Comuna 13 Tour Details

Starting times: 9 am to 2 pm

Duration: 5 hours

Locations: Comuna 13

Age restrictions: Not recommended for kids under 2

Pet policy: pet-friendly (pets must be under the owner’s supervision)

Price: $70 per person (minimum 2 people)

Food/drink policy: Local snack and beverage included

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What to expect during the Comuna 13 tour:

First and foremost, you can expect to do a lot of walking on the Comuna 13 tour! It’s best experienced on foot, including the neighborhood’s escalator system. Plus, most of the walking will be done on steep slopes, as Comuna 13 is built on the mountainside located on the western edge of Medellín.

Just like anywhere else in Medellín, you’ll encounter a lot of local color – in several different senses. The area is famous for its graffiti, and many residents have even painted their houses bright colors to match. As you walk down one street after another, you’ll pass by various vendors who are selling all kinds of artwork, regional foods and drinks, and souvenirs. You’ll probably encounter dance groups along the way as well; some of them are professionals, while others are just there to have fun. Many of these dance squads are well-known in Medellín, and regularly set up performances in the streets of Comuna 13. Then there are the musicians, who also put on skillful performances to delight everyone who passes by.

Since Comuna 13 is built on the side of a mountain, many spots have an unparalleled view of Medellín. Visitors and locals alike love to chill out in one of the area’s many bars, sipping on a cold drink as they take in the view.

Is Comuna 13 a safe place to tour?

The Comuna 13 tour is one of the most highly desired Medellin tours. There will be hundreds of happy tourists there on any day and time. Over recent years it has transformed into a vibrant community that’s known for its art and music, rather than for gang-related and poverty-induced violence. The area of Comuna 13 that we tour is completely safe, and you’re sure to feel welcome there by the locals.

Sometimes the area is very crowded so it’s always good to remember that you’re still in a bustling neighborhood in a big city.  Keep your valuables close at all times, and try not to be obvious when accessing wallets, phones, or cameras. This goes for pretty much any tourist experience, anywhere in the world; it’s just worth repeating for those who don’t know the basics of tourist safety yet.

Background of Comuna 13

Comuna 13 consists of precarious houses built in the middle of the hills, narrow and steep streets, which generated multiple alleys and viewpoints, ideal for criminals and the drug trade in the past. Two of the city’s bloodiest and best-remembered military operations took place there, Operation Mariscal and Operation Orion. The direct relationship between Comuna 13 and violence has gradually been left behind, thanks to the efforts of the community, especially the young artists, and undoubtedly the government.

In the past, Comuna 13 wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a good place to live, let alone visit as a tourist. The situation definitely improved after rooting out gang members and paramilitary groups, but things didn’t truly start turning around until 2006. This was when the mayor of Medellín, Sergio Fajardo Valderrama, started investing in infrastructure that would improve the lives of underserved residents. By 2008, there was a new metro station; by 2011, several outdoor escalators had been installed. Between these and the Metrocable system, Comuna 13 was no longer isolated from the rest of the city. Residents had greater access to business opportunities, education, and many other resources. This has helped transform the area into what it is today – a socially active, hopeful place that tourists love to visit.

Is this area suitable for
“narco tourism”?

One of Medellín’s most famous historical residents is Pablo Escobar, who is among the world’s most notorious drug lords. As such, it’s understandable that some of the city’s tourist activities are focused on this aspect of the city’s past. This is nicknamed “narco tourism”, and involves tours of Escobar’s former residences, T-shirts with his face on them, themed souvenirs, and so on.

This may be expected and appropriate in most areas of Medellín, but in Comuna 13 these things hit closer to home. Many residents still remember what life was like when violence and fear were the norm, and they prefer to focus on transformation and hope for the future. There’s nothing wrong with being curious about Medellín’s dark past, but if you’ll be touring Comuna 13, maybe you should save your Pablo Escobar T-shirt for another day.

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Remembering the past, celebrating the future

Comuna 13 is a beautiful place to visit now, but its optimistic atmosphere wouldn’t be so significant without knowing about the pain of its past. There’s a lot to enjoy about this part of Medellín, and a lot to learn about as well. Your tour guide will be able to explain the background stories of various murals, describe the transformation of the neighborhood, and help you understand the amazing history of Comuna 13.

popular tourist bar in comuna 13

Remembering the past, celebrating the future

Comuna 13 is a beautiful place to visit now, but its optimistic atmosphere wouldn’t be so significant without knowing about the pain of its past. There’s a lot to enjoy about this part of Medellín, and a lot to learn about as well. Your tour guide will be able to explain the background stories of various murals, describe the transformation of the neighborhood, and help you understand the amazing history of Comuna 13.