Getting around in Medellín, Colombia

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My wife and I spent a few weeks of our honeymoon in Medellín, her home city. Between tourist hot spots, visiting her family and frequenting the many amazing vegan restaurants dotted across the city, we tried out a few different means of transportation. Here’s the pick of the bunch…

Uber

Uber is technically illegal in Colombia, but everyone uses it anyway. It is one of the safest ways to get around as you can see the number of rides a driver has given, the ratings they have been given and the time they have been driving with Uber.

Because it’s illegal, many (perhaps even most) Uber drivers will ask you to sit in the front seat so that they don’t look like a taxi. It’s best to bear this in mind and just jump in the front seat every time to save the driver any trouble.

The one thing that seemed to be a problem with Uber were the cancellations. When it was raining, when it was rush hour, or when both things happened at once, we would often be waiting for an Uber and it would cancel. At these times, we would sometimes have 3 or 4 drivers cancel on us before we learnt that it’s best to jump in a yellow cab and pay a little extra when it’s busy (especially if you’re in the rain!).

And that brings me onto price… I believe the average price we paid for an Uber in Medellín was about £2 ($2.50 USD). At quiet times, it was as little as £1.50, and the most we ever paid I think was around £4. So it’s relatively very cheap for tourists to use this means of transportation, and much more secure than walking or taking the bus or metro.

Metro

Medellín’s Metro system is the pride of the city. And with good reason: Medellín is the only city in Colombia to have one! It’s sleek, modern, relatively cheap, and the times we used it (which was only during the day) it felt perfectly safe.

The Metro system has a system of feeder buses, but personally I would avoid using the buses in Medellín as they are less secure and oftentimes robbed (sometimes at gunpoint). Simply grab a cab or Uber to the nearest metro station instead.

The best thing about Medellín’s metro system… The Metro Cable! A series of gondola lifts that take you from the metro stations below up to the barrios in the steep mountain side, and even over forest and out of the city to Parque Arví, a natural reserve.

Metro Cable Transport Medellin

Riding the Metro Cable is a must if you are visiting Medellín, if only for the views!

Car

The only time we rented a car was to drive from Medellín to el Eje Cafetero – the coffee-growing axis – which gave us lots of freedom and flexibility. For getting around in Medellín, it certainly wouldn’t be a recommendable means of transportation for a tourist. We did move around by car quite a lot because one of my wife’s cousins drove us a few times. It was convenient for the obvious reasons that it gave us the freedom of the car without the cost of renting, fuel, parking and so on. But unless you too have a cousin waiting to pick you up, I’d suggest against hiring a car if it’s just to get around in the city. Save it for the real road trips!

Medellín is incredibly congested, making traffic slow-moving at times and parking difficult in certain places. To tackle the congestion and pollution, the pico y placa scheme prohibits the use of certain vehicles (based on the number/license plate) during certain hours of certain days, meaning any given car will have its use restricted during rush hour a couple of days a week. The same goes for motorbikes, which I also wouldn’t recommend using to get around.

Ubers, yellow cabs and the metro system are your go-to guys when visiting Medellín, which – despite having mentioned safety a lot in this post – is a beautiful city and a perfectly safe place to visit if you take precautions and avoid unnecessary risks. You can read more about how safe Medellín is here.

James Sturt-Schmidt - Millennianaire

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