When you first arrive in Colombia one of the first things you will need to do is find out is how to find street addresses in Colombian cities. If you are a foreigner visiting Colombia, how to find street addresses in Colombia is something you will need to understand.
You will need to know how to find the street address of the hotel, hostel or apartment you are staying in or at least how to provide the address to your taxi driver. Also, you will use street addresses all the time when going to restaurants, offices, shops, museums or other places and attractions.
Street addresses in Colombia generally follow a standard grid system. So, once you understand this grid system, it becomes relatively easy to find street addresses in Colombian cities.
Some Medellin Guru readers have asked about finding street addresses. So, we are providing this guide to finding street addresses in Colombian cities and also using maps in Colombia.
Street Addresses in Colombia Cities
Street addresses in Colombian cities include several different types and Calle and Carrera are the most common:
- Carrera – runs north and south and the Carrera street numbers increase as you go further west. Abbreviation CR or CRA.
- Calle – runs east and west and the Calle street numbers increase as you go further north. Abbreviation CL.
So, with Calles and Carreras generally running perpendicular to each other, cities in Colombia typically use a grid system.
But to make things interesting you will also find Transversal, Diagonal and Circular. Other types used include Avenida, Autopista and Vía.
Also, some streets can have more than one name. For example, Carrera 43A in Medellín is also known as Avenida Poblado.
In rural areas outside of cities where streets aren’t numbered, addresses can be expressed with the nearest milepost and the name of the road. For example, Km 2 Vía Las Palmas is an address near the Km 2 milepost on Viá Las Palmas.
How to Find Street Addresses in Colombian Cities
In Colombian cities, street addresses normally follow this format:
[street name] # [number 1] – [number 2] with the number sign alternatively “No.”
For example, Calle 65 # 10-15 (alternately Calle 65 No. 10-15) would be an address on Calle 65, located about 15 meters from Carrera 10.
Sometimes you will also see INT being included in an address, which stands for interno (internal) and can be an apartment number or office number inside a building.
You won’t see street signs at every corner in the cities and pueblos in Colombia. But instead of street signs you will frequently see at corners signs on the sides of buildings with the street’s name. Also, not every building has a sign with its street address.
Post Codes in Colombia
Colombia does have postcodes (zip codes), but they are rarely used. Few people in Colombia know what a post code is, and almost everyone won’t know the postcode for their address.
The national postal service in Colombia, 472, several years ago zoned Colombia, launched a postcode campaign and tried to promote the use of these codes in Colombia. But this never really took off.
The first two digits of a postcode in Colombia is the department, for example:
- Antioquia – 05
- Bogotá D.C. – 11
- Atlántico – 08
- Bolívar – 12
- Cundinamarca – 25
I only had to use a Colombia post code once in over eight years living in Medellín when sending a package via FedEx from the U.S. Administration didn’t know the post code in my building. So, I had to search for a while on the Internet to find out my postcode
Using Map Mobile Apps to Find Street Addresses in Colombian Cities
We previously looked at 22 of the best mobile apps to use in Medellín and Colombia. Two of the apps we looked at are maps: Google Maps and Waze.
Both map mobile apps are easy to use and permit you to enter a street address like Calle 65 # 10-15.
Google Maps is considered the navigation king. The Google Maps mobile app is fairly accurate in Medellín. And I primarily use Google Maps for walking directions and have found that it is pretty reliable.
Google Maps is the most popular navigation app by far. But I prefer the Waze app for use on the road in Medellín, as it seems to do a better job of finding alternate routes to avoid traffic. Google Maps is better for directions when walking.
I use the Google Maps mobile app frequently when walking. I also use Google Maps on my computer to look to see the distance between two points to determine if it’s walkable.
Waze is a maps mobile app that is popular in Medellín and Colombia. I have been using Waze more often than Google Maps for use while in cars.
Waze has a large community of drivers feeding data into the app’s backend. So, Waze is able to better estimate travel times and also find alternate routes to avoid traffic.
The Waze map has real-time color-coded traffic that is normally more accurate than Google Maps. And I have used the alternate routes feature of Waze many times to find faster routes while in taxis.
For example, I used this app twice last week to direct taxi drivers to alternate routes that were faster as they avoided traffic. Also, I have found that some taxi drivers don’t seem to understand the grid system of the streets very well. So, using Waze helps out.
Using Street Maps of Colombian Cities
Physical street maps of Colombian cities can be difficult to find. Unlike in the U.S., where street maps can be found being sold in many places including local convenience stores, street maps are more difficult to find in Colombia.
If you would like to have a street map, check with local tourist offices. They sometimes have city maps and I have picked up maps from tourist offices in Cartagena, Medellín and Pereira and even some pueblos like San Carlos.
Also, I was able to buy a large street map of Medellín at the Panamericana book store on Avenida Poblado in Medellín. They had maps of several cities available for sale. But I had to ask for them, as they were in a filing cabinet and not out for display.
The physical street maps of Colombian cities are easy to use but I have found some are missing streets.
The Bottom Line: How to Find Street Addresses in Colombian Cities
Once you understand the grid system used in Colombia it becomes relatively easy to find street addresses in Colombia cities and pueblos.
All the articles on this website include street addresses of the places we have covered including restaurants, malls, shops and museums.
In addition, I highly recommend using the mobile apps Google Maps and Waze. I use both map apps frequently. And I rarely use physical street maps even though I have several.
And in these applications, you can not only use directions, you can also reach your destination by putting the name of the place. For example: Parque Arví, without having to have the address. In Medellín it is very common for people not to know their addresses.
Editors note: updated on June 28, 2023 with new information about the apps to look up directions and new images.
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