EVEN THOUGH ITS POPULARITY HAS RISEN IN RECENT YEARS, COLOMBIA IS STILL ONE OF THE CHEAPEST COUNTRIES IN SOUTH AMERICA TO VISIT. HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO PAY WHILE SLOW TRAVELING.
Oftentimes, one of the most common questions you have about traveling to a country - especially one you plan to spend a decent amount of time in - is how much does it actually cost? While South America is often seen as one of the cheapest continents to visit, in truth, some South American nations are not exactly "affordable" (looking at you Argentina). Luckily, Colombia - even though its popularity has risen dramatically in recent years - is still quite cheap to travel and live in. Below is a quick breakdown of what you can expect to spend.
EXCHANGE RATES (as of March 2022) | $1 USD = 3,782 COP (Colombian Peso) // €1 EURO = 4,160 COP
Double room in a more touristy city (Medellin, Salento) | 50000 - 75000 COP / $13.30 - $19.95 / €11.46 - €17.20
Expect to pay a fair amount of money in the more touristy cities when it comes to lodging - even in less popular neighborhoods. For example, we paid just over 55000 for a double room in Yambolombia Hostel (below), which sits about a mile outside of Salento.
Double room in a less touristy city (Armenia, Filandia) | 30000 - 50000 COP / $7.98 - $13.30 / €6.88 - €11.46
You can find cheaper places in cities that aren’t as touristy, but don’t always expect many options. Also, note that the price for hostels and lodging in general goes up significantly during the busy season (holidays especially).
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Overnight bus | 70000 COP / $18.62 / €16.05
This price depends on where you are going and how long the ride. But 70000 COP is definitely more middle of the road when it comes to longer bus rides. You can find more information on overnight bus travel here.
Minivan | 5300 COP / $1.41 / €1.22
You will take smaller buses and minivans when heading out on shorter trips (<2 hours). Therefore the price should be significantly lower.
City Buses | 2700 COP / $0.72 / €0.62
Local bus travel is definitely the easiest and most affordable way to get around bigger cities. This price is for a one-way ticket.
Willy Jeeps (mostly in the Coffee Region) | 4000 COP / $1.06 / €0.92
You can really only find the Willy's (WWII-era colorful jeeps) in the coffee region, and even then they seem to be more concentrated in places like Salento and Filandia. To reach the famous Cocora Valley you will need to take a Willy.
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Upscale restaurant | 75000 - 175000 COP / $19.95 - $46.55 / €17.20 - €40.12
This price is definitely dependent on how fancy you want to go and where you are located. In Cartagena, we went to an uber fancy restaurant and spent 175,000 COP, while in Armenia one of the fanciest spots was only 119,000 COP.
Mid-price restaurant | 30000 - 50000 COP / $7.98 - $13.30 / €6.88 - €11.46
Expect to pay this for a more western-style restaurant or a spot that is not selling Colombian food (sushi, poke, etc.) or at a fancier Colombian sit-down restaurant.
Local breakfast joint | 24000 COP / $6.38 / €5.50
Colombia does breakfast right. If you are looking to fill up for the day, definitely consider ordering a huge breakfast platter (calentado), which comes with eggs, beans, an arepa and a fried plantain. So good.
Arepa | 1500 COP / $0.40 / €0.34
Easily one of the most common street snacks, arepas are not only filling but darn delicious. We especially love the ones that are toasted with a slightly salty layer of cheese on top.
Smoothie | 6800 COP / $1.81 / €1.56
Fruit smoothies are a must - especially when traveling around the hot Caribbean region (i.e. Cartagena).
Local Café | 20000 COP / $5.32 / €4.59
This includes 2-3 drinks and maybe a small snack at a locally run coffee shop. You can easily find cheaper coffee on the street (think 1,000 COP), but this price is probably middle of the road at a normal coffee shop.
💬 INSIDER TIP: a regular cup of coffee (like an Americano) usually costs between 3500 - 5500 COP (so roughly $1.20 USD / €1 Euro).
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Eggs (24 pack) | 15000 COP / $3.99 / €3.44
Eggs are one of those grocery items that the more you buy, the cheaper they are. So we suggest if you are basing yourself in one spot for a while, definitely buy in bulk.
Papaya | 3000 COP / $0.80 / €0.69
Locally grown and very delicious, papaya is usually one of the cheapest fruits to buy at a store (or from a fruit stand on the street).
Pineapple | 3399 COP / $0.90 / €0.78
Besides papaya, another very well-priced fruit is pineapple - which is also grown in the country.
Water (bagged) | 2000 COP / $0.53 / €0.46
The water is drinkable in Colombia so you really shouldn’t have to buy bagged water. But if you do need to (please try not to) it is quite affordable, especially the bagged variety and not the bottles.
Bread | 1300 COP / $0.35 / €0.30
Colombia really knows how to make delicious bread. Your best bet for tasty, fresh bread is to buy it in small local shops or panaderias (bakeries). We recommend the cheese bread.
Pasta | 2500 COP / $0.66 / €0.57
Pasta is surprisingly affordable - so if you are on a budget then we definitely recommend stocking up on basic pasta and a couple of small pasta packets (~ 2000 COP a bag).
Local Beer (large glass bottle) | 3500 COP / $0.93 / €0.80
The local beer brands - that are cheap - are Aguila, Poker, and Club Colombia. You can find the best prices in small, neighborhood shops.
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Overall, Colombia is a great spot to travel and base yourself in if you are looking to be somewhere affordable. Not only are things very affordable, but the country is also incredibly beautiful and full of adventure. We ended up spending six months living, working and exploring Colombia and we absolutely fell in love with the culture, cuisine and adventure possibilities.
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