City slickers who like to hoof it will love this weeklong itinerary in Colombia spotlighting two of Latin America’s most exciting (and mountainous) hubs. The trip starts in the sophisticated capital of Bogotá where you'll have time to soak in the culture, restaurants and nightlife. From here, take a day-trip to the highlands to visit the region's salt mines. Next, it's a flight to Medellín, the scenic metropolis in the midst of a transformation after a turbulent past. With year-round spring temps and a free metrocable, there's plenty to see and do. Take a hike in lakeside Guatapé to round out this fun adventure.

Highlights

  • Explore the cobblestone streets in Bogotá's La Candelaria neighborhood
  • Climb La Piedra Rock’s 740 steps to admire the classic view from above
  • Rest your feet and ride Medellin's metrocable, the city's iconic gondola car system
  • Walk through tunnels 80 meters underground where eight million tons of salt were extracted

Overview

This fun itinerary is designed for travelers who like the idea of getting out on foot and exploring neighborhoods in these two up-and-coming cities. That being said, the tour includes a day-trip to the countryside of each region for a city break: the salt mines in the Colombia Highlands (outside of Bogotá) and a small resort town in the Andes (outside of Medellín). Compared to the more outdoorsy and physically challenging trips on offer, this one is more relaxed, though it includes plenty of hilly walks (at your own pace) and some light hiking in the town of Guatapé. 

Overview Map

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá City Tour
Day 3 Day-Trip from Bogotá: Salt Cathedral and Raquira
Day 4 Arrive in Medellín
Day 5 Medellín City Tour
Day 6 Day-Trip to Guatapé
Day 7 Depart Medellín

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

A view of Bogota's scenic skyline.

A driver will meet you at the airport for transportation to the hotel, your home base for the next few days. Bogotá is on the rise in terms of gastronomy and culture, so spend your free time discovering this vibrant Andean capital by foot. Explore the cobblestone streets through the La Candelaria neighborhood where trendy restaurants and colonial-era landmarks are located.

While here, don't forget to explore the excellent museums, shopping, and street food options ranging from empanadas to exotic fruit salads.

Day 2: Bogotá City Tour

Spanish colonial architecture in downtown Bogotá.

After breakfast, continue to explore the city by yourself or with a guide. Here are some things that you should see:

  • Stroll through Bogota’s lively streets for walled graffiti art, coffee cafes, bookstores, art galleries, and historic plazas and statues while learning about the fascinating political history of Colombia’s capital.
  • Take the cable car to Monserrat for one of the best views of the city.
  • Visit La Concordia market to learn about fruits, vegetables, and spices used in local cuisine.
  • Spend a few hours gazing at pre-Hispanic works at the Gold Museum.
  • Check out the local music scene with live bands and street festivals.

Day 3: Day-Trip from Bogotá: Salt Cathedral and Raquira

The underground chapel in Zipaquira

Today, stop at Nemocón Salt Mine, located thirty minutes from Zipaquira. There, 80 meters underground, you will cross 1600 meters of tunnels through which between 1816 and 1968, eight million tons of salt were extracted. Many optical effects caused by the dissolved rock salt show no less than 28 mirrors.

Among the impressive attractions: the room of the chapel where there is a huge 1,300 kilos stone symbolizing the world, or the salt crystal of 1600 kilos cut into a heart shape.

Then, you will pass by Raquira, known as “the pottery capital of Colombia”. This village features a lot of brightly painted facades with numerous craft shops selling things such as bags, ponchos, woodcarvings, jewelry and of course, where you can watch pottery being made. Try to visit on a Sunday, when the market is in full swing!

Day 4: Arrive in Medellín

Ride the metrocable for free in Medellin.

Welcome to Medellín! You will be picked up at the Medellín airport and then transferred to a hotel nearby. Depending on the time of your flight, you can explore on your own, or join a local tour to learn more about this thriving, modern city. 

Despite its dangerous past, Medellín today is quite charming with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. Most of the city's tourism is centered around Parque Lleras in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district, where the best dining, nightlife, and hotel options are within easy reach. You can take a ride on the city's gondola (metrocable) to see the views or walk around the various parks, plazas, and museums. Either way, enjoy the weather -- due to a high elevation near the equator, the city has year-round spring temperatures.

Day 5: Medellín City Tour

Year-round spring weather in Colombia's 2nd largest city. 

This incredible guided tour starts with breakfast and takes you through one of Colombia's most successful urban projects. Named the World's Most Innovative City in 2013, the city has undergone a massive transformation through a number of social and infrastructure victories aimed to include, empower and revitalize some of Medellín's worst areas.

You'll take a ride on the metrocable, the city's iconic gondola car system (great views!) towards remote neighborhoods on the valley side. You'll also visit entire areas that have been redeveloped allowing the 'Paisas' (people from Medellín and Antioquia -- the department of which Medellín is the capital) to enjoy their city once more. 

After descending once more on the metrocable, you'll have a typical Paisa lunch at one of the city's well-known restaurants. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Day 6: Day-Trip to Guatapé

An aeriel view of the Guatapé area. 

Today, you'll head east of Medellín and explore the picturesque lakeside town of Guatapé. Take a two-hour walking tour through the countryside and learn about the town's conflict surrounding the building of the dam that was renamed Guatapé Lake. You'll gain an insider’s perspective on local efforts to pressure the government to address the reservoir’s encroaching blue-green algae.

As you walk towards the neighboring town of El Peñol, absorb stunning vistas of the dazzling granite La Piedra Rock. Climb the 740 steps to admire the classic view from above.  Return to Guatapé and explore the streets. This is truly the most colorful town in Colombia with beautiful artwork along the lower half of its buildings. Head to a restaurant for a relaxing meal of freshwater fish and other local delicacies.

Day 7: Depart Medellín

A pedestrian square in up-and-coming Medellín.  

It's time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last moments in the beautiful city of Medellín with a leisurely breakfast, city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping.  A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.