Medellin Free City Guide

Safety in Medellin

Whilst Medellin is no longer considered the crime epicenter that it was 20 years ago, like any city there will always be some crime. There are quite a few precautions you can take to keep your trip in Medellin safe and peaceful. Just being aware of certain scams or dangerous situations will make you much less prone to falling victim to them. Most are common sense but unfortunately many people seem to leave their common sense at the airport:

  • Don’t go to “dodgey” neighborhoods. Check out the crime heatmap below
  • Take more precautions walking around at night, take a taxi if you can
  • Always make sure your handbag isn’t “snatchable” use table hooks where available
  • Put bags/backpacks in front of you if you feel uncomfortable about a crowded area or situation
  • Don’t take out your expensive phone or ipod in crowded, public areas, or out at night
  • Don’t take offers of help when withdrawing money from the atm
  • Most “violent” robberies usually occur with two men on a motorbike (which is illegal)
  • You are more likely to be a victim of crime when drunk or high
  • Watch your drinks, don’t leave them alone, avoid “seedier” establishments
  • If you’re meeting up with someone you don’t know, always do so in a public area
  • Don’t invite strangers to your hotel or hostel. If you do make sure they register their cédula (id card) at reception
  • Colombians have a saying “no dar papaya” – what this means is don’t go asking for trouble and it won’t come to you

Druggings & Muggings
Scopolamine or “Devil’s Breath” is a drug that renders you under the control of your attacker, you will willingly give up all your valuables and empty your bank account and not remember anything the next day. The official number of reported cases in Colombia from Jan until August 2015 was 189. The real number is likely to be higher due to the difficulty of reporting these events because of memory loss and embarrassment. Most cases generally involve guys who frequent shady establishments downtown or those who invite strangers into the home/hotel (from nightclubs /internet dating sites). Use common sense, leave credit cards and expensive phones at home for the night out, and take the usual precautions with your drinks. Don’t invite strangers home. In addition to this there are many reports of other date rape type drugs administered into drinks. 

Give Up Your Valuables - Not Your Life
There has been a couple of situation where foreigners have been murdered during a mugging attempt. In all situations the foreigner fought back and thus endangered their own life. With travel insurance, almost everything can be comfortably and easily replaced so if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, don’t fight back, just give your stuff over. Your life is definately worth more than your phone.


Know where you’re going

The map below gives you a general idea of where to avoid Medellin. From a tourism perspective there is really no reason to be visiting most of the areas shaded in orange and red.

If you want to visit a barrio popular (“favela”) we recommend you do so from the comfort of the Metro Cable or with knowledgeable local guides on Toucan’s Medellin Graffiti Tour.

Use common sense when visiting the tourist sites in El Centro. Stick to the routes suggested in Toucan’s Medellin Walking Tour.

Safety in Medellin
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