Cartagena Colombia Safety
Cartagena Colombia safety was a bit of a concern as I was telling people of my upcoming trip to Colombia. This was my first time to South America, and I honestly had no idea what to expect.
After backpacking here with a girlfriend of mine for almost a week, I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single time we didn’t feel safe. We also met a lot of solo travellers who felt the same as us!
Cartagena has some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever met. Since it has become a very touristy destination, the locals are used to travellers and their economy thrives off of it.
After staying here for 5 days I wish I had the chance to visit more of Colombia. It is such a beautiful country with a lot of beautiful beaches and adventures to be had!
The one thing to be aware of in Cartagena that we noticed were the police officers would often try to get bribes from tourists. Especially If you are a male visiting Cartagena, I would limit the amount of cash you have on you at one time. The police officers will stop you on the street and search for anything they can find to ‘incriminate you’. Just pay them off with a bit of cash and they will leave you alone. If they see a huge wad of cash in your wallet they might be inclined to take it, so like I said don’t take too much out with you during the day! If you need to hit an ATM, do so and then head directly back to your hotel/hostel to put it away.
This happened to a few guys that we met on our 5-day trip here, and never to any girls. If you are a couple, I would say you are “less of a target” than either a single or group of guys. Common sense, don’t carry too much cash, in any destination!
How Close Should You Watch Your Belongings?
My friend and I both brought along waterproof phone cases for our phones so that we could take our passports, phones, and money into the ocean with us just to be on the safe side. However, after visiting 3 different beaches and leaving our stuff alone multiple times, we never had any issues with locals stealing anything.
The locals are more concerned with trying to sell you things than taking your things. Be aware though that since this is a very tourist centric city, the locals are VERY pushy when trying to sell you things. Many women come up and ask you for massages, and lots of men trying to sell you hats, sunglasses, food, beers, etc. It can get quite overwhelming, especially when you are just trying to relax on the beach.
Choosing a Safe Hostel
I can’t speak for other hostels, but I would highly recommend Hostel Mamallena if you are backpacking. They have big storage lockers for your important items, air-conditioned rooms, and lots of friendly staff. It is just outside of the old town, has a great bar, and across the street is a hostel that has crazy rooftop parties you can easily walk to without having to sleep in the noise. The bartender at Hostel Mamallena, Hector, was truly great, be sure to tell him Kira says hello if you go!
Picking a good, safe place to stay can make all the difference in the enjoyment of your trip!
Have any Cartagena Colombia safety tips or concerns to add? Scroll down and comment them below!
Read more about the best things to do in Cartagena Colombia.