Cerro Pan de Azucar (Sugar Loaf Hill) in Medellín is worth visiting, as it has some incredible views of the city. However, not many expats living in the city or tourists visiting know about Cerro Pan de Azucar. It’s located on the northern slope of the Santa Elena gorge, which is in the hills east of Medellín.

Over the last few years Medellín has been flooded with interesting, innovative and new projects. One of the most exciting projects in recent years has been the Metropolitan Greenbelt. The Metropolitan Greenbelt project consists of 75 kilometers (46 miles) worth of park on the slopes of the Aburra Valley.

The full map of the Greenbelt project. We will focus on #1 and Camino de la Vida – Pan de Azucar

The full map of the Greenbelt project. We will focus on #1 and Camino de la Vida – Pan de Azucar, photo courtesy of Cinturonverde

The Metropolitan Greenbelt Project

The Camino De La Vida (Path of Life) is a paved path that leads to the hilltop of Cerro Pan De Azucar. And it’s an exciting component of the Metropolitan Greenbelt project.

The Metropolitan Greenbelt will expand the city’s overall amount of recreational park space and focus on adding additional areas to grow food. There are many goals of the project, which include:

  • Reducing the number of landslides with additional trees and flat areas.
  • Discouraging residents to live further into the mountains (as it is deemed unsafe). The pathway will act as a border and new homes will be built in a vertical fashion.
  • Encourage sustainable food growth.
  • Economic and job growth due to additional construction.
  • Additional/new homes for anyone who has been displaced by this project.
A view from the Camino de La Vida

A view from the Camino de La Vida

El Camino de la Vida Walking Trail

El Camino de la Vida is a 7-mile walking trail along the mountain slope offering spectacular views of the city. Trees and greenery surround the paths at every turn. The unique thing about this path, is it is almost completely paved.

This lends itself to being conducive to the casual hiker, families and pets. In addition, paths often have staircases or rails – encouraging safety and security.

An example of the staircases leading to the top of Cerro Pan de Azucar

An example of the staircases leading to the top of Cerro Pan de Azucar

Beautiful staircases and paths like this one are in abundance. This make it favorable for casual strolls rather than rigorous, mountainous excursions.

Additional walking trails along El Camino de la Vida

Additional walking trails along El Camino de la Vida

As you make your way along El Camino, you will come across an abundance of gardens. As part of Greenbelt’s mission, these garden’s will supply residents with access to healthy food in addition to teaching them how to grow it.

Furthermore, the project also promises to employ locals, with a third of its current labor force being women.

A beautiful garden on the path

A beautiful garden on the path

As you hike through the walkways, look for the large Jardin sign (translating to “garden” in English). So, you know you’re headed in the right direction!

Look for this Jardin sign

Look for this Jardin sign

If you see this sign you are headed in the right direction

If you see this sign you are headed in the right direction

Besides looking for this Jardin sign, you can also follow the smaller signs on the pedestrian pathways titled “Cima” (meaning “top” in English). This will assure you are ascending to the top of Cerro Pan de Azucar.  Also, be sure to stop at local vendors to grab fruit or ice cream and support the local barrios.

The staircase that ascends to the top of Cerro Pan De Azucar. Once you’ve reached the statue, you’re at the top!

The staircase that ascends to the top of Cerro Pan De Azucar. Once you’ve reached the statue, you’re at the top!

As you near the top of Pan de Azucar, you will begin to notice the 360-degree, breathtaking views of the city. Get that camera ready!

Casually gazing at this beautiful city from Cerro Pan de Azucar!

Casually gazing at this beautiful city from Cerro Pan de Azucar!

My Experience Going to Pan de Azucar

I was able to take some amazing of photos of my view of the city as I casually and candidly (wink, wink) gazed out into Medellín’s beautiful valley. You’ll notice others doing the same, as this is a popular spot for photos.

I felt very safe climbing this path, seeing a number of families with pets and children. However, use common sense. I went on an organized group tour through Colombia Immersion, which was lovely as they explained the history of the project, but this is also something you can do on your own.

We recommend bringing a bottle of water, sunscreen, a light snack and some sort of protection from the sun.  There are several vendors selling snacks, water and ice cream along the way, but hours do vary greatly.

The expansion of the Greenbelt project is a work in progress. Check this website for updates on closures, construction and new developments. If you’re interested in getting a comprehensive overview of the true mission of Greenbelt, check out this video (in Spanish) which provides a beautiful summary of the future plans for the growth of the Metropolitan Greenbelt.

Parque and Plazas in Medellín

On the Medellin Guru website, we have looked at 10 different parks and plazas in the Medellín and Aburra Valley area:

  1. Parque Lleras – the top nightlife district in Medellín
  2. Parque Sabaneta – arguably the nicest park in the Medelllín metro area
  3. Piedras Blancas – an ecological park near Medellín worth visiting
  4. Plaza Botero – a popular outdoor plaza with 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero
  5. Plaza Cisneros – Parque de las Luces, Medellín’s Park of Lights in El Centro
  6. Jardín Botánico – the popular Medellín botanical gardens
  7. Parques Del Río – Medellín’s ambitious River Parks project along the Medellín River with the first stage open.
  8. Plaza San Antonio – a large plaza with four Fernando Botero sculptures and sometime has concerts
  9. Cerro el Volado – a huge park with incredible views of Medellín
  10. Cerro Pan de Azucar – a park with amazing views of Medellín

Hiking in Medellín

We also have looked at three different hikes in Medellín:

  1. Cerro de Las Tres Cruces in Medellín With Amazing City Views
  2. Cerro el Volador: A Quick and Beautiful Hike in Medellín
  3. Cerro Pan de Azucar in Medellín With Incredible City Views

And we plan to look at additional hikes in the Medellín area. We also looked at two other popular hikes in Colombia:

The top of Cerro Pan de Azucar at sunset

The top of Cerro Pan de Azucar at sunset

How to Get to Cerro Pan de Azucar

To get to the area which leads to Cerro Pan de Azucar, several metrocables are in the process of being built.  As it stands today, the best route is to take bus route 106, or Cootransmallat, the public transport system covering the area.

This bus route may be taken at Niquitao (between the streets Maturín and Niquitao). Or you can catch the bus at the Minorista Plaza, in front of the main entrance, below the pedestrian bridge (on the right side heading northward). In addition, make sure to ask the bus driver to take you until El Plan, where the entrance to the walking path to Cerro Pan de Azucar is located.

For other locations with great views of the city, see our Recommended Tourist Itinerary for a Day in Medellín.

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