Romantic Medellín

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Romantic Medellín
Romance blossoms in the "City of Eternal Spring" like the exotic flowers found throughout the region. Whether it’s on the dance floor entwined with your partner, or lazing underneath the tropical foliage in the parks, love is never far away.
By Simon Willis, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Erik Isakson/age fotostock
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    Learn to Dance Salsa
    Medellín pulses to the beat of Latin salsa, merengue, and vallenato music, and what better place for you and your partner to learn to dance than at one of the city’s best schools? At Santo Baile, located near Parque Lleras, instructors from the salsa capital, Cali, take you through the basic steps in one of two spacious rooms. After a few lessons you and your partner will be ready to hit the clubs just a short walk away. Dancefree, in Poblado, offers individual and singles classes; its free Thursday night class, followed by salsa and bachata disco, attracts locals and foreigners.
    Photo by Erik Isakson/age fotostock
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    The Botanical Gardens
    A great way to enjoy Medellín’s perfect weather is to grab a blanket and a bottle of wine, and head to the botanical gardens next to Universidad Metro station. Thousands of plant species bursting with flowers, including an impressive orchid collection in the Orchidarium, cover 40 acres. Lip-locked couples occupy the grass while colorful birds fly through the foliage and iguanas crawl among the leaves. Sunday is a popular day, especially during Colombia’s version of Valentine’s Day, which can be celebrated with a prepared picnic from one of the local restaurants.
    Photo by Carlos Humberto Arang/age fotostock
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    The Chemistry of Food and Love
    Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging on a whim, Medellín is blessed with many romantic dining spots. El Cielo, just opposite Parque Lleras, is as well-known throughout South America as its founder Juan Manuel Barrientos, a young chef on the forefront on the molecular gastronomy scene. Dishes—called "moments"—are small tasters created by his team of chefs and designers in his food lab. Each dish has a lifespan of three months, after which it is replaced by a new, equally astounding dish. Carmen, located a few blocks away, offers not only high-end cuisine prepared in an open kitchen, but also a seductive interior and some extraordinary cocktails.
    Photo courtesy of El Cielo
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    Sophisticated Cocktail Bars
    Given the tropical vibe of much of Medellín’s nightlife, it's unsurprising that there is also an abundance of fine cocktail bars. Head to Parque Lleras for a drink at Mojito Bar. Alternatively, Rio Sur is a slim mall that hosts many high-end bars and is located on the so-called "Millionaire Mile" on Avenue Poblado. Here, Delaire Sky Lounge serves up delicious cocktails along with a sublime view of the city. Check out Sinko, another swanky bar with an extensive cocktail menu and music from the 80s and 90s; Sixttina Discoteca is a good bet for those looking to dance late into the night.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Live the Fairytale
    Tucked away in the affluent Poblado area, Museo El Castillo (built in 1930) is a stunning castle and a delightful place for couples to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. With its red turrets and pearl white winding stairs, the castle evokes a fairytale. Visitors can wander through its green gardens spotting birds, butterflies, and red squirrels, learn about its history on the guided tour, or simply take in the breathtaking views of the city. The castle also provides a picnic package—book in advance—which includes your choice of food and wine served in a romantic location.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Seductive Viewpoints
    One of the standout qualities of Medellín is its geography. Located in a valley, the city is visible from several stunning viewpoints. Pueblito Paisa is a popular inner-city viewpoint located at the peak of the Cerro Nutibara near Industriales Metro station. This miniature village is perfect for capturing the twinkling night lights of the houses sprawling up the mountainside. Meanwhile, the roads leading out of the city towards Santa Elena or Rionegro are littered with stop-off points. Though the night views are impressive, a great time to go is just before sunset as gradations of oranges and reds blast through the sky.
    Photo by Oscar Garces/age fotostock
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    Romantic Retreats
    For those able to tear themselves away from the vibrant city, a few nearby retreats offer the chance for intimacy and relaxation. Santa Elena is one of the closest and is popular among locals, many of whom have fincas (country houses) there. The town offers great walking opportunities and the spa at Casa Mosaico, close to the park, is perfect for pampering. Meanwhile, the region's oldest town, Santa Fe de Antioquia (founded in 1541), is about 50 miles north of Medellín. Here, the narrow cobbled streets are lined by colorful, traditional single-story houses, while in the square locals relax in the baking heat, eating the sweet candy pulpa de tamarindo and sipping on exotic fruit juices.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Grind Your Hips to Reggaeton
    If the hours spent salsa dancing begin to blend together, then a dive into the world of reggaeton should provide the perfect alternative. This music, which combines hip-hop beats with Latin dance rhythms, has soared in popularity over the past two decades, and Medellín is one city which has welcomed it with open arms. Barrio Colombia, near Industriales Metro station, is an area dedicated to reggaeton, with the streets pounding to its infectious sounds; Discoteca Luxury is a magnet for crowds of serious dancers. In Laureles, LA 33 sparkles with the lights of small bars and clubs blasting out hip-grinding classics.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Luxurious Spas for Two
    Medellín is hardly the most stressful of cities, but for that extra level of relaxation head to one of the spas. Diez Hotel is located in Poblado; couples can submerge themselves in Jacuzzi bubbles on the rooftop while looking out over the city. Various massages, therapies, and treatments are available, as well as a Plan Picnic that includes chocolates, fruits, and champagne on the terrace. In Laureles, Viva Spa has a young team of therapists who will create personal treatments for you depending on your needs. A four-hour couple's spa is also available, which includes a massage, a facial, and a chocolate fountain.
    Photo by age fotostock