With a blend of cities, nature, and beaches, this 12-day Colombia itinerary features fun for the whole family. The adventure starts in Medellín, where you'll soar over the city by cable car and discover exotic sea creatures in the Explora Aquarium. After day trips into the surrounding countryside to visit mountain lakes and colorful villages, fly to magical Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Here you'll embark on a treasure hunt through its historic center and swim in the crystal clear seas of the nearby Rosario Islands.

Highlights

  • See pirahnas & electric eels at Medellín's Explora Aquarium
  • Visit Guatapé, the most colorful town in Colombia
  • Search for pirate treasure in Cartagena's historic center
  • Sunbathe, swim & snorkel on the Rosario Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Medellín! Medellín
Day 2 Discover Medellín & Explora Park Medellín
Day 3 Santa Elena & Silletera Flower Farm Medellín
Day 4 Day Trip to El Peñol & Guatapé - Fly to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 5 Cartagena Half-Day City Tour & Cartagena on Canvas Art Class Cartagena
Day 6 Barbacoco Pirate Adventure Cartagena
Day 7 Day Trip to the Rosario Islands Cartagena
Day 8 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Medellín!

Medellin
Medellín's Botero Park

Welcome to Colombia! As you arrive at the international airport in the “City of Eternal Spring” you’ll be greeted by a driver ready to escort you through a beautiful mountain pass and 1,000 feet down into the trendy neighborhood of El Poblado

Once one of the most notorious cities in the world, Medellín is now known as one of the safest places in South America, as well as one of the most innovative. The hub of Colombia’s medical and tech sectors, the city is nestled in the Valle de Aburrá and offers breathtaking views in every direction. A modern and efficient metro runs north to south with sky gondolas reaching the heights of the surrounding Andes Mountain range. The tropical temperatures average 72 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, with average daily highs around 80 degrees, and nightly lows of 60.

Day 2: Discover Medellín & Explora Park

Pueblito Paisa in Medellín.
Pueblito Paisa in Medellín

Start today with a tour of Medellín's many highlights. Setting off along the river avenue and arriving at the city center, you'll visit the Plaza San Antonio, Botero Square, and the Museum of Antioquia, before boarding the iconic MetroCable gondola for panoramic views across the city.

Later on, head to Parque Explora for an unforgettable afternoon for the whole family. This interactive science museum, loosely modeled after San Francisco's Exploratorium, houses South America's largest freshwater aquarium, Explora Aquarium. The museum contains over 300 interactive attractions, as well as a 3D auditorium, planetarium, television studio, and vivarium.

With a combination of indoor and outdoor space, the museum's science and technology rooms are housed in its four red "cubes". Explora Aquarium houses nearly 4,000 organisms and 400 of Colombia's most common species, with 25 tanks exhibiting many of the species that inhabit Colombia's rivers and oceans, including piranhas, electric eels, and a panchromatic kaleidoscope of fish.

Day 3: Santa Elena & Silletera Flower Farm

Silleteros Farm
Gather flowers on a sillitera farm

This morning starts with a visit just outside of Medellín to the tiny traditional village of Santa Elena and the nearby nature preserve of Arví Park. Here you can visit the famous traditional farmers market of Placita de Flórez and browse the many products and crafts from the village. 

Afterward, you'll continue to the colorful fields of El Pensamiento, a silletera (flower farm) that grows the lush floral bouquets and arrangments that decorate the Antioquia region's famous silletas (flower saddles). Learn about the history, culture, and traditions of the area as you create a traditional floral arrangement. This local tradition was started to honor the silleteros that traversed the area's high mountain passes, carrying passengers and supplies upon their backs. 

After lunch, you'll be transferred back to your hotel in Medellín.

Day 4: Day Trip to El Peñol & Guatapé - Fly to Cartagena

View from the top of El Peñol de Guatapé
View from the top of El Peñol de Guatapé

Today's day trip takes you through the municipality of Peñol to reach the Andean hill town of Guatapé. This small resort town offers a peaceful break from the city, while also featuring a stunning panoramic view of nature and the surrounding scenery from the top of its dramatic hilltop setting.

Start with a visit to the iconic Rock of Guatapé, where you can climb 649 steps to reach the viewpoint with a 360-degree view of the Guatapé reservoir and its neighboring lands. Then, you will be transferred to Guatapé itself, known as the most colorful town in Colombia. Make sure to keep your camera close—it's hard to find a street that isn't worthy of being admired and photographed! Enjoy a walk through the streets, where a specialized guide will explain the town's unique culture and lead you past its traditional houses and zocalos (city squares) This memorable excursion includes a boat ride in the reservoir and a ride in a typical three-wheeled motochivas taxi.

Later in the afternoon, you will be transferred back to Medellín, where you'll catch a flight north to the beautiful city of Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Here you'll be welcomed and transferred to your hotel.

Day 5: Cartagena Half-Day City Tour & Cartagena on Canvas Art Class

Cartagena's main city gate, the Puerta del Reloj.
Cartagena's main city gate, the Puerta del Reloj

After breakfast, meet your guide and begin a panoramic tour through Cartagena, starting in the residential neighborhoods of Bocagrande, Castillo Grande, and Manga, where daring modern architecture contrasts with the beauty of the old houses from the twentieth century. Continue with a visit to the Popa Convent for wonderful views of the city, then continue to explore the underground galleries and tunnels of San Felipe de Barajas, a Spanish military fortress that sought to protect the city from attack by the English in the 17th century. Afterward, you'll travel to Cartagena's walled Old Town, whose fortress-like design and stone ramparts helped protect the busy port from countless pirate attacks. Stroll through many colorful squares and the narrow cobbled streets lined with colonial houses featuring bougainvilia-draped balconies. 

In the afternoon, you will be transferred to an art workshop to learn a bit about the life of great Cartagena painters such as Alejandro Obregón and Enrique Grau, and then try your hand at recreating one of the city monuments on canvas under the direction of a master painter. 

Day 6: Barbacoco Pirate Adventure

Barbacoa
Follow in the footsteps of Barbacoco the pirate on today's interactive adventure

Today you'll join an interactive treasure hunt for a day of fun and adventure throughout the historic center of Cartagena. Inspired by the corsairs who frequented the Caribbean coast on the hunt for Spanish galleons laden with the riches of the New World, Barbacoco's Treasure introduces children to the flavors and history of the city through the fantastic world of pirates. 

Following a treasure map and a series of fun tests and challenges along the way, the game is designed for ages 5 and up, stimulating the imagination, the spirit of adventure, and the capacity for teamwork while exploring a true colonial city that was attacked by real pirates. After a day of solving clues, firing cannons, and fleeing from sharks, the adventure ends with a picnic at sunset, full of kid-friendly local dishes.

Day 7: Day Trip to the Rosario Islands

White sands and brilliant blue skies on the Rosario Islands.
White sands and brilliant blue skies on the Rosario Islands.

Set off for the Rosario Islands today, for 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 and board a boat headed for Isla Grande, the largest of the islands. Start with lunch at San Pedro de Majagua, then 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 8: Depart Cartagena

Sunset in Cartagena
Sunset in Cartagena

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia! After enjoying a last breakfast at the hotel, you'll be picked up and driven to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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