How to Stay Safe in Barranquilla, Colombia's Most Underrated City

ViaHero · Updated June 26, 2018

Barranquilla is an absolute gem—but in comparison to some other cities in Colombia, it's known to be a bit grittier. Learn how to stay safe while traveling in Barranquilla, and if you have any questions, feel free to message us!

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Theft and scams are the most common safety issues—here's how to avoid them

Since Barranquilla tends to be a lesser-visited tourist destination, travelers stick out a bit more than in some other Colombian cities. This can lead to issues with theft and scam—but the good news is that you can stay safe in this Colombian locale with these helpful tips:

  • Travel in groups. Unlike many other destinations in Colombia, Barranquilla is not the ideal spot for solo exploration. This will not only help you to avoid petty theft and scam, but larger safely issues as well.
  • Enjoy Barranquilla’s nightlife scene to the fullest by separating your cash and valuable into different pockets. This way you can dance and party without the risk of having all of your stuff stolen.
  • Do everything you can to blend in. This includes not wearing or using flashy items and making sure to maintain a confident attitude. When in doubt, try to do as the locals do.
  • Follow your instincts, and just say no to any vendor or party companion that you don’t feel good about.  

Don't use cabs—take Uber instead

The reputation of taxis in Barranquilla is not great, so it’s a good idea to try and avoid them. Don’t worry though, Uber is widely available in Colombia, and Barranquilla is no exception. Just make sure that your phone is charged, and you’ll have a much safer and much more reliable way to get around.

Carnival is the experience to be had in Barranquilla, but be sure to celebrate safely

Carnival—the four-day, no-holds-barred public festival leading up to Lent—is when Barranquilla shines the brightest. Second only to Rio de Janeiro's celebration in size, Barranquilla’s festivities date all the way back to the 19th century. During the revelry, the entire city transforms from an industrial hub into one giant celebration, exploding in bright colors, lively music, flamboyant costumes, and non-stop events. But while the festival guarantees a never-forget experience, it doesn’t guarantee a worry-free one.

During Carnival, petty crime it is at its peak due to the large influx of outsiders. To that end, it’s very important to never set down your drink or accept a drink from someone you don’t know; it’s also a good idea to take minimal belongings and to keep a close eye on those that you do bring along. With just a little caution though, Barranquilla can be just as safe as Colombia as a whole.

Take precautions when deciding where to stay

There are many lodging options in Barranquilla, but not all of them are great. To make sure that you book the safest choice, stick with hotels and always give the ratings and reviews a quick read. Or better yet, reach out to one of our local Colombian Travel experts for personalized recommendation to best fit your trip.

So, is Barranquilla safe?

The answer is really up to what kind of traveler you are. If you prefer a more cookie-cutter vacation spot, then Barranquilla is probably not your ideal location. But if you like to take the road less traveled and are looking for a lively destination (or the party of a lifetime), then Barranquilla may just be the spot for you!

Emergency numbers to have on hand

For further peace of mind, it’s a great idea to save these numbers to your phone before your trip to Colombia!

  • National Emergency Number: 123
  • Tourist Police: (1) 3374413
  • Information: 113
  • US Embassy in Colombia: (+57) (1) 275-2000

If you still have questions, feel free to message us or reach out to our Colombian travel experts directly. And before your trip, make sure to check out: