green leaf plant on white wall
landscape photography of blue and yellow houses
animal standing near body of water and mountains

Is Cartagena Safe?

Cartagena in Chile is generally safe for tourists, though petty crime like pickpocketing is common in crowded areas. Violent crime rates are low, but remain vigilant at night. Civil unrest occasionally disrupts transportation. Tap water is unsafe to drink; stick to bottled water. Medical facilities are adequate in the city center but limited outside. Prepare for potential earthquakes by following hotel safety guidelines.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Cartagena, a vibrant coastal city in Chile, offers a unique blend of colonial charm and modern amenities. However, travelers should exercise caution and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

  • Petty Crime: While Cartagena is generally safe, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, especially in crowded areas and tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Violent Crime: Incidents of violent crime, although relatively rare, have been reported in certain areas. Avoid isolated or poorly lit areas, especially at night, and exercise caution when withdrawing cash from ATMs.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams targeting tourists, such as overcharging for goods or services, fake tour guides, or individuals posing as officials demanding bribes.

  • Civil Unrest: While infrequent, protests and demonstrations can occur in Cartagena. Monitor local news and avoid areas where large gatherings are taking place.

  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorism in Cartagena is generally low, but travelers should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities in case of any incidents.

It's advisable to familiarize yourself with local laws and customs, respect cultural norms, and keep a low profile to minimize potential risks. Additionally, registering with your embassy or consulate can facilitate assistance in case of an emergency.

Health & Medical

Cartagena in Chile is generally a safe destination for travelers in terms of health risks. However, it's essential to take some precautions to ensure a smooth and healthy trip.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, typhoid, and influenza. Some travelers may also consider hepatitis B and rabies vaccines.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya are present in some areas. Use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to prevent bites.

  • Food and Water Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food to prevent traveler's diarrhea and other foodborne illnesses.

  • Sun Exposure: Use sunscreen, wear a hat, and stay hydrated to avoid sunburn and heat-related illnesses, especially during peak sun hours.

  • Medical Facilities: Private hospitals and clinics in Cartagena generally provide adequate medical care for most routine issues. However, facilities may be limited for serious injuries or illnesses, so comprehensive travel insurance is recommended.

Natural Disasters

Cartagena, located in northern Chile, is generally considered a safe destination in terms of natural disasters. However, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions.

  • Earthquakes: Chile is located in a seismically active region, and earthquakes can occur. While Cartagena is not as prone to earthquakes as other parts of the country, it's advisable to familiarize yourself with safety procedures and follow instructions from local authorities in case of an earthquake.

  • Tsunamis: Due to its coastal location, Cartagena faces a potential risk of tsunamis, particularly after strong earthquakes. It's crucial to follow evacuation orders and avoid coastal areas during tsunami warnings.

  • Wildfires: During the dry season, wildfires can occur in the surrounding areas, especially in the nearby hills and forests. Travelers should exercise caution and follow local advisories regarding fire risks and restrictions.

  • Flooding: While not a significant concern in Cartagena itself, heavy rainfall in the region can sometimes lead to localized flooding. It's advisable to monitor weather conditions and avoid low-lying areas during periods of heavy rain.

Overall, Cartagena has a relatively low risk of major natural disasters compared to other parts of Chile. However, it's always recommended to stay informed about weather conditions, follow local advisories, and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.


Transportation in Cartagena, Chile is generally considered safe and reliable for travelers. The city has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses and taxis.

  • Bus System: Cartagena has an extensive bus network that covers most areas of the city. Buses are a cost-effective way to get around, but they can be crowded during peak hours.
  • Taxis: Taxis are widely available and relatively affordable. It's recommended to use official taxis or ride-sharing services like Uber or Cabify to ensure safety and reliability.
  • Road Safety: While road conditions in Cartagena are generally good, traffic can be chaotic, and drivers may not always follow traffic rules. Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing streets.

For added safety, it's advisable to:

  • Avoid Walking Alone at Night: Stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially after dark.
  • Be Cautious with Personal Belongings: Keep valuables out of sight and be aware of your surroundings to prevent petty theft.
  • Use Licensed Transportation Services: Opt for reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing apps to ensure a safe and reliable ride.

Cultural Norms

Cartagena in Chile is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage influenced by indigenous and Spanish traditions. As a traveler, it's essential to respect the local customs and practices to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Religious Customs: Chile has a predominantly Catholic population, and religious events and processions are common, especially during festivals like Easter and Christmas. Dress modestly and avoid disruptive behavior when attending or passing by religious ceremonies.

  • Greetings: Chileans generally greet each other with a handshake or a light kiss on the cheek (for women). It's polite to address people using formal titles (Señor/Señora) until invited to use first names.

  • Family Values: Family is highly valued in Chilean culture. Avoid making offensive comments or gestures, especially in the presence of children or elders.

  • Punctuality: While not as strict as some cultures, being on time for social and business engagements is appreciated in Chile.

  • Dining Etiquette: When dining out, it's customary to keep your hands visible on the table and avoid gesturing with utensils. Leaving a small amount of food on your plate is considered polite.

  • Public Displays of Affection: While not strictly taboo, excessive public displays of affection between couples may be frowned upon, especially in more conservative areas.

  • Indigenous Culture: Cartagena has a significant indigenous population. Respect their traditions, customs, and sacred sites if you have the opportunity to visit or interact with them.

By being mindful of these cultural nuances, you can demonstrate respect for the local community and enhance your overall travel experience in Cartagena, Chile.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Cartagena, Chile are generally reliable, but may have limitations compared to some other major tourist destinations. The availability and quality of services can vary depending on the specific location within the city.

  • Ambulance Services: Ambulances are available through the emergency medical system, but response times can be slower in some areas, especially during peak hours or in more remote parts of the city.

  • Fire Department: The fire department in Cartagena is reasonably well-equipped and trained, but resources may be stretched thin during major incidents or in outlying areas.

  • Police: The police force in Cartagena is present and visible, particularly in tourist areas. However, their responsiveness and effectiveness can vary, and language barriers may be an issue for some travelers.

  • Tourist Police: Cartagena has a dedicated tourist police unit that patrols popular areas and can assist with issues specific to visitors. However, their coverage is limited, and they may not be available in all areas.

  • Private Security: Many hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions employ private security personnel to supplement public services. These services can be reliable but may come at an additional cost.

It's advisable for travelers to research their specific accommodation and planned activities to understand the level of emergency services available in those areas. Additionally, purchasing travel insurance and carrying contact information for your embassy or consulate is recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Cartagena safe for tourists?

Cartagena in Chile is generally safe for tourists. However, it's advisable to exercise caution and avoid isolated areas, especially at night. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, so remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

Is Cartagena safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Cartagena, Chile. While not overly dangerous, it's best to avoid walking alone at night and stay in well-lit, populated areas. Be cautious of unwanted attention and trust your instincts.

Is Cartagena safe for families?

Cartagena, Chile, is a family-friendly destination. Most attractions and restaurants cater to families with children. However, be mindful of your surroundings and take precautions against petty crimes like pickpocketing.

Is Cartagena LGBTQ+ friendly?

Chile is relatively progressive regarding LGBTQ+ rights, with same-sex marriage legal since 2022. However, public displays of affection may draw unwanted attention in some areas. Exercise discretion and research local attitudes.

Do you need a visa to go to Cartagena?

Most visitors from Western countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days in Chile. However, a valid passport is mandatory for all international travelers.

Can you drink tap water in Cartagena?

It's generally not recommended to drink tap water in Cartagena, Chile. Stick to bottled or purified water to avoid potential health issues from contamination. This also applies to ice cubes and when brushing teeth.

What is the currency in Cartagena?

The official currency in Cartagena, Chile, is the Chilean Peso (CLP). While credit cards are widely accepted, it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases and tips.

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play