Colombia - Frequently Asked Questions
For everything you ever wanted to know about Colombia but we haven't covered in detail throughout our travel guide, here is that famous little list of Frequently Asked Questions about this beautiful South American destination.
Covering all the basics and resolving those important doubts most people have about this emerging holiday paradise, our FAQs section aims to help you with the things you want to find out most about before and after you book your getaway there.
Table of contents
- When is the best time to go?
- Do you need a visa?
- How can I get there?
- What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
- What is there to see and do?
- Is it safe in Colombia?
- Which immunizations do I need?
- How much is the airport tax?
When is the best time to go?
The best time to go to Colombia is typically between December and March, and from July to August. During these periods, the weather is usually at its driest, which makes it ideal for trekking and sightseeing. The temperature changes very little in Colombia throughout the year, broadly being very warm and tropical, so it is in the rainfall that you'll see the greatest variation. It's also worth bearing in mind that the exact conditions depend on whereabouts you are - the lowlands are often very hot, for example, when at the same time conditions are freezing in the Andes.
Do you need a visa?
You shouldn't need a visa for a trip of up to 90 days - but it's important to check the latest entry requirements with the Colombian Consulate General in London before travelling in case anything changes. Plus, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the day you arrive in Colombia.
How can I get there?
The simplest way to reach Colombia from the UK is to fly. The country's biggest international airport is in Bogota, and typically takes between 14 and 17 hours to reach from the UK. There is likely to be at least one stop, usually in European destinations such as Madrid, Frankfurt or Barcelona, en route.
What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
The national currency is the Colombian peso (COP$). There are plentiful ATMs, including in smaller towns, though of course if you plan to visit rural areas you should withdraw any money you need first. Be sure to exchange your currency at designated exchange points, such as banks or casas de cambio, with the latter sometimes offering better rates.
What is there to see and do?
One of South America's most varied countries, Colombia offers visitors a huge array of things to see and do. Adventure lovers can enjoy thrilling treks, nature enthusiasts can marvel at the colourful wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and culture vultures can peruse the museums and art. Among the highlights of any holiday to Colombia is exploring historic Cartagena. Its wonderful walled old town is filled with mansions, palaces and churches, making it a joy to explore. This city has plenty other treasures too, including one of the most impressive Spanish-built castles in the world - Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Away from the cities, you can enjoy the nation's varied landscapes - on the Caribbean coast, you'll be able to relax on idyllic beaches, while the adventurous can trek through jungles. Those who have their heart set on a little culture, meanwhile, can take a trip to the Parque Arqueologico, which houses more than 100 statues and a fascinating museum.
Is it safe in Colombia?
Colombia is safer today than it has been for many years - but there are still risks to be aware of. As in any destination, pickpocketing and theft is one of the chief risks to travellers, so take the necessary precautions before heading out. As well as tucking money safely away in secret wallets and not carrying more cash than is necessary, don't use expensive items such as mobile phones in public, or wear lots of jewellery. When travelling around Colombia, it's best never to hail a taxi; instead, stick to pre-booked services to help avoid potential problems. Make sure any food and drink you consume isn't left unattended at any point, as some tourists have been drugged for robbing or other crimes. If travelling into rural areas, check the details of that area thoroughly first - places where drugs are grown or processed should be avoided.
Which immunizations do I need?
It is likely you'll need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies before visiting Colombia - though you should check with your doctor a minimum of four to six weeks before you travel to get the latest immunisation and precautionary advice.
How much is the airport tax?
International departures from Colombia carry an airport tax. Currently, if your visit is under three months, this is US$35, but it is a good idea to check with the Colombian Embassy or Colombian Consulate in London before you travel.
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Considered the Oscar's of the tourism field, the World Travel Awards (WTA) recognise excellence across all key sectors of the travel and hospitality industry every year. In 2016, Medellin was chosen among a list of strong candidates, including Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, as South America's leading city break destination. Its lovely climate, friendly people and diverse entertainment options were some of the key elements WTA took into account.