Medellin, once one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is finally showing the world how you are more than your terrible past. After suffering with drug gangs and violent crime of the worst demeanour for so long, the cartel days are finally behind the city of eternal spring.

Medellin is really special. It’s not just changed its violent past; it’s actively embraced all its ugly parts to make something beautiful. So today, staying safe in Medellin is pretty damn easy.

But like every big city, and especially in Latin America, it’s no stranger to having its own safety problems. So, is Medellin safe for tourists these days?

Well, petty theft, traffic, and scams are all still a concern. And although it’s not something that should bother you as a tourist, of course, gangs will never be eradicated completely.

Of course, ‘narco-tourism’ is in play. And actually, you can see it and contribute towards Medellin’s ever-growing, healthy economy.

Whether you’re a solo female traveller or bringing your family, it is safe in Medellin. But we need to get the safety tips straight. Here’s your guide to staying safe in Medellin.

There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Medellin Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Medellin.

If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

Updated April 2024

Man looking over vista in Medellin, Colombia
Head up to the sky for more.
Photo: @Lauramcblonde

Unlock Our GREATEST Travel Secrets!

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best travel tips delivered right to your inbox.

    Is it Safe to Visit Medellin Right Now?

    Yes! Medellin is safe to travel to. The city had a recorded 1,400,000 international visitors last 2022. Most of them had a relatively safe experience.

    The second largest city in Colombia, visiting Medellin is definitely something I’d highly recommend to all sorts of travellers. Compared to its reputation in the 1980s, when it had one of the highest homicide rates in the world, Medellin is markedly safer these days. 

    But you have to be careful while travelling. Street crime still exists, traffic is rather chaotic, and, although violent crime is increasingly uncommon, it’s no stranger to petty crime. 

    Oh and then there are the earthquakes (which you’ll experience everywhere while backpacking Colombia), and the flooding in the rainy season. Both can be pretty bad. Knowing what to do in a disaster situation makes Medellin one of the safest cities in South America.

    Grafitti in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia
    Comuna 13 showing the world how it’s done.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Just like the safety in Colombia overall, Medellin’s has become a whole new person. In 1993, when Pablo Escobar was out of the picture, safety concerns started to turn around. Crime has pretty much plummeted in general and, in fact, Medellin is safer than many other cities in Latin America.

    Alongside Medellin’s drug renaissance in the 80s/90s, there was also a Communist insurgency happening. And while FARC stopped being an armed group in 2017, not everyone on that side was happy. Dissidents are still active.

    Gangs still operate in the city. Though there’s absolutely no reason for these to affect you as gang violence is typically inter-gang.

    And let’s talk again about those earthquakes…

    They’ve been INCREASING over the past few years. Usually, they’re barely a wobble, but researchers are worried that Medellin isn’t sufficiently prepared for a big one. Make sure you know the drill, therefore.

    In conclusion, whilst Medellin is safe to visit right now, situations can change. Keep an eye on what’s going on in the city.

    Check out our detailed where to stay guide for Medellin so you can start your trip right!

    Safest Places in Medellin

    When choosing where to stay in Medellin, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip. To help you out, I’ve listed the safest areas to visit in Medellin:

    • El Poblado – One of Medellin’s main neighbourhoods, with numerous restaurants, bars, and shops; it is known for its lively night scene. There are large shopping malls and a ton of bars and clubs. It’s our top recommendation for where to stay in Medellin for nightlife or as a solo traveller. There’s also a strong police presence during the day and even at night. That means more security guards, more cameras, and less crime – at least on paper. 
    • Laureles – Laureles may not be the most famous neighbourhood in Medellin, but it’s our recommendation for the safest place in Medellin. It’s quieter and more pedestrian friendly than other parts of the city while still being within easy reach of the hustle and bustle.
    • Envigado – Sleep well in a peaceful and relatively safe place to stay in Medellin, Envigado has everything for comfort. Being more rural, a range of outdoor adventures are right on the doorstep. Look out for pickpocketing during the day but you should be pretty safe from gang related crimes. Just keep in mind, wandering off alone or going off the beaten track.

    Places to avoid in Medellin

    While the City of Eternal Spring is far from the most dangerous city in South America, it isn’t necessarily known to be the safest place to visit either. Always use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings.

    Particularly after dark and late at night, nowhere is 100% safe here. When you arrive at your accommodation, ask the staff which areas are best to avoid. These people usually offer the most solid travel safety tips

    Prado and the most historic district, El Centro (aka La Candelaria), become arguably the most desolate area of Medellin after dark. Commuters and cops leave the area and it becomes decidedly unsafe.

    Although some of these places are also cool to visit during the day, these are places to avoid in Medellin for various reasons:

    • Comuna 13, Parque Lleras (cool to visit but known for sex tourism)
    • Parque de las Luces (NOT recommended after dark)
    • Parque San Antonio (pickpockets)
    • Prado (nice, but a hotspot for drugs)
    • Parque Periodista
    • Barrio Trinidad (this is where everyone goes to get drugs)
    • and La Sierra

    It’s important to know that all of the places can technically be visited. They just have a higher crime rate than others, but those crimes are usually not targeted towards tourists, besides petty theft. So these can become safer areas in Medellin for tourists to visit, too.

    Keeping Your Money Safe in Medellin

    One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

    Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.

    The best solution? Get a money belt.

    Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
    Active Roots Security Belt

    Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

    It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

    Hide Yo’ Money!

    18 Top Safety Tips for Travelling to Medellin

    safety tips for traveling in medellin
    One of the greenest cities in the world.

    Medellin is no longer the crime hotspot in Pablo Escobar times. To its credit, it’s had a miraculous turnaround. From one of the most dangerous cities in the world to a modern and inviting hub, it’s a surprising change of fate.

    BUT that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe all the time. So here are some safety tips to help you stay safe in Medellin.

    1. Don’t walk around shady areas – Medellin is generally safe, but there are some areas to avoid. Don’t wander around after dark.
    2. Keep valuables close – and hide your money well – especially on public transport.
    3. Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt.
    4. Take taxis at night – and make sure they are official taxis. 
    5. Try to blend in – Don’t flaunt wealth. Look at what the locals are wearing. Weirdly, only tourists wear shorts in Medellin, too. 
    6. Don’t walk with your phone out – it’s an easy (and valuable) target for thieves.
    7. Watch out at ATMs – pay attention to your surroundings.
    8. Be aware of spiking – Always keep an eye on your drinks and food, and never accept cigarettes from strangers. 
    9. Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
    10. Plan your routes – looking like a lost tourist WILL make you more of a target for thieves.
    11. Be wary of overfriendly strangers – they’re more than likely trying to scam you.
    12. If someone wants your stuff, give it to them – It’s not worth it.
    13. Don’t look for drugs – Hey, I don’t want to be a killjoy, but drugs are the epicentre of Colombia’s dark past.
    14. Be careful during rainy season – Colombia has two: April-May and October-November.
    15. Know what to do in an earthquake – and check local news.
    16. Learn Spanish – at least a bit.
    17. Remember the national emergency number: 123

    Basically, it’s all about travelling smart. Colombia isn’t the violent scourge of Latin America that many perceive it to be, but it’s a safe city for millions of people.

    Is Medellin Safe to Travel Alone?

    Graffiti tour in Comuna 13, Medellin, Colombia
    If this guy can do it, anyone can.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Yes! You can definitely travel to Medellin safely alone. 

    But of course, travelling by yourself does put you at risk of being more of a target sometimes. Before you head out on your trip, here are some great tips to help you solo travel Medellin like a boss…

    • Read reviews and research for the best hostels in Medellin. Staying somewhere social is good for making friends. Choosing a good, safe area will make getting around easy.
    • Speaking some Spanish really is going to enhance your time. This will help with everything from reading bus timetables to getting the best recommendations, and to even…
    • Make some travel buddies! There is safety in numbers and it fights the travel blues.
    • Keep in touch with people back home. Let them know where you’ll be. At the very least, keep a new travel friend up-to-date.
    • Get a SIM card. Maps, emergency contact, last-minute accommodation, etc.
    • Don’t push yourself too much. You don’t need to burn yourself out.
    • Know your limits – whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or a crazy, spontaneous motorbike adventure, know when to call it a day.

    Surprisingly, it’s pretty safe in Medellin for solo travellers. Remember to pay attention to your surroundings, but if you’re not looking for trouble, it doesn’t come looking for you in Medellin.

    Is Medellin Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

    Is Medellin safe for solo female travelers
    Yes, women can visit Medellin AND be safe.

    Yes, Medellin is safe for solo female travellers and lots of them come here. So the chance to meet cool people in this cool city is high.

    Unfortunately, like most places in the world, you’re going to have to think about different safety aspects than many cis-male travellers, for example. And, like other Latin American countries, macho society still needs work in Medellin.

    A few tips for travelling safely as a solo female in Medellin can’t hurt. Here we go:

    • Check out reputable hostels for women. Get to know other female travellers, and share safety tips and stories. There are female-only dorms if you prefer. 
    • Make friends with your hostel staff. They have all the best recommendations for cool (and safe!) places to go. 
    • Free walking tours are good to get to know the city’s culture and knowing the dangerous areas to avoid.
    • Ignore any catcalling. It’s not the time to break boundaries – walk on and don’t stress yourself out.
    • DO NOT walk around by yourself at night time. I’ll say this to all men too – but for solo women, this is a no-no.
    • Let me mention spiking again here. Keep an eye on your own drink and DON’T accept anything from strangers.
    • Police will help tourists. So if you have a problem, anything from being lost to feeling like you’re being hassled, go and talk to the police.
    • Use a body-tight bag – keep your belongings as close as possible.

    Although Colombia has a reputation for being a macho society, it has pros and cons… This DOES mean more catcalls and comments. But it ALSO means that men look out for women. 

    That said, solo women travellers in Medellin can be safe. It doesn’t mean watching over your shoulder every second, but it means staying aware of your surroundings.

    Where to Start Your Travels in Medellin

    Great for first-time visitors
    Laureles, Medellin
    Great for first-time visitors


    Laureles is one of the safest and expat-friendly neighborhoods in Medellin. While it doesn’t offer that many attractions, it’s a great area to base yourself if you’re worried about security and getting a good nights sleep.

    Is Medellin Safe for Families?

    Yep! Medellin is safe to travel for families. In the City of Eternal Spring, the weather is GREAT – not too hot and too cold for your little ones. Perfect.

    But yeah, I hear you parents: you need to know a little more than that to have a safe trip to Medellin with the kiddos.

    Okay, so the city is not always easy to walk around. The pavements aren’t exactly top-notch. The drains are deep and the curbs are high, so prams or pushchairs are pretty out of the question. 

    The metro is generally fine to take children on, but during rush hour things can get pretty hectic, making it not ideal. And, yeah, don’t expect things like child car seats in taxis. 

    Is Medellin safe to travel for families? |

    I don’t think I need to preach to the choir about finding solid, well-reviewed accommodation for the family. Airbnbs in Medellin are fairly priced and ideal for groups.

    Aside from these things, Medellin IS safe for children. Your kids will probably be the centre of attention with the locals because Colombian people are all about family. The kids will be a great icebreaker and will allow you to meet even more friendly locals.

    Getting Around Medellin Safely

    Driving is pretty hazardous in Medellin. Traffic gets bad, especially in El Poblado and El Centro. 

    Motorbikes, big buses and taxi drivers seem to have little to no consideration for everyone. So, may the odds be ever in your favour. Even as a pedestrian, the roads take no mercy.

    Since Medellin’s public transport is very good, I think this is the best option to get around safely. The Medellin Metro is the only one in the WHOLE of Colombia and it is a god-send. 

    These have specific routes, and their own dedicated lanes, meaning traffic isn’t that much of a problem. Just watch out for pickpockets and rush hours.

    Metro line in Medellin with art from Fernando Botero on a building
    Take the metro, mate.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    There are public buses but you’ll need to speak Spanish to understand it. I advise caution using the bus at night. It’s probably best just to take a taxi.

    Taxis ARE safe in Medellin… but make sure your taxi is legit. The company logo should be there and the license plate number should match up with the sticker in the windscreen. Have your accommodation call one or go to taxi ranks.

    When you’re in busy areas of the city, it’s a good idea to lock the doors. And to keep yourself extra safe, call someone while riding in the cab (or pretend to) and give the license plate number – so the taxi driver understands that someone else knows where you are. 

    Better yet… Uber is safe in Medellin.

    In fact, Uber has a good reputation for being particularly safe in Medellin. There’s none of the usual taxi hassle (i.e. being overcharged) and you won’t have to worry about having the right small bills to pay the driver since you pay in-app.

    What to Pack For Your Medellin Trip

    Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Medellin without…


    Hanging Laundry Bag

    Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

    Gifts for backpackers

    Head Torch

    A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

    Yesim eSIM

    SIM card

    Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.


    Monopoly Deal

    Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

    Pacsafe belt

    Money Belt

    This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

    Getting Insured BEFORE Visiting Medellin

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    FAQs About Staying Safe in Medellin

    Here are some quick answers to common questions about safety in Medellin.

    Final thoughts on the Safety of Medellin

    No dar papaya (don’t give papaya) is a phrase famous in pretty much all of Colombia. The meaning is basically: “don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be vulnerable.” And that is how I sum up the safety of Medellin.

    Medellin has quite literally come up leaps and bounds in the last few years. From being a city practically run by drug lords, to one that’s winning awards. It’s honestly mental.

    Gangs and street crime do still exist though. The best way to stay safe in Medellin is to basically not give papaya i.e. put yourself in a dangerous position. Don’t walk around at night in certain areas, don’t get in a taxi with a sketchy-looking driver, don’t talk to that over-friendly stranger, don’t buy drugs; these situations can be easily avoided.

    Stick to safe areas, get taxis (or better yet – Ubers) after dark, and make friends with other people exploring this cool city at the same time you are. Keep your wits about you, trust your gut, don’t make yourself vulnerable, and you’re bound to have an AMAZING TIME in this beautiful city.

    Final thoughts on the safety of Medellin
    Join the masses and head to Medellin!

    Looking for more info on traveling to Medellin?

    Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!