Welcome to Colombia, a country that is known for its lively culture, vibrant cities and breathtaking natural beauty. With diverse landscapes stretching from the Caribbean coast to the Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest, it’s no surprise that this South American gem has quickly become a top destination for travelers around the world.
If you’re planning a trip to Colombia soon, then you’ll definitely want to know about some of the best places to visit in this amazing country. Keep reading as we guide you through our top picks for must-see destinations in Colombia!
Cartagena is a city that exudes charm and character. Located on the northern coast of Colombia, it’s known for its colorful colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife. The historic center of Cartagena, also known as the walled city or “El Centro,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features centuries-old buildings with balconies overflowing with flowers.
The streets are bustling with activity from street vendors selling souvenirs to musicians playing Caribbean rhythms. You can immerse yourself in the local culture by taking a dance class or trying some traditional Colombian food at one of the many restaurants in town.
If you’re looking for some relaxation time, head over to one of Cartagena’s nearby islands such as Islas del Rosario or Barú Island where you can soak up some sun and enjoy crystal-clear waters. Don’t forget to take a sunset stroll along the walls of Cartagena before heading out for an evening filled with salsa dancing and cocktails!
Medellin is a vibrant city located in the beautiful Aburrá Valley of Colombia. This bustling metropolis offers visitors an unforgettable experience with its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and incredible nightlife.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Medellin is undoubtedly the Plaza Botero, where you can admire over 20 larger-than-life sculptures created by Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. The plaza also houses the Museum of Antioquia, which displays a vast collection of works by both local and international artists.
Another must-see attraction is Comuna 13, previously known as one of Medellin’s most dangerous neighborhoods but now transformed into a hub for street art and urban culture. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about its history while admiring colorful murals that adorn every wall.
For nature lovers looking for some adventure outside the city limits, Parque Arví provides an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle. Here you can hike through lush forests or ride cable cars high above breathtaking landscapes.
And lastly, don’t forget to indulge in some traditional Colombian cuisine during your stay! Medellin boasts plenty of delicious food options; try bandeja paisa – a hearty dish consisting of beans, rice, meat (usually pork), fried plantains and avocado!
Medellin has something for everyone – it’s no wonder why it’s considered one of Colombia’s best places to visit!
Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis that offers visitors a unique blend of colonial architecture, modernity, and rich cultural heritage. The city boasts plenty of attractions to keep travelers entertained for days on end.
One must-visit attraction in Bogota is the historic La Candelaria district. This area is home to some of the most well-preserved colonial-era buildings in South America. It’s also where you’ll find many museums such as the famous Gold Museum which houses an impressive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts.
Another popular tourist spot in Bogota is Monserrate Hill. Visitors can take a cable car or funicular railway up to its peak where they can enjoy panoramic views overlooking the entire city below.
For those who love street art, Bogotá has some amazing graffiti-lined streets that are definitely worth checking out! Additionally, food lovers will be delighted by Bogotá’s culinary scene which features traditional Colombian dishes with international influences.
Bogota should be at the top of any traveler’s list when visiting Colombia due to its rich history and culture combined with modern amenities.
Cali, also known as the “Salsa Capital of the World,” is a vibrant city located in southwestern Colombia. This lively metropolis charms visitors with its warm and welcoming atmosphere, making it one of the best places to visit in Colombia.
One cannot talk about Cali without mentioning its vibrant salsa scene. The city boasts numerous dance clubs where locals and tourists alike can enjoy this energetic music style. To get an authentic taste of Colombian salsa, make sure to attend Delirio – a monthly show that combines salsa dancing with stunning acrobatics and colorful costumes.
Apart from being a haven for dance enthusiasts, Cali is home to several beautiful churches such as La Ermita Church and San Antonio Church. These architectural marvels showcase the rich history that permeates throughout Colombia’s third-largest city.
Nature lovers will also find solace in Cali’s nearby attractions like Farallones de Cali National Park or Pance River Ecopark—perfect spots for hiking, picnicking or simply taking in breathtaking views of lush green landscapes.
In addition to all these activities, don’t forget to indulge your taste buds in some delicious Colombian cuisine at local markets like Galería Alameda or upscale restaurants offering fusion dishes inspired by traditional flavors.
San Andres Island
San Andres Island, a true Caribbean paradise, is one of the best places in Colombia for travelers seeking sun, sand, and crystal-clear waters. This idyllic destination boasts an exceptional blend of cultures due to its history as a British colony and geographical proximity to Nicaragua.
The island’s pristine beaches such as Spratt Bight are perfect spots for sunbathing and enjoying water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving or simply swimming in the warm turquoise sea. Johnny Cay, a small nearby islet with vibrant marine life and powdery white sands, can be easily accessed by boat from San Andres.
Beyond the beautiful shoreline lies an abundance of nature waiting to be explored. Hike through El Cove Mangrove Forest where you’ll witness diverse flora and fauna or marvel at the extraordinary Blow Hole – an incredible natural phenomenon that shoots powerful jets of seawater into the air during high tide.
Cultural enthusiasts will appreciate La Loma village which showcases traditional Creole architecture while providing an insight into locals’ daily lives. Don’t forget to sample some mouth-watering Colombian cuisine infused with coastal flavors unique to this enchanting island getaway.
Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is a must-visit destination when traveling to Colombia. Located on the Caribbean coast, this national park offers breathtaking views of turquoise waters and lush tropical forests.
Visitors can hike through the jungle to reach secluded beaches with crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming or snorkeling. The park also has an abundance of wildlife including monkeys, iguanas, and colorful birds that you can spot during your trek.
One of the highlights of Tayrona National Park is Cabo San Juan beach. This stunning beach is surrounded by towering cliffs and palm trees, making it one of the most picturesque spots in Colombia. Visitors can rent hammocks or tents here and spend a night under the stars listening to the sound of crashing waves.
For those looking for adventure beyond hiking and lounging on pristine beaches, there are many other activities available at Tayrona National Park such as scuba diving trips to explore underwater caves or surfing lessons along some coastline areas which are famous among surfers.
Visiting Tayrona National Park should be on every traveler’s bucket list when exploring Colombia’s natural beauty!
Popayan is a charming colonial town located in the southwest of Colombia. This city, also known as “The White City,” boasts stunning architecture and beautiful churches that date back to the 16th century.
Visitors can take a stroll around the historic center and marvel at the white-washed buildings with their colorful balconies. The main square, Parque Caldas, is surrounded by some of Popayan’s most iconic landmarks such as the Torre del Reloj clock tower and the Catedral Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion.
Popayan is famous for its gastronomy, particularly for its empanadas stuffed with meat or potatoes. Visitors can enjoy these delicious delicacies in one of many street food stalls scattered throughout this quaint city.
For those interested in history and culture, Museo Arquidiocesano provides an extensive collection of religious art from all over South America. Meanwhile, Casa Mosquera offers insight into local life during colonial times.
Popayan oozes charm while capturing Colombian culture effortlessly; it’s undoubtedly worth a visit when exploring this incredible country!
Guatape is a small town located about two hours from Medellin. It’s known for its colorful and unique buildings, as well as the stunning views of the surrounding lake and mountains.
Aside from climbing La Piedra, visitors can also take a boat tour around the lake or rent jet skis to explore on their own. The town itself is full of charming streets lined with brightly painted houses, cafes and restaurants serving delicious Colombian cuisine.
Make sure to visit Plaza de Zocalos while you’re there – it’s an open-air plaza filled with zocalos (decorative tiles) that depict different scenes and stories.
Guatape offers a peaceful escape from city life with plenty of natural beauty to enjoy along with vibrant culture in its buildings!
San Gil is a small town located in the Department of Santander, in the northeast region of Colombia. Known as the adventure capital of Colombia, San Gil offers plenty of outdoor activities for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike.
One popular activity to do here is white-water rafting on the Rio Fonce. The rapids vary in difficulty, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced rafters. Another activity that should not be missed is paragliding over the stunning Chicamocha Canyon.
For those who prefer to stay grounded, there are many hiking trails around San Gil that offer breathtaking views of waterfalls and lush greenery. One notable trail is La Cueva del Indio, which leads you through a cave with ancient rock paintings.
When it comes to accommodation options, travelers can choose from budget-friendly hostels or luxury eco-lodges nestled in the mountains. Don’t forget to try some local specialties such as Hormigas Culonas (big-bottomed ants) or Lechona (a roasted pig dish).
San Gil is an excellent destination for adventure seekers looking to get their adrenaline pumping while surrounded by beautiful scenery and friendly locals.
Tatacoa Desert, also known as the Valley of Sorrows, is a unique and fascinating destination located in the Huila department of Colombia. This vast desert landscape spans over 330 square kilometers and boasts some of the most unusual rock formations you’ll ever see.
One of the highlights of Tatacoa Desert is its stargazing opportunities. With no light pollution for miles around, visitors can witness an incredible display of stars on clear nights. The desert’s terrain also makes it perfect for hiking and exploring, with several trails leading to breathtaking viewpoints.
For those interested in geology, Tatacoa Desert offers a glimpse into South America’s geological history. Visitors can observe various layers of sedimentary rocks that date back millions of years ago. The colors and patterns are truly awe-inspiring.
If you’re looking for a unique natural wonder to add to your Colombia travel itinerary, then Tatacoa Desert should definitely be on your list!
Taganga is a small fishing village located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, just a few kilometers from Santa Marta. Despite its tiny size, this charming town has become increasingly popular among travelers due to its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
One of the main draws of Taganga is undoubtedly its beautiful beaches. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming, snorkeling or simply relaxing under the sun. Playa Grande is one of the most popular spots in town and offers breathtaking views over the bay.
Apart from enjoying the beach life, there are also plenty of other activities to do in Taganga. You can go scuba diving or take a boat trip to explore nearby bays such as Bahia Concha or Neguanje. Hiking enthusiasts will love climbing up to Cerro de la Cruz for panoramic views over Taganga.
Despite being a small village, Taganga boasts an array of restaurants serving delicious seafood dishes as well as traditional Colombian cuisine. In addition, there are several bars where you can enjoy a cold beer while watching spectacular sunsets.
If you’re looking for an idyllic spot off-the-beaten-path on your Colombian adventure, definitely add Taganga to your list!
Santa Marta is a city located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and it’s one of the oldest cities in South America. It is surrounded by stunning beaches, breathtaking mountains, and lush jungles, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
One of its main attractions is Tayrona National Park which boasts beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling or diving. The park also offers several hiking trails among dense forests that lead to ancient ruins of the Tayrona civilization.
The city center has a vibrant atmosphere with colorful colonial buildings and lively street markets selling local handicrafts. In addition, there are various museums showcasing the history and culture of Santa Marta such as Museo del Oro Tairona where visitors can witness gold artifacts from pre-Columbian times.
If you’re looking for adventure activities, then Santa Marta won’t disappoint you as it offers opportunities like paragliding over Sierra Nevada mountain range or trekking to Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), an archeological site hidden deep within jungle terrain which gives insights into indigenous cultures.
Don’t forget to indulge in delicious seafood dishes at beachside restaurants while enjoying spectacular sunsets over the sea. Santa Marta truly caters to every traveler’s needs!
To sum it up, Colombia is a country that boasts of beautiful landscapes, vibrant cultures, and warm people. From the picturesque Cartagena to the breathtaking Tayrona National Park and beyond, there are numerous places to explore in this South American destination.
With all these destinations at your disposal, you’ll never run out of things to do or see during your visit. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a beach lover looking for some relaxation time, there’s something here for everyone.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to experience one of the most stunning countries in Latin America- Colombia!
This post was originally published on allaboutcolombia.com.