One Week in Colombia: 5 Great Itineraries

Planning to spend a week in Colombia? Seven days is enough time for a solid exploration of one region, or you can divide your time between two cities. Where you go depends on your interests. Historic Cartagena and the beautiful Caribbean coast remain the most popular short trip. Bogotá and Medellín both offer excellent urban adventures, with side trips to quaint villages and coffee farms.

Best tips and advice

  • Fly in and out of different cities (many airlines have non-stop flights from North America)
  • Stick with one region if you prefer a relaxed and slower pace (such as Cartagena & the Caribbean Coast)
  • Split your week in half by visiting two of Colombia’s main regions

#1 Cartagena & the Caribbean Coast

Cartagena
The colorful buildings of Old Town Cartagena.
Day Activity Overnight
Days 1-2 Arrive in Cartagena and explore the city on foot Cartagena
Days 3-4 Parque Nacional Tayrona Tayrona
Day 5 Explore Minca Minca
Day 6 Return to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 7 Depart Cartagena (optional day-trip to Rosario islands)  

See the best of the Caribbean coast, including secluded islands, white-sand beaches, cloud forests and Cartagena, a city straight out of a fairy-tale. Start with a 2-day exploration of Cartagena, including its historic buildings and museums. You can partake in a number of activities, including a salsa dance class or chocolate tasting.

Next, travel up the coast to Parque Nacional Tayrona, an area rich in wildlife and pristine white-sand beaches. Trek into the jungle and along the boulder-strewn shore. Before returning to Cartagena, go bird watching or mountain biking in the Sierra Nevada mountains at Minca. Before leaving Cartagena, make an outing to the Rosario Islands, where you can enjoy a day of diving or snorkeling.

#2 Bogotá and the Colombian Highlands

Plaza Bolivar, Bogota
The wonderful architecture and street life of Bogota's Bolivar plaza in La Candelaria area.
Day Activity Overnight
Days 1-2 Arrive and explore around Bogotá Bogotá
Day 3 Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral Bogotá
Days 4-5 Visit Boyacá and overnight in Villa de Leyva Villa de Leyva
Day 6 Return to Bogotá Bogotá
Day 7 Departure  

Experience Colombia's dynamic capital and the laid back villages and historical sites of in the department of Boyacá. The one-week tour begins with a two-day visit to Bogotá, where you can experience the excellent museums, restaurants, cultural activities and terrific shopping opportunities. Colombia's famous underground Salt Cathedral, located 50km north of the capital, is a great option for Day 3.

Then leave the city and travel to Villa de Leyva. After exploring the historic village of cobblestone streets and white-washed homes, visit some nearby sites, such as the historic churches and mansions of nearby Tunja. Hiking, horse riding and walks to sacred indigenous sites are other possibilities with assistance from tour operators in Villa de Leyva. Finish your trip back in Bogotá, soaking up some live music and nightlife. 

#3 Medellín and the Zona Cafetera

Wax palms
Tall Palm trees on green grass under blue sky with clouds in Valle de Cocora.
Day Activity Overnight
Days 1-2 Arrival in Medellín, spend two days exploring the city  Medellín
Day 3 Travel south to the Coffee Country   Salento
Days 4 Visit coffee plantations and the Valle De Cocora  Pereira
Day 5 Coffee plantations and Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados  Manizales
Day 6 Return to Medellín via Jardín  Medellín
Day 7 Departure  

Fly to Medellín for some urban exploration before a trip into the paisa region, known for its coffee plantations, flower farms and forests. This one-week tour can include a number of active adventures, including rafting, horse riding, mountain biking or paragliding. Spend your first 48 hours in vibrant Medellín, Colombia's second largest city. Enjoy the plazas, outdoor art and museums on foot, then take to the skies and view the city from your seat on a paraglider.  With a private car and driver (which will save time compared to public buses), head south of Medellín to the Coffee Country. Over three days make day trips to coffee farms, small towns and nature reserves. Make time for a visit to the Valle de Cocora, one of Colombia's most beautiful nature reserves and a great area for hiking. The spectacular Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados also makes for a fine half or full day trip. Return to Medellín by road via the pretty town of Jardín.  

#4: Bogotá and Medellín

Cityscape of Medellin city at dusk
Medellin from above at dusk
Day Activity Overnight
Days 1-3 Arrive in Bogotá and tour the Colombian capital   Bogotá
Day 4 Early morning bus to Medellín, arriving before dinner  Medellín
Days 5-6 Explore Medellín with a side trip to Guatapé   Medellín
Day 7 Departure from Medellín  

Colombia's two biggest cities are a sharp contrast. Medellín is the more relaxed of the two, with better weather and easy access to the main sites thanks to a great public transportation network. Bogotá is the political heart of the country, more hustle and bustle, more cultural events and museums. Both are worth well-worth a visit.

Start your trip with three days in and around Bogotá, exploring its historic center and diving into the heady nightlife. Get an early start on Day 4 for your nine-hour bus journey to Medellín (440km). Night buses are available, but you'll miss seeing the excellent landscapes along the way. Flying is another option if you don't want to travel by bus.

Once in Medellín, see the main sites of the city and consider a paraglide flight for adventure and great views. A side trip to Guatapé, a pretty resort town with great views and stunning rock formations, is a perfect way to wrap up your week in Colombia. 

#5 Bogotá and Cartagena

A quiet street scene in the La Candelaria neighborhood of Bogotá.
Day Activity Overnight
Days 1-3 Bogotá  Bogotá
Days 4-6 Cartagena  Cartagena
Day 7 Departure from Cartagena  

Travelling between the Caribbean Coast and the Bogotá region can be done over a week if you want a taste of these two very diverse places, but be prepared for a domestic flight. Start with a flight to Bogotá, enjoying the sights of the capital for three days. You can get a great perspective on the city by taking a bike tour. Then fly up to Cartagena for three days of exploration, with a side trip to the Rosario Islands. If you prefer to travel overland, with a stop in Villa de Leyva or San Gil, consider adding a day or two to your itinerary.