flag Colombia Colombia: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organising Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Organising Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
Getting around town is usually by bus or taxi. Buses, usually crowded and playing loud music, include long buses (Colectivos), minibuses (busetas) and wodden chivas. Big cities have a fast lane bus service, quicker and safer than the traditional bus network. The urban bus system Transmilenio in Bogota has had a lot of success over the last few years. Taxis are practical and economical and usually have meters.
Maps of Urban Networks
UT Library on line
Mapblast

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Bogotá (BOG) 13 km / 8 miles USD 6-10 / 30-40 min Available - Available
Medellín (MDE) 30 km / 19 miles USD 16 USD 2 / 60 min - -

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
Colombia has five international airports, its network being one of the most developed in Latin America. Airflights are not very economical, but save considerable time and are the safest choice for city-to-city travel. The bus is the main means of transport for Colombians, the network extending to the smallest villages. Companies are numerous and destinations are usually served several times a day. There are three types of buses: ordinary buses (corriente, sensillo), first-class buses (pullman, metropolitano, directo), more modern and more comfortable; and air-conditioned buses (climatizado, ejecutivo), which are the most comfortable and circulate mostly at night over very long distances.
Rail Companies
Bogota touristic train
Medellin's metro

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Avianca Major Yes Yes
Copa Air Major Yes Yes
Satena Major Yes No
Viva Air Colombia Low cost Yes Yes
Easy Fly Low cost Yes No

You Can Consult The EU Air Safety List. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Travelling By Yourself

Recommendation
You are advised to drive very carefully or, even better, to take a taxi booked by telephone. The highway code is often not fully respected; the rule of the strongest prevails. It is strongly recommended not to drive at night. An international driving licence is required.
Travelling between cities is generally by bus or by airplane according to the distance. Since the setting up of policies to make the country more secure, road journeys between cities are relatively safe.
Getting fuel is suitably and regularly assured all over the country.
Road Maps
Tourism Office
Find an Itinerary
Find your itinerary on Viajar por Colombia

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
Bogota combines a mixture of Colombian tradition and Spanish colonial influences. Many historical monuments have been preserved, such as the Municipal Palace (Capitolio) and the cathedral on the main square, the Bolivar Square. Bogota also houses the Museum of Gold, with a unique collection of more than 100,000 pre-Columbian art objects. Cartagena, an ancient fortified town on the north coast, is also worth a visit, notably for its historic centre.
Cultural
Colombia’s major cities offer a variety of national and international cultural events: exhibitions, concerts, plays, dance performances, etc. Consult the Tourist Office of the city you are visiting. Medium-sized cities also have festivals and special events at different times of the year.
Nature
Guatavita, two hours by bus from Bogota, is famous for its Laguna de Guatavita, the ritual centre and sacred lake of the Muiscas Indians. Tayrona National Park, some 35 km south of Santa Marta, is one of the most visited parks in the country. It is renowned for its enclosed bays, lined with coconut trees, and its beautiful beaches and numerous coral reefs. Nearly a third of the Colombian territory is occupied by the Amazon Basin, and its dense tropical forest in the southeast. The most popular destination of tourists wishing to explore this part of the country is Leticia.
Religious
About 50 km south of Bogota is Zipaquirá, a region known for its many salt mines, one of which is home to the famous Salt Cathedral.
Thermal
In the Risaralda there is an important spa park, in Santa Rosa del Cabal.
Beach
Colombia offers tourists all possible climates, from the tropical beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, the mountains of the Cordillera of the Andes and many other curiosities. For further information about tourism in Colombia, consult the website of the Colombian Tourism Office.
Winter Sports
None
Outdoor Activities
Rafting, kayaking, trekking and hiking possible in almost all regions of the country. Please consult the tourist offices.
Shopping
Shopping centres exist in all major cities. There are also temporary markets for handicrafts in large and medium-sized cities, especially during the month of December.

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
- All rural areas situated under 1,800 meters of altitude are malaria infected. The strains present in the country are resistant to chloroquine.
- Dengue fever is present in the country.
- Yellow fever is endemic in the Magdalena valley, the eastern Cordillera, the Uraba region, the Orinoco, Amazonia and the Sierra Nevada.
- People who suffer from respiratory or heart illnesses, or high blood pressure may be affected by altitude sickness.
- Tuberculosis is common in the country.
- Rabies exists in the country.
- Diarrheic illnesses are widespread.

 Systematically:
-
Hepatitis A: for persons born before 1945, who spent their childhood in a developing country, or who have a medical history of icterus, a prior testing for serum antibodies (Ig  G) may avoid an unnecessary vaccination. Hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis.

International Hospitals
Medical care is adequate in major cities, but quality varies elsewhere. In Bogota, travellers can find very qualified general practitioners and specialists.
Consult the list of hospitals here.
For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
Health Information for Travellers to Colombia.
For Further Information on Safety Conditions
Colombia travel advice from the UK Government
Consult the travel advice from the Canadian Foreign Office
 

Emergency Numbers

All types of emergencies in Bogota 123

Fire

123
National Red Cross 123

Police

123
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Bogotá (GMT-5)
Summer Time Period
The summer and winter seasons merge.
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
Colombia only has two seasons; summer corresponds to the dry season (December - January and July - August) and winter to the rainy season (April - May and October - November). The climate varies according to region and altitude with a relative stability of temperatures all year round. From the humid tropical climate of Amazonia or the Caribbean, the desert climate of Guajira, to the glacial temperatures of the Paramos (more than 3,000 meters altitude), Colombia offers all variations of climate and temperature, to their very extremes. The average temperature is from 25°C to 35°C in the country. There are 12 hours of daylight a day.
For Further Information
Colombian system of environmental information
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
Colombian gastronomy is like its people, a mix of Spanish, Amerindian and African cuisines. Meals most often start with a vegetable or meat-based soup, the main course is generally beef, pork or chicken accompanied by rice, plantains, red beans, manioc or potatoes and a salad. On the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, meals consist of a soup of fish and guinea bananas or plantains, and fish, most often fried, accompanied by coconut rice and fried plantains. Desserts consist of all sorts of fruits (apples, citrus fruit, bananas, strawberries, etc.) including many tropical fruits (curuba, zapote, uchuva, guanabana, etc.). As for pastries, you can find coconut flans and cakes, as well as other specialties.

For further information about Colombian gastronomy (typical dishes and recipes), consult the Colombia Travel website.

Drinks
Meals are accompanied by tropical fruit juices, with fabulous tastes (lulo, passion fruit, papaya, tamarindo...) or sodas of different flavours. Coffee is, of course, the national drink, and it is served everywhere. Black, it is 'tinto' and with a little milk 'pintado'. It is generally quite sweet unless you ask otherwise, and it is more or less strong according to the region. There are several cheap local beers; Aguila, Costeña and Poker are those drunk most. As for strong spirits, aguardiente is drunk without too much moderation by the middle classes, as well as rum on the Caribbean coast.
Dietary Restrictions
There are no food restrictions in Colombia.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Colombian Peso
ISO Code
COP
To Obtain Domestic Currency
The currency is the Colombian peso. It is issued in bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000,

20,000,  50,000 and 100,000 pesos and in coins of 50, 100, 200 and 500 pesos. It is possible to change currency in hotels, banks and exchange offices. Some banks do not accept travellers cheques due to quotas. There are ATMs on the main streets of major cities and in shopping malls.

Possible Means of Payment
In large cities, you can pay with a credit card; in rural areas and in small shops, you pay in cash.
New ways of getting cash easily and safely are used by several local banks (ex.AZIMO etc.)

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Speaking

Official Language
Spanish.
Other Languages Spoken
There are still approximately 60 Amerindian languages in Colombia, as well as Palenquero, which is spoken by the Afro-descendants of the Palenque region.
Business Language
Spanish, English.
Getting Some Knowledge
To learn some basic conversation sentences in Spanish, consult for example Linguanaut.
Free Translation Tools
Lexilogos : Free French-Spanish-French translation of texts and web pages
Dictionarios.com : Free Spanish-Catalan-English-French Dictionary
Lexilogos : Free French-Spanish-French traduction of texts and web pages
Dictionarios.com : Free Spanish-Catalan-English-French Dictionary

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Useful Resources

To Find an Accommodation
http://www.travellerspoint.com/accommodation/es/colombia/bogota/budget/
http://colombianhostels.com.co/
https://www.hihostels.com/fr/destinations/co/hostels
National Office of Tourism
To Find an Apartment
Encuentra 24
Apts Colombia

Vacaciones Home Rental
To Find a Job
El empleo - The employment
Computrabajo - Computer work
Indeed

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Latest Update: June 2022