Six days is just long enough to experience the energy and culture of Colombia's most exciting destinations—with a bit of beach time thrown in for good measure. You'll start off in the cosmopolitan capital of Bogotá where you can indulge in the thriving food and art scene, then jet off to Cartagena to explore Old Town—the inner-walled city that abounds with colonial architecture and history. Throw in a day trip to the Caribbean Rosario Islands and you have a vacation worth its weight in gold.

Highlights

  • Visit Bogotá's Gold Museum, which has the largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world
  • Take a cooking class in Colonial Cartagena, and discover the secrets of Caribbean cuisine
  • Laze on the white-sand beaches of the Rosario Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá City Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Arrive in Cartagena Cartagena
Day 4 Cartagena Walking tour - Cooking Class Cartagena
Day 5 Rosario Islands Day-Trip Cartagena
Day 6 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Bogotá
Bogotá

Welcome to Bogotá! A driver will meet you at the airport for transportation to the hotel.

Colombia's biggest city has culture to spare, and its regional gastronomy has made it a global foodie destination. You'll have ample free time to explore this Andean capital on foot. Start with the cobblestone streets of the La Candelaria neighborhood, where trendy restaurants and colonial-era landmarks are located. You'll also find excellent museums, shopping, and street food ranging from empanadas to exotic fruit salads. 

(Optional add-on.) Depending on what time you arrive, you can experience Bogotá's local history and culture by taking a tour with an English-speaking guide.

Day 2: Bogotá City Tour

The Gold Museum, Bogotá
The Gold Museum, Bogotá

After breakfast, it's time to hit the streets and explore! A local guide will pick you up and accompany you on a half-day walking tour of the city. You'll begin in colorful La Candelaria—the heart of Bogota's historic center. Amble along its narrow streets, visiting cultural landmarks and local shops selling artisanal goods. Eventually, you'll reach Plaza Bolívar, the city's main square dating back to 1539. There's a grand cathedral here as well as many important government buildings, such as the Capitolio Nacional (Colombia's congress building). 

(Optional add-on.)
To spend a full day with your guide, take the aforementioned walk through La Candelaria and then explore two of Bogotá's best museums in the afternoon: the Gold Museum (closed on Mondays), which features the largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world, and the Botero Museum (closed on Tuesdays), which houses a collection of masterpieces from renowned Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero.

(Optional add-on.)
If you are an early riser, start the morning sunrise tour of Bogotá by visiting its best and biggest food market—Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao—which supplies produce for many of the city’s best restaurants. Return to La Candelaria and downtown, strolling the streets and stopping to photograph walled graffiti art.

Half-day tour duration: Four hours (with an English-speaking guide)

Day 3: Arrive in Cartagena

Cartagena's historic Old Town
Cartagena's historic Old Town

Welcome to Cartagena! This colonial fortress city on the Caribbean Sea is rich in culture, architecture, romance, and even pirate history. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Depending on the time of your arrival, you'll have a few options for activities. You can relax and enjoy the hotel amenities or get right into the mix with a neighborhood walk, either by yourself or with an English-speaking guide (optional add-on). Here are some other ideas to consider:

  • Wander the narrow streets of the historic Old Town, snapping photos of the lively plazas and colorful houses featuring bougainvillea-draped balconies.
  • Check out the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo, stopping at key sites like Plaza de los Coches, Plaza de la Aduana, Parque Bolívar, and Plaza de Santa Teresa.  
  • Walk along the Old Town's original fortress walls (dating back to 1586), constructed to protect Cartagena from sea attacks. These ramparts also afford panoramic views of the city and make great sunset-viewing spots.
  • Visit Santo Domingo, which, having been erected in 1552, is reputedly the oldest church in the city. 
  • Explore Getsemaní, the bohemian neighborhood just outside the walls of Cartagena's Old Town. Once a seedy area, Getsemani is now a cultural enclave filled with Spanish colonial architecture, graffiti art, boutique hotels, and street food vendors.

Finish the day with mojitos and fresh ceviche in one of the city’s hip restaurants or rooftop bars.

Day 4: Cartagena Walking tour - Cooking Class

Learn the secrets to Colombian cuisine
Learn the secrets to Colombian cuisine

If you didn't get a chance to explore the city yesterday, not to worry—today you'll experience the "Pearl of the Caribbean" on a walking tour. Let these cobbled streets transfer you back to colonial times as you stroll amid colorful houses and lively squares. You'll start in the expansive Plaza de los Coches, at the entrance to Old Town, and finish at the yellow arcades and galleries of Plaza Las Bovedas, experiencing all of Cartagena in between. 

In the afternoon, you will take part in a cooking class! Gilles and his wife will welcome you to his restaurant in Cartagena's historic Old Town and you'll discover the exotic, rich flavors that comprise Caribbean cuisine. After a welcome cocktail, you will start cooking. The class culminates with an epic dinner where you'll get to enjoy the delectable dishes you've prepared.

Walking tour: Three hours (with English-speaking guide)
Cooking class: Three hours

Day 5: Rosario Islands Day-Trip

Islas del Rosario
Islas del Rosario

Rise and shine! After an early breakfast, you'll transfer from your hotel to the pier where you will board a speedboat for an hour trip to the Baru Peninsula. Along the way, you will see Tierra Bomba Island and Boca Chica, ancient forts that once protected Cartagena from hostile invaders and plunderers.

After arriving at the Rosario Islands, change into your swimwear and head to Playa Azul, a crescent beach with soft white sands hugging the turquoise Caribbean Sea. After enjoying a buffet lunch, you will have time to relax and sunbathe. An optional add-on is to rent a kayak and embark on a brisk paddling excursion before returning to Cartagena in the late afternoon. A car will pick you up at the pier to take you back to your hotel.

Day-trip duration: Seven hours (including transfers)

Day 6: Depart Cartagena

Sunset over the ancient ramparts, Cartagena
Sunset over the ancient ramparts, Cartagena

It's time to say farewell to Colombia! After breakfast, enjoy your last moments of Cartagena in a patio café. Or, if you didn't do the guided tour the previous day, explore the bulk of the city.

Enjoy Cartagena's cobbled maze of vividly colorful houses and ancient squares dating from the 16th century. Meander through the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo while learning about important historical sites like Saint Philip's Castle. Perhaps pay a visit to the Palace of the Inquisition in Plaza de Bolívar, which was once the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and is now a macabre museum. 

A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.