Inspiring • Authentic • Tailor-Made

01892 515 966

Colombia Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

National airline Avianca has daily non-stop flights between London Heathrow and Bogota. American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines offer connecting flights via the US and Iberia services stop once in Madrid.

Flying times from UK

Direct flights to Colombia from the UK take around 11 hours.

Time zone

Colombia is -5 hours behind GMT.

Visa requirements

UK nationals can enter Colombia for up to 90 days as a visitor without a visa. You may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel and your passport will also need to be valid for at least six months from your arrival date.

Do's and don'ts

Remember to ask permission before taking photographs of people.

Try to learn a few Spanish phrases. Any effort will be greatly appreciated.

Colombia is predominantly a Catholic country and when visiting religious sites conservative dress is required.

Money

The currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP) and it comes in notes and coins. US dollars and Euros are widely exchangeable at airports, hotels and banks. Credit cards including American Express are accepted in most places and there are ATMs in all cities and most larger towns.

Tipping

Most restaurants include a service charge as standard, but it is still customary to add an additional tip, typically between $2,000 and $5,000 Colombian pesos. A small tip to concierges and hotel staff is also common. A guideline for tipping your drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

Colombian cuisine is diverse and varies by region. The Colombian diet includes a lot of meat but in coastal areas you will find a good selection of fish, lobster and other seafood. Colombia is also known for its fresh fruit, with a huge variety on offer. Traditional dishes include ajiaco, a chicken soup with potatoes, corn, sour cream, avocado and herbs, and bandeja paisa – a platter of meats including chorizo sausages and steak served with rice and red beans. Other popular dishes include empanadas, a stuffed pasty which can be sweet or savoury. Desserts are typically very sweet and include arroz con coco, a coconut rice pudding, and natilla, a custard-like pudding.

A popular drink in Colombia is aguapanela, made by dissolving a block of sugarcane in water and adding lime juice. Aguapanela is also commonly served with other flavours, including cinnamon, and used as a mixer for alcoholic drinks. Colombia's coffee is world famous, its rum is considered to be high quality and a huge variety of excellent fruit juices are also available. In hot regions or coastal areas, fruit juices will often be mixed with sugar, milk or water.

Holidays, festival and celebrations

Carnivals, parades, dances and festivals are common throughout the year and are usually set to the rhythm of lively Colombian music. Important Catholic celebrations are also held around Christmas and Easter time. February’s extremely popular Barranquilla Carnival lasts four days and is a riot of music, food, drink and dance whilst the Colombian Folklore Festival, held every year in Ibagué from June 22 to July 1, is a celebration of the country's heritage and traditions. The World Salsa Festival, held in Cali in August, is a celebrated music festival with dancers, artists, lessons and workshops and Pereira’s harvest festival, which also marks the foundation of the city, is well worth attending. Every November, Colombia marks Independence Day with the most important celebrations held in Cartagena.

Shopping

With everything from modern malls to traditional markets, Colombia is a shopper's paradise. Jewellery, art, gold, leather, textiles and precious stones are commonly found whilst the old town of Bogota is known for its small independent boutiques. Cartagena and Cali have excellent handicrafts whilst coffee, Colombia’s most famous export, can be bought throughout the country.

Suggested reading

Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Footprint and Bradt all have excellent guide books on Colombia and South America and Nelles Maps have comprehensive and up-to-date maps of the country. Colombia has a proud literary tradition and there is a wide range of work from authors including Evelio Rosero, Laura Restrepo, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Jorge Isaacs and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Recommendations include:

'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

'The Armies' by Evelio Rosero

‘The Dark Bride’ by Laura Restrepo

'The Sound of Things Falling' by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

‘The Secret History of Costaguana’ by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

‘Maria’ by Jorge Isaacs

‘The Robber of Memories’ by Michael Jacobs

‘The Fruit Palace’ by Charles Nicholl

‘Colombia: A Concise Contemporary History’ by Michael J. La Rosa

‘The Making of Modern Colombia’ by David Bushnell

‘Between Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia’ by Marco Palacios

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org. The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Colombia the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Colombia Holiday Ideas

Experts in Tailor-Made Holidays

For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

Please call us for more information or complete the online enquiry form to request a quotation.

01892 515 966 Request a Quote

Head Office: 8-9 Orchard Business Centre, North Farm Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent. TN2 3XF

× logo

Welcome to Pettitts Travel, the new name for
Medway Leisure Travel.

Everything you expect from Medway Leisure Travel is included here on the Pettitts Travel website... plus lots more!