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Cartagena Safety: Am I Safe to Travel to Cartagena, Colombia in 2024?

Dreaming of a tropical escape? Cartagena's vibrant colors, rich history, and stunning coast may call. But is it safe for tourists? Here's what to know.

Tobi Miles
April 1, 2024
Cartagena Safety: Am I Safe to Travel to Cartagena, Colombia in 2024?

Safety concerns can cast a shadow over even the sunniest destinations. Fortunately, Cartagena has made significant strides in improving safety and security for visitors and locals alike. From bustling markets to serene beaches, understanding the safety landscape is key to enjoying all that this historic city has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Cartagena has seen a significant decrease in major crimes, including a 60% drop in homicides and a 25% reduction in theft, indicating improved safety for tourists and locals.
  • Despite lower rates of violent crimes, petty theft remains a concern in crowded areas; travelers are advised to stay vigilant, use safe transportation, and avoid flaunting valuables to reduce risk.
  • The Colombian government and local law enforcement have implemented various safety measures including increased police presence, community policing, and the installation of CCTV cameras, significantly enhancing tourist safety.
  • Neighborhoods like Bocagrande, Getsemaní, and El Centro are highlighted for their safety, amenities, and cultural appeal, making them ideal choices for tourists seeking a secure stay in Cartagena.
  • Visitors should be aware of common scams targeting tourists, including inflated prices from street vendors, taxi scams, fake police officers, and spiked food or drink, to safeguard against potential risks.
  • Adopting practical safety tips such as staying in well-known neighborhoods, securing valuables, using reputable transportation, and blending in with the local style can significantly enhance the safety and enjoyment of your trip to Cartagena.

Crime Rates in Cartagena

When planning your trip to Cartagena, understanding the current crime rates is key to ensuring a safe visit. Over the years, Cartagena has seen a noticeable decrease in violent crimes, marking a positive trend towards a safer environment for tourists and locals alike.

Recent statistics have shown a significant drop in major crimes.

Crime Type

Percentage Decrease





Drug-related Offenses


This data highlights Cartagena's commitment to safety, fostered through increased law enforcement presence and community policing efforts. It's important to note that most tourist areas are now considered relatively low risk for serious crime, primarily due to these targeted initiatives.

Despite the positive trends, petty theft remains a concern, especially in crowded marketplaces and tourist hotspots. Remaining vigilant, using safe transport options, and avoiding flaunting valuables can significantly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Remember, the key to a safe trip lies in being informed and cautious. Stay up to date with travel advisories and local news during your visit to Cartagena. Engaging with local culture respectfully and maintaining awareness of your surroundings will not only enhance your travel experience but also contribute to your safety and well-being.

Safety Measures Implemented

In recent years, Cartagena has made remarkable strides in enhancing the safety of both its residents and visitors. The Colombian government, alongside local law enforcement, has rolled out a series of comprehensive measures aimed at curtailing crime and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere within this historic city.

One of the most pivotal changes has been the substantial increase in police presence, particularly in tourist-heavy areas like the Walled City, Getsemani, and Bocagrande. This presence is not merely about numbers; it’s about accessibility and reassurance to tourists. Officers, often bilingual, are deployed not just for law enforcement but also to assist visitors, offering guidance and help when needed.

Community Policing has also taken center stage. This approach fosters a partnership between the police and community members, encouraging cooperation and communication to prevent crime before it occurs. Various programs have been initiated under this model, leading to a more vigilant and informed community that plays an active role in maintaining safety in their surroundings.

Additionally, the installation of CCTV cameras across strategic locations throughout Cartagena has been a game-changer. These modern surveillance systems serve as a deterrent to potential criminals and a tool for rapid response by the authorities in case of any incident.



Increased Police Presence

Deterrent to crime, Assistance to tourists

Community Policing Programs

Enhanced vigilance, Stronger community-police rapport

CCTV Surveillance

Crime deterrence, Rapid response tool

It's evident that the combined efforts of increased law enforcement visibility, community engagement, and technological advancements in surveillance have significantly contributed to making Cartagena safer. These measures reassure travelers that their safety is taken seriously and that Cartagena remains a must-visit destination on the Caribbean coast. Remember, your safety also depends on being mindful and respecting local norms and regulations. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and enjoy the diverse and vibrant culture of Cartagena with peace of mind.

Top Safe Neighborhoods to Stay in

When planning a trip to Cartagena, choosing the right neighborhood can significantly enhance your comfort and security. The city is renowned for its captivating beauty, historical significance, and vibrant culture. However, like any popular tourist destination, it's wise to know where it's safest to base yourself. Here are the neighborhoods renowned for their safety, offering peace of mind during your stay.

Bocagrande is arguably the most popular choice among travelers. It's not just the modern high-rises and stunning beachfront that attract visitors; Bocagrande's reputation for safety is well-deserved. The area is under continuous surveillance, with a visible police presence and private security widely employed by hotels and businesses.

Getsemaní, once overlooked, has transformed into a cultural hotspot full of life. Murals and street performers fill the streets, creating a lively atmosphere. It's well-patrolled and considered safe for tourists, especially in the main areas where cafes and hostels line the streets.

El Centro, or the Walled City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that beckons with its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Safety here is paramount, with significant investments made in CCTV and police patrols. The area is bustling day and night, providing a sense of security through its constant activity.


Safety Ranking




Modern, Beachfront, High Security



Cultural, Vibrant, Well-patrolled

El Centro


Historic, CCTV, Police Patrolled

Choosing a neighborhood in Cartagena is more than just about the amenities. It's about ensuring you're in a place where you can wander freely, embracing the local culture without constant worry. Bocagrande, Getsemaní, and El Centro stand out not only for their aesthetic and cultural appeal but for their commitment to keeping you safe. Whether you're planning a leisurely vacation or a cultural immersion, staying in these neighborhoods offers both security and the quintessential Cartagena experience.

Common Scams to Watch Out For

When visiting Cartagena, awareness is your best defense against scams that target tourists. Although Cartagena is a warm and inviting city, like any popular tourist destination, it has its share of scam artists looking to make a quick buck. Here are a few common scams you should be on the lookout for:

  • Street Vendor Scams: You'll encounter numerous street vendors selling everything from handicrafts to sunglasses. A common scam involves vendors offering goods at inflated prices or selling counterfeit items as authentic. Always negotiate prices, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Taxi Scams: Unscrupulous taxi drivers might take longer routes to increase the fare or claim the meter is broken to charge a flat, inflated rate. Ensure the meter is running before you set off or agree on a price beforehand. Using ride-sharing apps can also help avoid this issue, as they provide price transparency.
  • Fake Police Officers: There have been reports of tourists being approached by individuals posing as police officers, claiming they need to check your money for counterfeit bills. Always ask for identification and never hand over your wallet. Real officers won't ask to see your cash on the street.
  • Spiked Food and Drink: Be cautious of accepting food, drinks, or even gum from strangers. There have been instances of items being spiked with substances to disorient tourists and rob them. Always keep an eye on your drink and eat at reputable establishments.

By staying vigilant and informed about these common scams, you can protect yourself and ensure your stay in Cartagena is memorable for all the right reasons. Remember, most visits to Cartagena are trouble-free, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Travel Tips for a Safe Visit

Traveling to Cartagena can be an unforgettable experience, brimming with cultural richness, historic sites, and breathtaking views. However, ensuring your trip is as safe as possible requires a bit of preparation and street smarts. Here, we delve into key travel tips that will help fortify your defenses against common risks while exploring this vibrant city.

Stay in Well-Known Neighborhoods
Cartagena is divided into various districts, each with its unique charm and safety levels. Sticking to well-known neighborhoods like Getsemani, Bocagrande, or the walled city of Old Cartagena can significantly minimize risks. These areas are not only safer but are also where you'll find the heart of Cartagena's nightlife, dining, and tourist activities.

Keep Valuables Secure
Petty theft is the most common crime tourists encounter in Cartagena. To avoid falling prey, it’s crucial to keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Wearing a money belt under your clothing or using bags with locks can deter pickpockets. Additionally, it's wise to leave important documents like your passport in a safe at your accommodation and carry a photocopy while exploring.

Use Reputable Transportation
While Cartagena's colorful taxis are a convenient way to get around, always ensure they're official. Use apps like InDriver or Easy Taxi to book rides, as these provide an extra layer of security by tracking your trip.

Be Cautious with Food and Drinks
Stick to reputable eating establishments and always watch your food and drinks being prepared when possible. Unattended drinks are a particular vulnerability, especially in crowded bars or festivities.

Blend In
The less you stand out, the better. Avoid displaying expensive jewelry or gadgets that can make you a target for theft. Adopting a more local style of dress and keeping camera gear discreet can also reduce unwanted attention.

By adhering to these travel tips, you’ll not only navigate Cartagena more safely but will also enrich your experience by moving confidently and with peace of mind through the city’s colorful streets and vibrant culture.


Exploring Cartagena's beauty and charm can be a memorable experience when you're well-prepared. Staying informed and following practical safety tips like choosing the right neighborhoods and being mindful of your belongings will enhance your journey. Embrace the vibrant culture and scenic views while keeping safety at the forefront. With these strategies in place, you're set to discover the best of Cartagena, ensuring your adventure is not only enriching but also secure. Remember, a safe trip is the foundation of an unforgettable travel story.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the recommended neighborhoods to stay in Cartagena for safety?

Staying in the well-known neighborhoods like Getsemani and Bocagrande is recommended for better safety during your visit to Cartagena. These areas are known for their security measures and vibrant local culture.

How can tourists keep their valuables safe in Cartagena?

Tourists should keep their valuables secure by utilizing hotel safes, carrying items in secure, cross-body bags, and being mindful of their surroundings, especially in crowded places, to avoid theft.

What type of transportation is considered safe in Cartagena?

Using reputable transportation services, such as officially registered taxis or verified ride-sharing apps, is considered safe for getting around Cartagena. Always verify the identity of your driver before starting your trip.

Are there any tips for safely trying food and drinks in Cartagena?

To enjoy Cartagena's local cuisine safely, it is advisable to eat at reputable establishments, avoid consuming food and drinks from street vendors without checking their hygiene practices, and always ensure that your food is freshly prepared and well-cooked.

How can tourists avoid attracting unwanted attention in Cartagena?

Blending in with the locals by dressing similarly and avoiding flashy jewelry or gadgets can help tourists avoid standing out as targets for theft. It’s also wise to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish to navigate more comfortably.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
April 1, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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