Nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and teeming with restaurants, shops, and nightlife, Cartagena is a true gem for all who visit. This gorgeous, historic city is centuries old and superbly preserved. Its all-year-round tropical climate makes it the perfect vacation destination for those seeking some sun and there are some fantastic Cartagena boutique hotels to …
I truly adored my visit to Colombia simply because of how much there is to see, eat, and do. It also helped tremendously that the people were incredibly friendly and welcoming!
Because of the country’s troubled past, many tourists avoid a visit here. After all, Colombia is still recovering, and you’ll need to keep your wits about you when visiting. Still, I’m here to tell you why Colombia should be on your list of places to visit.
So, if you’re hoping to find out why Medellin is called the “City of Eternal Spring”, where to get your hands on mystical emeralds, and why the small town of Guatapé deserves a visit, read on. These are my top reasons for visiting the “Gateway to South America”!
Why Visit Colombia?
Colombia kisses the Caribbean Sea and sits in the middle of the Andes Mountains. Because of this, the country has unique wildlife and hiking trails that attract outdoor enthusiasts. Its rich history, food, art, and culture are also big drawcards.
Colombia has gotten a bad rep for being a dangerous country — especially if you’ve watched shows like Narcos. However, the country has made significant strides in safety since Pablo Escobar’s death in the 90s.
PS: if you’re interested in the infamous politician and drug lord’s unconventional life, I recommend you take a Pablo Escobar Tour in Medellin.
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’ll love being in Colombia. The country takes great pride in sourcing and roasting the best coffee beans to perfection. So, make sure to carve out some time in your schedule to tour a coffee plantation or, at the very least, sip a cuppa at one of the many cafes and restaurants in Medellin.
How Long Do You Need to Be in Colombia?
I recommend spending at least a week in the country, but the perfect Colombia itinerary lasts two weeks. This gives you a chance to visit the popular hotspots, eat amazing food, hike the breathtaking landscapes, and more.
It also gives you enough time to explore off-the-beaten-track locations and quaint towns you may have missed on a shorter trip.
Top Places to Visit in Colombia
To help you compile your Colombia itinerary, here are some of the best places to visit in the country.
Bogotá is Colombia’s capital city, where most of its business is done. But Colombians love to work and play hard, so this is also where you’ll get the largest nightlife scene in the country. If you’re looking for a party, you can’t go wrong with hanging around Zona Rosa for the most fantastic night of your life.
That said, the city isn’t all about working and partying. Bogotá is also well-known for its arts, culture, and food. One of the best things to do in Bogotá is take a street food tour or eat at local restaurants yourself. It’s an excellent way to learn more about the city’s culture and locals.
Colombia has the best emeralds due to their intense color and clarity. Visit Bogotá’s dedicated Emerald District for jewellers eager to help you find a design you’ll like. After all, Colombian emeralds are believed to have mystical properties that aid in healing, wisdom, and peace.
While Bogota may be Colombia’s capital, Medellín is its most popular city. This is because of its pleasant spring-like weather all year round, abundant markets, museums, and outdoor activities. I spent over three weeks exploring the city and still found endless things to do in Medellin.
One of the top things to do is explore the city’s many museums and art sculptures. One of my favourite places to do this is in Plaza Botero. This free park has unique sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero dotted all over. As a bonus, it’s not too far from the Museum of Antioquia and Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture.
If you visit the city in early August, you’ll be on time to attend the Feria de las Flores Medellin celebration. This is an annual flower festival that lasts for ten days and has been running since 1957. During this time, the streets are lined with extravagant flower arrangements and sculptures that will brighten anyone’s day.
While there, I stayed in the Art Hotel Medellin, which I recommend to anyone looking for fun in the heart of El Poblado.
Cartagena sits on the Caribbean coast and is thus one of the most visited cities in Colombia. The city is lined with palm trees, white sand shores, and Spanish colonial buildings.
Nicknamed the ‘Heroic City’, Cartagena became the first Colombian city to become independent from Spain. You can still see this in the stone walls built in Old Town intended to keep enemy forces out.
As a result of the city’s heroism, Cartagena has a huge annual bash honouring its independence in November. Expect a parade, dances, and a beauty pageant to celebrate during this time. If you can, visit around this time, as it’s great fun.
If you can’t, there are still loads of things to do in this city. Walk around and try local delicacies like plantains, fried fish with coconut rice, or freshly squeezed juice. Enjoy some reggaeton beats and salsa dancing on the nearby islands, or go for a mud bath in the Totumo Volcano.
If you’re staying for a few days, I recommend staying in any of these Cartagena Boutique Hotels. They offer the ultimate luxe escape whether you’re a solo traveller or visiting as a group.
Guatapé is a small resort town east of Medellín. The first thing people think of when they hear its name is its colourful houses and buildings. Every corner of the city is adorned with winding streets, splashes of bright paint, and street art. It can be considered a work of art on its own!
The town sits on the shore of the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir, which is equally as pretty with bright blue waters and the La Piedra Penon in the distance. If you’re looking for an adventurous activity, I’d say one of the most exciting things to do in Guatapé is climb to the top of the peak for panoramic views of the town.
I absolutely loved Colombia South America. It is such a warm and friendly place with great people, great food and so much to see. It is such a shame that it is still somewhat haunted by its past associations with drugs and considered by some to not be safe. If you’re planning a trip to …
Guatapé is the number one day trip from Medellin with good reason. This is a full-day trip that has amazing views, stunningly cute streets, and homes, great coffee and lake trips – all in one. Here are the best things to do in Guatape, Colombia’s most colorful town. ⇒ Book your Guatape Day Trip 4 …
Pablo Escobar remains a highly controversial figure in Medellin nearly 25 years after his death. The popularity of the brilliant Netflix show Narcos has only heightened this controversy. By the way, do make sure you watch Narcos before you head to Medellin Colombia – it will greatly add to your experience and it is such …
I spent a month based in Medellin Colombia in August and absolutely fell in love with it. I was lucky enough to be in town when the biggest festival of the year Feria de Las Flores was on, had a very photogenic day trip to Guatape and saw the key sites from Narcos on a …
I absolutely fell in love with Medellin. This amazing city of 2 1/2 million has the big city energy and drive of a London or a New York. The Paisas are passionate full-on people and I adored them and their beautiful city of eternal spring. When it comes to things to do in Medellin Colombia …
Did you know that Colombia is one of the biggest producers of flowers in the world? They supply more than 60% of the flowers sold in the US. The prime source of these Colombian flowers is the area around Medellin – a benefit that comes with a climate that has given Medellin the nickname of …
The Art Hotel Medellin has to be one of the most fun and quirky places that I have ever stayed in. This Medellin Colombia hotel is very true to its name. The Art Hotel Medellin Colombia is a stunning mix of exposed brick, polished concrete, and lots of windows. Upon entry, there is a lovely …
Bogota was a pleasant surprise. I was there for 24 hours on my way to Cano Cristales. As I had to fly out of Bogota at 6 am in the morning I decided to arrive in the morning the day before and check the main Bogota Colombia activities. Not only am I glad that I …