Colombia : Safety by City
Colombia is located in the northwest of South America, sharing its borders with Panama to the northwest, Venezuela and Brazil to the east and Ecuador and Peru to the south.
What makes Colombia a must-visit tourist destination are its vast space brimming with landscapes and cultural heritage.
When it comes to culture, its capital Bogotá is the absolute leader in entire Latin America in experimental theater, and you can expect to run into a bunch of bookstores, music stores, and libraries and if you’re into music, there’s no place like this one: the Latin music scene of salsa and cumbia is extremely popular, with the most popular dance display – the huge Carnival of Barranquilla.
However, Colombia is not just a perfect destination for those that are hungry for parties and adventure.
There is a whole lot of history here: you can explore the old Spanish colonial provincial retreats like Villa de Leyva, hike through the jungle-covered mountains searching for the Lost City of the Tayrona Indians, or marvel at the walls of Cartagena’s old city.
And of course, for the summer-lovers, there are tropical beaches along Colombia’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts that you truly shouldn’t miss.
Warnings & Dangers in Colombia
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Despite its frightening reputation, Colombia’s safety has increased in the past couple of years, and it’s not as bad as it once was. Still, you need to apply precaution measures all the tame and follow the instructions to stay safe.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Transport is not the safest in Colombia. When using a taxi, always opt for calling the taxi service instead of hailing them off the streets. Also, buses are a problem, as well as the rural roads where if you’re a single car on the road, you’re an easy target for the criminals lurking to rob you on the roads and highways.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpockets are extremely common, and tourists very commonly find themselves in such a situation. When you’re on the streets, try not to look like you have money and leave all your valuables in your accommodation. Don't take your cell phone out in the middle of the street, and while walking around, keep your eyes and hands on your purse at all times.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Since Colombia is a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and Andean Volcanic Belt, natural disasters that are common in this country are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Always follow the advice of the authorities.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
The risk of getting mugged or kidnapped is also high in Colombia. There are neighborhoods and areas that should be avoided at all cost, liken Calle 9 area. Bear in mind that you should avoid rural roads and walking alone, particularly at night. Cartagena and coastal areas are safer since they are known tourist areas.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorism risk is very real in this country, as terrorists are likely to try and carry out attacks in Colombia. The main danger comes from the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents of the FARC guerrilla group (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and other illegal armed groups. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There are a lot of scammers in Colombia trying to take advantage of you, and you have to be smart and cautious, otherwise you will lose your money or get stolen from. Be wary of people lurking around ATMs or anyone trying to distract you. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Colombia is not recommended for solo female travelers, as women can easily feel unsafe on the streets of Bogota and other major cities even when accompanied. If you do decide to, be extremely careful, especially at night and always try to stick with other individuals or groups. Even going accompanied by just one more person is better than going alone.
So... How Safe Is Colombia Really?
During the past couple of decades, Colombia has had a reputation of being an extremely dangerous country, ridden with crime and violence, and the situation truly was grave, but it has greatly improved since the ’90s.
In reality, when it comes to crime, the situation varies throughout the country.
For example, the majority of jungle regions aren’t safe, but the areas around Leticia and Santa Marta are generally safe to visit.
Avoid the Darien Gap located at the border with Panama, and this goes for Putumayo and Caquetá as well, as they are known to be conflict zones.
You should also be careful and travel with locals when visiting areas of Chocó, Cauca, and Valle del Cauca, eastern Meta, Vichada, and Arauca, as well as all Amazonian departments except for Amazonas.
You should still bear in mind that even though Colombia has been fighting crime and it’s been on a decrease since the ’80s, major urban centers, as well as the rural parts of Colombia, still have very high rates of violent crime.
If you end up in a poor area of any Colombian major city, keep in mind that they can be pretty dangerous and that you should always call a taxi instead of walking through those neighborhoods.
However, since taxi crime is also common, always request one by phone instead of hailing one off the street.
How Does Colombia Compare?
- Visas - Many countries do not need a visa in order to enter Colombia for any stays shorter than 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Colombia. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Colombian peso is the official currency in Colombia. ATMs are widely available throughout the country and credit cards are commonly accepted in most establishments.
- Weather - Colombia has very warm and tropical climate both on the coast and in the north, and there is a rainy season that lasts from May to November. Colombia is very close to the equator, so the temperature doesn’t vary throughout the year, but it does vary depending on the altitude of regions.
- Airports - El Dorado International Airport is the busiest international airport in Colombia’s capital Bogotá, and its surrounding areas. The biggest part of the airport is located in the Fontibón neighborhood of Bogotá.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Colombia since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.
Colombia Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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16 Reviews on Colombia
A different kind of country
Last year I didn’t think I would ever be going to Colombia because I thought it was very unsafe. Then a friend told me about his experiences there and told me he would go again so I went. It’s not as unsafe as some sites make it out to be. It’s not very safe but there are many nice things that make it worthwhile.
Went with a group of friends and had fun
Went in without many expectations, with a group of friends. We had fun, visited many cities like Bogota and Medellin and never felt unwanted and unsafe. I know bad things still happen in this country but I only had fun while I was here.
Colombia al igual que Vnzla son los países mas inseguros de AL. No recomendaría jamás ir a visitar Colombia que no tiene nada de bueno. El narcotráfico existe, la delincuencia existe, los guerrilleros existen, y los robos en casi todas las ciudades es al por mayor.
Como que este artículo lo escribió una colombiano
sound like you’re just butt hurt by you’re own personal experience. Shameful actually. Anyways, Colombia is a great place to visit. Just use common sense. e.g. You wouldn’t go walking around south central at night alone, so don’t expect to do such things in the barrios of Colombia.
Cartegena is very safe for travellers
My husband, 16 year old daughter and I spent 3 weeks in and around Cartegena in December 2019 to January 2020. We stayed in different parts of the city and really enjoyed ourselves. Just like anywhere else in the world, be mindful and aware or your surroundings. It is helpful to speak some basic Spanish, although many speak English at Hotels and restaurants. Honestly,I felt safer in Cartagena than I do in Mexico. We loved it and would return.
Colombia is Magic
we went twice, first time only Cartagena and surroundings in January 2018. We fell totally in love with this country!! Yes there are “shady” parts and you have to take basic traveller precautions like anywhere in the world….
Second time we explored everything around and between Cali, Bogota, Medellin and all of Coffee triangle by motorbike. Finished off in Santa Martha and in a beach hut further up the coast of Tayrona National park. Only had fantastic experiences and friendly locals and stunning scenery all around!! The Colombians say ” don’t give them Papaya” which basically means, don’t show off and flaunt your valuables. So if you go to submerge yourself in their beautifull country and way of life, you’ll have the time of your life!! If you are more of a show off looking for others to recognise and serve you for your dollars, pick a more superficial destination.
Maybe it is just me but I wouldn’t consider this place “mostly safe”. I had gone 4 different times over the years. Twice I have been robbed on two separate trips. My last being the final straw when everything was taken from me. Maybe it depends on who you go with, what you look like, and how much income you have? I am not sure.
Nice City for rest of my life with my beuat
I do have a good experience of most of Colombia. Since 2016 i have lived together with a charming colombiana. She is now my wife.
I just went to Guayquil to arrange things and will be happy to return to my home city Medellin.
It is never that unsafe than Guayquil where the murders have doubled from 2021..
I am now oficially a medellano and plan to get nationality of Colombia.
Most areas are safe and Colombia is worth a trip
Colombia is a country filled with adventure and also history and culture. You can find just about anything here from tropical beaches and parties (with salsa and cumbia) to colonial provincial retreats and experimental theater (which you must see).
All my experiences are positive
My personal experiences with Colombia tell me that it’s generally a relatively safe country. It’s not the safest by any means and you can get robbed even in daytime if you’re in the wrong place. It’s a matter of knowing where to go and where not to I guess. It always helps if you have a couple of friends or family and aren’t alone as safety in numbers and all of that. I never went alone so that could be a different experience entirely. I didn’t have anything stolen from me but a pickpocket tried to while we were in a more crowded area. I was paying attention and managed to protect my phone from being stolen. So these things can happen (it was daytime) but this happens regularly in the US and in many, many countries.
Cartagena should be your first stop (or one of the first). Every time I went on a walk in this city, I felt like I was truly back in time. It felt amazing to me. I can’t explain it in words, you have to go yourself and experience the labyrinth-like streets. Medellin should be your next visiting spot. It was once known as a very dangerous city but things are much better today. It’s a must visit for it’s eco parks, amazing libraries and many art pieces (sculptures, etc) plus fine eateries.
When I visited the Tayrona National Natural Park I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by it’s beauty but I was. Imagine palm-shaded beaches with clear waters close to imposing mountains. Snorkeling is great here. Since many people visit these areas, it’s better to come in the low season which goes from November to February.
A great place to visit is Providencia Island because it has one of the biggest marine biodiversity you can see. Believe me when I say this is so worth the trip.
Never had a problem
I have been to Colombia 4 or 5 times and never had a problem. I was staying in a hotel in Bogota and the manager told me, ‘When you go out of the hotel you walk right and you will be fine, if you go left and go to these streets (pointing on the map) you will be mugged.’ I went out of the hotel and turned right.
Once I was at the festival in Barranquilla, some foreigners were getting out of hand and didn’t get punched. Believe me, in any western country they would have been filled in and they would have deserved it.
I walked the streets day and night and never felt threatened.
I went there. Getting a tourist visa is extremely difficult if you need one (of course easier than getting a tourist visa for Mexico, US or Schengen where it is litteraly impossible but it is still very hard to get a Colombian visa). However the people are very nice. I stayed for one month in different parts of the country and nothing bad happened. My Spanish and my English are far from perfect but I still got along and people very very kind and helpful. I want to visit again!
Just becareful of the taxi scams negotiate price before trip
Don't know about Colombia but I want to visit
This article really looks up and down on different countries. Idc if they say this or that I WILL GO!!!!
im colombian and its generally safe if you know what your doing just dont go to any border areas, the jungle or poor areas and youll be fine