Explore three of Colombia's most exciting cities on this 9-day adventure. Start in Bogotá, the sprawling cosmopolitan capital. Tour the colonial streets of the historic center, taste local cuisine, and visit museums. Then, transfer to Medellín to see street art and communal projects, and learn about Colombian coffee culture. The adventure ends in tropical Cartagena, where you'll appreciate Spanish forts and architecture, enjoy fresh seafood, and swim in the Caribbean.

Highlights

  • Taste fresh Colombian fruits in Bogotá's most iconic local markets
  • Tour the massive underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
  • Learn about the process of making coffee at a family farm near Medellín
  • Walk inside Cartagena's walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Snorkel around the coral reefs of the gorgeous Rosario Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá City & Food Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Day Trip to Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral Bogotá
Day 4 Transfer to Medellín Medellín
Day 5 Day Trip to a Coffee Farm Medellín
Day 6 Guatapé Day Trip & Transfer to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 7 Cartagena City Tour Cartagena
Day 8 Day Trip to Rosario Islands Cartagena
Day 9 Depart from Bogotá  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Bogotá

Plaza de Bolívar in La Candelaria, Bogotá
Plaza de Bolívar in La Candelaria, Bogotá

Welcome to beautiful Colombia! A representative will be waiting at the airport to take you to your accommodation.  

As the capital and largest city in Colombia, Bogotá is a microcosm of the diversity of the country. People from various regions congregate here, bringing the different cultures that coexist in the nation into the city.

After resting from your flight, you will have the afternoon and evening to explore the city on your own. We recommend visiting the Zona G restaurant zone or the Zona T nightlife district for your first night.

Day 2: Bogotá City & Food Tour

Fresh fruit in Paloquemao Market
Fresh fruit in Paloquemao Market

Today, you'll do an exciting grand tour of Bogotá!

You'll start with a delicious tour through two of the city's most important food markets. The first stop is the Plaza de la Perseverancia, a market that dates back to 1910, when the city was only beginning. Here, you will get a taste of typical Colombian dishes like ajiaco and sancocho.

After this, you will head to Paloquemao Market, known for its great variety of fresh fruit. Paloquemao is where many of the city's restaurants source their ingredients, and boasts being one of the city's most famous gastronomical landmarks. You will get to taste a variety of fruit that can only be found in Colombia, like granadilla and lulo. Don't skip on trying some delicious fruit juices—a staple of the Colombian diet! 

After getting your fill of fresh produce, you'll get to the Botero Museum, which houses one of the country's best collections of the acclaimed Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. You'll get to familiarize yourself with his unique style, which uses large proportions for everything from people to fruits and horses. 

Once you've finished the tour, you are free to roam around the city center on your own. We recommend taking a cable car up to Monserrate to get one of the best views of Bogotá, spending time at the Gold Museum—which houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world—,or simply walking around the colorful streets of La Candelaria.

Day 3: Day Trip to Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral

Underground Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá
Underground Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá

Head out of Bogotá to visit the pretty colonial town of Zipaquirá.

The road there takes you through the Andes, presenting views of green mountains and deep valleys at every twist and turn. Once you arrive, you'll see Zipaquirá's blue and white houses congregating around the central plaza, which is dominated by a beautiful church: a perfect representation of the typical structure of colonial towns in Colombia.

Besides its distinctive historic charm, Zipaquirá is famous for its underground Salt Cathedral. This feat of engineering was carried out by miners who wished to demonstrate their devotion to God. The cathedral has lit sculptures that represent the twelve stations of the cross, as well as an impressive cave-like altar. Your local tour guide will take you through the tunnels of this place of worship and explain the history that lies deep within the ground.

(Optional Add On): Lake Guatavita

After touring Zipaquirá, you'll have the option to stop at Guatavita. This sacred lake is of extreme importance for the Muisca people, as it is here that new caciques, chiefs, were initiated in a ritual that involved dumping massive amounts of gold into the center of the lake. This ritual convinced the Spanish that Guatavita might be the legendary El Dorado, prompting them to try to drain the lake in an attempt to get the gold they believed lay in its belly. 

If you wish to, you can also stop at Andrés Carne de Res in Chía on your way back to Bogotá. One of Colombia's most famous restaurants, Andrés offers amazing Colombian food with a particular emphasis on steak, as well as a lively atmosphere and music.

Plan your trip to Colombia
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Day 4: Transfer to Medellín

Panoramic view of Medellín
Panoramic view of Medellín

It is time to leave the capital behind and head to Colombia's second city, Medellín

You will be transferred to the airport in Bogotá, from where you'll take a short domestic flight. Once you arrive at your destination, a representative will take you to your hotel. 

After a short rest, you will begin a comprehensive city tour. Considered one of the most progressive and innovative cities in Latin America, Medellín has made a name for itself in the past decade. The city is located in a bowl within the Andes mountains, meaning that no matter where you are, you are guaranteed a stunning view of the mountains.

The tour will begin in the city center, where you will explore the famous Plaza Botero, whose sculptures have become a landmark. You will then take the Metrocable up to Santo Domingo, an area once notorious for its gang violence, but now known for its efforts to rise through creative and communal projects. You will arrive at the Comuna 13 district, where you will observe some of the best street art in the city, and learn how life has changed for the positive for residents of this once downtrodden neighborhood. 

The tour will end with a visit to the expansive Botanical Gardens, where you'll see endemic flora to the region and the country, as well as exotic plant species. 

The evening is yours to explore at leisure. We recommend checking out the nightlife scene in the chic El Poblado district. Don't neglect to try a bandeja paisa, the region's most typical dish.

Day 5: Day Trip to a Coffee Farm

Coffee farm near Medellín
Coffee farm near Medellín

Wake up early and head out to explore the coffee culture of Colombia. You will be visiting a typical Colombian coffee farm, where a local farmer and his family produce their own brand of coffee. On a tour of the farm, you'll have the unique opportunity to learn about the process of this delicious drink from the bean to the cup.

Before lunch, stroll through the fields, observing how coffee beans are grown and collected. Once you've worked up an appetite, you'll have a traditional local lunch representative of what farmers usually eat during long days of labor.

Afterward, you'll get an insight into the best ways to prepare coffee and a scenic ride through the beautiful landscapes. The most rewarding part of the experience, however, is getting an inside look into the daily life of Colombian coffee farmers and producers. 

You will arrive back in Medellín in the evening and have the chance to explore some more of the city on your own.

Day 6: Guatapé Day Trip & Transfer to Cartagena

View from the top of El Peñol de Guatapé
View from the top of El Peñol de Guatapé

After breakfast, you'll start a full-day excursion to one of the crown jewels of Colombia's Antioquia region: the lakeside town of Guatapé.

You'll stroll through the colorful pueblo, considered one of the most beautiful in Colombia. Your private tour guide will give you an insight into the town's history, and explain the significance of the zócalos—the vivid friezes that decorate the walls of the houses, illustrating stories about their residents.

It will then be time to head to the impressive El Peñol, La Piedra Rock. This natural granite landmark is a prehistoric formation that rises from the landscape. You are welcome to climb up the 740 steps to the top to admire the impressive view that rewards those who work for it. Halfway up the rock, you'll see a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

In the late afternoon, your driver will take you back to Medellín to catch a flight to Cartagena. Once you land, you'll immediately feel the change in temperature, as you will have left the spring weather of the mountains for the heat of the Caribbean.

Day 7: Cartagena City Tour

Balconies of Cartagena
Cartagena Old City

This morning, a private bilingual guide will pick you up for an exciting four-hour city tour around Cartagena.

You'll start in the Manga neighborhood to see the beautiful republican-style houses and the fort of Pastelillo. The next stop is La Popa Monastery, where you can take in sweeping views of the city. From there, you'll continue to the fort of San Felipe de Barajas, an impressive remnant of Spanish colonial strength, and on to the Walled City, where you'll see the Bóvedas, another example of military architecture and fascinating history.

Continue the tour by walking through the Old City and discovering its magical streets, houses, and churches. After a visit to the San Pedro Claver Church, named for the patron saint of Colombia's slaves, the tour continues by car to the modern part of the city, where you'll get a panoramic view of Bocagrande, the beach area, and the island of Tierra Bomba

You'll get the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore more of the city at your leisure. You can start at Café del Mar for sunset drinks with a view, and then choose from the Old City's diverse and thriving restaurant scene for a late dinner. 

Day 8: Day Trip to Rosario Islands

Beach Day at Rosario Islands
Beach day at Rosario Islands

Get excited for a beach day in some of Colombia's most stunning islands. Board a boat in the morning and depart towards San Pedro de Majagua, one of the most popular Rosario Islands. Traverse the turquoise sea and reach white-sand beaches lined with tropical trees. How you spend the day will be entirely up to you! You can soak up the sun and work on your tan, swim in the crystal-clear water, or enjoy some snorkeling and diving. Alternatively, you could also kayak through the mangroves that line the island, or head to a spa for a total day of relaxation.

Back in Cartagena for the night, you can enjoy the Caribbean beats of the city and treat yourself to a last delectable local meal.

Day 9: Depart from Bogotá

The view of Bogotá from Monserrate
View of Bogotá from Monserrate

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia. In the morning, you will transfer to the airport to board a national flight back to Bogotá. From here, you'll connect to your onward flight home.

Map

Map of Best of Colombia: Bogotá, Medellín & Cartagena - 9 Days
Map of Best of Colombia: Bogotá, Medellín & Cartagena - 9 Days