Going to a football match in Colombia can be one of the most exciting experiences for all sort of travelers. In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know so you can include a local match in your Colombia itinerary.
It depends on what are you more interested in, the football itself or the atmosphere.
Most stadiums in Colombia have a similar tribune distribution: the most comfortable spots are in the west tribune and the ones with the “toughest” fans are in the south and north tribune. The east tribune is usually a mix between these 2 extremes.
If you are more interested in the game and you want to be able to watch the match comfortably sitting, then you should go to the Tribuna Occidental (the west tribune).
If you are more interest in the atmosphere, then you should go the east tribune. I would not advise foreigners to go to the south and north tribune as it is not that safe for travelers.
Inside both east and west tribunes, there different categories. The more expensive options are usually the ones under the roof or located right in the middle of the tribune, so you have a better view.
Unless the match is an important derby, a final (or semi-final) of the cup or the league or a key match of an international competition, you shouldn’t have any issue buy your tickets in the entrance of the stadium.
Nevertheless, it is advisable you arrive to the stadium around 2 hours before the kick-off so you can comfortable find a ticket.
For more important matches, you will need to buy your tickets a few days in advance. You cannot buy them online, so you will have to go to any of the available ticket shops across the cities and pay in cash as many don’t accept cards.
For details on where to buy the tickets:
– For Atletico Nacional, click here.
– For Independiente Santa Fe, click here.
– For Independiente Medellin, click here.
It depends on the team, match, the tournament and the tribune. But in general, expect tickets to the West Tribune to costs something between COP 50.000 and COP 100.000 (around USD 15- USD 30) and to the East Tribune, something between COP 20.000 and COP 50.000 (around USD 6 – USD 15).
– Arrive early, at least 1 hour before the start of the match as the lines to enter are sometime very long.
– Come by public transport, a taxi or an uber. Don´t try to drive to the stadium as the parking lots are always very chaotic places.
– Be ready to be checked by the police at least 3 times. There are several police controls on your way to your tribune. In most of them, they will ask you to turn around and lift your hands so that they can search you. If you are not bringing food, drinks, cigarettes, alcohol or anything that could be considered a weapon, you should be fine.
– In most of the tribunes, the numbered seats are not really used. Even though your ticket states a specific seat and row, nobody cares about it. Once you enter your tribune, ask anybody “están respetando los puestos?” If they say yes, then you should find your seat, otherwise (which is in most of the cases) you can just take any seat.
You are not allowed to bring your own food and drinks, but you can buy some food inside. The hygiene standards are actually good, but the variate of options is not great and the prices are high.
You can usually find some hotdogs, cheese sticks, lechona (rice with pork) and some crisps. In some stadiums, there are some people walking around selling these products so you can comfortably buy them from your seat. In other stadiums, you will have to go to the entry corridors and push and be pushed by hundreds of people to be able to order (because there is no line).
By the way, alcohol is forbidden inside the stadium, therefore the only beer you could buy will be alcohol-free. This is a sad downside of football in Colombia.
My advice is to try to eat something before or after the game in the surroundings of the stadium.
Ugly, busy and dirty. During the break, the lines are huge and, in some stadiums, you even have to pay to be able to use them. Try going before the match starts and once is finished as there is far less people using them. Usually there is no toilet paper.
Leaving the stadium is always annoying as there are too many people heading in the same direction. You should try to leave by taking the metro (in Medellin) or the Transmilenio (in Bogotá). It will be full, but at least it will move fast.
Alternatively, try to coordinate in advance with a driver to pick you up at a certain spot. Finding a taxi or an uber after the match is usually quite hard.
Safety in relation with football has improved a lot in the last years. However, there are still some hooligans looking for trouble in the surroundings of the stadium.
Inside the stadium you shouldn’t have any issue at all. To avoid any potential incident outside the stadium, avoid wearing any football jersey and don´t stay too long in the surroundings of the stadium after the match has finished.
Additionally, don´t buy tickets on the streets from random people as there are quite some scammers. It is technically illegal to resell tickets, so try to avoid all the touts and go straight to the ticket shop.
The last thing I would like to cover in this post about football in Colombia, is in regards to a different kind of games: the national team games.
In general, Colombians are very patriotic and proud of their country. This also apply to football. When the National Team plays, you will see everyone united wearing their yellow jerseys. Transport collapses and nobody works because they are too excited about the match.
The atmosphere during a match of Colombia is great anywhere. However, the best atmosphere is in the city of Barranquilla, where the national team always plays.
The only games you could be able to attend, are those for the qualifications to the next world cup. The matches are not played often (only like 4 times a year), but if you are lucky enough to be in the Colombian Caribbean coast during one of those matches, you should try to go. The atmosphere inside the stadium is fantastic, especially when Colombia wins as the whole stadium becomes a huge party.
Getting tickets for these games is not that easy, they are a lot more expensive than those of the local league and you will need to book them some weeks in advance. If you are willing to try your luck, you can check the official page of the Colombian Football Federation for information on where to buy them.
Football is one of the most important exhibitions of the Colombian culture. It is a passion that goes beyond any rationality and offers incredible atmospheres in every match, even for those who don´t really like football.
You should certainly include an attendance to a football match in you Colombia itinerary if you are interested in culture and sports. However, make sure to remember the practical information mentioned in this guide to be able to choose the best possible experience and avoid any potential issue.
At Lulo Colombia Travel, we create amazing personalized itineraries for foreigners wanting to discover the best of Colombia. We believe that going to a live football game is one of the best experiences you can find in this country. Check this list of other top activities and sightseeing spots in Colombia to complete your itinerary.
Therefore, we are more than happy to help you plan your trip to Colombia, including an attendance to football match. Don´t hesitate to contact us and let us help you plan the best trip of your life.