October 6, 2021, 12:46 pm
If you are planning to visit Colombia, we understand how difficult it will be to select the most exciting vacation spots for you. Even for us, it is difficult to recommend where to as there is so much to see Colombia. However, we will try to do our best to give you some recommendations.
Before going into the details of each place, it is essential to understand that Colombia has five natural regions: The Andes, The Caribbean Coast, The Pacific Coast, The Amazon jungle and The Plains or The Eastern region. The landscapes and activities offered by each region are entirely different from the others.
As there is so much to cover, in this article, we will only focus on the most visited regions; The Andes and the Caribbean Coast. However, if you wish to learn about the other regions, you can click here to download our Colombia travel.
The Andean Region
The Andes is the most populated region in the country, characterised by its diverse topography given by the Andes. The three branches of the Andes crossing the country from the South to the north create a dramatic mix of sceneries from high snow-capped mountains and deep canyons to extensive valleys. The weather, fauna and flora also vary accordingly to the altitude.
This region has so much to offer in history, cultural events, archaeological sites and colourful towns. It is also perfect for ecotourism and extreme sports like white-water rafting and paragliding.
Bogota, Medellin and the coffee region are the most known vacation spots. Still, there are also other places to visit depending on your particular interests and the duration of your trip, such as San Agustin and Tierradentro, Cali or Santander.
La Candelaria in Bogota
Bogota is located in the centre of the country and is often where international flights arrive and depart. Therefore, it is highly likely that you start your Colombia vacation in Bogota.
Cobblestone streets wind through La Candelaria, Bogotá’s charming historic district. The area is famous for its Spanish Colonial architecture and important museums such as the Gold Museum and Botero Museum. Mountain tops peak through old church steeples, and street vendors sell anything from tart mangos to traditional Colombian desserts for only a few pesos.
- Time to spend in Bogota: 2 – 3 days
Click here for more details of things to do in Bogota.
Colombia’s Coffee region has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. It is an ideal vacation spot for coffee lovers, as you can visit coffee farms to learn about the coffee production process and have tastings experiences.
This region, also called the Coffee Triangle, is located in the heart of the Andes and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its spectacular natural landscapes. In addition, the Coffee Region has many charming and colourful towns such as Salento and Filanda. It is also home to the impressive Cocora Valley and Parque de Los Nevados.
- Time to spend in the coffee region: 3 – 4 days
- How to get there: The most straightforward way is to fly there. There are frequent flights from Bogota and Medellin (35 -45 min). It is also possible to travel by land, but it is approximately 8 hours from Bogota and 5 -6 hours from Medellin
Click here for more details of things to do in this spectacular region of Colombia
Medellin is the second-largest city in Colombia. Once considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Medellin has reinvented itself into a pleasant place. It is called the "City of Eternal Spring" due to its perfect combination of warm days and cool nights. Surrounded by flower farms, Medellin is one of the main flower producing centres in Colombia.
You will find many exciting places for a tour in Medellin or a day trip out of the city. It offers fabulous natural places such as Parque Arvi, a beautiful colourful town like Guatape and unique areas such as Comuna 13 or Parque Lleras.
- How to get there: The best way is by airplane. There are frequent direct flights from most of the main cities in the country
- Time to spend in Medellin: 2 – 3 days
Click here for more details of things to do in Medellin
Cali, the Salsa Capital of the World
If you are dying to get your dance on, then Colombia is the place to do it. This is a country where both men and women grow up with Latin music in their veins, especially in the Salsa capital of the world, Cali. Visit the city, enrol in a dance class and get ready to learn how to keep up with the best of them.
- How to get there: There are frequent direct flights from Bogota and Medellin other main cities. By land is about 2.5 hours from Popayan or 5 hours from the coffee region.
- Time to spend in Cali: 2 – 3 days
San Agustin and Tierradentro
San Agustin and Tierradentro are renowned in Colombia for being the home of the most well preserved and important remnants of pre-Colombian life. If you are particularly interested in the history and culture of South America, these UNESCO World Heritage Sites shed a lot of light on parts of a culture where much of its past remains unknown. The parks are also located in the beautiful Colombian Andes, which enables you to admire the scenic surroundings while educating yourself on the history of Colombia.
- How to get there: To get to San Agustin the fastest way is to fly from Bogota to Pitalito, a town located 45 min from San Agustin. You can also fly to Neiva from Bogota and then drive 5 hours to San Agusti. Tierradentro is about 4 – 5 hours driving from San Agustin or about 3 hours from Neiva.
- Time to spend in San Agustin: Minimun 3 days.
- To visit San Agustin and Tierradentro, you need at least 5 days.
Click here to see more details about these incredible sites
Boyaca and Santander
Visiting the departments of Boyacá and Santader is like transporting back in time when visiting their beautiful and well preserved colonial towns.
Villa de Leyva is the most famous town in Boyaca where you should spend at least one or two nights. If you have more time, from Villa de Leyva you can travel to Santander. Here, you can visit the Cañón de Chicamocha to see the stunning view from the second-largest canyon in the world. Next, visit the charming town of Barichara for a romantic and relaxing getaway, and if you are into sports, consider stopping by San Gil for white water rafting or paragliding.
- Time to spend in Boyaca: Minimum 2 days in Villa de Leyva or 3 days if you wish to visit other towns.
- Time to visit San Boyaca and Santander: Minimum 5 days.
Click here to see more details about these incredible sites
The Caribbean Coast
Cartagena is the picture-perfect vacation spot for those who want to explore the Caribbean and enjoy a charming colonial atmosphere. Wander around the old city’s exquisite colonial architecture, visit some of its charming plazas and restaurants, take a graffiti or street food tour or spend time by the beach in Islas del Rosario.
There is so much to do in this spectacular city, and its airport has good international flight connections, so you can finish your tour here before flying back home. You can also arrive and depart from Cartagena, if you only wish to explore the Caribbean Coast.
- Time to spend in Cartagena: Minimum 3 days, if you wish to have a bit of sun and beach you can spend 3 days in the old town and then spend 2 or 3 days in Islas del Rosario.
Click here to see more details about Cartagena and the Caribbean Coast
Santa Marta is the ideal place for those who like things a bit more rugged or are more adventurous. Also located on the Caribbean coast, Santa Marta is a great option if you are looking for more than just relaxing by the pool.
From here, not only can you explore some amazing jungle-like beaches in nearby Tayrona Park, but you can also go on birding tours near Minca or hike through the jungle to the Lost City, the Colombian version of Machu Picchu.
- Time to spend in Santa Marta: Minimum 3 days
A beautiful town known as the setting for Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mompox was declared a world cultural heritage site by the UNESCO in 1995 and looks pretty much as it used to during colonial times. This frozen in time town is the perfect place to learn more about Colombia history.
- How to get there: You can get to Mompox from Cartagena or Santa Marta by car, it could take approximately 7 hrs.
- Time to spend in Mompox: Minimum 3 days
La Guajira is often overlooked because of its location. This is the northernmost point not only of Colombia, but of all of South America. It’s where the desert meets the ocean. It takes about 3 to 4 days to see the most beautiful parts of La Guajira. People usually visit the country for too short of a time to include it in their Colombian itinerary. If you are in the country for two weeks or more, then La Guajira is highly recommended.
In La Guajira, you will see stunning bright orange desert sand landscapes clashing against the dark blue sea. You will also meet many indigenous people and eat all types of exotic local dishes such as goats, stingrays, and lobster!
- Time to spend in La Guajira: Minimum 3 days, if visiting only Cabo de la Vela and 5 days if visiting Punta Gallinas.
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