In the ranking of hot new Colombian destinations, Medellín has suddenly overtaken both Bogotá and Cartagena. Ongoing peace talks with rebel groups have inspired new confidence among residents, and the city received a major tourism boost when Delta announced daily direct flights from the United States starting in December.
One of the most striking developments is the Metrocable, a ski lift–like system of gondolas that links the center with traditionally poorer hillside areas. Arts projects are also booming: in September the lauded Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, in a former steel mill, debuted a groundbreaking extension, making it the country’s largest art museum.
The city’s food scene is buzzing, especially in upscale El Poblado. Residents have embraced Humo BBQ & Bar (entrées $9–$18), with its menu of shaved-ice cocktails and housesmoked meats. “Diners are more open to trying new flavors and preparations,” says co-owner and chef Carmen Angel. Ocio (entrées $10–$13), two streets away, is almost always packed. There, co-owners Laura Londoño and Santiago Arango serve dishes made with local ingredients in a wood-and-exposed-brick space. The neighborhood of Manila, with its leafy streets, is blossoming with eateries like Sata Parilla Moderna (11A-46 Carr. 43E; entrées $5–$10) and Amarillo Chocolate (43D-50 Calle 13), a gourmet bakery.
Related: T+L’s Definitive Guide to Cartagena
Nightlife has evolved, too—in the early 2000s, many clubs were in malls for security. “People looked at parties as dangerous,” says Manolo Arango. He’s a founding member of the Breakfast Club, a collective of seven DJs and entrepreneurs whose goal is to advance Medellín’s music scene. Last year they opened the boho-style bar Salón Amador. Now, he says, “the nightlife of Medellín”—like the rest of the city—“is definitively changing.”