As the second largest and most highly populated city in Colombia, Medellin is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Medellin has over 3 million inhabitants who call this city in the Andes Mountains home. It’s famous within Colombia and around the world for its year-round series of festivals, such as the magnificent annual Festival of the Flowers, the Jazz Festival, the International Poetry Festival, and of course the beautiful Christmas Lights celebration in early December.
Medellin has much to offer besides festivals, too. The city dates back to the mid-1500’s when it was founded by Spaniards. The city’s original architecture still stands among its modern buildings, creating a fascinating juxtaposition between the old world and the new. Tourists are enthusiastic about seeing structures like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Antioquia Train Station, the Parque Explore, the Planetarium and much more.
Overall, there are lots of things to see and do in Medellin for tourists. Medellin prizes artists and art, and this is evident by the numerous venues that display sculptures and paintings.
With Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in the heart of Medellin, it’s easy for visitors from the U.S. and other countries to fly into Medellin. But is that wise? How safe is it to visit Medellin?
LATEST UPDATES / NEWS from MEDELLIN:
May 2 – Police in Colombia have rescued an Israeli tourist from an alleged kidnapping attempt after he met a woman through the dating app Tinder.
According to Colombian authorities, the 36-year-old and the woman met at a restaurant in Medellin. The Israeli man then escorted her outside, where he thought they were waiting for a cab.
Instead, a car arrived, driven by the woman’s suspected male accomplices. Police said that after the tourist followed the woman into the car, someone beat him and took him away.
According to the police, they learned of the incident after receiving a report of aggressive driving. The Israeli driver came out from the back seat and said that he had been attacked and robbed after they managed to stop the car at a roadblock.
Travel Danger Risks in Medellin
For a large South American city where a variety of crimes can be committed against tourists, the overall risk of danger in Medellin is Medium. The U.S. Department Of State has a level 3 warning for Colombia in general which translates into “Reconsider Travel“.
While visiting, tourists should maintain awareness of their surroundings, and avoid behaviors such as getting into taxis off the street, going on solo excursions, and displaying wealth, money, and phones and tablets while in public.
Also, tourists need to be aware of the levels of danger in different neighborhoods. For example, Poblado is safe during the day and night but in other neighborhoods, tourists have to be careful during the night, and late at night should use Uber or Taxi.
Public safety experts recommend arranging for taxis personally. Don’t ask anyone else to have a taxi come and get you, and don’t get into strange vehicles on the street, even if they display a taxi sign.
At the same time, Medellin’s roads are highly congested, so driving isn’t recommended, either. Pedestrians also need to exercise caution, because traffic signs are often ignored and pedestrians don’t have the right of way, even when there are clear signals and crosswalks.
Like other large cities, Medellin is a hotspot for opportunistic crimes like pickpocketing.
Petty crime rates are very bad in Medellin and only getting worse. Unsuspecting tourists may very well find themselves victims of theft of cell phones, case, wallets, jewelry, tablets, laptops and more Even when you think you have a valuable tucked away in your backpacker, a clever pickpocket can access it without you even noticing.
Mugging is even worse than being pickpocketed because violence is involved. Generally speaking, violent crimes are not commonly committed against tourists, but they do happen.
Certain areas should be avoided, like Comuna 13, Parque Lleras, Parque de las Luces, Parque San Antonio, Prado, Barrio Trinidad, and La Sierra. Avoid going anywhere in Medellin after dark. The best advice is, only carry what you need for the day, and if you get mugged, give them what they ask for, because they probably won’t hesitate to hurt you if you refuse.
While the average citizen of Meddelin is kind and honest, there are unsavory people who are always looking to take advantage of tourists. Unfortunately, they prey on tourists, so you’re likely to encounter several scams if you visit. These scams range of money-changing scams to overcharging for services, to impersonating police officers to get a bribe, to credit card skimming machines.
In general, Medellin is one of the more risky places to visit in South America. But if you travel with a group, keep tabs on one another and be vigilant every time you venture out, you could come home with all your valuables intact, plus some incredible lasting memories.