Cost of Traveling in Colombia: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
Traveling in Colombia is quite cheap. In fact, if you’re on a budget, this may be the best Latin American local for you. I’ve yet to visit a country that offers so much at such a low price.
From roundtrip flights for $40 USD to full meals that only cost $3.50 – your money can stretch far in most cities throughout Colombia.
So let’s dive in. Here’s a full breakdown of costs in the country:
Costs of traveling in Colombia will vary from city to city. Small cities like Pereira or Bucaramanga will always be cheaper than a place like Bogota. I’ve visited nearly every big city in Colombia, so let’s compare them by costs. Here are the cities in Colombia ranked from most expensive to cheapest:
- Santa Marta
Accommodation will usually take up the majority of your budget while traveling. The same is true in Colombia. From my personal experience and talking with others traveling in Colombia – most people spend between $200 to $1,500 a month on accommodation.
This depends on the type of lodging you’re staying in. Apartments, hostels, and hotels all have different costs. The city plays a huge role, too.
- Airbnb Apartments: Throughout Colombia, you can find Airbnb apartments in a range of prices. The average apartment in one of the big cities will cost $350-850 per month. This breaks down to around $12-30 USD a night. That’s not bad.
- Long-Term Rentals: If you plan to stay in a city for more than a few months, you may find better deals walking around and calling signs in windows. This is how I found my current apartment in Bogota. You find better deals this way. Most of these rentals cost between $200-850 a month depending on the city and quality.
- Room Rentals: I’ve met a few travelers that stay in rooms while in Colombia. This can be exceptionally cheap, especially in certain cities. Use this site to look for cheap deals anywhere you want to stay. Rooms can be found for $150-400 in all the big cities. The average seems to be around $225 per month for a double bed and shared bath.
- Hotels: Most travelers in Colombia have moved to renting apartments while traveling around, especially in the big cities. However, there are still good deals to be had at certain hotels. You can find hotels rooms for $12-22 a night in the small cities that include breakfast. Nicer hotels can run anywhere from $50-200 a night, depending on the quality, location, and chain.
- Hostels: Hostels are still popular in Colombia, too. Most run from $7-12 a night. Unless you enjoy sleeping in a room with 3-11 other people, I wouldn’t recommend them. This is especially true because you can find cheap apartments for rent on a monthly rate that is equal to a hostel.
Why pay $8 a night at a hostel when you can rent an apartment in Cali for the same price?
One of the best parts of Colombia is how cheap the food is. Well, the food in restaurants. Groceries are a little cheaper than the USA, but it’s not crazy.
What’s is crazy? You can buy a set lunch in Colombia for $10,000 Colombian Pesos, or $3.50. This will usually come with soup, juice, rice, beans, plantains, and a piece of meat.
- Restaurants: Cheap, local restaurants selling set meals can be found for $3.50-5.00 anywhere in the country. These places make great lunch and breakfast spots. A nicer restaurant serving Western-style food usually will cost $7-10.
- Street Food: You can street vendors selling empanadas filled with meat and other savory treats throughout Colombia. Most empanadas cost between $2,000-5,000 Pesos. I haven’t gotten sick from them yet, but still try to only eat from the cleaner looking street vendors.
- Groceries: Honestly, it’s almost cheaper to eat out for a couple meals a day than buy groceries. Meats aren’t that cheap in Colombian grocery stores. Plus, the fruits are way cheaper when you buy them from street vendors. I try to buy eggs and nuts from the grocery store, and then I eat out a meal or two each day while buying fruits from vendors.
Colombians love to drink and party. They are a friendly group of people. As such, you won’t have a hard time finding a place to drink in the country. Unless you’re buying bottles at a high-end club, all the booze is fairly cheap here.
- Beer: You can get cheap beers from a small bar for $3,000-7,000 Pesos, depending on the city and bar. A pint of craft beer from Bogota Beer Company will run you around $3 USD throughout the country. In a nice club, a beer will usually run $8,000-15,000 Pesos.
- Bottles: It’s quite normal to buy a bottle of booze while in a disco in Colombia. Most Colombians go out in groups and split a big bottle. As such, you’ll find bottles aren’t too overpriced. You can get a bottle of rum or vodka in a decent spot from $40-80. A bottle of Colombia’s Aguardiente usually runs $20-40 in a club.
- Wine: Bottles of red wine run $5-20 in a grocery store. You can grab one at a bar for $25-40 in most places.
- Club Cover: One thing that’s not cool about drinking in Colombia is cover charges. Most clubs in Colombia charge cover, especially in expensive cities like Bogota and Cartagena. Cover charges run from $10,000-25,000 Pesos per person.
Traveling in Colombia is dirt cheap. It’s easy to move around the country from one city to the next. Flights in the country aren’t costly. Buses are even cheaper. Taxis fares usually are only a few bucks inside the city.
If you like to move around a lot, Colombia is one of the best countries to do so on the cheap.
- Uber & Taxis: I rarely use public transport in Colombia because taxi fares are so cheap. An Uber or taxi ride in the city will run between $2-8. I’ve taken 45-minute long taxi rides that cost $8 bucks. That’s cheap. Uber works well in cities like Bogota, Cali, and Medellin. You’ll want to take taxis in Cartagena.
- Public Transport: Medellin has great public transportation. Bogota, Cali, and Cartagena don’t. Outside Medellin, I’d stick to using Ubers or taxis. The Transmileno is ok in Bogota, but it’s typically not worth the hassle.
- Bus: If you’re traveling 1-5 hours by bus in Colombia, you should be just fine. These tickets will cost $5-15 USD, and most buses are extremely safe and reliable here. If you want to travel between the big cities, I’d recommend flying. You don’t want to be on a bus from Bogota to Medellin. The mountainous terrain is dizzying and uncomfortable.
- Flights: Speaking of flights – you can fly between Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, and Medellin on the cheap. Flights cost between $40-70 roundtrip between these cities. Why take the bus when a roundtrip is $40? It just doesn’t make sense to spend 12 hours on a bus to save $5 on a one-way trip.
The gym in Colombia isn’t that cheap. Expect to pay between $20-80 for a monthly pass. Even in a cheap city like Cali – I paid $40 for a monthly membership to an average gym.
Weekly passes can be found in touristy places like Cartagena, but they aren’t cheap. I paid $17 USD for a week at the gym in Bocagrande.
The good news is many Colombians prefer to workout outside. You can find outdoor gyms in nearly every neighborhood in Colombia that features pull-up bars and other equipment. These places are free.
I recommend everyone traveling in Colombia buy a SIM card and get some data and minutes. It’s dirt cheap and easy to do. Bring an unlocked smartphone and head to the local Claro store. A SIM card will cost $2-3 USD. Then take out $50,000 Pesos and get a month of data and a few minutes. A month of data costs $42,000 Pesos in Colombia and comes with free What’s App.
I like getting things like manicures, pedicures, and massages in Colombia. These “luxurious” services can be found for cheap here. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Haircuts: $3-12 USD
- Beard Trim: $2-7 USD
- Manicure: $3-7 USD
- Pedicure: $5-10 USD
- Massages: $8-35 USD
I have no exact figures when it comes to tourism. When traveling in Colombia, every activity will have different costs.
My best tip…
Find a local who wants to show you cool stuff to do in their city. These people will know the cheapest ways to do the coolest shit. Instead of paying a tour operator $30-50 for a tour, a local can show you the same stuff for $5-10 bucks.
Traveling in Colombia – Overall Costs
If you’re looking for a budget locale that has a lot to offer, Colombia cannot be beaten. This is a special country that offers more value than anywhere else in the world. With a little effort and some Spanish speaking skills, you’ll find deals you won’t believe here.
If you plan to travel around Colombia, you’ll definitely need to speak some Spanish. Click here to see the best way to do just that!
For more information on cities in Colombia, check these articles out: