Couple of days in Medellin riding the cable cars

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
4
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
7
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
5
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
8
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
70 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Colombia
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 150
Time of year visited
March
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
114th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 40% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

There’s a heap of stuff to check out in Medellin – the street art, the changing neighbourhoods, the museums, the great bar and restaurant scene – but the favourite thing to do was riding the extensive cable cars.  Not only over the various neighbourhoods clinging precariously to the steep sides, but also up over the city valley sides and into the lush green forests where the city is completely forgotten

Good little set of adventures to see the contrasts not just in the rich poor areas, but also the dense city and the green forests

highlights

#1 Walking through Comuna 13 to learn about how this once dangerous neighbourhood ransacked by the paramilitary and cartel violence, changed itself to a place of hope

#2 Checking out some of the amazing street art that is spread all around Medellin

#3 Taking the cablecars - super fun and get to show you all around the different landscapes of Medellin and its surrounding areas

Rough itinerary

  • Day 1 – go with Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour and take the morning walking around Comuna 13 to learn of the history and be inspired by how the local people worked their way through the tough times to mould themselves a working, safe place to live
  • Afternoon – take the afternoon to go to the Museo Casa de la Memoria to learn about the shocking violence that hit the city so hard
  • Evening – eat in the El Pablado area
  • Day 2 – give yourself the full day to head up to Parque Arvi (you could do in half a day, but no need to rush)
  • If you only have one day. . . I would suggest dropping the museum and spending the day on the cablecars combining the Comuna 13 district and Parque Arvi

Travel Tips

  • Stay in the El Poblado region –  which felt safer than other spots and had some great bars and restaurants
  • Checking out the Comuna 13 district is a must – it gives you a view of some of the previously dangerous neighbourhoods that managed to transform themselves, lets you check out the awesome street art and actually chat with one of the locals from Comuna
  • The museum – is good to get some first hand accounts of the violence, but if I’m being honest we were a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of info and the layout of the museum.  If only have a day, I would suggest not going and enjoying instead the cable car trips
  • The Parque Arvi – is great for the contrast between the city and the lush forests just over the valley sides.  Even if the weather isn’t great, its still worth it for flying through the forests and getting that contrast
  • The cable cars can be a little vertigo inducing at times
  • For getting around, Uber is easiest and pretty cheap
  • Accommodation – we stayed in El Poblado and would recommend the Medellin Vibes Hostel.  Its not a must stay-encapsulates-Medellin kind of place, but we’d been travelling for quite a while when we arrived so loved the closed off pool and general vibe
  • Book recommendations:
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the traditional must read literature.  At times it can be a little slow going, but it created its own genre (magic realism . . . obviously) and very much tells the story in a round about way of many of the difficulties faced by Colombia
    • To give a perspective of just what it must have been like for the American civilisations before the Spanish arrived, I highly recommend 1491 by Charles Mann.  It will change your view from what is likely to be that of basic jungle tribes / Indians hunting the buffalo on the plains to what they really were – in many ways equally sophisticated civilisations to those of Eurasia
    • For a broad, often quite opinionated, overview of modern South America, I also recommend Viva South America Oliver Balch
  • Broader Colombia – for how Bogota can fit into a bigger 3 week trip to see the highlights of Colombia, see 3 weeks in Colombia for itinerary and tips

Experiences nearby

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone