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Travel Guide to Colombia with Local Expertise

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Colombia at a glance

Shedding its once-negative image, Colombia has become one of the world’s top travel destinations. From the Andes to the Caribbean beaches, Colombia showcases its natural beauty along with mysterious archaeological sites, colonial treasures, and thriving cities. Travelers to Colombia will discover a country filled with all of Latin America’s charm, allure and much more.

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Joining South to Central America, Colombia is the only country in South America with two coastlines (Caribbean and Pacific). Situated on the equator, Colombia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. While we can write about how spectacular and Colombia’s landscapes and diversity are, it is the dramatic change in its reputation that is one of its most impressive features. Colombians are as optimistic as ever and are incredibly proud of the country they have helped to turn around. Their resilience and flair sets Colombians apart from the rest of Latin Americans and adds even more to the experience of traveling to Colombia. One thing difficult to find anywhere else in the world is Colombian hospitality, which will, without a doubt, ensure you leave the country with an entirely new perception of Colombia. The Caribbean and Pacific coasts feature idyllic beaches, islands, and coral reefs while the magnificent Andes feature snow-capped mountains and stunning high-altitude plains. The more you travel around Colombia, the more you will marvel at its diversity and beauty.




This is the section with a road map to help you in planning your trip to Colombia, give an idea of a general idea of the region, what areas may be of interest, visas and other great information worth considering when preparing for your journey to the region.


All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Colombia. However, we strongly recommend traveling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times. VisaHQ can assist U.S. citizens with a full range of expedited passport services, including new passport application, passport renewal, and any required visas. Colombia requires that you have adequate unused pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure. Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Colombia. It may be the case that countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa.


Colombia is one of our favorite family travel destinations in South America. While you may be tempted to only take your family to Colombia’s stunning Caribbean beaches, the country has much more to offer the family. The sprawling and lively major cities of Colombia have activities the whole family can enjoy such as Bogota’s Gold Museum, which takes you on a journey to discover the mysteries surrounding the legend of El Dorado. On the other hand, the villages and Colombian countryside give you and your family the chance to enjoy the great outdoors, from a horseback ride in the Coffee Triangle to wildlife spotting in the paradisaical Tayrona National Park. The natural diversity of Colombia and its vibrant culture guarantee the whole family has a memorable experience.


Colombians are happy and warm people, and you will often receive warm smiles and greetings anywhere you go. Colombians are proud of their country, and they will show and tell you they appreciate your visit. As the official language, Spanish is the most widely spoken in Colombia. However, there are also between 60 and 80 indigenous languages spoken by natives throughout the country. Generally speaking you can get by with just English, but life is made much easier if you arrive in Colombia knowing a few basic words and phrases. You will quickly discover the warmth of Colombian people when you make an effort to speak even just a few words in Spanish.


Colombia’s gastronomic scene may not be as well-known as the scenes of its South American neighbors, but those who travel to Colombia will encounter a mouth-watering array of new and exciting flavors. Featuring one of the widest ranges of exotic ingredients in the continent and a huge range of traditional and local recipes, it’s time to get your tastebuds fine-tuned to the numerous Colombian delicacies. Your first step into Colombia will most likely be in Bogotá. If it is you’re in for a culinary treat, as the capital city is currently going through a foodie destination boom. Most of the top chefs in Colombia have started to use the country’s various cultures and regions as inspiration to experiment with their wide range of local ingredients and recipes. Colombia shares a lot in common with the ingredients found in Peruvian cooking, however, it has the added influences of its world-renowned coffee and vibrant Caribbean culture. Today, Colombia has an interesting gastronomic scene with a number of excellent restaurants in Bogotá, Cartagena, Medellin and beyond.


This is one of the first questions we receive from prospective travelers interested in traveling to Colombia. Fortunately, over the last decade Colombia has cleaned up its reputation and is today a safe place to travel to in South America. In fact, Colombia is now safer on average than all the countries immediately neighboring it. In the poorer neighborhoods of Colombia’s big cities there is still some street crime, but this is no different than anywhere else in the world. If you’re vigilant and use your common sense while exploring Colombia’s main cities, you should have no issues. As a foreigner you will stick out, so keep an eye out for your belongings and don’t wear lots of expensive jewelry or show off your newest iPhone or expensive camera and laptop. There are police everywhere in Colombia, especially at major attractions, parks and stations. Please don’t jump to conclusions that it isn’t safe. They are present to avoid issues, not because there are issues.


While it is not mandatory to have any specific vaccinations in order to enter Colombia, there are a number of vaccinations recommended for those traveling to the country. You should always check with your physician as to your specific health requirements before travel. It is sensible to do so approximately 4-6 weeks before departure as not all vaccines are immediately effective. Travel to exotic destinations is a good time to ensure that all your routine immunizations are up to date. This includes shots for measles, mumps, rubella, and polio, as well as tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Please note that all travelers should visit the Health Information for Travelers to Colombia section of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, prior to traveling to the country. We recommend taking out travel insurance with World Nomads, they have Standard & Explorer Plans available.


Colombia’s official currency is the Colombian Peso and the exchange rate as of 2018 is approximately ~ COP$ 2,970 to US$1.00. Unlike most other countries in Latin America, apart from high-end restaurants and hotels the US Dollar is not widely accepted. If you bring US Dollars with you, then you’ll be able to convert them at your hotel, bureau de changes, and high-street banks. The great thing about Colombia is that you’re never too far from an ATM, even in relatively small towns. Mastercard, Diners Club, American Express and Visa are all widely accepted in Colombia. Traveler’s checks aren’t recommended, as although they can be exchanged at some banks, few businesses accept them. Tipping in Colombian restaurants is voluntary but they will ask you at the end of your meal if you want it included (10%) or excluded in the bill (which is called propina voluntaria or servicio).


As the fourth-largest country in South America, the distances you will need to travel to reach the various highlights are huge. The intercity buses are reliable and run frequently, however, with the introduction of a number of low-cost domestic airlines airfare is now only slightly more expensive than the bus. Flying will also save you time and it’s much more comfortable than a long bus journey. There are 13 international airports in Colombia with the largest, El Dorado International Airport, located in Bogota. The El Dorado Airport serves approximately 20 million passengers per year, making it one of the region’s busiest and more important transport hubs. Within Colombia’s Coffee Triangle you can get around easily in the colorful Willy Jeeps. This is a cheap but bumpy travel experience, but don’t let that take away from you enjoying the stunning views and aromas of the world famous coffee.


Colombia’s electricity runs at 110V so if you’re coming from the US you won’t need to bring your transformer with you. You will need an adapter if any of your electrical appliances and devices do not have a vertical two-prong plug. Even though the country runs with a similar voltage, it’s not exact, but your electrical devices will usually be able to tolerate this slight difference. It’s mostly safe to plug your electrical apparatus without a voltage adapter. Phone coverage is good throughout most of the country. Check with your phone company if there are roaming agreements before your departure. As for the Internet, Internet cafés and wireless access are available in most urban areas, airports, and hotels with good connections and speed.

Related Blog Articles

Find out more about the culture, lifestyle, and places to travel in Colombia. We’ll be looking at a range of destinations, traditions and travel tips for this incredible country in our Travel Blog. What’s better is you’ll be hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth – people living and working right here in Colombia. Learn about our favorite restaurants in Bogota and beyond, research the best beaches and hiking trails or stay informed about upcoming festivals taking place across the country. Visit our Travel Blog for travel tips, inspiration and all the latest! Some of our favorite articles on Colombia: 


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