Colombia, a country in the northwest corner of South America, has become a popular travel destination for adventurers, culture seekers, and nature enthusiasts alike.
Let’s delve into why Colombia is a must-visit for any avid traveler.
Colombia is a country with diverse landscapes and cultures. It has a stunning Caribbean coast, lush Amazon rainforests, towering Andean mountains, and vibrant cities.
Colombia offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel like a part of its vibrant tapestry. Cartagena is known for its colonial charm, while Santa Marta offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Other places like Bogotá, Medellín, and Salento are also worth exploring. Colombia invites you to embrace its diversity and uncover its hidden gems.
So, if you’re seeking a travel experience that combines history, culture, adventure, and natural beauty, Colombia should undoubtedly be at the top of your list.
Explore my list below of what I believe are the 16 best places you can choose from when visiting Colombia.
My List of Places to Visit in Colombia
Cartagena is a captivating city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, known for its rich history and vibrant culture. This coastal gem boasts well-preserved colonial architecture and an enchanting old town that transports visitors back in time.
With its beautiful beaches, historic forts, and lively street scenes, Cartagena offers a delightful blend of relaxation and exploration.
Whether you’re wandering through its charming streets, diving into its fascinating history, or basking in the tropical ambiance, Cartagena is a must-visit destination.
Rich History and Culture
1. Explore the historic Old Town (Ciudad Amurallada) with its well-preserved colonial architecture.
2. Visit Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. a symbol of Spanish colonial power.
3. Immerse yourself in the vibrant street culture with music, dance, and local cuisine.
1. Relax on beautiful beaches like Playa Blanca and Bocagrande.
2. Take boat trips to the nearby Rosario Islands for snorkeling and diving.
3. Enjoy water sports and beachfront dining options.
1. Experience the tropical climate and warm, welcoming locals.
2. Savor the flavors of Colombian and Caribbean cuisine.
3. Visit the Palace of Inquisition and Gold Museum for cultural insights
Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and is located in the Andean mountains. It has a lively arts scene, a rich history, and beautiful natural surroundings. You can visit the historic La Candelaria district or take a cable car to Monserrate to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or nature, Bogotá has something to offer everyone.
1. Explore the historic La Candelaria district, filled with museums and art galleries.
2. Visit the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) to see one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Hispanic gold.
3. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant street art scene.
1. Take a cable car ride up to Monserrate for panoramic views of Bogotá
2. Explore Usaquén for its Sunday flea market and charming streets.
3. Visit the underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, a unique subterranean marvel.
1. Sample Colombian street food and traditional dishes
2. Try local specialties like arepas and empanadas
3. Enjoy Colombian coffee in cozy cafes across the city.
Medellín, a city that was once known for its turbulent past, has transformed into a hub of innovation, art, and natural beauty. It is located in a lush valley and offers visitors the chance to ride its iconic Metrocable, explore vibrant neighborhoods filled with street art, and embrace a thriving cultural scene. With its stunning landscapes and pleasant climate, Medellín invites travelers to discover the charm and resilience of this dynamic city.
1. Ride the Medellín Metrocable for stunning urban views and a unique transportation experience.
2. Explore the Comuna 13 neighborhood for its transformation from a troubled area to a vibrant community filled with street art.
3. Visit the Botanical Garden of Medellín, showcasing the city’s commitment to green spaces.
1. Take a day trip to Guatapé and climb the famous El Peñol rock for breathtaking vistas.
2. Explore Parque Arvi for hiking, biking, and nature activities.
3. Discover the city’s many parks and green spaces.
1. Immerse yourself in Medellín’s art scene with visits to various galleries and exhibitions.
2. Experience the nightlife in El Poblado and Parque Lleras.
3. Try traditional Colombian dishes at Mercado del Río.
Cali is a city that’s famous for its salsa music and dance. It’s also known for its stunning views from Cristo Rey, diverse wildlife at the Cali Zoo, and a mix of modernity and tradition. Whether you’re here for the salsa or to explore its cultural treasures, Cali offers a unique Colombian experience.
1. Experience the passionate world of salsa dancing in its hometown.
2. Take salsa lessons and join local dance clubs for a lively night out.
3. Attend the Cali Fair (Feria de Cali) in December, a major salsa festival.
1. Visit Cristo Rey for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
2. Explore the Cali Zoo, home to a diverse range of animal species.
3. Relax on the sandy shores of Playa Rodadero and enjoy water sports.
1. Explore the historic San Antonio neighborhood with its colonial architecture.
2. Try traditional Colombian food and drinks like sancocho and lulada.
3. Visit the Tertulia Museum of Modern Art for a taste of Cali’s cultural heritage.
Santa Marta is a beautiful coastal city located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. It’s a gateway to Tayrona National Natural Park and the Lost City Trek. The city has pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and a charming historic center. It’s a perfect destination for both adventure seekers and history enthusiasts. You can explore the wonders of nature and delve into Colombia’s indigenous past here.
1. Explore Tayrona National Natural Park with its stunning beaches and lush rainforests.
2. Trek to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) for a challenging adventure and archaeological marvel.
3. Enjoy scuba diving in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
1. Visit the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Simón Bolívar spent his final days.
2. Explore the historic center of Santa Marta with its colonial architecture.
3. Take a boat trip to Isla de San Andresito for snorkeling and relaxation.
1. Discover the beauty of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
2. Relax on the white, sandy beaches of San Andrés and enjoy water sports.
3. Explore the nearby beaches of Playa Blanca and Bahía Concha for tranquil escapes.
San Andrés is a beautiful Colombian island in the Caribbean Sea. It’s famous for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant marine life. You can snorkel, dive, and relax on its stunning shores. The island also has cultural depth, with historical sites like Morgan’s Cave and a unique blend of Colombian and Caribbean influences.
1. Experience the idyllic Caribbean atmosphere with crystal-clear waters and white, sandy beaches.
2. Snorkel in the vibrant coral reefs of Johnny Cay.
3. Take a glass-bottom boat tour to explore the diverse marine life.
1. Discover the UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve of Seaflower and its unique ecosystems.
2. Explore Morgan’s Cave to learn about pirate history and legends.
3. Enjoy duty-free shopping for jewelry, electronics, and more in the local markets.
Relaxation and Adventure
1. Unwind on the beaches and soak up the sun.
2. Try local cuisine, including seafood and coconut-based dishes.
3. Explore the island’s interior with activities like horseback riding and ATV tours.
Barranquilla is a city that’s famous for its Carnival celebrations. It has a rich cultural heritage, from its elegant El Prado neighborhood to the Museo del Caribe. The city’s location on the banks of the Magdalena River adds to its allure, offering visitors a chance to explore the vibrant culture of the Caribbean coast.
1. Barranquilla is famous for hosting one of the world’s largest and most vibrant carnivals, the Carnival of Barranquilla. Attend this lively festival filled with colorful parades, music, dance, and traditional costumes.
2. Explore the historic neighborhood of El Prado with its elegant architecture and cultural venues.
3. Enjoy seafood delicacies at the Puerta de Oro Seafood Market, known for its fresh catches and local flavors.
1. Visit the Museo del Caribe to delve into the cultural and historical richness of the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
2. Take a boat tour on the Magdalena River to witness the local way of life along Colombia’s most important waterway.
3. Experience the nightlife by exploring various bars, clubs, and music venues that showcase the city’s vibrant music and dance culture.
Film and Arts
1. Attend the Barranquilla International Film Festival, showcasing both national and international films.
2. Explore the local art scene with visits to galleries and exhibitions featuring contemporary Colombian artists.
3. Immerse yourself in the annual Barranquilla Jazz Festival for a taste of the city’s diverse music culture.
Pereira is a gateway to the Coffee Cultural Landscape, where you can explore the world of coffee production. This region has lush landscapes, thermal hot springs, and coffee farms like Hacienda Venecia to explore. It’s a perfect destination for those seeking relaxation and outdoor adventure.
1. Pereira is a gateway to the Coffee Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore coffee farms such as Hacienda Venecia to learn about the coffee production process and enjoy tastings.
2. Relax in the thermal hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal, surrounded by lush landscapes.
3. Hike through Los Nevados National Natural Park to witness stunning volcanic landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.
1. Explore the Botanical Garden of Pereira, a peaceful oasis with a wide variety of plants and wildlife.
2. Take a cable car ride to enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains from Chipre.
3. Experience the tranquility of the region’s natural landscapes, including lush forests and waterfalls.
1. Taste local Colombian cuisine and delicacies at restaurants and markets in Pereira.
2. Enjoy traditional coffee and desserts while soaking in the coffee culture.
3. Explore local markets to shop for artisanal crafts and souvenirs.
Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is a charming colonial town with cobbled streets and well-preserved architecture. It’s an idyllic retreat for history lovers and nature enthusiasts. You can visit unique places like Casa Terracota and Pozos Azules, which offer a blend of historical and natural wonders.
1. Villa de Leyva is renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture and picturesque streets, making it a haven for history and architecture enthusiasts.
2. Visit the Fossil Museum (Museo El Fósil) to see ancient fossils, including a giant kronosaurus.
3. Explore the unique Casa Terracota, a clay house with a fascinating design.
1. Take a hot-air balloon ride over the stunning countryside, offering breathtaking views of the region.
2. Hike to the Pozos Azules (Blue Wells) for a serene experience amidst blue-tinted natural pools.
3. Visit the nearby Convento del Santo Ecce Homo, a historic religious site with intricate architecture.
1. Enjoy local artisanal cheeses and wines produced in the region.
2. Savor traditional Colombian cuisine in charming restaurants and cafés.
3. Experience the warm hospitality of the locals and immerse yourself in the town’s relaxed atmosphere.
Manizales is a city in central Colombia that offers a taste of the country’s coffee culture. It has panoramic views from its hilltop cathedral and hosts the Feria de Manizales. Visitors can explore Los Nevados National Natural Park and enjoy the blend of Colombian traditions and the beauty of the Andean mountains.
1. Manizales is part of the coffee cultural landscape, offering opportunities to explore coffee farms and plantations, such as Hacienda Venecia.
2. Discover Los Nevados National Natural Park, known for its stunning volcanic landscapes and hiking trails.
3. Immerse yourself in the culture of coffee production and its importance to the region.
1. Visit the Cathedral of Manizales for panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.
2. Take a cable car ride to Chipre to witness breathtaking vistas and enjoy local cuisine.
3. Explore the city’s theaters and cultural events to experience the artistic side of Manizales.
Festivals and Traditions
1. Experience the Feria de Manizales in January, a week-long festival featuring bullfights, music, parades, and cultural activities.
2. Immerse yourself in the local traditions and folklore of Manizales, which blend indigenous and Spanish influences.
3. Sample traditional dishes like arepas and sancocho while enjoying the hospitality of the locals.
Popayán is a city that’s famous for its Semana Santa processions and colonial architecture. You can explore the Natural History Museum, sample traditional Colombian cuisine, and enjoy the serene natural beauty that surrounds the city.
1. Popayán boasts well-preserved colonial architecture, offering a glimpse into Colombia’s colonial past.
2. Visit the Puente del Humilladero, a historic bridge with religious significance.
3. Experience the town’s unique Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions, known for their cultural and religious significance.
1. Explore the Natural History Museum to learn about the region’s natural diversity and history.
2. Savor traditional Colombian cuisine, including empanadas and local specialties.
3. Visit Belalcázar Square and enjoy the ambiance of this historic town center.
1. Venture into the surrounding natural beauty by hiking to Puracé National Natural Park.
2. Discover waterfalls, hot springs, and volcanic landscapes in the region.
3. Enjoy the tranquility and lush landscapes of Popayán’s surroundings.
Armenia is a city in central Colombia that’s perfect for coffee lovers. It’s located in the heart of the Coffee Cultural Landscape and offers coffee farms, hot air balloon rides over picturesque plantations, and lush landscapes like the Cocora Valley to explore. You can savor Colombian coffee while surrounded by stunning views here.
1. Armenia is part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape, offering visitors the chance to explore coffee farms and learn about the coffee-making process.
2. Take a hot-air balloon ride over the picturesque coffee plantations, providing unique and stunning aerial views.
3. Explore the Cocora Valley to witness the iconic wax palms and experience the Andean cloud forest.
1. Hike through the Cocora Valley to marvel at the towering wax palms and lush landscapes.
2. Visit the Botanical Garden and Butterfly House to experience Armenia’s rich biodiversity.
3. Discover the serene beauty of the Andes Mountains and pristine nature in the surrounding region.
Coffee and Cuisine
1. Taste local coffee and indulge in traditional Colombian dishes at charming cafés and restaurants.
2. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals while enjoying a coffee break.
3. Shop for artisanal coffee products, including beans, coffee-related souvenirs, and more.
Salento is a charming town located in the Andean highlands. It has vibrant streets, artisanal crafts, and breathtaking natural beauty. You can hike in the Cocora Valley, explore coffee farms, and witness the iconic wax palms here. The town’s charm lies in its colonial architecture, artistic ambiance, and serene landscapes.
1. Salento is known for its picturesque and colorful streets, creating a charming atmosphere for visitors.
2. Hike through the Cocora Valley to witness the stunning wax palms and pristine natural landscapes.
3. Take a hot-air balloon ride to gain a unique perspective of the surrounding Andean scenery.
1. Visit local coffee farms to learn about the coffee production process and enjoy tastings.
2. Try trout dishes at local restaurants, combining the flavors of the region’s cuisine with its natural surroundings.
3. Explore the lush Andean forests, rivers, and waterfalls in the area.
1. Shop for artisanal crafts, including pottery and traditional souvenirs.
2. Immerse yourself in the relaxed atmosphere of Salento, where time seems to slow down.
3. Visit the Mirador de Salento for panoramic views of the town and the Cocora Valley.
Guatapé is a colorful town that’s famous for its El Peñol rock, which offers panoramic views from its summit. The town has streets adorned with intricate frescoes and the Guatapé reservoir to explore. It’s a perfect destination for adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and art lovers.
1. Guatapé is famous for the awe-inspiring El Peñol rock, a massive monolith with 740 steps leading to a panoramic viewpoint at the top.
2. Explore the colorful streets and buildings adorned with intricate frescoes, known as zócalos, showcasing the town’s artistic flair.
3. Take boat tours on the Guatapé reservoir, also known as the Embalse del Peñol, to appreciate the stunning landscapes.
1. Climb the 740 steps of El Peñol rock for breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes and islands.
2. Enjoy water sports like kayaking, jet skiing, and swimming in the Guatapé reservoir.
30. Hike or bike through the scenic countryside and lush forests, encountering natural beauty at every turn.
1. Explore La Manuela, Pablo Escobar’s former estate, which has been transformed into a museum, offering insights into Colombia’s history.
2. Sample local cuisine at lakeside restaurants, featuring fresh seafood and traditional Colombian dishes.
3. Visit the Indio Cacique monument, a symbol of indigenous heritage and culture.
Santa Fe de Antioquia
Santa Fe de Antioquia is a charming town that takes you back to colonial times. It has red-tiled roofs and historic landmarks. You can explore its historic sites, stroll along the riverbanks, and enjoy the town’s cultural festivities.
1. Explore Santa Fe de Antioquia’s well-preserved colonial architecture, characterized by its red-tiled roofs and historic churches.
2. Visit the Puente de Occidente, a suspension bridge that is an engineering marvel and a national monument.
3. Discover the Santa Barbara Church and the Plaza Mayor, central to the town’s historic charm.
1. Enjoy the tranquility of Santa Fe de Antioquia’s riverside location by the Cauca River.
2. Take leisurely walks along the riverbanks, bask in the serene atmosphere, and appreciate the natural beauty.
3. Experience the beauty of the region by taking boat tours or going fishing on the Cauca River.
1. Participate in local festivals and cultural events that showcase the town’s traditions and heritage.
2. Immerse yourself in the unique traditions and folklore of Santa Fe de Antioquia, blending indigenous and Spanish influences.
3. Explore the local arts and crafts scene, including traditional pottery and handmade textiles.
Jardín is a beautiful town located in the Andean mountains. It has colorful streets, cable car rides to Alto de las Baldías, and stunning waterfalls like Cueva del Esplendor to explore. You can enjoy the town’s scenic landscapes and vibrant culture here.
1. Explore Jardin’s picturesque town square, surrounded by well-preserved colonial architecture and stunning mountain landscapes.
2. Take a cable car ride to Alto de las Baldías for panoramic views of the Andes Mountains and the town below.
3. Visit the Cueva del Esplendor waterfall, a hidden gem surrounded by lush forest.
1. Enjoy horseback riding in the beautiful countryside, offering a unique way to experience the Andean landscape.
2. Hike to the Pozos Azules for a refreshing dip in blue-tinted natural pools surrounded by natural beauty.
3. Explore the natural wonders of the Andes by venturing into the surrounding forests and discovering waterfalls and serene landscapes.
1. Try trout dishes at local restaurants, a specialty of the region that combines local ingredients with Andean flavors.
2. Savor traditional Colombian cuisine and coffee in charming cafés and restaurants.
3. Explore the local markets for artisanal crafts, souvenirs, and unique food products.