Planning Your Trip to Colombia

Does Colombia have any visa requirements or is there anything I need to do ahead of time to get into the country?

  • No visas/reciprocity fees needed for U.S. and Canadian citizens to enter Colombia.
  • Proof of onward travel (i.e. return flight tickets) may be required.

What immunizations and shots do I need to travel to Colombia?

  • Be up to date on routine vaccinations.
  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control for more info.
  • If you are pregnant, Knowmad Adventures does not advise travel to Colombia in accordance with the CDC.

Colombia Vaccines

How do I get money and pay for things while in Colombia?

  • Local ATMs distributing Colombian pesos are the most economical way to get money and use the most current exchange rates. However, they may charge a small fee for foreign cards and your bank may charge an international ATM fee (~$6 USD).
  • Some ATMs also have transaction withdrawal limits, so if you will need a large sum plan ahead (you are able to make multiple transactions, however any transaction fees will be assessed each time).
  • Debit and credit cards are often accepted in restaurants and large shops, but sometimes have daily transaction limits. Make sure to notify dates and countries of travel, note phone numbers needed to cancel cards if lost/stolen and bring back up cards.
  • Bring at least $100 USD per traveler in small bills as backup to exchange to pesos at exchange offices (casas de cambio).
  • Talk to your bank about foreign currency ordering services if you prefer to arrive with Colombian pesos in hand.

How much should I tip while on my trip?

  • Tipping recommendations are in USD because exchange rates fluctuate frequently, however in Colombia the local currency (Colombian pesos) is preferred when tipping.
  • Large bills can be difficult to break in most of the country, so hang on to small bills and change for tips.
  • Use the following only as a framework and tip based on the level of service you receive.

Colombia Tipping Guideline

Is trip insurance included or should I purchase trip insurance?

  • Trip insurance is not included in your trip cost. Knowmad highly recommends insuring your trip, as the unforeseeable is just that, unforeseeable. A few days after confirming your trip, you will receive an email from our recommended travel insurance provider with a pre-built quote that you’ll be able to purchase.

Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity in Colombia?

  • U.S. travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter, as plugs are usually the 2-pronged flat type. If your appliances have three-pronged plugs, you will need a plug adapter to make any charger or appliance fit.
  • Colombia has the same electric system as the United States, providing 110 volts.

Can I drink the water in Colombia?

  • Using bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth is recommended, as tap water is generally not safe to drink.
  • Request your beverages without ice (“sin hielo”) while at restaurants, as the ice may not be made with purified water.
  • Avoid eating the skin of raw fruits/vegetables (apples, salads, etc.) and any dairy products that have been sitting out.
  • Many establishments will have bottled water available, and your guide will be able to help you if there is ever a question.

Is it safe to travel in Colombia?

Colombia is considered a safe country, but petty crime does occur. Take the following precautions:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, always keeping a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places.
  • Use a bag that zips, doesn’t hang loosely and when in crowds, move it to the front of your body.
  • Avoid wearing flashy/expensive jewelry/watches.
  • Carry only the money you need each day. Keep the rest with your valuables in your hotel room’s safety deposit box.
  • We recommend not texting on your phone while walking around Bogota and other cities
  • Have your accommodations or the restaurant call your taxi rather than getting one yourself.

Weather in Colombia

Due to its proximity to the equator, the weather stays relatively the same all year long in Colombia.

General Guideline

Colombia is generally a casual country, however in larger cities you’ll see an eclectic and chic cosmopolitan style. Weather varies dramatically between regions and elevations and can change quickly, so layerable clothing is recommended. Shorts are not as common in Colombia; however, they are acceptable in most settings. For trips to Colombia we suggest:

Colombia Packing List

Airline Baggage Policy

Check with your carrier and refer to your ticket booking details for information on baggage restrictions and fees.

Knowing a lot about a country before you visit can enrich your travels, help you meet and relate more to local people, and have deeper appreciation for historical and cultural sites. To learn more about Colombia’s history, culture, and people, we recommend consulting travel guide books, online websites, and travel blogs.

Recommended Restaurants

Meals in Colombia are leisurely and on a later schedule than in the United States. Colombians eat 4-5 meals per day.

Breakfast is normally savory and hot with a combination of arepas, eggs and meats. Lunch is the most important meal of the day, starting around 12, and is normally a hot meal that can last a few hours. During this time, many businesses will be closed. The 3 course Menu Ejecutivo is a common meal normally with a soup, main course and dessert. Dinner times in Colombia are later than in most of the United States and a lighter meal. Many restaurants will not open until after 7:00 p.m., and it is normal to go out at 8:00 p.m. or later. If you would like Knowmad to assist you with making restaurant reservations, please note that we must be notified at least 2 weeks prior to your dates of travel, especially if traveling during December or early January.

Covid-19 has affected restaurants’ hours of operation in South America as in the United States. Please refer to their websites. For additional information and to make a reservation, as doing so may require you to enter payment information to confirm the reservation. We recommend making reservations at least 2 months in advance for the Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter holiday dates; and further in advance if looking to dine at a particular restaurant. If calling or making reservations from outside of Colombia dial +57 before the complete phone number.

Price guide for the approximate cost of a main dish at each restaurant (please note that prices and restaurant hours are subject to change without notice): $ = Under 10 $$ = 10-20 $$$ = 20-40 $$$$ = Over 40



  • CARMEN – Price: $$$-$$$$ Carmen offers contemporary food inspired by the biodiversity of the Colombian Caribbean along with creative cocktails. A credit card is required for reservations.
  • ANA – Price: $$-$$$ ($$$$ – special meats and seafood) Enjoy live music and a culinary fusion between Caribbean and Asian cuisines with a range of plates and price points.
  • MAR Y ZIELO – Price: $$$ A gastronomic project that exalts Colombian culture by focusing on traditional cuisine made with local ingredients and modern techniques. A credit card is required for reservations.
  • CANDE – Price: $$-$$$ Take in Cartagena cuisine and culture as you enjoy the traditional cuisine, focused on preserving the traditional methods and recipes passed down for generations, and live music and shows.
  • THE VITROLA – Price: $$$-$$$$ This restaurant offers a fusion of Cuban and Colombian cuisine with live Cuban music. Reservations are needed as it has become a beloved destination for Colombia’s elite. Please note there is a dress code (no shorts or flip flops), and minors are not allowed in.


  • TEST KITCHEN LAB – Price: $$$$ An intimate space where you can see the chefs at work, serving a changing tasting menu of contemporary cuisine that highlights Colombian products and local cuisine. A credit card is required for reservations.
  • OCI.MDE – Price: $$ With a changing menu renewed every 6 months, depending on the agricultural season, this restaurant focuses on slow cooked Colombian comfort food made with local products.
  • HERBARIO – Price: $$ Colombian and international cuisine where the backbone is the herbs and spices that are incorporated into the traditional ingredients and cooking style.


  • LEO, COCINA Y CAVA – Price: $$$$ A tasting menu that takes you through the biocultural richness of Colombia, exploring its ecosystems and ample cultural diversity. The sommelier also bases her drinks on botanical ingredients from local cultures. The tasting menu requires payment in advance.
  • TIERRA 66 – Price: $$ Contemporary Colombian cuisine made with Peruvian and Japanese techniques.
  • HARRY SASSON – Price: $$-$$$ This restaurant is housed in a stunning mock-Tudor mansion with a bar clad in glass and offers a blend of Latin American, Asian and European cuisine, made with local ingredients, along with an extensive wine list.
  • CAFE UNIVERSAL – Price: $$ Enjoy a varied and innovative menu based on fresh ingredients and local cuisine, in this French inspired rustic bistro.
  • BLACK BEAR – Price: $$ Part of the Takami group, this restaurant offers international and Colombian cuisine along with great cocktails, while also focusing on creating a relaxing environment.

Further Reading

  • ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel García Márquez follows multiple generations of the Buendía family, founders of Macondo, a small town in the Caribbean region of the country. Reflecting Gabriel García Márquez’s classic magical realism prose, this timeless classic reflects Colombian society and history, including some of its most violent episodes.
  • LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel García Márquez is the telling of a complicated love story in Cartagena between a daughter of a powerful member of the elite and her suitor. Told through the lens of magical realism, the absurd is normalized in a way that reflects Colombian folklore.
  • SHORT WALKS FROM BOGOTÁ: JOURNEYS IN THE NEW COLOMBIA by Tom Feiling is a commentary on Colombia’s complex history, full of interesting characters from all walks of life. Journalist Tom Feiling sets out to see how Colombia has risen from years of war and arrived at its present state.
  • DELIRIUM by Laura Restrepo is set in 1980’s Bogotá, against a violent and unstable background, and follows the story of a woman’s break from sanity and how her husband tries to figure out what happened to her. Told through four characters, he decodes parts of her past he had no idea about.
  • ONE RIVER: EXPLORATIONS AND DISCOVERIES IN THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST by Wade Davis tells the story of professor Richard Evans Schultes, who spent twelve years in the Amazon mapping uncharted rivers and living among dozens of indigenous tribes, and his protégé, Wade Davis. This book provides a scientific exploration of the Amazon’s biology, botany, indigenous communities and changes within the past century.
  • THE SOUND OF THINGS FALLING by Juan Gabriel Vasquez is an intimate portrayal of Colombia’s war on drugs, telling the story of a crumbling Bogotá in the 1990s by narrating the fictional lives, 20 years apart, of Antonio Yammara, a professor, and Antonio Laverde. This novel shows how the war on drugs touched everyone’s lives, even if they were not personally involved.
  • THE MAKING OF MODERN COLOMBIA: A NATION IN SPITE OF ITSELF by David Bushnell looks into how Colombia has overcome its stereotypes defined by violence and drugs, and now is prospering and maintaining economic growth. This book explores in depth the country’s culture, economics and politics.

Helpful Spanish


  • Buenos dias (BWEH-nohs DEE-ahs) – Good morning, Good day
  • Buenas tardes (BWEH-nahs TAR-dehs) – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches (BWEH-nahs NOH-chehs) – Good evening
  • Por favor (POHR fah-VOHR) – Please
  • Gracias (GRAH-syahs) – Thanks
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta esta? (KWAHN-toh KWEHS-tah EHSS-tah) –
  • How much does this cost?
  • ¿Dónde está ____? (DOHN-deh ehss-TAH ___) – Where is ____?
  • ¿Habla inglés? (AH-blahs een-GLEHS) – Do you speak English?
  • ¿Qué recomienda? (KEH reh-coh-mee-EHN-dah) – What do you recommend?
  • Soy alérgico/a a ____ (soy ah-LEHR-hee-coh/-cah ah ____) – I’m allergic to ____



  • La carta (lah KAHR-tah) – the menu
  • La cuenta (lah KWEHN-tah) – the check
  • Agua (AH-gwa) – water
  • Café (kah-FEH) – coffee
  • Cerveza (sehr-VAY-sah) – beer
  • Vino (VEE-noh) – wine
  • Pescado y marisco (pehs-KAH-doh ee mah-REES-kohs) – fish and seafood
  • Pollo (POH-yoh) – chicken
  • Carne (KAHR-nay) – meat
  • Sin gluten (seen GLOO-tehn) – gluten-free
  • Vegetariano/a (veh-heh-tah-RYAH-noh/-nah) – vegetarian

Have a question that you can’t find an answer to on our site? Or if you’d simply like to ask a real, live person your questions instead of browsing through these FAQ sections, we are more than happy to help. Just give us a call at 612-315-2894 or email [email protected].