It´s easy to confuse Envigado with Medellín because they are contiguous to each other. Envigado is a separate municipality situated in the Aburrá valley and is often referred to as “Medellín’s suburb”. As you travel south from the upscale El Poblado neighborhood along either of the two main roadways, Las Vegas Avenue or Poblado Avenue, it is difficult to know where one town ends and the other begins unless you read the signs “Bienvenido a Envigado” (Welcome to Envigado).
Envigado is a pretty good-sized municipality with over 215,000 residents spread out over about 30 square miles. In 2016, the city became part of the Medellín Metropolitan Area which is made up of 10 municipalities. Envigado is divided into 38 barrrios (neighborhoods) that border the Medellín river and continue up the mountain towards the pueblo (town) of El Retiro and the José María Córdova international airport.
Once infamously known as the hometown of drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar, modern-day Envigado is now a center of manufacturing and industry. It is the home of Sofasa, the Renault automobile assembly plant, which employs 1,600 workers, and also the headquarters of Éxito, the largest grocery store chain in Colombia.
Getting around Envigado is quite easy and inexpensive. Metered taxis and Uber as well as a variety of bus routes are available to bring you where you need to go. An average taxi fare around town will run you between $3 to $5. The bright-green Metro buses run routes that begin and end at Medellín’s Metro, and cost $0.70.
The north-south line of the above-ground Metro has a stop in Envigado, making getting into the El Poblado neighborhood, the downtown, the Botanical Gardens, planetarium, and many of the museums in Medellín uncomplicated and very inexpensive. A ticket is only $0.60 per ride regardless of how far you travel in the system.
Envigado for Expats
Over the past several years Envigado has become an increasingly popular lifestyle option for expats with the third largest concentration of foreigners in the greater Medellín Metropolitan area. Due to its size and varied topography you can choose from living in the older central park area with flat, walkable streets, in high-rise apartments that run along the main roads, in attached townhouses a bit further up the mountain or single-family homes out in the country.
The recently renovated parque principal (central park) is one of Envigado’s highlights and a great place to relax on a bench shaded by flowering trees, listen to the gently-splashing fountain, or meet some friends to sip coffee or drink a cocktail in one of the many cafés and watering holes surrounding the park’s center. The park is anchored at one end by the stunning white Greco-Roman style Iglesia de Santa Gerturdis (St. Gertrude´s Church).
Envigado has several excellent hospitals and many smaller clinics, laboratories, treatment facilities, and pharmacies, so you are never more than a few minutes from medical services. Las Americas Clínica del Sur is one of the top hospitals in the area. It has both inpatient and outpatient general and specialty services, and an International Patient relations department that will help provide translation services for foreigners.
Envigado also has a developing buena mesa (food district). The up-and-coming barrio of Jardines is home to some great restaurants. From Spanish paella to Mexican dishes to gourmet burgers, you can find something to satisfy your appetite. And don’t miss the gelato shop for dessert. Most restaurants offer outside seating so that you can take full advantage of the perfect weather.
If you enjoy shopping, Envigado has you covered. In addition to having downtown tiendas (small shops) and small shopping plazas, the city is in the final stages of completing what will become the largest shopping center in the entire country of Colombia. Scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2018, the Viva Envigado shopping center will have 1.5 million square feet of leasable space. This will include 10 stories of office space and parking, and three levels of retail space housing 240 stores, 5 banks, 20 tablecloth restaurants, and 14 movie screens, including the first IMAX theater in the area. Home Center (similar to Home Depot) and the mega-supermarket Exito are the anchor stores in the complex.
Daytime highs average in the mid to upper 70s F to low 80s F and evening temperatures dip down to the mid-60s F. This perfect year-round spring-like weather allows you to be outside and active. There are so many things to do and see in Envigado, you won’t be bored.
Most Notable Areas and Attractions in Envigado
Parque Salado Eco Park
A half-hour bus or car ride up the mountain from the Envigado Metro station and you will find yourself at the front entrance of this ecological park. This is a perfect place to spend an afternoon just to get away from the urban life, or an entire day with family and friends.
Wooden bridges arch over clear water streams and connect with trails that wind through the forest. There are areas to picnic or cook over a fire pit. You can spend your day as active or relaxed as you choose. If you want some exercise, hike through the woods, climb the rock wall, or play volleyball. If you are particularly adventurous you can harness up and ride the four-station canopy (zip line).
And if you’d rather just relax, then find a private spot, listen to the birds chirp and the rushing river while reading a good book. There are several small restaurants so there is no need to bring your own lunch. A favorite spot is an open-air eatery located next to a trout pond. They will let you catch your lunch and then cook it for you. Or you can opt for the trout that someone else had already hooked.
The Christmas season in Colombia lasts from December 1st through the middle of January. Many cities and towns erect light displays, but few do it as spectacularly as Envigado. The parque principal has a multi-story Christmas tree constructed entirely from lights and the Iglesia de Santa Gertrudis is totally illuminated. The main streets in the center of town are draped with colorful lights.
The home of writer and philosopher Fernando González is now a small museum & café. The museum holds cultural events including movies, concerts, and lectures that are open to the public. The café serves light meals, coffee, beer, wine, cocktails, and desserts. Open in the afternoons and evenings it is a wonderful place to meet friends or spend some quiet time in the peaceful patio area surrounded by green trees. In 2019 Otraparte plans to open a bookstore and theater.
Home field for Envigado´s fútbol team, Estadio Polideportivo Sur, is a multi-purpose venue for all types of sports. Besides being able to play the usual sports of soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and swimming, this stadium offers something very special. Way in the back of the complex is a small court for tejo. Tejo (tay-ho) is the national sport of Colombia. It involves throwing a weighed metal puck into a clay pit that has targets containing gunpowder. When the puck hits the target—it explodes. If you would like to give it a try, there are classes to learn the game. If you are good, maybe you will be asked to join the foreigner’s team.
Featured Image Copyright: ©Alcaldía de Envigado (https://www.envigado.gov.co) CC BY-SA 4.