The 2021 Colombia Travel Guides

Colombia Travel Guides

Trip Planning

Activities and Attractions

Best Hotels

Practical Information

Wiki

cartagena colombia
Cartagena Colombia

Is Colombia Safe to Travel ?

The foreign media and people you know who have never set foot in Colombia tend to be very alarmist about the situation in “the country of FARC and cocaine”.
However, the armed conflict in some rural areas and the insecurity in the large urban centres is undeniable.
Yes, the ELN guerrillas and criminal gangs are still very much present.
But they are unlikely to attack a passing tourist if he does not look for it himself.
The police are also well present and generally behave cordially towards foreigners.

How is the Weather like in Colombia ?

If Colombia knows all the climates (arid desert of La Guajira, snowy summits…), almost all the Colombian territory is subjected to a climate of humid tropical type.
The rainy season (April to November) is called ‘winter’ and the dry season (December to March) is called ‘summer’.
In general, it is difficult to avoid rain completely during your stay.

What do we eat in Colombia?

Colombian gastronomy is a reflection of its country: rich, varied and multicultural.
A traditional meal usually consists of rice (or potatoes), kidney beans, meat or fish and plantains, to which you must necessarily add the arepas, small corn cakes
Colombia with a very diverse climate, has agricultural crops specific to each region and thus contribute to the richness of its cuisine.
Cereals, tropical fruits, citrus fruits, wheat, corn and potatoes form the basic ingredients of Colombian cuisine, which are available in many forms.

Do we need a Visa for Colombia ?

Travelers from North America & Europe do not need a visa to travel to Colombia
The passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of arrival.
Be careful however to justify a return date when you enter the country, your ticket may be required.
It is possible to stay up to 90 days from the date of arrival indicated on the passport bucket.
Beyond this period you can renew for 90 more days by going to the migration Office. 

Do I need Vaccines to travel to Colombia?

No vaccination is administratively compulsory for travelers from North America / Europe to Colombia.
However, the following are recommended:
– Hepatitis A
– Hepatitis B
– Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio
– Yellow fever and anti-malaria treatment recommended for certain regions
see also: Colombia Vaccinations Covid 19 & Travel Health Advice

What to Pack for Traveling to Colombia ?

With such great climatic variations, there is no doubt that you should think about the contents of your suitcase for your trip to Colombia.
You’ll need to pack for the hot and tropical climates as well as cold and rainy ones.

Family : Can I travel with my children?

The idea of a family trip to Colombia thrills you but you wonder if safety and activities will take away their wonder? Rest assured, Colombia is not a country exclusively for grown-ups! The little ones will also find their happiness if the tour is adapted to them!
Special itineraries specially designed to travel serenely with your family will be proposed to you by your specialized advisers.
Travel time, accommodation and activities will of course be adapted.
Young and old alike will marvel at a whale and dolphin watching trip along the coast or a horseback ride in the heart of the edifying Valle del Cocora.
They will also enjoy a stroll through the colourful streets of Cartagena or a few days at the beach playing in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.

What is the best time to visit Colombia ?

You can travel all year round, but the best season to visit Colombia (and avoid the rain) is from December to March.
Three periods correspond to the high tourist season (temporada alta):
– Mid-December to mid-January (school holidays)
– Semana santa (Holy Week, mid-April) 
– And to a lesser extent, mid-June to the end of July (school holidays).
During the numerous three-day weekends (puentes festivos), some establishments also charge the prices of the high season.
Everything is much more expensive at Christmas and during Holy Week.
During the rest of the year, prices are more accessible.

How is the Wifi and Internet Access in Colombia ?

As in many emerging countries today, it will be very easy for you to communicate with the rest of the world during your trip to Colombia.
The Internet is relatively widespread throughout the country.
and hotels often offer free internet access.
Telephone services are also of good quality in the cities.
We highly recommend the buy a SIM card , that you can get quickly and are pretty inexpensive.

Where to Stay in Colombia ?

You can find excellent hotels in the big cities, especially in Cartagena and Bogota.
Other charming and authentic addresses are offered in more confidential areas such as Barichara, Salento or San Agustin.

Is the Colombian Coffee really good ?

Colombia is the 3rd largest coffee producing country in the world.
Colombians drink “tinto” (poor quality coffee) in order to export the best of the production to Europe and North America.
But by visiting the farms in the coffee triangle (Manizales, Armenia and Pereira), you will be able to savour all the richness of the aromas.

How to Get to Colombia ?

The best options to fly to Colombia, as always, you can find them in Skyscanner, the best current flight search engine.

What is the currency used in Colombia ?

The currency is the Colombian Peso (COP).
1 Usd = about 3.600 pesos.
1 Euro = about 4.400 pesos.
It is easy to change Dollars or Euros in Colombia, in the exchange offices (“casa de cambio”).
However, it is cheaper and more convenient to withdraw cash from ATMs (“cajero”); those of ATH and Bancolombia are present all over the country.
Note: maximum withdrawal of $600,000 (160 Usd ) with a commission of approximately 7 Usd (depending on your bank).
You can also pay by credit card (mainly Visa and Mastercard) in some shops, hotels, restaurants and car rental companies.

What souvenir to bring back from your trip to Colombia?

The “artesanias”, popular handicraft markets, are full of treasures :
– Hand-woven hammocks
– A comfortable “ruana”, a kind of sheep’s wool poncho that will warm your long winter evenings
– Chic “guayavera” shirts typical of the Caribbean coast,
– Hat “vueltiao” national emblem
– Colombian “mochila”
– A jewel in a filigree of Mompox
– An object in “werregue” or any leather object of which you can have the insurance of an irreproachable quality.
– And of Course Coffee !!!

Budget and cost of living in Colombia

  • Entrance fees to parks/sites/museums: 5 to 15 Usd.
  • Price of drinks (water, fruit juice, beer…): 2 Usd.
  • Price of a light meal per person: 3 to 8 Usd.
  • Price of a larger meal: 10 to 15 Usd
  • Taxis : 5000 Cop minimum to 30.000 Cop for a 30min ride
  • Public Transportation : 2400 Cop aprox

From hammocks to 5-star hotels, family guesthouses and youth hostels, Colombia offers multiple housing options.

Reservations are required during the high tourist season or for a special celebration.

The average cost per person :

  • $25-50,000 : Dormitory bed
  • $50-80000 : Basic bedroom
  • $80-200,000 : comfortable double Room with private bathroom,
  • $250,000 and more for more luxurious bedroom

For many, it can be interesting and original to rent a finca (rural property), with optional staff.

See also : Currency and Budget for a Trip to Colombia

Culture & History of Colombia

Mixed population: The Colombian population is a mixture of Spanish, African (especially on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts) and several types of Afro-Hispanic-Indian mixes.

Catholic religion for more than 90% of Colombians but the country also has Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

Famous characters

  • Yuri Buenaventura, Juanes, Shakira (singers)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize for Literature 1982, deceased April 17, 2014)
  • Fernando Botero (watercolorist and scuptor)
  • Alvaro Uribe (President 2002-2010)
  • Pablo Escobar (former cartel boss, died in 1993)
  • Sergio Cabrera (film director-producer)

Colombian Spanish Glossary

Useful expressions and questions to make yourself understood in Colombia

As in the majority of Latin American countries, the official language in Colombia is Spanish.

Blessed are those who manage to remember the teachings given at the high school, for others here are some simple and useful expressions that will help you immerse yourself in the heart of the local culture and forge ties with this population that deserves to be known throughout the world.

The Colombian B.A ba

With unparalleled kindness, Colombians could spend their day greeting each other and inquiring about the well-being of their fellow man.

There are a thousand and one ways to express a simple “how are you? ».

Here are a few examples: Qué mas, Qué hubo, Como le va, Como le ha ido, Como esta, Como ha estado.

To these questions it is of course customary to answer by Good or Evil, as in French, with the accent in addition!

  • Hello : Hola
  • Good morning (morning): Buenos días
  • Good morning (afternoon): Buenas tardes
  • Good night: Buenas noches
  • Bye, bye: Adiós
  • Goodbye (more formal): Hasta luego
  • Please: Por favor
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • You’re welcome: De nada
  • Nice (to meet you): Encantado de conocerle
  • I don’t understand: No entiendo
  • I don’t speak Spanish: No hablo Español
  • If you wish to go further in the conversation
  • What’s your name? ¿Cómo se llama usted?
  • I am French : Soy Frances (e)
  • How do you say that in Spanish? ¿Cómo se dice esto en Español?
  • Excuse me (to ask for information): Perdón
  • I would like to (…) : Quiero (…) por favor
  • Great! (expressing enthusiasm): Goat or Bacano
  • Can you repeat that, please? : Puede repetir, por favor?
  • Can you speak slower, please? Puede hablar mas despacio, por favor?
  • Useful questions depending on the situation
  • Where’s the bathroom? ¿ Dónde se encuentran los lavabos?
  • I’m lost, could you help me : ¿ Estoy perdido, me puede ayudar?
  • Where is the train station / the city centre / the airport : Puede indicarme como ir a la estaciòn de tren / al centro / al aeropuerto.
  • At what time does the train / plane / bus leave? A qué hora el trén / el avion / el bus para (city), por favor?
  • Could we have some water / bread / check, please? ¿ Nos podria traer agua/ pàn / la cuenta, por favor?

Anyway, you should know that Colombian Spanish is one of the most comprehensive forms of Spanish.

Although some dialects differ from region to region, the language is nonetheless soft and musical.

You will enjoy conversing with a festive and welcoming Colombian population that will make fun of your imperfections.

So don’t be afraid of ridicule and in a word “dare”

Top Tips to know before travelling to Colombia

Do

  • Speaking Spanish, even badly, is much better than talking to a Colombian in English, the language of the gringos.
  • French is not widely spoken, but the French are generally well regarded.
  • Greetings: Colombians are rarely satisfied with a quick hello and ask all sorts of questions before getting down to business.
  • Possible variations: ¿ Qué has hecho? ¿ Q’hubo? ¿ Qué más? ¿ Cómo le ha ido? ¿ Como andas? The answer is almost always muy bien (gracias a diós) y tú? As a general rule, be in a good mood and smile like Colombians do so well, even when things are not going well.
  • Stop grumbling, positive!
  • Keep calm under all circumstances, avoid raising your voice, Colombians are not used to direct verbal conflicts and your little nerves will be seen as particularly rude.
  • Avoid criticizing Colombians and use diplomacy when dealing with cultural, political and religious differences.
  • Keep yourself clean, even when travelling: clean shoes especially! Be aware that the French have a reputation in Latin America for not smelling very good…
  • Be gallant with Colombian women, pretty princesses used to being held out to when getting off the bus or car, to carrying their luggage or packages…
  • Compliments and piropos are appreciated!
  • Avoid jokes associating Colombia and cocaine, Colombian and traffickers… They will make Colombians who are fed up with this reputation laugh.
  • And don’t be afraid if you come across an Escobar, it’s a very common family name in Colombia.
  • Be flexible in your travel plans and be patient: schedules are very flexible in Latin America.
  • Ahorita literally means “in a little while”, but that moment in reality tends to last forever or never happen? ¡ Tranqui cogela suave papi!
  • In Bogotá, close the taxi door with great delicacy, otherwise beware!
  • When driving on the roads, give back salvation to the soldiers who raise their thumbs…
  • Also leave tips (propina) and don’t haggle over anything.

Not to do

  • Dar Papaya. A papaya puesta, papaya partida, the equivalent of “giving the stick to be beaten”.
  • Avoid showing off your valuables, behaving too ostentatiously and trusting a stranger.
  • In big cities like Bogota, don’t accept drinks from a stranger.
  • Photograph people without their permission, especially in Amerindian communities. And if you promise to send photos, be sure you can do so!

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