If you are thinking of coming to Medellín, you are probably asking yourself the same questions that I ask myself every time I go to any city in Latin America: will it be safe? In which areas should I stay? Where can it be dangerous to walk? Can I take my phone or camera out anywhere?

In this post I want to give you my point of view as a Medellinian about the safety of the city and a list of tips so you don’t have any bad experiences during your stay.

Let’s start with the facts and figures. Medellín is a safe city if you compare it to the Latin American standard. In almost all security indicators, the city surpasses other capitals on the continent and other cities in Colombia.

Medellín is not in the top 50 most unsafe cities on the continent. And it also has a 50% lower homicide rate than cities like Mexico City, Cancun, San Juan de Puerto Rico or (surprisingly) Philadelphia!

Even if you compare it with the big cities of Colombia (such as Cali and Bogotá) it is the place where the inhabitants of the country feel safer.

But it is important that the indicators do not confuse you. As in any city on this side of the world, security is a relative aspect, which depends on the area in which you are, the time and the behaviors you have.

Safe areas of Medellín

The safest areas of Medellín are El Poblado, Laureles and La América. This is due to two factors. First, a wide commercial offer, which makes them more illuminated areas with greater traffic of people. Second, these are middle and upper-middle class residential sectors, where there is more public and private surveillance.

When I talk about safe areas in Medellín I mean places where you can walk calmly almost at any time of the day. And where you can carry your money and your phone with you without being alert all the time.  Here are some safety tips to be calm in these places.

El Poblado

El Poblado area is constantly monitored not only by the police but also by private security companies. This area is very suitable to give tourists peace of mind, so you can take out your phone to take some pics and walk around without any inconvenience.

Particularly in the Provenza sector, Parque Lleras and Parque El Poblado there will be activity almost 24 hours a day and you will be safe. It is unlikely that in any of these sectors you will be assaulted. But being places with so many people and movement, I recommend that you always keep your belongings in sight, especially your wallet and your phone.

Something that I do not recommend within the Poblado area is walking long distances late at night. There are some main streets such as Avenida El Poblado or Avenida Las Vegas that could connect you to your hotel, but if it has already passed 7 at night, the route can be lonely and dark. You better take a taxi.

Similarly, Calle 10, which connects several of the best nightlife spots in El Poblado, has many street vendors and some homeless. My advice is that you do not spend a lot of time still on this street, nor do you make very active use of your phone.

Laureles

This is one of the favorite areas both for tourists and for Medellin people to go out to eat and have a good time. It is a very nice area, with less commercial movement than El Poblado, but with a good offer of restaurants and nightlife.

In general, during the whole day, Laureles is a quiet area. Although due to its more residential nature, you will find that at night some streets may be a little bit lonely and somewhat dark.

The commercial activity of Laureles is concentrated in two main points. The first is Avenida Jardín, where you will have many people, activity, and surveillance until 11 at night. And the second is “La 70 street”, a sector full of  bars and nightclubs that open until midnight. In both places you can be without further warnings or alerts.

If you have moved away from these two points and it is daytime, there is no problem in walking through the streets of Laureles. But if it is late at night and you are alone, it is preferable that you take a taxi to your destination.

La America

La América sector is a very residential area with an emerging offer of hotels and hostels. Unlike El Poblado or Laureles, there is no tourist epicenter or any place that gathers many people during the day. But it is a quiet place to walk during the day, tour the neighborhoods and take a closer look of how medellinians live.

As in the previous zones, use your common sense to know where you can and cannot be alone at night.

Comuna 13

Years ago it was one of the most dangerous places in Medellín and today it has become the most visited place by tourists in the city. Going to the commune 13 graffiti tour is very safe. The same inhabitants of the place have been in charge of making you feel welcome and reducing any risk.

At first, the “favela” appearance may make you feel a bit intimidated. But do not worry. It is a fairly busy area and you will be treated like home.

Of course: keep in mind that commune 13 is a very large neighborhood, where if you get lost you can get overwhelmed and feel unprotected. Do not leave the tourist points that are: The Metrocable and the Electric Stairs where the Graffiti tour begins.

In general, use your common sense, walk where other tourists are, and stay on the path.

The Metro

No matter the time, the season or the day of the week. As long as you are in the Medellín Metro system you will be safe. All stations have surveillance, are super illuminated and there is no risk of anything happening to you.

Shopping Malls

In general, any shopping in Medellín is a very safe place. All have private surveillance. You can be there with your camera, your phone or your computer without any risk of anything happening to you. They are also the safest places to withdraw money or make purchases.

Security Tips

Use your common sense: do not walk through lonely areas late at night.

Use transportation apps: when you are not going to take the metro, use Cabify (in my opinion the safest), Uber or Didi.

Be careful: do not flaunt luxurious objects or large amounts of money in very chaotic and crowded places. Look around you and see if there are other people using their phones calmly.

Do not withdraw money anywhere: the streets of Medellín are full of ATMs. If you want to withdraw cash, it is preferable that you use ATMs that are in closed places, such as shopping centers or buildings.

Do not give alms: avoid giving money to people who are begging on the street. This can expose you to possible theft.