233km (145 miles) NW of Bogotá; 473km (294 miles) SE of Cartagena

Fifteen years ago, few foreigners would have considered visiting Medellín. Once the most dangerous city in the world with a murder rate of 435 per 100,000 residents, all-too-frequent bombings, and deadly gang wars, Medellín was known as the murder capital of the world. But thanks to improvements in infrastructure and community planning, a new emphasis on education, and 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. However, travelers should note that the crime rate, particularly the murder rate, has spiked in the last year due mostly to gang activity in the comunas. However, because it's unlikely that foreigners will be spending much time in the comunas, normal city safety precautions should do.

A pleasant city with springlike weather year-round (daytime highs of 75°F-85°F/24°C-29°C) 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.