How much does traveling in Colombia cost? Can you travel on a smaller budget or do you have to bring a bag of money?
Colombia is one of the cheapest countries in South America. Of course you can make it as expensive as you want, but you can easily eat out cheaply, have a drink and sleep. There are options in Colombia for every budget. Below we give an overview of the possible costs that you can expect. A distinction is made here between the basic backpacker and the backpacker+ for whom it can all be a bit more luxurious. The costs described are per person per day, unless otherwise indicated.
Currency and General
In Colombia, the Colombian Peso is the currency used. Withdrawing cash from the ATM can sometimes involve additional costs. It is advisable to check in advance with which Colombian banks your own bank has agreements and collaborations. Then you know whether your card also works at a specific bank. Both Visa and Maestro are accepted everywhere. The Rabobank card had the least or none at the Davivienda bank and the ING card had the least or none at the BBVA bank.
ATMs are scarce in a number of places, mainly in smaller villages and remote areas. It is also possible that hotels charge extra money if you want to pay them by card. This can go up to 19% extra. In addition, most restaurants automatically add service costs and tips to the total price.
When you make a debit card transaction, the employee may ask you how many ‘cuotas’ you want. This is a payment method in Colombia to pay off the amount on credit in a number of months. If you indicate ‘una cuota’, the amount will be debited once and in one go.
The overnight stays are one of the largest costs incurred. A bed in a dorm in a hostel costs between €7.50 – €12.50, a double room with (shared) bathroom costs about €25 per night, with the more luxurious variants available from €40. If you sleep alternately in a dorm and you occasionally want your own room, you can count on about €12.50 on average per person per night. If you prefer to sleep more privately and more luxuriously, then count on an average of €20 per person per night.
Food and drink
In Colombia you can already eat very cheaply locally. However, the location where you are at that moment has a major influence on the prices of the food. Cartagena is an expensive city, while the smaller outlying villages are much cheaper. Street food is also a great way to eat cheaply. For between €3 – €7.50 you can eat very well. On average, a coffee costs less than €2, a beer €1.50, a lunch €5 – €10 and a dinner €10 – €15. If you go out for a more luxurious dinner with a glass of wine and eat out more extensively, you can count on an average of €20 per person. Many ho(s)tels also have a kitchen and all common products are for sale in the supermarkets.
If you cook a lot yourself and occasionally eat out or get street food with coffee or beer on the terrace every now and then, you can count on an average of €10 per day. If you like to eat out and it could be a bit more luxurious, then you can take into account an average of €27.50 per day.
Activities in Colombia vary widely. A multi-day hike, such as the Lost City Trek, quickly costs €400/500 per person for 4 days and you can also count on the same prices for a multi-day trip to the Amazon near Leticia. Paragliding, rafting and other sporting activities often cost around €50. Hiking, renting a scooter or motorbike, or a coffee tour are the cheaper activities, for which you spend about €15 per person per activity. Depending on what you are going to do, you set your budget.
Public transport in Colombia is well organized. There are very regular buses for the longer distances (between €10 – €20) and minibuses for the shorter distances (for a few euros). If you want a short distance by taxi, agree a price in advance. Often it is a few euros at a time. The Ubers in the major cities also charge a reasonable price. Count on an average of €3 per trip. In Medellín city you can travel very easily and cheaply by metro. Each ride costs about €0.70.
If you want to take the plane from A to B in the meantime, you often pay an average of €50 for a flight, including luggage.
Other other costs include laundry, bank transaction costs, a SIM card with data and souvenirs. For all other costs we charge €50 per person.
And what does it all cost in total? For the total calculation, we assume a trip of 3 weeks through Colombia, where only public transport is used for the basic backpacker and 2 flights for the backpacker +. Multi-day tours to the Amazon and the Lost City Trek are also not included in the calculation. Just like the costs incurred to and from Colombia.
The basic backpacker
Average per night €12.50 (dorm and private room alternated)
Food and drink per day €10
Activities total €90
Transportation total with public transportation €125
Total for 3 weeks €737.50 on average €35.12 per day
Average per night €20 (private room or apartment with private bathroom)
Food and drink per day €27.50
Activities total €90
Transport total with public transport and 2 domestic flights €225
Total for 3 weeks €1362.50 per person, on average €64.88 per day