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Villa de Leyva, Colombia | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip
Villa de Leyva, Colombia | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip
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The Safest Spots to Visit in Colombia

Picture of Chris Bell
Updated: 16 April 2018
Colombia is a far safer country to visit than it was a decade ago. Big cities, like Bogota and Medellin, still have their share of crime, and in some places it would be wise to stay alert and aware. However, there are parts of Colombia where you face very little risk of anything bad happening to you and we’ve collected the safest spots to explore. Of course, it’s still important to use common sense and exercise caution when traveling anywhere in Colombia, or indeed the world.

Salento

This lovely little town in the Colombian Coffee Region is extremely popular with travelers these days, and there are now surely hundreds of hotels, hostels, restaurants, and bars here. With this influx of tourism has come improved safety, and nowadays visitors can feel free to wander the streets of this little town with nothing to worry about. Salento is perhaps the most popular destination in the Colombian Andes as of late, and there’s good reason everyone wants to visit!

Guatape

A small lakeside town in Antioquia, where everyone seems to know each other, Guatape is a delightful place to visit on any trip to Colombia, and an added bonus is that it’s also a very secure place. There’s a real communal atmosphere to Guatape and its popularity among tourists is partly down to this sense of safety. Not to mention that it’s also one of the nicest little towns in all of the Colombian Andes.

The colourful streets of Guatape
The colourful streets of Guatape | © JoseDGL / Flickr

Palomino

This little Caribbean beachside community has evolved into a tourism destination in only the past five or six years, and there are now scores of hotels and hostels all along the beachfront. There is very little in Palomino these days that isn’t connected to tourism, and the areas down by the beach, where most of the hotels and hostels are, are very safe nowadays. You can wander the beach in Palomino at dusk and dawn with little fear of anything bad happening to you.

Tayrona National Park

As a very secure and well-guarded National Park, Tayrona might just be the safest place on the entire Colombian Caribbean coast, the very real danger of falling coconuts aside (no, seriously). You have to give your ID and pay an entrance fee to enter, and the park is heavily guarded. Once you’re inside Tayrona, the only thing you really have to worry about is whether to go for a swim in the gorgeous Caribbean waters or to hike through the jungle in search of toucans and monkeys.

Tayrona National Park, Colombia
Tayrona National Park, Colombia | © Chris Bell

Minca

A lovely little mountain village in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains (located about half an hour from Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast), Minca is so laid-back and peaceful that many people visit for a few days and end up staying for a few weeks! It’s also extremely secure, and the downtown area is so small you will become familiar with many local faces after just a few days. You can hike through the jungles around the town all through the day without having to worry about your safety, and walking back to your hostel after dark shouldn’t be an issue either.

Villa de Leyva

One of Colombia’s most iconic Heritage Towns, Villa de Leyva has gained prominence in Colombia, thanks to its perfectly preserved architecture and excellent range of boutique hotels and restaurants. It also has a wonderful café culture, and it’s common to find tables and chairs spilling out into the streets from restaurants surrounding the main plaza. Wandering Villa de Leyva’s lovely cobblestone alleyways, by day or by night, are a safe and satisfying experience.

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Villa de Leyva, Boyaca | © Rosalba Tarazona / Flickr

Jardin

Another small town (are you noticing a theme by now?) in the Antioquia department, around four hours south of Medellin, Jardin is an easy-going coffee-growers community with a friendly and welcoming vibe. The main square, where tables and chairs are laid out for people to drink coffee by day and beer by night, is one of the nicest in Colombia, and the town itself is very safe. The chances of anything happening to you on a trip to Jardin are very low indeed.

Barichara

The so-called “prettiest town in Colombia” is also one of the most peaceful, particularly by night. While Barichara is touristy by day, most visitors only opt for day-trips, and the town is delightfully peaceful and quiet by night. It’s also extremely safe, as so few people even live in Barichara, and the chances of anyone committing a potentially high-profile crime are relatively slim. As with every spot on this list, it’s important to exercise normal amounts of caution, but in Barichara the only real danger is that you’ll fall in love and never leave!

The cobbled streets of Barichara
The cobbled streets of Barichara | © Léo Tisseau / Flickr