Real City Tours – Our Story
Real City Tours was born as Pablo Alvarez’s desire to share the city he loved with visitors. After living in Europe for a couple of years, he was very surprised by the amount of tourists in the city who were simply staying in Poblado and mainly taking Pablo Escobar tours.
Convinced that Medellín was way more than just those things, he decided to show a different part of the city and the culture while in the meantime, keep practicing his English while writing his Master’s thesis. With that in mind, he started the tour under the Free Walking Tour model: people can pay at the end according to their capacity and how much they liked the tour. With a very simple sign letting people know he was doing a Free Walking Tour, he headed out one morning in March 2013 to the Poblado Metro Station.
Convinced that Medellín was way more than just those things, he decided to show a different part of the city and the culture
Within a few weeks, Pablo was doing tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and it was now officially known as Real City Tours, a name that was given by the tourists who at the end of the tour, while having some beers were telling him “thank you for showing us the real side of the city”.
What followed was a steep learning curve, filled with experiments and important changes, from the creation of the website and booking system to an increase in the frequency of the tours and optimization of the content/route.
By the end of 2013, Pablo realized that if he wanted to grow, he would not be able to do so alone and the next step was to find other guides. The first additional guide started in December and since then the Real City Tours “family” has been growing steadily! update 2023: Except during the pandemic of course, when the company had to srink and enter into, what Pablo called, an “induced comma”. Real City Tours is fully recovered now and it’s about to reach pre-pandemic levels by august 2023.
Another part of the growth of the company was the creation of new tours. The Exotic Fruits Tour was created in December 2013 from a desire to share Colombia’s wonderful biodiversity with visitors and explore one of the many places which suffers from certain stigmas.
In 2016, after months (or even years) of extensive research and networking, we launched the Barrio Transformation Tour. The reason it took so long to create this tour is because it was extremely important for us to be respectful with the community and to incorporate them in the process. The result is a symbiotic relationship between the social leaders of the barrio and Real City Tours which has been mutually enriching. We are very proud to say that after more than 7 years visiting the barrio in Comuna 4, we have not changed the nature of the barrio and it keep being an authentic neigborhood where local live without the fear of being displaced by souvenir shops.
And finally, our newest tour (or baby, as we like to call it) is the Local Food Tour, which was launched earlier in the year 2019 with the aim of exploring a cool, residential neighborhood while eating some of our favorite local snacks.
Overall, it’s been a fun ride so far (update 2023: except during the pandemic. Bloody hell, that was tough!!) and we’re excited to see what the future brings!