Colombia is known for being super affordable if you’re working on a Western budget, with reasonably priced set lunches and decent enough prices for long-distance bus travel (although it’s nothing compared to the excellently priced buses in Ecuador). In my opinion, some places were more affordable than expected (Barranquilla was pretty reasonable), whereas others were slightly pricier than I’d imagined (Bogotá). Then you have Cartagena, which was just as expensive as I imagined for such a huge tourist attraction.
I recently spent two months travelling with my boyfriend in Colombia (from September 20th 2017 – November 17th 2017), starting in Bogotá, flying north to Santa Marta (skip it, honestly) and working our way back down to the southern border using buses, stopping at numerous towns and cities along the way.
But just how much did travel in Colombia cost us, all in?
Well, I’m glad you asked (you didn’t), because I can finally put my obsessive recording of every peso we spent to good use.
Overall, and bearing in mind that we were operating on what I would describe as a solidly mid-range budget (i.e. no camping but not eating in restaurants every night either) our final spend was 7,469,337 COP / 1881.52(ish) GBP / 2506.02 USD(ish), for a total of 58.5 days.
This breaks down to an average spend of 127,850.21 COP / 32.16(ish) GBP / 42.83 USD per day, for two people and includes everything, except our flights into the country from Mexico and a pair of jeans and a sweater I bought in Pereira.
Here’s how it breaks down, in order from most to least spent.
COST OF TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA
We stayed in a mixture of Airbnb’s and hostels, typically using the former for longer-term stays in bigger cities and taking advantage of the week-long discounts sometimes offered by hosts.
Hostels, on the other hand, were typically what we went for in smaller towns or places we were only visiting for a few days, as they were pricier and often meant sleeping in dorm rooms. On average, I reckon we spent around 20,000 COP a night on average in hostels, per person (40,000 COP per night, total).
Total spend on accommodation: 2,465,511.16 COP | 629.48 GBP | 838.27 USD
Ahh, the most important spend of all – food. We tried to save money by shopping in bulk and cooking as much as possible, but as we moved further down the country and spent more time in villages for a few days at a time, this became less and less possible. That definitely led to some spending spikes on great meals, such as the two curries we ate in Salento (each curry cost 20,000 COP each) and the amazing meal we had one night in Helena Adentro, Filandia (roughly 60,000 COP with drinks).
(This figure could be considered slightly skewed by the fact that toiletries are also included under the food bracket. To get the ‘pure’ food spend, you can probably deduct a healthy 50,000 COP (if not more) from this figure.)
Total spend on food: 2,114,306 COP | 539.89 GBP | 718.86 USD
Any buses that took us between towns or had journeys lasting more than a few hours.
Total spend on long distance travel: 1,044,980 COP | 266.80 GBP | 355.29 USD
Related Post: Colombia to Ecuador by Land
Taxis, Ubers and local buses that ferried us across cities when we were too lazy to walk.
Total spend on inner-city travel: 507,465 COP | 129.54 GBP | 172.54 USD
Those random things that don’t really fit in any category. Examples include the cash machine fees when I was withdrawing money (I (over)estimated that each withdrawal cost around 18,000COP), plus things like paying for lockers and public bathrooms. Oh, and getting my eyebrows threaded by the amazing Santosh in Medellín.
Total spend on extras: 426,325 COP | 108.85 GBP | 144.95 USD
We only actually went ‘out out’ once in Colombia (lol, oops), and that was to the posh part of Bogotá. However, we did spend a decent amount on beers during our two months in the country, whether we were buying in bars or taking home from corner shops to drink in our room.
Total spend on going out + beer: 375,600 COP | 95.90 GBP | 127.70 USD
This is where you’ll likely get your biggest variable, as everyone’s taste in affordable and enjoyable activities are different. Our figure includes things like visiting Parque Arvi in Medellín and going tubing in Palomino, to name a few.
Total spend on activities: 345,250 COP | 88.13 GBP | 117.39 USD
If you’re trying to work out how much this would all have cost were you travelling solo, simply split the price in half. Honestly, the only price lowering benefits we got travelling as a couple came from our ability to be able to rent Airbnb rooms instead of hostels, but you could do that on your own too.
WHICH WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE DESTINATION IN COLOMBIA?
City-wise, Bogotá and Cartagena were likely the most expensive stops we had, whereas Medellín was more reasonable and Santa Marta and Barranquilla were more affordable still. Pereira was also pretty decently priced, from what I gather, although we didn’t do enough in the actual city itself to properly comment.
The most expensive villages we visited were easily Guatapé and Salento, which is unsurprising given that they’re the most touristy of Colombia’s many, many villages. Jardín was much more reasonably priced, although don’t expect that to last long.
HOW CAN I CUT THIS BUDGET DOWN A BIT?
First of all, you can be less lazy than we were and use fewer taxis and Ubers. We didn’t use them in excess, by any means, but you could definitely slice the budget in that area. You could also choose the cheapest of the cheap in terms of accommodation (which we mostly did, to mixed results). You could also camp, in certain areas, or try Couchsurfing, but travelling as a couple just made the logistics of these two options too complex for my Type-A self to deal with.
You could definitely cook more than we did. We ate out a fair amount (nothing extravagant, just street food) and you could also drink less coffee in coffee shops (guilty).
We didn’t do any massively extravagant activities, so that’s probably where our budget is actually lower than most.
Finally, drink less beer.
Hopefully this post has helped you figure out you Colombia travel budget! Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see added into the post in the comments.