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Is Medellin Safe for Tourists? Medellen Safety Guide

Is Medellin safe for tourists? As one of the most popular cities in South America, Medellin safety is a top priority. Whether you’re backpacking, working remotely, or planning a South American city break, The City of Eternal Spring is likely on your radar.

As a result of shows like the Netflix series Narcos, many people wonder if Medellin is dangerous. It’s no secret that Colombia has suffered. Pablo Escobar’s campaign of terror brought the country to its knees in the 1980s and 90s, and the violence continued long after he was killed in 1993.

So, is Medellin Colombia safe? With this Medellin Colombia safety guide, it can be!

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Medellin ToursClick here to check out the top Medellin tours
Best Medellin Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Medellin
Best Medellin Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Medellin

Is it Safe to Travel to Medellin Colombia?

Pickpocketing | Is Medellin safe

Generally speaking, Medellin is a perfectly safe place to visit. I have avoided unsafe situations by following Medellin Colombia safety tips, like sticking to busy areas, taking taxis at night, and always being aware of my surroundings.

I always feel safe during the daytime. However, it’s essential not to be complacent. Keep an eye on your belongings when you’re in busy places like the metro. If you need to have your phone out (to check directions, for example), don’t do it in the middle of the street. Instead, step inside a store or a cafe to avoid looking like a lost tourist.

Is Medellin safe after dark? The city’s nightlife is perfectly safe if you’re sensible, too. Parque Lleras in El Poblado is the busiest and most popular party area. It’s crawling with pickpockets, so watch your wallet and phone. Bars and nightclubs are typically safe to frequent.

I suggest checking online reviews and locations on Google Maps to ensure you’re not accidentally wandering into a potentially dangerous place. If you are unsure about taking a taxi on the street, Uber or local taxi apps are available.

How Safe is Medellin Colombia?

Is Medellin safe?

Medellin was once the murder capital of the world, with a reported 375 per 100,000 residents becoming victims of homicide in 1991. This figure has been steadily declining, and Medellin isn’t one of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world anymore. So, is Medellin safe for tourists?

It’s estimated that a foreigner is killed every 2.4 years in Medellin, which isn’t a terrifying number. In my experience of living in Medellin, most stories were of foreigners resisting a robbery or getting involved in drugs and other illicit activities. Although you’re unlikely to be murdered, robberies are (sadly) common. They are usually non-violent, provided you don’t try to resist or fight back. If you’re targeted, hand over whatever your assailants want.

The highest concentration of foreigner robberies is in the two most popular neighborhoods for visitors: El Poblado and Laureles-Estadio. That’s unsurprising, considering thieves know the highest concentration of potential victims in those areas.

I’ve lived in both and have never had any problems, though. El Centro can sometimes feel dangerous, and it does have the highest total number of robberies. However, I’ve always felt safe when sticking to well-populated areas.

Quick Tip: View my full Colombia packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Colombia Essentials shopping list here.

Medellin Safety Tips: What to Wear

I’ll start by saying that you can wear whatever you want in Medellin because it’s your body and you should dress how you see fit. However, I have some tips if you want to blend in with the locals.

Paisas (people from Medellin) rarely wear shorts or the style of sandals that you might wear in your home or at the beach (known as chanclas in Latin America). If you wear these, you’ll be easier to pick out as a tourist.

The same goes for typical backpacker clothes and holiday wear—board shorts and a vest won’t help you blend in. Think jeans, a casual shirt, and sneakers for daily wear.

If you’re a fan of jewelry, you might want to consider leaving your ice at home before traveling to Medellin. A saying goes, “No dar papaya,” which means, “Don’t give papaya.” This famous (and slightly victim-blaming) phrase means you shouldn’t put yourself in harm’s way.

Put simply, if you’re flashing gold chains, someone might try to steal them. Limit your accessories to simple pieces and avoid blatantly expensive pieces, like designer bags with big emblems.

Is Medellin Colombia Safe for Singles?

Dating in Medellin can be challenging but also brilliant (like most places worldwide). It’s generally safe, though, as long as (you guessed it) you take the proper Medellin safety precautions.

My friends and I have noticed that Colombian dating can feel more intense than in the US and the UK. Things tend to move faster, and there seems to be less need to “play it cool.” It’s easy to let your guard down in these whirlwind romances. However, keeping your wits about you is vital to stay safe. As you would in any city, stick to public dates and always tell someone trusted where you are, who you’re with, and where you’re going.

If you’re a man looking to date women, be warned there have been instances of foreign males being drugged and robbed by local women they’ve met on dating sites. Proceed with caution if you’re planning to Tinder your way through Medellin. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always watch your drink and only carry what you can afford to lose (in case the worst happens).

Night time in Medellin. Is Medellin safe for dating

How Safe is Medellin for Members of the LGBTQ+ Community?

While there are some fun bars and Facebook groups, the gay scene isn’t particularly prevalent in Medellin. As a bisexual woman, I’ve had less luck meeting women in Medellin than in other countries I’ve lived. Medellin is generally safe to be LGBTQ+ and openly date.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Medellin Pickup Artists

There is an active community of dating coaches and pickup artists—keep this in mind if you’re a woman looking to date. These guys use unpleasant tactics that objectify women. If someone approaches you in a way that feels uncomfortable, it could be one of these morons.

Wondering where to stay in Medellin? I recommend staying in either El Poblado or Laureles, and here are a few of my favorite places to stay:

Parceros Med Hostel (I stayed here for a month and loved it!)
Los Patios Hostel Boutique
Purple Monkey Hostel
El Jardín de la 10 – El Poblado

You can also read my full Where to Stay in Medellin Guide here.

Medellin Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Medellin?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Medellin which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Medellin on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Medellin?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Medellin?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Is Medellin Safe for Tourists? Final Thoughts

Having lived in various Latin American cities, I needed to keep Medellin safety tips at the top of my mind. However, I’ve never found myself in a dangerous situation there. Medellin is one of my favorite cities worldwide, and the Paisa people are some of the warmest around. Safety should be a consideration, but it shouldn’t stop you from experiencing all that Medellin has to offer. Is Medellin dangerous? Not if you remember these safety tips!

How safe is Medellin in Colombia
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Author Bio: Sophie is a freelance writer from the north of England. She has traveled and worked in Latin America since August 2017 and lives in Medellin, Colombia. When she’s not working, you’ll find her writing for her blog, Table for One, where she talks about what it’s like to travel the world as a solo woman.


Monday 12th of December 2022

We are travelling to Medellin in January and am a bit concerned about the safety situation since the US has tightened its travelling recommendations for Colombia (as well as other countries too). Are there more unsafe areas in Medellin now?

Claire Summers

Tuesday 13th of December 2022

Hi Sofie, from what I hear it's pretty much the same there. I have friends living there with their children and they are happy and safe. Just don't walk down the street with your phone. Keep a close eye on your things all the time. Nothing in your pockets, nothing on the table at a restaurant, etc. And I'd stay clear of dating apps! Have a wonderful time there!