A country of high hilltops, beautiful beaches and sprawling rainforest, Colombia is full of exciting places to explore. Tour the farms that make your morning cup of coffee, spend the day relaxing on a sunny beach or take the opportunity to learn more about the indigenous people that lived in Columbia before the Spanish arrived and view the beautiful art and structures they left behind.
Although once an unsafe country to visit, Colombia is now excited to welcome tourists and largely safe to visit and enjoy. If you are still worried about visiting this beautiful country, consider kidnap and ransom insurance to protect you in even the most extreme circumstances.
- Currency: Peso (COP)
- Must-See Landmark: Old Town Cartagena
- Must-Try Food: Bandeja Paisa (breakfast platter)
- Most Common Language Spanish
- Emergency Services Telephone Number: 123
Travel Insurance for Colombia
With a wide range of plans on the market, it may be difficult to select a plan. To find the plan that's best for you, first assess the condition of your health then take a look at your travel plans. From there, you can compare plans side by side with our compare tool. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, senior travelers and those looking for more complete coverage, a comprehensive plan is the best option. If you are looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may be the way to go.
Visas and Documentation
Nationals of many countries including The United States, Japan, Canada and Mexico can enter Colombia without a visa. Nationals of India and The People's Republic of China may also enter without a visa if they have a valid residence permit or visa for the United States or a Schengen country in Europe.
People who are nationals of Nepal, Vietnam or most of the countries in Africa will require a visa to enter Colombia.
Find the full list of requirements and an extensive list of countries that do and do not require a visa for Colombia on the country's travel information website.
Weather and What to Pack
Colombia is situated on the equator, which makes the climate and length of the day constant all year long. Most of the country is warm to temperate, however, there are cooler places like the moorlands and glacier regions where temperatures can be quite cold. Its a good idea to pack some cold-weather gear if you plan to hike or explore up the mountains of Colombia.
No matter what climate you are exploring, it is a good idea to keep applying sunscreen and bug spray as these are easy ways to avoid minor injuries and infection.
If you forget any essentials, don’t worry—you can always purchase them at your destination. However it is often more cost- and time-effective to simply bring your favorite supplies with you when you travel.
Common Words and Phrases in Spanish
- Yes: Sí [see]
- No: No [no]
- Please: Por Favor [por-fah-vohr]
- Thank You: Gracias [grah-see-ahss]
- Cheers: Salud [sah-loohd]
- Hello: Hola [oh-la]
- Goodbye: Adiós [ah-dee-ohss]
Etiquette and Cultural Norms
When meeting new people, it is considered polite to shake their hand and make eye contact. Women will sometimes grasp your whole forearm in greeting. It is considered rude to speak with your hands in your pockets or while chewing gum.
Try to match the Colombian attitudes of generosity and openness. Do not make jokes about the history of drug culture and trafficking. If you have serious concerns about safety, keep your questions specific and respectful rather than ask about the safety of the country as a whole.
- Cartagena: With year-round warm weather, great food, beautiful beaches and a vibrant downtown. The colonial architecture can make it feel like you stepped back in time and the Catillo de San Filipe de Barajas is an iconic place for pictures and learning about the country's history.
- Bogotá: Columbia’s most populated and cosmopolitan city, Bogatá is full of beautiful and unique places to explore. The central hill known as Monserrate is topped by a monastery and boasts stunning views. It is not the most beautiful church in the city, however, as it has to compete with the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the Salt Cathedral, the Iglesia de San Francisco and the Museo Santa Clara. Don’t forget to make time to visit the Museo del Oro (The Gold Museum) and discover a wealth of pre-hispanic goldwork.
- Medellín: Once considered to be one of the deadliest cities in the world, Medellín is now a bustling and popular tourist stop. This city is a great place to catch a soccer (fútbol) match and explore the many plazas, parks and museums.
- Eje Cafetero: Also known as the Coffee Zone, this is the area of Colombia where much of the country's coffee exports are grown, harvested and roasted. Make sure to reserve a tour of one or more fincas (coffee farms) in advance so you can explore the area and taste the coffee without the hassle of haggling with potential guides.
- The Lost City: Older than Machu Picchu and much less busy, the Ciudad Perdida (or Lost City) is another archaeological site nestled in a hillside that highlights the impressive building abilities of the prehispanic peoples. This city, however, is not easily accessible by bus or car, so if you plan to visit be sure to plan your hike and hire your guide in advance. On the way you can also see many stunning natural wonders including the River of Five Colors.
Health & Safety Tips
Colombia has a history of violence and drug trafficking, but the region has become much safer for tourists in recent years. There are a few unwritten rules that will help to avoid conflict, however. Do not flash money or valuables around, as that will make them easier for pickpockets to steal and make you a more appealing target for kidnappers. Also, do not travel alone after dark and avoid dark alleys and illegal taxis. If you, your family or your company has a lot of money, it may be prudent to purchase kidnap and ransom insurance just in case. However many large cities (including Bogatá) and the coffee regions of Colombia have been internationally recognized to be safe for tourists.
Although not required, Colombia highly recommends that you take out an international medical insurance plan to ensure you are covered if you need medical attention while in the country.
Staying well-hydrated is very important, particularly at higher altitudes. In certain parts of the country, it is inadvisable to consume tap water. In these areas, you will need to purchase bottled water, which will be easy to find at any store selling food.
Apply sunscreen and bug spray liberally and often. Mosquito bites, in particular, can transmit disease. To keep your trip enjoyable, stock up on bug spray before you arrive in Colombia and be sure to reapply bug repellent often.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for Colombia: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.