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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Explore an Urban Renaissance in Medellín


5. Oddball Day

Climb 656 feet to the top of Peñón de Guatapé, a flat-top boulder, for striking views of the adjacent reservoir.  

Gear up for a day of exploring natural attractions with a breakfast of arepas stuffed with Antioquia cheese ($2) or empanadas ($1), accompanied by hot chocolate served in copper cups ($1) at La Casita de mi Abuela (Cl 50 S 43 A-30; 574-331-6535). Next, take the Metrocable ($1), a mass-transit gondola system that extends the subway network, up and into the city’s hillsides, to the 1,761-acre Parque Arvi (free admission). Once there, traverse some 40 miles of trails through the highland tropical forests and spot a variety of birds, of which Colombia has the world’s greatest number of species. For a casual lunch, stop by rustic local favorite El Hato Viejo (Cra 49 No. 52-170; 574-251-2196) for large portions of regional plates like sopa de guineo (plantain soup; $5), langostinos (prawns; $14), and brevas con queso (figs with white cheese; $4). In the afternoon, catch a 45-minute bus ($5) to Guatapé, a town bordering a hydroelectric-dam-created reservoir dotted with islands, where many antioqueñas have built brightly tiled weekend homes. Work up an appetite climbing the 644 steps to the top of Peñón de Guatapé, a 656-foot flat-top granite boulder, and then return to the city for dinner at El Cielo, where you can have à la carte items like artisanal pasta with crab and coconut ($12) or the adventurous degustation menu ($45) of chef Juan Manuel Barrientos, Medellín’s leading practitioner of molecular gastronomy. End the night hopping from Scottish-themed Pub Escocia (Cra 37A, 8A 43; 574-311-5607) to destination club Betty House (Cl 10A 40-27) in Parque Lleras, where the sleek, skimpy outfits on display make the city’s reputation as silicone capital of the Americas fully apparent.

Published on Jan 6, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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