During this 16-day tour through Colombia, you’ll visit some of the best-known–and some lesser-known–parts of the country. The trip takes you from the capital, Bogotá, to the Archaeological Region in the southwest. You’ll also head into the coffee-growing region to tour a farm and say in a hacienda. Then, you’ll fly over deep valleys and high Andean mountain peaks to arrive at vibrant Cartagena, one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in South America.

Highlights

  • Dine, shop, and stroll the La Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá
  • Learn about Pablo Escobar on a historical tour of Medellín
  • Discover the alluring statues at Archaeological Park in San Agustin
  • Tour a Botanical Garden filled with butterflies, birds and 200-year-old trees
  • Take a day trip to the Rosario Islands to enjoy the pristine beaches

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá - Guided City Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Travel to San Agustin San Agustin
Day 4 San Agustin - Archaeological Tours San Agustin
Day 5 San Agustin - Magdalena Gorge and Site Tours San Agustin
Day 6 Travel to Popayan Popayán
Day 7 Popayan - Guided Walking Tour Popayán
Day 8 Popayan - Guided Walking Tour Coffee Finca
Day 9 Armenia - Botanical Garden and La Morelia Coffee Farm Tour Coffee Finca
Day 10 Day Trip to Cocora Valley and Salento Coffee Finca
Day 11 Travel to Medellín Medellín
Day 12 Medellín - Guided City Tour Medellín
Day 13 Travel to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 14 Cartagena - Guided City Tour Cartagena
Day 15 Day Trip to Rosario Islands Cartagena
Day 16 Depart From Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Plaza Bolívar in Bogotá
Welcome to Bogotá!

Welcome to Bogotá! Once you arrive at the airport, make your way to your hotel. When you are settled, take the rest of the day to stroll the capital city.

Colombia's largest 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 fruit salads. 

In the evening, take some time to relax after your long day of travel. Tomorrow, you will meet your guide for a proper tour of the city.

Day 2: Bogotá - Guided city tour

Typical fruit stand
A typical fruit stand in Bogotá

Enjoy a nutritious breakfast this morning before embarking on a tour of the Colombian capital city with your guide.

The tour starts with a trip on the railway or a cable car to the top of the Monserrate Hill, offering a spectacular view of the city. Afterward, walk through the old town La Candelaria with its colonial architecture and visit the main square Plaza Bolivar, along with the surrounding government buildings. Finally, stop in to discover the famous Gold Museum, which houses the world’s greatest collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. The tour ends with a visit to Paloquemao an authentic market place, where you can see and taste all the typical fruits and learn everything about vegetables and other food products of the region.

The evening is at your leisure. You can stroll back to La Candelaria for dinner and drinks before retiring for the evening.

Day 3: Travel to San Agustin

Avenida el Dorado
REPLACE PHOTO

In the morning, make your way to the airport to catch your first flight to Neiva. Upon arrival, transfer from Neiva to San Agustin. You’ll make a stop in the Tatacoa Desert, a popular tourist site with beautiful desert landscapes and a bit of isolation from the real world. Explore the red desert, as well as the moonlike land of the grey desert. Although you’ll find swimming holes in the desert, it is important to have water and sunblock handy.

Following your desert tour, head into San Agustin. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner before relaxing in the evening. There’s a full-day excursion ahead tomorrow.

Day 4: San Agustin - Archaeological tours

San Agustin´s Statue
REPLACE PHOTO

Today, you’ll visit the San Agustin Archaeological Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the Huila Department in Colombia. The park is an extensive site that contains the most important statues and tombs of the region, including a detailed museum. In fact, it is known as the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in the entire South American region. You’ll see gods and animals of mythical descent crafted in the styles from realist to abstract. The works represent the creative imaginations of the North Andean culture that inhabited the area from the 1st to 8th centuries. The site is spread out over a wide area of green, forested hillsides with impressive views. There are numerous trails within the park, (some are quite steep), that you can explore on foot. 

Following your trip to the Archaeological Park, make your way to the areas of El Tablon, La Chaquira, and La Pelota, where you can find even more sculptures and statues that were painted in natural dyes.

After your exploration, head back to your hotel and unwind. The evening is at your leisure.

Day 5: San Agustin - Magdalena Gorge and site tours

San Agustin´s Statue
San Agustin´s Statue

This morning, you’ll have an early departure to the Magdalena Gorge, where the mighty river runs to the village of Obando, which has some recently discovered tombs. The Magdalena River runs from the heart of the country to the Caribbean Sea and is one of the most important bodies of water in Colombia. Formerly a strategic route for the Spanish conquistadors back in the 16th century, the river now inspires artists, writers, and visitors with its history and charm.

In the afternoon, continue to the hilltop site known as the Alto de Los Idolos, which has the tallest statue found in the San Agustin area, measuring 22 feet high. This is one of the most important sites in High Magdalena. Next, you’ll visit the Salto del Mortiño waterfall, where you can view the site in all its splendor from two, different viewing points.

The evening is yours to do as you wish, once you return to San Agustin.

Day 6: Travel to Popayan

Paisaje San Agustin
REPLACE PHOTO

Your journey continues today from San Agustin to Popayan. On the drive, which runs between 4 and 5 hours, you’ll cross the Puracé National Natural Park, with its iconic, snow-capped volcano. You’ll also enjoy views of more Colombian landscapes as the Andean cloud forest and the Paramos.

Then, you’ll arrive at Popayan, also known as the “White City.” One of the prettiest and most underrated cities in all of Colombia, Popayan is in the southern department of Cauca and isn’t as popular as the major cities for tourists. However, you’ll discover great food and architecture all around.

If you are interested in a relaxing soak, visit the Coconuco Thermal Baths. You’ll find two, different pools with ranging temperatures where you can rest or rejuvenate sore muscles from the trip. Then, make a stop at La Fresa, where you can treat yourself to potato-filled empanadas.

Day 7: Popayan - Guided walking tour

Monasterio
REPLACE PHOTO

Popayán is synonymous with culture; it is home to poets, painters, and writers. Great colonial architecture is reflected in the houses, churches, and bridges. Embark on a 3-hour walking tour with your guide to explore the sites. Some destinations to bookmark include:

  • San Francisco Church: The largest colonial church and town, this beautiful site is in the center of the old city, and is known for revealing mummified bodies after and 1983 earthquake.
  • La Ermita Church: This is the oldest church in the city, and dates back to 1546. Enjoy the views over the roof made of red tiles.
  • El Morro de Tulcán: Said to be the remains of an ancient pyramid, take the short climb to the top for more stunning views.
  • Puente del Humilladero: This 787-foot-long bridge made of brick is the former entrance to the town, and was built in the mid-19th century. Today, it is a landmark near the main square of the old city. You’ll also spot the Puente de la Custodia, a bridge constructed back in 1713, nearby.
  • Natural History Museum: Visit this fascinating collection of stuffed birds collected from Colombia, which is known for its impressive bird population.

Relax on your own time in the evening, and perhaps head back to the thermal baths if you are achy from your walking tour.

Walking Tour Duration: 3 hours

Day 8: Private transfer from Popayan to the Coffee region

Coffee Hacienda
Coffee Hacienda

Today, you’ll depart from Popayan. Your first stop is in Buga, where the famous Basilica del Señor de Los Milagros is housed. The church has a Neoclassical architecture style and hosts sacred works of art. It is most famously known for hosting a statue of Jesus Christ that dates back to the 16th century.

You’ll continue on to Armenia, the capital of the Departamento Quindío, located in the famous Coffee Triangle. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, nature and ancient cultures, the region is a key player in Colombia's rich coffee culture. Once you are settled, you can enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 9: Armenia - Botanical Garden and La Morelia coffee farm tour

The coffee fields of Colombia's Zona Cafetera
The coffee fields of Colombia's Zona Cafetera 

After breakfast, you’ll visit the Botanical Garden. This visit is ideal for nature lovers ready to appreciate the colors, textures and fragrant scents of a carefully preserved forest. Here, you’ll find 600 species of plants and trees aged up to 200 years old. The tour around the botanical garden includes a visit to the Insect Zoo, a seven-floor balcony where you can witness the many layers of vegetation. Spend time at the height of the treetops, which are home to countless birds of more than 70 species. Afterward, head over to a magical butterfly garden, filled with 1,500 butterflies of 50 different species and hundreds of flowers lining the walkways.

The day continues with a visit to the La Morelia coffee finca (farm), including a technical and practical introduction to the coffee cultivation and production process. You’ll get a hands-on glimpse at the entire process, from seed to cup, and will be treated to coffee tastings aplenty.

Once you’ve had your fill of caffeine, feel free to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening on your own time.

Day 10: Day trip to Cocora Valley and Salento

Filandia Houses
Colorful houses in Salento

In the morning, you will prepare to leave the coffee farm and head to the Cocora Valley. Honoring the Quimbayan princess, the valley’s name translates to “Star of Water.” Go for a hike through Cocora Valley, which takes you through farmland, a jungle, and a unique cloud forest. Keep an eye out for the Palma de Cera, the official national tree of Colombia, and one of the tallest species of palms in the world.

Once you’ve explored nature, you will then head to Salento, a picturesque village with artisanal and crafts shops. You can stop and play tejo, which is a popular local sport where you launch weights at gunpowder targets. You can also visit the Reserva Natural Acaime, which is a hummingbird reserve, and venture to the Mirador, which is the main square in town. Enjoy great views here, along with fun shopping–buy souvenirs, crafts, and refreshments, including more coffee. Then, head down to the river, where you can see the local farms and cows grazing in the pastures.

If you’re seeking a thrill, you can also go paragliding, horseback riding, and mountain biking in Salento.

Day 11: Travel to Medellín

Plaza Botero
Plaza Botero

In the morning, you’ll have time to relax at the Hacienda and continue exploring the coffee fields and surrounding farm. Then, it will be time to take the 5-hour trip to Medellín.

Despite its turbulent past, the Medellín of today is quite charming with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. Once you arrive, you can begin your exploration at Parque Lleras, in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district, where most of the city's tourism is centered. This is where some of the best dining, nightlife, and hotels are located. Other sites to explore include:

  • Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a traditional Antioquia town.
  • San Antonio Park, which is a central recreational venue with sculptures, an auditorium and important government alliance buildings.
  • Metropolitan Theater, which is home to classical music.
  • Los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Park), which encourages a shoeless stroll to connect with the land.
  • Plaza Botero, which features works by Colombia's most prominent sculptor, Fernando Botero.

Day 12: Medellín - Guided city tour

Comuna´s 13 Graffiti
REPLACE PHOTO

Slightly more than 20 years ago, Medellín was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Back in the early ‘90s, the hunting of Pablo Escobar, the head of Medellín's drug cartel, was at its peak. Then, the reign of “El Patrón” came to its end. Until the turn of the millennium, the struggles surrounding Escobar's successor continued, but since 2002, Medellín has undergone a positive change. Intelligent local politicians started to invest heavily in infrastructure and public education–successfully. Today, the “City of Eternal Spring” is one of the most innovative metropolises in the world.

Today, you’ll head out on an exciting tour through both the historical and present-day Medellín, and learn more about the transformation of this fascinating city.  

Tour Duration: 4 hours

Day 13: Travel to Cartagena

Today, you’ll head to the Rionegro Airport to catch your flight to Cartagena. Upon arrival, meet your private driver, who will take you to your hotel. Once you are settled in your hotel, embark on your own walking tour of Cartagena’s historic center. You will notice the city is designed like a fortress. This is because it once was the principal shipping port of gold from the New World back to Spain! The stone ramparts formerly protected the port from countless pirate attacks, including from the most famous of all: Sir Francis Drake.

While absorbing the history, visit myriad plazas, the church and the monastery of San Pedro Claver, the Minor Basilica cathedral, and stroll along narrow cobblestoned streets lined with colonial houses featuring beautiful bougainvillea-draped balconies. 

In the evening, make sure to take advantage of Cartagena’s best restaurants. You will find Colombian food in unique settings, along with ceviche, Italian, and even tacos.

Day 14: Cartagena - Guided city tour

Colorful Cartagena
Colorful Cartagena

Today, take a half-day, guided tour of Cartagena. The trip starts with a visit to the Convent of La Popa–the highest point of the city–and continues to the Castillo de San Felipe, an immense fort filled with history and mysteries hidden in its stonewalled tunnels. Certainly, the most impressive monument is the gigantic defensive wall that surrounds the old city and overlooks the sea and its well-preserved colonial architecture.

During the rest of the visit, you will see the city’s churches, museums, plazas, restaurants, shops and jewelry stores. This combination of treasures makes Cartagena deserving of the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site; you will never forget this wonderful destination. Note that during your tour, the visit to La Popa can be replaced by the visit to San Pedro Claver Convent.

In the evening, schedule a nice dinner, and enjoy your last night in Colombia. For a festive sendoff, make sure to take part in the vibrant nightlife scene. Two of the most popular clubs to consider are Café Havana and Bazurto Social Club.

Day 15: Day trip to Rosario Islands

Majagua island
Isla de Majagua

Today, hop on a speedboat at 8:30 am for your departure to the Rosario Islands and Isla de Majagua. The boat ride will take 1 hour. Seas may get rough, so be prepared, in case you get wet.

Upon arrival, enjoy a fresh-fruit cocktail. Then, you’ll have time to explore the island life surrounding. You can swim or relax on the small island with white sandy beaches all around. Then, you’ll enjoy lunch by the water (make sure to avoid eating seafood served by anyone other than the host hotel), followed by more beach activities–you can snorkel if you’d like to discover the native underwater species.  

After your day in the islands, take the 1-hour boat ride back to Cartagena. The evening is yours to enjoy a nice, final feast, and maybe a few drinks and some dancing, before your departure tomorrow.

Note: Pregnant women not permitted on the speedboat ride. If you have a health condition that would be amplified by the excursion to the islands, it is recommended you opt-out from this part of the trip.

Day 16: Depart from Cartagena

Adios, Colombia!
Adios, Colombia!

Sadly, your time has come to an end in Colombia! After breakfast, enjoy your last moments of Cartagena from a patio café, stroll the lively streets, and take it all in. Once you have bid farewell to Cartagena, a chaperone will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your flight home.