An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (2021)

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about Solo Female Travel in Colombia. Tips, personal advice and interesting facts as well as all the great places to visit in Colombia as a solo traveller.


Colombia is much safer for solo female travellers than the media and many folks out there make it out to be. Yes, you have to be careful, you have to know where to go and where not to go, and you may have to use your common sense a little more often than in other parts of the world. But Colombia is a wonderful, pretty safe, vibrant and super friendly country to travel to. I guarantee it will become one of your favourite countries in the world!

Please Note – although this post is geared towards solo female travellers, you will find a lot of universal information and advice here that will apply to any kind of solo traveller in Colombia. I keep this post updated as I want it to stay relevant. Enjoy!

I decided to do it differently. There are loads of guides to ‘solo female travel in Colombia’ on the internet. Some are brilliant, and with some, I don’t always agree.

So I asked female travellers, those who already travel solo and those still pondering over it, what are their most burning questions regarding solo female travel in Colombia. I asked on socials, in person, on travel groups and so on. I wanted to understand what YOU want to know about solo female travel in Colombia. What questions do YOU have? I’d like this article to be as much up to date as I could make it. I also wanted to cater to those wondering if solo female travel in Colombia is a good choice for them.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to know (2021)

This post is my opinion that derived from my personal observations and experience. I travelled to Colombia for a total of nearly four months and loved it so much that I truly didn’t want to leave. So yes, some of my opinions could be biased, yet I will do my best to be as accurate and neutral as I can.

There are different types of travellers, and none is better or worse.

But the kind of traveller you are will determine how much you will love Colombia. Because there is no question that you will love it. The only question is how much.

If your ideal trip is a luxury stay in a Maldives resort, you could probably find a substitute on Colombia’s San Andres Island. Yet, you would miss the authentic and extraordinary vibe of the country that can only be experienced by immersing yourself in all different sides of Colombian culture and reality. I was taken aback by Colombia’s incredible natural beauty as much as by Colombian hospitality and kindness.

But it is not always luxurious, often hot and sticky, loud, hectic and unpredictable.

I loved Colombia’s crazy busses, unpaved roads, haggling and ever so present loud music (Colombians love to have a good time) as well as vibrant and diverse culture, incredible kindness, genuine interest in people and variety of landscapes, climates and a never-ending array of places to explore.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (2021)
Traditional Wayuu mochilas / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA / ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Colombia was the first country I visited in Latin America, and I must admit I was a bit apprehensive before my arrival. A combination of a bad name, friends’ opinions, people claiming I am crazy, and the most recent ‘Narcos’ craze made me a bit nervous on my arrival.

I left the country feeling completely different. I felt safe, and entertained, made some great friends and made a solid promise I would be back. And I will!

So if you are planning your trip to Colombia as a solo female traveller (or any solo traveller), I will do my best to give you as much advice as possible to make your trip flawless and enjoyable. Let’s begin!

Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (in 2024)

First things first – Is Colombia Safe for Solo Female Travelers (in 2024)?

There are places in Europe where I would feel less safe than in some parts of Colombia. How safe travelling in Colombia is, will depend largely on which area you will visit.

Of the most visited cities, Bogota and Cali are the places where you would have to take the most precautions, but I wouldn’t let this stop you from travelling there.

Medellin and Santa Marta are relatively safe cities, and everywhere along the Caribbean coast or in the Coffee Region of Colombia, you will be safer than you think.

But is Colombia safe for solo female travellers?

Generally speaking, Colombia is a safe backpacking and travel destination for solo female travellers, if you mostly stick to the popular tourist itinerary. But even some off-the-beaten-path locations are pretty safe too.

What you need to be most aware of are petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing. And of course, check before you venture into the unknown. The locals will always tell you how safe the place really is.

I travelled along the Caribbean Coast of Colombia all the way to the La Guajira desert. Solo. I did my research, stayed careful and had a blast!

Colombia Solo Travel / Is Colombia safe for solo female travellers?

I only took my phone out when I really had to. I have never been walking down the street talking on the phone and don’t recommend you do it either – but this is the case in all of Latin America. 

It is very improbable that you would be kidnapped. Those days are way gone. Of course, like everywhere else, you just need to be careful and be aware of your surroundings and where you are heading. I am more cautious in all Latin American countries, and that, of course, includes Colombia.

Before heading out into an unknown barrio in the cities, ask your hostel if it’s safe to walk there. Whenever I arrived in the city or pueblo, I always asked if the area was safe. Ask in your hotel where can you head to, and explore safely, and which parts of the city you should avoid. And I would avoid wandering around the city late at night as well. 

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (2021)
Bogota / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

A Safety Tip – Taking a free walking tour or a city bike tour is not only a great way to explore Colombian towns like Bogota or Cartagena, but also to get your bearing around and ask your guide all the safety questions and recommendations. Ask your guide where is safe to go where you should stay away from and of course for all the awesome recommendations.

This has never let me down.

Most importantly follow all the safety tips and use common sense. Make friends in hostels and try to go out in the group. A great way to meet other travellers is also taking part in experiences or organised activities. But to be completely honest – I did a lot of things alone and I am still here telling you all those stories 🙂

Most important safety tips for solo female travellers in Colombia

The below advice and information are not meant to scare you or stop you from going. Yet, I don’t want to paint a perfect picture where the picture is flawed. I want to make sure you are aware of possible dangers and plan your trip accordingly. If you stick to the below tips, your trip will be just awesome!

Here are some essential safety tips for solo females travelling in Colombia.

  • Don’t take unnecessary things with you when walking around the town. Just pack money for the day, keep the phone in your bag, preferably in a bumbag or a bag in front of you, and don’t wear diamond earrings and you should be just fine.

Whenever I took my phone or camera out to take photos, I always looked around to check if the surroundings felt safe and if there were no suspicious activities around me. Much less so in the coastal towns, but still, it’s a good practice. Don’t leave your phone lying around (i know it sounds patronizing, but you would be surprised), and don’t flash big notes.

It all comes down to ‘No dar Papaya’ – a famous saying in Colombia meaning ‘Don’t Give Papaya’ – don’t flash your belongings asking to be robbed. But don’t let this turn you into paranoia. And most of all, listen to your intuition.

Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
  • Avoid walking around the town alone well after dark. Yes, it’s getting dark in Colombia around 6:30 pm lol I am not telling you to stay homebound after this time. Just use common sense.

When I first arrived in Santa Marta, on the first evening I went out around the town with a couple of friends I made in the hostel.  The town was full, buzzing and felt safe to walk around in the early evening hours. So next time I felt ok to have dinner at Parque de Los Novios by myself and return to the hostel before 9 pm. I am always trying to stay aware of my surroundings though. Don’t get too complacent. 

  • In an unlikely case when a robbery would take place, just hand in your belongings. No wallet or phone is worth more than your health or life.
  • If using an ATM, do it during the day and preferably inside of the bank. 
  • Not only in Colombia, I always have a spare phone and a second bank card. In case one gets stolen, lost or crashed (the latter is more probable in my case), you will have a spare one. Make sure you can transfer the funds between the cards. I love Wise and Revolut. I can instantly freeze my card via their app, disable or change the pin and transfer money in an instant. 
  • Don’t take drinks from strangers. If alone, buy a beer that was opened in front of you, a cocktail from a reputable bar and preferably, don’t get drunk.

I am not saying don’t have fun. I had plenty of that in Colombia. But stick to having crazy nights out when you are with people you can trust, that will walk you back to the hostel and will take care of you if needed. This is crucial. We are girls. We know very well that not only in Colombia, but a drunk girl can also easily become a target. However from my experience, I was more often looked after than in any kind of danger. Yet, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Do go out! By all means! Colombia is a party-goer paradise! But if you are staying late, go with friends and make sure there is someone there to walk you home or wait with you for your taxi. Please, please do not walk back home alone after the party! If you are alone, try to stick to a couple of beers and get someone from the club or bar to call you a taxi. Don’t wave one out on the street. 
  • Whenever you can, take UBER or DIDI when in areas that you are not familiar with or after dark. It is cheaper and much safer than local taxis. 
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended. I was lucky when I left my phone in Cabo de la Vela and people went looking for me to hand it in. Colombians are generally honest and kind. But thieves are there as well. Don’t push your luck.
An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to know (2021)
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport. You might be asked for your passport by the police and they have a right to do that. Yet the copy is perfectly fine. You want to keep your passport safe in the locker of your hostel but always carry a photocopy.
  • Always ask for the price upfront and don’t be afraid to haggle. If you won’t, you will pay the gringo tax. A sample of a massage is never free and if you don’t want to buy that bracelet from a beach vendor, don’t put it on. 
An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (2021)
Tayrona National Park / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

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I personally had no safety issues and had nothing bad happen to me during my entire stay in Colombia, nor have I personally heard or met anyone who would. I am not saying that bad things don’t happen. I am trying to say that if only you keep common sense and keep all the precautions in mind, you will have a great time in Colombia. 

TIP – Make friends with locals. It won’t be very hard anyway. The most friendships I made were with Colombian travellers and taking into the streets in their company was a lot of fun. They will take you to places that tourists don’t know about and they will make you feel safe. They know where to go and where not to go. And they definitely know how to party!

Although there are still parts of Colombia that are deemed dangerous, mostly due to narco-trafficking and Guerrilla and paramilitary activity and tourists are discouraged from going there, the days of Colombia being one of the most dangerous countries in the world are well gone.

In fact, even some departments, like Choco or Meta, are slowly opening to tourists, with Pacific Coast and Cano Cristales slowly appearing on backpackers’ itineraries.

Do exercise caution if you decide to venture into that area. Do your research, check the safest ways to get there (often by direct flights) and skip the night bus journey altogether. 

Departments that should be avoided according to national advisory are: Nariño, Cauca, Putumayo, Caquetá, Meta, Guaviare, the Catatumbo region in the Norte de Santander department, northern Antioquia, and southern Bolivar. 

Is Colombia a good destination for first-time solo female travellers

The answer to this question is not that straightforward.

If you have never travelled solo before and feel apprehensive about it, Colombia is probably not the best choice. I am being straight here. Latin America can get overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak the language or never travelled alone. But if you feel like you are the type of person who can deal with travel mishaps, in-your-face culture and occasional unpredictability – go for it.

Medellin Comuna 13 / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA / ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW (2021)
Medellin Comuna 13 / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

Colombia is not always a bed of roses. In fact, It isn’t most of the time. Don’t forget that tourism only flourished there in the last fifteen years or so (although the travel infrastructure, including the quality of hostels, really surprised me).

People in Colombia (especially outside of big cities) live a simple life. There are not many health and safety notices, if you trip and fall, just pick yourself up (although most likely someone will come to help you), you will be stopping the busses outside of rural bus stops, and gringo tax will be added to any price as a default.

If the bus has no air conditioning, all doors and windows will stay open, no one will ask you about your allergies in the restaurant, and you will have to learn to enjoy cold showers. Limited water and electricity supply are absolutely normal. And so are the power cuts.

For a first-time solo traveller, arriving in Colombia can be a culture shock. But if you believe your skin is thick enough and you want to make Colombia your first-time solo female travel destination, go for it, just get well prepared (by reading all of this post!)

If it’s your first time travelling solo and you are determined to visit Colombia start with cities like Medellin or Cartagena. Those towns have great infrastructure, are largely catered for tourists and are packed full of ex-pats, digital nomads and other travellers.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to Know (2021)
Filandia / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

Forget your diet when travelling in Colombia

Before I arrived in Colombia I was on a pescatarian Keto diet. Did I stick to it? I probably could if I was very determined. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t. Colombian diet is very carb-heavy and sugar is literally in everything. Juices, smoothies, coffee, you will get it without asking for it. If you don’t want to dangerously spike your insulin levels, ask for no sugar upfront.

Trying to stay out of carbs? Good luck! Rice, empanadas, arepas, patacones, aquapanela, rum and coke, carrot cake, Buñuelos (incredible dougnuts), arequipe …. I can go on forever. Incredible foods, full of carbs.

But don’t get me wrong, you will also eat amazing fresh fish and ceviche in Colombia as well as tonnes of incredibly delicious fruit. Ah! And avocado in Colombia is to die for. Not only incredibly cheap but juicy and delicious (very big as well).

The restaurants across the country are also great and with both street food and restaurant dishes being very reasonably priced you be tempted constantly. You can eat healthy in Colombia if you want. If you want to ….

Medellin Comuna 13 / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA / ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW (2021)
Grilled Cheese / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

Eating Out Solo in Colombia

Eating out in Colombia is very affordable and amazing. The only time I cooked was when I just really fancied it, not because I wanted to save money. I actually think it’s more affordable to eat out than to cook in Colombia.

You can eat as cheap or as luxurious as you want. You will find great upmarket restaurants, as well as typical local restaurants catering for locals. You can get your lunch (almuerzo) from a street vendor in a takeaway box or grab an empanada. In all bigger cities, you will find vegan and vegetarian restaurants, sushi joints, Italian eateries and so on.

dentro Filandia / Surprisingly Awesome Things to do in Salento, Colombia / Complete Guide
Fresh trout with Coconut Rice / ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

On the coast, you will eat the freshest fish served with coconut rice and patacones. This will be accompanied by soup and a drink and often will not cost you more than 5 euros. And you have to try the Ceviche!

In many coastal locations, you will be able to grab fresh coconut water (served in the coconut), refreshing fresh lemonade and cups of fresh fruit. Travel to Eje Cafertero and get a plate of Salchipapa (fries with hot dog sausages) or chorizo from a street vendor. 

The service in the restaurants is great! A voluntary tip of 10% is often added to the bill, but if it’s not, please leave a tip. The food is great and cooked with love and the service is friendly, why wouldn’t you!

What to wear in Colombia as a solo female traveller

I only mention it here as I have seen a few bloggers making comments about it in their posts. I would say one thing – unless you want to wear expensive fur and diamond rings, seriously don’t worry about it.

You don’t have to sacrifice your personal style or scorch your backside in jeans in 40 degrees of heat just to fit in. Most likely, you will be recognized as a gringo anyway. I am a bit of a hippie, wear shorts wherever I can and have red hair. Sometimes people thought I was from Bogota until I opened my mouth, obviously.

If you are not a middle-aged guy with a baseball cap, polo shirt tucked in your pants and camera hanging from your neck, you will fit in just fine.

Essential Guide to solo female Travel in Colombia

Yes, Colombian girls like wearing jeans. But so many girls in Spain in the summer, which I find impossible. Be who you are.

If there is one thing I would advise you to wear in Colombia, it would be confidence.

Try to fake it if you feel like you haven’t got enough. I do that all the time. I only pretend I’m confident. I am pretty shy, for real. Walking around the town confidently will help you with huggling, and sometimes will even allow you to avoid or minimize vendor harassment. If you look like you know where you are going, you will be less likely offered multiple tours and so on.

But street vendors and restaurant workers will try to get you in no matter what. Domestic travel is strong in Colombia, so gringos are attacked as much as Colombians. Wear jeans, shorts, hippy pants or skirts, T-shirts or dresses. Just be comfortable. Be you. That’s my advice.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to know (2021)

Music is ever present in Colombia 

There is music blasting nearly everywhere in Colombia. On the streets, in the shops, on the beach, on the busses and taxis. Reaggeton, salsa, champeta – all sorts! I loved it. I have a musical heart, and I love Latin music. I was in paradise. But if you are looking for a tranquil, peaceful and quiet country – don’t go to Colombia lol

Colombians love to party, dance, rum and coke and aguardiente. I went to a boat party where shots of aguardiente were served from 10 am. In many restaurants, bars and discos, you can actually buy alcohol by a bottle. You will see a group of friends or families around the table sharing rum or other drinks.

Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia

Yet, I have never seen drunk people. Not in the way we see them in some European countries. People don’t trip and lie on the street, no one gets aggressive drunk, and everyone just has a good time. At least, this is my experience.

When the music is on, in the club, everyone dances. And they dance well! I was so jealous. It looks like it just runs in their blood.

But I understood everything when once in Rincon del Mar I saw a kid’s party. A couple of boys, no older than five, danced to a song I would not play to children, and exercised the moves a lot of adult gringos would not even dream about!

Staying online in Colombia

Colombia is an up-and-coming destination in South America for digital nomads. Cities like Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena and even Armenia or Santa Marta are quickly becoming an alternative to Asian Bali or Chiang Mai. The infrastructure, internet speed and general quality of life are excellent in those towns.

But you don’t need to limit yourself to the city. There are more and more hostels catering for digital nomads with dedicated working space and co-living options.

Suppose you are looking for a city but want to be close to the great beaches and taste the Caribbean life. In that case, I recommend Santa Marta or Cartagena, with the first one definitely being more affordable. But if your dream is to work on the beach and jump into the sea straight from your hostel, many coastal pueblos are opening for digital nomads. Buritaca, Costeno Beach and Palomino are just a few of them.

Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia

However, keep in mind that in coastal locations, you will encounter a power cut once in a while. Sometimes for a couple of hours or more.

However, many coworking hostels are equipped with power plants to keep you going until the internet is back. So do check before you settle there.

I also found Salento incredibly online work-friendly. The internet was great, there were hardly any power cuts, and there were many hostels with great working space and tons of things to do.

SANTA MARTA – A NEW BEST DESTINATION FOR DIGITAL NOMADS IN COLOMBIA
Casas Viejas in Minca / AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA

In the cities, internet coverage is excellent. In more rural areas, it is a bit of hit and miss. The same goes for phone coverage. Claro has the best coverage, but even Claro stops working in most remote areas.

The best cities in Colombia for digital nomads are Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Armenia, and Cali, and some also mention Pereira and Barranquilla, but I wouldn’t recommend them just yet.

The best smaller towns, pueblos and coastal locations are Salento, Jardin, Buritaca, Costeno and Palomino, but that’s only if you don’t have tight deadlines, or urgent Zoom meetings, so occasional power cuts won’t be too much of a problem. I would definitely recommend exploring more than just Medellin if you are working online. There is so much more to this incredible country.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Need to know (2021)

Public transport in Colombia, is it safe for solo female travellers?

I have travelled around Colombia using all sorts of public transport, and I found them all safe to semi-safe (depending on how adventurous you are). Yes, riding on a moto-taxi in the middle of Cartagena without a helmet on while holding onto your backpack isn’t the safest thing to do. 

Or sticking your head out of the window of the bus because it’s just so hot that you need to get some air probably isn’t the best idea either.

I, however, never had any real safety issues while using public transport in Colombia.

While using public transport in Colombia, you can feel as safe or as adventurous as you are prepared to be. The intercity and night buses are great, large, comfortable, and a pure pleasure to travel by. The city buses are a completely different story. But there is always Uber, Bolt or DIDI. Domestic flights are also painless and very cheap.

When in smaller towns, you will have the option to use the so-called Colectivo. This term might be new for you so let me explain.

Colectivo is basically a shared mini bus (sometimes just a car). Most of the time, it is a regular car or a minivan that will take you from one town to another. There will be no timetable as they are always waiting until the vehicle is full. Those are often faster options. It is totally safe to use colectivos in Colombia.

An Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia / All You Keed to know (2021)

When in the city, and if you consider taking a taxi – always use Uber-like services. It’s not only cheaper but much safer.

If you get a chance, do take a ride in the Chiva bus or Willy jeep in the Colombian coffee region. This is definitely a great adventure.

Medellin has a fantastic public network with a very modern metro and cable car system. There is no metro in Bogota, but you can use the buses or Uber. In some towns like Santa Marta or Cartagena, check the price with the driver before getting into the taxi. The same goes for moto-taxis.

Things to consider (and not to do) as a solo female traveller in Colombia 

  • Don’t take drugs, talk about Pablo Escobar and related topics. This first one is kind of self-explanatory. Unfortunately, a lot of people come to Colombia just for that (and prostitutes), but we are not this type of traveller, so I will leave it at that. Pablo Escobar, Narcos or drugs are very sensitive topics for Colombians.

As a nation, they worked very hard to paint a different picture of their country and move on from those tragic events. Support that by engaging in conversations that cover your appreciation for the beauty and rich culture of the country Colombia is right now. 

Pati's Weekly Bite - Bogota Colombia
Pati’s Weekly Bite – Bogota Colombia
  • Police and army presence can be intimidating. My first day in Bogota was a bit that. As I took a walk towards Plaza Bolivar, I passed around 30 fully (and I mean, fully) armed police officers. Mind you, I arrived just a few days after a large demonstration. But you will see a lot of armed police officers and soldiers as you travel around the country.

Only once happened that the bus I was travelling in was stopped, and I had to get out, and they searched my bags. After asking me what I was doing in Colombia and looking into my bag, the young soldier smiled at me and said, ‘Bienvenidos en Colombia’. Once more, I had a similar situation, but this time, only men were asked to leave a bus, and they collected all our IDs for a few minutes. It can be intimidating. But be polite, answer the questions and don’t worry. They are not looking for you, that’s for sure. 

  • Don’t stress about buying too much before you arrive in Colombia. You can buy anything you might need whilst in Colombia. Not always in small pueblos, but once you are in a larger city, you will find everything you need and more.

Hair products, skincare, medicine, clothing – anything! I found hair products and skincare products I didn’t think I would. There is not much that you will not be able to buy in Colombia.

  • The same goes for medications. There is a pharmacy on every corner in Colombia. You will be able to buy the same (if not more) medicines that you can get over the counter in your country. Often better and cheaper.

There are also many great walk-in clinics in case you need a prescription. But If you do require a specific prescription drug, please get a supply before the travel as the same brand might not be available.

I packed a First Aid Kit, and it was only weighing my bag. Now I only carry painkillers, antihistamine tablets and a couple of plasters with me. And I’m good. 

  • Pack as light as you can. I would say a heavy suitcase is not the best idea. You will be climbing the busses, getting your luggage thrown in at the back of the car or a bus or shoved in the hostel locker. The backpack is the best luggage type for travelling in Colombia.
Backpacking in your 30s 40s and beyond / Travelling as 40-something

If you are planning to stay in one city and just travel by taxi to the airport – take all the suitcases in the world. Otherwise, take a comfortable and breathable backpack. It’s hot and sticky in Colombia.

Because I had a backpack, I was able to take cheaper motor taxis to many places. You will be surprised how easily a moto-driver can accommodate a backpack at the front of the bike. I was.  Here is my article detailing my packing strategy.

  • Getting your Laundry done in Colombia is very easy. Nearly every hostel offers a laundry service. They will wash, dry and fold your clothes. Otherwise, there is always a laundry service in the town. One warning, though!

If you own some white pieces of clothing, separate them. They will not do it. The first time I handed my bag, I ended up with my white top changing into the grey top as they threw everything in. You will pay for a single wash ( and most of the time per kg), so you will pay for two if you want to separate your clothing. If you want to avoid it, either don’t travel with light-coloured clothing or handwash those couple of white tops instead. 

Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
  • In many parts of Colombia, tap water is safe to drink. This includes Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and the coffee region of Colombia. It is not the case along the coast, though. Do check on your arrival. 
  • Be patient and allow extra time for everything. Don’t be surprised if you stay waiting in the queue in the Supermarket for 15 minutes with only one person in front of you. You might have to wait an hour for that colectivo (shared car) to fill up before it takes you to Riohacha. They said the laundry would be done this afternoon. More likely like tomorrow. Just relax. You are travelling. There is nowhere to rush to. 
  • Try to learn some Spanish before arriving in Colombia. Although the Colombian friends I have made speak very good English, many Colombians don’t. Don’t stress about it too much, but make sure you can communicate with the bus driver, hostel receptionist or shopkeeper.

Colombians will also appreciate the effort. You will be less likely to get scammed and save yourself some stress.  The more Spanish you will know the better time you will have. I loved engaging in conversations with Colombians. 

  • Haggle it, baby! Remember the gringo tax! Always ask for the price upfront. If there is no price tag or a menu with prices on it, most likely, you will be able to get a few bucks off the initial price. Especially for things like souvenirs, jewellery, clothing at the local market, and even meals at the restaurants. But in cities like Medellin or Bogota, the prices are set. Those are very Western cities, and so are their customs. You will get it very quickly once you are there. 
  • Stay in the Hostels! Hostels in Colombia are amazing. The facilities are great, I slept in some of the best dorms and I met all of my friends while staying in the hostels. Many hostels host parties, cater for people’s working hours and offer world-class facilities. Don’t miss out!
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia
  •  Enjoy and make friends for life! The longer I stayed in Colombia, the more I loved it. I met awesome people and made friends for life. People in Colombia are just like you and me. Actually, I often felt they were kinder, more down-to-earth, and truly interested in what I had to say. Embrace it, and have a blast!

And take a free Walking Tour whenever you can!

One of my favourite ways to discover a town on a budget is by joining a free walking tour whenever I first arrive. I can learn the history of the town, discover places that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find on my own and often meet other travellers in the process. If I have any burning questions about the location or safety – I always ask those questions to the tour guide. I highly recommend it!

Please note that those tours are free to join but given the tour often offers extreme value it is customary to leave a tip at the end of the tour. I always research what is the typical tip for a free walking tour in my current location. 

I hope you enjoyed this Guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia and found it useful.  I miss ths country so much and by writing this post I wanted to make sure that you have the best possible time!

I really would like to hear from you! have you visited, did you find the information useful? Let me know in the comments below!

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Are you ready to start your Colombia adventure? Here are some posts that will help you discover this incredible country!

Wondering which are the most legendary hostels in Colombia? Here is the complete list of the crème de la crème of the best hostels in Colombia.

When you visit a Colombian city for the first time, it can be overwhelming and choosing the right accommodation is crucial. Find out all about the best places to stay in Cartagena and Bogota.

Seeking some adventure?

Then you should hike the jungle and stay the night in Tayrona National Park. For ultimate Colombian adventure consider Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallina tour!

If you are looking for more hidden gems of Colombia’s Caribbean coast you should consider visiting Mendihuaca!

Following the Colombia backpackers trail? Here you will find the best Colombia itinerary, completely customisable depending on the length of your travel.

Finally read about iconic places to visit in Colombia like Palomino, Salento or Jardin.

4 Comments

  1. Fabulous tips. Thank you so much. I had been so looking forward in 2020 to go to South America to explore this massive continent and had done lots of research. Then covid cancelled everything. Now I just changed my travel plans and ad-hoc decided to go to SA and start exploring and as soon as I had bought the ticket started panicking and having worries about safety, mugging, being robbed and attacked. No idea why. Maybe the isolation w COVID lockdowns in NZ cut me off the world. Reading your blog restored my trust into myself and the world. It’s like you say all about being sensible and streetwise. Have travelled lots on my own and still do. I am 67yrs old and not a young innocent school kid. So, thanks heaps. Took notes of links. My excitement has returned. Yayyy. I do speak some Spanish and can hold a conversation and some Peruvians and Argentinians I know back in NZ think that I’ll be fine and even look and act like a Latino. So, I should blend in. Haha.
    All the best for your own ongoing travel. Keep it going. I’ve been asked to write a book with travel tips for older female travellers but think you’ve done already a good job there. Fits anybody. ?❤️

    1. Thank you so much Gabriele for your kind words! Reading comets like this assures me that what I do is helpful and makes sense. We all get those moments. When I started my most recent long-term trip, for the first 2 weeks I was so anxious (given I quit my job hahaha) and was questioning my decision every day. In the hindsight, this was one of the best things I have done and I am looking forward to the next one very soon! It’s natural we feel nervous, but it is worth doing it anyway, so worth it! Just keep all the sensible advice in mind and don’t let it plant too much doubt, it’s important to find a perfect balance. Trust yourself, this is always the most important advice! Have a wonderful trip!

  2. Thank you for this. I really found it helpful. I am only going to be in Colombia for 4 days enroute to Costa Rica for 6 days. I travel in mid Feb. I will be working and traveling. I am doing 2 days in Bogota + 2 days Medellin. I am a little nervous as you read about kidnappings etc. I recently started learning Spanish so I am hoping to test my skills and make me look less like a tourist. 😛 I intend on doing group tours too. I have been to the Caribbean, Iceland and Thailand on my own while living in Amsterdam and Spain so I think I will be okay. Thank you for the honest and frank guide to Colombia. One question – did you get any specifc travel vaccinations for travelling there? I am going to the two main cities so I am unsure if it’s necessary.

    1. Thank you, Sinead, and I’m thrilled you found the guide helpful. I didn’t get any vaccinations as I wasn’t planning on travelling to Amazon. That’s the kind of advice I found before I travelled. If you plan to visit amazon jungle or do a multiday trek, a yellow fever vaccine is definitely recommended. In theory, it is required to enter Tayrona Park, but no one asked me, and I didn’t meet anyone that was asked for it before entering. The only thing is that I was viciously eaten by mosquitos so I do recommend getting a powerful repellant. But if you are only planning to visit Bogota and Medellin, don’t bother. Medellin is very safe. In Bogota, I recommend Chapinero or anywhere on the north of the city. Candelaria is gorgeous, but if you prefer to be very safe, it can e a bit tricky – you could visit it during the day. Have a wonderful trip. You will soon find out that four days is not enough and you will want to return! Have great travels!

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