233km (145 miles) NW of Bogotá; 473km (294 miles) SE of Cartagena
Talk about a makeover. Fifteen years ago, few foreigners would have considered visiting Medellín. Once among the most dangerous cities anywhere, with a murder rate of 435 per 100,000 residents, all-too-frequent bombings, and deadly gang-wars, Medellín was known as the murder and violence capital of the world. But thanks to improvements in infrastructure and community planning, a new emphasis on education, an increased police presence (not to mention the death of drug lord Pablo Escobar), Medellín is now considered a relatively safe large city with a homicide rate less than that of both Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. Medellín is now one of Colombia's wealthiest cities, and a model of excellent urban planning.
A pleasant city with springlike weather year-round (daytime highs of 24°C-29°C/75°F-85°F) and a decent number of tourist and cultural sites, Medellín also makes a great base from which to explore the surrounding countryside and El Eje Cafetero.