Colombia is renowned for its world-class coffee beans, and Cartagena knows how to flaunt the goods. The café culture is booming—here are our fave spots to relax with a good cup of (locally sourced) coffee.
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
Beyond the untamed landscapes and Spanish Colonial heritage of Colombia's mainland, coral islands beckon. For visitors looking beyond the country's highlights, these gems offer a one-of-a-kind experience, especially for beachgoers, restless travelers, and scuba divers who yearn for off-the-beaten-path adventure.
A decade ago it was difficult to find gourmet coffee in Medellín, but today, Colombia’s second-largest city is at the forefront of the country’s caffeine scene—making it a perfect precursor to an adventure in nearby Coffee Country. Here are seven cafés guaranteed to delight even the most discerning coffee fiends.
Among South American nations, Colombia has only recently begun to earn raves for gastronomy. But it’s ahead of the pack when it comes to inexpensive, delicious street food. Here are 22 must-try antojitos (snacks) as well as dishes sold at stalls and markets nationwide.
Colombia's tourism industry is booming as travelers discover this nation's endless appeal, from the physical beauty of the Amazon and Andes to its vibrant culture and sophisticated cities. Here’s the low-down on planning your visit, including visa issues, getting around, and where to stay.
As if Cartagena’s colonial charm wasn't enough, the city also boasts some of the finest hotels in Colombia. Even better, many feature incredible swimming pools—here are nine of the best.
Before embarking on an international adventure, it's best to prepare with some cultural research—and Colombia, one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, translates well to the big screen. Here are some great films to watch before your grand Colombian experience.
Go off the beaten path and discover the highlights of southern Colombia, from cultural treasures to diverse landscapes and stunning vistas. This two-week itinerary offers a something for everyone. You'll go canoeing, hiking, and rafting in the wild beauty of lush tropics, explore the scenic Tatacoa desert, and see fascinating ancient pre-Colombian monuments. You'll also visit a coffee plantation, tour historic colonial towns, and learn to salsa dance.
Cartagena has long been Colombia's top tourist destination. This is no surprise—it's one of the most well-preserved Spanish colonial cities on the continent. But what do you do once you've exhausted all the culture within the city's ancient ramparts? Let this be your guide to the best day trips outside Cartagena.
Medellín’s rapid transformation from a crime haven to a dynamic and safe metropolis is reflected in its newly established food scene. The seven restaurants listed here will please the entire family, from sensational multi-cultural restaurants to cheap diners and quality fast-food options.
With all the nightlife, cultural experiences, and energy of this vibrant city, Medellín is an exhilarating ride—but when you're ready for a change of pace, the picturesque Antioquian countryside is waiting for you just outside of town. Swim, hike, and sample coffee to your heart's content with these great day trips from Medellín.
Cartagena is a popular Colombian travel destination, boasting one of the country's liveliest dining scenes. Here you'll find seafood restaurants aplenty, plus many fine eateries serving cuisine from around the world. There's something for every member of the family in Cartagena—here are some favorites.
In Bogotá, a new generation of talented chefs have blessed the city with an array of dining options. Here you'll find both simple local fare and sophisticated restaurants melding global influences with traditional Colombian ingredients. Here are eight top choices that reflect the city's offerings and are great choices for families.
Colombia holds plenty of solid itinerary options for families with a week to spend. Combine city exploration with a visit to coffee country, check out the Caribbean coast, or head to the more remote southern reaches—wherever you decide to go, all three of these curated options are perfect for kids and parents alike.
Cartagena is as legendary for its superb hotels as it is for its bougainvillea-draped colonial buildings. There’s a wealth of family-friendly lodgings from which to choose, from beachfront resorts to intimate boutique hotels in the heart of the historic quarter.
Medellín's variety of hotels cater to everyone. There are super chic options for well-heeled revelers as well as more conservative family-friendly lodgings. Below we’ve selected eight properties that specifically cater to kids, or that are otherwise ideally suited to families.
With 10 days, your family can easily combine three or more areas of Colombia thanks to an inexpensive domestic air service. And with so much diversity—from the Amazon and the Andes to cosmopolitan cities and quaint colonial pueblos—there are plenty of options for a tailor-made stay.
Bogotá, Colombia's grand capital city, has no shortage of things to do. But travelers eager to escape the hustle and bustle of this sprawling metropolis will find as many attractions right outside of town. Here are our picks for the best.
With its colorful street life, intriguing colonial history, and tons of museums, Cartagena is fun for the whole family. The cobbled streets of the Walled City echo with the memories of conquistadores, as well as the calls of palenqueras (Afro-Caribbean women selling fruits). Here are some ideas that will guarantee a happy family holiday in Cartagena.
Colombia’s cosmopolitan capital is jam-packed with fun, educational, and richly rewarding things to see and do for the whole family. Plus, this nation boasts a warm culture in which children come first. Here’s are some favorite activities and venues that families with kids of all ages will love.
Medellín is a fabulous place for families with kids—from bicycling in the surrounding mountains to a tremendous zoo and botanical garden, the options are endless. And family travel is easy and safe: Colombians adore children and hotels are generally family-friendly, making it easy to plan a trip and check these fun activities off your list.
Colombia is overwhelming in its beauty, culture, and people—so before embarking, consider familiarizing yourself with the place by eschewing the online reviews and hitting the books instead. Here we've listed some of the best books that feature Colombia as its central, romantic character.
South America's undiscovered region of El Chocó on the Pacific Ocean takes center stage in this unique 10-day itinerary. You'll begin (and end) the trip in Colombia's dazzling up-and-coming city of Medellín before flying to Bahía Solano where you'll explore the massive Utría National Park. Then fly to Nuquí for three days of canoe rides, hiking, cooking with locals, and soaking in hot springs, all the while looking for humpback whales, dolphins, and sea turtles close to shore.
Perfect for travelers who love urban energy and culture, this fast-paced itinerary highlights four awesome Colombian cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Santa Marta, and Cartagena — each with their own special qualities and vibes. Too much city? You'll visit a coffee farm in the Andes and hike through a rainforest for a dose of beach and Caribbean Sea to round out this fun adventure.
In just 10 days, this exciting tour of Colombia covers a great deal of ground including four nights in the Amazon region, sandwiched between two world-class cities. You'll start off exploring the cosmopolitan capital of Bogotá before flying south to Leticia; from here, take part in a series of unforgettable days via foot, canoe, and other small boats in Colombia and across the border in Peru and Brazil. Then fly north to the Caribbean Sea and wander Cartagena's romantic inner-walled city before culminating with a speedboat ride to the Rosario Islands.
This cultural, yet outdoorsy Colombian adventure starts off in one of Latin America's most striking and up-and-coming cities — Medellín — safe for travelers after a turbulent past. Enjoy the constant spring-like weather while exploring vibrant neighborhoods by foot and gondola before flying north to the Caribbean coast. From Santa Marta, relax on the beaches and trails of Tayrona Park and then head for the cobblestoned streets of Cartagena's inner-walled city, oozing with Spanish colonial romance and history.
In a country known for tropical jungles and white-sand beaches, the glacial peaks of Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy stand out. Located north of Bogotá in the beating heart of the Andes, this untamed páramo highland ecoregion holds the best high-altitude trekking in Colombia.
Check off three unforgettable cities on this whirlwind 10-day tour starting with Bogotá's Spanish colonial sites and buzzing nightlife. You'll then fly to the heart of Colombia's Zona Cafetera for an overnight at a coffee farm where you'll hike the green mountains of Cocora Valley, dotted with impossibly tall palm trees. From here, head to Medellín — a city with outdoor art and spring-like weather — before ending on the Caribbean coast where you'll explore the romantic streets of Cartagena's Old Town.
This sweeping Colombian itinerary covers major highlights from the country's Caribbean coast all the way to the Ecuadorian border. Start off with two relaxing days where you can unwind in a protected national park with white-sand beaches and tropical rainforests. Continue making your way through three of South America's most scenic and important cities — Cartagena, Medellín, and Bogotá — eventually heading south towards lesser-known destinations known for gorgeous Baroque architecture, salsa dancing, and a Gothic church built into a gorge.
Perfect for first-timers, this smart, action-packed itinerary begins in the cosmopolitan capital of Bogotá and then makes its way to the Caribbean coast. Along the route, you'll drive through the Andean highlands visiting preserved colonial towns, fly to the up-and-coming city of Medellín — and then hike through Tayrona Park to get to white-sand beaches and turquoise sea. Spend your last three nights in the romantic UNESCO-listed Old Town of Cartagena, founded in 1533.
Colombia is a land for dreamers, and those dreaming of outdoor excursions will not be disappointed. If high-endurance, multi-day trekking isn't your thing, don't worry—there are shorter options in every corner of the nation. No matter the environment in which you find yourself, rest assured that lush scenery and stellar viewpoints abound.
Grab your hiking boots — this 5-day adventure highlights an epic trek in central Colombia's rainforests. But first, the trip starts (and ends) in the progressive city of Medellín, a place with a rising culinary and art gallery scene, as well as perpetual spring-like weather. Explore the city by foot and gondola, and check out a wave of construction projects happening in every neighborhood. Then set out on a 3-day trek through Colombia’s last untouched tropical humid rainforests staying in local farmhouses, before returning to Medellín's great bars and restaurants.
This rugged 10-day trip is ideal for those who want to focus on nature and the outdoors, as it highlights two of the country's biggest natural attractions. Start with a four-day trek to Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a mountain range close to the Caribbean sea. Dubbed 'the new Machu Picchu', this challenging journey reaches the archaeological ruins of Teyuna -- accessible by steep climbs and several river crossings. Continue the adventure with a sailing trip in the Caribbean Sea, and then spend two days exploring Tayrona National Park. Finish the adventure with a relaxing float on the Don Diego River.
For those who don't mind skipping Bogotá, this classic itinerary covers Colombia's Zona Cafetera (coffee zone), bookended by two of Latin America’s most exciting cities. The adventure starts in striking Medellín, where you'll explore this up-and-coming metropolis with a local guide. You'll then drive to the heart of the coffee region and stay overnight at a working farm. Enjoy a day in Salento with a guided hike through stunning green mountains before flying north to Cartagena, where you'll have time to hit the narrow streets of this colonial inner-walled city. Conclude your week with a free day on the coast — perhaps a speedboat ride to the Rosario Islands for white-sand beaches.
This fun 5-day adventure hits two major highlights along Colombia's northern coast. First, you'll experience the culture and fairy-tale romance of Cartagena's Old Town, an inner-walled city oozing with colonial architecture and history, not to mention hip hotels and rooftop bars. Then drive east towards Santa Marta to spend a few days at Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona Park) for a slice of South America's prettiest coastline. Explore on your own or take a guided tour of the park's hiking trails and exotic beaches.
The undiscovered region of Chocó on Colombia's Pacific coast takes centerstage in this 5-day trip, where you'll have time to explore the massive Utría National Park. This lush rainforest has some of the highest rainfall in the world, so expect to see amazing flora and fauna. The park also protects the coastal marine environment and is known for humpback whales and nesting sea turtles (and these empty beaches are great for surfing). Start and end the trip exploring scenic Medellín -- one of Latin America's most exciting cities -- to round out this awesome Colombian adventure.
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.
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.