Colombia landed on our to-go list after watching the first season of Narcos. I’d say this may be the first time ever that stories of drugs and violence made someone actually WANT to travel someplace, but it wasn’t the stories as much as the stunning footage of Colombia itself.
Narcos was actually filmed in Colombia, so the breathtaking scenery was the real deal even though the country is significantly safer now. When a Spirit Airlines sale to Bogota came up, we booked tickets immediately and convinced a friend – who’d never left the USA before – to come with us.
We landed in Bogota in the middle of May and checked into our hostel. The next day, we took a short flight to Medellin, where we’d spend the bulk of our time.
Medellin is a vibrant city with a truly remarkable story of revitalization. At one point, Medellin was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world but is now thriving. We loved Medellin, and if we did it again we would have skipped Bogota and spent our whole trip in Medellin.
After 3 days in Medellin, we flew back to Bogota for 2 more nights in a hostel in La Candelaria neighborhood. Despite an unfortunate experience involving a laced mojito on our last evening, we never felt unsafe. Colombia is truly the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to, and we barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.
When we go back to Colombia in the future, we want to check out Cartagena, Armenia, Jardin, and go back to Medellin to specifically take a day trip to Guatape. Not visiting Guatape was one of our biggest regrets, so if you’re in Medellin and have time – go for us!
Here’s a few highlights from our week in Colombia you’ll want to be sure and add to your plans when you head to Colombia yourself.
Located on the edge of Bogota, the funicular ride to the top of this mountain seems like reward enough as you ascend out of the city, but it just keeps getting better.
At the top, you’ll find a gorgeous old church, plenty of places to enjoy the view of Bogota from above, and a couple of restaurants. We headed up just before sunset, and I’d highly recommend you do the same as it’s a special experience to watch the sun set and the city light up.
This historic and colorful part of the city is extremely popular with visitors, and it’s easy to see why. Bogota has an incredible street art scene, and it’s on display in La Candelaria.
Explore the area on foot for plenty of Instagram-worthy views. Make sure you head to Bolivar Square, and find the nearby Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen – just look for the stunning old church that looks like a candy cane!
Drink plenty of coffee
As self-proclaimed coffee snobs, we researched the best coffee shops to check out. Lucky for us, there was no shortage! Medellin, specifically in El Poblado, had many incredible coffee options.
We also took a coffee farm tour through Toucan Tours and highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning how coffee actually gets from the plant to your mug.
Make sure you leave room in your luggage to bring beans home!
I think it’s safe to say Medellin is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in. As I mentioned before, the city has been through a lot but is coming out on top.
One of the most notable parts of the city’s revitalization plan was the installation of an innovative public transportation system, including cable cars. These cable cars connect the people who live in barrios up the mountainside with the city, which provides relatively easy access to more jobs and better opportunities for these residents.
We took the subway from El Poblado to Acevedo station and transferred to the cable car system, taking it all the way to the end of the line – Parque Arvi. This is a great place to walk around and get some fresh air just outside the city. I also recommend stopping at the Santo Domingo station and finding some fresh fruit and empanadas from a street vendor outside the station.
The cable car ride is stunning as you ascend out of the city and above the treetops into the same gorgeous Colombian countryside that inspired us to come in the first place.