Medellin is a pretty amazing city. The “place to be” in South America as of 2017. So it’s no surprise that we can come up with a list of 10 things to do in the El Centro Medellin neighborhood. There is plenty to see, from museums, parks, and outdoor gyms to markets and restaurants. Here we will provide a quick “to-do list” for El Centro, aka La Candelaria.
- Parque de las Luces is a great place to start, situated right next to the Centro de Convenciones. At sundown the tall pillars surrounding this square light up, creating a pleasant white-light effect. A positive energy is emitted. In combination with a tinto, you can sit down and enjoy the view. The area is a bit shady after dark, so you don’t want to stay too late.
- Museo Ferrocarril de Antioquia is a nice pit stop in the Medellin center, surrounded by coffee shops and pizza parlors. Medellin’s first train is proudly set on display at this small local museum. The railway system is what connected the mountainous Antioquia with the rest of Colombia, sparking rapid growth in the region.
- Parque de los Pies Descalzos means “barefoot park”–and they mean it! People come from the busy streets and take their shoes off here. It might have something to do with the sign telling you to do so. Families love coming here, especially since there are several small pools you can soak your feet in and have a relaxing afternoon. So make sure to go with shorts! Readily-available ice cream helps with the sun.
- Edificio Inteligente EPM is the central base of Empresas Publicas Medellin, a state-owned industrial and commercial enterprise. Operated by the municipality, this public utilities company is highly respected. It’s well worth the visit thanks to its massive vertical gardens that stretch all across the interior of the building. This structure stands out with its colorful bushes that can be spotted surrounding and hanging from every floor.
- Biblioteca EPM is a great local library that can be accessed by anyone with an ID. Inside, users will find WiFi, computers, books, movies and quiet areas. Anyone can come in and read some good local literature, watch some media, and gain insight from the future scholars of Colombia. Downstairs there’s a clean public bathroom if needed.
- Caja Madera is a great secret location enclosed in bright yellow bamboo. This is off the map and is connected to Parque de los Pies Descalzos. The yellow bamboo and leafy exterior offer a special environment that will take you away from the busy city, if only for a moment. Plenty of seating is offered for those adventurous couples, so make sure to check it out if you’re looking for a quiet place to chat!
- Unidad Deportiva Miraflores consists of several full-sized basketball courts, tennis courts, adult gyms, playgrounds, big truck tires and more! Here you will find many locals stretching their muscles and getting a good hard workout under some shade. Organized soccer is a great idea for you and your friends to play in the field. Many free activities are offered here, including basketball, handball, tae kwon do, tennis, rugby and cardiovascular. Make sure to bring a photocopy of an ID and proof of medical insurance to participate in the activities! Reservations for the courts can be made online at www.inder.gov.co. The address is Carretera 26A #49A – 110.
- Mercado de Flores is a great local marketplace. Said to be the cheapest place to buy food in Medellin, it’s worth a visit, even if just for a quick look. Here you will find great prices on meats, fruits, vegetables, and even seafood! This place has a very local vibe, so don’t expect anyone to take a credit card. Make sure to bring your backpack so you can do some local-style grocery shopping. You’ll be happy you did!
- Plaza Botero is a symbol of the transformation of Medellin. This was previously considered one of the most dangerous areas in El Centro. The city of Medellin has succeeded in its strategy of creating recreation and works of art in areas of low economic status. Instead of visitors fleeing this square, they now flock to see the amazing work of Fernando Botero. Known for its exotic sculptures, you cannot leave the city center without first visiting Plaza Botero.
- Last but not least is the explosion of “El Pajaro,” located in Plaza San Antonio. This dark piece of Colombian history is one of its most memorable. The famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero selflessly donated many works of art in order to aide in the transformation of Medellin. Sadly, on June 11, 1995, an unknown suspect placed a bomb in this work of art, killing 20 people and injuring 99. The story goes that Fernando Botero himself called the mayor of Medellin, demanding that the bronze masterpiece remain where it was, as a symbol to remember what the country has overcome.
Have a favorite spot in El Centro that didn’t make this list? Tell us about it in the Comments below!
Pavel is a world traveler from Puerto Rico living in Medellin. You can read his nature blog at soychaman.com.