Medellín

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia. It has over 2 million people and is the capital of the department of Antioquia. It's set in a valley running south to north and just a one-hour flight from Bogotá.

Medellín

Understand

Recent history

Let's just get it out of the way up front: throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world for its size, and had a highly disproportional homicide and kidnapping rate. It was the home of the drug lord Pablo Escobar and the so-called Medellín Cartel, who virtually took over the city during that time. Since his demise in the mid-1990s, the cartel was disbanded and the city rebounded tremendously. In 1991 there were 6,500 murders in the city, by 2009 the murder rate decreased to 2,900. During the first 3 months of 2010, 503 murders were reported.

In November 2010 the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning regarding Medellín, citing a surge in crime and kidnappings in the metropolitan area, warning that U.S. citizens have been targets of violence.

Despite these relatively recent developments, it's safe to say that the city is better off today than 20 years ago. Paisas, the residents of this region, are proud of their city's progress, and are ready to move forward with vigor.

Medellín is a vast city built north to south in the Aburrá valley and surrounded on either side by majestic mountain ranges. The wealthier classes live in the well-protected hillside neighborhood of El Poblado, and the more traditional suburban neighborhoods, Laureles and Envigado. This is far removed from the action and commotion which are found in the city's center. There are the busy markets and a thriving street life that make up much of the city's charm. The city is home to a half-dozen universities, accounting for a vibrant cultural and nightlife scene fueled by thousands of young adults from all over the country. Medellín is also Colombia's largest industrial center, and home to factories making everything from designer clothing to Toyota SUVs. The city's northern hills are flooded with rural refugees from the ongoing civil war and their ingenuity in making a living is impressive. People sell anything from crayons to guinea pigs to garden earth in the bars in order to make a living.

As a relatively new city, the architecture has a decidedly modernist appeal, which goes hand in hand with the progressiveness of its residents. Medellín also has the first (and only) Metro system in Colombia. For international travelers, Medellín is perhaps most famous for the Botero Museum, whose namesake is arguably the most famous modern artist alive today. It is also known for its perfect climate with its nickname "city of the eternal spring".

Metropolitan Area

Medellín is surrounded by 8 smaller towns and together they form the Area Metropolitana with almost 3.5 million people. These other towns are: Bello, Itaguí, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Caldas, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. The neighboring town of Envigado does not belong to this administrative association even though it is closer than many of the mentioned above. Medellín is a true conglomerate of towns and you will find it difficult to tell the borders between these municipalities. Located east of Medellín is the valley of Rionegro which is larger and higher in the mountains. This area holds some of the most important factories, recreational grounds and suburbs of the city, as well as the International Airport.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Precipitation (mm) 55 77 114 179 191 153 108 154 178 218 150 79

Source: IDEAM Colombian Meteorological Agency

The weather in Medellín is quite mild it well deserves its common motto of 'City of eternal spring'. Average daily temperatures are 22°C (71°F), range from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (60º-85°F). Humidity is comfortable in the 50%-70% range. Due to its proximity with the equator there is little variation with the seasons. Due to the high altitude and moderate overcast skies Medellín stays cool, with an occasional couple hours of strong sun light.

As Medellín is located in a tropical country, the absence of air conditioners in Medellín often takes foreign visitors by surprise. Air conditioning is used in downtown areas. Fresh air comes from the mountains surrounding Medellín on all sides, and provides Medellín with the perfect climate. At night time the temperature is usually in the 10-15°C (50-60°F) range, and depends mostly on if its raining or not. The majority of restaurants are in open air environment, without walls, because of the perfect climate.

Talk

Spanish is the official language in Colombia. Few locals are bilingual, and when so it is usually English as the second language. You will find many signs written both in Spanish and in English, especially in the more tourist areas.

Disadvantaged youths in the city have assembled a wealth of new expressions that have fascinated scholars and artists. Many local movies like La Vendedora de Rosas depict this urban language called Parlache in its own idiom. Dialectologist have gather together a dictionary .

Get in

International Airport

Jose Maria Cordova Airport

Medellín is served by José María Córdova International Airport (IATA: MDE) , located in the nearby city of Rionegro. International non-stop flights are available from Caracas, Lima, Panamá, Quito, Curaçao, San José (Costa Rica), Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City and Madrid with easy connections to Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paulo, Rio and other places.

Airlines serving this airport are: American Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, LAN, Spirit Airlines, Insel Air, Satena. VivaColombia a new low-cost airline with a hub at this airport, started operations on May 2012.

Domestic flights have frequent service to Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, San Andrés Islas, Santa Marta and Pereira. There are taxis that can take you down to the city. As of September 2015, a taxi from Rionegro's International Airport to the city is a set price to Medellin at 60,000 COP, taking around 45 minutes.

Combuses run buses (9000 COP, one hour) to downtown Medellín dropping you behind the Nutibara hotel, near the Parque Barrio metro station. Taking the bus/metro/walking combination from the airport may seem attractive from a price point, however depending on where you are going in the city, it can be up to 2 hours to your destination, in addition to having to buy another metro or bus ticket. Parties of 2 or more can easily just get a cab instead for not much more expensive.

Domestic Airport

There is a small local airport Olaya Herrera (IATA: EOH) close to downtown and it is very convenient for regional and domestic travel, with non-stop flights to 23 destinations. Airlines: LAN (Merged with Aires), Aerolínea de Antioquia -ADA-, Satena, EasyFly. Also charter flights from Searca.

Bus

Medellín has two bus terminals (North and South) managed by the same company and share a single website . Both terminals have mid-size shopping malls in the premises. For a complete list of the cities check the webpage.

Car

There are four roads leading to Medellín from all cardinal points. From Bogota you can take Autopista Medellín and head west 7–9 hours with beautiful scenery. From Pereira, Cali and the south take road 25 towards Medellín. If coming from the Atlantic coast (Cartagena, Barranquillia) take route 25 south to Medellín (approx. 11 hours). Of note, there is no road connecting Panamá with Colombia.

Get around

The Metro is elevated; stations are wide, clean and with a view

Most of the city of Medellín is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr, Cra, K, kra or Crs and run parallel to the river from South to North. The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll or Cl. Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida el Poblado or Avenida Oriental. There are a few streets called Transversales which usually refer to wide Carreras atop the mountains in El Poblado neighborhood. The most famous are transversal Intermedia, Inferior and Superior. Along Laureles neighborhood you can also find Diagonales and Circulares.

Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 50 # 65 - 8 which indicates that the building is on street 50 (Calle 50) 8 meters ahead from the intersection with street 65 (Carrera 65). The most central point, Parque de Berrio, is located by convention on the crossroads of Calle 50 and Carrera 50.

Metro and Metroplus

METRO


Timetables : Monday through Saturday from 4:30AM to 11PM Sundays and holidays from 5AM to 10PM

Frequency Peak hours: trains every 5 min, non-peak every 7 min.

Fare : single ride 2,150 COP as of Jan 2016 (includes Metrocable transfers) The new touristic Metrocable line L costs 4,850 COP, from 9AM to 6PM

Traveling trough the city is easy and quick, with the Metro system, you can go to anywhere in the city with The Metroplús (Bus extension to the Metro) and the Metrocable, a sky train or cable car that has revolutionized transport in the city. The 'southern extension' of the metro to Sabaneta opens August 2012, while the station to the town of La Estrella is under construction. The new project will add 2 km of lines to the system. Trains run from 5.00h to 23.00h on workdays and from 7.00h to 22.00h on Sundays and holidays. Single tickets are 2,150 COP, transfers between the Metro trains, cables and buses (Metroplus Line 1) are free. The Metrocable to the ecopark Arví - Line L - opened 2010 with a fare of 4,850 COP for the 4.5 km trip up the mountains. Transfer is available at the Santo Domingo station of the Metrocable K line.

The Metroplus system opened on December 2011 with 32 stations. Consists of long articulated buses powered with natural gas for a more environmentally friendly option. They run on exclusive roads and enclosed stations. Only the station Hospital offers transfer to the Metro.

See the transit map where the Metroplus is the thin green line Bus linea 1 .

Metrocable

Taxis and Buses

Taxis are cheap and plentiful. All taxis have meters, make sure they use them. Minimal fee costs about 4.600 COP. Taxis should always be called by phone for safety reasons and not be hailed on the street. As in most Latin American countries, their driving can be harrowing, so hold on tight.

There is also the TuriBus, a modern bus that goes around the city showing its parks, attractive neighborhoods, and historical parts; it only costs 15,000 COP. While they do not guarantee this, many times their guides also speak English and are happy to translate for you.

If you want to go around downtown or neighborhoods near the downtown area without using Taxis, try using the Circular Coonatra. There are various routes, marked on the front and back of the busses. These cost about 1400 COP and require exact change.

Other

Outdoor Escalators

This unusual system allows underserved indwellers to climb up the mountains in the way to their homes, the escalators go up equivalent of a 28-story building. Opened in December 2011, rides are free . They are located in the west of the city - San Javier area - which can be a rough neighborhood. It is not in walking distance of the San Javier metro station, which is the nearest. Similar examples were only for tourist purposes, they are found in Bilbao near Portugalete, in the way down to the Vizcaya Bridge, and Monjuic Hill in Barcelona, Spain.

Car Rental

Renting a car in Medellín, Colombia can enhance your visit, so it´s definitely worth considering. Take a day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Helena, El Peñol or Llano Grande in Rionegro. Driving from Medellín allows for spectacular views as you climb up and out of the city into the surrounding mountains that lead to your day trip destination. Car rental in town or at the airport .

Scooter or motorbike rentals

Since the steep hills of Medellín stops many tourists from biking, an appealing alternative is to rent a scooter or motorbike/motorcycle. But as of April 2016 only two companies are renting out to tourists. If staying in the El Poblado have a look at Medellín Scooter Rentals (Cra. 38 #1040, Medellín).

Biking

Biking is not easy in the city since many neighborhoods are in the hills. There is a small bike-route in the Laureles and Estadio areas. There are few areas designed to park bikes. On nights and weekends some major avenues are closed for the popular Ciclovia when you can safely ride a bike in the company of many other people exercising.

Walking is safe in some areas, not so in other parts of town. Read the 'stay safe' section for advise.

See

Landmarks

Museums and The Arts

Botero sculptures outside of Museo de Antioquia and Palacio de la Cultura

Parks

Modern structure for display of orchids at the Botanical Gardens

Buildings

Neighborhoods

Suramericana, Estadio and Laureles neighborhoods surrounded by mountains

If you only have a day

In the morning take the metro to a downtown station, visit some churches - most are open early in the morning -, then head to the park outside Museo de Antioquia to see the sculptures, enter the museum at 10AM and visit until lunchtime. Have lunch either at the museum's restaurant or cafe, or take the metro to Metrostation Universidad, enter Jardin Botanico (Botanical Gardens) and eat there. Rest a little while strolling the gardens, then go across the street to Parque Explora or Parque de los Deseos. Before sunset take the metro to Acevedo station, hop on the Metrocable for spectacular views in the way up, and a city of lights upon your return. Take the metro back to any station near El Poblado, go shopping and then for dinner and a bar afterwards.

Do

Sightseeing

Basílica de la Candelaria built in 1767, a National Monument. Cra. 49 # 50-85, just off Carabobo.
Edificios Vásquez y Carré built at the turn of the XIX century by a French architect. Nowadays in public use, with stores, cafeterias, etc. Cra. 52 x calle 44.
La Veracruz colonial church, built in 1682. Cra 51 # 52-58.
Palacio Nacional Circa 1928, is now a large shopping mall. Styled with Romantic and Modern influence. Cra 52 # 48-45.

Entertainment

Commercial movies are available at most shopping malls: Cine Colombia, Royal Films or Cinemark. Price is around 10,000 pesos (4-5 USD).

Sports

New sport venue in Ciudad del Rio neighborhood

Medellín sports various "unidades deportivas" - "sport units", which are essentially parks with sport facilities: Soccer, basketball, swimming, archery ranges etc. Admission is free for most parts (pools might ask a small fee), but they are popular destinations for locals as early as 6am and thus might require some waiting time until a facility is available. As a historical side note: These places were created to get potential criminals off the streets and the people of Medellín welcomed them very much.

Fairs, Shows & Exhibits

Parque Explora- Interactive museum & Aquarium

Learn

Medellín houses many important universities and learning institutes. Almost 100% of the courses are in Spanish.

Universidad de Antioquia at Plazuela San Ignacio-Medellín

Universities

Learn Spanish

At a variety of second language schools:

Learn Tango

After Buenos Aires, Medellín is the best place to learn how to tango -dance, sing-.

Learn Colombian Cooking

Work

Officially it is not legal to work in Colombia without a proper working visa. Visas can be obtained by employers on your behalf.

There is a significant market for English and other language teachers, and most hostels accept foreign workers without checking their visa status.

As of April 2016 most western countries are allowed to travel in 90 days without applying for visa. For working visas, have a look at the official site about the topic.

Buy

Colombia is famous for its coffee and Medellín is only a few hours from the coffee growing centers of Colombia. You can find coffee flavors of everything you can imagine, from ice-cream to arequipe (sweetened milk). The ‘Starbucks’ coffee culture is growing, with the most prominent brand being Juan Valdez coffee shops. The Juan Valdez chain is owned by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, and sells a variety of Colombian coffees.

Aguardiente Antioqueño: Schnaps with a special flavor, much like black licorice.

Ron Medellín: The local Rum, excellent! The quality of this rum was elevated to the highest standards during 2009 and the 8 and 12-year bottles are great presents.

Despite the claim of being the textile capital of Colombia, Medellín is not a shopper’s paradise for clothes for North American tourists, but prices can be attractive to visitors from other latitudes. The main malls sell a limited variety of clothes, (especially men’s clothes), at only slightly discounted prices from the US, although there are always bargains to be found if you look hard enough. The style of clothes for women in Medellín is very revealing and sexy, so it perhaps more suited for gift buying than shopping for yourself. When planning your shopping for clothes bear in mind that the local weather is very mild, so the options for winter and summer clothes are limited. Near Parque Lleras you can find via Primavera, a little zone full of local young designer's shops with unique garments that you will surely won't see anywhere else.

Handcrafts

Shopping Malls

Stores

Handcrafted ethnic handbag

Money

The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP). Bank notes come in denominations from 1,000 to 50,000 pesos. Coins are available in 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos, starting in 2012 the circulation of a new edition of coins paying homage to endangered wildlife species (former set of coins is intended to circulate alongside the new one for a limited time, after which it will cease to be accepted). It is strongly recommended to use the exact change on taxis, because the drivers rarely have the exact amount. US dollars and Euros are rarely used, except for tourist oriented stores.

Using Credit and Debit Cards is frequent in Colombia but not prevalent as in developed countries.

ATM limits: ATMs strictly limit withdrawals on foreign and domestic cards. You may only be able to get out 1,2 million pesos per day, so plan to visit the ATM often or hunt around for a more relaxed limit. There are 5 major international banks with local offices, if by chance you hold a card of any of these banks your rates are usually lower (Citibank, HSBC, RBS, Santander and BBVA). The largest Colombian bank is Bancolombia with ATM's everywhere.

When withdrawing money from an ATM it is highly advisable to avoid any located on streets for safety purposes. It is recommended to withdraw from ATMs inside shopping centers. Be sure not to take a taxi straight after withdrawing, it is not unusual for people to be followed out and mugged soon after making a withdrawal. Keep an eye out to be sure you are not followed. If you plan to withdraw a significant amount of money, it is recommended to ask the police to escort you (at no cost).

Eat

Colombian cuisine is varied and regional. The more typical dishes are referred to as comida criolla.

Some examples are: sancocho de gallina (chicken soup), carne en polvo (ground beef), arepas de choclo (fresh corn tortillas), empanadas (meat-filled fried turnovers), ají (hot sauce), ajiaco (Bogota's chicken and potato soup), bandeja paisa, natilla, buñuelos (fried cheese puffs), hojuelas (fried puff squares), rice with coconut, Antioquian beans, sobrebarriga (flank steak) mantecada (bun made with lard), papas chorreadas, pandeyuca (yucca bread) and carne desmechada (shredded meat).

A typical breakfast in Medellín consists of baked corn arepas (Flat unsweetened corn pancake) topped with butter and fresh white cheese, coffee or hot chocolate.

One treat that will leave anyone stuffed is the "Tipico Antioqueño"; arepa con queso (small flatbreads with cheese on top), beans, chicken, rice, fried eggs, chicharron (salted and fried unsmoked bacon) and patacon (deep-fried plantain pancakes). Topping that off with a Colombian beer and a cup of "chocolatte" (pronounced the Spanish way - it's milky, sweet hot chocolate) makes for an excellent meal. An excellent place to eat typical food is Hatoviejo.

There is a large variety of restaurants all throughout Medellín, especially concentrated around the ‘Zona Rosa’ which is in Poblado between Parque Poblado and Parque Lleras. You can find a fine display of places with whatever food you desire, with good quality for comparatively cheap prices compared to the US, although there is a shortage of authentic Greek, Indian and Thai restaurants. Sushi is increasingly popular and may be found at the larger malls or supermarkets that are more "international."

Colombia also has an incredible variety of tasty fruits. A few of these are: guanábana, lulo, zapote, mamoncillo, uchuva, feijoa, granadilla, maracuyá, tomate de árbol, borojó, mamey and tamarindo. Ask for a "Salpicón": a mix of fruits marinaded on orange or watermelon juice.

Colombia is well known for its coffee, and Medellín is no exception. As with any large city, there are the usual chain restaurants, however the American "fast-food culture" has not made a huge splash in the country. Mc Donald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza and most recently Hooters can be found there.

El Poblado

Laureles, Suramericana, Estadio

Downtown

Oriente - Eastern Suburbs

Multiple locations & Online - Delivery

Also downtown at Ave. La Playa Carrera 45 # 50-64. Many locations throughout town.

Drink

Local Drinks

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the main days to party in Medellín; the rest of the week the mainstream nightlife isn't really exciting. Bars close at 2AM, but you will find plenty of clubs that close at 4AM, and if you need to stay up later just look for the techno or electronica clubs.

Colombians love to cook out and party. Check out some of the culture shots here : Colombian Festival Tour Photos

Dance Clubs

Bars

There are a few districts for bars. Foreigners prefer Parque Lleras in El Poblado, safer, more upscale, nicer crowds. The middle class also mingle outside Museo de Arte Moderno, near Carlos E Restrepo neighborhood; and the so-called Urban Tribes meet at Parque del Periodista (downtown). Other areas with bars are: Carrera 70 near Estadio, Carretera Las Palmas and Avenida 33 in Laureles.

The area around Parque Lleras, (la Zona Rosa), has a concentration of restaurants, bars and is great for people watching. It is active on most nights and a must visit for those looking for Colombian nightlife. The major restaurants on the corner, El Rojo and Basilica are great for food, drinks and people watching. Occasionally they have live music or big screens when important football matches are played.

Parque Lleras is interesting any night of the week although admittedly Thursday, Friday and Saturday are far more lively. There are places, mostly electronic music venues open till 6 or 7AM outside of the city limits as the laws forbid any bar to remain open after 3PM. People however gather around Parque Poblado until dawn drinking, smoking and chating. You can buy cigarettes, alcohol and anything else you could wish for from the street vendors until the last man standing.

A more upmarket experience can be had at La Strada just south of Parque Lleras on Aviendo El Poblado. The centre features numerous bars, restaurants and clubs. La Strada has become the weekend destination for the more affluent of Medellín's residents. Expect to pay more for drinks and food than in la Zona Rosa, bars close at 1AM.

Just outside of Medellín, there are some venues in the neighboring towns of Sabaneta, Envigado and Itagui. Sabaneta has not yet caught on with foreigners, making it the place to go if avoiding gringos is your thing.

Sleep

Hotels

El Centro

Most of the inexpensive hotels in Medellín are located in El Centro. It's a vibrant area during the daytime, but at night becomes a bit sketchy, be aware.

Estadio and Laureles

These are middle-class, safe neighborhoods just west of the river (west of downtown) with many bars, restaurants, shops and clubs along Carrera 70.

San Fernando Hotel

El Poblado

This is probably the most desirable neighborhood to stay in. However, it is also the most expensive. The higher-end bars, restaurants, and clubs are all located in this area. High-end supermarkets (Pomona, Carulla and Exito) are nearby, as well as shopping malls, open Wi-Fi networks, and a few Juan Valdez coffee shops.

Boutique Hotels

Other Neighborhoods

Hostels

Respect

Clothing is usually casual but shorts or Bermuda pants are unusual on weekdays. Only young locals will wear them on weekends. Sweaters and jackets are usually not necessary at daytime, occasionally needed at night.

Refrain from joking about drugs, kidnapping or bombings. Many residents of Medellín were personally affected by the violence of the past, and today they consider themselves very modern, forward looking and ready to move on. They do not find these things to be funny. In addition, the police take the security situation very seriously, and you may find yourself detained. Accordingly, there is no official tourism built around the history of Pablo Escobar, and many people do not like to discuss him, although several hostels offer a Pablo Escobar tour. You will receive a lot of puzzled stares if you start asking how to get to the house where he was killed, etc.

When on the Metrocable, remember that it is a functional part of the Metro system, and that many proud residents of the mountainside neighborhoods ride the system to and from work each day. Accordingly, refrain from gawking, commenting on or taking pictures of the neighborhoods below, especially if there are Colombians in your car.

Stay safe

Medellín is generally a safe city for tourism, depending on the part of town you visit and the hours (like most other cities) and is much safer than in previous years. It was reported that in 2009 the murder rate in Medellín was the lowest in 30 years, while murder rates have since doubled in 2010 in a new surge of violence. According to the US State Department, murders have involved tourists and U.S citizens, and there remains a risk of "terrorist" actions in the urban area. Much of the violence is concentrated within the city's hillside slums and among known drug traffickers, although richer parts of town have also been afflicted by the latest surge in crime. The poorer neighborhoods in the north-east and north-west of the city should be avoided at both day and night to avoid trouble. Most of the inner city is best avoided at night, maybe excluding El Poblado. Most travelers to Medellín will tell you that they never found themselves in any danger while there, as the city center and touristy neighborhoods and attractions are all heavily policed. Therefore the following advice should not deter your plans to travel there.

Don't travel alone after dark. Almost anyone who knows anyone who has gotten into trouble in Medellín will tell you that they were doing things that you shouldn't do in any city, i.e. walk around after dark alone, especially leaving clubs after having been drinking. If you must, travel with a few friends, and at night call a taxi instead of taking it off the curb.

Avoid straying off of the main areas outside of the Santo Domingo Metrocable station, especially after dark; basically, try to stay within sight of the station and library, and you will be fine. Avoid areas of downtown at night, such as the Parque San Antonio area (including outside of the Metro station), Parque Boliviar, and areas directly to the north of Parque Barrio, where there is a lot of prostitution and other shady dealings. During the day, these areas are all perfectly safe with the normal precautions.

As in most large cities, petty crime can be a problem; it is advisable to carry a color copy of your passport rather than the real thing, avoid carrying a wallet and to keep varying amounts of cash in several pockets, socks and bras. Only carry what you will need for the day, and always have enough hidden somewhere to get back to your hotel. However, at most tourist sites, the police have a very heavy presence, so you can feel safe taking pictures and walking around during the day. Avoid parks, muggers with knives wait for tourists in parks near hotels in the affluent areas of the city, such as El Poblado.

Avoid accepting drinks from strangers. One common organized scam reported recently involves girls being overly friendly to gringos at a club, buying them drinks and then asking to go home with them. The drinks end up being drugged, and the girls make off with money, credit cards and other valuables. Note that it is not very common for Medellín locals to go home with other locals to hook up; rather, cheap hotels are used. So one should be suspicious of overly friendly girls asking to come to your hotel or residence from a club.

Many people sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the small-time vendors selling anything from fruit, ice cream, cigarettes, lottery tickets, cell phone chargers, trinkets, hats, etc. However, a simple "no, gracias" will deter them from bothering you.

As Colombia is still a country with a "macho man" mindset, women might be the subject of lewd comments, cat-calling, or whistling. Women shouldn't take this personally - although women have the same rights as women in the US and elsewhere, it's just the culture.

Do not, under any circumstances, make any jokes about the use of cocaine or bombs. The Colombian police take jokes as threats, and you may find yourself in a police station explaining yourself to unsympathetic police officers. Under normal circumstances, police officers are usually kind and helpful towards tourists.

The age of consent in Colombia is 14. The drinking age is 18. Minors are not allowed to be in possession of alcohol at any time, and they may not enter night clubs of any kind. If a minor is found to be in a night club, the entire club will be immediately closed for violating a national law (Enforced more in nicer neighborhoods).

Always change your money at the airport or at a bank. Bancolombia is the largest national bank, is based in Medellín and has ATM's almost everywhere. "Street changers" offer tempting rates for your dollar, but be on guard. "Street Changers" palm several of the biggest bills for themselves. Do not flaunt large amounts of money around. ATM machines are your best bet for dealing with the complexities of various money changers.

When using an ATM machine (only delivers pesos) it is wise to use machines in a mall (Spanish: centro comercial), one of the large superstores (such as Exito, Jumbo or Metro) or grocery stores (such as Carulla), then take your time walking around a bit. Don't rush out the door. If someone is watching people at the ATM, they will wait for you to leave, and possibly rob you on the street down the road. Using ATMs on the street is not advisable in Colombia.

Health

Connect

Telephone

Mobile services: There are several mobile phone companies in Colombia (Claro, Movistar, TIGO, Uff!, UNE, ETB and Avantel). Calling mobile phones is more expensive than calling local numbers but not prohibitive. In crowded places is common to find people selling 'minutes' to make calls from their cell phones, usual range of prices from COP 100 to 200 per minute for domestic calls. All mobile numbers have 10 digits (The digit 3 is always first).

Internet

There are many internet cafes throughout the city. The appendix for Colombian web addresses is .co

Mail

Regular mail in Colombia is quite dismal as you can not attach the stamps yourself and always have to go to a post office. There are very few offices in each city, usually downtown. With this background, private mail couriers have flourished with better service and more offices. There are close to 10 different companies, among the most popular are Coordinadora and TCC. Both have agreements with international delivery services and cover the world over.

Newspapers

There are 4 daily newspapers in town:

For the country Colombia Reports is a good source of news in English.

A good monthly paper about life downtown, with long articles (sorry, only for masters of the Spanish language), is Universo Centro.

Online Music

TV stations

Six local stations are available in cable services, air broadcast and most can be watched online.

Cope

Medical Services

There are plenty of good hospitals and clinics in Medellín unfortunately English is not widely spoken by doctors and nurses. Most upscale hotels have medical services in house.

Consulates

US citizens (There is no consulate in Medellín. Only the US Embassy in Bogotá):

Laundry

Laundromats are scarce in Colombia, but full-service laundry and dry cleaning shops are commonly found in important streets and some shopping malls.

Electricity

It is 110-120 volts for the country, using two-prong outlets (the same as in USA).

Go next

East

West

South

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.