Best Tips & Advice
- Arrive & depart from different cities (many airlines have non-stop flights from North America)
- Visit two regions for a slower tour that allows greater time to linger at attractions
- Visit three regions if you prefer to pack in as many sights and activities as possible
- Take advantage of affordable domestic flights with Colombia's national airlines
#1 Bogotá, The Coffee Country & Cartagena
|Day 1-2||Museums and historic sites of Bogotá||Bogotá|
|Day 3||Zipaquirá and the Salt Cathedral||Villa de Leyva|
|Day 4||Explore Villa de Leyva||Bogotá|
|Day 5-6||Horse riding, hiking in Coffee Country||Salento / Medellín|
|Day 7||Exploration of Medellín||Medellín|
|Day 8-9||Historic sights and beaches of Cartagena||Cartagena|
This is a good itinerary for those who want a fast-paced trip packed with sights and activities.
Arrive in Bogotá and spend two days in the Colombian capital. Visit the historic and cultural highlights of the city, including a trip to Cerro de Monserrate, the famous Gold Museum, and the Botero Museum.
On Day 3, travel north for a day trip to Villa de Leyva. You can rent a car or go on a guided tour. On the way, stop in Usaquén (which has a great Sunday morning market) and the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira. You'll arrive by dinnertime in Villa de Leyva.
Explore Villa de Leyva on Day 4. You can stroll around the cobblestone streets, visit some colonial-era mansions, go for a bike ride and check out a winery on the edge of town. After lunch, drive back to Bogotá (3.5 hours).
On Day 5, catch a flight to Pereira in the Coffee Country and spend two days exploring the area. You can visit hot spring at Termales de Santa Rosa, hike or horse ride in the Cocora Valley, visit a coffee farm and stay in a historic hacienda. Spend some time in the historic town of Salento. At the end of the second day, you can drive up to Medellín.
Explore Medellín on day 7 of your tour. Consider taking the off-beat "Pablo Escobar tour" of the city (which goes to some of the places associated with the life of the famous drug lord), then visit downtown and ride the Metrocable.
On the morning of Day 8, you'll take a flight to Cartagena and book into a hotel. Spend two days exploring the city and the nearby attractions.
#2 Medellín (or Bogotá) & Cartagena
|Day 1-4||Explore Medellín, paragliding, Guatapé, rafting||Medellín|
|Day 5-10||Explore Cartagena, Rosario Islands||Cartagena|
If you prefer a slower holiday, you'll need to cut out a destination or two from the above. Start your trip by flying into Medellín and spend four days in and around the city. This is a good amount of time to get familiar with this beautiful city and its varied attractions and experiences.
Some options to consider will include museums, a walking tour, and paragliding. You'll also want to linger at Medellín's excellent restaurants, sampling locals foods, fruits, and beverages. Try to work into your visit a day trip to Guatapé or a day of white water rafting.
On Day 5 of your trip, take a low-cost flight up to Cartagena on Avianca. You now can start a 4-day tour of Cartagena, its beautiful Walled City and the Rosario Islands just off the coast.
An easy alternative to this itinerary would be to fly into Bogotá and spend your first 4-5 days before flying north to Cartagena. You'll just need to decide which city will be your destination. Medellín is the more relaxed of the two places while Bogotá delivers the bigger punch in terms of museums and history.
#3 Bogotá, San Gil, Tayrona NP, Cartagena
|Day 1-2||Explore museums and sights of Bogotá||Bogotá|
|Day 3-5||Explore Villa de Leyva, San Gil, Barichara||San Gil|
|Day 6||Activities in San Gil||Night Bus to Santa Marta|
|Day 7-8||Tayrona National Park||Tayrona|
|Day 10||Departure from Cartagena|
Those who want to see a big city, some small pueblos and beautiful beaches should consider this itinerary.
First, fly into Bogotá and see the sights of the capital for two days. On Day 3 you will travel north of the capital, stopping in at Zipaquira and Villa de Leyva. Take a morning tour of Villa de Leyva on Day 4 before continuing to San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia. Here you can enjoy some thrilling activities, including rappelling and rafting.
The total drive time from Bogotá to San Gil is 6 hours if you want to do it in one shot. A nice side trip from San Gil on Day 5 is Barichara, considered one of the most beautiful pueblos in Colombia.
From San Gil, you can take a night bus (13 hours) to Santa Marta. At the end of this long bus ride, connect to Tayrona National Park, where you can spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful stretch of coastline. This will be Days 7 and 8 of your tour.
At the end of Day 8, travel to Cartagena, where you will have one full day to explore the Old City. Relax before your flight home on Day 10.
For an alternative route, you can travel from San Gil to Bucaramanga, where you can catch a flight to Cartagena. This is a good option if you want to avoid traveling on a night bus.
#4 Bogotá, the Pacific Coast & Medellín
|Day 1-3||Explore the highlights of Bogotá||Bogotá|
|Day 4-6||Whale watching, village visits, beaches||Gauchalito|
|Day 7-9||Explore the highlights of Medellín||Medellín|
If you are looking to get off-the-beaten-path, consider an itinerary that includes El Chocó (the Pacific Coast), one of the more remote parts of the country. This trip starts with a flight into Bogotá for a 3-day exploration of the city and surrounding area. On day 4 of your trip, fly to Nuqui, a town of around 8100 people on the Pacific Coast.
Once in Nuqui, transfer to Gauchalito, a pristine beach with several small resorts. You'll spend three days in the area, experiencing a variety of activities, including whale watching and visits to indigenous communities. You can also hike in the rainforest, see incredible waterfalls and take a dip in hot water springs.
On Day 7, fly to Medellín, where you can spend the remaining days on this trip exploring this exciting city.
#5 Bogota & the Amazon
|Day 1-2||Explore the highlights of Bogotá||Bogotá|
|Day 3-5||Tabatinga, rainforest walks||Leticia|
|Day 6||Isla de los Micos||Reserva Natura Park|
|Day 7-8||Reserva Indígena Ticuna, pink dolphins||Puerto Nariño|
|Day 9||return to Leticia, flight to Bogotá||Bogotá|
After exploring Bogotá for two days, board a plane an visit Colombia's Amazon region. Once in the Amazon, you'll spend three nights in Leticia, from where you can make day trips into the rainforest. Places to visit in this area include Tabatinga (Leticia's sister town in Brazil), the Parque Ecológico Mundo Amazónico, and Reserva Natural Tanimboca. Within the reserves you can walk in the rainforest and spot wildlife.
On Day 6 of your visit to Colombia, continue upriver to Isla de los Micos, home to large numbers of squirrel monkeys. From here, travel to Macedonia, a riverside community of about 800 indigenous Ticuna people. You can overnight in a cabin built on stilts at Reserva Natura Park, overlooking the Amazon River.
On Day 7 you will continue upriver to Puerto Nariño, where you spend two nights. This conservation-conscious community is within the Reserva Indígena Ticuna. It has an interpretive center and a nice museum that focusses on the environment. At Lago Tarapoto, about 3 miles (5 km) west of Puerto Nariño, you can spot pink dolphins.
On Day 9, return to Leticia for your flight back to Bogotá.