Skip to Content

Perfect Colombia Itinerary 2 Weeks including the Rainbow River

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 Colombia I can assure you that I spent a month in Colombia and never felt unsafe.

Here is my suggested Colombia Itinerary 2 Weeks.

colombia street art
Street art in Colombia

Colombia Itinerary 2 Weeks: Best Time to Visit Colombia

The major cities of Colombia all sit on vastly different altitudes so the weather varies massively. Cartagena is almost always warm due to its Caribbean location.

bogota is much higher at 2600m above sea level and as a result of the temperature rarely strays outside a range of 12-20 degrees Celsius. medellin has the wonderful title of the city of Eternal Spring.

Indeed, like Bogota, there is not a great range in its temperature throughout the year with lows of 15 degrees Celsius and highs of 30 degrees. As a result, you can comfortably make a trip to Colombia all year round.

Having said that August is the month of Feria de las Flores and also perhaps the best time to visit Cano Cristales so it is my recommendation for a Colombia vacation.

Cano Cristales River
The not so colourful part of the Cano Cristales River

How to Get to Colombia and Get Around

The majority of international flights land in Bogota. Medellin also has an international airport but flights are far less frequent. Cartagena is often accessed by boat – many cruise ships have this stunning Caribbean town on their itinerary.

Flights to Bogota

I flew to Colombia with Iberia – read my Iberia Business Class Review. You can also read my Air France a380 Business Class Review and my American Airlines Premium Economy 777 Review – they both fly to Colombia.

Colombia has a lot of mountains and not the most modern of roads – which means driving around it can take a long time. Luckily Colombia has frequent and quite cheap domestic flights.

Avianca is the local carrier and there are also budget options – although Avianca offers excellent fares. Flights between Medellin and Bogota only take 40 minutes and take off virtually every 30 minutes. Internal flights to Cartagena are also very reasonably priced.

woman with street stall in Bogota
Street food vendor in Bogota

Best Deals on Flights within Colombia

Medellin has a fantastic metro system which extends into trams and cable cars, allowing you to get around the very steep sides of their valley with much greater ease.

Bogota is a little behind on this front with only a rather interesting full-on bus system.

There isn’t much need for public transport in Cartagena as it is very much walkable. Of course, you can hire a car but I would avoid this if possible because of the mountains.

Two Week Colombia Itinerary

Day One – Bogota

Bogota is the main international airport in Colombia and the first point of entry for most travelling to the country by plane (Medellin also has an international airport but flights are less frequent).

Bogota airport is fantastic – very modern and it has everything you could possibly need from an airport.

Flights to Bogota

Bogota was such a lovely surprise! I wasn’t sure what to expect of this city – crime? Business boring? It is a charming city with lots of character and loads to do. Here is my mini Bogota Colombia itinerary!

colourful houses in bogota
Streets of Bogota

The best thing to do to get a feel for Bogota is to take a walking tour. The Free City Walking Tour is one of the best.

And while you’re doing it make sure you try an Obleas. These waffle/cream/cheese (cheese is in everything in Colombia) type treats are on most street corners.

After the Walking Tour go shopping for Emeralds. Colombia is famous for its Emeralds. There is even a mall of Emeralds with multiple shops. A must-visit for any Colombia travel itinerary.

emerald trade centre in bogota entrance
The Emerald Mall

Next head to the Museo Botero. Francesco Botero is possibly the most famous artist in Colombia.

Botero contributed all of the pieces to this stunning museum on the condition that they would never charge entry and that the collection would never leave the country eg people would have to visit Bogota to see his works.

Book Your Own Great Value Private Tour of Museo Botero

Where to Eat and Where to Sleep in Bogota

I loved The Orchids Hotel! Such a gorgeous boutique hotel. And it was helped by the fact it was a lovely purple colour.

The Orchids Hotel is a bit of an oasis in Bogota, tucked away with only 8 rooms. Coming inside it is like staying in someone’s beautiful home. And this boutique hotel has a fantastic location in the heart of the Bogota old town.

The Orchids Hotel Bogota

The Orchids Bogota is also known for its fantastic restaurant. However, it books out quickly so make sure you reserve your place when you reserve your room.

If you can’t get in there is a limited menu from the restaurant available from room service at The Orchids which was excellent.

⇒ Read Reviews of The Orchids Bogota on Trip Advisor Book Now

Day Two – Bogota

After a lovely breakfast at The Orchids, spend the morning at Zipaquira, a salt mine that is home to a salt cathedral.

After hitting the salt mines head to the white church at the top of a mountain. This is Cerro de Monserrate. Hike up the trail or take the mountain railway or cable car.

Save Time & Stress – Pre-book your Zipaquira Salt Cathedral Ticket

Book a great value walking tour of Monserrate and La Candelaria

If you have any time left take a street food or street art tour. And do try to sample the Ajiaco. Bogota is the home of this delicious chicken soup.

Top 10 Tours in Bogota

church spire in the streets of bogota
The streets of Bogota

Where to Eat and Sleep

Grab dinner at the lovely Capital Cocina which is in La Candelaria – about a 5-minute walk from the Orchids hotel. You will want to eat close by as it is an early start in the morning.

Day Three – Cano Cristales

Cano Cristales is the name of a river located in a national park in the Meta province of Colombia. The area was off-limits to tourists for many years as it was controlled by Guerillas.

The army has managed to take back control of much of this region and it is now safe for tourists to travel in this region. What makes Cano Cristales Colombia special is its unique flora in the river.

The river appears to turn a rainbow colour during the months of July to November. This phenomenon is at its height in August and September and is absolutely stunning – and unlike anything else I have ever seen.

rainbow river with waterfalls in cano cristales
The amazing Rainbow River

However, Cano Cristales Colombia is not the easiest place to get to and at the moment there is no independent travel.

You must go with a tour guide/company to see the river.

Of course, as an independent traveller, you can get yourself to La Macarena. The issue is gaining access to the actual park, which is not possible unless you are on a tour.

Important Tip: A Yellow Fever Vaccination is mandatory to visit Cano Cristales

Book Your Cano Cristales Tour

canoes on river
Transport to the Rainbow River

Getting to Cano Cristales and things to Know

Several days a week there is a very early (Eg 6 am) flight out of Bogota airport to La Macarena. There is a meeting area at Bogota airport – at this point, visitors are collected and taken to another part of the airport to wait and eat random snacks/drink bad coffee.

Finally, we got on a small plane and headed to La Macarena. La Macarena is a rather small town. There was a horse with a cart to collect our luggage.

La Macarena airport sits on a street like it’s a shop. But La Macarena Colombia is quite cute – and of course walkable.

The amazing colours of Cano Cristales

Upon arrival at La Macarena, we were taken to a briefing area. Unfortunately, most of the briefing was in Spanish but we managed to understand the key points.

As the ecology of the Cano Cristales area that produces these amazing rainbow colours is quite fragile, the park takes considerable care.

Visitors have to choose between sunscreen and swimming. Sunscreens coming off could damage the water and the algae of Cano Cristales. It was extremely hot.

So it was a tough choice but I have freckles so no sunscreen was not an option for me. And I could put my feet in the water.

Many people choose to cover up with light clothing to protect themselves from the intense sun which was a good idea. The tour company didn’t really provide much information on what to expect.

The literature suggested some light walking. The reality of Cano Cristales was very different! The walking was intense. There were steep paths both up and down the river and quite rough terrain.

Add in the intense heat and the total lack of shade and walking through Cano Cristales was really hard work.

Downtown La Macarana

However, the stunning waters of Cano Cristales compensated! Essentially the tours are about walking to different parts of the river that are best known for their vibrancy.

It is necessary to take a boat both to and from the national park. There can be some activity on the river on the way but the highlight is the Cano Cristales river itself.

Where to stay and where to eat

I visited Cano Cristales on an organised tour so they had found the hotel where I stayed. It wasn’t my usual boutique hotel but it was clean and fine.

Most importantly, it had air conditioning. I can’t tell you how good that was after a day in the park.

The pool at the hotel

The shower in my hotel didn’t really have a lot of hot water – which would normally be a problem for me. But again, it was so hot that I was quite happy to have cold water.

The first night in La Macarena we had dinner at the hotel. This was sort of cafeteria-style at a set time and very classic Colombian eg some grilled meats with lots of beans etc. It tasted pretty good and they had wine so I was happy.

Day Four – Cano Cristales

The second day in Cano Cristales Colombia was essentially more of the same. A boat to the national park and then trekking through the park to visit different stunning sections of the river.

Oh, and if you’re wondering it is customary to take a packed lunch with you – no cafes in the park. There are also 4 and 5-day tours of Cano Cristales. To be honest, unless this is really really your thing I don’t think there is any need to do anything more than the 2 night/3 day trip. But of course, do check it out for yourself.

Eating and Sleeping

For dinner, we headed to a local hall in La Macarena. A pork bbq had been prepared and it was absolutely delicious! We were then treated to locals singing and dancing – which was really good fun.

The kids, in particular, were fantastic in their gorgeous dresses and had amazing dancing skills.

boy and girl dancing
The locals dance in La Macarena

Day Five – Cano Cristales to Medellin

The final day in Cano Cristales involved a morning trek. I decided not to go. I had an ankle injury that had been severely irritated by the unexpected difficulty of the previous two days. And I was so over the sun.

I relaxed at the hotel and drank coffee and had a lovely morning. The others on the tour said that I didn’t miss much. Perhaps they were being nice but I was already very happy with my photos of Cano Cristales so I decided that was sufficient.

cano cristales rainbow river wide shot
Can’t take too many photos of Cano Cristales!

The afternoon then involves flying to Bogota and then transferring on to another flight to Medellin.

Book your Cano Cristales Tour

Deals on Flights between Bogota and Medellin

Where to Eat and Sleep in Medellin

I loved the Art Hotel Medellin. This super cute boutique hotel has a fantastic location in the El Poblado region.

This Medellin boutique hotel is stylish and simple. The top of the Art Hotel is a fantastic outdoor area where breakfast is served and there is a great bar.

View of Medellin from the Art Hotel

The other lovely Medellin boutique hotel option – which is a bit more upmarket – is Hotel Charlee. This boutique hotel has a rooftop pool bar and a great gym. Hotel Charlee Medellin also has a fantastic location.

⇒ Read reviews of Hotel Charlee on Trip AdvisorBook Now

For dinner head to Mondongos. This is the quintessential classic Medellin restaurant. Mondongos is located on the “main street” of El Poblado and serves locals and tourists alike. The restaurant is known for its classic Colombian cuisine.

Day Six – Medellin

Personally, Medellin was the highlight of my time in Colombia. I loved this city. I actually spent 2 ½ weeks in Medellin so I will try to condense its many highlights into a few days.

grilled chicken, chips and avocado on a plate
Dinner at Mondongos

Start your day in Medellin with brunch at the lovely Al Alma. Set on a side street, this lovely café has its own bakery and does brilliant coffee and a mean brunch.

The best way to get a feel for Medellin is to take the Free Walking Tour. I was lucky enough to do this my first day in Medellin and it was the perfect introduction to this complex and exciting city.

In the afternoon pay a visit to Pueblita Paiso. This slightly strange installation is meant to show tourists the quintessential Colombian village. Pueblita Paiso is a bit cheesy but it has amazing views of the city.

Where to Eat

You must go to Oci at some point during your stay in Medellin. This was my favourite restaurant in Medellin and I went three times. The food at Oci Medellin is a mix of Colombian and European but my gosh is it delicious.

The prices are high end for Medellin but unbelievably good value for anywhere else in the world. Don’t miss Oci.

lamb shank with mashed potato and jug of gravy on a saucepan plate
Delicious Dinner at Oci Medellin

Day Seven – Guatape

Guatape is the number one day trip from Medellin. This is most likely driven by its streets of brightly coloured houses and cute market by the side of the lake.

It is also very close to Piedra Penon – a rather large rock that provides amazing views of the area.

guatape piedra el penon view
View from Piedra Penon

Guatape is about 2 hours from Medellin.

Or if you’re in a hurry

Book Your Guatape Day Trip


After the rickety bus ride from Guatape, you’ll need somewhere relaxing and comfortable for dinner. Check out La Causa in El Poblado.

This cute little restaurant was the home to the best ceviche I had in Medellin. La Causa Medellin also has fantastic sushi.

colourful doors and window frame in guatape
Colorful Streets of Guatape

Day Eight – Medellin

Head to what was Medellin’s most notorious neighbourhood – Communa 13 – and take a street art tour.

Learn the fascinating story of how this area has turned itself into a major Colombia tourism destination and see the amazing talent of its local artists.

Book your Comuna 13 Tour

square of lights in Medellin
Square of Lights Medellin

In the afternoon pay a visit to Museo Antioquia and see the brilliant work of one of Medellin’s most well-known sons Francesco Botero. The museum is located on the lovely Plaza Botero which is filled with Botero sculptures.

street art mural communa 13 medellin
Street Art in Communa 13


Carmen is one of the most well-known restaurants in Medellin. It is best known for its amazing tasting menus which I highly recommend you try.

The tasting menus at Carmen Medellin also come with a wine matching version which is an excellent idea!

Day Nine – Medellin

It is time to learn more about Medellin’s most notorious son – Pablo Escobar. He remains a contentious subject in this city that has been so deeply affected by him – in ways both good and bad.

Book your Pablo Escobar Tour

woman in yellow dress look over medellin
Looking down at Medellin from the Pablo Escobar “Prison”


Mercado del Rio is a large area filled with different food vendors as well as a couple of bars (there is a great wine bar on the ground floor) and a couple of restaurants upstairs.

Mercado del Rio has every type of food you could ever want – from Mexican to beef to arepas to some more amazing popsicles. Seating is throughout.

Day Ten – Medellin

Take a Street Food Tour

Medellin is a city of neighbourhoods and is best explored with a local guide. Street food tours of the city will take you to different neighbourhoods via the myriad of different transport options available.

view over medellin
View over Medellin

Go on a Coffee/Shopping Crawl on Calles 37 & 39

These two little streets are filled with great cafes and cute boutiques. Relax on your last afternoon in Medellin by consuming loads of caffeine (??).

Don’t miss Pergamino and Velvet. And my favourite local brand Entreaguas has a branch on Calle 37.

Botero scultpure of woman in hat in botero plaza
Botero sculpture in Botero Plaza


Finish off your crawl of Calles 37 and 39 by having dinner at 37 Park. It’s a bar, it’s a café, it’s a restaurant, it’s inside, it’s outside.

It is a whole mix of things and has a very cute little location tucked away from the main party square area of El Poblado. 37 Park is the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy your final night in Medellin.

Heading to Medellin in August? If so try to make it early in the month for the biggest week of the year in Medellin Feria de las Flores.

street art mural in medellin
Street Art in Medellin

Day Eleven – Cartagena

Fly from Medellin to Cartagena

Cartagena was the first town in Colombia to emerge back into the tourism scene after the problems of the 1990s and early 2000s. This stunning town was heavily promoted based on its gorgeous coloured houses.

The government of Cartagena actually determines which colour your house will be based on your neighbors. The idea is to have contrast or consistency in shades to make the streets as picturesque as possible – a great idea.

Cartagena is on the Caribbean coast so it is inundated with cruise ships. The streets can get very packed when the ships are in town. The nice bit about staying in this lovely town is that once the passengers have headed back to their ships Cartagena is quieter at night. And there are some fantastic Cartagena Boutique Hotels.

pink building with yellow trim in Cartagena
Colorful Buildings in Cartagena

Getting to Cartagena

The flight from Medellin to Cartagena is quite a quick one. It is then easy to get a taxi from the airport to the old town – it takes about 15 minutes.

Flights Between Medellin and Cartagena

What to do in the Afternoon

Spend the first afternoon in Cartagena just wandering the old town. The most colourful streets are in the neighborhood of San Diego.

There are larger gorgeous buildings, including a stunning salmon pink church, on the edges of the walled old town. Use Calle de los Puntales and the Bohemia Hotel as your starting point. This is the area to wander.

Don’t miss Calle de los Sietes Infantes and Calle de Tumba Muertos.

Finish your afternoon off with a popsicle. Popsicles are almost an art form in Colombia – so many lovely flavours and so beautifully merchandised. Head to La Paletteria in the Cartagena old town.

sign for paletas de la Sabana
Time for a popsicle!

Where to Eat

La Cevicheria was made famous by the late tv chef Anthony Bourdain. It is still a tiny restaurant although it also has seating on the street.

It is not possible to make reservations at La Cevicheria Colombia so you will need to wait. There was a lovely albeit expensive bar across the road where I waited and enjoyed a lovely glass of wine.

Once seated there is quite an extensive seafood menu at La Cevicheria. However, there was only one option for me – the ceviche.

La Cevicheria also has a nice little wine list and lots of cooked fish options for those who don’t like their seafood raw. The ceviche at this Cartagena restaurant was delicious and I highly recommend it.

plate with ceviche and avocado and tomatoes
Ceviche in Cartagena

Where to Sleep

Hotel Alfiz is a lovely boutique hotel in the heart of the old town. It is easy to miss as it is like an oasis behind a wooden door. Once inside there is a lovely slim hotel with an internal courtyard.

The rooms at Hotel Alfiz Cartagena are lovely. Very simple in their design but oh so stylish.

Room at Hotel Alfiz Cartagena
Room at Hotel Alfiz

Breakfast at this Cartagena boutique hotel is served in the lovely courtyard in the middle of the hotel and consists of fresh fruits, pastries and all you could want.

⇒ Read reviews of Hotel Alfiz on TripAdvisor Book Now

Day Twelve – Cartagena

Take a Street Food Tour

My Cartagena street food tour started with patacones. These are essentially fried plantain with cheese.

Next up was my favourite Colombian street food – slices of mango with fresh lime and salt – amazing.

Every Colombian street food tour must include some Arepa. Whilst there is a multitude of variations of Arepas at its core is cornflour mixed with cheese and then fried.

Colombia does amazing things with pigs. The pork on this Cartagena street food tour was the highlight.

It was served in a very average looking place which I wouldn’t really call a restaurant or a café. Once I had one mouthful I no longer cared.

The tour then moved into Getsamani. This neighborhood was traditionally the home of the “workers” of Cartagena. Foreign investment has increased house prices in Getsamani and brought problems.

This area of Cartagena is now home to some of the most compelling street art of this area. I highly recommend taking a tour of Getsamani.

However, it is very difficult to gain an understanding of the current real issues faced in Getsamani Cartagena without a guide to help explain so I would recommend taking a tour.

Late Lunch

Head to Pezetarian. This cute little restaurant is in the Cartagena old town. Order at the counter and then wait to receive your amazing ceviche or sushi or some of their other delights.

Pezetarian Cartagena is amazing value for money and filled with locals more than tourists. If you’re after something sweet head to nearby Velvet for a brownie.

colourful buildings with bike parked outside
The colourful streets of Cartagena

Go Shopping

Cartagena has some of the best boutique shopping in Colombia. Start with St Dom. The store showcases local designers and there were some stunning options – particularly in resort wear.

St Dom Cartagena was certainly one of the most expensive stores that I visited in Colombia but it had many stunning and memorable pieces. It is also one of the only places that sell the Colombian perfume brand Jean Patou which is lovely.

Entreaguas is a Medellin based brand. Their base offer is swimwear but they also have stunning cover-ups as well as a small range of tops and double purpose dresses.

Entreaguas’ designs are unusual and stunning. A key feature of the range is the use of a macramé style material which is wonderfully unique. I have worn my Entreaguas purchases again and again.

My final stop was Guana Banana. This Cartagena boutique is much more reasonably priced than St Dom and features some local designers. I particularly liked the lovely woman who ran the shop.

Guana Banana Cartagena has clothing and swimwear – although I ended up buying some very cute shoes that I have worn loads.

Where to Eat

Continue on the seafood path with the lovely Restaurante Juan Del Mar. This Cartagena restaurant features all types of fish – cooked and ceviche and salad and anything you can think of – all extremely delicious.

colourful decorated bags on display
Colorful bags for sale in the streets of Cartagena

Day Thirteen – Cartagena

Take the Free City Walking Tour

A common theme of this itinerary is the Colombian free tour and Cartagena is no exception. After hearing about modern Cartagena in yesterday’s street food tour step back in time and hear about Cartagena’s fascinating history with a Cartagena tour through the old town.

I most enjoyed hearing about how the street names came about – and the number of ghosts who frequent this small town!


For lunch head to the Epoca Café and enjoy some of the best coffee in Cartagena. In the afternoon, fly to Bogota and have one last night at The Orchids Hotel.

Deals on Flying Between Cartagena and Bogota

Day Fourteen – Bogota

Fly home. Or start planning your next trip to South America. Check out my post on Chile Itinerary 2 Weeks.

Botero’s Mona Lisa

If you’d like to vary this Itinerary…

If you’re after a shorter Colombia Itinerary 7 days I would suggest missing Cano Cristales and Cartagena.

A Colombia 1 week itinerary could focus on just Medellin and Bogota.

If you’re looking for a Colombia 10 day itinerary then I would suggest taking out Cano Cristales but going to Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota.

If you’re looking for a longer trip to Colombia, try adding in Santa Marta and/or Tayrona National Park to create a Colombia itinerary 3 weeks or even a Colombia itinerary 1 month.

Who Paid for What in this Post

I paid for everything associated with my Colombia trip. This post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure you knew this.


Like this post? Why Not Pin It?

This 2 Week Colombia Itinerary includes the best places to go, boutique hotels to stay in, great places to eat and the best things to do when in wonderful Colombia! Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena and Cano Cristales #colombia #colombiaitinerary #medellin #bogota #canocristales 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Tuesday 18th of August 2020

we have been to Colombia twice. It is indeed a very beautiful country. Loved Bogota & Medellin. Zipaquira salt mines were cool. Barichara was the "Pueblo magico" ! Cartagena was nice but very touristic. Too many cruise ships. Will go to Colombia again


Monday 24th of February 2020

Great article

The Boutique Adventurer

Thursday 27th of February 2020

thank you!

Cooper Dawson

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Looks amazing, it's on our bucket list. Can't wait to try the food and meet the people. Thanks Amanda

The Boutique Adventurer

Wednesday 27th of February 2019

thanks Cooper! I highly recommend Colombia as a travel destination!


Tuesday 26th of February 2019

I have never been but I’d love to travel there one day. I think the food would be such a great way to experience the culture. The places you’ve listed are now on my list to check out!

Sabrina Must

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Ughh it looks like such an interesting place to explore and have adventures in, thank you so much for sharing this with us! By the way, great pictures!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Like this post? Why Not Share It?

Thanks for Sharing!