Is Manizales Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On January 8, 2024
Manizales, Colombia
Safety Index:
47
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Due to the drug cartels and related violence in the 1980s and 1990s, Colombia has gained a reputation for being a dangerous destination for visitors and locals alike.

While there are plenty of hazardous locations in the country, the government has heavily invested in the safety of citizens and tourists to change the narrative and invite the world to enjoy the endless local cultures and customs around the country.

With a metropolitan area population of a little over a half million, Manizales has experienced a massive decline in homicides and overall violent crime over the past 15 years.

In 2008, there were 181 homicides compared to 2018, when the city saw 80, making the decline 58 percent lower than the 2008 count.

Furthermore, 50 percent of these homicides occurred in two neighborhoods north of the city: Ciudadela del Norte and San Jose.

In addition to the drop in crime, the beautiful scenery, warm locals, and coffee culture have significantly boosted tourism in recent years.

If you’re considering taking your next vacation in Manizales, Colombia, it’s essential to understand the safety risks, safest places to visit, places to avoid, safety tips, and other helpful information before traveling.

Keep reading to learn more!

Warnings & Dangers in Manizales

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

Although Manizales is much safer than most other Colombian cities, visitors still have a moderate safety risk. Colombia is on the upswing, with safety increasing in the past few years, so it's considerably better than it once was. However, always be cautious and on guard, aware of your surroundings, remain vigilant, don't become distracted, and use common sense in all situations.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM

Manizales taxis and buses are generally safe, but it's critical to remain cautious and vigilant. Petty theft on mass transit exists, especially during the most crowded hours, so keep your belongings secure and never flash valuables in public. Taxis are typically dependable but try to book through reputable local companies or use ridesharing apps.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

Like most cities worldwide, pickpocketing and bag snatching occur in Manizales, especially in tourist areas and crowded places. Always take precautions like not openly displaying valuables, being aware of your surroundings, and being vigilant.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Colombia is subjected to the Andean Volcanic Belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, so natural disasters are common in Manizales. Severe storms, mudslides, earthquakes, and occasionally volcanic eruptions occur, so it's best to be prepared for all situations and follow the guidance of the local authorities.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Manizales has lower crime than most other Colombian cities, but be cautious of muggings, especially at night. The well-traveled neighborhoods and downtown area are regularly patrolled, but some satellite neighborhoods are not. Violent crime is uncommon, but opportunities for crimes like pickpocketing occur, so use reliable transportation after dark, and if you must walk back, be aware of your surroundings.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

While terrorism is low, there is a small risk of attacks from groups like the National Liberation Army and other illegal armed forces. These attacks are incredibly rare and do not specifically target tourists or touristy places, but it's important to be aware of your surroundings.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: HIGH

Plenty of scammers exist in Manizales and across Colombia, so you must be cautious and smart, or you will lose your money, valuables, or other belongings. Be wary of those trying to distract you or lurking around ATMs, and taxis can sometimes give incorrect ride price information. Listen and politely walk away if your instinct tells you to leave the situation.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

While Manizales scores a moderate risk in many areas, it has an excellent reputation for being respectful and safe for women. However, always remain aware of your surroundings and cautious despite a few reports of sexual harassment. Also, to avoid attention, dress appropriately, and respect the local customs and cultures, you won't have any problems.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: MEDIUM

Although Manizales tap water is generally safe to drink due to high water quality and distribution systems, some travelers could react to the various treatment practices compared to what they're used to at home. Also, the water quality varies based on the time of year and city section, so it's advisable to drink bottled water, especially for those with sensitive stomachs.

Safest Places to Visit in Manizales

When thinking of Manizales, fancy coffee shops are the first establishments that come to mind, which conjure images of culture and elegance, rightfully so since Manizales is one of the other three state capitals along Colombia’s Coffee Axis.

As one of the safest large cities in the country, plenty of safe places exist to visit, including the Milan, Alta Suiza, La Rambla, Laureles, Palermo, and Cable Plaza neighborhoods.

These areas tend to be more upscale, with a higher police presence.

However, being on guard, vigilant, and aware of your surroundings is always advisable.

Places to Avoid in Manizales

While plenty of excellent and safe neighborhoods exist to visit, Manizales has its crime-ridden, unsafe destinations, which should be avoided, especially alone at night.

These include La Ena, El Centro, Parque de las Aguas, Plaza del Toros, and Chipre.

If you wander into these areas, calmly turn around and walk back the way you came, call a taxi, or use a ridesharing app to depart the area quickly.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Manizales

  1. Avoid ATMs on the Street. ATMs on the street can be illegal operations, and those that are hidden away from the general public should be avoided entirely to ensure you aren’t a robbery victim. The best alternatives are to withdraw money from inside a bank, at a grocery store, or in a mall where plenty of people are in the area.
  2. Be Aware of Motorcycles. A larger number of crimes and robberies in Colombia occur by criminals riding motorcycles who can quickly leave the scene. Therefore, when using your phone on the street or inside a taxi with the window rolled down, you may attract unwanted attention from a motorcycle criminal. Always hand over your belongings, especially if you are threatened with a weapon, but be aware of your surroundings when using it.
  3. Be Careful of Fake Police. While this may shock many tourists, Manizales and the entire country have fake police who ask to see if your money is counterfeit. This is a scam; you can politely decline to show them your money. Remember, real police never ask to see your money, so declining and walking away can help you avoid this trick.
  4. Be Vigilant on the Bus. Robberies can occur anywhere in Manizales, including on the bus system. Pickpockets appear at rush hour when the buses are most crowded, but it’s essential to be vigilant at all times. Those pickpocketed aren’t even aware of their loss until they arrive at the destination or reach for a specific item. Also, keep your wallet and phone in your front pocket and purses and backpacks at the front of your body.
  5. Don’t Carry Your Passport Around. It’s perfectly acceptable to carry a copy of your passport as another form of identification. When leaving the accommodation, never bring your original passport, and only bring credit cards, ATM cards, and the amount of cash you plan to spend for the day. Keep the rest of these items locked away in a safe location.
  6. Don’t Invite Strangers into Your Hotel. If you’re meeting up with a local or other traveler you’ve never met, always do so in a public area like a café, restaurant, or mall, with plenty of other people around. Also, regardless of how nice and friendly they seem, never allow them to enter your hotel room or home.
  7. Keep a Low Profile. Maintaining a low profile in Manizales means you are less likely to become the victim of a crime. To do so, skip loud and boisterous behavior that will draw attention to yourself. Also, never give out personal information about where you’re staying or living to strangers.
  8. Never Flash Valuables. While this may seem easy, it cannot be overstated in Manizales. Purse snatching and pickpocketing are common in many public places, with distraction being the strategy. Therefore, keep all valuables hidden from the public eye so you don’t become a target. Also, if you must use your mobile device, be aware of your surroundings to avoid conflicts.
  9. No Dar Papaya. No dar papaya is a famous Colombian saying meaning, don’t put yourself in a position where you are vulnerable and can be taken advantage of. While most of the tips on this list relate to no dar papaya, it’s important to be vigilant in all situations and locations, even upscale neighborhoods and establishments, because once you let down your guard, criminals can take advantage.
  10. Stay Away from Illegal Activities. Participating in illegal activities, like sex tourism or drugs, dramatically increases your chance of becoming a victim. Historically, most tourist homicides are related to some unlawful activity, so don’t become another statistic, regardless of how many times you have participated in the past.

So... How Safe Is Manizales Really?

Over the past several decades, the entire country, regardless of the city, has gained a reputation of being incredibly dangerous and ridden with violence and crime, primarily due to the drug cartels that ruled the land.

However, that situation has improved considerably since the 1990s.

In reality, crimes occur in Manizales, but they are less violent, and there are more scams or pickpocketing.

It’s best to keep your guard up and always be aware of your surroundings.

How Does Manizales Compare?

CitySafety Index
Manizales47
Bogotá46
Medellin52
Cartagena82
Barranquilla47
Cali52
Santa Marta33
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71
Vienna (Austria)88
Hong Kong (China)70
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

Citizens of most countries don't need a visa to enter Colombia for stays under 90 days. Ensuring your passport is valid for at least six months from the entry date is important. If you need clarification on your visa status, visit the local state department for more information.

Currency

Currency

The country's official currency is the Colombian Peso, but credit cards are accepted at most destinations. Also, ATMs are widely available around Manizales but only withdraw from a bank, grocery store, or mall, never on the street.

Weather

Weather

The entire country, including Manizales, enjoys a tropical and warm climate. Given Colombia's proximity to the equator, the rainy season stretches from May to November, with the temperature remaining consistent year-round. Given Manizales's 7,000-foot elevation, the temperatures are much cooler than the rest of the country.

Airports

Airports

The only airport in Manizales is La Nubia Airport, approximately five miles southeast of downtown. This regional airport has a short runway, so only turbo propeller planes can operate. The greatest issue with using the airport is the weather, which shuts down operations due to wind, rain, and fog so schedules can be inconsistent. Also, La Nubia only operates during daylight hours.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Like visiting any destination, it's recommended to purchase travel insurance when visiting Manizales to cover the cost of loss of valuables, theft, and medical issues that could occur during your stay.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Manizales Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 18° C
Feb 18° C
Mar 18° C
Apr 18° C
May 17° C
Jun 17° C
Jul 18° C
Aug 17° C
Sep 17° C
Oct 17° C
Nov 17° C
Dec 17° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
222222212121222121212121
Low
°C
131313141313141313131313
High
°F
727272707070727070707070
Low
°F
555555575555575555555555

Colombia - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Barranquilla47
Bogotá46
Bucaramanga32
Cali52
Cartagena82
Cucuta32
Leticia70
Manizales47
Medellin52
Popayan31
Santa Marta33

Where to Next?

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