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Medellin, Colombia

Medellin Antioquia Colombia Car Rentals

Medellin Colombia  Rental Car

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Last Updated:1/05/15
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Parke Lleras


   If you are a first time visitor to Medellin, renting a car is not advised unless you want to take a day trip somewhere:

They are somewhat expensive.  You are supposed to have a Colombian drivers license (but many do not enforce that issue) or an international drivers license issued by many travel clubs.

Insurance is required.

Taxis are cheap and readily available in front of any hotel, store, restaurant or disco; You can hire a taxi by the day cheaper than you can rent a car.

There are many one way streets in Medellin and very few places to make a left turn.

There are speed bumps (Policias) all over the city.  If you do not know where they are and do not see them, you could severely damage a rental cars suspension.

There are roundabouts (big ones called Glorietas or Rampas
and small ones called Las Orejas, yes, ears) that you must navigate to go in the opposite direction or change highways.

If you have an accident, do not move the vehicle.  They must be left in the exact state they were in at the time the accident occurred.

Parking is not a major problem or expensive and there are many multi-level parking garages around the city (only the driver may enter.  Passengers must be dropped off at the entrance). Just make sure you check the time they close or you will have to return the next day to retrieve your car and they will bill you for the entire time your car is parked there.  Also, watch out for no parking zones (noted by a large red P over a blue or white background with a red slash painted through it) or your car will be towed and it will cost you a bundle to retrieve it. They can tow a car here faster than you can blink.

It is not advised to drive a rental car between major cities here.  Their license plates have a designation identifying them as rentals.  Fly or take a tour bus if you want to go by ground.

If you are a seasoned visitor, here is a list of reputable Car rental agencies we have dealt with in the past; Others listed in the Yellow Pages

Note: Renting a car opens up opportunities for day trips to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Helena, El Peñol, La Pintada or Llano Grande in Rionegro. Driving from Medellin allows for spectacular views as you climb up and out of the city into the surrounding mountains or rent a private car and driver for the day.

When driving outside the city, TURN ON YOUR LIGHTS, or you will be fined.  The driver and passenger in the front seat are required by law to wear their seat belts.

There are frequent military and police check points along many routes out of the city They generally check the cars papers, your drivers license and that you have your lights turned on. These minor inconveniences are for your ultimate safety. There are also occasional tolls of $4 to $6.

You should not try to drive during the busy traffic hours of the day.

Pico y Placa.  Based upon your license tag number, there are restrictions on times of the day you can drive on certain days in the city.
Ask first because the fines are stiff.

Well known rental companies
Carrera 43 A No. 23 40
TEL: 381 44 33, 233 38 10. Fax. 232 4670
International Reservations:980-120028. Aeropuerto José María Córdova, Muelle Nacional (arrival and departure by Avianca and SAM, use lower level).Tel: 536 0275. Hours: Monday to Sat., 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sundays and Holidays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Calle 1 A Sur No.43 A 35, Edificio Colmena.
TEL: 311 9262,3119224, Fax:3120500.
Aeropuerto José María Córdova, Muelle Nacional, arrival or departure by Avianca y SAM) use lower level. TEL: 562 2832. Hours. Monday to Sat.  8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.;Sundays and holidays 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m.

Pico Y Placa Medellin Colombia Driving Restrictions
Rules of the Road:

Driving is on the right hand side of the road. Most cars have standard transmissions although some rentals have automatic. Rental options will be composed mainly of cars with 4 to 6 Cylinder engines that are of European and Japanese manufacture. Foreign visitors may drive if they show an international driver's license (a multilingual endorsement card issued by automobile and driver's clubs around the world), passport and credit card.

Insurance is mandatory. Note:  If you do have an accident, DO NOT MOVE YOUR VEHICLE even if the accident is blocking traffic.  Wait until the police arrive, complete their investigation and tell you it is OK to move your car or leave. If you are injured, you will be taken to a local emergency room hospital for treatment and your car towed by a wrecker.

The speed limit in residential areas is 30 km/h (19 mph), and in urban areas it is 60 km/h (37 mph). There is a national speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). Medellin has speed bumps on many roads that help to maintain low speeds in urban areas and residential neighborhoods.

The country has a well maintained network of roads that connect all major cities in the Andean areas and the Caribbean Coast. There may be frequent landslides on roads and highways during the rainy seasons that will interrupt traffic but these inconveniences are generally quickly cleared. There are many toll crossings and the fees are generally $4.00 to $6.00. There are also lots of dirt roads in variable conditions. International land travel is only possible to Ecuador and Venezuela but again is not advised for tourists.

In Medellin, the streets are numbered alpha numerically. Carreras increase from East to West and the Calles from South to North, except for the ones located south of Calle 1 which increase from the south and display the word Sur after the number. Thus the address Carrera 38 #23 45 corresponds to a location on Carrera 38 between Calles 23 and 24.  There will be a plate on the door 23 45.  Another example would be Calle 9 Sur #36 128.  The property is located on Calle 9 Sur between Carreras 36 and 37 whose door plate displays 36 128.  This numbering system makes getting around Medellin very simple and makes locating a destination for a taxi driver a cinch! (well, almost always).
There are not many places to make left hand turns in Medellin but where you can, they will be clearly marked.  Instead, there will be roundabouts called Glorietas (big ones) and Las Orejas (ears) for the small ones. Traffic police do not take too kindly to visitors not observing their traffic regulations but will usually let you off with a warning for the first offense. Do not park in an area that has a large round blue circle with a big red P and a slash through the middle.  These are no parking zones and they will very quickly tow your car if you park there.

Passengers in the front seat must wear a seat belt and the driver or passengers are not allowed to smoke.  Passengers may be drinking but not the driver.  They have frequent road blocks with breathalyzer tests and the fines are very stiff.

If you get stopped or pulled over do not panic.  If you speak Spanish, just explain you are new in town and do not fully understand some of the driving rules but you are learning.  Most times, they will let you go with a warning.  If you do not speak Spanish, they will most likely just let you go.....Hummmm!

If you get a ticket, pay it within 5 days and you get a 50% discount on the fine.  If you wait until after a certain date to pay it, the fine increases by 50% and goes up monthly until you do pay it!

Traversing the roundabouts can be very scary and very illogical.  A car on the inside lane has the right of way to pass in front of you to exit the roundabout even though you may be in front of them.  This has never made sense to me but they will honk and get very angry if you do not let them pass.

Paisas are pretty laid back about most things except driving.  They will wait patiently in lines at banks and supermarkets without expressing so much as a sigh but when they get behind the wheel of a car, they become very aggressive. Courteous driving is an oxymoron in Medellin.  It is a fight to gain even one car length and many times they create 4-5 lanes out of a 3 lane street.  Horns honk as soon as a light turns green and sometimes just before. Don't be surprised if a hand appears out of a window, (drivers or passengers side) flapping downward.  It means they are changing lanes in front of you whether you like it or not or whether there is room for them to do so! They are changing lanes!!!! Just be calm, drive slowly, inch forward warily at traffic jams and intersections and keep a very watchful eye in your side and rear view mirrors because motorcycles are constantly weaving in and out of traffic....from all directions!!!
Tours of Medellin Colombia and Surrounding Cities
Medellin City Tours
Of course, you could always hire a private driver who knows the roads, laws and directions.  A lot safer and a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery in a relaxed environment.
Highly Recommended versus renting a car on your first visit.