Planning a Trip to Medellin? 6 Things to Know Before Arriving

passport against medellin city backdrop

TLDR? Plan your trip to Medellin well ahead of time to make for a smooth transition!

If you’re planning a trip to Medellin, then be prepared to be greeted by friendly people, stunning scenery, and a whole lot of fun. The city is bustling and there’s always something to do.

However, you still need to plan ahead a bit before you arrive. After all, there’s nothing worse than being caught off guard in a new city!

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of things you need to know before traveling to Medellin.

From the minute you land in Medellin to the minute you leave, here’s what you need to know.

1. Arriving in Medellin

Arriving in Medellin
The MDE airport is outside of the city so it may take some time to get to your apartment.

For most tourists, flying is the best way to get to Medellin. The city has two airports, Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (MDE) and Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH).

However, Jose Maria Cordova is the larger of the two airports and handles the majority of commercial traffic. The airport is located about 25 kilometers from downtown Medellin. So, depending on the traffic, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to get into the city.

Non-Colombian residents will need to have a departure flight ticket before they are allowed to enter the country.

When checking in at your departure airport, you will also need to have proof of onward travel. This can be in the form of a return ticket or an onward ticket to another destination within Colombia. If you do not have proof of onward travel, you may be denied boarding by your airline.

Why? Visitors who don’t have visas are only allowed to stay in Colombia for 90 days. Authorities want to make sure that you are leaving the country before your time is up.

You can book a refundable ticket with another airline and cancel it once you’ve arrived in Colombia. Just make sure to do this at least 72 hours before your flight so that you don’t run into any problems.

However, don’t take the risk of overstaying your welcome in Colombia. If you are caught, you could be facing a fine and may even be banned from returning to the country for so many years.

So, if you’re not sure about your travel plans, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and get that proof of onward travel. Nonetheless, if you want to stay, it is possible to extend your Colombian tourist visa!

2. Arranging a Ride Upon Arrival

Arranging a Ride Upon Arrival
Having a ride scheduled is recommended before arriving in Medellin.

We highly recommend having transportation arranged before you even land in Medellin. This will save you a lot of hassle (and money) when trying to figure out how to get from the airport into the city.

If you don’t speak the best Spanish, then it can be confusing and stressful trying to explain to a taxi driver where you need to go.

Instead, we recommend using an online taxi service or scheduling an Uber in advance. This way, you will know exactly how much it will cost to get to your destination without a language barrier.

Another option is to arrange for a private driver to pick you up from the airport. This is a bit more expensive than taking a taxi or Uber. However, it’s worth it if you want the peace of mind of knowing that someone will be there waiting for you when you land.

And, all you have to do is speak to the concierge at your Casacol property! They’ll get you hooked up with the services you need.

3. Picking Where to Stay

Picking Where to Stay
Medellin has several accommodation options for long and short-term stays.

Depending on if you are staying for a few days or a few months, your accommodation options will differ.
If you are only staying for a short period of time, then we recommend renting an apartment or room on Airbnb.

This is a great way to live like a local and experience Medellin from a different perspective. You’ll also have more space than you would if you were staying in a hotel. Plus, access to a kitchen where you can cook your own meals.

For long-term stays, then we recommend renting an apartment through one of the agencies in Medellin that specialize in long-term rentals. They will be able to help you find the perfect place to call home during your stay.

No matter how long you are staying in Medellin, make sure to do your research and read reviews before booking any accommodation.

This is especially important if you are using Airbnb so you know what you are getting into.

4. Getting Around Medellin

Getting Around Medellin
Taking the Medellin metro is an inexpensive way to get around the city.

Medellin has many different neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. If you don’t have a car, then you’ll want to lean on public transportation to get around.

The good news is that Medellin has an excellent public transportation system that is safe, clean, and efficient.

Here’s a brief overview of the different transportation options available in Medellin.

Medellin Metro

The best way to get around and see all that Medellin has to offer is by using the metro system. The metro is clean, efficient, and safe and it will take you to all of the major tourist attractions in the city.

If you are staying for a longer period of time, then we recommend getting a metro card. A metro card will save you money and make riding the metro a breeze.

Ride Share Apps

Another option is to use rideshare apps such as Didi or Uber to get around the city.

This is a great option if you are not comfortable using the metro or if you are going to be traveling outside of the city center.

The rideshare apps are a convenient way to get to your destination without having to worry about getting lost.

Taxis

Taxis are also an option but they are more expensive than the other two. We only recommend using them if you are unable to use the metro or a rideshare app.

Plus, if your Spanish isn’t the best, it can be difficult to explain where you need to go to the taxi driver.
When using any transportation in Medellin, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to keep your belongings close to you at all times.

For solo travelers, it doesn’t hurt to have a location tracker app on your phone so that your family or friends can keep track of you while you are in the city.

These are simple travel safety tips to use no matter where you are in the world.

5. Plan for the Weather

Plan for the Weather
Always be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms when traveling to Medellin.

Depending on when you are planning a trip to Medellin, the weather will differ. The city experiences two different seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

The best months to visit Medellin is January through March as this is when the weather is the driest.
However, this is also the busiest time of year for tourism.

If you want to come when there are fewer people, then we recommend visiting during the rainy season. The rain picks up in April and May with a slow during the summer months. It then picks up again in October and November.

Keep in mind that the weather can change quickly in Medellin so it’s always a good idea to have a jacket with you, even if it isn’t raining.

Even though it rains, the mornings and evenings are quite sunny so you’ll still be able to enjoy your time in the city.

6. Beware of the Language Barrier

Beware of the Language Barrier
Not everyone speaks English in Medellin, so be prepared for a language barrier.

If you don’t speak Spanish, then you’ll likely face a language barrier while in Medellin.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can be a great opportunity to learn some basic phrases and to practice your Spanish skills. You can also indulge in Spanish classes which are fun and helpful!

That being said, it is important to be aware of the language barrier so that you can plan accordingly. It’s also good to have a translator app on your phone so that you can communicate with taxi drivers and restaurant staff.

This is an enjoyable way to learn about the culture while also meeting new people.

Ready for Your Trip to Medellin?

By being aware of these 6 things, you’ll be sure to have a great trip to Medellin!
Whether you’re visiting for the food, the culture, or the scenery, Medellin is a city that has something for everyone.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Medellin today!

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