Colombia's island landscapes and vibrant cities are on the itinerary for this 13-day tour traveling by air, car, boat, and bicycle. Start in Bogotá to learn about history in museums and taste dozens of Caribbean fruits in markets. Sip the best Colombian coffee in Salento and explore Medellín's revitalized neighborhoods. Relax on Tayrona National Park's beaches and on islands off Cartagena's coast, returning to the port city to learn dance moves to take home.
- Taste an array of flavors in Bogotá's Mercado de Paloquemao
- Watch a live tango show in Medellín
- Learn how to make arepas in a Cartagena cooking class
- Ride a speedboat to Caribbean island beaches
|Day 1||Arrive in Bogotá, Bogotá Walking Tour||Bogotá|
|Day 2||Bogotá Food Tour & Monserrate Hill||Bogotá|
|Day 3||Fly to Pereira, Santa Rosa Hot Springs & Salento||Salento|
|Day 4||Cocora Valley Coffee Farm & Explore Salento||Salento|
|Day 5||Fly to Medellín, Discover Medellín Tango Culture||Medellín|
|Day 6||Medellín Day Tour||Medellín|
|Day 7||Piedra del Penol & Guatapé Boat Trip||Medellín|
|Day 8||Fly to Santa Marta, Santa Marta City Tour||Tayrona National Park|
|Day 9||Tayrona National Park Hike||Tayrona National Park|
|Day 10||Transfer to Cartagena, Cartagena Bike Tour||Cartagena|
|Day 11||Caribbean Islands Boat Tour||Cartagena|
|Day 12||Cooking Class & Cartagena Dance Class||Cartagena|
|Day 13||Depart Cartagena & Farewell Colombia|
Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá, Bogotá Walking TourWelcome to Colombia and Bogotá! At El Dorado International Airport, a driver will meet you for a transfer to your hotel. Colombia's capital sits on a high plateau over 8,660 feet (2,640 m) above sea level, so take some time to rest and adjust to the altitude before starting your explorations with a half-day tour. Start in the historical center and the La Candelaria neighborhood. At the main square, Plaza de Bolívar, see the country's national and local government headquarters, followed by the Congress Building, Justice Hall, and neoclassical Catedral Primada—Bogotá's largest cathedral.
To learn more about Colombia's history, tour some of the city's museums. See the Gold Museum's impressive collection of pre-Columbian goldsmiths' work. Finish your tour at Museo de Botero, one of Latin America's most important art collections, with over 200 works donated to the city by Colombian painter Fernando Botero. At the end of the tour, go back to your hotel to rest or stay out for the evening, going out to a restaurant for dinner to try ajiaco santafereño, a stew made with chicken and vegetables.
Day 2: Bogotá Food Tour & Monserrate HillThis morning, taste Colombia's food scene as you learn about the country's fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, sizes, and flavors—and you can keep track of them all with a fruit dictionary. On a three-hour tour, a private guide will lead you through Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao while sharing the market's history and introducing you to local vendors to taste approximately 15 fruits, three fresh juice shots, and two Colombian snacks.
With a full stomach, make your way to Monserrate Hill which rises over Bogotá at 10,341 feet (3,152 m) above sea level. Either climb the hill by hiking, or catch a cable car to reach the catholic shrine Monserrate Sanctuary, which was completed in 1657. Explore the sanctuary, its gardens, fountains, and lush cloud forests. In the afternoon, go back to your hotel to rest, and in the evening explore more of Bogotá.
Day 3: Fly to Pereira, Santa Rosa Hot Springs & SalentoIn the morning, take a transfer to the airport to catch an approximately one-hour flight traveling east from Bogotá to Pereira. Once in Pereira, your private driver will pick you up for a ride about half an hour north to Santa Rosa de Cabal, which is identified by its araucaria trees in the main square. From there, continue for another 40 minutes north through mountains to reach the Santa Rosa hot springs.
Spend some time relaxing in the springs with their waterfalls and Andean cloud forest landscape. On the way back to Pereira, taste chorizo santarrosano—cured sausage served with arepas (ground corn pancake). From Pereira, a transfer will be waiting for your to travel to Salento, about one hour south. Settle into your Salento hotel to prepare for another day of adventure tomorrow.
Day 4: Cocora Valley Coffee Farm & Explore SalentoStart this morning with a walk under high wax palms in the Cocora Valley, ascending a mountain known for its mysterious cloud forests. Continue with a walk through Salento's villages to discover Colombian coffee culture. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant to try its arepas, or, if you are really hungry, order bandeja paisa—a heaping platter of sausages, eggs, rice, avocado, and beans.
In the afternoon, visit a coffee farm to learn how coffee is processed. Take walk through Salento and its main shopping street, Calle Real, with its colorful buildings and craft shops, and pick out a spot for dinner before returning to your Salento hotel for the evening.
Day 5: Fly to Medellín, Discover Medellín Tango CultureIn the morning, take a private transfer for one hour from Salento to Pereira airport as you make your way to today's destination, Medellín. The city of 2.5 million in the central Aburrá Valley is called the "City of Eternal Spring" because of its pleasant climate.
Plan your trip to Colombia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After settling into your hotel, go for a walk to see your neighborhood. By night, you'll learn why Medellín is known as one of the most popular cities for tango outside of Argentina. As you settle in for a tango dinner show at a busy restaurant, absorb the energy of the tango performance while eating a multicourse meal. At the end of the night, return to your Medellín hotel.
Day 6: Medellín Day TourMedellín, in the Antioquia Andean highlands, is a city with a series of urban development changes during the last 20 years to make it more accessible. Notice the city's revitalized public transportation, parks, and recreation areas as you explore the city with your local guide today.
Your tour will reveal the city's history and show you some of its best views. Explore Botero Plaza and the work of artist Fernando Botero, whose sculptures are a city landmark. Take a cable car up to Santo Domingo, which was built to make the inner city more accessible. At Comuna 13 district, ride escalators and see another innovative city rehabilitation project. Ask your guide for a recommendation for dinner, to try mondongo (tripe soup), or fríjoles antioqueños (bean stew).
Day 7: Piedra del Penol & Guatapé Boat TripLeave the city today as your guide takes you on a scenic drive through Antioquia's Eastern Highlands. The first stop is Peñol Boulder, a 656-foot (200 m) high monolith that can be reached by climbing 740 steps, and is about one hour and a half outside of Medellín. Climb to the top and see sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
After descending the boulder, get back in the car to travel about 30 minutes from Peñol Boulder to explore Guatapé village along with its church and colorfully-painted buildings. Eat lunch along the Guatapé Reservoir waterfront, and explore the lake on a boat ride. After a relaxing day, return to your Medellín hotel to go out for the evening or rest before the journey tomorrow.
Day 8: Fly to Santa Marta, Santa Marta City TourIn the morning, transfer to Medellín airport to catch a flight north about one hour to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. A driver will take you to your hotel near the entrance of Tayrona National Park. You can relax at your hotel in a peaceful spot at the foot of the mountains overlooking the sea, and wander to the beach to watch the sunset.
Another option is to explore Santa Marta, the capital of Colombia's Magdalena Dept. and one of South America's oldest cities. See its cathedral, and then visit Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, a hacienda where former Venezuelan president, Simón Bolívar, spent his last days. Then visit the city's historical center and Taganga Viewpoint to watch the sunset.
Day 9: Tayrona National Park HikeTayrona National Park covers the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta foothills as they meet the Caribbean coast. In the morning, take a bus from your hotel to reach the park for an all-day exploration. Hike along trails crossing the forest and with sea views. After about an hour, reach Arrecifes Beach, where you can go for a swim, depending on the weather conditions. Continue walking for another 20 minutes to Cabo San Juan del Guía to go snorkeling, admire the landscape, or relax on the beach.
In the afternoon, return to Arrecifes and then to the Cañaveral Sector to go back to your hotel. Spend the evening at your hotel to watch the sunset on the beach.
Day 10: Transfer to Cartagena, Cartagena Bike TourToday's road trip will take you from your Tayrona Park hotel to Cartagena, traveling about five hours west. You'll leave early after breakfast to start the journey to the fortress city on the Caribbean coast. In Cartagena, get out of the car and explore on a bike tour. The tour will start in the historic center to see the city's main attractions and landmarks.
In Getsemaní, see the home of Florentino Ariza, the main character in the novel "Love in The Time of Cholera" by Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. Then, cross the Roman Bridge, toward the Manga neighborhood with its green streets and Republican-style mansions from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visit Manga's cemetery, the oldest in Cartagena, and continue on to the seafront to watch the sunset. Take your bike back to the city center and return to your hotel to rest or get ready for a night out to see more of the city.
Day 11: Caribbean Islands Boat TourIn the morning, transfer from your hotel to Cartagena's Bodeguita dock to board a speedboat for a tour of the region's Caribbean islands. Your first stop is Tintipan, for coffee and breakfast at a beachfront café to fuel the day. Get back on the boat to reach Casa en el Agua and Santa Cruz del Islote, where you can even swim with sharks.
Isla Múcura is an island known for its white-sand beaches and its the final destination of the boat tour. After lunch, go for a swim and relax on the beach for a few hours. The boat will take you back to Cartagena where you can explore more of the city at your own pace.
Day 12: Cooking Class & Cartagena Dance ClassCaribbean cuisine with beans, coconut, and seafood, is at the heart of Cartagena's cooking. Today you'll learn about some of the city and Colombia's most popular dishes, including coconut rice, ceviche, and fish soup, in a cooking class. First, visit Bazurto Market to buy ingredients for lunch, following your chef and guide to learn about the ingredients needed to create a hearty meal. With supplies ready, take your place in a colonial house in the Getsemaní city center to learn about the dishes you'll be cooking and eating after a two-hour presentation.
After digesting your lunch, get ready to move to salsa, merengue, vallenato, and vallenato music. In a dance class, learn about the role of music and dance in Colombian culture, as your instructors teach you basic steps and then show you how to put it all together in a dance. Go back to your hotel in the afternoon and at night go to a bar or club to practice your dance moves for your last night in Cartagena.
Day 13: Depart Cartagena & Farewell ColombiaEnjoy your final morning in Cartagena and Colombia. After breakfast, relax at a sidewalk café, or get lost exploring the city's brightly-colored streets. If you have time, visit San Diego or Santo Domingo neighborhoods, or Saint Philip's Castle. Then go back to your hotel where a driver will pick you up to transfer to the airport. Safe travels!
More Great Colombia Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Colombia? Check out these other Colombia itineraries, explore different ways to spend 13 days in Colombia, or discover the best time to visit Colombia.