Colombia’s second and third largest cities both ranked among the top 10 South American “destinations on the rise” in travel website TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards for 2018, with Medellín coming in first overall.
In its rankings description, TripAdvisor highlighted the security and reputation gains that Medellín has made over the past decade. “Once infamous for dangerous gangs and drug activity, Medellín has been transformed,” wrote TripAdvisor. “It’s now a vibrant destination for travelers seeking a culturally rich vacation.”
Photo: Medellín is known as the City of Eternal Spring and features stunning landscapes in central Colombia. (Credit: Jared Wade)
In addition to the oft-cited safety improvements, the tourism information provider highlighted the physical beauty of the Antioquia capital nestled into Colombia’s central Andean mountain range. The massive rock formation called Piedra de Peñol in the nearby town of Guatapé was also listed as a top travel draw.
“Medellin rises proudly from the belly of the Aburrá Valley, and its natural beauty makes a perfect setting for hiking, zip-lining, and horseback riding,” stated TripAdvisor. “Travel through lush jungle to Piedra de Peñol, then climb the 740 steps to the top — a journey within a journey that rewards you with unforgettable views.”
Cali, the third largest city in Colombia, ranked ninth among the continent’s on-the-rise destinations. The website noted the Cauca capital’s golf courses and adventure sports offerings in addition to the the salsa scene that has made Cali a dance mecca in Latin America.
“Cultural attractions in Cali reflect the area’s rich indigenous history and European influence,” wrote Trip Advisor. “Visit an archaeological park to experience tombs, ruins, and cave paintings, or celebrate with the locals at a cultural festival. Show off your salsa in a lively nightclub, then spend the next morning recovering with an aromatic cup of that famous Colombian coffee.”
The destinations on the rise list for South America is dominated by Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador, which collectively took four of the top five spots and seven of the top 10.
The full list ranked as follows: (1) Medellín, Colombia; (2) Brasilia, Brazil; (3) Curitiba, Brazil; (4) Recife, Brazil; (5) Asuncion, Paraguay; (6) La Paz, Bolivia; (7) Salta, Argentina; (8) Guayaquil, Ecuador; (9) Cali, Colombia; and (10) Cuenca, Ecuador.
No South American locations made the overall global top 10, although Costa Rican capital San Jose did finish sixth overall to give Latin America one representative.
The full global list is as follows: (1) Ishigaki, Japan; (2) Kapaa, Hawaii; (3) Nairobi, Kenya; (4) Halifax, Canada; (5) Gdansk, Poland; (6) San Jose, Costa Rica, (7) Riga, Latvia; (8) Rovinj, Croatia; (9) Nerja, Spain; and (10) Casablanca, Morocco.
In a statement, TripAdvisor said that it selects the “destinations on the rise” based upon “year-over-year increase in positive traveler review ratings for accommodations, restaurants and attractions, and increase in search and booking interest from October 2016 to October 2017.”