TLDR? There’s no Walmart in Medellin but there are some other great super-stores to check out!
Visiting a new city in a different country can make it tough to know where to buy groceries. And, one go-to grocery store (at least for me) back home is Walmart.
Now, that might leave you wondering, “is there a Walmart in Medellin that tourists can use?”
Walmart is common in several Latin American countries, but the locations and store sizes vary. So, if you are visiting Medellin, Colombia, and want to know if there is a Walmart, you’ll want to read this article.
Not only will we go over whether this corporate giant exists in Medellin, but I’ll also give some tips on the best places to buy groceries as a tourist.
Where is a Walmart in Medellin, Colombia?
Unfortunately, there aren’t Walmarts in Colombia, but other options exist. There are three types of grocery stores in Colombia: supermercados, mini-mercados, and tiendas.
Supermercados are the largest and have the broadest range of products. They usually carry international brands as well as local Colombian products.
Mercados or mini markets are similar to a convenience stores in the United States. However, they are small and only carry a limited number of items. Tiendas are even smaller shops that sell food, drinks, and snacks.
Consumers can also opt to buy fruit and vegetables from a street vendor. Sometimes this is the least expensive option, and you can find fresh produce.
What is the Best Supermarket in Medellin?
The best option for tourists will likely be a supermercado. Not only do they have a wide variety of items, but you can likely find an English-speaking staff member.
While there are other options, such as street vendors, may not have everything you are looking for. And, it can be difficult to communicate with the vendor if you don’t speak Spanish.
Of course, your best option is to ask your hotel or Airbnb host where the closest and best grocery store is. They will be familiar with the area and can give you specific directions.
What to Expect When Shopping at a Supermercado in Medellin
When shopping at a supermercado, you’ll likely find familiar items as well as some that are new to you. For example, the produce section will have fruits and vegetables that are common in the United States, such as bananas and avocados.
You’ll also find some exotic fruits unique to Colombia, such as lulo and guanabana. The meat section will have chicken and beef, but you may also see cage-free eggs, which are becoming more common.
The dairy section will have milk, cheese, and yogurt. But, you may not find certain items such as sour cream.
If you are looking for snacks, the supermercado will have a wide variety to choose from. Chips, cookies, and candy are all common options.
Just like in the United States, you’ll need to go to the checkout line to pay for your groceries. You can either use cash or a credit card.
Most supermarkets will also have a self-checkout option if you don’t want to wait in line.
Now that you know where to buy groceries as a tourist in Medellin, Colombia, you can stock up on all the essentials for your stay. With so many options, you’re sure to find everything you need.
Bedroom and Bathroom Essentials
If you need any bedding or bathroom essentials, such as towels, shampoo, or soap, you will find them at a supermercado. They usually have a wide selection of products, and the prices are reasonable.
Some Exitos are significant and will sell furniture and bed sets. So, if you need anything for your bedroom or bathroom, you will likely find it at a supermercado.
If you need a phone charger, sim card, or other electronics, you will find it at a supermercado in Medellin. They have a wide range of products, and the prices are reasonable.
You can also find other types of electronics such as cameras, laptops, and tablets. If you need any adapters or plugs, they will also have those available.
While you won’t find the latest fashion trends at a supermercado, you can find some essential clothing items such as t-shirts, shorts, and socks. They usually have a small selection of clothing, but the prices are reasonable.
If you need any winter clothing for unpredicted weather, such as a coat or scarf, you will likely find it at a supermercado. They usually have a wide selection of products, and the prices are reasonable.
Remember, like Walmart, you may not find things like Patagonia or NorthFace, but you will find some decent options for lower prices.
Locating an ATM or “cajero automatico” can be tough in a new city. However, most supermercados will have at least one ATM on-site. So, if you need to withdraw cash, you can do so at a supermercado.
Most will charge a fee because they are not affiliated with your bank, so be aware of that before using the ATM.
To avoid any fees, you can use a credit card at the supermercado. Most will accept Visa and Mastercard. Some will also accept American Express, but every store is different, so it’s best to ask before making a purchase.
Remember, if you use a credit card, you will likely be charged a foreign transaction fee.
One thing to be aware of is that most of these supermercados don’t have 24-hour service like you might be used to in the United States.
The hours will vary by store, so double check before going, but most are open from around 8 am to 9 pm. Some may be open later on Fridays and Saturdays, but that is typically the exception rather than the rule.
What Does Mini-Mercados Have in Medellin?
Medellin also has a few mini-markets or “mini-supermercados.” These are smaller stores that typically only sell the essentials.
You won’t find as much variety at a mini-market, but you will find things like bread, milk, eggs, and cheese. You may also find some snacks and drinks.
Some are bigger than others, so you may be able to find other things like deodorant and toilet paper. But, of course, you will almost always be able to buy alcohol.
The prices at a mini-market are typically a bit higher than at a supermercado, but they are convenient if you need to grab a few things and don’t want to go to a larger store.
You can find mini-markets all over the city, sometimes every other block. Unfortunately, in Medellin, not many mini-markets will have an ATM. In addition, they may not accept credit cards, so cash is always the best option.
Also, many local convenience stores or corner vendors are closed on Sundays. So, if you need to do any grocery shopping on a Sunday, you may need to go to a smaller store or market.
How Do You Get Your Groceries Home?
Unless you rent a car, you probably won’t have a way to transport your groceries home from the store. But, not to worry, because you have some options.
First, depending on what you need and your distance from your house, you may be able to carry everything home. This obviously won’t work if you need a lot of groceries or live far from the store, but it’s an option if you only need a few things.
Take a Taxi
The next option is to take a taxi. Almost every supermercado will have taxis lined up in front of the store, waiting to take customers home. Of course, the fare will depend on your distance from the store, but it’s usually not too expensive.
You could try taking an Uber, but ordering one in front of the taxi drivers is hard. They aren’t a big fan of ride-share apps taking their business.
If you feel more comfortable taking a ride-share app, walk to the end of the block and order your Uber away from the taxi drivers.
Use a Delivery App
Another option is to have your groceries delivered. This is a popular option, especially for people who live in apartments and don’t have a way to carry their groceries home.
You can use a few different delivery apps, but the most popular is Rappi. With Rappi, you can order almost anything from any store in the city, and they will deliver it to your door.
You have to pay a delivery fee, but it is usually only a few thousand pesos. And, if you order enough, the delivery fee is waived.
Find What You Need in Medellin
As you can see, the names may be different, but the stores are very similar to what you find in your home country. Therefore, you should have no problem finding everything you need in Medellin.
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