General Tips and Suggestions:
–Visitor visas are given upon arrival in the airport and are good for 90 days. They can be extended for up to another 90 days, once. Max number of days that visitors can stay in Colombia on this type of visa is 180 days in one calendar year and 180 days consecutively. If you plan on staying beyond 90 days, 1-2 days before your 90 day mark, you need to make your way in-person to the Migration Office. Be prepared with photocopies of the photo page of your passport as well as the entrance stamp page. If you have children traveling with you, they’ll want to see their birth certificates. Also bring a print out of your onward travel plans. The office accepts credit cards to pay the fee.
–Uber is a very useful way to get around but do keep in mind that Uber is actually illegal in Colombia at this time so be prepared for some coaching from your Uber driver if you do get stopped by the police.
–Narcos, on Netflix, is an interesting show to watch to understand some of the history behind the drug wars in Colombia, but as always, take it with a grain of salt. It wasn’t even filmed in Colombia.
What an incredible city. In just about 20 years, this city transformed itself from the most dangerous city in the world to one of the safest. They have implemented unique public transportation systems such as gondolas and escalators, to help connect poor barrios (neighborhoods) with the central city. Add to this an extensive train and bus system, and you can easily navigate the city without having to own or rent a car (which is good because the drivers are crazy!)
Where we stayed. We loved our AirBnB that we rented there. Only downsides are that there was no pool and no elevator. Other than that, it was the perfect home away from home for our large crew.
This beautiful city was once home to the infamous drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar. The Pablo Escobar tour by Latin Hosts, is wonderfully done. Our tour guide was able to impart information in a non-biased format. Be sure to ask to go see The Cathedral, which is the prison that Pablo built for himself. It’s now an old folks’ home, run by the monks, so you cannot go inside, but it is still well worth the time to get there. The views are stunning. Other stops include the house where Pablo died, the neighborhood he built that is named after him, his gravesite, and his former home in Medellin, although the later is set to be destroyed by the city to build a memorial park for his victims.
The metrocable to Parque Arvi is a must-do. The metrocable line connects directly from the main metro line. If you don’t leave the station, you can take the first metrocable for free, directly from the station. You get off at the end of the line and then need to buy a second metrocable ticket to get all the way to Parque Arvi. I recommend you wander this area a bit before getting right back on. There is a look-out just a short walk away and some great street art to be seen. Then return to the station and buy your next metrocable ticket to Parque Arvi. From Parque Arvi, you can just wander the little market at top, do a little hiking on the archeological trail, take a pink bus to the Confama park, or take a bus to Piedra Blanca where there is a small butterfly garden and insect museum. You can return to the city the way you came, or else catch a bus back to Medellin via Santa Elena, where you can stop and tour the flower gardens.
(2) Guatape with a hike up La Piedra del Penol. A tour of the lake by boat is nice too. Just wander down to the waterfront and negotiate your price. (3) Comuna 13 tour with Zippy Tours. It’s free and great. Runs about 4 hours. You can tip at the end if you want. Just look them up on FB and book in advance. I recommend a weekday over a weekend as there are fewer people (4) Pablo Escobar tour with Latin Hosts. You pay a flat fee for a private tour. Up to 4 people per car. Ask to go to La Catedral or else they may skip it. It’s beautiful up there. (5) We hired a private driver to take us on a day trip to Carmen de Viboral (the ceramics pueblo), San Antonio de Pereira (the ceramics pueblo), Rio Negro, a beautiful waterfall, and La Ceja. I have the name of several drivers, depending on the number of passengers. I’ll gather those and pass them along. (6) El Volador Hill has gorgeous, 360 degree views of the city with hiking trails. Very much worth it. (7) Cierra Nutabara and Pueblo Paisa is a little lame but it’s free and there are amazing views of the city from a huge rooftop deck above the pueblo. The sculpture garden on the walk down is interesting. (8) Go play tejo at Tejo Medellin. It’s apparently the national sport of Colombia, but most Colombians don’t know this. It’s in Envigado and great fun. 30,000 pesos for 2 hours of play and 2 drink tickets. Kids are 10,000 but no drink tickets. Just look up Chris’s (The Gringo’s) contact info online to make a reservation. Oh, tejo is like cornhole (beanbags at a board with holes in it) but with gunpowder! (9) Parque Norte was OK. Most of the rides for the big kids were under maintenance but the little kid section was good for our little littles. Belles is so short she actually could do the little kid section but not the big kid section. (10) Parque Explora and the planetarium are both worth a one time visit. (11) Santa Fe Zoo is actually a decent zoo.
whatsapp Gustavo +57 310 545 7800 (he has a large passenger van that fits up to 12 people. Maybe more)