Located in the center of Colombia, Bogota is the heart of the country and the largest city. The city is responsible for 56% of the tourism in Colombia. It is a growing international meeting destination as many multinational companies have established roots in the financial district. However, it is also a cultural and artistic city with many museums like the Botero Museum and the Gold Museum. Some other important spots you cannot miss are the botanical garden José Celestino Mutis, La Quinta de Bolivar, the national observatory, the planetarium, Maloka, the Colpatria observation point, the monument of the American flags, and La Candelaria.
While this beautiful city is a safe place to visit, there is a threat of street crime. Take care of your personal belongings at all times and be aware of your surroundings. Below, you’ll find more information on how to stay safe while traveling in Bogota.
Violent crime is not very common in Bogota, but it is important to be extra cautious when touring Ciudad Bolivar, El Codito, Kennedy and Soacha, Monserrate, and the downtown area of Candelaria as pick-pocketing and muggings occur frequently in these areas. Avoid these areas after dark unless you are companied by a guide or a private driver.
The art hub and elegant architecture are found here, in the beautiful historic center of Bogota. This is one of the most popular districts in the city, and it is also the oldest neighbourhood that is now filled with cafés, museums, restaurants, and theatres. Over 200 pieces of world-known art from Picasso to Dali are found in the Museo Botero, and over 34,000 pieces of gold artefacts dating from the pre-hispanic to the modern era are in display at the Museo del Oro.
This district, also known as Zona T, is known for its nightlife and drinks as it is where the locals party. One of the most popular spots is La Villa which offers free salsa lessons. In the mood for a martini? Prava is the place to go!
Santa Fé-Los Mártires
Surrounding La Candelaria, you’ll find these neighbourhoods. Santa Fé is the financial district, while Los Mártires is a quiet, bohemian district with art galleries, cafés, and restaurants. Bogota’s MoMA is home to some famous Colombian artists like Alejandro Obregón and Fernando Botero. For a beautiful panoramic view of Bogota, check out the tallest building, Torre Colpatria, or take a funicular ride up to Cerro de Monserrate.
Warnings & Dangers
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Street crime is an issue, and it’s on the rise in Bogota, so standard safety precautions are recommended. Although violence against travellers does not occur often, there have been a few reports of robberies involving violence. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other major city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH
Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Distraction is often the strategy, so always be alert and keep an eye on your belongings.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Muggings have happened in urban areas. People walking alone are often the targets, especially at night. In case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.
Express kidnappings or short-term kidnappings can also occur. Most cases in major cities involve victims that have been picked up by taxis stopped from the street.
SCAMS RISK: HIGH
As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you. Credit card skimming is also common. Thieves have been known to pose as police officers, so always ask to see official identification and record the officer’s name, badge number, and district. Do not hand them your passport or money for inspection as a legitimate Colombian police will never make such request. Insist on calling a bona fide police station if this happens.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
Overall, taxis and public transportation are safe. Make sure you book a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible as there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Flooding and landslides can happen during heavy rains and may result in public transportation disruptions. Bogota is also subject to earthquakes. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There is a general threat from terrorism that is linked to organised crime. Control of the drugs trade is one of the major drivers. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Many women travel safely without any issues. However, there have been reports of sexual assault throughout the country. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Women may be subject to verbal harassment as well. Remain extra vigilant at bus terminals and in taxis.
Most countries do not need a visa to enter Colombia when the purpose of the visit is tourism, and your stay is not more than 90 days. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your departure date.
www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.