A Solo Traveller's Guide to Medellín

If youre planning a solo trip to Colombia, Medellín is a wonderful place to start
If you're planning a solo trip to Colombia, Medellín is a wonderful place to start | © Fabian Schmiedlechner / Alamy Stock Photo
Carrie Back

With Medellín’s blissful temperate climate, it’s known as the City of Eternal Spring – and the city of Medellín has transformed and blossomed over the decades into a cosmopolitan hub oozing sophistication. There are plenty of places to stay for all types, not to mention authentic places to eat and trendy microbreweries for solo travelers to settle into – and, of course, make friends.

What’s the vibe?

Medellín is a multifaceted hub of Paisa culture. The city is a place of bustling markets, colorful neighborhoods and lots of green spaces. Factor in public sculptures to admire and a boisterous nightlife, solo travelers to Medellín are well and truly sorted.

Where to stay in Medellín for solo travellers

1. Elcielo Hotel

Luxury

Room at Elcielo Hotel and Restaurant has modern design, wooden furniture, a large white bed and a flatscreen TV
Courtesy of Elcielo Hotel and Restaurant / Booking.com

With all marble floors, Italian-style bathtubs and luxury amenities, the Elcielo Hotel is one of the most elegant hotels in Medellín. The hotel has a rooftop pool with panoramic skyline views, and the Elcielo restaurant is world-class: come for molecular gastronomy, an avant-garde dining experience that bends scientific techniques with Colombian ingredients.

2. Masaya Medellín

Hostel

Rooftop bar and terrance at Masaya Medellin has eclectic furniture, tiled floors, string lights, pot plants and city views
Courtesy of Masaya Medellin / Expedia.com

This newly-built hostel is popular for its 360º city views. Hit the rooftop for the heated pool, hot tub and multi-level bar and seating area. Stay in for multiple restaurants, a shared kitchen and social lounges with cultural activities and super-sociable events for Medellín solo travelers. For extra privacy, splurge on a private room: a spacious suite decorated in a tropical theme with bohemian-style decor.

3. Los Patios Hostel

Boutique Hotel, Hostel

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Courtesy of Los Patios Hostel / Expedia.com

A short walk from Lleras Park, the poshtel Los Patios goes all out to connect solo travelers. These colorful, Colombian-centric buildings have thought of everything and then some: rooftop pool, gym and organic garden; two bars and multiple lounge areas hosting events daily: salsa lessons, pub crawls, yoga classes, mojito-making sessions and bike tours. There’s even a Spanish school if your lingo’s rusty.

Eating and drinking in Medellín

4. OCI.Mde

Restaurant, Contemporary

Dining area at OCI.Mde has industrial design, modern furniture, leather booths and an outdoor terrace
Courtesy of OCI.Mde

Effortlessly cool but unpretentious OCI.Mde in El Poblado serves elevated comfort food made with farm-to-table ingredients. The industrial-style contemporary Medellín restaurant tends to fill up quickly – reserve ahead. For an unforgettable meal, order the short ribs: they’re braised for 12 hours in a lemon and chili caramel sauce and served with a side of sticky rice.

5. Alambique

Restaurant, Authentic

Behind an inconspicuous blue door is this rustic-chic open-air speakeasy restaurant, covered in greenery. With its wooden interior and antiques-sale-meets-library vibes, it’s an intriguing place for a gargle – and dinner – near Parque Lleras before you get stuck into the nightlife. Try the ceviche, octopus, or vegetarian-fusion dishes, paired with creative spicy cocktails – say a Beso de Mezcal made with a dash of jalapeno and cayenne pepper.

6. Cafetera Restaurante la Casa de Beto

Restaurant, Authentic

This modest restaurant makes up for its lack of decor with an affordable and high-quality menu del dia – hit or miss in most restaurants in El Poblado. Restaurants around here tend to be pricey, but this place does authentic food at budget prices. Beyond the standard set meal of grilled meat and rice, it sends out daily-changing meals including triple-meat rice with a giant helping of fresh salad.

What to do in Medellín for solo travelers

Bone up on history at the city’s museums

Paintings by Fernando Botero in the Museo de Antioquia

Understanding Medellín requires a grasp of its history and transition to a modern metropolis. Impressive museums include the Museo de Antioquia, which holds a huge collection of work by Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. Medellín’s past is revealed in the Museo Casa de la Memoria, with its poignant interactive exhibits, it’s a powerful history lesson about the decades of armed conflict in Colombia and of the resilience of its people.

For a first-hand account of Medellín’s story, a guided walking tour of Medellín is included in Culture Trip’s Colombian Andes adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Explore the impressive Jardín Botánico de Medellín

Flowers in the Orquideorama at the Jardin Botanico

The Botanical Garden of Medellín is a great introduction to the city’s love of everything floral, with more than 1,000 species – and let’s hear it for the two large iguanas roaming around. Spend an afternoon exploring different eco-systems and admire the modern architecture of the Orquideorama – the canopy structure. Events year-round include yoga sessions and festivals focused on beer and music.

Take the Metrocable to Parque Arvi

The Metrocable Nuevo Occidente overlooking the city of Medellin

Getting to the park is half the fun – by gondola, for amazing city views. The Metrocables were built as a way to reach the very steep residential neighborhoods. Take the L line Metrocable to escape urban thrum in Parque Arvi. Here, serene nature is laced with trails for hiking, biking and birdwatching. Guided tours are also available.

Stay safe, stay happy in Medellín

T-shirts depicting Pablo Escobar are seen arranged at a street market

Once rough, Medellín has completely cleaned up its act. Now it’s firmly on the Colombia solo travel map, beloved of digital nomads. Petty crime does occur here – but you can avoid it with simple steps: avoid wearing anything that makes you stand out and keep your belongings secured to you at all times. Reassuringly today there is a noticeable police presence, especially in the more touristy areas and crowded public plazas and parks.

Getting around Medellín for solo travelers

Rush hour at the Metro

The city can lay claim to an impressive Metro and MetroCable transportation system that gets you to the most popular sights with ease. There is also a bus rapid transit system called MetroPlus connected to the Metro line to get you to the other parts of the city safely and efficiently. Just avoid it during rush hours in the early morning and after work, when the whole transport system gets cramped and claustrophobic.

Link up with a small group of like-minded travelers and a Local Insider on Culture Trip’s eight-day Bogota to Medellín adventure, which visits the Colombian Andes and has plenty of time for city fun in the cosmopolitan capital as well as magical Medellín.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Chris Bell.

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