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Is Colombia Safe for Travel?


Colombia Safe Travel
Colombia has left its tumultuous past behind and has become a safe tourist destination. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

In recent decades, Colombia, a South American gem, has undergone a remarkable safety transformation. From a backdrop of conflicts, it has emerged as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the region and a safe option for traveling.

In 2023, over 5.5 million visitors chose Colombia as their destination, marking a huge increase compared to the previous decade when only 700,000 travelers arrived annually.

Colombia’s safety evolution

For years, Colombia was marred by conflicts between guerrillas and paramilitaries, followed by the era of drug trafficking led by Pablo Escobar and associated issues with common crime. However, the narrative of the country has undergone a radical shift.

Colombia Safe Travel
Comuna 13 of Medellín has experienced a significant urban transformation in recent years, an example of how the country has overcome its past. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

The last 15 years have witnessed significant progress that has transformed not only how the world sees Colombia but also how it is perceived among its own inhabitants.

Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Colombia’s safety has gained prominence and improved in recent years. While challenges persist in some specific areas, it is crucial to highlight that many major cities and tourist destinations are safe for visitors.

However, safety varies across the country for foreigners. Some areas, such as the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Nariño, Putumayo, and Choco, pose challenges due to common crime issues. Despite this, it is essential to note that not the entire department is affected, and many areas are peaceful and beautiful.

Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, is rapidly emerging as a tourism hotspot. Credit: AP/Colombia One

In contrast, tourist destinations like Cartagena, Medellin, Bogota, and others have invested significantly in ensuring the safety of visitors. These cities, steeped in history, culture, and hospitality, deserve exploration by tourists. However, as anywhere in the world, staying vigilant and adhering to basic safety norms is advised.

Leaving aside the big cities, there are very attractive destinations such as Santander, the Coffee Region, the Colombian Caribbean, and The Amazon, the lungs of the world.

Colombia Safe Travel
Villa de Leyva, one of Colombia’s most popular towns. Colombian towns have become a top destination for people visiting the country. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

Precautions for a secure experience in Colombia

While tourist zones are generally safe, taking precautions is essential, as with any international journey.

Avoid leaving valuables unattended in public places, remain vigilant in crowded areas or during late-night hours, plan travels around the country using maps and tourist guides, seek local recommendations on areas to visit or keep clear of, avoid displaying ostentatious valuables, especially at night, and have international medical insurance for any eventualities.

Beyond safety, Colombia offers a treasure trove of unique experiences and irresistible attractions.

Geographical diversity

From the paradisiacal beaches of the Caribbean to the majestic mountains of the Andes, Colombia’s geographical diversity is impressive. Each regidon offers a unique landscape, from the warmth of the eastern plains to the freshness of the highlands of Antioquia and Boyaca.

Among the great diversity of destinations, Colombia has volcanoes and snow-capped mountains that are completely safe and accessible to visit. Credit: A.P / Colombia One

Cultural richness

Colombia is a fusion of indigenous, African, and European influences, creating a vibrant cultural identity. Festivals like the Barranquilla Carnival and the Cali Fair are lively manifestations of this wealth of culture, with music, dance, and joy taking center stage.

Colombia Safe Travel
Colombia, with its ethnic and cultural diversity, is home to 102 indigenous communities that are true cultural treasures but often go unnoticed. Credit: Luis Ospino / Colombia One

Exquisite Colombian cuisine

Colombian cuisine is a delight for the palate. From the traditional Bogota ajiaco to the coastal arepa e’ huevo, each region offers authentic flavors reflecting the abundance of the land and the creativity of its inhabitants.

Colombian ajiaco. Credit: Jeison Rodriguez Sandoval/CC BY-SA 4.0

Unmatched hospitality

The warmth and friendliness of Colombians are universal, regardless of the region or city. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, creating memorable and authentic experiences.

Colombia Safe Travel
Warmth is a particular trait of Colombians. Credit: AP/Colombia One

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