Make The Most of Your Time in Colombia

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Street scene in the historic old city of Cartagena
How Many Days to Spend in Colombia

A great trip to Colombia requires at least five days to get a taste of one big city and its surrounding areas. The more days you can add, the more opportunities to explore different pockets of the country - eight or nine days is enough for two or three regions. In two weeks, you could tour the walled city of Cartagena, visit the capital Bogotá, explore the Amazon and do some activities along the way, including scuba diving or mountain biking. This article breaks down the possible itineraries, ranging from three to 14 days.

Check out Almejal on Colombia's pacific coast next to El Valle
Map of 5 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
5 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Five days in Colombia is enough to visit one major city and explore the surrounding area. Enjoy the best of Cartagena with a city tour, a private boat trip to nearby Rosario Island, and tasting menus at the city's best restaurants. Or, combine the charm of Bogotá with two nights in the Amazon rainforest, where you'll sleep in hammocks and explore via canoe. Learn about these options and more below.

Consider climbing the 740 steps of El Peñón de Guatapé (The Rock of Guatapé) for beautiful panoramas
Map of 6 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
6 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Six days is plenty of time to explore two major cities or regions in Colombia. Choose the bustling capital of Bogotá, the rebirth of now-charming Medellín, or the adventurous port town of Cartagena. If you enjoy birding, go deep into the jungle in Santa Marta among the Sierra Nevada range. For beach lovers, there's island-hopping from San Andrés to Providencia, while coffee aficionados can relish staying on a coffee finca.

The Quindío wax palm, found in the Valle de Cocora, is one of the world's tallest trees
Map of 1 Week in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
1 Week in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

Discover Colombia and the vibrant culture of Cartagena with your family
Map of 1 Week in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
1 Week in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas

With one week in Colombia on a family vacation, you can enjoy introducing children to the cultural delights of Medellín and Cartagena on a highlights tour or post up on the Caribbean coast and discover the laid-back lifestyle and beautiful surroundings of Santa Marta. Active families will love a trip to Colombia's "Coffee Zone" to try out bird-watching and horseback riding, while those looking for a relaxing trip can spend uninterrupted days at the beach on Isla Barú.

Discover Cartagena's colorful architecture and Caribbean flavor on a weeklong luxury tour
Map of 1 Week in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas
1 Week in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas

With one week in Colombia, you can experience the lavish highlights of Bogotá and Medellín while also fitting in a third destination. Ocean lovers should opt for Cartagena to spend time onboard a luxury catamaran, while Pereira is perfect for hiking enthusiasts, and Macarena is picked for those eager to see the rainbow-hued Caño Cristales waterway. Other options include a trip based around excellent cuisine and an off-the-beaten-path adventure filled with exclusive excursions.

Visit San Agustín Archaeological Park to check out the mysterios pre-Colombian stone sculptures
Map of 8 Days in Colombia - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas
8 Days in Colombia - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Colombia is renowned for its historic cities and dramatic landscapes. With an eight-day trip, you can split your time between the urban and natural worlds, especially if you stick to one region. Pair charming Cartagena with scenic spots along the Caribbean Coast, visit the rainbow-hued Caño Cristales after exploring Bogotá, or spend half your trip surrounded by art in Medelliín and the other half trekking in Coffee Country. Options abound—see more unique itinerary ideas below.

Board a motorboat to explore your surroundings and check out Caño Cristales
Map of 9 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
9 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

With nine days, it's possible to visit four of Colombia's regions and major cities, especially if you fly into one hub and out of another. You can start in Bogotá, make your way to the lush Zona Cafetera, and head north to Medellín, departing from Cartagena. Of course, you can always opt for a slower-paced trip that takes you off the beaten path: visit colonial villages like Villa de Leyva, spot wildlife in remote national parks, or lounge on the Rosario Islands off the Caribbean coast.

Combine city sightseeing with luxurious downtime on Colombia's Caribbean islands (photo courtesy of Hotel Las Islas)
Map of 10 Days in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas
10 Days in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas

With 10 days in Colombia, you can experience the rich cultures of Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena on a luxury highlights tour. Or, pick up the pace and add on the coffee farms and nature reserves around Pereira. Those seeking an island-filled itinerary will find the Caribbean coast and its lavish boutique resorts an excellent match, while travelers eager to get off the beaten path without compromising on creature comforts can set their sights on the interior's countryside and colorful villages.

Hike through the Valle de Cocora in Colombia's Coffee Triangle.
Map of 10 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
10 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

Wander with the kids in Pereira's butterfly vivarium
Map of 10 Days in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
10 Days in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas

Within 10 days, your family can combine three or more areas of Colombia thanks to low-cost domestic flights. Curious kids can engage in educational experiences, such as a silletera farm visit, on the Family Fun and Learning trip. Active families will appreciate outdoor adventures in Tayrona National Park and the Tatacoa Desert. A relaxed pace and engaging, kid-friendly activities, including a drumming workshop in La Boquilla, make the Coffee Zone and Caribbean Coast appealing to families with young children.

Early morning in Los Nevados National Park, Colombia
Map of 11 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
11 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Taking an 11-day trip means you can spend multiple days in each of Colombia's diverse cities—Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena— and add one of the country's beloved natural areas, all without rushing. Or do a deep dive into one region, like the Caribbean coast: start with two days of exploring Tayrona National Park, then base yourself in Cartagena for kayaking, sailing, and island-hopping excursions. See more options for your trip below, including cultural activities, archeological sites, and Andean treks.

Enjoy time bird-watching in Minca and observe the keel-billed toucan
Map of 12 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
12 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

In a 12-day trip, you can comfortably combine the cultural highlights of Colombia's cities with exploration in national parks. Strike your perfect balance with the itineraries below. Tour Medellín, Bogotá, and Tayrona National Park, or divide your time between the Amazon and the Andes. Check out wildlife sanctuaries and indigenous villages, discover the beaches and history of the Caribbean coast, or get off the beaten path in Santander, a true adventure hub.

Spend time in Bogotá
Map of 13 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
13 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Thirteen days is plenty of time to have satisfying experiences in each of Colombia's three most popular cities—including day trips from each—plus time in the mountains or at the beach, all without rushing. Or mix and match your urban adventures with outdoor fun and cultural experiences: go whitewater rafting down a jungle river, visit working coffee farms, take a cooking class in Cartagena, learn to dance salsa in Cali, or snorkel around the Rosario Islands.

On a two-week adventure, you can combine Colombia's cities with beguiling regions like the Zona Cafetera
Map of 2 Weeks in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas
2 Weeks in Colombia - 5 Luxury Itinerary Ideas

With two weeks in Colombia, you can embark on a luxury highlights tour that features major cities, the lush Zona Cafetera, and world-renowned restaurants. Or, slow things down and enjoy relaxing stays at 5-star resorts along the Caribbean coast. If you're a nature fanatic, spend your time exploring the Amazon rainforest and Tayrona National Park, while those geared up to tackle authentic cultural activities hop between Bogotá, Armenia, and Cartagena and their surrounding landscapes.

Spend some time exploring rugged Tatacoa, Colombia's second-largest desert region
Map of 2 Weeks in Colombia - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
2 Weeks in Colombia - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas

With two weeks in Colombia, you can hop between the lively cities of Bogotá, Salento, Medellín, and Cartagena on a highlights tour. Or, focus your time on the Caribbean coast and travel from Cartagena to Punta Gallinas with a break for a four-day trek to The Lost City. Travelers interested in Colombia's archaeological wonders should add San Agustín and Tierradentro to their itinerary, while active explorers spend time in El Cocuy National Park and Río Claro Nature Reserve.

Kids can burn off energy on a gentle nature hike of Camino Real
Map of 2 Weeks in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
2 Weeks in Colombia - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas

Two weeks in Colombia is enough time to visit four to five destinations. Families visiting for the first time can hit the highlights on a nature and culture tour. Creative kids will enjoy a music workshop in addition to adventures in the cities, mountains, and coast, while budding archaeologists will relish a chance to visit ancient sites of modern Bogotá and ancient San Agustín. Little fans of "Encanto" can experience Colombia through the lens of the film—with a focus on the Amazon or Caño Cristales.

The Rosario Islands off the coast of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Map of 15 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
15 Days in Colombia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Fifteen days in Colombia is enough time to see three important cities, along with at least one of the country's famed natural areas. A popular choice is to combine Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena with either Tayrona National Park or the Zona Cafetera (Coffee Country). You can also trade time in one of the cities for an island experience on the Caribbean Coast, a trek in the Andes, or whitewater rafting on the Río Verde. Read more about your options for a 15-day trip below.

Hike to Guane to check out its traditional streets and buildings, near Barichara, Santander, Colombia
Map of 16 Days in Colombia - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas
16 Days in Colombia - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Given Colombia's small size, with 16 days, you can visit at least five destinations. First-timers can hit the highlights of Bogotá, stargaze in the Tatacoa Desert, visit a coffee farm in Salento,  and sample Cartagena's street food. Wildlife lovers can go bird-watching in the Río Blanco and Timanú Reserves, and active travelers will enjoy hiking in Chingaza National Park and rafting the Río Calderas. Those keen on culture can engage with Indigenous communities in Uitoto Maloca and the Sierra Nevada.

Explore Cartagena's colorful Old Town on foot and horse-drawn carriage
How Many Days to Spend in Cartagena

To visit Cartagena is to step back in time to the days of conquistadores and colonialists. Even in a mere 24 hours, you could experience this spirit on a tour of Cartagena's historic Walled City, plus enjoy a carriage ride along its cobbled streets. With a couple of days, you could laze on white-sand beaches and tour its famous castles, and with close to a week, there are options for day trips to gorgeous Caribbean islands and protected national parks. Keep reading for all the details.

Colombia's second city has undergone a major transformation in recent decades
How Many Days to Spend in Medellín

Medellín, the capital of Colombia's Antioquia region, is perfect for a quick vacation—you can see the highlights, like Plaza Botero and the hip El Poblado neighborhood, in just 24 hours. Come for two or three days, and you can visit museums and botanical parks, plus ride a gondola high into the hillside comunas. With four to five days, the entire region opens up for a trip to the colorful country town of Guatapé to see its famous granite monolith, El Peñol.

How Many Days Should You Spend in Bogotá?
How Many Days to Spend in Bogotá

As an international hub, Bogotá remains the first point of contact for many travelers to Colombia, and it's worth spending two or three days exploring the country's dynamic capital city. If you're coming here only as a stop on the way to another Colombian locale, you may only have 24 hours to fill. But if you have the time and interest, this city and its surroundings reward leisurely visits of up to five days with exciting day trips outside the city.

Expect plenty of verdant scenery in Colombia's Coffee Region
How Many Days to Spend in Colombia's Coffee Region

Colombia is world-renowned for its coffee, and most travelers want to spend at least a day or two getting to know the region where this delicacy is grown and produced. Although a single overnight is enough to glimpse the Zona Cafetera, an in-depth visit can be more rewarding. That way, you won't just see the plantations that take the world's favorite drink from bean to cup—you'll also spend the night on a coffee farm, hike the verdant hills, and meet the people who make the magic happen.