The city of Medellin was once one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The infamous Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel ruled the city throughout the 80s and 90s with violence and terror. Fortunately, the past is back and Medellin is now a beautiful prosperous city that leads many innovative projects in the country in areas like education, culture, architecture and many others. It was nominated as the most innovated city in the world in 2013, and lots of tourists visit the city every year, especially during the Christmas period, when the city is fully decorated with amazing lights to celebrate the holiday season. The city of everlasting spring (as it is called because of the average daily temperature of 22 degrees) offers lots of things to do and to see. Try out the botanical garden with a collection of orchids and many tropical flowers, take the cable car up to Santo Domingo neighborhood from where you have a great view of the city and let yourself guide you through the poor neighborhood with a local guide. You can also visit one of the many museums and art galleries before taking the Pablo Escobar tour that will take you to the main places he used to manage the cartel, the house where he was shot by the secret police and to his grave at the cemetery. Don’t miss the great urban night life of the city, full of top restaurants and bars.
Located at only two hours from Medellin, Guatape is a lovely lakeside town. Although it is an artificial lake, its beauty, relax atmosphere and amazing views make this place the favorite destination for people of Medellin to spend their weekends. You can do kayaking, fishing or visit waterfalls but the main attraction is La Piedra Del Peñol, a massive 200 meter high rock that offers a great view of the lake and its beautiful surroundings. Enjoying climbing the 740 steps before having a deserved beer on the top.
SANTA FE DE ANTIOQUIA
This is another famous town if you want to escape Medellin. The traditional colonial streets with nice churches, some lovely squares and white houses will give you an amazing experience and the opportunity to take great pictures of your trip. You can just stroll around by walking, but if you prefer it, take a moto-taxi or rent a horse to spend a couple of hours enjoying the nature of the surroundings. Don’t miss out one of the longest and oldest suspension bridges in Latin America.
It is a wonderful private nature reserve located between Medellin and Bogota which a hotel that offers three types of accommodation included camping, Cabanas (cabins) and a comfortable hotel. It is located near one of the country’s most beautiful rivers and has numerous of small beaches around the riverbanks. It is a beautiful place to spend a couple of nights while relaxing and enjoying the sun. Try exciting activities like hiking in the rainforest, bird watching, rafting, kayaking and caving.
Manizales lies in the heart of the coffee triangle and is a friendly city surrounded by marvelous green mountains. It is famous for the unique microclimate and the “Feria de Manizales”, a fair that takes place every year and attracts many tourists in search of some culture, party and fun. Of course, don’t forget to visit a working coffee farm to get an understanding of the coffee industry of the region. While there, take a tour into the Los Nevados National Park, an amazing trip to do treks or hikes.
RECINTO DEL PENSAMIENTO
This ecological park is near Manizales. A great place to take some fresh air while walking through the herb garden, butterfly garden and orchid forest. You can see hummingbirds and different kind of species of birds. This is definitely a magical place to take some stunning photos.
LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL PARK
This marvelous scenery with snowy mountain peaks and volcanoes is just one hour by car from Manizales. Expect mountain peaks well over 4,800 meters and fauna with the snow parakeet and paramo humming bird (considered to be the only one in the world). It is also home to tapirs, bears, 20 different kinds of bats, birds and frogs, so don’t miss it if you love to admire animals while doing some outdoor activities like mountain biking, rock and ice climbing and trekking. The numerous volcanoes and crystal clear lakes are part of the visit, which is recommendable to do between January and February or July and August.
Pereira is a friendly city of the coffee area with nice cathedrals and a wonderful park called Olaya Herrera that is located on a mountain and overlooks the coffee valleys and the city. It has a young and vibrant atmosphere at day and night because of the thousands of students that come from different parts of the region to study at the main universities. Try to escape the city for a couple of hours to visit a working coffee farm to enjoy a real colombian coffee.
TERMALES DE SANTA TOSA
Recharge your mind and body by enjoying a day or two in the thermal baths with a waterfall and tropical forest available at the Termales de Santa Rosa. It is a perfect stop between Manizales and Pereira, so if you have enough time, stay the night there at a comfortable hotel.
Armenia is the most traditional city of the coffee region, and is the favorite place to stay for visiting the coffee national park or nearby locations like Salento. Although it is a friendly and nice city, it doesn’t have many attractions for travelers. To have a real colombian experience, sleep in one of the farms outside the city.
This is a lovely small town surrounded by mountains. The visit is a nice and relaxing experience, and you can discover the town yourself by walking around it. Enjoy a nice lunch in the plaza and do horse riding in the valleys, beautifully surrounded by palm trees. You can also spend some time buying local handicrafts or visiting a working coffee farm with a local guide. Salento is also the starting point for hiking in the Valle de Cocora and trekking in Los Nevados National Park.
VALLE DE CORORA
The valley is a gorgeous natural place that offers unique scenery with a cloud forest full of wax palm trees spreading over the area. The wax palm trees are the tallest in the world and can grow up to 60 meters. This a the place to try adventurous activities like horse riding, hiking or camping, while enjoying the amazing flora and fauna of the place. While hiking, you can see many bird species and if you are lucky, you can spot the mountain tapir, spectacled bear or even the puma.
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