Colombia Solo Travel – Is Travelling to Colombia Alone Safe?

Colombia still has a bad reputation, but is it justified?  Can Colombia shake off the dark shadows of the past when drug lords ruled over the country and violence and death were a way of life here?  I hope so!  I loved Colombia.  It was my favourite country in South America, after 10 months of travelling alone around the continent.  Colombia is vibrant, colourful, friendly and welcoming.  But as we all know, travelling to Colombia alone brings its own set of potential dangers.  Is Colombia solo travel safe?

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The Facts About Safety in Colombia

Colombia has its problems, that’s for sure.  A quick look at the travel advice for Colombia on the UK Government website is enough to put anyone off visiting, with swathes of yellow ‘avoid all but essential travel’ warnings and even some red ‘avoid all travel’ patches.

However, look more closely, and you’ll see that all of the places you are likely to visit are in green.  Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, Cali, the Caribbean Coast, San Gil, and the land route from Ecuador to Pasto and Popayan are all considered safe to visit, as is the Amazon region around Leticia.

In reality, the areas where you are likely to have problems with terrorism, kidnappings and drugs are not places you would want to go anyway.  Even if the word kidnapping has you panicking, don’t worry.  I spent about three months as a female travelling alone in Colombia and had no problems.  I met a lot of other solo female travellers in Colombia, too, more than any other country, and they all said the same – how much they loved Colombia!

READ MORE: Backpacking Colombia Travel Guide

Me at the Top of El Penol in Guatape Colombia - Solo Travel Colombia Guide
Me at the Top of El Penol in Guatape Colombia – Solo Travel Colombia Guide

Female Solo Travel in Colombia

Unfortunately, as a woman travelling alone, you will likely draw more attention to yourself than you might like.  I don’t like to make generalisations about a whole country, but attitudes towards women are still likely to feel rather antiquated compared to North America or Europe.

Colombian men are not shy, and machismo is still very common in that women are often still seen as objects or as mothers to children, not as independent, free-thinking people, especially in rural areas.  This is changing in cities like Bogota and Medellin, but don’t expect to go unnoticed, especially if you’re tall and pale.

Taxi drivers, in particular, were always fascinated by my single status and consistently asked me if I was married, how many children I had, where my husband was, why my boyfriend wasn’t with me, etc. etc. etc. because that is the norm in Colombia.

Colombian women don’t usually travel alone. It is very much a family affair, so for Colombians, seeing women travelling alone is very unusual, and they can’t help but be interested and ask questions.  However, this is more tiresome than offensive, so don’t be insulted. 

It was frustrating to have to answer the same questions repeatedly, but I hope that the more women who travel solo in Colombia, the less unusual we will become!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: A Solo Travel Guide to Peru

Beautiful Street Art in Bogota Colombia
Beautiful Street Art in Bogota Colombia

Why I Loved Travelling to Colombia Alone

I can’t quite put my finger on why I loved Colombia so much.  I travelled by bus most of the time and took my time to explore villages and towns, beautiful countryside, glorious beaches and lost cities.

The variety of scenery in Colombia is incredible; there is something that everyone will enjoy.  The pre-Columbian culture is fascinating, with legends that inspired El Dorado and a city hidden in the jungle where the inhabitants had the power to move great stones with their minds (allegedly).

The Lost City in Colombia
The Lost City in Colombia

The best thing about Colombia though was the people.  Tourism in Colombia is still at a lower level than some of its South American neighbours.  Cartagena is a notable exception, as being on the Caribbean cruise route, locals here are no strangers to tourism or to charging extra for the privilege.

In the rest of the country though, Colombians were so friendly and open, and interested to know why I wanted to come to their country.  In Medellin, the people were keen to show how the city has changed since the reign of Pablo Escobar, where slums have been replaced by cultural centres and streets and no-go areas are now vibrant social hubs.

Probably the worst experience I had in Colombia was on a minibus to San Agustin, a six-hour bus journey when I had unknowingly taken the last seat on the bus, which was on the back row in the middle – sandwiched between a large chap who slept most of the trip and was man-spreading the whole time, and two drunk guys who were telling me about their work on a cocaine farm and who were uncomfortably close.  Getting off that bus was a huge relief, but that was the worst experience I had in Colombia!

A Juice Seller in Medellin - Colombia Solo Travel Guide
A Juice Seller in Medellin – Colombia Solo Travel Guide

The Best Places to Visit in Colombia Solo

Depending on how long you spend in Colombia, the country is full of incredible places to visit.  With the month I had in Colombia I could explore some of the lesser-visited destinations like San Agustin and the Sanctuario de las Lajas, but these are my top picks for where you cannot miss!


Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, is a huge city filled with historical sites, cultural attractions, and colourful neighbourhoods. Don’t miss visiting the historic La Candelaria district, the Gold Museum, and taking a cable car ride up to Monserrate for stunning views of the city.  There is a fair amount of crime here too, so be on your guard and don’t stray off the tourist trail.


Known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” Medellín is famous for its pleasant climate, modern infrastructure, and innovative urban projects. Explore the city’s transformation at Plaza Botero, take a ride on the Metrocable for panoramic views, and experience the nightlife in the trendy El Poblado district.  

Medellin is a popular digital nomad hub, and a great base if you plan on spending several months in Colombia as a digital nomad.


Just a couple hours from Medellín, Guatapé is known for its colourful streets, stunning views of the surrounding lakes and islands, and the iconic El Peñol rock. Climb the 740 steps to the top of El Peñol for panoramic views and stroll around the town’s beautiful streets that are brightly painted with all colours of the rainbow! 

Colourful Streets in Guatape Colombia
Colourful Streets in Guatape Colombia


This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Colombia’s most popular destinations, with its well-preserved colonial architecture, street art, and lively atmosphere.  Cartagena was actually one of my least favourite places in Colombia as it was full of tourists, but it was still lovely to wander through the streets of the Old Town.  I also visited the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas fortress and relaxed on the nearby beaches at Playa Blanca.

Tayrona National Park

Nature lovers will adore Tayrona National Park, on along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Hike through lush jungle trails to reach hidden beaches, swim in crystal-clear waters, and camp out in a hammock as you listen to the sound of the waves. 

While you can take a day trip to Tayrona, I’d recommend spending at least one night here so you can make the most of this incredible place.  Check out my tips for where to stay in Tayrona National Park here.

Tayrona National Park - Where to Go in Colombia Solo
Tayrona National Park – Where to Go in Colombia Solo

Salento and the Coffee Region

Salento is a picturesque town in the heart of Colombia’s coffee region, surrounded by lush green hills and coffee plantations. Take a coffee tour to learn about the region’s coffee production (and get some samples!) and hike in the stunning Cocora Valley to see some of the tallest palm trees in the world.

San Gil

If you’re looking for adventure you will find plenty to do in San Gil, Colombia’s adventure sports capital. Try your hand at whitewater rafting, paragliding, caving, or bungee jumping amidst the stunning natural landscapes of the Chicamocha Canyon.

Nearby Guadalupe was one of my favourite hidden gems in Colombia, and if you have time to visit this lovely little village with natural plunge pools I highly recommend it!

Taking a Dip in the Pools at Guadalupe
Taking a Dip in the Pools at Guadalupe

Accommodation for Solo Travellers in Colombia

For solo travellers in Colombia, hostels are plentiful, and generally of a good level although I still recommend checking reviews for recommendations from other travellers, and choose carefully as you would in any destination.  Hostels can be a great way to make friends and meet other travellers, even if you prefer a private room instead of a shared dorm like I do!

Hotels, homestays and Airbnbs are also common in Colombia, although in more rural areas you can’t always book online, with some people preferring to leave phone numbers for reservations instead of websites.  That is changing though as online travel agencies become more popular and easier to book at the click of a button.  

Hostelworld has a good choice of hostels in Colombia, and for hotels I prefer to use as they usually offer flexible cancellation terms.  

Tips for Colombia Solo Travel

Take the Usual Safety Precautions

No matter how safe a destination is, you should always take the same precautions that you do anywhere.  Be aware of your surroundings, dress relatively conservatively (not as a nun but short skirts and tight tops will get more attention), and ask advice from your hotel or accommodation for where it is safe to explore and any areas best avoided.  Don’t flash large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery; don’t get so drunk you don’t know what you’re doing.

Learn Some Spanish

I studied Spanish at University, so I had no problem conversing in Spanish in Colombia. I recommend taking some classes before you come to Colombia or even spending a couple of weeks studying Spanish here to get some of the basics covered.

Having said that, if you don’t speak Spanish, that might save you from the constant “Where is your husband?” questioning!  However, I always feel more confident when asking for simple things, including help, if needed, and even a few words like “hola” and “gracias” will help the locals warm to you even more.

El Sanctuario de las Lajas Cathedral
El Sanctuario de las Lajas Cathedral

Avoid Travelling at Night

If you are spending some time travelling or backpacking in Colombia alone, you will probably take some buses to get where you want to go.  Some night buses are available; however, try to travel during the day wherever you can, especially in the south of Colombia, where the roads are winding and in poor condition.

There is a higher risk of a hijacking at night and of accidents.  I did take a night bus from Santa Marta to Bucaramanga, which was fine, but the rest of the time, I took daytime buses or a flight if the distance was too long to bear on a bus!

Don’t Walk Around Alone at Night

Pretty standard advice for anywhere, but in South America, do not walk around alone at night.  If you do need to go out, arrange a taxi through your hotel or accommodation so you know it is an official one.

Cocora Valley Colombia - Solo Travel Tips
Cocora Valley Colombia – Solo Travel Tips

Explore as Much as You Can

If you are visiting Cartagena alone, that’s great but don’t forget to plan time in your itinerary to explore outside the city.  The Caribbean coast is stunning, and some of the best experiences I had in Colombia were certainly off the beaten track.  If you are worried about going somewhere more unusual on your own, join a tour or stay in a hostel so you can meet people to travel with.

Have you travelled to Colombia alone?  Do you have any other tips for Colombia solo travel?  I’d love to read your comments; please leave them below.

1 thoughts on “Colombia Solo Travel – Is Travelling to Colombia Alone Safe?

  1. Funky Fresh Travels says:

    Having spent three months traveling solo in Colombia, I found it to be my favorite South American destination. Despite its past, Colombia felt vibrant and welcoming, especially in places like Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin, which are deemed safe for tourists. While attention as a solo female traveler was common due to local cultural norms, interactions were more curious than threatening. Exploring Colombia’s diverse landscapes from the coffee region to Tayrona National Park was enriching, with practical safety precautions like avoiding night travel and staying informed proving effective. Overall, my experience underscored that with awareness and respect, solo travel in Colombia can be both safe and incredibly rewarding.

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