We had originally planned to take the 16+ hour bus from Santa Marta to Medellín to stay within budget, but then we read some of the reviews and decided to fly instead. Luckily we found $85 last minute flights on Viva Air. Money well spent for a 2 hour flight vs a 16 bus ride that would have cost about $50. We decided on using AirBnB for our stay in Medellín so that we could have a place to relax and cook our own meals. We found a great apartment in a high rise building in the Bombona neighborhood. The apartment was on the 25th floor with amazing views looking north across the city. The Bombona neighborhood is outside of the classic tourist areas, but we really enjoyed feeling like we “lived” in an authentic area of the city.
We try not to do many tours since they are usually outside of our budget, but we opted to take the Medellín Graffiti tour to Comuna 13 through Toucan Cafe and Tours. All money goes back into the community to fund after school programs to keep kids off the street. It was amazing! The community that we visited was considered to be the most dangerous neighborhood in the world 20 years ago. It is now a vibrant community whose history is displayed in street art on the walls throughout. They have also installed a series of escalators up the hill that now allow the residents much easier access to other parts of the neighborhood and the city. All of the escalators were clean and working, which is a far cry from the escalators that I am used to back in San Francisco. We highly recommend this tour if you are in town.
Medellín absolutely blew us away! It is one of the largest cities in Colombia with a population of 2.4 million people. As far as you can see skyscraper after skyscraper, as there is no more room in the valley between the mountains, the city has to build up. Coming from the Bay Area where delayed trains are expected, it was extremely efficient when traveling across town. It takes about 30 minutes, plus you can take a sky tram up the hills on all sides. All trains go through terminals and it is impossible to get on without paying, they were super clean, and we felt so safe. Colombia has a past, but we can tell you that you need to ignore it, and put Colombia on your travel radar. We LOVED it!