Why Medellin Is Safe to Visit in 2018 | ViaHero

Why Medellin Is Safe to Visit in 2018

ViaHero · October 18, 2018

Also known as “The City of Eternal Spring,” Medellin boasts a striking view of magnificent mountain peaks, lush forests, and sleek urban design. Although once burdened with an unsavory reputation for drugs and crime (it is, after all, the locale for the oh-so-popular series Narcos), over the past two decades, Medellin has transformed itself into Colombia’s most socially conscious, forward-thinking, and safety-focused metropolis. Read on to learn more about safety-focused topics in Medellin like petty crime, transportation, and water quality; when you’re done, feel free to message us with any questions you still have. 

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Medellin’s bad rep is old news

Once named “the most dangerous city in the world,” Medellin is now lauded one of the most innovative. Advances in its state-of-the art transportation system (including cable cars that allow users to traverse Medellin’s isolated mountain neighborhoods), rapid growth of its universities and hospitals, as well as a massive crackdown on illegal activity have all made Medellin a stable and secure city for residents and travelers alike—and a locus of arts and culture to boot! In fact, Medellin boasts a whopping six different universities, and is a popular destination for international students—both to study and take on local internships via Paisa Internship and similar programs.

Petty theft is Medellin’s most common crime

Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city after Bogota, and as in any big city, travelers can benefit from staying educated and aware while exploring. A popular Colombian saying goes “No dar papaya”—which, roughly translated, means “don’t put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of”. To that end, here are some tips from locals on avoiding being taken advantage of while in Medellin:

  • Avoid wearing anything that makes you stand out from the locals; flip-flops, fanny packs, shorts, and expensive jewelry are all signs of a novice traveler—which pickpockets use to their advantage.
  • In Medellin, thieves are known to ride motorcycles through traffic, snatching phones, jewelry, and bags from open car windows—often from out of the hands of the owner themselves!
  • Buying street food is a great way to try delicious Colombian cuisine, but always ask the price before ordering. Once the food is in your hands, vendors can (and occasionally do) charge exorbitant prices.

You probably don’t need to get any extra vaccines

If you’re up to date on your routine vaccines (tetanus, chickenpox, MMR, polio, and flu), then you’re most likely set to jet! That being said, depending on what you’ll be doing in Medellin, the CDC also recommends getting the typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines before traveling; so read all about vaccines for Colombia and check in with your doctor before you go!

Don’t spend money on bottled water

Medellin is one of the many cities in Colombia with an excellent water purification system. That means tap water is absolutely safe to drink, and fresh fruits, vegetables, and street food are safe and delicious options for a quick bite.

Medellin’s transportation system is safe and sustainable

A large part of what makes Medellin the most innovative city in the world is its incredible metro system, which is not only fast and efficient, but environmentally friendly as well. First developed in 1982 with the goal of connecting the poorer areas of the city—many of which are perched high in the mountains—to the wealthier areas below, Medellin’s system of subways, streetcars, buses, and cable cars has drastically improved its citizens’ access to healthcare, education, and everyday necessities.

Solo female travelers love exploring Medellin

While harassment is a known issue in Colombia (as well as throughout Latin America as a whole), it’s often thought to be less severe in Medellin due to the city’s massive student population. With that in mind—and given Medellin’s ideal average temperature of 72°—jeans are the go-to wear for most Colombian women, if you feel like blending in. That being said, don’t let the haters dictate your wardrobe—many women feel safe wearing whatever they want while traversing the city or enjoying Medellin’s highly acclaimed nightlife.

Emergency numbers everyone should know

In the off chance that you run into any trouble while galavanting through Medellin, here are some numbers to call for assistance.

  • National Emergency Number: 123
  • Tourist Police: (1) 3374413
  • Information: 113
  • U.S. Embassy in Colombia: (+57) (1) 275-2000

If you have any other burning questions about your upcoming trip to Medellin, message us or talk to one of our Colombian Heroes to help put your mind at ease! And before your trip, make sure to check out:


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