Colombia Trip Budget

Colombia is an awesome budget travel destination! With free activities such as hiking and beach trips, cheap nights out in fun cities, and tasty bargain meals, not to mention some of the cheapest scuba diving in the world. The low price tag is just one reason I fell in love with Colombia. Here’s my Colombia trip budget:

Colombia Trip Budget



Colombia was a surprising veggie traveller haven, not to mention one of the cheapest places to eat in South America. The best deal is usually a menu del dia– a set lunch with a variety of rice, beans, meat (optional), salad, and potatoes. These dishes cost anywhere between COP4,000 and COP10,000 (£1-2.30/ $1.35-3.37).


For evening meals, restaurants offer a range of cheap eats. We rarely paid more than COP10,000- COP15,000 for a meal (£2.30-3.50/ $3.37-5).


Most hostels offer self-catering facilities, which kept our food costs down even more.


Beers cost around COP3,000 (70p/ $1) in a bar, and soft drinks cost just COP1,500 (35p/ 50c). Wine in a bar is pricier than most drinks, though a one litre carton from a supermarket costs just COP14,000 (£3.25/ $4.70) (and looks so classy!). Aguardiente is a popular local spirit that’s disgusting, but a must-try.


Cheap Vegetarian meal in Colombia trip budget

A veggie feast for just £1!



Hostel dorms are the cheapest form of accommodation in Colombia (a double room would cost us a good bit more than two dorm beds would). A dorm bed usually costs between COP25,000- 30,000 (£6-7, $8.50-10), though prices are higher in Cartagena. Most dorms are pleasant and clean, and hostels usually feature a fun social area with hammocks, a bar, and often a pool.


Adam and I spent five nights staying with my cousin in Medellín, which knocked a bit off our expenses (though I’d say we made up for it in booze and food while we were there!).


Guachos in Silvia Market

Guachos in Silvia Market


Shorter bus trips in Colombia are reasonably priced, at around COP7,000 (£1.60/ $2.36) per hour of travel. Here are some sample journeys:

Cali to Armenia: 3hrs, COP22,000 (£5/ $7.40)

Salento to Medellin: 6hrs, COP43,000 (£10/ $14.50)

Medellin to Guatape: 2hrs, COP13,000 (£3/ $4.40)


Longer trips can be surprisingly expensive. Our 15 hour bus from Medellin to Santa Marta cost us each COP132,000 (£30/ $44.50).


Internal flights are a cheap way to cover longer distances. Viva Colombia offer prices that are often cheaper than the bus. Be warned, however, that prices include a very small baggage allowance, and extra baggage fees can really add up. We found a flight from Medellin to Santa Marta for just COP109,000 (£25/ $36), but, when considering how much extra baggage we would have paid for (damn camera gear!) not to mention the costs of getting to and from the airport, we decided to just take the bus after all.


Green hummingbird on branch in Salento Colombia

A hummingbird in Salento


Much of my time in Colombia was spent learning to salsa, hiking through beautiful mountains, and visiting chilled-out beach towns. Most of these activities were either very cheap, or totally free!


Colombia is one of the cheapest countries to learn to dive, and we took full advantage of this by getting our open water scuba diving qualifications in Taganga. Just COP600,000 (£140/ $200) for a course, and I loved every minute of it. Here’s how to find and book your course.


Meeting a sea turtle- photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers

Meeting a sea turtle- photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


Total Colombia Trip Budget

We stayed in Colombia for just under four weeks, and our overall Colombia trip budget came to COP2,360,000 (£546/ $795) each. This works out slightly over our £20-a-day overall budget, at £21($30) per day. If we hadn’t spent £140 getting our scuba diving qualifications, it would have worked out at just £15.50 ($22.37) per day- not that I’ve any regrets!


A big bug in Medellín!

A big bug in Medellín!


To read Ailish in Wonderland’s posts from the wonderful country of Colombia, click here.

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