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Is Bogota Safe to Visit in 2024? (Expert Opinion)

Is Bogota Safe to Visit in 2024? (Expert Opinion)

Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, is central to the South American backpacker circuit and is a popular tourist destination. Each year, the city hosts about 2 million international tourists and millions more domestic visitors.

As it is the capital, Bogota has many of Colombia’s biggest cultural and historic attractions, such as the stunning Museo del Oro and the well-preserved La Candelaria neighborhood.

The city’s unique position on a mountaintop (it’s one of the capitals with the highest altitudes in the world) makes for spectacular views, which you can take in from the Cerro de Monserrate cable car.

Of course, no visit to any city in Colombia, including Bogota, is complete without checking out the lively clubs and dance bars. But while the city certainly has a lot to offer, is Bogota safe to visit? Here’s our take.

Is Bogota Safe to Visit in 2024?

Colorful buildings lining the street in Bogota with a giant mountain the background and a few people walking along

Bogota, Colombia – June 01 2019 : Historical center in cloudy weather/mehdi33300/Shutterstock

Yes and no. While it is possible to visit Bogota, visitors to this city have to exercise a lot of caution due to the very high crime rate, including the high violent crime rate.

Due to Colombia’s tumultuous recent history and politics, the capital also experiences its fair share of civil unrest. Most countries advise their citizens to exercise increased caution or even reconsider travel to Colombia as a whole.

For example, the United States places the whole country under a Level Three travel advisory due to the possibility of crime, terrorism, and civil unrest.

A big reason why Colombia has so many problems in the present day is that the country has been rocked by decades of unrest. For about half a century, various guerrilla groups have fought for control over parts of the country.

Many of these groups either directly participated in the drug trade as well or created the conditions for it to flourish. The government signed a treaty with the largest group, FARC, in 2016, but there were still factions that rejected the treaty, and conflict continued.

Most of the armed conflict happens in more remote, rural areas (and has for decades, which is partially why it’s gone on for so long). Actual war won’t affect visitors to Bogota and hasn’t for a long time.

However, the city is at risk of other dangers related to the political situation. Although the rate of armed violence has gone down in recent years, there is still a lot of civil unrest and plenty of protests, which can quickly turn violent.

Since Bogota is the country’s capital, most of the biggest protests happen there. Follow the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, which issues alerts whenever there is a protest announced.

As the city is in the center of political life in the country, it’s often targeted for terrorist attacks. The UK government has a separate page for terrorism in its travel advisory for Colombia and mentions recent deadly incidents, including a 2019 car bombing that killed 19 people in Bogota.

Guerrilla groups don’t target foreigners for terrorist attacks, but since they sometimes target public spaces, it is possible to get caught in the crossfire of an attack.

Monitor the news while you are in town, and make sure that you follow any advice that the government issues regarding your safety. Finally, crime is a problem in Bogota, the same as it is in any major Colombian city.

Common crimes in the city include:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Scams
  • Theft

You will need to be on your guard to avoid being the victim of a crime.

Crime in Bogota

For a piece titled Is Bogota Safe to Visit, a bunch of people walking along the street between old buildings with a mountain in the background on a semi-gloomy day

Ciclovía of Bogotá, the streets are closed on Sundays and holidays so that people who do sports use the roads for physical exercise, Bogotá Colombia August 16, 2021/Gabriel leonardo Guerrero/Shutterstock

Bogota struggles with a high crime rate, the same as in most other Colombian cities. Although its homicide rate is not the highest in the country, it has a fairly high violent crime rate.

It has one of the highest rates of street crime in the country, which makes sense since it is also one of the largest cities. Colombia overall has a very high crime rate. The homicide rate in the country is 27.48 incidents per 100,000 people.

That makes Colombia one of the countries with the highest homicide rates in the world. Bogota doesn’t have the highest homicide rate in Colombia (that dubious honor goes to Cali).

Its homicide rate is a relatively moderate (by Colombian standards) 17 incidents per 100,000 people as of 2015. Homicides are fairly rare in wealthy neighborhoods and in central neighborhoods with tourist attractions and are unevenly distributed throughout the city, taking place mostly in poorer neighborhoods.

When homicides do occur in wealthier parts of the city, they are often targeted incidents where gangs assassinate local prominent figures such as politicians and businessmen.

This homicide tally is still very worrying. The homicide rate increased further in 2023 by 11% compared to the previous year. Local authorities and journalists pointed out that many of the homicides are carried out by local gangs.

These gangs are also increasing their other criminal activities, such as extortion, armed robbery, and assault. Bogota already had sky-high levels of muggings and robbery—reported muggings happen 403 times a day, and many more go unreported.

Street robberies have increased by 28% compared to the previous year. Bogota already had one of the highest rates of street crime, especially street robbery, in the country, so this increase is definitely cause for concern.

It’s definitely a city where you will need to be on your guard, even when walking around in the middle of the day. Although you can still get a lot out of a potential visit to the city, you should be prepared for being careful.


The most likely crime you should be aware of while in Bogota is robbery or mugging. This is the most common crime in the city, and hundreds of incidents happen daily.

They can happen wherever in the city, including in the city’s center where tourists tend to congregate. The Australian government warns about the risk of robbery in Bogota in its travel advisory for Colombia.

Tourists are often targeted for this crime:

  • In back streets
  • When hailing taxis
  • After taking out money from ATMs
  • On hiking trails just outside the city

To minimize your risk of robbery, be careful with your movements and avoid anything that may mark you as a potential target. Try your best to blend in with locals and avoid flashy jewelry or clothing.

Robbers often target people after they take out money from ATMs for “express kidnappings,” when people are forced at gunpoint to withdraw all their money from an ATM. Only use ATMs during the day and inside banks, not on the street.

Taxis are also hotspots for robberies. Always use radio taxis or ask your hotel to call you a taxi. Hailing a taxi on the street leaves you vulnerable to robbers because some criminals pose as taxi drivers to isolate their victims.

Although robberies occur at all times of day and night, they increase after dark. Make sure that you stick to well-lit areas with lots of people around at night, and avoid dark side streets, even in “safe” areas. Never walk alone at night in Bogota.

Take precautions to minimize how devastating a potential robbery would be. Carry around a copy of your ID, not your real passport. Only take the cash you need for the day and leave the rest, including backup cards, in your hotel safe.

Hide some money on your body away from your wallet so you can get home if you do get robbed. In case you are the victim of a robbery, never, ever fight back. Most robbers in Bogota are armed, and people have been killed in the past for robberies gone wrong.


Sometimes, the threats to your wallet in Bogota are more subtle. Besides robbery, theft is also a common problem in the city. Tourists are often targeted because of their relative lack of street smarts and relative wealth compared to locals.

The Canadian government warns about the risk of theft in its travel advisory for Colombia, an advisory that definitely applies to Bogota as well. Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and phone theft are very common throughout the city.

Make sure that you keep a firm hold on your valuables at all times. Put your wallet and phone in a secure, cross-body bag or money belt, not anywhere that a thief can grab it without you noticing.

Avoid using your phone excessively in public because phone thefts are very common. Take a photo and look up directions quickly, then put it away.

Scams targeting tourists are also fairly common. In one scam, people pose as police officers, asking you to come with them, then steal from you. If someone in uniform asks you to come with them, ask them to take you to the nearest police station and refuse to go to a different location.

Dating app scams are also common in Bogota, especially since locals know the popularity of sex tourism in Colombia. Be careful when meeting people in real life that you have connected with online.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Aerial view of the Cuidad Bolivar barrio in Bogota, one of the least safe areas in the city

Magdalena Paluchowska/Shutterstock

Since violent crime in Bogota is so stratified by neighborhood, knowing which neighborhoods to avoid is key to staying safe. In general, the neighborhoods to the south are poorer and have higher crime rates.

Some neighborhoods locals recommend avoiding are:

  • Patio Bonito
  • Abastos
  • Santa Fe
  • Barrio Las Cruces

The historic La Candelaria district, although fun to visit during the day, can get sketchy at night.

Things to Consider

Photo of people walking along in the nightlife district of Bogota

bogota, colombia, march 2023, narrow street carrear 2 with a lot of bars and restaurants near chorre de quevedo/Simlinger/Shutterstock

Here are a few additional safety tips to help you out when you head to Bogota:

  • Be careful in Bogota’s famous nightlife. Criminals often operate in or around famous clubs to target tourists. Always watch your drinks, as drink spiking is common. Pay for drinks right away instead of opening a tab since bars sometimes overcharge tourists. Always take a radio taxi to go home.
  • Prepare for the altitude. Bogota is one of the capitals at the highest altitude in the world, and people get altitude sickness. Make sure that you hydrate while you are in town. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude before doing any strenuous physical activity.
  • Avoid driving in the city. The traffic that snarls the city is legendary, and drivers often have a loose respect for the rules for driving. Plus, theft from vehicles is very common in the city, and criminals will smash your windows to grab a bag left unattended. Avoid this problem by avoiding cars.
  • Follow the news while in town. That way, you can stay alert to any potential security threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gorgeous view of the Our Lady of Lourdes chapel pictured towering over a town square

Bogota, Cundinamarca, Colombia, September 25, 2021Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Lourdes square 63 street/MatthieuCattin/Shutterstock

Here are some common questions people have wanted answered in the past before visiting Bogota:

Is Bogota or Medellin safer?

Medellin is generally considered safer than Bogota. It has a lower overall crime rate and a lower street robbery rate.

Is it safe to go to Bogota alone?

Solo tourists do visit Bogota, and many report having a good time. However, walking around alone is not the safest, and you will have to take precautions such as not walking around at night.

Is Bogota, Colombia, worth visiting?

Bogota has some great museums and other attractions. However, if you just have a short time in Colombia, some of its other cities are more charming (and safer).

Which area is safe in Bogota?

Bogota’s more central and eastern districts are the safest. Upscale neighborhoods such as Chapinero and Zona Rosa are safe to visit and stay in.

So, Is Bogota Safe to Visit?

Bogota is not what you would call a safe city due to the very high crime rate, including the high street crime rate. However, it is possible to visit it safely if you take the right precautions. Happy travels!