Interested in seeing the very best cities and unforgettable natural scenery in the beautiful country of Colombia? Begin your trip in Medellín, a city nestled in the Andes mountains, and then head to Cartagena, the jewel of the Caribbean, with its colorful and vibrant culture. Enjoy a night at an island escape before topping it all off with a visit Bogotá, the cultural and culinary hub of Colombia.

Highlights

  • Take a cable car to the highest point in Medellín
  • Explore the colorful resort town of Guatapé
  • Climb into a volcano for a purifying mud bath
  • Enjoy a day of relaxation on a tropical island
  • Visit the Salt Cathedral outside of Bogotá

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Medellín Medellín
Day 2 Historic Tour of Medellín Medellín
Day 3 Hiking in Arví Park Medellín
Day 4 Day-Trip to Guatapé Medellín
Day 5 Arrive in Cartagena Cartagena
Day 6 Walking Tour of Cartagena Cartagena
Day 7 Volcano Tour and Dance Lesson Cartagena
Day 8 Overnight Island Getaway Rosario Islands
Day 9 Arrival in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 10 Tour Bogotá & Visit the Gold Museum Bogotá
Day 11 Shopping & Coffee Tasting in Northern Bogotá Bogotá
Day 12 Depart Colombia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Medellín

Avocado local vendor and street food tasting
Avocado vendor and street food tasting

Welcome to Colombia! Upon your arrival in Medellín, a driver will be waiting to take you directly to your hotel. Once you check in, you can either rest and recharge in your room or head out to explore the "City of Eternal Spring."

As the city is located in a bowl in the Andes mountains, you're guaranteed a view of mountains and stunning landscapes as you wander around. You can start by visiting Parque Lleras, which is in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district where most of the tourism is centered. Here, you can find some of the best dining and nightlife available. If you get tired of walking, you can take a ride on the city's public transportation to plenty of parks, plazas, and museums near the downtown area. 

Day 2: Historic Tour of Medellín

The fantastic metro cable of Medellin
The fantastic metro cable of Medellín

 

Today, a driver will pick you up from your hotel for a full-day tour of the real Medellín. Discover the heart of Medellín as your local bilingual driver shows you the best cultural sites and street art as they fill you in on local history. You'll visit Pueblito Paisa, and explore Medellín’s Barefoot Park and the Park of Lights

As Medellín is the birthplace of the talented artist Fernando Botero, you can visit the plaza that's dedicated to him and see some of his work.

The evening is free for you to spend as you'd like, so consider asking your tour guide for a dinner suggestion before you strike out on your own.

Day 3: Hiking in Arví Park

Arvi Park
Nature trails at Arví Park

After breakfast, your local guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Arví Park, a beautiful nature park in the city that has ecological paths where you can hike and observe different types of birds.

For a unique cultural experience, you can spend the afternoon learning about Silleteros—parade participants who design and carry large floral floats in the annual Festival of the Flowers in Medellín. You will see how these impressive flower displays are constructed in partnership with the local flower farmers in the nearby town of Santa Elena. This tour is designed to let you see how these elaborate flower displays are made, provide a brief history and tradition of the Silleteros, and allow you to immerse in local culture. If this stokes your appetite for more botanical history, you can visit the city's Botanical Garden.

Day 4: Day-Trip to Guatapé

Guatape
A view of Guatapé

Today, you'll spend a full day in the cozy resort town of Guatapé just 51 miles (83 km) east of Medellín. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you on an hour and a half drive to the area you'll be exploring. First, walk up the 740 steps of the Rock of Guatapé to take in one of the best views in Colombia. Guatapé itself is a great place to enjoy lunch and take some photographs of the painted buildings in the village.

At the end of the day, a driver will take you back to Medellín for the night.

Day 5: Arrive in Cartagena

Getsemaní, Cartagena
A colorful street in Getsemaní, Cartagena

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport for your one-hour flight to Cartagena.

When you land, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. The day is free for you to explore the energetic Caribbean city at your own pace. A colonial jewel bathed in sunshine, there's plenty of intricate architecture to see and mouthwatering cuisine to sample. Lose yourself in this historic Walled City that inspires all of those who are lucky enough to linger in its streets.

Day 6: Walking Tour of Cartagena

Cartagena's Old Town
Cartagena's Old Town

A bilingual guide will meet you at your hotel after breakfast for a four-hour walking tour of Cartagena. You'll head to the neighborhood of Manga to see the beautiful colonial houses and the Fort of Pastelillo. The next stop is La Popa Monastery, where you can appreciate the best views of Cartagena de Indias. From there, you'll see the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, which is the largest piece of Spanish architecture in Latin America, and the Walled City. At Las Bovedas, you can buy local art and crafts by local artisans. You continue the tour and make an educational stop at San Pedro Claver Church, which is dedicated to the patron saint of African slaves who were brought to Colombia. From here, the tour continues by car to the modern part of the city where you'll find the beach area and the island of Tierra Bomba. Your guide will leave you inside the Old City to have lunch. 

Day 7: Volcano Tour and Dance Lesson

Salsa and dance lesson!
Salsa and dance lesson!

Today, a driver will take you just a few kilometers outside of Cartagena to see the Totumo Mud Volcano, where volcanic mud is constantly flowing inside. The locals claim that the mud has medicinal properties, but it's definitely great for your skin. Climb a wooden staircase to the summit and dive into the mud (make sure you take an old bathing suit that you don't mind getting dirty!) before receiving a relaxing massage. After you're done, you can rinse off in Totumo Lake. Not interested in a full-body mud treatment? Skip the volcano and take a mangrove tour with local fishermen instead.

Your driver will take you back to your hotel where you can clean up and change for your private dance lesson in Cartagena. You'll learn how to dance the local favorites like Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Bachata before you're left to your own devices during the fun and boisterous practice segment.

You'll have the rest of the night free, but consider going out to some local dance clubs to test your newfound dance skills!

Day 8: Overnight Island Getaway

Rosario Islands
Rosario Islands

After spending a few days in the bustling urban energy of Cartagena, you'll visit the beautiful Islands off the coast. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the port where you'll board a boat to the island of your choice. You can head to Baru, the Rosario Islands, Mucura Island, or some smaller islands to enjoy some well-deserved beach time. You can go snorkeling, take a yacht on an island-hopping adventure, or spend the full day relaxing at an island resort. Depending on the island you choose, you'll sleep in one of the resorts or eco-hotels.

Day 9: Arrive in Bogotá

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

This morning, you'll say goodbye to the islands off the coast of Cartagena. A driver will pick you up from the port after your boat ride, and will they take you to the airport in time to catch your flight to Bogotá. 

When you arrive at the airport, another driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel where you can leave your luggage and start exploring Colombia's capital city. This city is a diverse melting pot of citizens from around the country, and the blend of modern and colonial architecture reflects this. The day is yours to spend as you choose, and you'll be able to choose from visiting excellent museums, indulging in some high-end shopping, or tasting different street food ranging from empanadas to exotic fruit salads. You can also visit the capital city's surroundings, where you will find some of the most famous sites in the country like picturesque colonial towns, the renowned Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, and beautiful natural parks for those who would prefer to do a bit of hiking.

Day 10: Tour Bogotá & Visit the Gold Museum

View from a cable car in Monserrate
View from a cable car in Monserrate

After you have breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the neighborhood of Candelaria, where you'll find some of Bogotá’s famous universities and the city’s most popular pedestrian streets. You'll pass by modern buildings nestled against colorful street murals before heading to some of Bogota’s oldest neighborhoods where colonial-era houses still stand. As you make your way along a beautiful canal and old restaurants in the city center, you’ll see a variety of architectural styles as you come to Plaza Bolívar, the civic heart of the country. Here you’ll find the city’s expansive cathedral and the local and federal governments, all nestled against the presidential palace, La Casa de Nariño.

After lunch, you’ll be able to visit the famous Gold Museum (Museo de Oro). Filled with thousands of spectacular gold artworks, the museum displays artistry and crafts created by the indigenous peoples of the Andes mountains, with some pieces dating back thousands of years.

Before you head to dinner, you can take the cable car up to the famous viewpoint of Monserrate, which features some of the finest views of Bogotá. Watch the sun sets over the city and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Andes mountains behind you.

Day 11: Shopping & Coffee Tasting in Northern Bogotá

Usaquen local market
Usaquen local market

In the morning, you can walk around and explore the nearby shops and attractions, or you can join a bike tour in the northern part of Bogotá.

In the late afternoon, you can have a coffee expert take you to some premium coffee shops and get teach you all about the growth and production of Colombian coffee. You'll have plenty of free time in the evening where you can choose a restaurant for your final dinner in Colombia and enjoy the lively nightlife.

Day 12: Depart Colombia

Colorful street in Bogota
A colorful street in Bogotá

It's now time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last hours in the capital with a leisurely breakfast and lunch, a city stroll, and some final souvenir shopping. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Highlights of Colombia: Medellín,  Cartagena, Bogotá - 12 Days
Map of Highlights of Colombia: Medellín, Cartagena, Bogotá - 12 Days