Explore the highlights of Colombia on this tour that includes the vibrant cities of Bogotá and Cartagena, where you'll enjoy guided walking tours, a ride up the cable car to the top of Monserrate Hill, and a visit the unique Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá. Head into the Colombian countryside to discover the heritage villages of Boyacá, including the open-air museum featuring traditional architecture, food, art, and dances. Find time to relax by soaking in the hot springs and enjoying mud massages in Paipa, and then spend a day on the white-sand beaches of the Rosario Islands.

assHighlights

  • Discover the colonial history and vibrant neighborhoods of Cartagena
  • Roam the streets of Bogotá and ride the cable car to the top of Monserrate Hill
  • Explore the historic heritage towns in Boyacá, including Tunja and Raquirá
  • Relax along the beaches and coral reefs of the Rosario Islands
  • Enjoy traditional mud massages at the hot springs in Paipa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá - Explore the city Bogotá
Day 2 Enjoy a guided tour of Bogotá and the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá Bogotá
Day 3 Visit the colonial town of Villa de Leyva in the Boyacá region Villa de Leyva
Day 4 Discover Tunja, a heritage town and the capital of Boyacá Villa de Leyva
Day 5 Explore Raquirá and the open-air heritage museum, Pueblito Boyacense Villa de Leyva
Day 6 Relax with massages at the hot springs in Paipa - Transfer to Bogotá Bogotá
Day 7 Arrive in Cartagena - Enjoy a guided walking tour Cartagena
Day 8 Enjoy the beaches and coral reefs of the Rosario Islands Cartagena
Day 9 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá - Explore the city

Lively Streets of Bogota
Lively Streets of Bogotá

Welcome to Colombia!

Upon arriving at the airport in Bogotá, you'll transfer to your hotel with your English-speaking guide, who will give you recommendations for your stay in Colombia. Although you'll enjoy a guided tour tomorrow, spend your first hours exploring some of the main sights of Bogotá.

Bogotá is a diverse and multicultural city, with a blend of modern and colonial architecture. The green of its many parks and the rich red of its brick buildings dominate the city. Enjoy roaming its historic streets, stopping at sights such as the ornate, 19th-century Colon Theater and the historic San Carlos Palace. Nearby, you'll find Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church and the center of the city, Bolivar Square.

If you have time, take a tour of the Nariño Presidential Palace, or ride the cable car to Monserrate Hill, where you can enjoy amazing views of the city from above. In the evening, find a traditional restaurant to enjoy typical Colombian food.

Day 2: Enjoy a guided tour of Bogotá and the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá

Views of Bogota from atop Monserrate Mountain
Views of Bogotá from atop Monserrate Mountain

This morning, you'll join a guided tour of the city of Bogotá, starting in the neighborhood of La Candelaria. Here you'll find the Plaza de Bolivar, home to the country's first cathedral and important governmental buildings. Walk a few blocks and visit the famous Gold Museum, which features thousands of Pre-Columbian artifacts and goldwork. Afterward, take a break to enjoy lunch in the city center. Or, if you didn't make it up to the top of Monserrate Hill yesterday, you can ascend the mountain this morning. The top of this 10,341-foot (3,152-meter) cerro (peak) affords the best views of Bogotá. 

In the afternoon, you'll visit the Salt Cathedral Zipaquirá, considered the first wonder of Colombia. Along the way to the town of Zipaquirá, you'll enjoy the panoramic views of the Sabana countryside and El Puente del Comun, an arched, stone bridge over the Bogotá River. Inside the Salt Cathedral, you'll find plenty of sites to explore. Start with the Stations of the Cross, then visit the Dome, the Narthex labyrinth, and the three naves.

After visiting the mine, your guide will lead you through the colonial town of Zipaquirá. Upon returning to Bogotá, the evening is yours to enjoy the city at your leisure.

Day 3: Visit the colonial town of Villa de Leyva in the Boyacá region

Colonial Town of Villa De Leyva, Colombia
Colonial Town of Villa De Leyva, Colombia

Today's tour will take you to the well-preserved colonial village of Villa de Leyva, which was founded in 1572. In 1954, the entire town was declared a national monument. Moreover, it features the largest central plaza of any town or city in Colombia.

Villa de Leyva is set in the region of Boyacá, and is part of the Colombian National Network Of Heritage Towns. You can explore the hamlet by meandering its cobbled streets and white-washed buildings, visiting galleries and viewing the works of local artists. You'll also discover several churches, convents, and monasteries, including the Iglesia del Carmen and the Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario. If you're interested in history, stop in at the house of Antonio Nariño, the Colombian revolutionary who first translated The Declaration of the Rights of Man into Spanish. 

Enjoy lunch in the town, then head to your hotel and settle into your accommodation. After a short rest, your guide will lead you to some of the sites in the area. Start with the picturesque lake, Pozos Azules, then view the famous Casa Terracota, an adobe-style home built out of a massive boulder.  Lastly, explore the area's archeological park, El Infiernito.

Day 4: Discover Tunja, a heritage town and the capital of Boyacá

Bolivar Square in Tunja, Colombia
Bolivar Square in Tunja, Colombia

After breakfast, you'll explore another heritage town in the Boyacá region. Today's destination is Tunja, the capital of the region and an indigenous Muisca village founded in 1539. The town is surrounded by green landscapes and fertile farmland, plus valleys and mountains.

Wander through the streets of Tunja, admiring the colonial buildings and monuments that reflect the town's important historical contributions. You'll view frescoes, altarpieces, and paintings, all preserved as treasures of colonial art in the town's temples, chapels, and convents. Visit the Capilla Museo Santa Clara La Real and Iglesia Santa Clara for some of the best relics. Then, choose a museum to explore. There are many featuring exhibits in science, anthropology, history, and art.

Enjoy lunch in Tunja, then return to Villa de Leyva in the late afternoon. Catch sunset views of the town and valley by walking up to the observation deck, Mirador El Santo Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. Then grab dinner in one of the village's traditional bistros.

Day 5: Explore Raquirá and the open-air heritage museum, Pueblito Boyacense

Colorful Ráquira
Colorful Ráquira

This morning, you'll explore one of the most colorful villages in Boyacá: Ráquira. Enjoy wandering the bright streets of the small town, stopping into its many craft shops featuring pottery workshops and products made by local artisans. Interestingly, Ráquira is the home of the composer Jorge Velosa, author of popular songs such as "The Teaspoon", and a fervent supporter of the traditional carranguera music.

Your next stop is Lake Sochagota in the town of Paipa, which beautifully reflects the Paipa Mountains. If you're interested, you can opt to enjoy water skiing, kayaking, or paddleboarding on its shores. Grab lunch in Paipa, then visit Hacienda del Salitre, where the liberator Simón Bolívar used to stay.

The last stop of the day is near the town of Duitama, where you'll visit the Pueblito Boyacense. This is an open-air heritage museum that represents the architecture of all seven towns in Boyacá, which include Villa de Leyva, Tibasosa, Tenza, El Cocuy, Sáchica, Monguí, and Ráquira. The museum perfectly highlights the local culture in its gastronomy, music, crafts, and dance. Enjoy the afternoon perusing the buildings, squares, and galleries while eating regional food and enjoying traditional performances.

In the evening, you'll return to Villa de Leyva.

Day 6: Relax with massages at the hot springs in Paipa - Transfer to Bogotá

Lively Streets of Bogota
Historical Plazas of Bogotá

Enjoy a leisurely morning, with a relaxed breakfast at your accommodation and one last stroll through the town of Villa de Leyva. Then, you'll return to Paipa for a soak in the town's thermal waters. The region is known for its healing hot springs, where you can spend hours soaking in the pools. Take your relaxation a step further with an optional mud massage, using traditional techniques to ease any muscle aches and detoxify the body.

In the afternoon, you'll enjoy lunch in Paipa and then head back to Bogotá. Along the way, you'll visit the monument of Pantano de Vargas, a key battle against Spanish forces in 1819. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy in Bogotá.

Day 7: Arrive in Cartagena - Enjoy a guided walking tour

Colorful Streets of Getsemaniaera in Cartagena
Colorful Streets of Getsemaniaera in Cartagena

In the morning, you'll head to the airport and catch your flight to the city of Cartagena, set on the country's Caribbean coast. Upon arriving at the airport, you'll transfer to your accommodation with your English-speaking guide. After settling into your hotel, take some time to relax and explore the surrounding neighborhood.

In the afternoon, you'll join a guided walking tour to help you discover Cartagena, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Caribbean". The cobbled streets will transfer you back to colonial times as you stroll amid colorful houses and lively squares. You'll start in the expansive Plaza de los Coches, at the entrance to the city's Old Town. Enjoy the bright buildings housing bars and cafes, with their arched entryways and terraces. You'll find the city's Clock Tower here, acting as a gate in and out of the Old Town. Nearby is the pier with the Los Pegasos monument, where you can cross into the bohemian neighborhood of Getsemani.

Make your way through the twisting streets to the Cartagena Cathedral, built within the 16th and 17th centuries. Then head to Ciudad Amurallada along one of the most colorful streets in the city. You'll pass by Plaza de San Diego, a great spot to grab dinner later in the evening. 

End your tour at the yellow arcades and galleries of Plaza Las Bovedas, where you can look out to the Carribean Sea. For better views, walk along the old Walls of Cartagena, which are particularly beautiful at sunset.

Day 8: Enjoy the beaches and coral reefs of the Rosario Islands

The Caribbean Landscape of Isla Grande.
The Caribbean Landscape of Isla Grande

A visit to the Rosario Islands will take you on an exciting day trip to the warm, crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea. Located just 45 minutes from Cartagena, this beautiful archipelago is made up of 27 islands off Colombia's west coast.

The Rosario Islands are part of the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Park, one of the most important nature reserves in the country. Here, both the islands and the surrounding waters are protected, leaving them as remarkably well-preserved ecosystems.

In the morning, you'll transfer from your hotel to the pier, where you'll board a boat headed for Isla Grande, the largest of the islands. Start with lunch at San Pedro de Majagua, and spend the afternoon discovering coral beaches and swimming amongst the diverse fauna of the reefs. If you're interested in water sports, Isla Grande is known for its scuba diving, snorkeling, standup paddleboarding, and kayaking. You can also take short boat trips to neighboring islands.

You'll return to Cartagena in the evening, where you can relax at your hotel and enjoy dinner.

Day 9: Depart Cartagena

A traditional horse-drawn carriage in Cartagena.
A traditional Carriage in Cartagena

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia. After breakfast at the hotel, a driver will transfer you to the airport to catch your return flight home.