Colombia is a beautiful country that has so much to offer travelers. From historic city centers to biodiverse jungles, chances are that when you travel to Colombia, you’ll fall in love. If you’re considering taking a trip to this magical place, here is everything you need to budget for your trip without feeling like your depriving yourself!
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Why you should travel to Colombia
I’ve honestly never met anyone who didn’t fall in love with Colombia when they went. The food, culture, music, and people are really amazing. And sure, I could be biased since its a country I grew up visiting every summer, but honestly, I don’t think my personal bias has a whole lot to do with it. At the end of the day, Colombia is just awesome which is probably why Lonely Planet rated it as a must-visit destination for 2017.
If you’re looking for ecotourism, historical destination, tropical paradises, beautiful mountainscapes, stunning flowers, or a good cup of coffee, look no further. And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, well, it can! Colombia is also a great budget travel destination due to the exchange rate and its backpacker-friendly attitude.
Suggested daily budget for Colombia
Not only does the exchange rate from Euros and US Dollars help make Colombia a budget-friendly destination, but there are also great hostels to keep your costs low. Colombia also has really reasonably priced foods, from restaurants to street food, you’ll always find something within your budget. And don’t forget to take advantage of free things to see and do while visiting! Keeping all of this in mind, it is easy to keep your daily spending between $25-$50 USD.
Best budget tips for traveling to Colombia
- Join in on a free walking tour in one of the many big cities
- Eat the daily special (called a Corrientazo) at family-owned restaurants which include a soup, side salad, a choice of meat (pork, chicken or beef), white rice, fried plantains, daily vegetable, and a juice (fruit or lemonade).
- Visit museums on Sundays when they are usually free
- Use local transit like metro cables, colectivos, and public buses
- Make use of hostels and Airbnb options
Typical Costs in Colombia
Just like any other country, every city is different so keep in mind that these are averages and ranges. Bigger cities like Bogota or more popular tourist destinations like Cartagena will tend to cost more while more rural and remote places tend to be cheaper.
Average accommodation costs
Hotels dorm rooms will cost between $15,000-25,000 COP per night and private rooms generally start around $50,000 COP per night. They all usually include free WiFi and breakfast. Many also offer the use of a kitchen which if you choose to cook some quick light meals will help you save money.
Budget hotels will start around $40,000 COP per night for the most basic room. For more amenities like WiFI, included breakfast and a double bed you can expect to pay more along the lines of $70,000 COP per night. And in warmer climates, for hotels with a pool expect to pay closer to sn average of $90,000 COP per night.
Airbnb is also a great option too for those looking to travel to Colombia on a budget. As the platform has grown over the years, more places outside of major cities now have a presence. If you look at booking an Airbnb with shared accommodation, prices start around $35,000 COP per night. An entire apartment or home will generally start at $90,000 COP per night but the average for a whole space is going to be closer to $250,000 COP.
If you’re a camper or planning to do a lot of backpacking and have room for a tent, bring it along! There are few campgrounds in areas that see a lot of backpackers or high tourism areas like Villa de Leyva. Standalone camping areas can be hard to find but a lot of hostels and guesthouses will let you pitch on their property. Just keep in mind that it isn’t always going to be cheaper than just staying indoors.
Food costs in Colombia
One of the things I look forward to the most when we travel to Colombia? The food! You know that Tim and I are always down to eat and Colombia really makes it easy. Not only is the cuisine absolutely delicious and varied depending on what part of the country you are in but it is also relatively cheap. As long as you keep away from the expensive fancy restaurants, you should be able to keep your trip budget-friendly in the food department.
Take advantage of daily menus. Pretty much every smaller family-owned restaurant will have a daily menu called a Corrientazo. These daily menus are made each day and include soup, a side salad, a choice of meat (generally pork, chicken or beef), white rice, fried plantains, daily vegetable, and a juice or lemonade. And they generally cost under $15,000 COP and sometimes are even cheaper! They are so popular that chain and more upscale restaurants are now offering them on their menus too. Even if you go to a more upscale restaurant, food in Colombia is cheap when you take into consideration the exchange rate.
Here are some general prices of food in Colombia.
- Dinner (entree + app) at a restaurant in a touristy area per person: $35,000 – $54,000 COP
- Fast food: $15,000 COP
- Beer: can start at $2,500 COP
- Street and finger food is super cheap
- Empanadas, arepas, and other baked goods are all under $4,000 COP
Grocery shopping is very cheap so you also have that as an option to keep costs down. Generally speaking, groceries cost about $100,000 COP per week. El Exito is a great grocery store to look for that is similar to a large box chain grocery store in the States with what they offer. Tiendas Ara are also known for their low prices!
Transportation costs in Colombia
Local public transportation will always be the cheapest option when getting around in Colombia though it might always be the fastest. Here are some things to think about when trying to find the best transportation options.
- The metro in Medellin and Pereira is only around $2,000 COP for a one-way fare but only covers certain parts of the city.
- Bogota’s Transmilenio has its main lines as well as branch routes that can get you a lot of the historic parts of the city.
- Public buses are a great way to get around a city and depending on the route are often the most economical option for getting around.
- Intercity buses (like a greyhound) in Colombia aren’t always the most efficient way to travel.
- Budget airlines can be cheaper than buses when it comes to getting from one city to another. VivaColombia is a Ryan Air equivalent. EasyFly is another budget airline to look at. They have super cheap online deals and strict luggage restrictions so make sure you read the fine print!
- There are taxis in every city. Smaller cities (like where my parents live) do not have meters so make sure you ask about the price beforehand. Bigger city taxis should all have meters just make sure they are on and you aren’t falling victim to foreigner prices.
- Uber is also available in a few cities but it is not technically legal so use at your own risk!
Activity prices in Colombia
When you travel to Colombia, you have a lot of great free things you can do all over the country! Hiking, walking a city’s historic district, visiting museums, and self-guided walking tours are great budget-friendly activities you can do. Many of Colombia’s National Parks are free to visitors too! But even those things you have to pay for are pretty reasonably priced. Tours of coffee farms can be as little as $15,000 COP or as much as $150,000 COP, depending on the length and what is included.
One last thing…
Colombia on a budget is definitely something that you can do especially for those converting US Dollars or Euros to Colombia Pesos.
Here are some books I recommend to check out before your trip. And even though researching ahead of your trip is always the goal we definitely suggest bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some we recommend.