This fast-paced 8-day itinerary highlights three of Latin America’s most exciting cities. You'll start off in the cosmopolitan capital of Bogotá to explore the thriving food and art scenes, then fly to scenic Medellín, a hip metropolis making a comeback after a turbulent past. End the trip in Cartagena's Old Town, a romantic inner-walled city with colonial history. Too much city? You'll spend an outdoorsy day visiting Tayrona National Park for a dose of rainforest and the Caribbean Sea.

Highlights

  • Check out street art and snack on empanadas in Bogota's trendy historic district
  • Get a tour of a working coffee plantation with a local farmer
  • Hike and beach-hop in a gorgeous national park on the Caribbean
  • Explore Cartagena's colonial architecture and sophisticated cocktail bars

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá City Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Flight to Medellín Medellín
Day 4 Coffee Finca Day-Trip Medellín
Day 5 Flight to Santa Marta - Transfer to Tayrona National Park Tayrona Park
Day 6 Tour of Tayrona National Park Tayrona Park
Day 7 Tayrona National Park - Transfer to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 8 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Plaza Bolívar, in La Candelaria, Bogotá
Plaza Bolívar, in La Candelaria, Bogotá

Welcome to Bogotá! A driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel.

Colombia's biggest 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 exotic fruit salads. 

Depending on what time you arrive, you can experience Bogotá's local history and culture by taking a tour with an English-speaking guide.

Day 2: Bogotá City Tour

Sunset in La Candelaria
Sunset in La Candelaria

After breakfast, it's time to hit the streets and explore! A local guide will pick you up and accompany you on a half-day walking tour of the city. You'll begin in colorful La Candelaria—the heart of Bogota's historic center. Amble along its narrow streets, visiting cultural landmarks and local shops selling artisanal goods. Eventually, you'll reach Plaza Bolívar, the city's main square dating back to 1539. There's a grand cathedral here as well as many important government buildings, such as the Capitolio Nacional (Colombia's congress building). 

To spend a full day with your guide, take the aforementioned walk through La Candelaria and then explore two of Bogotá's best museums in the afternoon: the Gold Museum (closed on Mondays), which features the largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world, and the Botero Museum (closed on Tuesdays), which houses a collection of masterpieces from renowned Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero.

If you are an early riser, start the morning sunrise tour of Bogotá by visiting its best and biggest food market—Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao—which supplies produce for many of the city’s best restaurants. Return to La Candelaria and downtown, strolling the streets and stopping to photograph walled graffiti art.

Day 3: Flight to Medellín

Medellín
Medellín

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and hop a flight to Medellín. Despite its turbulent past, Medellín today is quite charming with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. A car will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. You're now free to spend the remainder of the day exploring. 

Start by visiting 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. Perhaps take a ride on the city's gondola (Metrocable) system and enjoy the 360° views of the city below. Either way, enjoy the weather—due to its elevation, Medellín has year-round spring temperatures.

(Optional add-on.) Get an insider's perspective of Medellín on a private tour of the city by car. You'll make several stops on this route, including at Pueblito Paisa (a replica of a traditional Antioquian town), and San Antonio Park. You'll also visit the iconic bronze sculptures at Botero Square, and stop in at the city's expansive Botanical Garden, which features more than 4,500 blooms plus a butterfly enclosure. The last leg of the tour stops at the Metropolitan Theater and Los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Park). 

Day 4: Coffee Finca Day-Trip

A worker packs coffee on the farm
A worker packs coffee on the farm

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer by car 1.5 hours to a working coffee finca (farm) located in the mountains outside of Medellín. From here, you'll embark on a walking tour with a coffee farmer who will explain the growing process and the steps it takes for the coffee bean to reach the cup. You'll also learn about the daily life of these farmers and how this important trade is linked to many Colombian families, making it a source of pride for locals.

Return to Medellín in the afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day on your own.

Day 5: Flight to Santa Marta - Transfer to Tayrona National Park

Beach near Santa Marta
Beach near Santa Marta

After breakfast, a car will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for your flight to the city of Santa Marta, on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Upon arrival, you'll drive to just outside the entrance of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona National Park), where you'll stay overnight. 

You'll have rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy your hotel, which is located on a peaceful spot overlooking the Caribbean Sea at the foot of the mountains. Wander down to the nearby beach, which is an ideal spot to view the sunset. Dinner will be served on-site so there's no need to rush.

Day 6: Tour of Tayrona National Park

Arrecifes Beach, Tayrona
Arrecifes Beach, Tayrona

After breakfast, you'll begin a half-day tour of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona National Park). This protected area is known for having some of the most virgin coastal landscapes in the entire country. Indeed, when you see promotional images of Caribbean Colombia, often you're seeing images of Cabo San Juan, which is located in Tayrona. You'll experience much of this coastline with a local guide while touring the white-sand beaches and rainforests further inside Tayrona.

First, it's a hike in the tropical foothills near Playa Cañaveral, at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Then visit the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and La Piscina, the latter of which is an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to Cabo San Juan and enjoy the bay of white sand surrounded by large volcanic rocks. On the way here, you can observe several species of flora and fauna pointed out by your knowledgeable guide. The afternoon is yours to enjoy on your own. Have a bit of lunch and relax on the shore.

You'll return to your hotel in the late afternoon with time to enjoy the sunset and dinner served on-site.

Day 7: Tayrona National Park - Transfer to Cartagena

Entrance to Cartagena's Old Town
Entrance to Cartagena's Old Town

After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel in Tayrona Park and transfer you to Cartagena. This ancient fortress city on the Caribbean is rich in culture, colonial architecture, romance, and even pirate history. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. 

Depending on the time of your arrival, you'll have a few options for activities. You can relax and enjoy the hotel amenities or get right into the mix with a neighborhood walk, either by yourself or with an English-speaking guide (optional add-on). Here are some other ideas to consider:

  • Wander the narrow streets of the historic Old Town, snapping photos of the lively plazas and colorful houses with bougainvillea-draped balconies.
  • Check out the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo, stopping at key sites like Plaza de los CochesPlaza de la AduanaParque Bolívar, and Plaza de Santa Teresa.  
  • Walk along the Old Town's original fortress walls (dating back to 1586), constructed to protect Cartagena from sea attacks. These ramparts also afford panoramic views of the city and make great sunset-viewing spots.
  • Visit Santo Domingo, which, having been erected in 1552, is reputedly the oldest church in the city. 
  • Explore Getsemaní, the bohemian neighborhood just outside the walls of Cartagena's Old Town. Once a seedy area, Getsemaní is now a cultural enclave filled with Spanish colonial architecture, graffiti art, boutique hotels, and street food vendors.

Finish the day with mojitos and fresh ceviche in one of the city’s hip restaurants or rooftop bars.

Day 8: Depart Cartagena

Horse-drawn carriage in Cartagena
Horse-drawn carriage in Cartagena

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia! After breakfast, enjoy your last moments of Cartagena in a patio café. Or, if you haven't already, explore the bulk of the city on a guided tour. Otherwise, take one last stroll along those cobbled streets.

Enjoy Cartagena's cobbled maze of vividly colorful houses and ancient squares dating from the 16th century. Meander through the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo while learning about important historical sites like Saint Philip's Castle. Maybe pay a visit to the Palace of the Inquisition in Plaza de Bolívar, which was once the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and is now a macabre museum. 

A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Discover Colombia's Cities & Beaches - 8 Days
Map of Discover Colombia's Cities & Beaches - 8 Days