Is Cartagena safe for travel? Generally — yes! Locals tell us that Cartegana's beauty and Caribbean flair make it an excellent destination. As long as travelers are aware of a few safety precautions, they should be fine.
When the pandemic broke out in March 2020, Colombia took quick, decisive actions. Colombia closed its borders in March 2020 and didn't open up again until September 2020. In 2022, it is possible to travel to Colombia and feel relatively safe from COVID.
Here’s what you need to know before you go to Colombia:
All of this can feel overwhelming — that's why we recommend talking to a Colombian local who can let you know how things are in Cartagena right now. Plus, they know all the best secret spots to enjoy on Colombia’s Caribbean shore.
Utilize local advice as you decide where to visit in Colombia. Our Colombian locals in Cartagena tell us that these are some cool (and safe) neighborhoods to check out:
Like any big city, Cartagena has some places you should generally avoid. Locals tell us that the further you get from Old Town, the closer you get to unsafe neighborhoods. They also tell us that you aren't missing out by leaving the following places off your Cartagena itinerary—there are plenty of safer, awesome places to get off the beaten path in Colombia.
Benefit from local knowledge when it comes to safety in Colombia—work with a Colombian local to plan your trip. They can give suggestions on places to stay (and avoid) based on your travel style.
The short answer is no. In fact, violent crime against tourists is nearly nonexistent in Colombia, making it easier and safer than ever to explore Cartagena and beyond.
Is Colombia dangerous? The State Department does give the country a Level 2 travel advisory but does not include Cartagena among its Level 3 or Level 4 travel advisories for Colombian regions.
Keep in mind that places like France have a Level 2 travel advisory too—most of Colombia is quite safe, but it's a good idea to get an update from the people who actually live there.
Most crimes in Cartagena are crimes of opportunity, which include petty theft or scams. Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings—like you would in any city or unfamiliar place—and odds are that you’ll be just fine. Locals say these are some common scams:
Take advantage of local insights when it comes to safety—ask one of our Colombian locals how they navigate their hometown safely.
Most Americans probably have all the required vaccinations for Colombia.
Due to the pandemic, the CDC recommends being vaccinated for COVID-19 before travel. The agency also recommends getting hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines before traveling to Colombia, although they are not required. If you're visiting smaller or more rural areas of Colombia, stay on the safe side and talk with your doctor about receiving these shots.
Check out our article on Colombia travel FAQs for more like this.
Although taxi fare in Colombia is regulated by the government, scams can happen. By using regulated apps like EasyTaxi and Tappsi, you can minimize your risk of being scammed. It's also cheap and easy to book airport transportation on websites like GetYourGuide.
We know that figuring out transportation in a new city can be tricky—so use local advice! Our locals can provide detailed transit instructions.
The tap water in most of Colombia’s major cities, including Cartagena, is perfectly safe to drink. If you are still concerned about the water, however, bottled and purified water is cheap and accessible everywhere. With that in mind, foods washed with tap water, such as fruits and vegetables, are all fine to consume—even from street vendors.
Cartagena’s proximity to the equator is a recipe for sunburn, and you don't want to deal with that—talk about a trip ruiner. Whether you’re exploring Cartagena’s beautiful islands or simply lounging at one of the city’s best restaurants, it’s safest to lather up several times a day, as Cartagena’s sun is powerful. (Just make sure you check on the TSA’s requirements for travel liquids before you go.)
In the off chance that you run into any trouble while galavanting through Cartagena, here are some numbers to call for assistance.