Is safe to visit Colombia? The answer to this question is yes and no. In order to say that it is safe and no to visit Colombia, you have to know that there are many “Colombians”, because it is a huge and multicultural country. Then, the question should be which Colombia you want to visit. It could surprise, because the international image of current Colombia is as a single body. If you speak about United States, you have an idea that it is made by 51 states with its own identity, almost as each state would be a country itself. Then smallest countries than Colombia like United Kingdom or Spain, are known as a together of provinces and autonomous regions with even their own languages and traditions. As for Colombia like most Latin American countries, there is a universal ignorance about how they are formed. Even Mexico, that can be considered the most famous Latin American country, is often understood as a single body made by likely prejudices.
Then, Colombia has places that are evidently unsafe to visit and places that are safe for international tourism. Most Colombians, tourist agencies and government offices will warn you about such places. As for this article, I want to create our own list of safe and unsafe Colombian places. Surely I will try to update the post often. If I get also feedbacks about safe and unsafe places, it would be great information for any foreign visitor to the South American country. This post intends to prevent you of unsafe places. Then it could be also relative and it could take us to political discussions, but we are trying to get the most objective position through facts and evidences.
Cities and Regions
In a first kind of division, we have to say that Colombia must be divided among cities and regions. For cities we understand urban centers with more than 300 thousand persons, while for regions we point to most rural territories, national parks and jungles where urban centers are under 300 thousand persons. The 70 percent of Colombians live in cities and the most populated region of Colombia is the Andes. In a first statement, the most populated places are safer than the less ones.
Then there are regions that are safer than certain cities as well and for this reason we are going to create a list we hope to update all the time.
As taken cities by themselves, most Colombian cities have safe and unsafe places within. It is especially real in the most populated cities with more than 500 thousand persons as population. In this case, it is relative to safe that certain city as a whole is most dangerous than other, in the same way Rome has unsafe and safe places to visitors.
The concept of safe and unsafe is also difficult to state. We try to meet in the idea that a place must be safe for foreign visitors. It is that visitors feel safe in that place: the foreigner is not at risk of being kidnap, shot or stole. However, it can happen in any place of the world. Out of this, in the places we are going to call “safe” you must follow the same advisory when you visit Brazil, Egypt or Thailand: Maybe you will find informal sellers who will try to get more money from you than they use to get from natives, occasional thieves and other things that you could find in any other place of the world. If you were stolen when you visited the pyramids of Egypt, we cannot conclude that such place is unsafe, but we can say that you gave the change.
As it is delicate to point out a place as safe and unsafe, I am going to provide current references about every place I am going to give a score of safety and unsafe. It means I am not going to say X place is unsafe because “I believe it is unsafe.” I will say rather that according to X evidences, Y place is unsafe or safe. Official sources, media information, visitor testimonies are the first references to state that a place is safe or unsafe. Of course, places with any kind of data of safety or unsafe, will be registered as “No data available” or “In research.” This document is my own research. Therefore, any person interested in Colombia that feels any compromise with this data, is welcome to comment, complete, provide with references and recommendations. Cities and regions will not be scored as a whole, because it would be inexact and unfair. Saying that X city or Y region is unsafe is a generalization and, therefore, it is relative. Then a city or a region will be divided in safe and unsafe places. If a particular city has most safe places than unsafe places, we can conclude in consequence that such city as a whole is safer. Unsafe places will be distinguished by a red color, while safe places will be green. Places with a medium score of safety, will be black color. Scores will be between 01 and 10, where 10 score means very much unsafe and 01 means very much safe. Initially the scores are given according with my own criteria, but as much as we have feedbacks to this post, such scores can change: for example, I am going to give to Bogotá a 05, to Cartagena a 03, to Medellín a 06 and to Cali a 08, because it is my impression according to my own research throughout information and references. But it is possible that another person has another well done reference that can alter such scores of mine and then, we can discuss it. I hope to prepare maps as well.
The capital of Colombia has a population of 7.881.156 inhabitants, being the second largest capital city of South America and the largest city of Colombia. Bogotá is also one of the first spots of international tourism in the country.
- General score (05).
- Bogotá Downtown (05).
- La Candelaria Zone (05): The area is the center of tourism of the capital. It is safe, though it is better to take care of eventual thieves made by street boys, beggars and odd people.
- Plaza Bolívar (01): The center of the political administration of Colombia with the presidential palace, the Congress, the National Tribunal of Justice, ministries and others.
- Touristic places (01): Churches like Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Ignacio, the Cathedral, Tercera San Diego and Monserrate Sanctuary; museums like Gold Museum, Religious Art, National Museum, Casa del Florero, Museum of Modern Art, Quinta de Bolívar.
- Santamaría Bullfithing Plaza (04).
- Corferias (01).
- Planetario (01).
- Botanical Garden (01).
- Hacienda Santa Barbara Mall (01).
- Centro Comercial Andino (01).
- Unicentro (01).
- El Bronx, Chapinero, Las Cruces, El Voto Naciona, Rincón de Suba, Tibabuyes (Suba), Chapinero, María Paz (Kennedy), El Lucero Medio, San Francisco (Ciudad Bolívar) and Santa Cecilia (Usaquén) (10): See “Non-going places in Bogotá” and “Las zonas críticas de la alcaldía” according with El Espectador (in Spanish.)
- El Cerro Monserrate (02).
- Zona Rosa (Pink Zone) (01): See Bogotá Travel Guide.