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Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia? (2023)

The feedback I got when I told about my South American travel plans and included Colombia in my itinerary:

"Are you sure you want to visit Colombia, I heard it's pretty unsafe."

Yes, the reaction wasn't positive, but after traveling to Cape Town (read more about safety in Cape Town here) I knew that I was already hardened.

Well, after spending one month in Colombia, I got a deep insight into how life in Colombia truly is and if it's safe to travel to Colombia. If you're looking for an answer regarding safety in Colombia. Here's my personal opinion of it.

Please note, that every experience with a country is different. However, I know we humans are curious and want to know everything beforehand. So, here you go!

Is Medellin Safe to Travel?

Let's start with the most popular cities in Colombia - Medellin. A city known for drug wars in Communa 13 and Pablo Escobar's city, where he lived and carried out terrorist attacks.

Luckily, the time has changed and Medellin is not what you've seen in the TV show "Narcos". It has so much to offer and most places are quite safe. When talking about Medellin, three districts are interesting for tourists to talk about: El Poblado, Communa 13, and Laureles. Let's take a closer look at those neighborhoods.

Is El Poblado, Medellin Safe?

This is the most touristy area in Medellin where the majority of foreigners stay. It's a party district, with many restaurants, bars, and clubs. During the day it is quite quiet, but at night the district starts living.

Yes, it gets very crowded, a lot is going on, and there are many opportunities to have a good night in El Poblado. Everyone is seeking your attention and it's honestly a bit overwhelming the first time.

The biggest downside of this district is not safety, it's more the hookers that are looking for a quick f*ck. They are very young and if you are in a male group they can be intrusive.

Another negative aspect of going out in El Poblado is, that everyone wants to sell you cocaine or weed. At every corner of the street, there's a Colombian asking you if you need something, something for fun. It can get quite annoying constantly being asked, nevertheless, that's something you need to deal with when in Colombia.

Besides that, I felt very safe. There are so many people around the area and with a little common sense, I'm sure that nothing will happen to you. Avoid empty streets, remove yourself from places if you feel unwell, and watch out for your belongings.

Is Communa 13, Medellin Safe?

Next, Communa 13. Let's say it straight away: Yes, Communa 13 is very safe.

In fact, Communa 13 lives from the tourist that visits the district. There are dancers, rappers, and artists seeking attention from the tourists. Communa 13 can't be more touristy. It lives from its history of being the most dangerous district of Medellin, but nowadays it is not. Wandering alone through Communa 13 is not a problem at all.

Is Laureles, Medellin Safe?

Known as being the traditional district of Medellin compared to El Poblado, Laureles is gaining more popularity among tourists. Although it is considered to be more traditional doesn't mean it is more dangerous.

Walking around Laureles during the day and at night wasn't a problem at all. Yes, there are some homeless (El Poblado has them too) but honestly, they weren't dangerous at all and just happy to have some food.

Is Cartagena Safe to Travel?

I stayed in Cartagena for one week and also went outside the historic center. I can also tell you here the same thing as I described above. Cartagena is pretty safe.

The historical center is full of tourists, also at night. In comparison to other cities and towns, there are some shady areas where homeless people sleep. While I was walking around that area, I felt a bit unsafe. In Cartagena, the same applies as described in El Poblado, use your common sense and avoid shady streets at night.

Tips to Travel Safe in Colombia

Although I described the areas in Colombia as quite safe, I'd like to share some tips to make your safe as mine was. Here you have xx tips to stay safe in Colombia:

  1. Choose Safe Neighborhoods: Stay in places that are popular among tourists and considered to be safe. Especially in bigger cities like Medellin, Cartagena, or Bogota.

  2. Travel Safe: I highly recommend using Uber. All drivers are registered and your drive will be tracked.

  3. Keep a Low Profile: Avoid wearing all your designer clothes, expensive jewelry, electronics, or large amounts of cash. Use a smaller wallet where you only bring money you need for the day.

  4. Language: It's very helpful to learn some Spanish phrases while traveling through Colombia as not everybody speaks English.

  5. Trust Your Gut: Whenever your gut tells you, that something doesn't feel right, you should trust it and remove yourself from the situation.


As I already said in the introduction part, this was my opinion about safety based on personal experience.

Keep in mind that Colombia is not as safe as some European countries, since they're struggling with poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, and much more. Nevertheless, Colombia is doing much to change its reputation.

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