12 May 2013
Suggestions for a two-week holiday in Colombia
So you’ve decided to spend two weeks in the amazing and diverse South American country of Colombia. With two weeks, you can manage to squeeze in quite a lot. However, what you see and do and where you decide to go will depend on how much time you want to spend in each area and also how fast a pace you want to travel at.
Regardless, with two weeks, you’ll definitely want to spend some time in the Colombian capital of Bogota. Bogota is an immense city offering an array of attractions, from historic sites to art museums, parks, and modern restaurants.
In Bogota, you can have a cup of world-famous Colombian coffee atop one of the most famous and iconic mountain peaks in Colombia — Cerro Monserrate. This mountain peak stands at 3,152 meters above sea level and lends you an incredible view of Bogota. Atop the peak, you’ll find a church, small artisan market, and a restaurant. To get here, you’ll need to either walk, as many do when making a pilgrimage to the church located atop Monserrate, or you can pay to ride the cable car.
While in the capital city, you can also check out the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) which house the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world. You won’t leave this recently renovated and incredible museum disappointed. While in the historic center of Bogota, go ahead and check out the central plaza—Plaza de Bolívar and the famous historic neighborhood, la Candelaria. If you’ve got the time, spend some time in the churches scattered about the city centre, especially la Iglesia de San Francisco and La Tercera.
With more time in Bogota, you can easily venture to Usaquen to check out the local market there. Usaquen was once a small town on the outskirts of Bogota, but has now been incorporated into the city. Even so, it retains a unique small town feel. Enjoy a Sunday afternoon there browsing through the exceptional products being sold in the market!
If you want to stay close to Bogota for a while longer, travel to Villa de Leyva, a colonial town about 4 hours outside Bogota. Villa de Leyva will transport you back in time to the era of the fight for independence. Here, you can take a horseback tour of the town, tour a local vineyard, visit the house where the first president of Colombia, Antonio Nariño passed away and more!
If you’re looking to travel further away from Bogota, head to the Coffee Zone—Quindío, Risaralda, Caldas. Here you can learn all about the coffee planting, harvesting, and roasting that happens before Colombian coffee is exported around the world. Also, be sure to visit small towns in the area such as Salento, where you can see the incredible and breath-taking Valle de Cocora. Also, be sure to try a traditional bandeja paisa—the best and most authentic ones are found in the Coffee Zone.
Before leaving this amazing region of Colombia, spend a few days in the cosmopolitan city of Medellín. Once infamous for its negative reputation around the world, Medellín is now a city famous for its focus on education and culture. Medellín boasts the largest collection of work by famous Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, a beautiful botanical garden, and a modern metro that can show you the entire cityscape for less than a £1.
When you’re ready for more historic sites and astonishing beaches, jump on a plane headed for the Caribbean Coast. The Caribbean Coast is full of beautiful beaches, historical sites, and flora and fauna sanctuaries.
Without doubt, you must spend time in the romantic and historic city of Cartagena. Cartagena is a very important city, historically. Nowadays, you can walk along the fortress walls the Spaniards constructed during the conquest of Latin America to protect the city and soak up the romantic and charming air of the colonial houses lining the streets within the walled city (ciudad amurallada).
While in Cartagena, be sure to catch a boat to the Islas del Rosario, an island chain made up of 47 islands that have been declared a national park. Here, you’ll find stunning beaches and amazing sites for snorkeling and swimming. Regardless of what you do in Cartagena, you’re bound to fall in love with this enchanting city of modern and colonial contrasts.
After a few days in Cartagena, travel to the coastal city of Santa Marta located two departments east of Cartagena. While Santa Marta is worth a walk around, the real gem of this city lies about an hour outside the city limits and is called Parque Tayrona (Tayrona Park). In this amazing national park, you’ll be able to hike through lush tropical forest and explore incredible beaches. For the more daring adventurers, you can also sign up for a hike up the Machu Picchu of Colombia—la Ciudad Perdida. No matter what you decide to do in Tayrona Park, it should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Colombia.
If you want a real adventure to a place still a bit off the tourist radar, book a tour to the northern most tip of Colombia—Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas in the department of La Guajira. Or, if you’re itching to tour the Amazon, book a flight to the city of Leticia.
Whatever you do with your 2 weeks, make sure you enjoy every minute of it, whether you travel to all the places described in this post or whether you only make it to two. Soak up the unique regional cultures, try authentic and traditional cuisines, and bask in the unique travel experience that only Colombia can give you!
The Uncover Colombia team