The city of Medellin, located in north-central Colombia, has an inspirational story. Only two decades removed from the height of its notoriously violent past, it is now considered to be one of the safest big cities in Latin America, with character, nightlife and public art that any urban area would envy.


Medellín’s Public Transport

Surprisingly though, it is Medellín’s public transport system that is one of the city’s biggest highlights. The metro famously played a pivotal role in reducing violence and desperation in Medellín, a miraculous achievement that contributed to it being named one of the top transport systems in the world in 2012 by the international organisation Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. And as a bonus, it offers visitors possibly the least expensive but most comprehensive and photogenic city tour in the world. The city’s impressive elevated metro system, completed in the mid-1990s, was augmented in 2006 and 2008 with the addition of two Metrocable lines. These cable cars, which climb both sides of the valley in which Medellín sits, travel deep into the far-flung and formerly difficult-to-reach shanty towns that are located in the surrounding hills and have had a measureable social impact on the city.


metrocable medellin

No way to your job

Prior to the completion of the cable cars, people stranded in the shanty towns wanting access to jobs, education, healthcare and even basic shopping had to make a slow and arduous journey down the mountainside to get into the city. Sporadic and unpredictable buses were available in some areas, but mostly people walked – sometimes for hours. This isolation, depravation and hopelessness contributed substantially to Medellín’s famous and now rapidly fading history of crime and violence. The Metrocable has made commuting from even the furthest edges of the favelas a quick, affordable and scenic journey, travelling over the mountain and down into the valley where it seamlessly connects with the trains. Access to the system, including transfers between the trains and Metrocables, which effectively allows for an orientation tour of the entire city, is a refreshingly inexpensive 2200 pesos — or about $0.70.


The metrocables of Medellin offer beautiful views while you ride them, however their destinations offer great insights into Medellin’s culture and history. Check out our Destinations page for tours through the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ Medellin.


This blog was written by Leif Pettersen, a blog writer for Lonely Planet.