Your Guide to Barranquilla Carnival

When you’re thinking about places to visit in Colombia, Barranquilla may not be immediately on your radar.

Colombia’s principal port and second largest city, Barranquilla is nestled on the Caribbean Coast and known as the country’s ‘Golden Gate’ for its economic significance in the progression of aviation, transport and technology.

As a primarily industrial city it is a less obvious choice for travelers, who typically opt for the Queen of the Caribbean Coast: Cartagena to the south, or charming seaside Santa Marta with its easy-access to the famous Tayrona National Park to the north.

As the underdog for your Colombian vacation, it is a cheaper alternative to the aforementioned making for less costly transport and budget-friendly accommodation, all the while in close proximity to the true jewels of Colombia.

However, every year, 1 million people descend on the city every year to revel in the world’s second-largest carnival, in an explosion of music and color.

What to do in Barranquilla

Our top advice for visiting Barranquilla is this: come for the carnival!

The city is most famous for its annual carnival which takes place in the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday each year. Colombia’s most famous festival – and the country’s biggest street party – attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year who come to revel in the lavishly decorated spectacle of performance and theatrics that is the Barranquilla Carnival.

The Barranquilla Carnival history dates back to the 19th century and whilst the exact origins are unknown, it is thought that it is intended to welcome the spring in celebration of birth and renewal in a diverse mix of European, African and Indian traditions, dances and music.

Normal day-to-day activities come to a halt as businesses shut-up-shop ready to engage in the festivities for four days of intense celebration. The city becomes a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, all sharing in the traditions of Colombia’s heritage.

In 2003, UNESCO declared the Carnival of Barranquilla a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity!

The Battle of the Flowers

The Battle of the Flowers marks the start of the carnival, on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, kicking off the event in style as the six-hour parade hosts more than half a million attendees. Partygoers will experience elaborate floats, vibrant carnival costumes and exotic music and dancing ensembles, all hosted by the Carnival Queen.

This event dates back to 1903 and celebrates the end of the One Thousand Days War in Colombia, when the people of Barranquilla congregated to fight with flowers instead of bullets. The poignant story behind this event makes the perfect beginning to four days filled with festivities, where individuals from all cultures and backgrounds unite to honour Colombian traditions.

The Great Fantasy Parade

For some of the most spectacular displays of Barranquilla Carnival costumes, the third day (Monday) of the festival is not to be missed. The clue is in the name, but this parade is a celebration of all things fantasy, a bonkers extravaganza with performers sporting eccentric ensembles in every colour of the rainbow, and dancing choreographed routines based on salsa, reggae, samba and more contemporary methods.

Parade of Joselito

The final day of the Barranquilla Carnival is marked by the death of Joselito, a character meant to symbolise the joy of the carnival. Tens of thousands of people flood the streets with “Joselitos” carried on stretchers and in coffins in a bizarre and surreal final celebration. Street dances, musical performances and masquerade parades give send off to Josalito as one of the world’s biggest parties comes to a close, before reality resumes.

With so many visitors, make sure you plan in advance

The Barranquilla Carnival is the world’s second largest carnival and with over 1.5 million visitors each year, hotels reach 98% occupancy many months in advance. It is therefore highly recommended to plan your trip to Barranquilla as early as possible to ensure you have a place to stay, and to secure some of the best available deals.

“Who lives it, is who enjoys it”

This is the slogan of the Barranquilla Carnival! Colombia invites you to join the festivities, enjoy the music and join in the dancing at one of the world’s biggest parties. 

Festival organisers recommend booking tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, and investing in a carnival costume or two will come in handy as well. Be creative – think colour, feathers and sequins!

Old Town Cartagena

A colourful port city on Colombia‘s Caribbean Coast, Cartagena (named for a city in Spain) is one of the countries most visited destinations. 

It was a key location for the early Spanish settlement in the Americas, and the city’s strategic location on the coast made it one of the most important ports in all of South America during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 

Cartagena served as Spain’s primary port for trade in the New World and as such, the military at the time built extensive (and impressive) fortifications around the city, totalling 13km, in order to defend its interests.

Today, Old town Cartagena is a declared Unesco World Heritage sight, so visitors can expect to soak up the history as well as the sun! If you are wondering where to go in Colombia, put Cartagena at the top of your list – there’s so much to see and so much to do, you won’t regret it!

What to do in Cartagena?

As a coastal colonial city, Cartagena has a lot to offer visitors from beautiful scenery and remarkable restaurants, to colourful architecture and a rich culture and history. 

This fun and fascinating city boasts a vibrant energy combined with a laid-back charm typical of Caribbean coastal towns. The colourful buildings in this fortified city entice visitors to explore and there is no greater place to do so.

Here are some of our top tips for things to do in Cartagena.

Old Town Cartagena

The old city of Cartagena is the town’s primary attraction and what drives the most visitors year after year. The impeccably preserved colonial architecture is to be admired in the form of palaces, churches and mansions throughout the old walled city, with plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Puerta del Reloj

The main gate to the Old City of Cartagena is decorated with a towering clock tower, which dominates the city skyline. The focal (and entry) point to the old town cannot be missed – not only for its height, but also for its bright yellow brick that makes for a great navigational tool if you lose yourself in the old city.

San Pedro Claver Church

A perfect example of colonial architecture, the San Pedro Claver church is Old Town Cartagena’s most visited. It is named for the Spanish-born monk who lived and died in the church in the early 1600’s and spent his life ministering to enslaved people brought from Africa.

It is a three storey building containing a museum which exhibits religious art, pre-Colombian ceramics and contemporary pieces from Afro-Caribbean artists. Visit the courtyard to see where Claver baptized thousands upon thousands of black slaves and in the church itself, view the remains of Claver which are encased within the High Alter.

Palace of the Inquisition

During the colonial period, Palacio de la Inquisición was an office for the Spanish Inquisition. The building has been preserved and today is a museum showcasing tools and methods that were used to enforce the power of the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown.

Almost 1,000 people were investigated in the office between the 16-1800’s, using a variety of (some gruesome) techniques. Crimes against faith were judged here in the office, with certain crimes including magic and witchcraft being punishable by death, using the guillotine which remains on display in the museum courtyard.

San Felipe Castle

We’ve all heard of the Pirates of the Caribbean, but before the books and the movies were created, real-life pirates in the Caribbean seas posed a threat to Cartagena and its rich cargo trade.

Built to defend the vast loads of gold and silver, cacao and tobacco and African slaves to name but a few of Cartagena’s most valued commodities, San Felipe Castle is known as one of the greatest fortresses ever built by the Spanish. A network of tunnels connected points around the fortress to facilitate distribution and evacuation of goods and personnel and to internally communicate with allies. A tour is highly recommended to learn about the history and construction of the castle.

Cartagena’s Modern Art Museum

This museum does exactly what it says on the tin. Located in Old Town Cartagena, this museum showcases national and international art works in a well-maintained stone colonial building.

Teatro Adolfo Mejia

This impressive theatre was constructed by the same architect who created the Clock Tower which marks the entrance to Cartagena’s Old City. Even if you cannot catch a show, it is worth booking a tour of the building to see the stunning interior which has been beautifully refurbished.

Barrio Getsemaní

Getsemaní is a hip, vibrant district located in the heart of Cartagena Old Town. Dazzlingly bright buildings are decorated with street art, demonstrating the vibrant creativity that lives in this exciting neighbourhood. Independent bars and restaurants line the animated streets and here is the place to be for cheaper eats and budget accommodations.

Boca Grande

Just south of Getsemaní is the more upscale Boca Grande, complete with high-end restaurants and luxury all inclusive resorts.

El Portal de los Dulces

Known as “Sweets Street”, El Portal de los Dulces is an arcade located in the heart of the walled city of Cartagena. You’ll know you’re there because of the bright yellow buildings decorated with archways and the unmissable sweet smell of candy. Street vendors line the streets selling sweet treats out of glass candy jars – a feast for the eyes as much as the taste buds! 

What to do in Cali

Located in southwestern Colombia and capital of the Cauca Valley, Cali is a warm, high-altitude city just off the coast of the Pacific ocean. But what does Cali stand for? It is short for Santiago de Cali, but the locals know it simply as Cali!

A city filled with churches and museums, parks and theatres and an abundance of restaurants, bars and cafes, there are plenty of places to see in Cali to entertain you during your trip.

Is Cali, Colombia safe?

You’re probably aware of Colombia’s past reputation for crime, but in the past decade the country as a whole has become a lot safer and much more popular as a tourist destination. This includes Cali, which is generally considered a safe place to visit!

As with any major city anywhere in the world, there are good and bad neighborhoods. Do some research before you arrive and make sure you book accommodation in a reputable district. As always, limit the valuables in your possession where possible, and be aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t be alarmed by the police on the streets – your safety is their interest, after all!

All in all, Cali is a great city with a thriving tourism industry, so we recommend visiting during your Colombian adventure!

So what is Cali known for?

Vibrant Cali is known as the “Rumba Capital of Colombia” and, more impressively, the “Salsa Capital of the World”. An energetic city with an infectious buzzing culture, the warm people of Cali are famed for their devotion to dance in a place where there’s music playing on every corner you turn, from shops and grocery stores to the rural suburbs of the Cauca Valley.

Cali locals live and breathe dance, so it should be no surprise that the night scene is lively and flamboyant with some of the top clubs and discos in all of Colombia.

Where to go in Cali for dancing

If you’ve come to Cali to dance the night away with the salsa-fanatic locals, look no further than the Juanchito neighborhood, a dance district filled with discos and contagious beats. You’ll be sure to have a memorable experience in the area where clubs are busy even on a Sunday afternoon, as you party with like-minded people from complete novices to Salsa-savants until your feet can dance no longer.

And if you’re visiting in September, you will be just in time for the annual World Salsa Festival, which is held in Cali in the middle of the month. National and international Salsa stars perform at the festival alongside bands and musical artists as the city comes together to celebrate the dance that makes it famous. More than 5,000 performers take to the stage for the 45,000 plus attendees over the course of four days. Expect flamboyant costumes, passionate performances and wonderful workshops throughout the event, and unleash your inner dancer in an experience like no other!

Where to go in Cali for history and culture

The Centro district in the heart of Cali is the place to be if you’re looking to explore the historical importance of the city. Revolving around Plaza Caicedo, the city’s central square, Centro is Cali’s business district and also home to some of the key historical sights of the city. Cathedrals, churches, theatres and museums can all be found in Centro, amongst an array of bars and restaurants that are at their liveliest during the day.

Where to go in Cali for good gastronomy

The top spots in Cali for Colombian cuisine include Granada and San Antonio. Both popular with locals and tourists alike, the streets are filled with independent bars and cafes that are sure to satisfy your cravings. With food markets and street vendors there are plenty of casual dining options (not to mention cheap!) but these neighborhoods also offer more upscale options too. The traditional cuisine in Cali is a blend of Spanish, indigenous, and African flavours and each dish is unique. Local delicacies such as empanadas vallunas and tamales will be sure to tantalise your taste buds!

The most popular tourist attractions in Cali

If you’re wondering what to do in Cali, you won’t be short on options. We’ve listed some of the best things to do in Cali to help you plan your trip:

Cali Zoo

When you’re wondering what to see in Cali, make sure that Zoológico de Cali is on your list, named frequently as the best zoo in Colombia! Perfect for adults, or parents travelling with families, the zoo  was founded in 1970 and is home to around 1,000 animals, most of which are native to Colombia. Some of the highlights include the monkey enclosures, and you can even spot a native Colombian Spectacled Bear!


Fly, fly, fly away to the Andoke Butterfly Center in Cali! The butterfly farm is an environmental project with a focus on education, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about our impact on the environment, conservation and how to protect the world around us. The garden is set across 300 square metres and is home to over 15 native species of butterfly who live on their native flora. You can also spot hummingbirds as you trek the ecological trails that navigate through the park, and relax at the end of your visit by grabbing a bite to eat in the onsite cafe.

Cristo Rey

A Cali must see! Standing 26 metres tall atop the Cerro de los Cristales, or Hill of the Crystals in English, this statue of Christ the King can be viewed from all over Cali. Better still, ascend the hill to observe the spectacular 360 views of the whole city from the top. The statue was built to commemorate 50 years since the end of the Colombian civil war, the War of a Thousand Days, and as you climb the road to the top you can view the works of sculptor Carlos Andrés Gómez, who has carved sculptures into the side of the hill.

Capilla La Ermita

Without doubt one of the most beautiful churches in Colombia and architecturally striking, the neo-Gothic Capilla La Ermita is one of the most visited sites in Cali. It is bright white in colour and stands out from its neighbouring buildings for its unique style that simply cannot be missed. Influenced by architecture from Holland, France and Germany, this is a stunning church well worth a visit!

Farallones de Cali National Natural Park

For an outdoorsy adventure don’t miss the 1,500 square km Los Farallones Natural Park just outside of the city. The reserve is the perfect spot for hiking and birdwatching and offers extraordinary views of the misty valley. With many trekking trails available this is the ideal spot to be at one with nature and enjoy all the Colombian landscape has to offer!

What to do in Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is an old colonial town just north east of Bogota, Colombia’s capital city. With a year-round dry, pleasant climate and an average temperature of 16°C / 63°F, the weather is consistent and reliable in every season.

It is easy to reach from Bogota with many buses departing throughout the day, and tends to get busy with the capital’s tourists on the weekends. Most people come to Villa de Leyva for rest and relaxation, which is easy to do against a stunning mountainous backdrop.

If you’re wondering what to do in Villa de Leyva, there are so many options depending on the kind of holiday you’re looking for. We’ve listed some of the most popular things to do in Villa de Leyva below, but first, one thing we know everyone’s looking for – food!

Best restaurants Villa de Leyva

One of the greatest pleasures when travelling is exploring different cuisines, and in Colombia the culinary experiences are bound to be a highlight of your trip.

In Villa de Leyva there are plenty of upscale restaurants, with Plaza Mayor, the town’s central square, being home to many. As you’d expect in any main square, the establishments here are aimed mainly at tourists so the food is not so authentic and the prices are reflective of a tourist audience.

Despite that, as one of South America’s largest squares, it is a fantastic place to sit outside on the plastic chairs and watch the world go by, especially on a warm, dry day!

As far as food goes, we recommend sticking with the locals to really indulge in the local delicacies (and you’ll get more bang for your buck!).

The Saturday Market at the Plaza Mercado is a great place to do just that. Locals come here to shop for groceries for the week ahead and catch up with friends and family over a coffee or a bite to eat provided by one of the many farmers and street vendors. 

What are the best outdoor activities in Villa de Leyva?

Colombia is a country of extremes, with mountain ranges and volcanoes dominating the landscape in the centre and tropical, golden-sand shores on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to the north and west.

The country is a natural playground and for travellers looking for an outdoor adventure, look no further!

If you want to enjoy the environment without strenuous activity, the Vineyard Ain Karim just outside of town is a great place to sit and while away the hours over a bottle (or two) of local wine. It’s also possible to book a tour of the vineyard if you’re interested in learning about the history and production of the wine!

For the hikers out there, make your way up the hill to the Mirador el Santo, a small white statue of Jesus that overlooks the town of Villa de Leyva. The climb up to the viewpoint takes around 1 to 1 and a half hours and there’s some scrambling involved, so you’ll need to be fairly physically fit. Once you reach the top, expect panoramic views of the town and beyond. A spectacular place to watch the sunset.

The Pozos Azules are just a few minutes from Villa de Leyva, a series of manmade mineral-salt pools located in the desert that shine glorious shades of the brightest blue depending on the light and the temperature. The contrast of the water against the desert-sand background is spectacular and the pools are a must-see during your stay in Villa de Leyva.

For history buffs, visit the Infiernito Archaeological Site which sits in the rolling hills near Villa de Leyva. In the early days the Spanish called the site “little hell” because of the Pagan rituals that would be carried out there, and today, you can view the archaeological remains which are said to have been linked to astronomy, agriculture, and religion.

Laguna de Iguaque, located in the Paramo de Iguaque National Park, is a lake located just 6 km from Villa de Leyva and the surrounding area is a declared Flora and Fauna Sanctuary. Come here to marvel at the Sacred Lagoon, where legend has it that goddess Bachué created mankind as she emerged from the waters with a boy in her arms.

Visit the largest piece of pottery in the world, Villa de Leyva’s Terracotta House, a bizarrely shaped gigantic home constructed entirely from clay! The house is fully functional and features a kitchen, bathrooms and several bedrooms. It sounds like a strange choice, but this work of art is a fascinating feature in the Colombian desert region.

Perhaps the most exciting outdoor activity in Ville de Leyva is to descend the Hoyo de la Romera. The 40 metre pit was, according to the legend of the indigenous people, once used as a punishment, in which to throw the local women who committed adultery. Now, with an approved tour company, you can descend into the depths of the hole by rope for a thrilling adventure!

What are the most popular things to do in Villa de Leyva with kids?

If you’re travelling to Villa de Leyva, Colombia, with family, there are a few activities that are particularly enjoyable for the kids.

The Museo El Fósil is a roadside museum built around a fossil the size of a bus. Sure to keep the kids entertained, the fossil is the remains of a dinosaur – a Kronosaurus to be precise – that was discovered by local farmers in 1977. The fossil is said to be 100-150 million years old, and there’s plenty of history to be discovered in this small museum containing many other remains.

To stick with the same theme, Villa de Leyva Paleontological Museum showcases more than 500 displays of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils. The informative museum is filled with educational materials to tell visitors of all ages about the region’s rich supply of fossils, which give thanks to the former sea bed that surrounds the city. In particular, the museum is aimed at the younger ones with guides providing tours in English to pique their curiosity into our prehistoric past.

What are the best day trips from Villa de Leyva?

Just a 3 hour drive away is the Colombian capital, Bogota, making for the perfect day trip from Villa de Leyva. Bringing together the very best of Columbian cultures, Bogota is surrounded by stunning greenery for the perfect escape into nature, and conversely the vibrant nightlife allows you to salsa the night away if you’re looking for a good time.

Some of the best sights to see along the way from Villa de Leyva to Bogota include Raquira, a small town just off the beaten track famous for its artisans who produce jewellery, pottery and souvenirs.

The Nemocon Salt Mine is also a great place to stop, with its colorful lights and reflective pools make this for an exciting trip through salt-mining history. The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira lies hundreds of feet (600, to be precise) underground in an abandoned salt mine. Miners here hollowed out a sanctuary for their daily prayers, and in the 1950’s this was extended to become the Cathedral you can visit today.

If you are travelling with the kids, family-friendly theme park Jaime Duque Park is a fantastic attraction outside of Villa de Leyva, focussed on imparting cultural and historical knowledge on its visitors through replicas of significant global monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Moscow’s Red Square.

The Best Things to Do in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia, once known as a destination tourists would avoid, is on the rise as this vibrant city demonstrates the best of Colombian culture. Approximately 2600 meters above sea level, this capital is one of the highest in the world. It has grown into a multifaceted cultural center with a charming old town, interesting museums, beautiful views, and comforting cuisine, it is no wonder that Bogota is now on everyone’s list as one of the best cities in Colombia. 

As Colombia’s capital Bogota brings together the best of all Colombian cultures. From the natural aspects of the stunning surrounding greenery to the nightlife where you can salsa until dawn, Colombianas are lively people with infectious spirits. While the top attractions in Bogota may be obvious, there is so much more to see and do in Bogota. You won’t just see and do things in Bogota, you will experience and immerse yourself in Bogota.

What to Do in Bogota? 

Bogota is a lively city that is continuously expanding, with everything there is to do we are confident that there is something for everyone! While it is hard to condense the list of activities, we did our best to outline where to go in Bogota. Afterall, you can find everything from beautiful art, to architecture, to cuisine, and cultural nightlife here! 

Street Art Tour

An impressive aspect of Bogota is the street art scene. Used to provide creative expression, send a message, or provide signs of peaceful protest, street art has had many uses over the years in Bogota. You can find street art everywhere you go in Bogota, but if you want to learn about the history and movements behind these concrete masterpieces, we recommend taking a graffiti tour, as local guides can provide you with an informative take on the colorful images. These tours have become very popular over the years, and we agree that it is one of the best things to do in Bogota. 

Climb Monserrate

It is impossible to visit Bogota and not venture up to Monserrate to see the best view of the city. You can walk, take a cable car, or a funicular, and once you are at the top, the panoramic views are absolutely breathtaking. However you decide to get to the summit, Monserrate is quite literally one of the top things to do in Bogota. There is even a small white cathedral, so this location is very popular for local weddings and events. Be careful with who you climb the mountain with, as legend has it, couples who walk up to Monserrate together never get married. While the views are stunning day or night, it is recommended to make the trek during the day as pickpockets  will sometimes wait for unsuspecting tourists. 

Colombian Cuisine and Nightlife

A city as vibrant as Bogota, unsurprisingly, has an amazing food and night scene. Some must-try Colombian staple dishes are ajiaco (chicken soup with potatoes, corn, and avocado), arepas (a kind stuffed bread), and bandeja paisa (Colombia’s national dish; rice, fried plantain, avocado, fried eggs, beans, etc.), they are all beyond delicious and recommended by every local! The nightlife is just as lively, in many districts you can find a place to salsa the night away and enjoy a night of delicious drinks and rhythmic music. Some of our fan favorites are listed below:

  • La Puerta Falsa- This small establishment has been in business for just over 200 years! Serving locals and visitors from around the world, the 20 seat restaurant serves classic Colombian dishes. From chocolate completo to tamales, this is one of the best places to visit in Bogota for authentic Colombian cuisine. 
  • Andrés Carne de Res– One of the most popular things to do in Bogota is to visit Andres Carne de Res, for good reason, as it boasts more of an experience than a meal. This uniquely decorated restaurant and bar turns out some of the most fun parties in Bogota, not only will you have a great meal, but you will have a fantastic chance to meet some locals at a favorite spot! 

What to See in Bogota?

Seeing is believing, these beautiful places in Bogota demonstrate beautiful architecture and stunning art throughout the city, guaranteed to make a lasting impression, as you can see most of these sites in a day! 

La Candelaria

Bogota’s old town district, La Candelaria is the perfect place to walk around and see the old Spanish Colonial influence. Bright colors, cobblestones, and wooden balconies, the old bohemian feel creates a nostalgia for a simpler time. The historic district is also home to universities, hotels, restaurants, cafes, and squares where you can also see budding artists, which makes sense that with so many things in proximity, this is usually a traveller’s first stop when they get to Bogota. But, one of the most impressive buildings in La Candelaria is the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen. At the top of the Bogota must see list, you can spot thiscathedral from a mile away. Painted with red and white stripes it almost resembles a candy cane. The inside is even more decorative, as the outside colors match the inside, but with the addition of ornate fixtures. You will be struck by how decorative the cathedral is, as it is not surprising that it is one of the top attractions in Bogota.

Plaza Bolivar

Politics and history come together at the center of this plaza, where Colombia’s Palace of Justice, the Capitol Building, the Cathedral of Bogotá, and the city mayor’s office all reside. You can learn about Colombia’s independence and even Pablo Escobar’s take over in the Palace of Justice. The square is notorious for its pigeon inhabitants and its people watching opportunities, so whether you are curious about the history of Colombia or the architecture of the city’s most important political buildings, the best place to go in Bogota is Plaza Bolivar. 

Usaquen Market

If you will be in Bogota on a Sunday, you have to stop by the market in Usaquen. Many stalls lined up with vendors selling hand crafted goods for reasonable prices. As you walk through the market, the only thing you will be able to notice is how striking the colors of the products are, it’s like you’re walking through a rainbow. A popular place to get the perfect souvenir, the Usaquen Market is one of the best things to see in Bogota!


  • The Gold Museum– Bogotá’s Museo del Oro is easily one of the most interesting and impressive museums in Bogota. The museum has over 55,000 pieces of gold on display from the pre-Hispanic civilizations, which provide a beautiful and meaningful display of the pre-Hispanic traditions. In this museum, it’s really true, all that glitters is gold, as it is one of the best things to see in Bogota. 
  • Museo de Botero– Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists, known not only in Colombia, but all over the world. He created paintings where his subjects were drawn engorged, or ‘chubby’ as some say. The paintings are quite whimsical and fun to look at. In the Museu de Botero there are works by other artists as well, such as Picasso and Monet. An art lover’s dream, the Museo de Botero is one of the top attractions in Bogota. 
  • Museo Nacional de Colombia– The National Museum of Colombia is perfect for any history buff. Take a trip through time as you learn about every aspect of Colombia’s history, from the indigenous tribes, to the Spanish colonization, even parts of Colombia’s more recent tumultuous history. The Museo Nacional de Colombia is the perfect place to explore the historic traditions of this beautiful country and one of the best things to do in Bogota.

Best Things to Do Near Bogota

One of the best things about Bogota is there are so many places to visit around the city, you won’t have to travel far to experience various sites from serene nature to quaint villages. 

Laguna de Guatavita

If you’re looking for some relief from the bustling city center, just 60 kilometers north of Bogota lies Lake Guatavita. An aqua blue crater lake that rests in the middle of the forest, you will have to hike to this special destination. Very important to the indigenous tribes of the area, some of the gold found in the The Gold Museum was discovered at Lake Guatavita. The story goes that Lake Guatavita is where the legend of El Dorado originated, you can hire an experienced guide to really show you around and even delve deeper into the legends! 

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

About an hour from Bogota, just outside the town of Zipaquira, there are beautiful salt mines that are about 200 meters underground. The salt mines were excavated and carved out to build a beautiful underground cathedral and it’s decorative crosses. We recommend visiting in the morning in order to beat the crowds, as masses are held on Sundays, it is advised to tour the cathedral during the week. 

Villa de Leyva

About three hours north of Bogota is the small colonial village, Villa de Leyva. With cobblestone streets and an old colonial feel, this town is very popular among weekenders traveling from Bogota. Check out the Casa Terracotta, which is an entire functioning house made of clay, or visit a small vineyard that is just as quaint as the town is, there is even a museum of fossils! Providing the perfect weekend getaway, Villa de Leyva is one of the best things to do near Bogota.

Best Areas to Stay in Bogota

Bogota is a sprawling city with many neighborhoods, so it can be tough to choose exactly where the best place to stay. Whether you’re looking for something more historical, or something more hip, you will be able to find your niche in Bogota. 


Teusaquillo might be the best area to stay in Bogota for tourists, especially if it’s your first time in the city, as it has easy access to all of the main sites. It neighbors the downtown district, and is known as one of the safer neighborhoods and perfect for families, when they want to visit Colombia. This neighborhood also has a lot of relaxing green space as it is right next to Simon Bolivar Park and the botanical gardens in Bogota. 

La Candelaria

This historic neighborhood is one of the most popular and most touristic. La Candelaria is one of the best neighborhoods in Bogota if you’re looking for beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets, but it can be noisy at night, and surprisingly not as safe as one might guess in the most popular part of town. Always beware of pickpockets! 


If you’re looking for somewhere more relaxed, bohemian, and free, we recommend staying in Chapinero. You can find some of the best food in Bogota in the neighborhood’s hip cafes, fine restaurants, and even on the street. If you’re wondering what to do in Chapinero bogota, food is always the answer! This neighborhood is also the area with a strong LGBTQ community presence, so large in fact, one of the biggest gay clubs in the world is in this neighborhood. Compared to La Candelaria, Chapinero is very safe, it is good to note that the northern part is a little safer than the southern part of Chapinero. 

Zona Rosa

It may be surprising that Bogota’s top neighborhood for nightlife is one of the safest in all of Bogota. In Zona Rosa you can party until the sun comes up, either salsa dancing or at one of the wild nightclubs. During the week the bars and clubs slow down, but just wait until the weekend where it seems that even the streets themselves begin to dance! The Zona Rosa district is the best area to stay in bogota if you’re looking for endless fun!

What to do in Salento

The picturesque mountain town of Salento has a long history and a rich cultural heritage which is apparent to even those just passing through. With just around 7,000 residents, Salento is packed to the brim with endless things to do and see making it the perfect town to visit when you don’t know where to go in Colombia. Salento’s location in the heart of the Coffee Triangle makes it a popular tourist destination, but this charming locale has so much more to offer than a cup of joe. 

Have a look below at some of the best things to do in Salento. From wandering beneath towering wax palms to chowing down on local treats, Salento has a little something for everyone. 

Is Salento safe?

If you’re Googling the city and pull up articles more than a few years old, you might be worried about safety in Salento. However, these problems are mostly a thing of the past, and now Salento is one of Colombia’s fastest-growing tourist destinations. As with most places in Colombia, and South America in general, keep your wits about you and avoid deserted streets after dark, and you should have a grand time in this coffee-growing haven.

For more information click here: Is traveling to Colombia safe?

The Best Things to do in Salento

Take a hike through Valle de Cocora

Wax palms are a national symbol of Colombia and literally cannot be missed by any visitor. The slender trunks of the trees soar up to 200 feet into the fresh mountain air near Salento with many eco-tourists making the trek to the town simply to see these natural wonders. Valle de Cocora is the perfect place to walk amongst the looming giants. After being threatened to near extinction, the Colombian government designated the valley a protected park in order to save the endangered wax palms. Many rare birds have also made their homes in the high fronds of the trees. 

A quick 4×4 ride from the outskirts of Salento takes you to Valle de Cocora. The popular Valle de Cocora loop takes around six hours to complete and takes you on a journey through the jungle, up into the clouds, and down below the wax palms. 

Play Tejo at Cancha de Tejo Los Amigos

One of Colombia’s most popular and certainly one of its most well-known pastimes is the game of Tejo. Mix a bit of gunpowder and the toss of an iron weight and you have a recipe for a wild night. Locals congregate in the evenings at game halls to drink and play. Travellers are welcome to drop in and participate or hang out and observe. Just five minutes from the main plaza in Salento is Cancha de Tejo Los Amigos. This tourist-friendly game hall is the perfect place to test your skills! Remember, the rules of the game are fairly straightforward but endless fun generally ensues on a Tejo night. 

Tour a coffee plantation in the Coffee Triangle 

If you’re in search of a pick-me-up after playing a round (or five) of Tejo, partake in one of the top things to do in Salento and tour a coffee plantation. There are many coffee farms in the area all offering a little different experience. Don Elias is a small, family-run outfit that produces organic coffee on the property. Tours of coffee farms in the area are usually offered in both English and Spanish. 

Try the trout

The local specialty is trout and it’s almost impossible to leave without trying a bite. Prepared a variety of different ways, you’re sure to find the perfect match (or should we say, the perfect catch?).  

How long do you need in Salento? 

Whether you’re just passing through or staying for a while, Salento will captivate you and leave you wanting more. The colorful colonial buildings are perfectly preserved and within them are endless restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Spend a day in nature, add a day to explore the town, and then add a few more days because we know you won’t want to leave. It all depends on what you’d like to do!

How do I get to Salento?

Before you can enjoy this Andean oasis, it’s important to know how to get there. Many people travel from Medellin to Salento to get a taste of mountain life while others depart Salento to Medellin after a relaxing small-town stay. 

Direct flights leave Medellin daily while buses stop in nearby Armenia before heading to Salento. It’s recommended to take a private transfer service such as Daytrip rather than navigate the roads in a rental vehicle. Any way you get there, you’ll enjoy the stay. 

The top things to do in Barranquilla

With warm Caribbean waters lapping against its shores and twisted mangroves lining the sandy beaches, you’ll be enthralled by the natural beauty of Barranquilla that spills over into a bustling urban cityscape. The city is less-frequented by tourists than neighboring cities but is growing in popularity. 

While Barranquilla is one of Colombia’s largest cities and main ports, it is a quiet place during a large part of the year. There are endless possibilities for fun, however, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best things to do in this enchanting Colombian city. Find out what makes the birthplace of pop queen Shakira so special and witness a UNESCO-listed Carnival firsthand in Barranquilla. 

What is Barranquilla famous for? 

Barranquilla’s notorious Carnival celebration takes place every year. Each February, the streets come alive with vibrant costumes, Colombian music and captivating performances. Every alley and plaza fills up with locals looking to celebrate and have a good time. Barranquilla Carnival draws festival goers to its ports from the far away shores which is, interestingly, in keeping with the city’s past.

Waves of immigrants flocked to this welcoming port city after World War I and World War II and Barranquilla became a melting pot of cultures. This is evidenced through the multi-day Carnival celebrations when thousands celebrate the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the city. Be sure to book accommodation well in advance! This is a Barranquilla must see. 

For writers and readers alike, visit these Barranquilla main attractions 

Perhaps one of Barranquilla’s most famous inhabitants was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner would often meet with other writers and philosophers to discuss life and art at La Cueva, a restaurant and bar that hosts live performances and readings to this day. Visit and see how La Cueva plays a significant role in Barranquilla’s contemporary art scene. To learn more about Garcia Marquez, check out the amazing Museo del Caribe which has a dedicated exhibit to the famed Colombian. 

Does Barranquilla have a beach?

With an expansive industrialized area, it might seem difficult to choose what to see in Barranquilla. The beautiful historic center has a large main plaza and is a great place to gather or hang out. There are plenty of museums and restaurants but the star of the show are the beaches to the north, which are one of the best beaches in the country! Although it is a port city, this doesn’t necessarily conjure visions of beach chairs and umbrellas. You’ll be pleased to know that the Caribbean produces perfect waves and the sandy shores are filled with palm trees and shady mangroves to laze under.  

The best area to stay in Barranquilla 

Just north of the historic city center is the neighborhood of Alto Prado. Some might ask how dangerous is Barranquilla and many would respond with a recommendation to stay in Alto Prado. The neighborhood is filled with luxury and boutique hotels, restaurants and is one of the safest neighborhoods in the area. Nearby El Prado is quieter with stunning homes that were built at the start of the 20th century by European immigrants. As the streets are quiet for the majority of the year, you’ll find a decent place in any part of the city and will be within walking distance of food and entertainment. 

How dangerous is Barranquilla?

As with Colombia’s other major cities, Barranquilla has gotten a lot safer in recent years, and in general isn’t dangerous. Use your common sense, and follow basic precautions like avoiding isolated areas and bad neighborhoods, particularly at night, and don’t go showing off your valuables. Cell phones are the most stolen item in Colombia, so try to keep yours out of sight. This is especially true during the Carnival de Barranquilla, when thieves try to take advantage of tourists. 

Also read: Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Is Barranquilla worth visiting? 

So you need to figure out where to go in Colombia and how to get there. Because it has so much to offer, you’ve finally settled on Barranquilla. Many people drive from Cartagena to Barranquilla but buses also travel between the two cities. Whether you’re traveling from Barranquilla to Cartagena or Cartagena to Barranquilla, it’s important to note that the main bus station in Cartagena is not centrally located and is outside of the historic city center. It takes about 45 minutes from the center to the bus station in a taxi. You can also try a private door-to-door transfer with a company such as Daytrip for convenience on the short two-hour journey which makes Barranquilla even easier to visit. 

The Best Things to Do in Santa Marta, Colombia

Is Santa Marta worth visiting?

Santa Marta, Colombia. A city with a rich history. Founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas, Santa Marta is the first Spanish settlement in Colombia, its oldest remaining, city and the second oldest Spanish Settlement in South America. Named after its bay, Santa Marta is skirted across the area with white sand and beautiful, lush greenery. While this city pops up often as a cruise stopover, Santa Marta is not a place to be ignored. Located just a short drive from one of the most important national parks in the country, with mountains in the back, the sea in the front and a lot of culture in between. 

What is Santa Marta known for?

As well as its natural beauty, its history is not to be ignored. An important part of the Spanish Colonial territory, its liberator, Simon Bolivar died on the outskirts of this trade centre. As a result of Colombia’s perseverance, this city is an example of this country’s versatility. A main hub for trade, as well as its tourism industry and its burgeoning eco-tourist sector, Santa Marta is truly a glisten in Colombia’s past and present.

What to do in Santa Marta?

Take a trek to a lost city

Our hikers will relish in this great opportunity. Take a guided tour through the Ciudad Perdida Trek (the Lost City in English). Through this arduous hike, you will be able to explore Colombia’s lost past and see a glimpse of the Tayrona indigenous community. Ciudad Perdida is an example of an ancient settlement built by the indigenous before the colonization of South America. 

The ruins include stone terraces, and walkways that lead you to this lost city! 

Bask in historical excellence…

La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is a Spanish Colonial sugar cane plantation just a few minutes outside of Santa Marta. While this may seem like a regular plantation decorated nicely, its historical significance is nothing to look over. Simon Bolivar spent the remainder of his life in this Hacienda and you can learn about both the history of this plantation as well as learn about his final days in his journey to liberation. 

You can also find a botanical garden and art gallery to marvel at the flora and fauna as well as a taste of culture. If you wish, hire a guide! The guides in this location are actually students from a local secondary school. 

…Or bask in the Sun!

Do you want to bathe in the sun for hours on end? Do you want to get your scuba certification for a low cost? Or do you just want to dive into the warm abyss and splash around? If one applies (or all), the nearby village of Taganga is the perfect spot for you and your family! A rest stop before the Tayrona National Park, you will get a nice beach opportunity (one of the best beaches in the country!) in this sleepy fishing village with more fish than people! You will see endless amounts of colorful fish, coral reefs and fun activities like scuba diving, dolphin watching and just laying about (what fun!). 

Promenade Prance

Take a promenade along Paseo El Camellon and revel at what the beautiful Carribean Sea has to offer for sunsets and other viewing opportunities. The best part is that you are able to experience the full force of the vending culture in this city! Along Avenida Las Bastidas, you will find people selling coconuts, fruits, arepas and ceviche as well as drinks and cocktails for you to enjoy as you watch the sky offer a dramatic performance to conclude the day. 

Beautiful Biodiversity

Let’s address the elephant in the room — Tayrona National Park. This is probably the most popular place that people can visit in Santa Marta. This beautiful example of an ecosystem is located right on the coast with miles and miles of beach and mountain. Residents include birds, sloths, monkeys and unique amphibians. 

This might require a night’s stay in Cabo San Juan, a rustic encampment where you can rent a hammock to sleep on or a tent to sleep in. One good attraction to the secluded beaches is that there are restaurants that serve wonderful Caribbean seafood, and delicious beers. 

Where to Stay in Santa Marta

El Rodadero

Try a neighbourhood with a fun beach lifestyle, a burgeoning nightlife and a well situated area close to everything in Santa Marta. The entertainment and beach district of Santa Marta, Rodadero includes hotels, apartments, sports and facilities, yachts, shopping and everything you would want in a neighbourhood. Rodadero is great starting point for your beach vacation in Colombia. 

Old Town

Santa Marta’s Old Town district is the centre of it all. You can feel the 18th and 19th century atmosphere with the cathedral and museums as well as the restoration efforts of the municipality to better preserve this glorious relic of a district. While this is the heart of the city, it is advisable to practice some caution while out late at night. 

Bello Horizonte

The neighborhood where you can get away from it all! Bello Horizonte is the easy living lifestyle heart of this city where you can just recline and enjoy the view and the quiet of the area. This quarter is especially suitable for families as this is a restricted area where boats or jet skis are not allowed. This means you and your children can swim, splash and marvel at the sight of local life as this is a more local face of Santa Marta. It is noted that this is one of the safest places in the city. 

Is Santa Marta safe for tourists?

Like any city, it is suggested that you are careful of your surroundings, especially during the evening. While crime has greatly decreased in most Colombia cities, typical scams can be encountered in some settings. Make sure to read up on places that you visit before you depart, as it should be common practice to research. 

Also read: Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

The Best Things to Do in Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, is the jewel of the Caribbean coast. This is a city with a history as heavily seasoned as its unique local cuisine. Once a Spanish Colonial walled-city, Cartagena de Indias employs more than a dozen kilometers of Spanish Colonial architecture, colorful walls, easy strolls and relaxing park settings. An easy walk-around, Cartagena is not a place to rush through your sightseeing stops. Rather, this unique city is a place to be spontaneous in. A simple stroll will take you through the labyrinth of culture, history, and innovation for a young future. 

This city’s impressive strides of preservation is unparalleled in a world where things are constantly changing. The bars and restaurants provide a new feel to a, for the most part, preserved city. Catch yourself in a time warp while admiring the massive churches whose spires overlook lush green plazas and parks, travel back in time through the beautiful terraced Spanish-style houses lining the streets with vines and overlooked by an almost constantly blue sky. Take a promenade down Cartagena’s corniche or beaches (which are one of the best ones in Colombia!) while viewing (or swimming) in the city’s spectacular ode to the Caribbean. Cartagena is truly the queen of the sea. 

What is Cartagena known for?

The city of Cartagena is a vibrant city known for its sunshine, coastline, and history. What people know best about this dynamic city is its burgeoning nightlife, robust salsa scene, delicious local cuisine and the mix of Spanish, Indegenous and Caribbean cultures. 

What to Do in Cartagena?

Cartagena is a vibrant city that is a beautiful place where the old and the new are constantly in harmony. While there are many, many things to do in this tourist paradise, we will make sure to outline what we think captures the best of this Caribbean hotspot!

Learn about Colombia’s colourful past

The Palace of Inquisition, once the seat of the Holy Office by the Spanish Colonial government built in 1770, now serves as a museum showcasing a plethora of historical artifacts. The building itself is a wonder of its own, with its Baroque influences with a heavy Spanish Colonial style. While the museum displays coins, maps, weapons, and imperial assets, what brings people to this museum is the collection of torture equipment used by the Spanish Colonial forces on individuals believed of crimes at the time. 

Explore the Deep Blue

The Rosario Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Cartagena, being one of the National Parks in Colombia. This island was protected by the government to protect one of Colombia’s vastest coral reefs. In-depth tours are available as well jam-packed activities such as swimming, snorkelling and even fishing! The islands also have an oceanarium and an aquarium where people can view the natural wildlife that inhabit the abyss. 

Take your palette on a journey

As much as Cartagena’s atmosphere has a lot of flavour, its cuisine will not disappoint, either. Some local delicacies include Mojarra, which is a fried whole fish with coconut rice, golden fried plantain and some vegetables. Other dishes include Cazuela de Mariscos (seafood casserole on a base of coconut milk), Posta Negra Cartagena (pot roast in brown sugar), and Kibbeh (originally brought over by the Lebanese migrants in the early 1920s). 

Some cool spots for the foodies: 

  • La Cocina de Pepina located in Getsemani is the place to try Cartagena’s unique Carribean flavour. They serve Posta Negra Cartagena as well as other Cartagena classics! A great place to eat on a budget. 
  • Zaitun Cartagena located in the walled city is central to Cartagena’s unique Lebanese-Carribean fusion. Mixing the flavours of Carribean/Colombian food with Colombia’s interesting Lebanese influences create restaurants like Zaitun. Lebanese food tends to be very versatile, so that being said, vegan options are available in Zaitun. 

Where to go in Cartagena? 

The Old City

Located in the heart of Cartagena, the Old City district is one of the oldest parts of the city. The Old City once made up the walled fortification of the Spanish Colonial government mostly to keep rival nations and pirates out. For many Latin American countries that reject their Colonial past, Cartagena is unique in the way of preserving this portion of their city so well, from their winding streets, cathedrals, mansions and bright cultural art displays and music on every turn! 


Entertainment is the first thing people will mention about this neighborhood. What can be compared to New Orleans in the United States, Getsemani’s pavement jumps with the rhythm and the beat of salsa and courses through the many veins of this quarter. While sleepy during, the nocturnal atmosphere makes way for memorable experiences. Let loose with a couple of cocktails and reconvene from the heat of the day. 


Want the feel of Copacabana without wanting to go all the way to Brazil? Bocagrande in Cartagena tells a story of the relaxed, easy living feel that the middle class of this city experienced in the 1950s. Lined with high-rise hotels and the condos, Bocagrande became a glamorous but relaxed portion of the city. Today, Bocagrande is dotted with excellent restaurants and shopping opportunities along the shores. The beaches here have private and public spaces for you to take a quick bathe in the sun, or a quick bathe in the Caribbean. 

La Boquilla 

Do you need an escape from the Bohemian energy of the Old City? Don’t feel like strumming the guitar along the shores of Bocagrande? La Boquilla is where you can splurge a bit and lavish in the glitz and the glamour that this Northern district has to offer. Other than blocks of luxury condominium complexes, the whitewashed buildings and terracotta roofs also employ lots of shopping and fine dining. 

Is there Uber in Cartagena?

Uber’s presence in Colombia is complicated, at best. After Uber left Colombia for a month in February 2020, they returned (although technically illegal) with a new set of rules and regulations. You are able to rent a car through Uber, and it includes a driver. 

Uber is a great option for short, on-demand rides. For longer distances, like traveling between cities, we prefer Daytrip. You can book them in advance so your driver will meet you exactly when you want to depart (they’re usually early in our experience!), and the sightseeing stops are a great opportunity to experience more of the local culture while you travel!

Where to stay in Cartagena

The Old City

Looking for a place you can easily access the best of Cartagena easily? Do you like to be in the centre of it all? The Old City is the perfect place for the organized traveller. The centre is extremely safe (even at night!), close to all the major attractions and has the historic charm that attracts people to this city in droves! Not to mention, in the case of a pirate attack, the walls will protect you! 


Living La Boheme is something that attracts the youth to Cartagena, as well as the people who just want to party! The cool street life, the trendy bars and cafes and its proximity to the Old City proves Getsemani to be a popular stay in Cartagena. 


At the foot of Bocagrande lies Laguito. This is perfect for the travellers who want a taste of the laid back, easy living by the Caribbean. A short walk to the Caribbean beaches, Laguito also serves great shopping and lots of restaurants! 

Is it safe in Cartagena?

While Cartagena employs a certain amount of reputation with respect to drug warfare, it is worth noting that the peak of it ended over 25 years ago. Today, Cartagena is a booming city and does not experience nearly the same violence as it had a quarter of a century ago. With this being said, it is worth noting that like anywhere, you should exercise a certain amount of awareness. Read the environment in which you are in, and not to flash your precious belongings around in the street. Also, do watch your possessions while being at the beach as unattended items are most likely to be swiped when you are on the beach. Never leave your drink unattended as you wouldn’t normally at home. 

Also read: Is it safe to visit Colombia?

Can you drink the water in Cartagena?

Colombian tap water is safe to drink in Bogota, Cartagena, Cali and Medellin. The tap water from these major cities from protected, fragile natural water sources. This being said, while basking in the coast of Colombia or in smaller towns, purified water is easily obtainable with sizes up to five litres sold for under a dollar. 

Where to go in Colombia?

What is Colombia famous for? Is Colombia worth visiting?

Colombia is a country misunderstood by most of the Western World. This country was rife with unrest, with drug wars and homicides overrunning the country since the 1960s. With this taken in consideration, it is worth noting that since 25 years ago, Colombia has dramatically transformed itself. Governments and citizens have taken it upon themselves to persevere and take on what was bringing them down, and that is something worth commending, because today, Colombia is relatively safe, vibrant and is now showing itself to be the beautiful country it has always been. 

While Colombia is known for its not-so-glamorous past, there are many things that Colombia has to offer to make up for it, and rightfully so. To wake you up to Colombia’s potential, its coffee country! You can travel south of Bogota to find the best brews with the best prices. Smell the earthy notes and the grinding scent of these precious beans that will be sure to keep you perked up and ready for adventure. 

If you’re an art connoisseur, you will find that Botero is widely mentioned, especially in his hometown, Medellin. Catch his many pieces sprinkled across the city, or visit the Botero Museum in Bogota, which boasts his best pieces. 

For you nature-lovers, this is the closest you can get to the Amazon without having to take the long arduous boat rides and jeeps like you would in Brazil. The Amazon punctuates its dramatic scenery and wildlife in Colombia, and this protected area will make for great excursions with stunning views and little animal surprises!

This country is booming. New restaurants, new bars, new boutiques and hotels have been popping up to meet the demand of the curious travelers trickling into this unique place. From booming Bogota with its history and beautiful sights, to marvelous Medellin with its candor and innovation, to candid Cartagena with the music and the partying, Colombia is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the tourism industry.

Where to go in Colombia


Once a walled city during the Spanish Colonial Period, not only is its history rich, Cartagena is a great starting point for your travels in Colombia! Cartagena has one of the most impressive of old cities. Whether you’re an architecture buff, a photographer, a history buff or just wanting to take a gander, the old city is not short of any sights. Learn some history in the Spanish Inquisition Museum, take in the lush greenery in Plaza Bolivar, take a photo op by the colourful buildings oozing with history and sights. 

Santa Marta

Let’s state the obvious — Santa Marta is a beautiful beach destination. It’s beautiful white sand skirts the Carribean Coast, the locals are very welcoming, the food is great. But what people overlook is that Santa Marta employs one of the most prominent national parks in the country. The Tayrona National Park, just a short drive from Santa Marta, is a beautiful, biodiverse rainforest with ancient ruins and other secrets. Wander in the Santa Marta Public Market for some delicious local cuisine, Carribean treats, interior fare and a vast array of different fruits and vegetables to take your tastebuds on an adventure.


A city with a tumultuous history, Medellin stands as an inspiration to the world with how resilience, hope and conservation can turn the second-largest city in Colombia into a tourist destination. Optimism and character fills the air in this vast expanse of culture. Wander through the Botanical Garden, take a free (yes, free) walking tour with a local who can inform you about the city’s many attractions as well as providing context to the city’s many characteristics.

Can you drink the water in Colombia?

First thing’s first. Colombia tap water is safe to drink in Bogota, Cartagena, Cali and Medellin. The tap water in these major cities comes from protected, fragile, natural water sources. This being said, while basking in the coast of Colombia or in smaller towns, purified water is easily obtainable with sizes up to five liters sold for under a dollar. 

Do I need any vaccinations to go to Colombia?

In the event that you feel under the weather, Colombia has a reputation for their good healthcare. The standard of care in the healthcare sector is becoming more well known for their affordability and their rigorous standards. Do not worry about obtaining medicine, visiting a doctor or getting any procedure done. Refer to this source in the event that you would like to see which vaccination requirements are in order before departure.

National Emergency Number : 123

Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Like any country, it is suggested that you are careful of your surroundings, especially during the evening. While crime has greatly decreased in most Colombia cities, typical scams can be encountered in some settings. Make sure to read up on places that you visit before you depart, as it should be common practice to research. 

While danger is a rare occurrence in Colombia, considering different crises in the surrounding countries, it is recommended that you avoid the borderlands situated close to the Venezuelan border, as well as exercising a high amount of caution at the Pacific Coast bordering Ecuador and Panama. Stay in areas close to the major cities, or the national parks as well as other tourist destinations. 

For more information click here: Is it safe to visit Colombia?

Should I tip in Colombia?

Let’s talk about etiquette. Starting from the top, it is appropriate to tip a bellhop about a dollar per bag. Make sure to leave a small gratuity to the housekeeping per day, maybe around a dollar or two. In restaurants, there is a ‘propina voluntaria’, which is a voluntary percentage. This will usually be 10%. Make sure to tip the bartender. In both cases, these are not required but everybody does it. If you have a tour guide, it is customary to tip them, but it is up to you to decide how much. If you take a taxi, do not tip the driver, even if they tell you to. Taxis are metered in Colombia and passengers are only required to pay for what is on the meter. 

Family Friendly Fun

Colombia has much to offer in the form of family-friendly activities. An easy-living beach holiday in Colombia is the sought after option when families travel to Colombia, and rightfully so! With kids’ love of nice weather, sand, and swimming, it is a perfect way to visit Colombia with kids! Snorkeling in Cartagena and the Rosario Islands comes popular with the children, with a high standard of safety. Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena have wonderful kid-friendly activities with many museums, parks and promenading. Museo Botero in Bogota’s important Latin American art collections are stimulating for the kids, as well as being open to the public free of charge! 

For some urban fun, the Metrocable to Parque Arvi boasts popular for families due to its picnic opportunity, picturesque views and fun boat rentals at the lake! 

Do’s and Dont’s

DO visit the national parks and take a nice promenade through the diverse ecosystems, ruins and caves.

DO NOT go to the Pacific Coast in Colombia or the area bordering Venezuela.

DO tip the 10% voluntary on your bill.

DO NOT leave the bellhop or housekeeper untipped.

DO pack sensible clothing for restaurants and outings.

DO NOT dress for tropical Cartagena in Bogota’s high altitude climate. 

 For more information on cities in Colombia: 

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