Below you’ll find three 10-day itineraries designed to provide families with a range of experiences depending on the ages of your children. Whether your brood is keen on a culturally rich experience, an active adventure, or a combo of city and beach, these options have you covered. We've packaged the best of Colombia’s museums, national parks, and wildlife encounters into three distinct family-friendly options. For more on what to know about traveling with children in Colombia, see this article.
#1 Bogotá, Coffee Country, Medellín, and Cartagena (Ideal for Adults, Teens, and Adolescents)
This diverse tour combines Colombia’s three most popular cities with the Zona Cafetera (coffee country) for a perfect mix of experiences for families with older children. Spend your 10 days exploring the highlights of Bogotá, roaming coffee country by horseback and Jeep, reveling in Medellín, and marveling at the historical sites of Cartagena.
Spend your first two days exploring Bogotá, basing yourself in the historic and walkable La Candelaria quarter. The highlights are Plaza de Bolívar (where the Presidential Palace and congress building are located) and Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo (site of the founding of Bogotá), plus the Museo Botero, which displays art and sculptures by world-renowned artist Fernando Botero. Visit Quinta de Bolívar (onetime residence of the great "Liberator" of South America, Simón Bolívar) and ride the cable car to the top of Cerro de Monserrate for stunning views of the city 10,341 feet above sea level. On the next morning visit the Museo de Oro for magnificent displays of pre-Columbian gold; then venture 45 minutes north to Zipiquirá and explore the underground Catedral de Sal, a salt cathedral carved out of a rock salt mine. For more things to do, check out this article on sights and activities in Bogotá.
On the morning of day three, transfer by air to Armenia, in the heart of the Zona Cafetera. There’ll be time to visit Jardín Botánico Quindío—a botanical garden with a walk-through butterfly enclosure—and ride a classic "Willy’s" Jeep to the Finca San Alberto coffee estate. On the next day travel to Salento, the region’s most well-preserved colonial-era village, known for its many artists’ workshops. There are also shops selling traditional ponchos, sombreros vueltiaos (straw hats), and art. Then take a horseback ride through the exquisite Valle de Cocora, famous for its wax palms—the tallest palm in the world and Colombia's national tree—and the endangered yellow-eared parrot. For lodging, choose a traditional hacienda hotel on a working coffee farm.
On day five transfer to Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín. Allow two days for exploring the trendy restaurant/nightlife area of El Poblado, as well as Plaza Botero, the large square in the city center featuring sculptures by Fernando Botero (who was from Medellín). Be sure to ride the MetroCable (gondola system) on a guided excursion to Comuna 13. Once the city’s most notorious no-go zone, it’s now a peaceful community. And If you prefer a day of adventure, try whitewater rafting. For more options, this article provides in-depth information on exploring Medellín.
Depart for Cartagena on day seven for three days in this Colonial fortress city on the Caribbean. You’ll need two days to fully enjoy the historic center, beginning with a ride by horse-drawn carriage. Adolescents and teens will want to explore the massive Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, one of the largest fortresses ever built by the Spanish in the Americas. Then enjoy an excursion to Volcán El Lodo de Totumo to steep in a warm mud volcano. Finally, make a day trip by boat to Parque Nacional Islas del Rosario, a natural park comprised of Caribbean islands; or head to the white sands and clear waters of Playa Blanca at Barú, a short distance south of the city. You can combine it with bird viewing at the nearby Acuario Nacional. Check out this article for a more rounded profile regarding things to see and do in Cartagena.
#2 Bogotá, Villa de Leyva, Barichara, Cartagena (Ideal for Adults, Teens, and Kids)
Colombia boasts dozens of colonial towns bursting with historic charm. Here we stitch together four exquisite pueblos that take you from Bogotá through the eastern Andes, ending in magnificently restored Cartagena. Plus we’ve built in fun activities that folks of all ages will enjoy. You'll begin by following the first two days of Itinerary #1 in Bogotá, but allowing more time to focus on La Candelaria; consider adding a guided excursion to explore the city’s famous graffiti art.
On day three depart for Zipiquirá to explore the underground salt cathedral—the Catedral del Sal. Then lunch nearby at the legendary Andrés Carne del Res, a theatrical, wild-ride of a restaurant that young kids will love. Continue north via Puente de Boyacá—where Bolívar dealt the Spanish the decisive final blow in the war for independence—to the town of Villa de Leyva. This model of colonial preservation has heaps of things to see and do beyond the expansive, cobblestoned central plaza. Fill your two days here horseback riding and visiting the Centro de Investigaciones Paleontológicas, with its fantastic dinosaur fossils and scientists working on-site.
Continue via the colonial town of Socorro to exquisite Barichara, officially named Colombia’s prettiest village. La Nube Posada is among the nicest of several family-friendly boutique hotels; the owner leads hikes. Take one of your two days here for whitewater rafting or paragliding from the nearby adventure-sports Mecca of San Gil.
Day seven is another day for adventure at Parque Nacional del Chicamocha, a theme park dramatically perched over one of the world’s deepest canyons. Arrive in the nearby city of Bucaramanga in time to fly to Cartagena and spend two days following the suggestions in Itinerary #1.
#3: Andes to the Amazon (Ideal for Adults and Teens)
From Andean mountains to the heart of the Amazon jungle, Colombia is nothing if not geographically diverse. Here it's easy to combine both extremes, as we’ve done in the following adventurous itinerary that adults and teenagers are sure to love.
Begin by flying via Bogotá to Manizales, the largest city in the Zona Cafetera. This pleasant university town sits atop a ridge surrounded by coffee fields. Overnight at Hacienda Venecia, a working coffee estate where the original owner’s mansion is now a charming boutique hotel. There’s plenty to see and do in and around Manizales, but be sure to take the kids to Reserva Forestal Protectora Río Blanco, on the city outskirts. This forested reserve is a great place for hiking easy trails with an expert guide. It's a birder's dream, as you're likely to spot some of the 23 species of hummingbirds that buzz about here, and, if you're lucky, maybe even the rare Antpitta.
On day three head to Recinto del Pensamiento, a coffee research center and nature-themed educational park with ecological trails, a butterfly garden, and more. Continue to Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, a national park home to an Andean páramo eco-system as well as one of Colombia’s most active volcanoes. Overnight in the park three nights, allowing two days for guided hiking amid the glaciers, steaming fumaroles, and marshy meadows studded with clawlike frailejónes plants.
On day six fly to the southern Colombian outpost of Leticia for four days exploring the Amazon. Spend your time searching out wildlife and interacting respectfully with indigenous communities. In and around Leticia we recommend visiting Maluca Makuna to learn about the indigenous lifestyle, and Reserva Natural Timanboca is a great place to spot local wildlife. Add on a two-day excursion upriver to the conservation-conscious community of Puerto Nariño. Be sure to hire a guide to take you to Lago Taropoto to spot pink dolphins. For more in-depth information on exploring the Amazon, see this article.
Finally, on day 10, depart for Bogotá and your onward flight home.