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23 Things Passport Bros Should Know Before Moving to Medellin

Medellin at night

Thinking of making Medellin your next adventure destination? You're in for a treat.

You've been to Mexico city, Oaxaca and you wanted a to find a little more spice in Colombia?

This vibrant city has been on the radar for many like-minded travelers, and for good reason. But, as with any move abroad, it's essential to come prepared.

Whether it's the local etiquette, the best spots to hang out, or just understanding the basics of daily life, we've got you covered.

Dive into this guide and discover the top 23 things you absolutely need to know before packing your bags and jetting off to Medellin.

Let's make your transition as smooth as that Colombian coffee you're soon to sip!

1. The Passport Bros' Guide to Medellin's Tap Water

Let's kick things off with something we all need – water. You might be wondering,

"Can I drink the tap water in Medellin?" Good news! Medellin's tap water is not just safe to drink, but it's also pretty refreshing.

So, no need to stock up on bottled water or worry about any unwanted stomach adventures.

Just turn on the tap, fill up your glass, and stay hydrated as you explore the city.

And hey, think of all the plastic bottles you'll be saving. Eco-friendly and wallet-friendly – that's a win-win!

2. Medellin's Produce Paradise for Passport Bros

If there's one thing Medellin is renowned for (apart from its stunning views and vibrant culture), it's the mouth-watering variety of fresh produce.

Imagine strolling through local markets and finding an array of fruits and veggies, some of which you might not even recognize!

From the sweet and juicy mangoes and papayas to the exotic "tomate de árbol" (tree tomato), your taste buds are in for a treat.

And the best part? It's all super affordable. So, whether you're whipping up a tropical smoothie or just snacking on the go, Medellin's produce paradise won't disappoint.

Our favorite spot to get great deals on produce are at Mercado Minorista, in the middle of town.

3. Taxi vs. Uber: What Passport Bros Need to Know

Let's talk transportation. When you're navigating the streets of Medellin, you'll quickly notice the sea of yellow taxis zipping around.

Taxi in medellin

With over 15,000 taxis in the city, catching a ride is a breeze. But what about Uber? Here's the scoop: Uber is technically illegal in Medellin.

That doesn't mean it's not around, but it's less prevalent than taxis and can sometimes be a bit pricier.

Plus, with taxis being so readily available and often cheaper, they might just be your best bet.

If you don't speak Spanish you can use an app like Cabify to make the entire process seamlessly!

Remember to always check the taxi meter or agree on a fare beforehand to avoid any surprises.

4. Plumbing Pointers for Passport Bros in Medellin

Here's a quirky but crucial tip about life in Medellin. You know how back home you might not think twice about flushing toilet paper? Well, in Medellin, it's a different story.

The city's old plumbing system isn't quite ready to handle that.

So, instead of flushing it, you'll often find a little bin next to the toilet for used paper.

It might take a minute to get used to, but it's just one of those local quirks that make living in a new place so interesting.

Embrace it, adapt, and remember: when in Medellin, do as the Paisas do!

5. Internet Insights for Passport Bros

If you're envisioning Medellin as a digital nomad paradise with lightning-fast internet everywhere, you might need to adjust those expectations a tad.

While many areas in the city offer decent internet speeds, there are spots where the connection can be a bit on the slower side or occasionally drop out.

But fear not! Many cafes and co-working spaces cater to the digital nomad crowd, ensuring reliable internet for those crucial Zoom calls or Netflix binges.

Just a heads-up: if a stable connection is vital for your work or lifestyle, consider investing in a local SIM card with a data plan as a backup.

If you're looking for cafes in the city with good internet, I'd suggest Pergamino in Poblado (their cold brew is a must-try), Ocre in Laureles (grab some of their sourdough on your way out), and, believe it or not, Starbucks too.

6. Menus Del Día: A Culinary Guide for Passport Bros

let's dive into one of Medellin's best-kept culinary secrets: the "Menus Del Día." These are set lunch menus that most local restaurants offer, and trust me, they're a game-changer.

a meal in medellin

For a price range between 7,000COP to 15,000COP (that's roughly $2.50 – $5.25 USD), you can get a hearty meal that often includes a soup, main course, drink, and sometimes even a dessert. It's not just affordable; it's downright delicious.

Exploring these menus is a fantastic way to taste authentic Colombian dishes without breaking the bank. So, the next time you're out and about in the city around lunchtime, keep an eye out for these menus and treat your taste buds. Bon appétit, bros!

7. Specialty Food Finds for Passport Bros

Medellin's culinary scene is a delightful mix of local flavors and international cuisines. But, if you're craving some specific specialty items from back home, you might need to hunt a bit.

For instance, finding a can of coconut milk might set you back around $4 USD, and that authentic maple syrup? It's a rare gem in these parts.

But don't let that deter you. Embrace the local markets, discover new flavors, and maybe even whip up your own versions of favorite dishes with a Colombian twist.

And hey, if you do stumble upon a store with those hard-to-find items, make sure to share the intel with your fellow Passport Bros. Sharing is caring, after all!

8. Passport Bros' Workout Spots: Medellin's Outdoor Gyms

This one's for you! Medellin isn't just about the food and culture; it's also a haven for those looking to stay active.

Almost every neighborhood boasts outdoor workout areas, making it super convenient to get in a quick workout session.

And we're not just talking about a few pull-up bars. Some spots, especially in areas like Estadio and El Poblado, come equipped with weights, benches, and even guided exercise classes.

If you're into outdoor workouts like me, you've got to check out La Cancha in Envigado.

It's got a track and a calisthenics park, and it's kind of like the pre-hipster Brooklyn of Colombia. Also, the Estadio Sports Center in Laureles is pretty awesome!

Whether you're into calisthenics, cardio, or just a good old-fashioned jog, Medellin's got you covered.

So, lace up those sneakers, head out, and get that adrenaline pumping. After all, staying fit is a universal language, right bros?

9. Embracing Paisa Politeness: A Cultural Note for Passport Bros

If you ever find yourself lost around here, don't worry too much. The odds are in favor of a local guiding you to your destination rather than taking advantage of you.

That's the beauty of Antioquia, where Medellin is. The people, known as Paisas, are super friendly and manners mean a lot to them.

You'll notice Paisas always greet with a warm "buenos días" and they're ever-ready to lend a hand.

So, when you're out and about, return the gesture! A smile, a "buenos días" or just a simple "buenas" can go a long way.

And hey, pick up some local phrases like "como le va", "todo estuvo muy rico", and "que le vaya bien". It'll make your interactions even more genuine!

10. Safety in Medellin: Tips for Passport Bros

While Medellin is a vibrant and welcoming city, it's essential to stay savvy when it comes to safety.

a man standing in the street at night in medellin

Most Paisas are incredibly friendly, but like any major city, there are pockets where pickpocketing and occasional robberies can occur. Here's the lowdown:

  • Stay Alert in Crowded Areas: Places like busy markets or public transport hubs can be hotspots for pickpockets. Keep your belongings close and be aware of your surroundings.

  • Avoid Flashy Displays: Flaunting expensive gadgets or jewelry can make you a target. It's best to keep things low-key.

  • Travel in Groups at Night: If you're heading out after dark, especially to lesser-known areas, it's safer to move in groups.

  • Stay Informed: Chat with locals or fellow Passport Bros to get the latest on which neighborhoods are best to explore and which ones might be best avoided.

It's all about striking a balance. Enjoy everything Medellin has to offer, but always keep safety in mind. Stay smart, stay safe, and make the most of your Medellin adventure!

11. Beauty on a Budget: Passport Bros' Guide to Affordable Beauty Services

Medellin is not just a city of beautiful landscapes; it's also a hub for top-notch beauty services that won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Thanks to high competition and a culture that values aesthetics, you can indulge without the hefty price tag. Here's what you can expect:

  • Barber Shops: Looking for a fresh fade or a classic trim? Barber shops are aplenty, with prices often starting as low as 10,000COP (around $2.75 USD).

  • Spas & Massages: Need to unwind? You can find quality massage services for as little as 30,000COP (around $8.25 USD) for an hour.

  • Manicures & Pedicures: Keep those nails in check with affordable manicure and pedicure services, often priced around 15,000COP (about $4.15 USD).

  • Facials & Skin Treatments: Dive into a range of treatments to keep your skin glowing, with many options available under 50,000COP (roughly $13.75 USD).

So, whether you're prepping for a night out or just looking to relax, Medellin's beauty scene has got you covered. Go on, treat yourself, bros!

12. Air Quality Alerts for Passport Bros in Medellin

It's essential to be aware of the air quality, especially if you're an outdoor enthusiast or have respiratory concerns. Nestled in a valley,

Medellin can sometimes experience higher pollution levels, particularly during dry spells when there's no rain to clear the air. Here's what you need to know:

  • Check Daily Forecasts: There are several apps and websites that provide daily air quality indexes for Medellin. It's a good idea to check these, especially if you're planning outdoor activities.

  • Morning Activities: Air quality tends to be better in the early morning, making it an ideal time for jogging, cycling, or exploring the city.

  • Stay Indoors on High Pollution Days: On days when the air quality is particularly poor, consider indoor activities like visiting museums, cafes, or gyms.

  • Consider a Mask: If you're sensitive to pollution or have respiratory issues, wearing a mask on high pollution days can be beneficial.

Staying informed and taking precautions can ensure you enjoy Medellin to the fullest while keeping your health in check. Breathe easy and make every moment count!

13. Weather Wisdom for Passport Bros

colombia flag in the sky

If you've been checking Medellin's weather forecast online and seeing rain icons every day, don't pack your bags with just raincoats and umbrellas just yet. Medellin's weather can be a bit of a tease. Here's the real deal:

  • City of Eternal Spring: Medellin is often dubbed the "City of Eternal Spring" for a reason. Expect temperatures to hover in the pleasant mid-20s Celsius year-round.

  • Quick Showers: While rain might be forecasted often, it usually means short, sporadic showers rather than day-long downpours. So, always carry a light jacket or umbrella, but don't let it deter your plans.

  • Dress Smart: Despite the warm weather, locals in Medellin typically avoid shorts and flip-flops. It's a good idea to blend in with light trousers and casual shoes.

  • Sun Protection: The sun can be strong, especially around midday. Don't forget your sunscreen and a hat if you're out exploring.

Medellin's weather is all about being pleasantly unpredictable. Embrace the variety, stay prepared, and let the city's climate add to the charm of your adventure!

14. Laundry Lessons for Passport Bros

Let's tackle a mundane but essential topic: laundry.

If you're used to tossing your clothes into a dryer after washing, Medellin might throw you a curveball. Here's the lowdown:

  • Air-Drying is the Norm: Due to the city's pleasant climate, most locals prefer to air-dry their clothes. It's eco-friendly and helps maintain the longevity of your garments.

  • Laundromats & Services: While self-service laundromats are not as common, there are plenty of laundry services around. You drop off your dirty clothes, and they return them washed, folded, and smelling fresh. Prices are usually quite affordable, often around 2,000COP (roughly $0.55 USD) per kilo.

  • Quick Turnaround: Many laundry services offer same-day or next-day return, so you won't be left waiting for clean clothes.

  • DIY Washing: If you're staying in an apartment or Airbnb, check if they provide washing facilities. Just remember to hang your clothes out to dry!

While laundry in Medellin might be a tad different from what you're used to, it's straightforward and hassle-free. Keep those threads clean and carry on with your Medellin adventures!

15. Hotel Tax Hacks for Passport Bros

Here's a little financial tidbit that might just save you some cash on your Medellin stay.

Ever noticed that 19% VAT (Value Added Tax) added to your hotel bill? Well, there's a way around it. Let's break it down:

  • Tourist Exemption: If you're in Medellin on a tourist visa (usually 90 days), you're exempt from this 19% hotel tax. That's right, bros, no need to pay that extra chunk!

  • Show Your Passport: To avail of this exemption, all you need to do is show your stamped passport at the hotel reception. They'll verify your tourist status and voila, tax-free stay!

  • Applies to Hotels: This exemption primarily applies to official hotels. If you're staying in hostels, guesthouses, or Airbnbs, the rules might vary.

  • Extend Your Savings: If you're extending your stay beyond the initial 90 days, remember to keep your visa extension paperwork handy. It'll ensure you continue to enjoy the tax break.

So, next time you're checking into a hotel in Medellin, keep this hack in mind.

A little savings here and there can fund that extra salsa lesson or a delightful dinner out. Every peso counts, right bros?

16. Extending Your Stay as a Passport Bro

Falling in love with Medellin and thinking of extending your stay? You're not alone. Many travelers find themselves captivated by the city's charm and opt for a longer visit.

But before you get too settled, let's navigate the visa waters:

  • Initial Tourist Visa: Most travelers get a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival. It's stamped right in your passport, no fuss.

  • First Extension: If 90 days aren't enough, you can easily extend your visa for another 90 days. Just head to the Migración Colombia office or do it online. There's a fee, but it's a straightforward process.

  • 180 Days Max: In a calendar year, you can stay up to 180 days as a tourist. So, if you've already extended once, you might need to hop out of the country before coming back.

  • Beyond Tourist Visas: If Medellin truly feels like home and you're considering a longer stay, there are other visa options like student, work, or investment visas. Each has its requirements, so it's worth doing some research or consulting with a local expert.

Staying informed and up-to-date with visa regulations ensures a hassle-free experience in Medellin. Enjoy the city, make memories, and always keep the paperwork in check!

17. Spicing It Up: A Flavor Guide for Passport Bros

If you're a fan of spicy foods and love that fiery kick in your meals, Medellin might surprise you a bit.

a chile in medellin

While Colombian cuisine is rich in flavors, it's not typically known for its spiciness. But don't fret; here's how you can navigate the spice trails in this vibrant city:

  • Understanding 'Spicy': When locals say something is "picante," they might not mean it's hot in terms of spice. It could simply mean it's flavorful. So, always double-check if you're looking for that chili heat.

  • Aji Sauce: This is a staple in Colombian eateries. It's a tangy, mildly spicy sauce made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a touch of chili. While it's not super hot, it adds a delightful zing to your meals.

  • Seeking the Heat: If you're craving some serious spice, look for international restaurants, especially Mexican or Asian eateries. They often have spicier options on the menu.

  • Local Markets: Visit local markets and ask for "aji picante" or "chili peppers." You'll find a variety of fresh chilies that you can use to spice up your homemade meals.

  • Spicy Challenges: Some restaurants, recognizing the global love for spicy foods, might offer "spicy challenges" with dishes that are amped up in heat. If you're up for it, give it a go!

If you're looking for good spicy hot sauce, go to Zacatecas in Envigado (their tacos are tasty!) and ask for their spiciest hot sauce.

La Jalapena in Belen also has some great habanero hot sauce they bottle and sell in their restaurant.

18. Sipping on Limonada de Coco: A Must-Try for Passport Bros

When in Medellin, there's one drink you absolutely can't miss out on - the refreshing and creamy Limonada de Coco. It's not just a drink; it's an experience.

Let's dive into this tropical delight:

  • What is Limonada de Coco?: Imagine the tanginess of fresh lime juice blended seamlessly with the creaminess of coconut milk. That's Limonada de Coco for you. It's a thirst-quenching blend of sweet, sour, and tropical flavors.

  • Where to Find It: While you can find this drink in many restaurants and cafes across Medellin, the best ones are often served in local eateries. Ask around or look for places with a crowd - that's usually a good sign!

  • DIY Limonada: Feeling adventurous? Whip up your own batch! All you need is fresh limes, coconut milk, sugar, and ice. Blend them together, and you've got yourself a homemade tropical treat.

  • Perfect for Every Occasion: Whether you're cooling off after a day of exploring or looking for the perfect drink to accompany your meal, Limonada de Coco fits the bill. It's especially refreshing on those warm Medellin afternoons.

So, bros, next time you're out and about in Medellin, make sure to order a glass (or two) of Limonada de Coco.

It's a taste of Colombia you won't forget. Cheers to tropical vibes and unforgettable flavors!

19. Dressing the Part: Passport Bros' Style Guide for Medellin

While Medellin is a modern and cosmopolitan city, it's essential to understand the local fashion norms to blend in seamlessly and respect the culture.

Whether you're hitting the town or exploring the countryside, here's how to dress the part:

  • Casual Yet Conservative: Medellin's style leans towards the conservative side. While it's okay to sport shorts and tees during the day, especially in touristy areas, it's advisable to opt for trousers and collared shirts when dining out or visiting more formal settings.

  • Ditch the Flip-Flops: Unless you're at the pool or beach, it's best to leave the flip-flops behind. Locals prefer closed-toed shoes or stylish sandals. Plus, they're more practical for the city's varying terrains.

  • Cool Evenings: Medellin's evenings can get a tad chilly, so always carry a light jacket or sweater. It's perfect for those sunset strolls or late-night outings.

  • Respect Religious Sites: If you're visiting churches or religious monuments, ensure you dress modestly. For men, this means long pants and shirts with sleeves. For women, skirts or dresses that cover the knee and tops that aren't too revealing are ideal.

  • Accessorize Right: A good hat and sunglasses are not just style statements but also practical choices for Medellin's sunny days. Just remember to remove your hat when entering buildings or speaking to someone as a sign of respect.

While Medellin offers ample opportunities to flaunt your style, it's essential to strike a balance between fashion and cultural respect.

So, pack smart, dress sharp, and make a statement with both your attire and attitude!

20. Speaking Like a Local: Colombian Slang for Passport Bros

I you really want to blend in and connect with the locals in Medellin, you've got to speak their language. And no, we're not just talking about Spanish.

We mean the colorful, lively slang that gives Colombian Spanish its unique flair. Ready to sound like a true Paisa? Let's dive in:

  • "Parcero" (par-seh-ro): This is the Colombian equivalent of "buddy" or "mate." So, if you make a new friend in Medellin, feel free to call them your "parcero."

  • "Bacano" (ba-cah-no): Think something is cool or awesome? Then it's "bacano!" This word is a versatile compliment for anything you find impressive.

  • "Rumbear" (room-bay-ar): No, it's not about rum. It means "to party." So, if someone asks if you want to "rumbear" tonight, they're inviting you to hit the town!

  • "Paila" (pie-lah): This one's for those not-so-great moments. It means "bad luck" or "that's too bad." Spilled your Limonada de Coco? "¡Paila!"

  • "Chévere" (cheh-veh-reh): Another word for "cool" or "nice." If you're enjoying your time in Medellin, you can say it's "chévere."

  • "Tinto" (teen-toh): Coffee lovers, take note! In Colombia, a "tinto" is a small black coffee. Perfect for those midday pick-me-ups.

While mastering the slang will earn you brownie points with the locals, always use it in the right context and with a friendly tone.

Embrace the language, enjoy the conversations, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Medellin!

21. Navigating Public Transport: Tips for Passport Bros

Ready to explore Medellin like a local? One of the best ways to do so is by hopping onto the city's public transport.

a bus driver in medellin

Efficient, economical, and eco-friendly, it's your ticket to discovering Medellin's nooks and crannies. Here's your guide to getting around:

  • Metro System: Medellin boasts Colombia's only metro system, and it's a point of pride for the Paisas. Clean, punctual, and covering significant parts of the city, it's your best bet for quick commutes. Don't forget to check out the Metrocable, a cable car extension of the metro that offers breathtaking views of the city.

  • Buses: While the metro is fantastic, buses help you reach places the trains don't. They're color-coded based on routes, and while they might seem chaotic at first, they're pretty systematic. Just keep some change handy for the fare.

  • Taxis: Taxis are plentiful and relatively affordable. They run on meters, so ensure it's turned on when you start your ride. It's also a good idea to have your destination address written down or on your phone.

  • Biking: Medellin is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. It's a fun way to explore, especially on Sundays when certain streets are car-free.

  • Safety First: Like any big city, always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid public transport during super peak hours, keep an eye on your belongings, and if something feels off, trust your instincts.

While Medellin's public transport is a fantastic way to get around, always prioritize safety. Embrace the journey, soak in the sights, and let the city's rhythms guide your adventures!

22. The Great Platano Confusion: A Guide for Passport Bros

Let's talk about something that often confuses newcomers to Colombia: the world of platanos.

If you thought you knew your bananas, Medellin might just throw you a curveball. Let's demystify the platano puzzle:

Bananas vs. Plantains:

At first glance, platanos (plantains) might look like oversized bananas.

But they're starchier, less sweet, and are usually cooked before eating, unlike the bananas you might snack on raw.

Types of Platanos:

  • Platano Maduro: These are ripe plantains. They have a sweet flavor and are often fried to make delicious treats.

  • Platano Verde: These are green or unripe plantains. They're used in savory dishes and can be boiled, fried, or grilled.

Popular Platano Dishes:

  • Patacones: Thick slices of green plantains, smashed and fried to perfection. They're crispy, savory, and often served with a side of hogao (a tomato and onion sauce).

  • Maduros: Sweet, ripe plantains that are fried until caramelized. They're a delightful mix of sweet and savory.

Shopping Tips: When buying platanos, choose firm ones without blemishes. If you're aiming for a specific dish, ensure you pick the right ripeness level.

While the world of platanos might seem a tad confusing initially, it's a delicious journey worth embarking on.

So, the next time you're at a local market or eatery in Medellin, dive into the platano experience and savor the flavors of Colombia!

23. Avocado Adventures for Passport Bros in Medellin

If there's one thing you'll quickly notice in Medellin, it's the Colombians' love for avocados.

an avocado meal in medellin

And trust us, once you taste them, you'll be hooked too. Let's embark on an avocado adventure in this vibrant city:

  • Varieties Galore: Unlike the typical Hass avocados you might be familiar with, Medellin offers a range of avocado varieties. Some are buttery and smooth, while others are watery and refreshing. The sizes can vary too, with some avocados being as large as a melon!

  • Local Markets: The best place to experience the diversity of avocados is at a local market. Vendors proudly display their produce, and you'll often find them eager to explain the differences and offer samples.

  • Popular Dishes: Avocados in Medellin aren't just for guacamole. They're sliced onto arepas, blended into smoothies, or simply sprinkled with a dash of salt and eaten as a snack.

  • Affordability: One of the joys of being in Medellin is the affordability of avocados. You can often buy them in bulk for a fraction of the price you'd pay back home.

  • Cooking with Avocado: If you have access to a kitchen, try your hand at some local recipes. Avocado soups, salads, and even desserts are popular in Colombian cuisine.

I Medellin's avocados are a culinary delight you shouldn't miss. They're a testament to the city's rich agricultural heritage and the Paisas' love for fresh, flavorful produce.

So, dive into the creamy goodness of Medellin's avocados and let your taste buds go on a tropical journey!


As you gear up for your Medellin adventure, remember that the beauty of this city lies not just in its scenic landscapes and vibrant culture, but also in the intricate details and local experiences.

From sipping on a refreshing Limonada de Coco to navigating the bustling local markets in search of the perfect avocado,

Medellin offers a tapestry of experiences that are as diverse as they are enriching.

Being informed and prepared is the key to truly immersing yourself in the Medellin way of life.

Whether it's understanding the nuances of local slang, respecting cultural norms, or simply knowing where to find the spiciest dishes in town, every bit of knowledge enhances your journey.

So, bros, as you set out to explore the streets, neighborhoods, and hidden gems of Medellin, carry with you the insights and tips from this guide.

Let them be your compass, guiding you through the city's rhythms, flavors, and traditions.

Here's to new adventures, unforgettable memories, and the thrill of discovering a city that's waiting to embrace you with open arms.

If you want find ways to earn abroad you can look into social media management, copy writing and even video editing!

Medellin, with its warmth and charm, is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart. Safe travels, Passport Bros!

Remember to follow us on instagram and spread the word! Passport bros need to stick together!


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