop (and it was the same on the way back).

The bus ride took about 2 hours to La Piedra del Peñol. You can go all the way to Guatapé but if you want to climb the rock then you may as well do it first on the way.

From La Piedra del Peñol to Guatapé you can take a little jeep (I was offered 8,000cop) or just take the local bus (2,000cop).

To get back to Medellín just go to the same place the bus drops you off (which is across the road from the water front) and buy a ticket. The buses fill up so if you think you are going to stay until the last bus, buy your ticket in advance.

Have you ever been climbing La Piedra del Peñol in Guatapé before? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/hiking-in-parque-cerro-el-volador-edellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/hiking-in-parque-cerro-el-volador-edellin/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:00:14 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18488 I decided to check out the university museum, but it was a Sunday so it was closed, so I went hiking in parque Cerro El Volador instead. Featured Image: SajoR [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador I didn’t really know what to expect when I went hiking in Parque […]

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I decided to check out the university museum, but it was a Sunday so it was closed, so I went hiking in parque Cerro El Volador instead.

Featured Image: SajoR [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador

I didn’t really know what to expect when I went hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador. I didn’t even know it existed until I spotted it on my map when searching for a close-by alternative to the university museum.

On the map it was at least 4 times larger than the botanical garden, so I was prepared for spending most of the day there and was hoping for some nice hiking and an awesome view from the top. None of this happened, but I still had a good time.

Even the walk to Parque Cerro El Volador from the university was quite enjoyable. I came across this cool little “tropical garden” out the back of some high rise buildings.

1 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Tropical Forrest

And also got a pretty good view of the Medellin river from the bridge.

2 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, River

After about a 30 minute walk I reached the entry to Parque Cerro El Volador. There were a fair few families, people walking their dogs, and others jogging. It was a Sunday after all.

Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t any nice hiking trails. It was pretty much just walking up the road.

3 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Walking Path

I did manage to find a small dirt trail straight up the side of the top of the hill. It was fairly overgrown and only lasted a couple of minutes, but I was happy with it.

4 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Hiking Trail

Just as I got to the top it started to rain, hard. Luckily I had my emergency poncho, and from now on I will always carry my waterproof socks as well.

A few family picnics on top of the hill got rained out. I took shelter squatting under a tree in my poncho, but after 20 minutes of the rain not letting up I decided to just bite the bullet and head home in the wet.

All the paths had turned to mud.

5 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Mud Path

I decided to take one of the side paths to the bottom of the hill. I counted two different ones in total on the way up, and I think they actually join together via a small bridge near the bottom.

6 Hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Side Path

It rained on me all the way to the station, but by the time I got to Buenos Aires (the closest tram stop to where I live) it had stopped.

Getting to Parque Cerro El Volador

I walked there from the metro station Universidad, but on the way back I walked to the metro station Estudio, which was closer and easier since I didn’t have to cross any major roads. It took about 15 minutes to get to Estudio from the bottom of Cerro El Volador.

Have you been hiking in Parque Cerro El Volador before? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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Learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion, Medellin, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/learning-spanish-with-colombia-immersion-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/learning-spanish-with-colombia-immersion-medellin/#respond Sun, 20 Aug 2017 02:32:41 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18475 I decided to spend 6 weeks in Medellin before heading to the coast. Four weeks learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion and the rest of the time just chilling / sightseeing. Medellin is considered one of the best places to learn Spanish in Colombia. The weather is good (most of the time), there’s lots to do, […]

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I decided to spend 6 weeks in Medellin before heading to the coast. Four weeks learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion and the rest of the time just chilling / sightseeing.

Medellin is considered one of the best places to learn Spanish in Colombia. The weather is good (most of the time), there’s lots to do, it’s the most modern city in Colombia, the accent is (relatively) easy to understand, and there are lots of different companies to choose from.

During my stay in Medellin I chose to learn Spanish with a company called Colombia Immersion.

Cost(s): Varies depending on how long you stay for, if you want accommodation, and how much you want to do per day. Check their website for details – ColombiaImmersion.com/classes-pricing

Address: Colombia Immersion has two locations in Medellin:

Envigado: Cra 40 # 40D Sur – 49 El Dorado, Envigado.
Laureles: Cra 79B # 45D – 94 Los Olivos, Laureles.

Learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion

The main reason I chose Colombia Immersion was because they offered afternoon classes, but also because they had a location that I thought I was going to live close to, as well as hosting other after class activities (none of which I participated in). There are cheaper schools around, but the difference is not that much.

Most people that learn Spanish with Colombia Immersion go for the 20hrs/week group classes, but they started at 9am. A tad early for me, and also 4 hours a day is a bit much, so I opted for the 2 hours a day afternoon group classes. Actually, they were from 11am – 1pm for the first 3 weeks and then 2pm – 4pm for my last week there. Also, afternoon group classes are not always available. If there is no group class available for your level they just give you one hour of private instruction instead for the same cost (or a little bit cheaper I think).

First Impressions

I registered only two days before I wanted to start learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion, and it was over the weekend so they didn’t see it until Monday, which was the day I wanted to start. I was contacted Monday morning and I managed to get there for my first class that same day.

I was placed with a three other students. I think my Spanish was at a bit higher level than theirs, but I still learned a lot.

After the first class you decide whether you want to continue or not. If not, the class is free. Obviously, I decided to continue.

On my second day learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion there was confusion about who I was (apparently I looked extremely similar to another student), but once it was all sorted out they “made it up to me” with a 2 hour private class, which was really good.

Staff / Teachers

I got to experience 4 different teachers. They all had a slightly different teaching style but I think they were all very good. Actually, all the staff in general were awesome. Super friendly and helpful. If you’re interested to do so, I’m sure you can make some great friends there.

Structure

In theory the Colombia Immersion class structure is very good. They give you a placement test before your first class and there is a set curriculum, however, I think the implementation could be improved.

One thing I disliked while learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion is that they changed my teacher every week. This would be fine (and probably beneficial) IF they either followed the teaching curriculum strictly or the handover between teachers was better. Instead, there seemed to be some unnecessary repetition. I realize repetition is good for learning, but I feel like some of it was directly because one teacher didn’t know what the previous had taught me/us. By the start of my fourth week I had been given 4 separate (but the same) lessons on imperfect tense, in comparison to only one in perfect tense. I’m also fairly sure that I missed some of the curriculum during the teacher changes.

I have a feeling that in the 4hr/day course the curriculum is followed more strictly, and the changing of teachers may not be an issue, although I did speak to some other students (that had done the standard course) and they had similar feelings about the teacher changes as me.

Another problem for me was that every time a new student came, or someone missed a day, they would have to (quickly) repeat what the student missed. On average I reckon this ate up about 30 minutes a day, and when you think about it, you can learn a whole new concept of grammar (or whatever) in 30 minutes. Though I feel that this type of think is unavoidable in a group learning situation, so not really the schools fault.

Location

Colombia Immersion has two locations. Both of them are in what are considered to be nice areas of Medellin. I went to the one closer to town (about 5 metro stops from the center). Many of the students lived within walking distance.

The building of the location I attended is actually the house of where the infamous Pablo Escober died! Every day there were tourists out the front taking pictures.

The house itself has converted nicely into a small school. It has a nice “homely” feel with free coffee all day and also bunuellos in the morning and fruit in the afternoon.

I never saw the second location, but it is south of the city.

The school can help you find accommodation if you need it, but I didn’t meet any students that actually went through the school for accommodation – mind you, I didn’t speak to any other students apart from the ones in my actual class.

After School Activities

Every day there are after-class activities/tours, and the activites change from week to week. There where also some things over the weekend. I didn’t go to anything, partly because I lived so far away, but mostly because I’m pretty anti-social.

I did speak to some students who had attended some of the activities. A couple of them were very disappointed (with the same activity), but most were content. There were no “awesome” reviews though.

I guess if you are the type of person who likes group activities and/or just wants things to do and ways to meet people then have a go at one or two of them. Some are free and the others seemed reasonably priced.

What I Discovered about Myself

Learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion was my first time taking formal language lessons as an adult, and I learned a lot about my own learning style that I hadn’t expected. My Spanish definitely improved during my time with Colombia Immersion, but many of the grammar concepts I had previously self-learned from a book that my mum gave me. I think the main things I got out of live classes was “forced practice” and being able to ask technical questions to a professional teacher – which is a massive benefit.

There were definitely concepts that I knew previously but were explained better by the teachers, and I had a lot of “ah ha” moments, but I do feel like I would have learned more in a one hour private class only 2 or 3 times a week as opposed to the 2hours a day/ 5 days a week group classes that I took. I guess I’ll test out that theory next time.

The other thing is the interaction with other students. Even though I attended none of the after-class activities, I found the interection with other students during class kind of nice. I even spent time with a couple of them outside of class. The benefits where definitely more social for me though. I don’t think I benefited in the way of learning by having the other students in the class. Sure, there were a couple of things that other students asked that I benefited from, but generally it just meant more time taken from my personal learning.

Do I Recommend Colombia Immersion?

Short answer: Yes.

Colombia Immersion was not a “perfect” school, but no school is. Most of the things I found negative about Colombia Immersion were either unavoidable or due to my own learning style/personality.

There is definitely room for improvement, but to their credit, they give all the students a survey at the end of each week so you can voice your opinions and suggestions. Whether the suggestions are implemented or not I will probably never know, but I assume if something keeps popping up it will be acted upon.

Overall, I enjoyed my time learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion, and if you are the type of person that learns best in a classroom environment then I say give Colombia Immersion a go. They are a relatively young school (I think less that 2 years old) and they are already doing a pretty good job. If I come back to Medellin I will probably take some more classes with them.

What’s Next?

I still have a long way to go with my Spanish. I don’t really mind if I’m not fluent, but being able to converse naturally before attempting another language would be nice.

I’m still tossing up whether I will take a few more classes in Santa Marta. If I do they will most likely be private classes, but for now I will take a break and do some sightseeing around Medellin.

Maybe in a few weeks I will write some posts on learning Spanish. Writing about stuff always cements it in my mind so it will be a good revision exercise for me.

Have you spent time learning Spanish with Colombia Immersion or another school in Medellin? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Colombia http://www.survivetravel.com/free-walking-tour-medellin/ http://www.survivetravel.com/free-walking-tour-medellin/#respond Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:46:48 +0000 http://www.survivetravel.com/?p=18463 I usually don’t go for city tours but everyone I spoke to about the free walking tour in Medellin had recommended it, so I thought I’d better give it a go. The free walking tour in Medellin is run by Real City Tours (RealCityTours.com) and it is very popular. I think they run the tour […]

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I usually don’t go for city tours but everyone I spoke to about the free walking tour in Medellin had recommended it, so I thought I’d better give it a go.

The free walking tour in Medellin is run by Real City Tours (RealCityTours.com) and it is very popular. I think they run the tour twice a day, and with 3 or 4 separate groups, each of about 15 people. You have to book your spot on their website 24 to 48 hours ahead of time.

Cost(s): Tip based.

Free Walking Tour in Medellin

Most of the places we went on the tour I had already seen, but the stories we were told about the history of the city were great.

Our guide also explained to us why paisas (people from Antioquia) consider themselves better than the rest of Colombians.

This sculpture pretty much sums up the proud history of Antioquia and how they got their wealth including gold, corn, coffee, and the railroad.

1 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Historic Sculpture

In the past 10 years Medellin has turned some of their worst spots into pilars of hope for the community. This “forest of lights” is an excellent example as this area used to be “crime central” of Medellin. At night these light up.

2 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Forest of Lights

This building used to be the justice house (or something like that). They changed the location of the justice house so some Arabs bought this one and turned it into a mall.

5 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Junin Pedestrian Street

I think this is Junin Pedestrian Street. It runs next to a church and you can buy lots of knock-offs such as books, movies (especially blue movies), perfumes, etc.

5 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Junin Pedestrian Street

Every city in Colombia has a Bolivar Park, and like most of the others, this one is great for people watching. Many parks/plazas in Medellin get a bit sketchy after dark, but they are fine during the day.

6 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, Bolivar Park

The tour finished at San Antonio Park where you can see a bombed Botero sculpture. The bombing happened during a concert. Quite a few people were killed and many more injured, including children. The mayor was going to remove it but Botero called him up saying to leave it as a remembrance of the incident. They put a plaque with the victims names and also a new sculpture (exactly the same as the original) as a symbol of hope/peace.

7 Free Walking Tour in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia, San Antonio Park

There were other stops and stories on the walking tour, but I guess you’ll just have to go and do it to discover them all.

Overall I thought the tour was good. Perhaps a little long (4 hours) but the actual walking distance wasn’t very far. A lot of the time was taken up by the stories, and there was a couple of break/snack stops on the way.

Of course the tour isn’t really free. I guess you don’t have to tip your guide, but 20,000 – 30,000 COP is suggested.

Have you done the free walking tour in Medellin by Real City Tours before? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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