Colombia is thankfully reliable in terms of climate. The weather of its various regions doesn't fluctuate all that much throughout the year. It's typically colder in Andean Bogotá, with highs in the '60s and lows in the '40s (and little to no rainfall in May). The Caribbean lowlands and coast are notoriously hot and humid, with temps averaging 86°F. The weather in Medellín is famously pleasant, with highs averaging in the low '70s. Further south into the Cauca Valley, where Cali is located, you can expect a warmer savanna climate with averages in the high '70s.
Crowds & Costs
While you may miss out on some major holidays by visiting Colombia in May, you'll make up for it by avoiding the summer tourist rush as well. That means you can expect lower airfare and hotel prices before the high season kicks into gear in June. This will be welcome, especially if you plan on visiting normally tourist-heavy destinations like Cartagena. You should be able to find some great rates during this time.
Where to Go
If you do take advantage of lower rates in a popular place like Cartagena, you might want to tack on a tropical beach vacation as well. There are a number of lovely Caribbean beaches just outside Cartagena, like Playa Blanca. And if you really want to go for broke, head to the airport and hop a flight to Isla San Andres. This small coral island in the Caribbean island is known as the "sea of the seven colors," and just offshore you'll find a number of tiny islets with crystalline waters and soft white sand beaches. Read more about island hopping in Colombia here.
One locale that often flies under the radar of most visitors to Colombia is the Guajira Department. Far east down the Caribbean coast, near the border of Venezuela, you'll find this arid desert environment. It's not only home to the northernmost point on the South American continent, but also to the indigenous Wayúu people. Throughout this region are a number of places that make for great excursions. You could visit the windswept surf village of Palomino, or do some kite-surfing at Cabo de La Vela. The conditions are more rustic the further north you go, which are perfect for those who enjoy camping and the outdoors.
Guajira is also the site of what might be May's largest festival, the Festival of Wayúu Culture (more on this below).
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
May falls into what's generally regarded as Bogotá's dry season. There are fewer showers and the weather is often sunny. That means it's the ideal time to partake in some local activities. You can take advantage of this by opting for one of the city's unique cultural tours, be it a walk through this Spanish-colonial historic center of La Candelaria, or a street-art tour that showcases the city's impressive urban wall art. You can also take advantage of the good weather by partaking in ciclovía, an event where every Sunday Bogotá closes off many of its thoroughfares in favor of foot and bicycle traffic. It's a perfect outing for the whole family.
Spending time in the capital will also allow you to make some great day or weekend trips to the surrounding countryside. You can visit the colonial town of Villa de Leyva, located about four hours north of Bogotá. It's famous as having the largest central plaza of any town in Colombia. Nearby you'll find the site of the Battle of Boyacá, where the Bolívar's army dealt the Spanish their final blow during the war for independence. It makes for a great visit, too.
Festival of Wayúu Culture. Every year in May (exact dates subject to change) the indigenous Wayúu people of the department of Guajira (and also in the Venezuelan state of Zulia) celebrate their heritage in the city of Uribia, in the northern Guajira Peninsula. The festival includes music and dancing as well as the preparation of regional foods and the showcasing of artisanal handicrafts.
Traveling to Colombia in May? Check out these great trip ideas.
Explore Colombia's Caribbean Coast. Take a 4x4 to the remote Guajira Peninsula, home of the northernmost point in South America. After traversing the sand dunes, you'll engage with local indigenous tribes. Circle back to Santa Marta and enjoy a kayak or tube ride down the Don Diego river before spending a few days hiking around Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona.
Colombia's Food & Culture Tour. On this two week tour, you'll taste exotic fruits in Bogotá's largest open-air market, tour the city of Medellín on foot and by cable car, participate in a chocolate and rum tasting in Cartagena, and more.