Colombia’s international reputation for violence, cocaine, and Pablo Escobar is outdated. With an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem and a culturally rich and varied population, Colombia is quickly becoming one of the top tourist destinations. In fact, it ranks among the happiest nations in the world! And their new national tourist slogan, “el riesgo es que te quieras quedar,” or “the risk is that you might want to stay,” rings true.
I’ve been to Colombia a number of times, and I always want to stay. Most recently, I spent a month in Medellín, referred to as “city of eternal Spring.” I chose Medellín specifically because it’s one of the Reggaeton capitals of the world, and I’m a sucker for reggaeton and other forms of latin pop.
I also chose Medellín because it has become a hub for digital nomads. It’s easy to see why. The weather is perfect year-round, it’s affordable, the mountains are visible from every point of view, and the smooth and neutral Colombian Spanish is one of the easiest to learn. Oh, and doesn’t hurt that Colombians have a reputation for their beauty (I can confirm).
Co-working spaces abound, music is blasting from every corner, the coffee is fantastic, and the chicharrón is hot. Medellín is inarguably a great place to be. The following suggestions are but a jumping off point for the sustainable traveler:
Let your curiosity be piqued by visiting Medellín’s Parque Explora, an interactive science museum that also houses South America’s largest freshwater aquarium. One can get (willingly) lost for hours in Parque Explora. Combining plant life, wildlife, games, science, and art, this museum is a tribute to the wonders of nature, and will be right up the sustainable traveler’s alley.
Conveniently located just next to Parque Explora, Medllín’s Botanical Garden, or Jardín Botánico, is an excellent place for environmentally oriented travelers. Fuel up on some Colombian-coffee and let yourself wander and wonder over 1,000 species of plants, and 4,500 different kinds of flowers. The Botanical Garden is dedicated to conservation in a country with some of the most breathtaking nature.
Graffitti Tour of Comuna 13
Once known as the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellín, Comuna 13 rests in up in the mountains, and has birthed some of Medellín’s most well-known artists and musicians, and is in an ongoing process of regeneration. A way that travelers can contribute to the upward spiral of opportunity and urban regeneration is through going on a graffitti tour of Comuna 13. The tour provides an overview of the history and vibrancy of the neighborhood through the medium of street art. And with Toucan Café & Tours, a portion of the ticket costs go to support education initiatives in Comuna 13.
For a taste of the gorgeous green mountains of Colombia’s coffee region that is easily accessible from Medellín, travelers can visit the idyllic little town Jardín. A three hour bus ride from Medellín, Jardín is a great spot to escape the bustle of the city for a weekend. The town itself is adorable, but there are plenty of places to stay just outside of town for more of a secluded experience. I recommend Canto de Agua, which is nestled into the hills and lush flowers, and a great jumping off point for hikes and outdoor exploration.
Cora Boyd is an alumna of the illustrious Hilary Duff’s school of “why not.” With a background in comedy writing and psychology, Cora is a matchmaker, dating coach, writer, and travel enthusiast. You can catch Cora in New Orleans and other corners of the globe listening to poor quality reggaeton, drinking high-quality IPAs, and complaining about the Gilmore Girls revival. Follow Cora’s antics on Instagram @cobraboyxox.