Last Updated on by Talita
Have you booked your flight, and know you are wondering about the most important things to know before visiting Medellin Colombia? I’ve got you covered!
Allow Giorgy from G-Extreme Travel to be your guide on this journey to the heart of Colombia, the vibrant city of Medellin. Having lived in this bustling metropolis for a while, I’ve absorbed its rhythms, its culture, and its secrets.
With my insider knowledge and deep connection to this place, I can serve as your authentic guide. I’ve chewed on the rich flavors of the local cuisine, navigated the maze of streets each with their own story, and befriended locals who’ve shared untold tales of the city.
So whether you’re an eager backpacker, a curious solo traveler, or a family on vacation, let’s together unearth the pulse of this city.
Table of Contents
- 1 Things to Know Before Visiting Medellin Colombia
- 1.1 1. Medellin is Safe
- 1.2 2. The People are Warm and Friendly
- 1.3 3. Calma Motto: Relax, This is Medellin
- 1.4 4. Tipping Isn’t Obligatory
- 1.5 5. Take the Free Walking Tour
- 1.6 6. Explore Beyond the City Itself
- 1.7 7. The Water is Drinkable
- 1.8 8. Don’t Talk about Escobar
- 1.9 9. Master Some Basic Spanish Phrases
- 1.10 10. Dress Up Properly for the Climate
- 1.11 11. The City of Eternal Spring
- 1.12 12. Use Public Transportations
- 1.13 13. Be Mindful of Your Belongings
- 1.14 14. Where to Stay
- 2 Wrap-Up: Things to Know Before Visiting Medellin Colombia
- 3 Planning your next trip?
Things to Know Before Visiting Medellin Colombia
Here are the 15 crucial things to know before you step foot in Medellin, a city that is as warm and welcoming as it is misunderstood.
1. Medellin is Safe
First thing first, let’s address the elephant in the room – safety. Medellin used to be known as one of the most dangerous cities in South America due to the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar.
However, that is a thing of the past.
The city has undergone a major transformation and is now safe for tourists. In fact, Medellin boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Colombia.
So you can rest assured and enjoy your trip without any worries.
2. The People are Warm and Friendly
One of the things that make Medellin so special is its people – known as Paisas (pronounced “pie-sahs”). They are warm, welcoming, and always willing to help.
Don’t be surprised if a local strikes up a conversation with you on the street or offers to show you around. Embrace it and take the opportunity to learn more about this vibrant city from those who know it best.
P.S. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is to embrace the ways of the locals, as it allows you to truly immerse yourself in the local culture and become one of them.
3. Calma Motto: Relax, This is Medellin
Don’t be surprised if you hear this phrase often – Calma Motto.
It’s a reminder to take things slow and enjoy the beauty of life. Time seems to move slower in Medellin, and that’s part of its charm. So don’t rush through your trip, take your time to soak in the city’s beauty and energy.
Moreover, do not expect punctuality from locals. Embrace the relaxed lifestyle and let go of your need to be on time for everything. Trust me; it’s liberating!
4. Tipping Isn’t Obligatory
Unlike many other countries, tipping in Colombia is not mandatory. However, it’s appreciated if you leave a small tip for good service.
In restaurants, 10% of the bill is considered an acceptable amount to tip. For taxis, rounding up to the nearest multiple of 1,000 pesos (around $0.30 USD) is customary.
So don’t feel pressured to tip excessively, but do it if you have had a pleasant experience.
5. Take the Free Walking Tour
Have you ever heard of the FREE Walking tours? Well, Medellin has them too!
One of the most captivating aspects of these tours is that they are led by knowledgeable locals who provide valuable insights into exploring the city, delving into its history and culture, and connecting with fellow travelers.
What’s even more remarkable is that these tours come at no expense to you! The only thing to keep in mind is to show your appreciation by tipping your guide at the conclusion of the tour if you find it enjoyable.
6. Explore Beyond the City Itself
While Medellin is undoubtedly a fantastic destination, it would be a shame to limit yourself to the city alone. Colombia, with its rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes, has so much more to offer beyond its vibrant urban center.
Consider embarking on delightful day trips to the picturesque towns and cities nestled nearby, such as Guatapé, Jardin, or Santa Fe de Antioquia. These charming destinations are easily accessible from Medellin and provide a perfect escape into nature’s embrace.
In Guatapé, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the iconic El Peñol rock and soak in the panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Jardin, known for its picturesque streets and colorful balconies, offers a tranquil retreat amidst lush coffee plantations.
Santa Fe de Antioquia, with its well-preserved colonial charm, invites you to wander through cobblestone streets and visit historic churches.
By venturing beyond Medellin, you’ll uncover a world of wonders, each with its own unique allure, ready to captivate your senses and create unforgettable memories. So, embrace the spirit of exploration and let Colombia’s hidden gems unfold before your eyes.
7. The Water is Drinkable
When visiting Medellin, there’s no need to spend your hard-earned money on bottled water. The tap water in Medellin is completely safe to drink, so you can confidently fill up your reusable bottle and quench your thirst without contributing to plastic waste.
However, if you still have doubts, you’ll be pleased to know that filtered or purified water is readily available in most supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the city.
So, whether you choose to embrace the convenience of tap water or opt for the additional peace of mind provided by filtered options, staying hydrated in Medellin is both easy and environmentally friendly.
8. Don’t Talk about Escobar
This might be one of the most important things you should be aware of when visiting Medellin – do not talk about Pablo Escobar.
While the drug lord’s legacy still looms over the city, locals prefer to focus on their present and future rather than their past. Bringing up Escobar can be seen as offensive.
Instead, try to learn about Medellin through its art, food, and culture and contribute to the positive narrative of this vibrant city.
9. Master Some Basic Spanish Phrases
While it’s not necessary to be fluent in Spanish, knowing some basic phrases can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable and meaningful.
Learning simple greetings like “hello” (hola), “please” (por favor), and “thank you” (gracias) will show the locals that you respect their culture and are making an effort to communicate with them.
Imagine if a tourist approached you, speaking your local language. It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it?
10. Dress Up Properly for the Climate
The weather in Medellin is known to be a bit unpredictable, with warm days and chilly nights. Don’t go everywhere in shorts and flip-flops, especially in the evenings.
Make sure to pack layers as well as rain gear, especially during the rainy season from April to June and September to November. It’s always better to be prepared than caught off guard by a sudden downpour.
11. The City of Eternal Spring
Did you know that Medellin, the vibrant city nestled in the Aburrá Valley of Colombia, is famously known as the “City of Eternal Spring”? This endearing nickname comes from its consistently pleasant climate throughout the year, offering locals and visitors alike an oasis of comfort.
With an average temperature of 72°F (22°C), Medellin boasts delightful conditions that make outdoor activities and exploration a joyous experience.
Whether you choose to visit during the scorching summer months or the mild winter season, you will be greeted by a city that embraces you with open arms and treats you to breathtaking landscapes and clear skies.
Picture yourself wandering through the colorful streets, surrounded by lush greenery and the melodious sounds of nature. Medellin truly is a destination that never fails to enchant and captivate its visitors.
12. Use Public Transportations
Medellin has an efficient and affordable public transportation system, including buses, trains, and cable cars, and a very good metro system too.
Not only is it a budget-friendly option, but it also allows you to experience the city like a local. Plus, you’ll avoid getting caught in traffic jams and save time by bypassing crowded streets.
P.S. Keep in mind that Uber is illegal in the whole of Colombia, so avoid using the app while in Medellin. Instead, use the local taxi services or public transportation that could be also used by the InDrive app (similar to Uber one).
13. Be Mindful of Your Belongings
As with any other major city, it’s crucial to be mindful of your belongings while exploring Medellin. There are numerous attractions and vibrant neighborhoods to discover, so it’s important to take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewelry that could attract unwanted attention. Furthermore, it’s advisable to keep a close eye on your bags in crowded areas, as pickpockets may take advantage of the hustle and bustle.
Additionally, it’s best to refrain from openly displaying your valuable gadgets, such as cameras or smartphones, in public places, as this could potentially make you a target for theft.
By staying vigilant and taking these simple measures, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Medellin without any worries.
14. Where to Stay
Medellin, this vibrant city of Colombia, offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preference. From luxurious hotels exuding elegance and comfort to budget-friendly hostels buzzing with a lively atmosphere, there is something for everyone.
While the allure of indulging in a fancy hotel with a rooftop pool may be strong, opting for a hostel can add an extra layer of enrichment to your travel experience. Staying in a hostel allows you to connect with fellow travelers from around the globe, fostering new friendships and creating unforgettable memories. Not to mention, you’ll have the opportunity to tap into the local knowledge and insider tips shared by the friendly hostel staff.
When it comes to choosing a neighborhood to stay in, Medellin offers several safe and tourist-friendly options. El Poblado stands out with its vibrant nightlife and trendy dining scene, while Laureles charms visitors with its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful parks. For a more authentic local experience, consider exploring Envigado, a neighborhood known for its traditional Colombian charm and welcoming community.
Whichever accommodation and neighborhood you choose, Medellin promises an unforgettable stay filled with cultural immersion, warm hospitality, and captivating experiences.
Wrap-Up: Things to Know Before Visiting Medellin Colombia
In the end, embarking on a journey to Medellin, Colombia, is all about embracing the unexpected, appreciating the beauty in diversity, and immersing yourself in a culture rich with history and tenacity.
While it’s essential to keep these tips in mind, the magic of travel often lies in those unplanned, spontaneous moments that take your breath away.
So get ready to fall in love with Medellin! From its vibrant culture and friendly locals to its stunning landscapes and delicious cuisine, this city has something to offer for everyone.
Pack your bags, leave any preconceived notions at home, and get ready for an unforgettable experience in one of Colombia’s most captivating destinations.
Enjoy your trip and remember to take pictures! But don’t spend too much time behind the camera – make sure to put it down and truly savor each moment in this incredible city.
Giorgy is the founder of G-Extreme Travel. She is on a mission to empower every person to discover Cartagena, Colombia. Going off-grid, immersing yourself completely in Colombia as an undercover tourist, by leaving fearlessly the comfort zone behind, all characterized by goofiness.
She helps over 100,000 people per month plan their adventures and trips in Cartagena, Colombia!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
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And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!
Planning your next trip?