Take Two Steps Back In Time From Medellín
Sabaneta lies at the southern end of the Aburrá Valley and is 1 of 10 municipalities in the Medellín metropolitan area. It’s also the smallest municipality in all of Colombia, with an area of just 5.8 square miles (15 square kilometers).
Sabaneta is a medium-sized town… but its friendliness and closeness convey the feeling of a village.
Like the whole Medellín area, Sabaneta enjoys arguably the world’s best weather. Average high temperatures are in the upper-70s to low-80s, with lows in the 60s, all year (that’s 27˚C and 17˚C). No heat, no air conditioning, and no screens on the windows, thanks to the 5,200-foot (1,585-meter) altitude.
Sabaneta is about as unlike Medellín as you can get in the realm of Colombian cities. The pace here is slow and laid-back. As opposed to Medellín’s modern, energetic feel, Sabaneta feels like small-town Latin America… and like a community. There are a number of high-rises sprouting up around town—and even within town—but mostly you’ll find clean streets, friendly people, and life with an old-fashioned, Spanish-colonial feel.
The Sabaneta town square is a picturesque, bustling social center, where you’ll see young people enjoying the shady sidewalk cafés as well as sun-worn old-timers in cowboy hats sitting on a bench and solving the world’s problems.
On Saturdays and Sundays, local people converge on the square to catch up with friends, enjoy a pleasant day out, or attend Mass in the stately white church overlooking the square. Folks come from nearby El Poblado to enjoy lunch or dinner and to be a part of this homey and enjoyable setting. With wall-to-wall cafés along one side of the square, you’ll have plenty of places to sit and relax.
Just off the square, you’ll find a row of attractive outdoor cafés and eateries along a pedestrian walkway (Carrera 44, starting at the church). Here you can choose from a variety of local cuisines, all within the same block, while relaxing and watching the world stroll by. We had a small feast of local Colombian specialties here once and spent just US$20… for four of us.
On the other side of the square, you’ll see a row of market vendors hawking along the street, with a large indoor market behind them.
Sabaneta’s 38,000 inhabitants enjoy the same excellent infrastructure that you’ll find in the rest of the Medellín metro area, yet it has the character of a small city in Ecuador or Bolivia. This makes for an interesting mix of Latin American colonial charm blended with things like pure tap water, high-speed internet, and a first-rate public transit system.
This special mix of old and new draws people from the rest of the valley who get here via a quick ride in a car, bus, or the metro and feel like they’ve entered another culture. Sabaneta also supports a modest national and international tourist trade for the same reason.
Property prices in Sabaneta are less than in the rest of the Medellín metro area. Many properties are older, and you can find some good bargains. There are plenty of brand-new apartments going up on the edge of town, perfect for those who want proximity to Sabaneta’s ambiance but also the latest in modern living.
Is Sabaneta For You?
If you’d like more of a small town ambiance than you’ll find in Medellín, with lower property prices and costs of living, then Sabaneta deserves your attention. You won’t have the hundreds of fine dining and nightlife options that you’ll find in nearby El Poblado, but in Sabaneta you’ll enjoy a quiet, more neighborly setting. El Poblado is close at hand via convenient public transit.
When I first visited Sabaneta a few years ago, I took a quick video around the town square. You can have a look at that video here.