North Sumatera has more than 13 major towns, including:
- Medan - the capital
- Berastagi - the fruits town
- Padang Sidempuan - The 'Salak' city
- Parapat - gateway to Lake Toba
- Pematangsiantar - second largest city
- Sidikalang - famoused for its coffee
- Lake Toba - the largest lake in South East Asia, placed within exception volcanic scenery and surrounded by inspiring mountains
- Bukit Lawang - gateway to the orangutans, and the Gunung Leuser National Park
- Berastagi - base for the Gunung Sinabung (Sinabung Volcano) and the Gunung Sibayak (Sibayak Volcano)
- Taman Iman Dairi (Garden of Faith) - located in Sidikalang
- Salib Kasih - located in Tarutung, a centre of christian missionary by I.L. Nommensen
- Pulau Nias
Indonesian is mostly spoken in the North Sumatra area. People commonly speak their local languages as well. Batak Toba spoken in Tapanuli and Samosir, while Simalungun spoken in Simalungun area (southern Medan), Karo spoken in Tanah Karo (Kabanjahe, Berastagi), and Pakpak spoken in Dairi.
Medan Polonia International Airport (IATA: MES) has direct connections to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang for its regional flight and Jakarta, Batam, Pekanbaru, Padang, Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe for its Domestic flight. The terminal building provides basic facilities including ATMs, money exchange, and a range of transport services. For more information see the Medan#By plane section.
- Domestic cruise
PELNI the Local Passenger cruise company operate weekly voyages from the Port of Belawan in Medan to Batam and Jakarta.
- From Malaysia
The ferry from Penang does not operate anymore.
Medan can be reach by land and many buses serve Medan from Many cities in Sumatera and Java Island such as Pekanbaru, Padang, Banda Aceh, Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang and Surabaya.
Danau Toba, or Lake Toba, is about 4 hours from Medan by car, and is home to world's largest crater lake and island-within-an-island. The town of Tuk-tuk on the island is popular with European tourists, and magic mushrooms are freely available (look for the magic mushroom and laundry service!).
Batak Toba Traditional House is a-must-see attraction while visiting North Sumatra. For tourism, it centered in Samosir island, while there are more in Balige, Porsea, and Tarutung.
Batak people use either pork or even dog to make saksang. Another Batak pork specialty is babi panggang in which the meat is boiled in vinegar and pig blood before being roasted. Another batak dish, Ayam namargota, is chicken cooked in spices and blood. Another notable Batak dish is arsik, the carp fish cooked with spices and herbs. Lada rimba is strong pepper used by Bataks.
As in any city, be vigilant about your personal property and always be aware of your surroundings.
Sumateran is famous in Indonesia for being "rough", and locals are pride about their roots. Be vigilant of your personal property and be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you´re taking the public bus/minivan, those are always filled with pickpocket. Be careful when crossing the street. Keep an eye on the locals and cross with them if possible.
Emergency telephone numbers: 112.
There are few expats here, but the Hash House Harriers has a few local chapters in Medan and surrounding areas.