Is Medellin Safe in 2024? (It’s Not What You Imagine)

Medellin has gone from the murder capital of the world in the 1980s to being named Time Out’s third-best city to visit in 2022.

In 2024, the US recommended that citizens reconsider visiting the country due to crime and terrorism. I can understand why a Google search could leave more questions than answers regarding safety here.

I have lived in Medellin for almost 15 years. While largely drama-free, I did get stabbed once and I have been robbed a couple of times. Despite that, I still adore this place and spend a lot of time in the areas I will recommend and some I don’t.

I try to give an informed and balanced view of the current situation in the city.

Is Medellin Safe? Quick Answer

The vast majority of people will visit Medellin, have zero problems and leave with the idea that everything negative said and written about the city is complete nonsense.

If you are sensible it is very likely that your experience will be a wholly positive one.

That said, Medellin is a hugely unequal society where the police are not as strong as many locals would like. If you are not sensible then there is the potential to run into problems.

Be sensible, be aware of your surroundings, avoid flashing the cash, take care of the company you keep, don’t walk alone in unfamiliar areas and live by the mantra that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

If you even loosely follow the rules above, then you will love this city.

You can find yourself the victim of crime anywhere in the world but if you take care and avoid unnecessary risks then the chances of facing any problems in Medellin are extremely low.

Crime in Medellin

I won’t pretend that crime doesn’t exist in Medellin but most crime in the city won’t impact on foreign visitors or residents in the more expensive areas of town.

Colombia is producing more cocaine now than any time in the country’s history and this industry did not come to an end with Pablo Escobar.

Medellin continues to be an important hub for this business and money laundering is an essential part of the economy of the city.

If you go to an expensive restaurant then it is likely that you will be sat close to senior figures who work in this industry.

When violence erupts in poorer neighborhoods then it is usually a battle for control while peace is established and managed predominantly by gangs.

That is, and will continue to be, the truth but it will have no impact on your experience of the city.

Nobody is targeting you and the impact of this business is not felt beyond the economy of the city and occasional turf wars up in the hills. It is there but it is invisible unless you know where to look.

The crimes that could potentially impact upon you will be robberies, theft and scams, although these are few and far between in daily life.

Medellin is still Medellin but the daily life in the city is largely peaceful and you will not notice.

What Parts of Medellin Are Safe?

If you are visiting the city then it is very likely you will stay in Poblado or Laureles.

Here is a map to help you visualize where are located all the different areas I will be talking about:

medellin safe areas map

Poblado ✅

View over Poblado
View over Poblado, the wealthiest neighborhood of Medellin

Poblado is generally very safe and has the largest police presence.

Areas are mostly well lit, busy on the main roads and the residents of the zone are unlikely to create any problems.

That said, given it is an area that is popular with tourists you do need to take care.

Parque Lleras is a bit rough these days, with a high number of drug dealers and prostitutes.

Also avoid some of the quieter back streets at night.

Laureles ✅

View over Laureles

Laureles is a very nice residential area, conveniently located between 33 and 70 streets, popular for bars and clubs.

There are also a growing number of bars and restaurants on La Nutibara and around the parks.

Laureles is also a very safe option.

Be careful walking too far alone at night as there is the potential to face problems with passing motorbikes coming down from the hills.

Envigado ✅


Envigado is another very nice and safe area of the city just South of Poblado.

While it has big historical links to organized crime, it has been safe and relaxed over the past decades.

It has more of a small town feel but remains close to Poblado and Medellin.

Downtown during the daytime ✅

Parque de las Luces
Parque de las Luces in downtown is totally safe during the day

While downtown can be very dangerous at night, during the day it is perfectly safe if you are sensible.

Don’t show off your wealth too much, avoid small backstreets and be careful of pickpockets and you will be fine.

Comuna 13 during the daytime ✅

Commercial street in la Communa 13
Commercial street in la Communa 13

The same applies to the very popular Comuna 13 neighborhood.

It is perfectly safe in the main tourist areas in the day but it can be a little more edgy at night.

They have some nice parties but I would recommend going with a local and always taking an Uber or taxi booked via an app to get home.

As a general rule, avoid the heart of the downtown and don’t go up into the hills, apart from Poblado and Envigado, unless you have a trusted guide. For example, Belen La Mota is very safe but further up the hill into Belen Rincon can be more problematic.

Generally most of the safer areas of the city are in the South.

No-go Areas in Medellin

As a new visitor to the city, it makes sense to stay in Poblado, Laureles and Envigado and travel to other parts of the city as part of a guided tour or for specific activities.

You can do the walking tour downtown, you can go up to see San Antonio on the cable car and you can do a tour in the day to Comuna 13 for example.

This will give you an interesting and comfortable insight into the city and allow you to safely explore some of the less secure areas. This way you either get taken into the area or you get a taxi / Uber in and a taxi / Uber out.

There are pockets of safe areas and ways to explore some of the poorer comunas but don’t just go wandering around.

⛔ Areas such as Bello, Manrique, Castilla and San Javier should generally be avoided unless with a trusted local or guide.

While el centro can be experienced safely during the day, it is actually the area of Medellin with the highest levels of crime and violence.

⛔ I would strongly avoid spending time downtown (El Centro – La Candelaria) at night.

If you do go to a specific bar in el centro then arrive in a taxi or Uber and book transportation home from inside the venue.

Medellin Safety at Night

You should take extra care in Medellin in the evenings and particularly away from busy areas of the neighborhood.

Many locals will be happy to take public transport during the day but will always use taxis or Ubers into the evening.

The typical Uber is a few dollars and as a tourist, I would say it is never worth the risk of walking more than a couple of streets late at night unless you know and feel comfortable where you are.

I may be overprotective here but unless you are walking from Parque Poblado up to Provenza, for example, then don’t risk it.

When you are out drinking, also be careful with your drink and who you are with.

Scopolamine is a drug which has been used to rob foreigners by being slipped into a drink or blown into someone’s face.

The victim will be dizzy and can lose sense of where they are, people have been persuaded to go to ATMs to withdraw hundreds of dollars while under the influence of the drug which seems to make people unwittingly compliant. This is of course unlikely to happen but just be aware of where you are and what you are doing.

Unfortunately, Colombia is also known as a destination for many looking for drugs and prostitutes. If this is something you are looking for then I would also recommend strong caution and seek guidance from a local. If you are doing something illegal or disreputable then criminals will know you are in a more vulnerable situation and you should take real care.

Safety Tips for Medellin

1) Always avoid el centro after dark

Downtown Medellin has a lot of buzz and bustle in the daytime but quickly becomes deserted and dangerous at night.

Many homeless people and drug addicts live downtown plus it is also a center for prostitution and drug deals.

You will feel comfortable and safe in the daytime but it is not somewhere you want to hang out at night.

2) Keep wallet and phone in front pockets

Medellin is a big, densely populated city so pickpockets are something you should be aware of.

The same applies anywhere in the world, if you took the tube in London then I would recommend the same.

Know where your valuables are and don’t make yourself an easy target.

Be careful but also you will quickly realize the vast majority of people want you to have a positive experience. If you walk down the street with the corner of a note sticking out of your pocket, someone will almost certainly tap you on the shoulder and suggest you take care.

3) Keep a look on your glass at all time

You will always be more vulnerable when you are drunk and Medellin parties are amazing.

It is important you know and trust the people you are with and avoid leaving your glass unattended.

Again, this is good advice for partying anywhere in the world but it is something to also consider in Colombia.

4) Guided tours are the best way to go out of your comfort zone

There are many areas of Medellin which can be safely explored with a guide or tour group which I wouldn’t recommend wandering around on your own.

Some local expertise and knowledge can turn a “no go zone” to a “must visit” area of the city.

5) Book Ubers and taxis using apps to ensure safety

Public transport can be a great option in the day but in the evening taxis can be a much safer and faster way of getting around town.

While I have never had any issues stopping taxis in the street, I would always recommend booking using an app.

You can use Cabify to order a taxi or Uber.

That way you can see details of your driver, where you are going and you will know the cost.

You can also avoid a situation where a taxi driver gives change with fake notes. This is very rare but I did experience it once in 15 years.

6) Avoid big protests in the city, particularly into the evening

In recent years political protests have been a fairly frequent occurrence in Medellin and major cities across Colombia.

With the high levels of inequality, political corruption and deep political polarizations, these protests can be intense.

During the day these protests can be very peaceful and inclusive but things can escalate into the evening and there can be violent clashes with police.

I would suggest tourists avoid these events when possible.

Things are calmer on this front at present yet despite, and for many because, a change of government there remains a large amount of political discontent in the country.

7) If something seems too good to be true it probably is

If you are in a club and a stunningly beautiful woman suddenly wants to immediately leave with you and go to her apartment, then you should be concerned rather than excited.

Women in Medellin, for example, are very beautiful and very friendly but a realistic outcome is getting a number and organizing a date.

While I won’t say it is impossible, those sorts of one-night stands are not as typical here as in other parts of the world.

The idea of going with someone you don’t know to a place you are unfamiliar with late at night under the influence of alcohol is never a good idea.

Be smart, you almost definitely are not that instantly irresistible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to walk at night in Medellin?

It definitely can be safe but with taxis and Uber as cheap as they are, it is never worth taking unnecessary risks.

If you are walking in well-lit, well-populated areas or in streets you are familiar with then you will be completely fine.

Walking into a barrio you don’t know or just wandering around can be potentially problematic.

Also, if you are in a group then you are much safer.

Unfortunately, women also have to take more care than men when walking alone because the world is unfair.

What is the safest part of Medellin?

Poblado, Laureles, Envigado are probably the safest although Poblado can attract pickpockets or thieves given that is where the money is.

Other areas are also fine during the day and particularly with a local guide.

What neighborhoods should you avoid in Medellin?

Downtown is generally fine during the day but should definitely be avoided at night.

I would suggest initially sticking to Poblado, Laureles, Envigado when you arrive and expanding on that after a few weeks. When you make friends who know areas well, then it is possible to expand upon that.

Generally the south and west (Envigado, Sabaneta, the lower parts of Itagui, Poblado, lower parts of Belen, up until Laureles) are safe. From el centro up the hill into the east can be problematic with densely populated neighborhoods.

Poblado can get safer and fancier as you go up the hill but as a general rule, the higher you are up the hill in a barrio the poorer and potentially more dangerous it will be.

The cable cars have changed that slightly, with the areas closer to cable car stations more expensive and slightly safer.

I would suggest avoiding much of the north of the city initially.

Are taxis safe in Medellin?

I have never had any major issues stopping taxis on the street but I would still recommend always using an app when you can, particularly if your Spanish is limited.

You can book Ubers very quickly and easily while you can also book taxis using apps such as Cabify.

Is Medellin or Bogota safer?

For a tourist, I would tend to lean slightly towards Medellin as the safer option but you should take care in both. What I find with Medellin is, apart from el centro, the neighborhoods you should avoid are to the north or up the hills.

It is less likely you will stumble across a very dangerous barrio in Medellin, while this is more possible in Bogota. La Candelaria in Bogota is also more popular with tourists than el centro in Medellin, which can be problematic.

Is Medellin safe for solo female travelers?

Yes, although I would suggest additional caution.

While the machismo stereotype in Medellin can be overstated, I have female friends who get harassed and feel unsafe when being approached by men.

The vast majority will be gallant and charming but I think caution should be taken to avoid potentially vulnerable situations.

Don’t take taxis alone at night unless they are booked on apps. Avoid walking alone in the evening, particularly down quieter streets. Know where you are and who you are with.

I have met solo female travelers who have had no problems and my mum went out alone to explore without any issues. That said, I do think some extra caution is needed.

Should you get travel insurance if visiting Medellin?

I had a medical emergency when I didn’t have insurance and I found the hospital care very good and affordable.

That said, when traveling it is always best to be covered and this is something I would recommend.

Conclusion: Is Medellin Safe to Visit in 2024?

The vast majority of visitors to Medellin will absolutely adore their experience and so many people I know came to visit and never left.

While a bad experience is possible, there are steps you can take to massively reduce the possibility of this happening.

Medellin still has a negative perception abroad and you will find that most people are desperate for you to leave with only positive stories to tell. People here will look after you and take care of you, just make sure you are smart and sensible too.

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