Things to know about Colombia
We spent one month traveling around Colombia. This gave us enough time to get pretty good insight of how things work around the country, especially for travelers. So, if you are planning to visit Colombia and you need to know some basic tips to organize your trip, you’ve come to the right place.
The currency is the colombian peso (COP).
In May 2018 the exchange rate was
1$ = 2700 COP / 1€ = 3400 COP
Top tourist destinations
Cartagena, Guatape, Tayrona National Park, Salento and Medellin
We landed in Bogota but weren’t huge fans of the capital and think 24 hours is enough to discover it. Then we took a plane to the Caribbean Coast.
We explored the beautiful old city of Cartagena and around (Playa Blanca on Baru and the island of Tierra Bomba). Then went south to Tolú to take a boat to Isla Mucura, a paradise island. We went back all the way up headed east of Tayrona Park to chill in Palomino beach, from where we explored the Sierra Nevada. Followed by the village of Minca in nature and then took a plane from Santa Marta to Medellin.
We arrived to the second largest city of the country, Medellin. We spent a few days there and had a day trip to the colorful Guatape. Moving south to Jardin. From there, our next stop was Salento to visit the coffee plantations and the palm tree forest in Cocora Valley.
We took an eternal bus, crossing the Andes, to finish our trip with a visit to the Tatacoa Desert. Then came back to Bogota to take our flight out of Colombia.
How to move inside colombia ?
Colombia is a big country, so the distance between places can be lengthy so prepare yourself for long hours of bus. With a few exceptions (Pacific coast) the country is well connected by a good network of roads. The companies ExpresoBrasilia, Unitransco, Rapido Ochoa or Bolivariano are pretty safe and comfortable. We thought the buses were quite expensive, so we advise you to check for flights on the low cost airplane companies (VivaColombia and Wingo). We found air tickets for the same price as the bus and it saved us from taking night buses and 16+ hour trips.
What we can eat / drink in Colombia ?
The typical food you will find everywhere in the street is arepas, « Arepa de huevo » or « Arepa de queso » (a kind of thick corn tortilla stuffed with eggs or cheese). We liked them but after ten days of eating them, we were overwhelmed.
You can find lots of empanadas (cheese, beef or chicken) and many other fried things.
On the coast we ate big quantities of grilled fish with coconut rice, which is the typical (and maybe the only) dish of the area.
The national meal is the Bandeja Paisa that Basilio tried, a big platter that includes chorizo, minced meat, fried pork, rice, beans, fried egg, arepa, patacon (fried banana) and avocado. We’ll let you judge about the taste of this meal…
You find few kinds of soups with corn base like Ajiaco, a very famous meal in Bogota.
We discovered a lot of different fruit juices, some which were a novelty for us : lulo or tomate de arbol. They are a must try, really delicious!!
Colombia is a producer of coffee arabica, one of the most famous varieties of coffee in the world. The streets are full of coffee vendors, selling americano or « tinto » which is the local preparation with tons of sugar. If, like us, you love expressos, you will find lots of tasty coffee shops in the big cities.
You know how important food is for us. Colombian cuisine was not our favorite. Although, in Medellin we found our heaven of international food. We ate very good as well in Cartagena.
Is Colombia safe ?
« Yes » the times of Pablo Escobar are long gone, there are no drugs or guns everywhere but the feeling of safety is general. But we say it like that because of a bad personal experience that we had, where Basilio was assaulted and his camera robbed. We advise you to be alert and to stay away from dodgy places and you will be fine.
Is Colombia expensive ?
It is in the standard for a latin american country. Land transportation costs popped to our eyes, but apart from that you can make a fairly cheap travel if you stick to the local food and if you are not picky about the hostels you sleep in.
Cost of beer in a bar : 5000 COP
Cost of a expresso : 3000 COP
Cost for a double room with bathroom : not under 40 000 COP
Don’t drink tap water even if some locals do.
Bring your mosquito repellent but don’t contribute to the psychosis of Malaria, unless you are going to explore deep in the Amazonia, you will be ok.
Always stay hydrated and with your head covered because the sun can be really strong.
Following this simple piece of intel you are guaranteed to have a nice experience around Colombia. If you have more specific doubts feel free to contact us through our contact page.
Disclaimer: this article expresses the views, opinions and experiences of Cobalt State, and does not take responsibility for the bad use of this advice. Any activities and decisions you take are under your own risk and you alone will be responsible for them.