Many tourists and expats on their way to Colombia hear it: “Wait, isn’t it dangerous there? You’re going to Colombia? It’s not safe!” The issue with this is that Colombia is no longer the unsafe country it once was – back in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s a country transformed, and thanks to the government’s efforts in increasing security in its most popular cities, tourism has seen a large boom!
Colombia is a country of unique beauty with history and culture to keep the curious wanderer busy for days. Every country has bad areas and places you should avoid – that’s true even of the United States. You wouldn’t want anyone to judge your home country on one or two rough cities, so why do that to Colombia? It has so much more to offer…
Tips for Travelers
If you travel abroad quite a bit, you know the basics for following adequate (unwritten) safety rules while in a foreign country. Colombia is a lot of fun, but it’s important to keep certain safety measures in mind when traveling in any foreign place – including this country.
If you aren’t aware, or could use a refresher, those safety measures usually include the following tips:
- Don’t be flashy with jewelry or other valuables.
- Keep personal items such as wallets and credit cards secure from potential pickpocketing.
- Don’t wander around unknown streets at night.
Again, these are tips to follow no matter where you are traveling. It’s always good to be cautious, even if you don’t feel threatened.
Why Colombia is Attracting Tourists Today
Now that the safety issue has been addressed, let’s discuss the great things Colombia has to offer travelers!
The features that tourists are finally noticing in Colombia include its Andean summits, clean Caribbean coastlines, access to the Amazon Jungle, archeological ruins, and even its old colonial cityscapes.
Colombia has a diverse landscape, ranging from mountains to beach to jungle – and that means there’s plenty to do outdoors. The snow-capped mountains offer climbing, trekking, and high-altitude lakes. There is also a mud volcano that offers too interesting an experience to pass up.
There’s a reef off the coast of Colombia’s Isla de Providencia that divers, snorkelers, and whale watchers go crazy for, and there are days-long hikes through jungle and mountains. Hikes on the paths through the Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy are known to take travelers through the highest peaks of the Andes. Consider the fact that Colombia is also coffee country, and you’ll have even more exploring to do among the coffee farms – and don’t forget to taste it all!
Colombia’s cities, such as Cartagena and Bogota, also provide a great amount of adventure. Cartagena is the country’s well-preserved old city, and there’s even still a wall up from colonial times. This city boasts cobblestone streets, old colonial architecture, cathedrals, convents, and museums to explore. Bogota offers many of the same charms, but with a glorious display of street art, which was legalized in Colombia in the 80s. Also, in Bogota, is the famous gold museum, full of displays of gold that provide clues into the lives of the natives before European settlement. Northeast of Bogota is Villa de Leyva, which is so well preserved it will make you feel like you’re exploring the 16th century.
Many who’ve visited Colombia over the last ten years have raved about its beauty and charm. The culture is lively and friendly and the people are some of the friendliest you’ll meet. Expats who’ve chosen to stay in this country can typically be found in Pereira, a city with a population of 500,000 located in the foothills of the Andes; Medellin, a busy city of 3.5 million people and a large expat community (Medellin is also known as the City of Eternal Spring, with day temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and night temperatures around 65); and Santa Marta, which is still a well-kept secret of Colombia. It has a population of under 500,000 and offers beautiful beaches along with a National Park right on the Caribbean coast. Bogota is another popular option. It’s Colombia’s capital city and the third largest capital city in the world, with 7.8 million people. This city is for the busy city-lovers and it’s full of parks, museums, art, and culture.
Colombia is a beautiful country packed full of old world charm, history, and vastly different landscapes. It is not the Colombia you heard about 30 years ago. Take some time to pay it a visit. You’ll be so glad that you did!