Colombia on a Budget

Why visit Colombia

Colombia is one of the most incredible countries in the world and even holds an astonishing 10% of the world’s biodiversity. It has surfing beaches, intense jungles, crazy parties, historical cities, lost cities and absolute incredible scenery, Colombia is a country which should be on every backpackers’ wish list and backpacking Colombia is truly an amazing experience. It is also a place you can visit for cheap.

Suggested daily budget for cheap travel in Colombia

You can easily keep your spending to $25 - $50 a day in Colombia. This assumes you are staying in hostels, eating cheap or street food, and taking advantage of free things to do.

Best Budget Tips for Traveling Colombia

  • Bring your student ID for more discounts throughout Colombia
  • Join in on a free walking tour in many of Colombia's big cities
  • Eat street food
  • Visit museums on Sundays when they are, oftentimes, free
  • Travel on local transit like collectivos and public buses
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate
  • Make use of hostels

Typical Costs in Colombia

Please keep in mind every single city is different. Bigger cities will cost more while more remote places tend to be cheaper.


  • Hotels dorm rooms cost between 15,000-25,000 COP per night.
  • Private rooms start around 50,000 COP per night.
    • Free WiFi and free breakfast are usually included, and most hostels also have kitchens which will help you save money. 
  • Budget hotels will start around 40,000 COP per night for the most basic room. This usually does not include AC. 
    • If you want free WiFi, a double bed, breakfast included things like that - expect to pay closer to 70,000 COP per night.
    • For hotels with a pool expect to pay closer to 90,000 COP per night.
  • Airbnb is available in the larger cities, with shared accommodation prices starting around 35,000 COP per night.
    • Entire home or apartment, prices start at 90,000 COP per night but average closer to 250,000 COP.
  • Traveling with a tent? There are few campgrounds in Colombia. But, some hostels and guesthouses will let you pitch a tent on their property, just don't expect it to be cheaper than just staying indoors.

Food Costs in Colombia

In general you will be able to find smaller restaurants in every city filled with locals taking advantage of set lunches that are a great experience. These can cost under 10,000 COP.

  • Western Dishes: 21,000 COP
  • Fast food: 15,000 COP
  • Beer: as little as 2,500 COP
  • Street food is super cheap
    • Empanadas: 3,500 COP
    • Arepas: 3,000 COP
    • Ceviche: 5,000 COP

Grocery shopping is very cheap, costing about 100,000 COP per week if you plan on buying your own groceries. 

Transportation costs in Colombia

Local transportation will always be your cheapest option. For example: the metro in Medellin is only around 2,000 COP for a one-way fare.

  • Intercity buses in Colombia are not that cheap, especially compared to tourist buses that are much more comfortable
  • Budget airlines are often cheaper than buses in Colombia
    • VivaColombia is a Ryan Air equivalent, with super cheap online deals and strict luggage restrictions
    • EasyFly is another budget airline in Colombia
  • There are no trains in the country
  • There are taxis in every city
    • Smaller cities do not have meters so make sure you negotiate beforehand
    • Big city taxis have meters, make sure they are on
    • Uber is also available in a few cities (and it’s cheaper)

Activity Prices in Colombia

Obviously you should take advantage of free things to do like hiking, walking cities, walking tours, and hanging out at beaches. But, in general, guided activities are quite reasonably priced.

  • A tour of a coffee plantation: as little as 15,000 COP or as much as 152,000 COP
  • Entrance to the country’s national parks: 45,000 COP
    • There are also many free national parks throughout the country

Some More Budget Tips for Colombia


Colombia is a pretty big country. Two popular companies offering cheap flights not only throughout the country but internationally as well. Check out EasyFly and VivaColombia for the latest deals.


The cheapest way to travel is by bus and that price you see - well you can negotiate it down! Of course, this doesn't always work. Don't even try during busy peak holiday periods. But, should you arrive to a half empty collectivo and an inpatient driver, or if you're travelling in a large group, it's totally possible to get the price dropped.

The experience varies widely, from city to city, and even bus to bus. But know this: you should never leave your valuables and/or daypack under the seat or in the rack above your head. Always keep it on you. Also, the air will always be on max, so make sure you have a hoodie and a pair of socks with you, especially if travelling overnight. 

Hostel Tips

The hostel system in Colombia is growing, that means there is always somewhere cheap to stay. Make sure you use the kitchen to keep food costs down. Also, many offer local tours or excursions and discounts for HI members

Exito is the supermarket you should look for

This supermarket chain is your best bet for traveling Colombia cheaply. Not only will you find cheap food and drinks, but they also carry clothes, cups of coffee, pharmacy items, have an ATM and even have travel agents.

Final Thoughts

Colombia on a budget it something that you can definitely do. Good luck!

Oh... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...

Also, a super common question I get is: what camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D3300 and this is the wide angle lens I use and love - I am seriously obsessed with it. 

My full guide that includes all the camera gear I take on every trip is here.


And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email ( 

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