Bonnie and Dave have come a long way (literally!) since their first family trip across Europe in a VW van. These days, they're experienced world travelers—most recently seeking adventure and local experiences throughout Central and South America. Looking for a new destination off the tourist trail, they chose Colombia for its perfect mix of culture, outdoor activities, and unspoiled Amazonian rainforest.
Colombia Travel Insights
Wondering where to go in Colombia?
Colombia's great diversity offers an endless list of travel possibilities. In addition to the beautiful (yet popular) coastal city of Cartagena, there is a wide range of amazing and unique places to visit:
- Beautiful beaches: San Andrés and Providencia, the Rosario Islands (near Cartagena), The Tayrona Park
- Colonial towns: Villa de Leyva, Barichara, Salento
- Coffee region: Cocora and the beautiful 'coffee triangle' region of Colombia
- Ethnic villages: The Lost City, Guajira
- Arid deserts: Guajira and the Tatacoa Desert
- Tropical rainforests: The Amazons and the Pacific
- Modern cities: Bogotá, Medellín and Cali
- Snowy mountains: El Cocuy and Los Nevados National Park
As Medellín grows in popularity, a number of comfortable and well-designed hotels are beginning to appear. From upscale guesthouses and the latest boutique spaces with rooftop swimming pools, you're certain to find something that suits your tastes. Use this guide to find the perfect place to stay while exploring the city.
Repelling down waterfalls, rafting turbulent rivers, paragliding over cities and navigating steep trails on a mountain bike are just a few of the epic adventures you can have in Colombia. Throw in diving, trekking, kiteboarding and bungee jumping and you have a full plate of adrenaline-fueled options. This article describes the best ways to get your heart pumping in Colombia.
Santa Cruz De Mompox has passed the centuries in relative obscurity, changing little since its days as an important inland port on Colombia's Magdalena River. Today this sleepy town will delight you with its colorful churches, bayou setting and laid-back culture of rocking chairs, card playing and story swapping. Plan a visit and prepare to be fascinated with a past of revolutionaries and artisans.
Colombia's Department of Santander is a popular destination for thrill-seekers, history buffs and lovers of nature. In one day you can paraglide over canyons, climb through water-filled caverns, visit a traditional coffee farm, and relax in historic towns that time seems to have forgotten. This exciting 12-day itinerary weaves through cities, villages and nature reserves to bring you the best activities that this off-the-beaten-path destination can offer.
Cartagena is one of South America’s most enchanting colonial cities. Enticing boutique hotels are already a feature of the Centro Histórico (walled city), with newer properties starting to appear in hip, artsy Getsemaní. Most hotels feature an elegant colonial Spanish theme (in keeping with the city's history), but with plenty of individual touches and splashes of modern art, and there are even swish, contemporary options to consider.
Colombia is an incredible country for birdwatchers. It boasts a list of 77 endemics (birds found in no other country) and is home to well over 1930 bird species — around 20 percent of the world's total bird count. This 16-day adventure is designed to showcase the best birding sites in the country. You'll experience Colombian culture, excellent food, and vibrant cities as you travel between incredible birding habitats.
Colombia's second-largest city, Medellín is young, dynamic, and on the up. It’s a place where people like to go out, enjoy life, and eat well. During the day, you’ll find plenty of cheap diners where you can fill up on hearty local staples, with lots of stalls on the street selling fresh fruit and juices. But come the evening, you’ll probably want to check out the increasing variety of excellent modern restaurants serving local, international and fusion cuisine.
Lush, steamy and unmistakably tropical, Colombia’s Amazon region seems very remote, even from the rest of the country. The main town, Leticia, is an easy-going, friendly little place, located right on the border with Brazil and Peru. But the main reason to visit is the Amazon River and the vast rainforest that surrounds it – full of strange and exotic plants and animals, from lazy sloths to electric eels – a massively important environment that provides a lung for the whole planet.
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s green lung, a beautiful but actually quite fragile region where strange and exotic birds and animals share their forest home with hunter-gatherer jungle tribes, and where you can leave the motorized, industrialized world behind and disappear off into the jungle, or just take a boat ride up the world’s mightiest river, check out the wildlife and meet the indigenous people. Way off the beaten track, this is our guide to this remote and exotic region.
One of the best aspects of visiting Cartagena on Colombia's northern coast is having close proximity to nearby Caribbean Islands for the ultimate culture/beach adventure. On this 5-day trip, you'll start off experiencing the city's narrow streets with palaces, churches, and mansions painted in pastel colors (not to mention hip hotels and galleries that are popping up). Then, boat over to San Bernardo's beautiful coral islands for white-sand beaches and watersports. Finish the adventure back in Cartagena for one more night of colonial romance.
Experience stunning highlights along Colombia's northern coast in this active 10-day adventure. You'll soak in the romance and colonial history of Cartagena's Old Town, hike in Tayrona National Park, 4x4 through remote jungles, wander majestic sand dunes, visit indigenous cultures, and go birdwatching in Minca at sunrise. Circle back to Cartagena and end the trip with a relaxing beach day in the Rosario Islands.
Sandwiched between Colombia’s mountainous capital and its romantic inner-walled city on the northern coast, this scenic 9-day journey highlights one of South America's most beloved ecological gems: Caño Cristales. After completing this two-day river adventure, you’ll fly back to Bogotá to visit the salt mines before heading north to Cartagena. Here, you'll have two days to explore the sites, culminating with a speedboat ride to the Rosario Islands.
This active South American adventure spotlights trekking in the high, snowy mountains of Los Nevados National Park. A good portion of this 9-day journey will take place in the rugged outdoors before you head towards the charming colonial town of Villa de Leyva in the Colombian Highlands. Start and finish the trip with time to explore the cosmopolitan capital of Bogotá for colorful street art, museums, dining, and nightlife.
From the buzzing nightlife of Bogotá to the up-and-coming neighborhoods of Medellín and romance of Cartagena's Old Town, this well-rounded journey covers Colombia's best urban highlights, and yet breaks it up with outdoorsy adventures along the way. Starting in the capital, the two-week adventure is ideal for travelers who want to experience culture and historic sights, but who are also enticed by hiking in coffee fields, exploring a rainforest on the Caribbean Coast, and relaxing on white-sand beaches.
This scenic two-week trip loops around Colombia's interior, focusing on two of Latin America’s most exciting cities and one of its best national parks: Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. Though it’s harder to get to, El Cocuy boasts stunning mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and lakes, and plenty of hiking trails, so this adventure is ideal for travelers who want to explore a lesser-known slice of Colombia's great outdoors. You'll also have time to explore Bogotá and Medellín, as well as the Colombian Highlands, Río Claro Nature Reserve, and Guatapé's lakeside region.
From the up-and-coming city of Medellín to the lush green mountains of Colombia's coffee region and world-class archaeological sites, this fascinating two-week journey covers major highlights and off-the-beaten-path destinations of Colombia's rich interior. This trip is ideal for travellers who don’t mind skipping the coast and instead want a mix of outdoor and cultural adventures, like hiking in the Andes, salsa dancing with locals, and horseback riding in the desert, to name a few.
From the colonial city of Cartagena to the ancient ruins of the Lost City and the wild costs of La Guajira, this 14-Day journey covers the major highlights and the off-the-beaten-path destinations of the Colombia's Caribbean coast. This trip is ideal for travelers who want to stay on the ground, explore one region in-depth and stay active with a multi-day trek and options for diving and snorkeling.
Colombia is a big country, and extremely diverse. It’s easy to find little-visited places of interest and intrigue tucked in the folds of the Andes or otherwise off the well-trodden path. Some are in areas that have only recently become safe to visit, such as Área Natural Única Los Estoraques. Others, such as Mompox or Capurgana, simply require a bit of planning to get to. The following 7 cool places are well worth seeking out to escape the masses.
Colombia's Coffee region is full of great accommodation options, from haciendas on coffee plantations to small hostels and boutique hotels in towns and cities. Use this list to find the best places to stay after a long day of biking, hiking and coffee tasting.
One of Colombia’s greatest appeals is its diversity of indigenous peoples. From the Arhuaco of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to the Zenú of the Golfo de Morrosquillo, Colombia’s 87 native tribes represent an indigenous heritage as rich as anywhere in the Americas. While some groups are not receptive to outsiders, others welcome visitors. The following five pueblos indígenas provide an immensely rewarding way of experiencing Colombia at its most unique and intriguing.
Cartagena is one of South America’s most enchanting colonial cities, and one its best places to eat, with seafood featuring prominently on many menus. The culinary scene has blossomed here in the last decade, with plenty of options that cater to all palates and budgets, from no-frills food carts to some of the most lauded restaurants in the country. Use this guide to find your way to the best eateries this city can offer.
The mountains and valleys outside Medellín, in the department of Antioquia, offer a variety of excellent attractions and great day trips. These include the well-preserved colonial town of Santa Fé de Antioquia to the west, fragrant flower farms to the east, and the lush Coffee Triangle of Juan Valdez fame to the south. The following top 5 sites and activities make great add-ons to your city exploration.
This 14-day itinerary is perfect for serious bird watchers who dream of visiting some of the best bird watching sites in the Colombia. The journey includes excursions in the Choco-Western Andes transition, where nearly all the birds are endemic or near-endemic and the mystical and biologically unique Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – an evolutionary island of biodiversity where you have the chance to view over 20 endemic birds. In addition to excellent birding sites, you'll experience life in rural Colombia and travel across stunning landscapes from the sea to the soaring Andes mountains.
City slickers who like to hoof it will love this weeklong itinerary in Colombia spotlighting two of Latin America’s most exciting (and mountainous) hubs. The trip starts in the sophisticated capital of Bogotá where you'll have time to soak in the culture, restaurants and nightlife. From here, take a day-trip to the highlands to visit the region's salt mines. Next, it's a flight to Medellín, the scenic metropolis in the midst of a transformation after a turbulent past. With year-round spring temps and a free metrocable, there's plenty to see and do. Take a hike in lakeside Guatapé to round out this fun adventure.
With miles of white sand beaches, dense jungle and waves crashing into enormous boulders, Parque Nacional Tayrona is one of the most visually stunning natural reserves in Colombia. Days can be spent swimming in the sea and exploring the jungle, and there are opportunities to meet the indigenous Kogi people who call this place their home. Use this expert guide to help you get the most from one of Colombia's true natural wonders.
Colombia is a nation of vibrant cities, sleepy pueblos, and extraordinary landscapes: this action-packed 7-day tour gives you a taste of the true diversity of this country. Within the span of a week you'll visit the superb museums of Bogotá, savor freshly roasted coffee near Salento and gaze at the sea from Cartagena's glorious ramparts.
Planning a trip to Colombia can be exhilarating as you dream of the adventures ahead, but it also raises lots of questions - about the costs, visas, language, packing and more. If you are headed to Colombia for the first time, this article is a good place to start your research and learn some basic facts about travel in the country.
You’ll likely hear about Cartagena long before you arrive. While the main attraction is the historic Old Town — packed with wonderfully preserved mansions and churches — Cartagena is much more than its colorful streets: it has highrise developments, long stretches of coast, offshore reefs and vibrant neighborhoods where locals express themselves through dance, food, and art. Here's our expert guide to help you navigate this romantic and high-energy Caribbean city.
Planning to spend two weeks in Colombia? This amount of time opens up a wide range of possibilities to explore multiple areas of Colombia at a leisurely pace. You can visit a number of the highlights including Cartagena’s glorious Old Town, the stunning museums of Bogotá and quaint towns in the Coffee Country, plus a few off-the-beaten-path and adventure destinations.
Wedged into a narrow valley framed by Andean mountains, Colombia’s second-largest city boasts a setting to delight the senses. From a cable car ride into edgy Barrio Santo Domingo to a sensational night of salsa, there’s an astounding array of fantastic things to see and experience. Here are the best things not to be missed.
Medellín. Locals call it the city of the eternal spring. The capital of Colombia’s Antioquia Department is second only to Bogotá in terms of size, but there are just as many opportunities for culture and adventure as there are in the nation’s capital. Use this guide to help you navigate your way into the city and find the best Medellín has to offer.
Colombia offers excellent biking opportunities for both beginners and seasoned riders. The steep mountain paved roads are terrific for road bikers and have bred world-class racers. For mountain bikers, there is endless scope for easy country trails and gut-wrenching mountain single tracks. This guide will help you get around Colombia on two wheels.
Cartagena’s cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and bougainvillea-covered balconies are simply magic. But there is much to Cartagena than just its romantic Old City. This list offers a number of great options, from exploring old forts, to eating great seafood and lazing on white sand beaches.
If you have 10 days in Colombia you can visit two or three areas of the country, thanks to low cost airfares that can jet you quickly between different regions. Enjoy the country's dynamic urban centers, get out in the countryside for hikes, visit a coffee plantation and sunbathe on the Caribbean coast, these are just a few of the things you can pack in during your 10-day stay.
Colombia offers exciting sights and activities that can be enjoyed by parents and kids alike. From fascinating museums such as the Museo de Oro in Bogotá, to parks, city tours, horse riding and snorkeling, there is always something for your little ones to enjoy. This article covers the best sights and activities for families.
This adventurous two-week itinerary covers major highlights along Colombia's stunning and diverse Caribbean coast with plenty of opportunities to get in the water. You'll start off in the sophisticated colonial city of Cartagena with a speedboat trip to Rosario Islands and then head east for Santa Marta. You'll then travel by 4x4 to the lesser-visited La Guajira Peninsula for remote sun-soaked dunes and indigenous tribes. Circle back around to tube down the Rio Don Diego, and then spend a few days hiking around Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, surrounded by tropical rainforests and one of the few coral reefs in Colombia. Sprinkle in sailing, fishing, and a range of water activities before ending the trip back in Cartagena for a walking tour of the city's hipster neighborhood, Getsemani.
The romantic city of Cartagena, white-sand Caribbean beaches, beautiful Coffee Country and sizzling salsa dancing combine to make Colombia a wonderful honeymoon destination. This list covers some of the top destinations to consider when making plans for your post-nuptial getaway.
This outdoorsy, action-packed itinerary hits the crown jewels near two of Colombia's most exciting cities. Start off in up-and-coming Medellín before driving to the "coffee triangle" where you'll stay in a traditional ranch in the Andes. From here, embark on a three-day hike through some of the last surviving snowcapped peaks in the tropics before rafting in two of Colombia's major rivers. Next, you'll head north to the Caribbean coast for white sand beaches, sailing, and a chance to scuba dive in one of the few coral reefs in Colombia. Finish off the two-week adventure with time to explore the romantic cobbled alleys of Cartagena's Old Town.
Bogotá has two faces. It is both a bewildering urban sprawl across a South American massif, and a hodgepodge of quaint, colonial-era villages merged together over the centuries. The Colombian capital has an enormous variety of activities and historic sites but requires good insight to navigate the intertwining fabric – use these expert tips to get the most out of your visit.
Bogotá is home to dozens of locally-owned hotels, many with a boutique quality and personal service that makes them great choices compared to some of the larger chain hotels. The following list includes stylish places that emphasize high-end design, theme-hotels and backpackers favorites that have hosted travelers for decades.
Superb natural and historic destinations surround Bogotá, enough to keep visitors busy for several days. For travelers keen on the outdoors, high altitude air, hikes of varying difficulty and some culture beyond Bogotá, here are a few ideas for day trips around the Colombian capital.
Get ready for the wild and remote region of Chocó on Colombia's lesser-visited Pacific coast, which is the crux of this 7-day itinerary. The trip starts with a flight to Nuqui in a dense rainforest where you'll spend three days exploring tiny villages and partaking in a variety of activities like canoe rides, hiking, cooking with locals, whale watching, and soaking in hot springs. End the trip in one of Latin America's most exciting cities (Medellín) and then visit a nearby coffee farm to round out this awesome Colombian adventure.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Colombia on this 7-day itinerary which takes you through the mountains and valleys of Colombia's famous coffee region. You'll undertake a multi-day trek in the Andes, relax in the peaceful city of Manizales, and then finish with some urban culture and great museums in the city of Medellin.
Take advantage of the ample time off work in late December and travel to a place that knows how to do the holidays. This fun and festive 7-day Latin American adventure starts in the up-and-coming city of Medellín. With hip restaurants, art galleries, and eternal spring-like temperatures, this city goes bonkers with Christmas lights. From here, you'll head to lakeside Guatapé for hiking, visit a coffee farm, and then fly to Cartagena -- a fairy-tale city that draws a vibrant international crowd. Reserve early and get a seat at one of the city's best rooftop bars overlooking stunning colonial architecture and the Caribbean Sea -- what a way to start the new year!
This 7-day land and sea adventure covers all the highlights along Colombia's northern coast. You'll experience the culture and fairy-tale romance of Cartagena's Old Town, explore the beautiful Tayrona National Park, hike through mountainous jungles, go birdwatching, visit a coffee farm, and finish your trip with a relaxing trip to the Rosario Islands by private speedboat.
On this fun and fast-paced 7-day tour, you'll experience two of Latin America’s most exciting cities, stay overnight on a working coffee farm, and hike the Andean foothills. The trip starts in Medellín, the scenic metropolis fast on the rise after a turbulent past. You’ll then head into the heart of Colombia's coffee triangle, where you’ll explore the charming town of Salento and tour a working finca (coffee farm) — an industry that has embraced tourism with open arms. You’ll also hike the jaw-dropping green mountains in Valle de Cocora before finishing the trip in Colombia’s sophisticated urban capital.
On this culturally rich 7-day tour, you'll explore the historic and cosmopolitan side of Bogotá before heading north through the scenic Colombian highlands towards two of the country's most photogenic cobblestoned towns. Here, you’ll visit the underground salt mines, bike the Suarez Canyon, and finally explore the Spanish Colonial wonder that is Barichara — oozing with charm — before heading back to the capital's exciting restaurants and nightlife.
Steamy Cali is where salsa clubs boom long after midnight and welcoming locals can be found dancing in parks — this is the salsa capital of the world. Beyond salsa, the city has historic neighborhoods, excellent hiking, delectable street food and more. This guide shows off 9 of the best things to do in Cali.
Bogotá is a pulsating South American metropolis where well-preserved colonial-era neighborhoods mix with 21st-century glass and steel. While its impressive museums and architecture rank high on the list of things to see, the best experiences will be your own exploration of historic neighborhoods on bike or foot. Let this guide direct you toward the best Bogotá has to offer.