72 Hours in Medellín, Colombia (Part II)


Day 1 in Medellín

To make for an easier read, I split my 72 hour trip report into 4 posts. Here are the different pieces, I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: Getting there 
Chapter 2: Day 1 in Medellín (the post you are reading)
Chapter 3: Day 2 in Medellín
Chapter 4: Day 3 in Medellín

If you’re staying at one of the many fine hotels in Medellín there’s probably no need to head to one of the mercados/groceries and stock up on food and drink. However, if you’re staying at an Airbnb/house rental I would highly recommend you stock up as soon as you arrive. Once you’re there and out exploring you’re not going to want to do it!

  • The two markets/stores I would recommend are the ones most commonly found in Colombia: Exito and Carulla. They both take credit cards and have ATM’s onsite.
  • Regarding drinking local Medellín tap water: I was told this depends on what part of the city you are staying in. Since I was staying in one of the nicer/higher end areas I drank the tap water the whole time while I was there and did not have a single problem. However, as with traveling to any foreign country outside of the US… ask a local!
  • Regarding beer and liquor in Medellín and Colombia in general: Drink the local stuff! Colombians are known for tipping a few back and having a good time; I highly recommend you do the same!
    • Beers: Pilsen, Club Colombia, Aguila and many others to choose from. They also carry Heineken and other imports, but drink local!
    • Liquor: The one and only – Aguardiente! There are several types of this Colombian licorice liquor on the shelves, but the only one I consumed was AGUARDIENTE ANTIOQUENO SIN AZUCAR and it was excellent! “Sin azucar” just mean without sugar. Also recommended.
    • Wine, champagne and other spirits: You’ll find a lot of the same stuff we have in the states, but with more South American variety. Wines from Chile and Argentina as well as other liquors (rum, tequila, vodka) that you won’t find in the states.

Once you’re settled in and situated grab a light jacket (maybe raincoat) and hit the streets! Medellín is a very walkable city, as well as transit friendly with their buses and metro. It rains a lot in the city and can go from warm and sunny to wet and chilly at the drop of a hat, so be prepared!

  • Taxis are all over the place, and Uber is available as well. I don’t think I paid more than $6000 COP for a one way cab my entire visit.
  • The currency exchange is ~roughly 3000 COP to 1 USD but it does fluctuate up and down daily. It ranged from 2900 – 3100 COP to USD while I was in Medellín.

Dinner in Medellín Day 1: Carmen Medellín in Parque Lleras

This came recommended to me from the tour guide I was working with. While it could be considered a “chain” since they have a location in Cartagena it is a high quality restaurant with the commensurate service and ambiance you would expect in a metropolitan city like Medellín.

  • Drinks are handcrafted with precision and have that Colombian/South American twist you just can’t get in the states.
    • Cocktails:
      • Pepino Vesper (no photo)
      • Tequila Cooler
      • Barra Vieja
      • Too Old Fashioned
      • Lulo Mojito

  •  Food:
    • Appetizer was the cheese and the tart, complimentary
    • El Ceviche
    • Pulpo (octopus with rice patty)
    • Cochinillo (suckling pig)

Note regarding tipping: Most places include a charge “servicio” for an additional 10%. However, additional tipping, an extra 5-7% is acceptable, if the service merits it. I did this about 50% of the time, but it was contingent on superior service.

Night out in Medellín Day 1: ENVY Rooftop at the Charlee Hotel – Parque Lleras

Once again located in Parque Lleras (my favorite area!) this chic rooftop bar/lounge offers sweeping views of the Medellín Valley as well as attractive patrons for you to mingle with. If you don’t speak fluent Spanish no need to fret, most of the servers/bartenders either speak enough to get by or pointing at the item you want on the menu and smiling and saying “por favor” and “gracias” is usually enough. However, Google Translate also goes a long way.

There’s a pool here as well, and while I was there in the evening after dinner, I’m told the pool is also a good spot to visit during the day when the sun is out. Bear in mind, however, that the average temperature in Medellín tends to fluctuate between 60 and 85 degrees F year around.

While at the ENVY rooftop I purchased a bottle of vodka for my friends and I to share. Surprisingly and unlike other large American cities, this is often the best way to go if you have a large group and want to save $$ on drinks. The bottle prices are reasonable in Medellín, unlike places like LA, Miami, Vegas and NYC. I think we paid $60 USD for a 1.75L bottle of Absolut. This also included mixers, ice, etc.

Late night escapades in Parque Lleras, Medellín Day 1

After the rooftop lounge and some cocktails my friends and I decided to meander through the Parque Lleras area and bar hop for the rest of the night. As you can imagine, this included drinking in the streets (completely legal in Medellín) and getting some late night street food – possibly one of my favorite things to do while travelling!

While walking through the city keep your eyes peeled for local “street graffiti” aka amazing street art.

This one really caught my eye:

What can I say, I have a thing for bunnies.

It’s also fun to just hang out in the Parque Lleras park itself and admire the quaintness of the park and people watch the locals (and street walkers).

I eventually made my way to a fun discoteca (dance bar) named Vintrash.

Embrace the Spanish style music – salsa, reggaeton and hip-hop and hit the dance floor!

Late night food in Parque Lleras

Calle 10 is the “main drag” through Parque Lleras which combs right through the heart of the area. There are a wide variety of late night bites to choose from here between little hole in the walls and street vendors.

Where my friends and I ate: Comidas Rápidas en Medellín. Dog & Burger y Le papie

This place is your typical late night greasey joint, but the burgers and dogs are markedly different than that of what you would get in the states. I really enjoyed mine!

I called it a night around 3am on my first night. However, Parque Lleras is busy well into the wee hours of the morning and you can always find after hours parties if you know where to look.

Continue to Chapter III: Day 2 in Medellín