Travellers often plan a few days in Medellín and end up staying longer. The relaxed atmosphere and temperate climate (it's known as the City of Eternal Spring for a reason) are difficult to tear yourself away from. Despite its turbulent 17th-century origins, Medellín is a modern success story – it's even won awards for its innovative redevelopment in recent years. Visit to see for yourself whether the leafy parks, warm-hearted locals and quirky statues by Colombian artist Botero charm you into extending your trip.
Medellín hostels exude the city's cool creative vibes and many organise events like cultural workshops, concerts and salsa dancing classes. You'll also find boutique spots decorated to look like an NYC warehouse loft and places with gardens and common areas packed full of tropical plants. Colombian coffee fans should keep an eye out for free breakfasts with unlimited hot drinks. There are plenty of hostels in Medellín that'll show you the authentic city, and some even host language exchange evenings so you can chat with the locals. Discover the best hostels in Medellín here.
El Poblado is the backpackers' area of choice in Medellín for its outdoor social scene around Parque Lleras. Envigado and Laureles are both a little quieter and more residential with independent bars and cafés sprinkled in between homes. Bélen, south of Laureles, is an up-and-coming middle-class district that's home to Nutibara Hill. Travel here to find a handful of hiking and bike trails leading up to a life-size copy of a traditional, colourful Colombian village on the top.
To discover the city's tumultuous past, head to the multimedia Museo Casa de la Memoria (Memory House Museum) or take a free guided walking tour in the centre. Plaza Botero is also in the downtown area, dotted with 23 sculptures by famed former Medellin resident Fernando Botero, and you can swing by the Museo de Antioquia to see his paintings too. Visit the Arví Park ecological reserve in the Aburrá Valley for fresh air; you can take the local metro and then hop on a cable car.
A new transport system has transformed Medellín, increasing opportunities for locals by connecting the outskirts to the city through a cable car network. Take a ride yourself up to Santo Domingo station for views over the downtown area and the mural-painted roofs of the hilltop houses. You can also use the metro and buses to get around. José María Córdova International Airport is 36km from the city and can be reached by bus, taxi, shared taxi or Uber.