Named after Colombia’s famed writer and botanist, Medellín’s botanical garden has attained international kudos for its sublime architecture and outstanding conservation credentials. A short metro ride, but a world apart, from the mayhem of Centro, a series of trails and walkways meander through diverse ecosystems. More than 1,000 species of flora and fauna find sanctuary here, including orchids (Colombia’s national flower), bromeliad, butterflies, birds, and reptiles; you may spot iguanas basking in the sun beside the lily pond.

Originally conceived in 1972, the garden got a major overhaul in 2005 as part of ex-mayor Sergio Fajardo’s grandiose urban investment initiative. In addition to a butterfly farm, a maze, and a flashy new science building, the garden’s breathtaking design statement is the award-winning wood-and-steel Orchideorama, designed by Plan B Architects. The 50-foot-tall space features 10 hexagonal structures, which resemble a bouquet of flowers. The garden hosts a spectacular orchid display during the city’s famed flower festival (the first week in Aug) and the lively event schedule features yoga classes, outdoor movies, and live music. In Situ ★★, one of the city’s most memorable dining experiences, is also located here, and there are two cafes, Café del Bosque (at the entrance) and El Vagón (located in a train carriage) which serve standard cafe fare.