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Is Bogota Safe? Bogota Safety Guide

Is Bogota safe for tourists? When planning my first trip to Colombia, my biggest concern as a solo female traveler was reading up on Bogota safety advice. While living in Guatemala I’d heard horror stories warning me about how unsafe Bogota in Colombia is thanks to the El Paseo Millonario taxi rides, and the pickpocketing.

However, I’d also read several blog posts claiming there is nothing to worry about since Bogota is one of the safest cities in Colombia...

It was all pretty confusing really and so I genuinely didn’t know what to expect when I first went to live in Bogota. Thats why I wanted to put together this blog post full of information and advice from a woman who actually lived and worked in Bogota rather than someone who just went for a couple of nights in the tourist area!

In my personal experience, Bogota is far from a safe city, but neither is New York City or any other big city! In this post, I’m sharing essential Bogota safety tips to answer all your questions about “Is it safe to go to Colombia?”

So is Bogota safe for travelers?

Honestly, yes and no. It’s a complicated city so there is no straightforward answer. Its not a city I’d recommend for first time solo travelers. But I lived there for a few months solo. I did get my bag snatched, and my phone pickpocketed though haha, sooooo.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Bogota ToursClick here to check out the top Bogota tours
Best Bogota Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Bogota
Best Bogota Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Bogota

As I am a woman (and this is a solo female travel blog), this Bogota safety advice is aimed at women. However, much of it is also suitable for men traveling in Bogota.

Where is Bogota?

Bogota is located in central Colombia, at an elevation of over 8,000 feet. It is the capital and the country’s largest city. Bogota is about an 8.5-hour drive from Medellin and a 9-hour drive from Cali.

How Safe is Colombia?

Every city in Colombia has unique safety concerns to be aware of. Bogota is very different from other Colombian cities. That’s why this Bogota safety post doesn’t cover Medellin, Cali, or the Caribbean Coast. While there are common themes, I consider Bogota a bit more dangerous than these other locations.

I lived in Bogota for several months. I worked in the city and traveled around on public transport during the day and night. While living there, I was almost robbed once and had my phone stolen on the Transmillenio.

Bogota is a dangerous city, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. It means you should educate yourself and take precautions. Bogota is a wonderful city I highly recommend visiting!

They have a saying in Colombia that you should remember: “No dar papaya.” It translates to “don’t give papaya” (the fruit), which means: don’t give anyone the chance to steal your belongings.

Is Colombia dangerous? Petty theft is somewhat common in Colombia. If you leave your phone on the table, expect to get it stolen. I LOVE Colombia, but this is the worst thing about the country. It is exhausting constantly watching your things, but it is the only way!

Safety In Bogota Colombia

Is Bogota Colombia Safe? Bogota Safety Concerns

The most common Bogota safety concerns to be aware of are:

  • Taxi crime
  • Pickpockets
  • Bag theft
  • ATM theft
  • Drink spiking

I’m breaking down each of these to help you stay safe while visiting Bogota. I almost had my bag stolen in Bogota—well, he did steal it, but I ran down the street screaming, and he gave it back to me! I also had my phone stolen. I spent over two months living in La Candelaria, which is considered a pretty unsafe place. All that to say, I have firsthand knowledge to answer your questions about “How safe is Bogota Colombia?”

Taxi Crime

How dangerous is Colombia for solo female travelers? I suggest women NEVER get in a taxi on the streets of Bogota. Bogota taxis are unsafe—the best case is they will take you on a nice tour of the city that you didn’t ask for to run up the meter. Worst case, you will experience the El Paseo Millonario ride.

These might not happen daily, but it‘s a common enough occurrence to have a name. I know a couple who were held hostage at gunpoint for several hours and forced to withdraw large sums of money from ATMs throughout the city. Chances are you would be fine, but don’t take the risk when you can easily get a taxi using Tapsi, Uber, Beat, DiDi, or Cabify. All of these apps can be downloaded to safely hail a taxi in Bogota.

While Uber does work in Bogota, there is hostility between the taxi and Uber drivers. When using a ride-sharing app, sit in the front of the car so you can pretend the driver is a friend. That way, there is less chance of the driver getting yelled at by a taxi driver! 

Colombia Guides | How to get from El Dorado airport in Bogota to La Candelaria

Need Transportation in Colombia?

I highly recommend booking Colombia transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and flights on their website—I love their customer service. I know them personally from my time living in Guatemala, and they genuinely care for their customers. If a delay occurs and you miss your bus, call them for help.

If you book through GottoGo, you will pay more than at the bus station, but it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.


One of my top Bogota safety tips is to never put anything in your pocket. I also suggest you wear your backpack around the front. I found out about this one the hard way! This is important if you travel on the Transmillenio system.

During my time in Bogota, I used Transmillenio daily and never put anything in my pockets. One day, I was tired and put my phone in my pocket in a rush to get on the packed bus. Five minutes later, it was gone. As easy as that!

Quick Tip: View my full Colombia packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Colombia Essentials shopping list here.

Bag Theft and Petty Crime

Is it safe to go to Colombia as a backpacker? The main concern is having your bags or personal belongings stolen. If you are in a cafe, don’t put your phone on the table and don’t leave your bag on the floor. Either have it in your lap or attached to your body.

On my third day in Bogota, I was having a coffee and reading my book in a coffee shop with my bag on the floor. A guy walked in and stood by me for a few minutes, dropped his bag, and picked mine up. I noticed as soon as he walked out, and when I looked down, my bag was gone.

I ran out of the coffee shop screaming like a crazy person. There are police EVERYWHERE in La Candelaria. If a gringa starts screaming, it draws the kind of attention thieves don’t want. Lucky for me, he dropped the bag on the street and ran off!

Using ATMs

Choose your ATM wisely when in Bogota. Due to ATM charges, I always withdrew the maximum amount per transaction. Doing this on the street made me really nervous, and walking home with a bag full of money isn’t ideal. There are several ways you can safely withdraw money in Bogota or at least minimize the risks:

  • Find an ATM inside a bank rather than one on the street.
  • Don’t put all your money together—I prefer to split my money up. I put a little in my purse, some in the pocket of my bag, and the largest amount in my bra. I always wear my leggings with a secret pocket to store money and my ATM card.
  • Go straight back to your accommodations. Take the fastest route and don’t stop!

Drink Spiking

One of the most common concerns when discussing “Is Colombia safe to travel to?” is drink spiking. There is a well-known drug in Colombia called Borrachero that pretty much turns you into a zombie. Be really careful with your drink when you are out drinking, and don’t accept drinks from strangers. This is common across Colombia, not just in Bogota.

I must be honest, I was living in a dangerous part of town far from my friends. The whole time I lived in Bogota, I never went out because I didn’t want to risk getting home alone.

Is Bogota Safe? FAQs

How Safe is Bogota Colombia Downtown?

La Candelaria might be safe during the day, but it is not safe at night. I lived there for two months, and I felt scared walking home from work most evenings. There is a lot of street crime with people being mugged outside their hotels. Read this guide about where to stay in Bogota—I break down all of the different areas where it’s safe to stay.

Safety In Bogota Colombia

If you have a short time in Bogota, most people stay in La Candelaria because it’s the most convenient place. However, if you are staying longer than two days, go further north in the Chapinaro area (Parque 93, Zona T, or Zona Rosa). These neighborhoods have far better nightlife than Candelaria and are much safer. You can safely walk around at night in these areas, unlike La Candelaria. To get downtown for the tourist attractions, take the Transmillenio or book a taxi.

There is no real reason to travel further south than La Candelaria, so don’t. It isn’t safe, and there is nothing to see. Bogota is a huge city with plenty of places to explore in the north!

Is Bogota Safe for Hiking?

Bogota has some amazing hikes, but they can be dangerous. Before you go on any treks, check with locals about any issues to be aware of. Better yet, hire a Colombian buddy to take you!

If you want to walk up Monserrate, only do it when the police are out, as it’s a hotspot for muggings. The safest time to go is on a Sunday morning when the trail is packed with locals. If you go during the week, the best time is between 6:00-9:00 a.m. when the path is guarded. Don’t hike unless you see police or guards.

Is it Safe to Travel to Bogota Colombia With Jewelry and Designer Clothes?

If you don’t want to draw attention, dress down. Leave the flashy clothes and jewelry at home and try and blend in as much as possible. I’m 5’8″ with blond hair and blue eyes, so it is hard for me to blend in! I wore a hat a lot and dressed in dark clothes while in Bogota.

Why is Colombia So Dangerous? Politics in Bogota

Are you asking yourself, “Is Colombia safe for tourists?” I would say yes, as long as you stay out of political matters. Politics plays a large role in tension and civil unrest throughout Colombia. Since Bogota is the capital city, there are many protests and political marches. I lost count of how many I saw during my time there. To avoid getting caught up in these potentially volatile situations, avoid walking through protests and marches. The best way to stay safe is to avoid these political events as much as possible.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Where to Stay in Bogota

If you are staying longer than 24 hours, I recommend Chapenero over La Candelaria. Hotels I recommend include:

Hotel Morrison
Selina Chapinaro
Hotel Living 55
93 Luxury Suites & Residences

If you are only in town for one night, I suggest these La Candelaria accommodations:

Selina La Candelaria
Casa Artistica
Arche Noah Boutique Hostel

For a convenient airport hotel, check out the Radisson AR Bogota Airport.

Bogota Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Bogota?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Bogota which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Bogota on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Bogota?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Bogota?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Is Bogota Safe for Tourists? Final Thoughts

I wanted to write this post because I feel people, especially women traveling alone, should be as informed as they can when discussing, “Is Bogota Colombia safe?” I read several misleading posts saying Bogota is one of the safest cities in Colombia, and it made me a little mad. Yes, those writers may not have had any personal issues. However, Bogota is far from safe, and it is misleading to say so.

That said, I highly recommend spending a few days in Bogota. How safe is Colombia? If you are careful and remember these Bogota safety tips, you shouldn’t have any problems. Be aware of the dangers and stay cautious—always listen to your gut!

Safety Advice for Bogota

This post was proofread by Grammarly.


Monday 12th of December 2022

Thank you for this post! I am from a Scandinavian country and we have zero safety thinking so I really need to read about common sense in countries where the situation is different. No point in sugar-coating and relativizing the safety situation to other countries, that is not helpful at all :-) So thanks!


Sunday 13th of February 2022

Thank you for a practical and illuminating breakdown. It is greatly appreciated.


Wednesday 17th of January 2024

@Claire, I'm a seasoned traveller and in April I'm off to Bogota for the third time. This time though I'm spending a week there and really "doing it over". Your blog is just fabulous. Most of the things you highlight I'm aware of but it's still good to see the pitfalls laid out coherently in written form. Thank you.


Tuesday 10th of March 2020

I am 50 years old man, always a solo traveler, but your article is superb and very educational, thanks for gathering and sharing all this info with us, poeple like you make this world a better place.


Thursday 13th of February 2020

Claire, your articles are very well written, good fun and they have lots of great tips. This one, though, doesn’t correspond to the figures reported by all sources. Bogotá, a city of nearly 9 million inhabitants, is actually safer than Cali or Medellin. Its not a question of opinion or perception. If you divide the amount of inhabitabts by the amount of crimes the reality will pop out (even from independent sources). The “paseo millonario” doesn’t occurr only in Bogotá. In all colombian cities, the crime is not distributed evenly: if you go to dangerous neighborhoods you’ll get in trouble. I suggest that for this kind of subjects you investigate from reliable sources rather than from opinions from friends; perception is a different thing.

Claire Summers

Thursday 13th of February 2020

Having lived in both Bogotá and Medellín this is my opinion. This is my blog and I'm entitled to my opinion on this matter. I felt far safer in Medellin than in Bogotá no amount of stats will change my opinion on that. In Bogotá I was robbed twice and came across far more issues than I ever did in Medellín... No facts you produce will change that fact. Thanks for taking the time to comment but you won't change my mind on this. Plus this is a blog for women so...

Dalia Jimenez

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

Is legal to use cabify in el dorado airport in bogota?