There are few countries in Latin America that offer a more well-rounded, culturally immersive travel experience than Colombia. A great benefit is that nearly all of this nation's highlights—be it the beaches, cities, islands, and mountains—make perfect outings for the entire family. The best way to enjoy them is by abdicating all the stress that often accompanies planning a family vacation and giving yourself over to a luxury itinerary like this one. From private beaches to comprehensive city tours, and sampling gourmet chocolates, this itinerary is all about perfecting the details of what makes a family vacation truly unforgettable.

Highlights

  • Stroll the cobble streets and walk the ancient ramparts of Cartagena
  • Relax at exclusive Punta Faro, on the Caribbean island of Múcura
  • Participate in a theatrical cultural exchange with a community group in Medellín
  • Indulge your taste buds at a chocolate museum in the colonial town of Villa de Leyva

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cartagena Cartagena
Day 2 Cultural Walking Tour Cartagena
Day 3 Transfer to Isla Múcura - Punta Faro Isla Mucura
Day 4 Punta Faro Free Day Isla Mucura
Day 5 Flight to Medellín - Salsa Dancing Medellín
Day 6 Guatapé Day-Trip Medellín
Day 7 Culture and Nature in Medellín Medellín
Day 8 Flight to Bogotá Bogotá
Day 9 Villa de Leyva and Colonial Colombia Bogotá
Day 10 Depart Bogotá  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cartagena

Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena

Welcome to Cartagena! This colonial fortress city on the Caribbean is rich in culture, architecture, romance, and even pirate history. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your four-star 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 on your own 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 Coches, Plaza de la Aduana, Parque 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 gourmet ceviche in one of the city’s trendy restaurants or rooftop bars.

Day 2: Cultural Walking Tour

Enjoy a carriage ride in Cartagena
Enjoy a carriage ride in Cartagena

Founded in 1533 by the Spanish, Cartagena was once the principal shipping port in the New World. Its mighty fortresses and stone ramparts protected the vast reserves of pilfered gold that the Spanish regularly shipped out of Cartagena. Today the city is the most popular tourist destination in Colombia and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

On a private walking tour, you and the family will not only be able to stroll atop the ancient ramparts, but you'll traverse the length and breadth of Cartagena's colorful Old Town. Enjoy the cobbled streets, the old plazas, and all those brightly colored colonial homes with bougainvillea-draped balconies. In no time you'll see why they call this city "the jewel of the Caribbean."

Return to your hotel after the tour and spend the remainder of the day as you see fit.

Day 3: Transfer to Isla Múcura - Punta Faro

Punta Faro's exclusive bungalows
Punta Faro's exclusive bungalows

Enjoy a full costeño breakfast of fresh juice and tropical fruits served by friendly staff before catching a chartered boat to Múcura, an island in the San Bernardo archipelago. The boat will leave from the bay of Cartagena and venture out into open waters; refreshments will be provided on board. 

You'll zip along the surface of the Caribbean for two hours, at which point the islands of San Bernardo will appear on the horizon. Your ultimate destination is Punta Faro, an exclusive resort on the islet of Múcura. As you enter the crystalline waters of this tiny cove and arrive at the dock, staff will greet you and lead you to reception for an orientation and a freshly prepared welcome cocktail. You’ll have the afternoon free to relax on the beach, wander the resort, or lounge in a hammock. In the late afternoon, enjoy a happy-hour cocktail on the bar's terrace overlooking the bay.

Day 4: Punta Faro Free Day

Try some snorkeling or scuba diving around Múcrua
Try some snorkeling or scuba diving around Múcrua

Today is yours to do as you wish. You can relax on the private beach or, if you want some group fun, take the family on a bicycle ride around the island. Other options include an eco-walk through a mangrove forest led by your own private guide, or an evening swim among the glowing bioluminescence in the bay. If you want to delve even deeper into the water, there's a certified dive center at Punta Faro that can set you up on a scuba excursion fit for all levels of experience.

If you're interested in some aquatic exercise, you can rent paddle boards and kayaks. Punta Faro also has a spa on site and you can book a massage to help further relieve those stress levels.

Day 5: Flight to Medellín - Salsa Dancing

Plaza Botero, Medellín
Plaza Botero, Medellín

Today you'll transfer from Isla Múcura back to the Cartagena mainland and to Rafael Núñez International Airport. It's time to catch your flight to the City of the Eternal Spring, as Medellín is known due to its perpetual springlike climate. A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your luxury hotel in the trendy, upscale neighborhood of El Poblado. After settling in you'll have some time to explore the area on foot, which will allow you to get your bearings and learn the locations of the best cafés and restaurants in the area.

Next, we’ll whisk you away to a private salsa lesson with your own professional dance partner. Dancing is an inseparable part of Colombian culture, and partaking in it will give you a glimpse into the local lifestyle. Learn some basic steps and twirls in between sips of a refreshing beverage. If you're bold, try the local liquor, aguardiente, which roughly translates to "fire water."

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it's time for a traditional Colombian dinner inside the home of a local family. Paisas are some of the warmest people in the world, and they'll make you feel like visiting royalty. After eating, head back to El Poblado and retire to your hotel.

Day 6: Guatapé Day-Trip

The colorful town of Guatapé
The colorful town of Guatapé

After breakfast, you'll transfer from your hotel for a full-day excursion to one of the crown jewels of Colombia's Antioquia region: the lakeside town of Guatapé. This private tour includes a guided walk through the village and a mini-history lesson. You'll learn about the town's conflict surrounding the building of the dam that created the reservoir here, which is known as Guatapé Lake. You'll gain an insider’s perspective on local efforts to pressure the government to address this reservoir’s encroaching blue-green algae.

Your guide will then transfer you to El Peñol (La Piedra Rock). Relax at the base of this natural granite landmark in one of the many market stalls. Or work up an appetite by climbing the 740 steps to admire the view from the top (entrance fee not included). Halfway up the rock, you'll see a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Return to the town of Guatapé and explore the streets. This is one of the most colorful villages in Colombia, with beautiful artwork along the lower half of its buildings. Head to a local restaurant and enjoy lunch on your own (try the freshwater fish and/or other delicacies). In the late afternoon, you'll transfer back to your hotel in Medellín with free time to enjoy the rest of the day.

Day 7: Culture and Nature in Medellín

Butterfly at the Botanical Garden in Medellín
Butterfly at the Botanical Garden in Medellín

Today you're in for a cultural treat fit for the entire family as you transfer to one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. This is where you'll meet the community members who comprise Barrio Comparsa, an organization that has been an indispensable part of Medellín's cultural fabric for over 40 years. Its goal is to preserve Colombian history through art, music, and dance. Mostly it acts as a creative outlet for local youth who might have otherwise been lost to the violence that exists in some of Medellín's poorer neighborhoods.

You'll visit the group at their headquarters in an old neighborhood home. Led by one of the founders and his family, you’ll receive lessons in costume design, musical production, and theatrical directing. You'll collaborate with the group members to produce your own cultural show heavy on Colombian folklore (perfect for the kids). After the production, there will be time to speak with group members and hear stories about the impact of their shows in the community and about the dangers they've faced throughout the years. This is an exclusive glimpse into the Medellín that tourists never get to see.

After the discussion and a leisurely lunch, it's time to visit the Botanical Gardens. You’ll be accompanied by a local biologist who will point out the exotic flora and fauna in the gardens. Keep your eyes open as here you'll find iguanas, tropical birds, and monkeys. There's also a butterfly enclosure that houses scores of tropical butterflies.

Day 8: Flight to Bogotá

Bogotá's famous Gold Museum
Bogotá's famous Gold Museum

Today, you will transfer by private car to the airport and take a flight to Bogotá. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you for transportation to your four-star hotel.

Now it's time to get out and explore. Colombia's biggest city has culture to spare, and its regional gastronomy has made it a global foodie destination. You'll have ample 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 9: Villa de Leyva and Colonial Colombia

Villa de Leyva's massive central plaza
Villa de Leyva's massive central plaza

In the morning, you'll transfer by private car about three hours north to the colonial pueblo of Villa de Leyva. Enjoy the scenery as you pass along the rolling hills of Boyacá Department, past the site where the great Liberator, Simón Bolivar, won his decisive battle in Colombia’s war of independence.

Shortly afterward you'll arrive in Villa de Leyva. Founded in 1572, this colonial village is so well-preserved that in 1954 it was declared a national monument. Moreover, it features the largest central plaza of any town or city in Colombia. You can explore the town by visiting its galleries and viewing the works of local artists. If history is your thing, stop in at the house of Antonio Nariño, the Colombian revolutionary who first translated "The Declaration of the Rights of Man" into Spanish. If you'd like to indulge your sweet tooth, enjoy a decadent tour and sampling of house-made chocolate at the Chocolate Museum

Enjoy dinner on the plaza before retiring to your luxury boutique hotel for the evening.

Day 10: Depart Bogotá

National Capital building in Bogotá
National Capital building in Bogotá

In the morning, transfer back to Bogotá from Villa de Leyva. It's now time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last hours in the capital with a leisurely lunch, a city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping.  A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.