Medellín was international in 2008

· Culture, Economics, Statistics, Violence

2008 was an international year for Medellín. Once the most violent city of Latin America, Medellín has a better face and attracts more visitors than ever. If it is not possible to say that all its problems are resolved, as long as its 3 million population would not have same opportunities, but security, tourism and events went up last year, according to the local government and tourist agencies.

It is not more the time when Medellín was omitted from the Colombian tourist guides. At the contrary, with Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta and Bogotá, Medellín is one of the main tourist spots of Colombia nowadays. Foreigners are becoming common in the tourist areas of the city and Medellinians are doing their best to be able to answer in English, French and Italian, the three linguistic groups that most visit the “Capital of the Mountains”, as it is called.

During 2008 the city was the headquarter of 31 events of national and international level. The Bureau Convention Center of Medellín was the seat of seven of them, according to the report of its general manager, Adriana González Zapata to the local newspaper El Colombiano. For those seven events in that only place, there were 11,150 foreign visitors.

Events like the Assembly of the Organization of American States and the Congress of Internal Medicine, were the most important ones. For another part, Medellín will be the seat of the Latin American Congress of Plastic Surgery in 2012 and it won that honor before strong candidates like Buenos Aires, Panama and Cancun, according to the newspaper.

Medellín enjoys a good climate thanks to its altitud of 4,905 ft that gaves its name of the “City of the Everlasting Spring” with an avarage temperature of 72°F. The Metropolitan Area is inside the Aburrá Valley that united ten cities with a total population of three million. Medellín is a modern industrialist and commercial center with several universities, factories, especially textile and a living nightlife. Banking, movie houses, malls, urban transport and public services are at the level of any American or European city.

Non-going places

As a recommendation to foreign visitors to Medellín, we publish some places that are not recommended to visit due to problems of criminality. However, it can be subjective and you should ask your agency, hotel or Colombian friends about any place. If you are in Medellín and want to know about a specific activity or place, just let a comment in this post or email us (

  • Any place around the Metro de Medellín, the urban train, is considered safe. The Metro is particularly clean, safe and attractive to visitors. It crosses the entire city from north to south and from downtown to west. There is a air cable car (Metrocable) to high hill districts like Santo Domingo (northeast) and San Javier (west), that can not be omitted in your visit.
  • The southern districts of the city, including the cities of Envigado and Sabaneta, are considered safe places. Itagüí and La Estrella are not full recommended, however the areas textile markets (Centro Internacional de la Moda), near the Metro Station of Itagüí, is safe and great for buyings. Caldas, the most souther city of the Metropolitan Area, is recommended and traditional.
  • The northern districts of the city including the city of Bello, are not fully recommended for visitors. However, the areas around the Metro de Medellín and the air cable cars are okay and safe.
  • Medellín downtown is not fully recommendad. Please follow local advances about some places. Follow the tourist places that have security like commercial centers, Parque Botero, museums, Boulevards, etc. It is not good to visit Medellín downtown at nigtht, at least you go with a local friend.
  • The west districts of Medellín are safe (the Stadium, Belén, La América, Laureles, La Floresta, Guayabal, etc.)
  • It is better to call the service of taxi by phone. The hotels can call a taxi for you. It is safer and the service is good. Some companies of taxi have English service as well.
  • It is safe to use bus service within recommended areas. However, currenly the bus service in the city is not good: it is slow, crowded and boring. The city is building a new bus system that is called Metroplus and that is similar to the Transmileno of Bogotá.
  • There are traditional buses for tours along the city that are safe and funny.

The following is a map with a safe recommended area in blue. It does not mean that the rest of the city is in a kind of war. You can visit the entire city. The proposal is to point places that could be unsafe and that you would need prudence in visit the sites. The locals can tell you more.

Medellin Street Map Safe areas in blue. Source: Taxi Drivers (Oct.05).

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