On this eight-day excursion, you'll visit Bogotá, the largest city in Colombia and a melting pot of people from around the country. Travel to Medellín and see with your own eyes how it's transformed from one of the most dangerous cities to a fascinating destination. Then explore Cartagena, the jewel of the Caribbean ocean, and go on a trip to the beautiful beaches and islands nearby.  

Highlights

  • Take a graffiti tour in Medellín and learn about the city's history
  • Participate in a coffee tour on a traditional Colombian farm
  • Enjoy the blue waters and white beaches on the Rosario Islands 
  • Walk inside Cartagena's Walled City deemed a UNESCO heritage site

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Bogotá  Bogotá
Day 2 Explore Bogotá Bogotá
Day 3 Bogotá to Medellín Medellín
Day 4 Coffee tour Medellín
Day 5 Guatapé day trip and Cartagena Cartagena
Day 6 Explore Cartagena Cartagena
Day 7 Islands del Rosario Cartagena
Day 8 Depart Colombia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Bogotá 

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

Welcome to Bogotá! Once you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting for you with a sign of your name to take you to the hotel.

Today you are free to explore the city. Start with the cobblestone streets of La Candelaria neighborhood lined with trendy restaurants and colonial-era landmarks. You'll find excellent museums, shopping, and street food like empanadas and exotic fruit salads. You can visit the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro), which houses a remarkable collection of pre-Hispanic objects. Also, consider exploring the capital city's surrounding area, where you'll find landmarks such as the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral and plenty of natural parks for hiking.

You'll have dinner at your leisure with restaurant recommendations provided by your local guides.

Day 2: Explore Bogotá

View and cable car in Monserrate
View from a cable car in Monserrate

After breakfast, you'll get picked you up from your hotel and head to the neighborhood of the Candelaria, home to some of Bogotá's most famous universities and walking streets.

Pass modern buildings and colorful street-art murals, leading to some of Bogotá's oldest neighborhoods where original colonial houses still stand. As you walk the historic streets, learn about Bogotá's culture and street art. You’ll see a variety of architectural styles as you come to Plaza Bolívar, the civic heart of the country. Here you’ll find the city’s expansive cathedral and the local and federal governments, all nestled against the presidential palace, La Casa de Nariño.

Next, you'll head to one of the country’s oldest restaurants to lunch on Ajiaco, a chicken-based stew made famous in Bogotá. Afterward, you’ll be transported further back in time as you enter the famous Gold Museum. Filled with gold artwork, the museum displays artistry and crafts created by the indigenous peoples of the Andes mountains, with some pieces dating back thousands of years and pre-dating the creation of modern metalwork tools.

You'll take the cable car up to the Monserrate, which features some of the best views of Bogotá. Watch the sunset as the city spreads out before you, then turn around to see the forest and peaks of the Andes mountains. Enjoy a warm cup of aguapanela (a local beverage made from the concentrated sugar cane) or hot chocolate before heading back down the mountain to get ready for dinner.

Day 3: Bogotá to Medellín

Avocado local vendor and street food tasting
A local avocado vendor

You'll get picked up from your hotel in Bogotá and head to the airport for your flight to Medellín. Once you land, a driver will be waiting for you with a sign of your name to bring you to your hotel.

After dropping off your luggage, start discovering one of the most progressive cities in Latin America. Medellín is located in a bowl in the Andes mountains, so views of mountains and stunning landscapes will surround you. You will head to the city's downtown area and explore the famous Botero Plaza with an exhibition of the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, whose sculptures have become a landmark of the city.

Take the Metro Cable—constructed to make the inner city more accessible and give a glimpse into the lives of the marginalized population—up to Santo Domingo, which was once a notorious area of gang violence in Medellín. At the Comuna 13 district, you'll observe the unique escalators that improved the quality of life of the people of Medellín. If there is time, you'll also explore the botanical garden.

Your driver will take you back to the hotel. You can have dinner at your leisure and use restaurant recommendations from the local guides.

Day 4: Coffee Tour 

Coffee cherries | Photo taken by Sophie E
Coffee cherries

You'll get up early for your private driver, who will take you to experience the traditional coffee culture and processing on a typical Colombian farm. Stroll through the coffee fields and learn about growing and collecting the coffee beans from a local farmer. After a traditional countryside lunch, you'll get insight into the best way to prepare the coffee. Then, you'll enjoy a scenic ride while learning about the typical daily life of Colombian coffee farmers. 

You'll private driver will bring you back to your hotel at the end of the tour. 

Day 5: Guatapé day trip and Cartagena

View from atop the Peñol de Guatapé
View from atop El Peñol

After breakfast, you'll transfer from your hotel for a full-day excursion to one of the crown jewels of Colombia's Antioquia region: the lakeside town of Guatapé. On the private tour, you'll learn about the town's conflict surrounding the building of the dam that created the reservoir known as Guatapé Lake. You'll gain an insider perspective on local efforts to pressure the government to address Guatapé Lake's encroaching blue-green algae.

Your guide will then transfer you to El Peñol (La Piedra Rock). Relax at the base of this natural granite landmark in one of the many market stalls or work up an appetite by climbing the 740 steps to admire the view from the top (entrance fee not included). Halfway up the rock, you'll see a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

In the late afternoon, your driver and guide will take you to the airport for your flight to Cartagena. Upon arrival, you'll meet your driver holding a sign with your name. You'll head to your hotel in Cartagena to leave your luggage, then enjoy your first evening at your leisure.

Day 6: Explore Cartagena

The jewel of the Caribbean!
The vibrant buildings of Cartagena

In the morning, you'll get picked up at the hotel by your driver to embark on a 4-hour tour. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes, water, hats, and sunscreen.

You'll start in the neighborhood of Manga to see the republican style houses and the fort of San Sebastian de Pastelillo. The next stop is La Popa Monastery, where you can appreciate the best views of Cartagena de Indias. From there, you'll go to the fort of San Felipe de Barajas that architecturally showcases the strength and power the Spaniards had in Latin America.

Your next stop will be the Walled City, where you'll see Las Bóvedas, another example of military architecture and history. While there, you can buy art and crafts by local artisans. You'll walk through the streets of the Old City and have lunch at either La Cevicheria that's known for their ceviche or La Mulata that has a daily menu filled with local flavors. You can partake in a 2-hour sensorial coffee tasting at some of the best coffee shops in the country, with the option to add on honey or rum tastings as well. You can also switch out the coffee tour for a rum and chocolate tasting or cooking class. 

You will also visit the church of San Pedro Claver, the patron saint of slaves in Colombia and African-Americans. The tour continues by car to the modern part of the city, with a panoramic view of Bocagrande, the beach area, and the island of Tierra Bomba. 

In the late afternoon, head back to your hotel and get ready for the evening. You can spend the evening at your leisure, but the local guides suggest doing Cafe del Mar for sunset drinks and one of the following for dinner: Cande, Carmen, Restaurante Donjuan, Mistura, or Alma. 

Day 7: Islands del Rosario

Rosario Islands
A bird's-eye view of the Islands del Rosario

You'll take a boat to Islands del Rosario and spend the day at Hotel San Pedro de Majagua. You'll have welcome cocktails and lunch provided by the hotel. You can participate in activities like snorkeling, diving, swimming, and kayaking, or feel free to get a spa treatment, lay on the white sand beaches, and have a relaxing afternoon. 

You'll take the boat back to Cartagena later on in the day. You can have sunset drinks at Movich Hotel and dine at Celele restaurant, recommended by the local guides. 

Day 8: Depart Colombia

The view of Bogotá from atop Cerro Monserrate
The view of Bogotá from atop Cerro Monserrate

You'll get picked up by a private driver to bring you to Cartagena airport, where you'll fly back to Bogotá and connect to your international flight home. 

Map

Map of Explore Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena - 8 Days
Map of Explore Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena - 8 Days