From the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean and from the Andes Mountains to the Amazonas, Colombia is full of incredible experiences for every type of traveler or tourist.
Travelers often ask how long should I plan to spend in Colombia? Truth is, there is a lifetime of adventures to discover here, so plan for as long as you can!
Here are 11 things that should be on every visitor’s list when they come to Colombia.
Explore Cartagena de Indias
Lose yourself in the colorful streets of the old town of beautiful Cartagena. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled into the past, as you walk its cobblestone streets and munch on freshly sliced fruit from a street stall. Be amazed not only by its beautiful colonial architecture and colorful streets, but by its its rich history and warm culture.
Find Adventure in San Gil
San Gil is known as Colombia’s adventure sports capital, where you can go whitewater rafting, parasailing, and rock climbing all within the same day. But it isn’t just for adventure junkies. You could also just take in the breadth and beauty of Chicamocha Canyon — Colombia’s Grand Canyon — or take a walk through the colonial streets of Barichara.
Visit the Gold Museum
The Gold Museum, as the name suggests, is located in Bogota and is one of the most fascinating museums in all of South America. Here you can learn about the history of Colombia, its native populations, and the Spanish Conquistadors that came searching for riches. Among its rooms you can enjoy artifacts from incredible gold sculptures to antique jewelry.
Enjoy the Vibrant Blue Waters of San Andres
If your idea of fun includes sunny beaches, and swimming or snorkeling in turquoise blue waters, then you can’t miss a visit to Colombia’s islands of San Andres and Providencia. The islands are located far from the Colombian mainland, closer to Nicaragua than Colombia, so you’ll have to fly in to visit.
Climb up the Piedra de Penol
This beautiful rock monolith towers over the waters surrounding Guatape. From below the rock is imposing and beautiful, but the best part is climbing up the 750 steps that lead to the top. Here you’ll get a 360 degree view of the stunning Antioquian countryside.
Trek to the Lost City
Considered one of the best hiking routes in the country, Ciudad Perdida (“The Lost City”) are the ruins of a civilization that long ago disappeared. Think Machu Picchu but without all the crowds. There are no roads that lead to the Lost City, so you’ll have to lace up your hiking shoes to visit this archaeological treasure. Put on some good boots, wear some comfortable clothes and get ready to hike through the jungle — it will be an unforgettable excursion.
Visit the National Coffee Park
Colombia’s Coffee Axis is one of the country’s most emblematic regions, and coffee is one of the main Colombian exports. The best coffee in the country is from the surrounding hills and is recognized around the world for its quality and flavor. On the outskirts of Armenia in Quindío, lies the Parque del Cafe, which celebrates this important plant. Not only is it the perfect place to see exactly how coffee beans are grown and collected then shipped around the world to your local coffee shop, but it’s also a pretty awesome theme park with a variety of attractions.
Dance Until Dawn in Cali
Colombia is famous for salsa music, and Cali is the capital of salsa. Cali is also famous for being home to some of the most beautiful people in South America, so take the time to enjoy a night out on the town, dancing with locals, moving your feet, and losing yourself in the music. Hopefully you’ve got the energy to dance until dawn!
See the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
This surreal underground cathedral is famous throughout the world for its beautiful architecture and has become a popular place among travelers exploring Colombia where you will see a church carved into solid salt. The space is especially popular among local Colombians on the weekend, so if you’re looking for a bit more space, come during a weekday.
Indulge in Greenery at the Botanical Gardens of Medellin
The city of Medellin has so much to see and do, but the Botanical Garden near the University of Antioquia has to be among my favorites. The Botanical Gardens display a wide variety of plant life across Colombia and it is a welcome refuge from big city life as you stroll through the manicured grounds. If you’re lucky you may also spot wild macaws or see the numerous iguanas that inhabit the park.
Enjoy the Culinary Delights
Colombia isn’t well known abroad for it’s food, but it is a rich melting pot of cultures and flavors with dishes that vary from region to region. From the arepas to the lechona, from the empanadas to bunuelos, there are culinary surprises available everywhere.
There is no need to even sit down at a restaurant when the street food stalls will be calling your name…
These are but 11 of the million things to do in Colombia… Have you been to Colombia? What would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments below.
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