Best Places To Visit In Colombia

Colombia’s diverse culture and geography attract visitors from across the globe. You’ll discover an incredible range of places and people. Everywhere you go, you’ll enjoy the unmatched hospitality and warmth of Colombia’s people.

Highlights

  • Discover “The Lost City” in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta
  • Visit local indigenous communities and learn about their culture
  • Enjoy contemporary music, food, and art in Medellin and Cartagena
  • Go whale watching, surfing, and reef diving on the wild coast of El Valle, Choco
  • Escape to Colombia’s most pristine paradise island, Providencia
  • Visit Colombia’s Alpine Circuit: the best rock climbing and trekking in the country
  • Explore the Amazon River where Peru, Brazil, and Colombia share borders
  • Arrive at the the “Pearl of the Americas” in Parque Tayrona

Overview map

Overview map
Overview map

Santa Marta (Colombia’s Caribbean coast)

Tayrona National Park
The beautiful coastline of Colombia's Tayrona Parque

There is no better way to experience the “the Pearl of the Americas” than to sail its coast to Chengue Bay and access the Parque Tayrona via the sea, a route hardly anyone knows. In Parque Tayrona, hike to Ciudad Perdida, an archaeological in Colombia's Sierra Nevada. Explore this Caribbean coast and go sea kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving from a chartered sailboat and enjoy a stay at an eco-resort on the site of a Tairona ruin on the banks of a river that runs to the Caribbean sea.

Santa Marta’s stunning sea to sky geography is home to diverse cultures including Afro-Caribbean communities and indigenous communities, such as the Arhuaco, the Koguis and the Wiwas. Discovering this ancestral arts and learning about the philosophies of the Sierra is a rare opportunity, and will bring a smile to your face when you see this craftwork sold in the beautiful and lively old city center of Santa Marta.

Medellin (Colombia’s Coffee Region)

Medellin
Enjoy a couple days of tours and activities around Medellin (© Alex Buri) 

Medellin doesn’t always make the bucket-list, yet it is the most desirable Colombian city to live in due to progressive urban planning and its proximity to natural beauty. You’ll find numerous eclectic restaurants, music venues, art galleries, and dance academies in hip neighborhoods such as Provenza, Poblado, Manila, Envigado, and Laureles.What makes Medellin unique is its “finca”culture, a tradition of poolside and mountainside past-times on farm estates close to picturesque, historic towns.

For the active traveler, you can go hiking, paragliding, biking, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, or horseback riding. Or go on a unique city tour to learn how Medellin, a point of pride for entrepreneurial Paisas, local Antioquenos, who love nothing more than to run the show or host the party. Take a walking tour of the city center to experience the continuous hustle and bustle of food vendors and commerce,  stroll through the iconic collection of bronze sculptures at Botero Plaza, visit the world-renowned Botanical Garden or escape to Parque Arvi via cable car from the city.

El Valle, Choco (Colombia’s Pacific Coast)

There is no road access to El Valle, a Pacific coast beach vacation town located in El Choco. This is one reason why the lush indigenous communities, marine ecosystems, and lush jungle are so vibrant. You can reach El Valle at Bahia Solano via a quick flight from Bogota, Medellin or Cali, though you will feel as though you’re a world away. This region has the strongest Afro-Colombian influence in the country. Cultural highlights include traditional African singing groups, as well as a 2-hour boat ride in Valle River to visit an Embera Tribe.

World-class game fishing season is year-round, whale-watching season is from June to October, baby turtle hatching season is from September until January, and surf season is consistent with peaks in the Winter and Spring. There are several trekking tours in Utria National Natural Park including one to the stunning “El Tigre” falls, a cascading waterfall that crashes into the beach.

Colombian Amazon

Sunrise over the Amazon
Sunrise over the Colombian Amazon rainforest

It is surprising how few people travel to the Amazon River via Colombia. Until you make the journey to the Colombian Amazon, you’ll never know what adventure awaits you.

You could partake in indigenous rituals, or  join a trek with a native guide scouting for jungle animals before returning to a beautiful lodge.

You could paddle along the banks of the Amazon, encounter pink dolphins, observe exotic birds, and appreciate the fascinating botany and biodiversity. From Leticia, you could visit a unique place where Colombia, Peru, and Brazil converge in the rainforest.  

Providencia (Colombia’s Island Paradise)

San Andres y Providencia Colombia
Relax amidst the beautiful islands of San Andres y Providencia

This island is a gem in Colombia’s Caribbean crown. The proud, unified community aims to protect its natural beauty, vibrant reefs, world-class diving, and cultural roots. This cultural conviction makes for a truly authentic vibe and preserves local eateries, hand-painted public transport, and policemen that DJ reggae music in the town’s central plaza between motorcycle tours of the island.

From the first view you see of the emerald green island from your small, chartered plane to the last sunset swim you have in this pristine paradise, Providencia has to be one of the most romantic places in Colombia. Let’s hope it always stays that way.

The Alpine Circuit: Suesca, La Mesa de Los Santos, La Florián, and Cocuy National Park (Colombia’s Andes)

Suesca, Colombia
Enjoy rock climbing (or simply great panoramic views) from the giant cliffs of Suesca

Suesca, La Mesa de Los Santos, La Florián, and Cocuy National Park are the top alpine destinations in Colombia. Suesca, about an hour drive from Bogota, is a small alpine community situated in the heart of Colombia’s central Andes range. Here, Colombia’s premier rock-climbing site offers classic and sport routes that span beginner to 5.13c, with more fun to be had kayaking, mountain biking, and spelunking.

La Mesa de Los Santos, located 50 km from Bucaramanga in the Santander department, is home to over 100 routes carved in the sandstone, known as “La Mojarra”. La Florián, five hours north of Bogotá in the Boyacá department, is Colombia’s best kept climbing secret with about three dozen climbs, all 5.11 and higher, mostly found around a limestone cave.

Continuing northwest across the Boyacá department, access El Cocuy National Park via the town of Güicán. This massive, 306,000-hectare park features vertical sandstone walls and more than 20 snow-capped peaks. Friendly staff and guides meet you in various mountain chalets and guide houses throughout the park and are an invaluable resource. Panoramas of high-alpine, jagged peaks are only obstructed by the country’s tallest accessible peak: Ritacuba Blanco (17,749ft).

Cartagena (Colombia’s Caribbean coast)

Cartagena
Stroll the historic streets of Cartagena

Colombia’s most popular tourist destination, Cartagena is adored for its lively nightlife and its soulful old town: a beautifully persevered labyrinth of cobbled streets, mystic churches, plazas, and colorful balconies covered romantically in blossoms and lights. The cinematic town, surrounded by a 13 km of ancient colonial stonewalls, is a UNESCO World Heritage site teeming with myths and legends.

Just south of the town, Cartagena’s very own Venice Beach invites all to marvel at a modern rendition of Caribbean coastal living as chic cafes, upscale restaurants, and luxurious condominiums adorn the peninsula of Bocagrande. Cartagena’s spice really comes from the outer town, where amongst the chaos of traffic, vendors, and swindlers you may easily discover a packed, sweaty, beating salsa club.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Colombia andes, amazon & caribbean, Colombia - Aug 14 - Aug 25, 2017

Traveler: maria t. - Local specialist: Juan Ortiz

The quality of the tours was amazing. Everywhere we went, we had dedicated drivers. The only thing I would change is the hotel in Cartagena. It felt a little run down and dirty. Otherwise, everything else was perfect! My favorite stay was in La Jorara.

Juan & his team made themselves available 24 hours a day, even when we had a flight delay.