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These Are The Top 4 Destinations In Colombia For Solo Female Travelers

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The buzz online today is that Colombia is ready to safely receive all kinds of visitors – especially solo female travelers. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. 

Travel articles high and low are praising Colombia and Medellín in particular for its ‘miraculous transformation’ from a violent war zone into a thriving creative and digital nomad hub. 

These overgeneralized narratives lean heavily on optimism and turn a blind eye to the violent realities remaining in the country today. 

solo female traveler in colombia

No one is saying that Colombia’s hard-won progress and peace-building efforts shouldn’t be celebrated. But to claim that the country’s most popular cities are safe for most solo female travelers would be nothing short of irresponsible. 

Rising rates of violent and armed robbery, druggings, assault, and organized criminal activities directly affect lots of travelers every day

As a result, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory last month urging tourists to reconsider travel to Colombia, giving the country a Level 3 status. 

Unfortunately, under the surface of street art tours and gleaming new coworking spaces lie networks of despicable human trafficking, lethal drug trade, and terror-based gang activities.

Medellin from Above

Data from risk analysis experts Verisk Maplecroft shows that Medellín is currently the most dangerous city in the world for crime. The capital city of Bogotá ranks in the top 30 riskiest cities globally.

Colombia is still a spectacular country worth visiting. It’s home to dazzling natural beauty, friendly locals, world-class salsa dancing, and the best coffee you’ll ever have. 

But given the current safety situation, choosing a destination as a woman traveling alone requires a discerning eye.

In order to enjoy the best of what Colombia has to offer, solo female travelers can look towards a few breathtaking destinations with lower crime rates, active mixed-gender international communities, and more female-friendly environments.

Here are the top four destinations in Colombia for solo female travelers this year:

solo female traveler with colombian flag hat in guatape

1. Cartagena

Along Colombia’s northwestern Caribbean coast, Cartagena has plenty of surprises in store for solo female travelers. 

400-year-old fortresses and castles encircle a historical city center packed with brightly colored colonial architecture and buzzing with Afro-Caribbean culture. Tropical fruit vendors and local street artists lend even more color to this vibrant Colombian town. 

It’s easy to spend your days on the water. Cartagena is home to sandy beaches, rejuvenating islands, sunset cruises, and epic party boats. End your nights with top-value five-star dining experiences like Restaurante Celele and award-winning creative cocktails at Alquímico or Demente.

Unique local experiences are lurking all around, just below the city’s bustling surface – if you know where to look. Cartagena can feel really touristy, especially in areas like Centro Historico and BocaGrande. Hanging out on the outskirts of Getsemani, the west and north sides of Manga, and San Diego will get you away from the crowds. 

solo female traveler in cartagena colombia

Tourists from Colombia and neighboring Latin American countries actually outnumber American, British, and European visitors to Cartagena. With its flipped tourist composition, this popular vacation city ends up giving a totally different vibe from the expat-dominated Medellin.

Lots of local women from Bogota also take solo trips and girls’ trips to Cartagena. If anything, the tourist scene feels female-dominated at best and gender-balanced at worst. 

Solo female travelers will find more company in independent local women tourists and nomads around to connect with in Cartagena than in most other cities in Colombia. 

Solo female backpackers and digital nomads can join laid-back international communities in the dorms, hotel rooms, and coworking spaces at both Selina and Viajero chains’ Cartagena locations. Other great options for remote-working solo female travelers are Cowork Cartagena, Libertario Coffee, and Bhoza Cafe.

Young Woman Traveling As A Tourist In Cartagena, Colombia

2. Santa Marta

If you want a solo adventure filled with beaches and culture but without Cartagena’s hustle, head to Santa Marta.

The oldest city in Colombia often gets relegated to a drive-by on the way to Tayrona National Park, but this spectacular seaside town is worth a visit all to itself. 

Lush green hills, tropical sandy beaches, and the snow-dusted Sierra Nevadas welcome solo travelers to a laid-back oasis.

Santa Marta is much smaller than Medellín or Cartagena, so it’s flown under the radar – until now. The town is growing more popular with backpackers and beach vacationers by the minute and is an up-and-coming digital nomad destination to boot. 

Solo female traveler Pati spent half a year traveling Colombia and shared her experience in Santa Marta experience with Travel Off Path:

“Santa Marta is my absolute favorite place in Colombia as a solo female traveler. The locals are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. It was generally safe, and I felt strangely looked after by the Santa Marta community. 

The city embodies what Latin America is to me –  vibrant, hot, loud, and colorful. Santa Marta has that undeniably Colombian energy travelers are looking for. I was also surprised to learn how digital nomad friendly the city is.”

Colonial Style Whitewashed Building Flanked By Palm Trees In Santa Marta, Northern Coast Of Colombia, South America

3. Tayrona National Park

An hour away from Santa Marta lies the undeniable crown jewel of Colombia – Tayrona National Park. 

The untouched natural beauty of Tayrona’s dramatic reefs, white sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and emerald mangroves are enough to keep travelers coming back for days. Beyond the favorites Cabo San Juan Beach and Playa Brava, You might even come across a monkey or two on your treks.  Best of all, it comes at jaw-droppingly low prices. 

For less than $20, you can wake up to the sunrise in an open treehouse with panoramic views of the sea, river, and jungle above an infinity pool. 

If you prefer to stay within the national park territory itself, accommodation from basic eco-habs to deluxe beach huts are available from $40 – $170 per night. 

Hostels in Tayrona National Park are as social as they are scenic, a great choice for solo travelers. Even if you’re not typically a ‘hostel person,’ it’s worth it to be immersed in untouched nature and good travel vibes.

The community of travelers and expats in Santa Marta is pretty balanced and generally female-friendly. All nature lovers are welcome.

Tayrona National Park Colombia

4. Medellin

Medellín is a long-time favorite among digital nomads, backpackers, and tourists. 

While the city offers too many amazing creative, cultural, and remote work opportunities to leave it off a Colombian destinations list, the crime risk drops it to our lowest ranking. 

Solo female travelers working online may be attracted to Medellín for its widely available high-speed Wi-Fi and abundance of laptop-friendly cafes, coworking spaces, and innovation hubs. There is a thriving (albeit male-dominated) international community in the city. It’s safe to say you’d never be bored here.

Medellín is also a long-established backpacker hub with plenty of super social hostels. From language exchanges to salsa nights, it’s easy for solo female travelers on any budget to make friends here.

However, solo female travelers who value their independence and enjoy going out alone might think twice before choosing Medellín. 

Going out solo in Medellín is high-risk. The buzzing nightlife can be as treacherous as it is thrilling, with sky-high rates of violent robbery and druggings of both men and women. Solo travelers are often prime targets. 

View of Medellin Colombia

Medellín is actually more dangerous today than it was in the year Pablo Escobar was killed, according to local crime statistics.

Experts say that “approximately 40 percent of Colombia’s armed groups have a presence in the city [Medellin],” totaling 14,000 gang members. According to Pedro Piedrahíta Bustamante, a professor of political science at the University of Medellín, the city remains “a nucleus of transnational crime networks.” 

These larger crime trends aren’t just statistics or theories. They represent the very real risks posed to all travelers in Medellín, with solo travelers at the highest risk. Since local police are known to be apathetic at best and complicit at worst, it’s up to you to keep yourself safe.

Here are preventative steps that solo female travelers can consider taking in Medellín:

  • Carry a decoy wallet and phone in your bag. Keep your real phone with a minimal wallet-style case tucked discreetly in internal pockets or waistband at all times. 
  • Bring minimal valuables and keep them locked up at all times.
  • As the Colombians say, “no dar papaya” – don’t flash your money. Designer purses, diamond rings, shopping bags, or wads of cash will create problems. Keep your fashion choices simple. Jeans and a t-shirt never killed anyone (but Rolexes have).
  • If you have a really nice smartphone, consider giving your device a make-under with a beat up case and some tape over an imaginary screen crack. 
  • Do not try to fight robbers. Your safety is the most valuable thing. 
  • Go out in groups of reliable, experienced travelers or on hostel-organized pub crawls rather than hitting up the bars alone.
  • Always keep an eye on your drink – and the drinks of the guys around you. Solo male travelers are actually the primary prey for Scopolamine druggings and subsequent robberies, assaults, or murders. The boys aren’t as used to watching their drinks as we are, so lend them an extra pair of eyes. 
  • Avoid the Park Lleras area of Poblado at night or alone.
Jesus Nazareno Church In Medellin, Colombia, South AmericaJesus Nazareno Church In Medellin, Colombia, South America

Colombia is a fantastic country with unmatched natural beauty and one-of-a-kind culture.

Experienced solo female travelers can enjoy an amazing trip by choosing their destinations wisely and keeping an eye out for their safety.

Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!

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Richard Long

Monday 3rd of July 2023

I am a retired American man, one among thousands of retired people from around the world, who have chosen to live in this beautiful "City of Eternal Spring".

I do not recognize the city you describe as the same one I have chosen for my home the last 4 years. I suggest you double check your source of crime statistics that lead you to describe my lovely city as the Most Dangerous In The World. Nonsense!!!!


Monday 3rd of July 2023

I am Colombian, and I have live my whole life in this country. I am currently in Medellín, everything has been nice and safe during this days for me. However, the city is getting more expensive (at least for me as Colombian) because everyone is increasing the prices thanks to foreigners. The city is also popular for DEGENERATED MALE TRAVELERS looking for cheap cocaine and whores. It is sad for me to see how in many movies they make jokes about crime in my country, but some foreigners just come here to contribuite to crime and take advantage of poor girls.

Santa Marta and Cartagena are getting more expensive too. And listen to me: AVOID CARTAGENA!!! Medellín is eeven way safer than Cartagena, DO NOT GO TO CARTAGENA.

I am colombian man, I have lived here my entire life. My recommendation of places with few crime, nice people and nice prices: COFFEE REGION and BOYACÁ.

Bertha Baigah

Monday 3rd of July 2023


Gemini ♊️

Monday 3rd of July 2023

Very informative & realistic article... I'll be traveling via Cruise ship to Cartagena, Colombia with an overnight stay. I would love to stay in/near a Beach Resort close to Live Music/Dancing & Restaurants- wake up to a Beautiful Sunrise & enjoy Breakfast and the Beach before cruise departs... this article has me (sadly) rethinking things -unless I can find a Travel-buddy


Sunday 2nd of July 2023

That was a very well balanced article. Great to read. You're not afraid of not painting a ridiculously rosy picture. Thank you for your honesty. Hopefully it will catch on a little!


Friday 21st of July 2023

@Bob, fake news much is all i have to say.


Sunday 2nd of July 2023

I agree about Medellin 2.5 years ago I was a solo female traveler. On my way from Medellin airport an UBER decided to do what I now think was supposed to be an express kidnapping not even 10 mins into my ride. Everything was suspicious. I may have also been drugged. I speak fluent spanish and thought on my feet and made it to my hotel alive and unrobbed. I cannot reiterate enough researching the country and cities you visit and knowing what danger to look for. The rest of my trip was fantastic. I want to visit other parts of Colombia but I would 100% avoid Medellin. Bogota makes me nervous too. Many locals have said to be on high alert there.


Sunday 2nd of July 2023

@Dana, like anywhere else, you have to be sensible and cautious. I've been traveling to Colombia for about 8 years now, and no, I'm not a drug dealer. I actually feel much safer there than I do in the US. It's an amazing country. I generally go to the coffee region, Pereira, Armenia and Manizales. I've been all over the world and seen a lot of places and I feel Salento and Valle Cocora are absolute bucket list. I like to say it's a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, made it to a Disney movie, Encanto, in real life. You have green rolling hills and 200 ft tall Palm trees, the tallest in the world. If you're fortunate and the weather is good, the condors fly by you very close. Santa Rosa de Cabal has some great Hot springs that look exactly like Hawaii. Manizales is my favorite city in Colombia, and one of the prettiest cities you'll ever see. There's a whole bunch of universities there so it does have a younger vibe to it. You can take the bus from Pereira in about an hour, then take the aero cable from the terminal into town. The views are simply incredible. The Cathedral looks like it's straight out of Europe, and has a big statue in front of it that I call Condorman, half Condor and half man. You can take a tour of it and even walk all the way up to the top. The Cathedral that is, not the statue. Plus there's a monument to the colonizadores in the Chipre area that is incredible, and right behind it are ferns that are probably 25 ft tall, the largest I've ever seen, by far. If you stay out of the bigger cities, and visit smaller towns to mid-size cities it's much much safer. Plus things are crazy cheap there. You can have a very good full lunch for 2 to 3 dollars and get nice airbnbs and hotels often for $20 or less per night. The police presence is higher than anywhere I can think of in all the countries that I've been. Virtually every park has a police booth. By the way, the weather is pretty much the same temperature all year round, anywhere from 70 to 80° Fahrenheit in the day and 55 to 65 at night.