Food and Water Safety in Colombia

The thing that many people look forward to most about traveling is the pure joy of experiencing new food. However, if you happen to be going to a country which exists on an entirely different continent from your home, that can certainly raise some very important questions about the basics of eating and drinking. 

The good news? You will not starve. Far from it – the food in Colombia is amazing, and clean tap water does exist. However, you’ll want to remember a few things to keep you as safe as possible. 

Is the Food Safe in Colombia? 

Overall? Yes. Keep in mind a few ground rules to ensure that the food you’re eating is the freshest and safest possible. 

  • Has it been sitting out in the sun for….a while? Don’t do it, walk away and find food that is totally fresh, or better yet, made right in front of your eyes (street food is great for this). 
  • Keep to crowded restaurants. Good patronage is an excellent marker of food that is probably proven to be safe and delicious. 
  • Eating fruit? Make sure it has a peel you can remove. Or otherwise that you are able to wash it thoroughly. You want to avoid contamination from dirty produce. 
  • Wash your hands. Really people. This one is self-explanatory. 

Vegetarian food in Colombia

Hard news, my plant-based brothers and sisters – this is a meat-based food culture. Now, this does not mean that it’s impossible to stick to your dietary restrictions and values. However, you would do right to learn all of the Spanish words and phrases needed to talk with servers, read labels, and otherwise ensure that the stuff you put in your belly is veg-friendly. 

Is it safe to eat street food in Cartagena?

If you follow the above tips, the street food in Cartagena is perfectly safe… and totally delicious! One of the advantages of street food over eating in a restaurant is that you can see the ingredients and watch the food being prepared. This makes it easy to judge how fresh the food is, and if there’s a line for that little stall, you know it’s good!

What is Colombian street food?

Colombian cuisine is often overshadowed by the food of its neighboring countries, but what people overlook is that Colombia has comfort food to go on lock. Seriously – one of the countries staple dishes is Picada, a heaping platter of chopped meat (often chunks of steak, chorizo, blood sausage, chicken, cow’s intestines) and vegetables line plantain, yuca, corn on the cob, and papas criollas (seasoned new potatoes). Then there are the grab and go foods like bollo (buns steamed in corn husks), tamales (corn dough steamed in banana leafs), and arepas (fried corn dough with a variety of fillings). The most popular is arepas de huevos (arepas filled with egg), which are the pinnacle of street food in Cartagena.

Is water safe in Colombia? 

For the big cities of Bogota and Medellin, yes. Everywhere else, it is a different story. 

As is true for many countries in Latin America, urban tap water is much cleaner and safer than rural areas and the countryside. But, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all that a country has to offer. 

In lieu of buying too many plastic water bottles and contributing to plastic waste (plus, what would you do if you didn’t have access to bottled water?), opt for a reusable bottle and carry a UV pen so that you can purify water wherever you are (water purification tablets are also an option). That way, you can be free to roam while not needing to worry about your health, or feel guilty for your frequent opting for single-use plastic. 

The take-away? 

The food and water of Colombia is not something to be feared, only watched-out for. There’s a different set of rules, but once you learn them, you will be able to navigate the food and drink scene with ease and peace of mind. Now, go find the best street food you possibly can, and brag to your friends about it forever. 

Looking for more information? 

Safety in Colombia

Scams in Colombia

Solo Travel in Colombia

Getting Around: Transportation in Colombia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *