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Is Medellin Safe for Travel in 2020?

Updated August 31, 2020

Generally, Medellin is a safe place to travel (with a little know-how!).  Locals in Medellin helped us create this guide to safety in their hometown. It includes everything from the coronavirus to tips for solo travelers.

For everything from safety tips to restaurant recommendations, work with a local to plan your trip. Learn more.

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

UPDATE: The coronavirus in Colombia

Like most places around the world, Colombia has cases of coronavirus. So, when will Colombia be safe for travel?

Hopefully soon! Here's the latest: 

August 31st: Colombia's borders remain closed to international travel. The president has extended the national health emergency until November 30th. 


Read our full update about travel and coronavirus HERE. Or, send a message to a local in Colombia

Medellin's crime rates are low

Once known as “the most dangerous city in the world,” Medellin is now lauded as an up-and-coming travel destination. In fact, Medellin's 82% decline in violent crime means that the city is now safer than New Orleans!

And like other major cities, locals say that violent crimes occur in neighborhoods far away from the center of the city—that is, far from where you'll find most Colombian points of interest.

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Petty theft is your only real concern

Medellin is Colombia’s second-largest city after Bogota, and, like its sister city, has high rates of petty theft. To avoid petty theft and stay safe in Colombia, locals suggest taking a cue from the popular Colombian saying, “No dar papaya”—which, roughly translated, means “don’t put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of.” 

To that end, benefit from local advice when it comes to things like spotting and avoiding petty theft and other scams. Our locals advise to: 

  • 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.
  • Keep your belongings secured to your person at all times. In Medellin, thieves are known to ride motorcycles through traffic, snatching phones, jewelry, and bags from open car windows. 
Local Tip:

Buying street food is a great way to experience Colombia like a local—just be sure to 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 any extra vaccines

If you’re up to date on your routine vaccines (tetanus, chickenpox, MMR, polio, and flu), odds are that you don’t need any additional vaccines before going to Medellin. If you’re planning on traveling to more rural points of interest, the CDC recommends getting certain vaccines for Colombia travel, including typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines. Be sure to check with your doctor before you go!

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Medellin's tap water is safe to drink

Medellin is one of the many cities in Colombia with an excellent water purification system, so the city’s tap water is absolutely safe to drink. That also means that fresh fruits, vegetables, and street food are safe to consume. 

Medellin's public transit is safe and easy to use

Public transit in Medellin | Alexandercanasarango/Pixabay

There’s no bad choice when it comes to Medellin public transport—whichever option you use for your travel itinerary, you’ll get to where you need to go cheaply, safely, and easily. Medellin’s most popular modes of public transportation are the metro, buses, and cable cars, with the majority of travelers using the metro. 

Medellin’s award-winning metro system is only $0.69 per ride with a Civica card, which works much like a standard metro card in U.S. cities. Civica cards can be used interchangeably between buses, metros, and cable cars. 

Navigate with ease with a little local advice—when our locals design your trip, they can answer any questions you have about transportation.

Solo female travelers love Medellin

Good news, solo female travelers! Medellin is largely considered to be one of the safest places in Colombia for independent, solo travelers—especially if you keep to the city’s well-populated areas. Real talk: harassment and cat-calling are an issue in Medellin (as in Colombia and Latin America as a whole); however, they’re generally considered to be less severe in Medellin due to the city’s massive student population. 

With that in mind—and given Medellin’s balmy average temperature of 72°—jeans are the go-to wear for most Colombian women if you feel like blending in. But don’t let any haters dictate your wardrobe—many women feel safe wearing whatever they want while hiking around Medellin or partying away in the city’s awesome nightlife

For personalized recommendations on how to dress, how to stay safe, and what women should know in Medellin, work with one of our locals. Find a local.

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
Still have questions about travel to Colombia?
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You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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