Colombia with Family

Colombia is becoming a popular holiday destination, perfect for families! Traveling to Colombia with family is getting easier than ever with all of the family friendly activities along with the classic sites. 

Whether you’re relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Cartagena or exploring the sprawling cities of Bogota and Medellin, you’re guaranteed endless opportunities for fun! From interactive museums to parks to food tours, you’ll be able to find something the whole family will enjoy!

Is Colombia Safe for Families? 

Many people would think that traveling to Colombia with the family would not be very safe. It is quite the opposite, for many years now, Colombia has become more and more safe, making it very welcoming to families. Colombians are family oriented and always enjoy opening their arms to families and friends. It is always a good idea to practice common safety habits and precautions, such as no wandering around alone at night or not entering any known/official vehicles. Applying these same concepts with your family will help keep them safe while having fun. If you’re worried about the logistics of getting around with your family, it is recommended to hire a guide, or join guided tours.

If you want to know more about safety in Colombia, click here: Is traveling to Colombia safe?

Colombia Family Vacation

Colombia with Kids

Traveling to Colombia with kids has never been easier. Whether your kids are more into playing on the beach, exploring the jungle, or discovering history and culture in the city, you’re sure to find activities that turn your trip to Colombia into the ultimate family adventure!

In Bogota and Medellin, take your kids to discover educational and exciting museums and parks. In Medellin you can easily spend the day at Parque Explora, in this museum, aquarium, zoo, and learning center, your kids will love all of the interactive exhibits and activities. You can also head to Parque Arvi which is a beautiful park just outside the city. Bogota even has a Children’s Museum and the Museo del Oro, with perfectly curated activities for little ones! In each city you can also find restaurants that can cater to international comfort foods, if your kids are picky eaters. Two of Colombia’s biggest cities boast many activities and fun for the whole family, if you’re traveling to Colombia with kids. Cartagena is also a popular destination to bring the family as the calm beaches and lovely old town satisfy the kid’s wanting to play at the beach, and your desire to explore a beautiful historic city.

Colombia with Teenagers and Adolescents 

If you have older kids, you also have a larger selection of activities that even the most stubborn of teenagers will enjoy. With teens and adolescents there is more of a variety of activities to choose from, from more intense hikes to street art and coffee tours. 

Bogota and Medellin will have much to offer when it comes to tours, cuisine, and night time activities. In Bogota, you can climb Monserrate with your teens, the walk up is like a tiny trek but worth every minute, when you get to the top and see the stunning panoramic view of Bogota. If you and your teens don’t prefer the trek there is also a cable car and a funicular that can bring you to the top of this high hill. Then explore all of the city’s wonderful art that just happens to be street art. You can take tours to really get a feel of the purpose and importance of street art in Bogota. Just outside of Bogota there are many accessible hikes, both light and strenuous to cater to whichever skill level for you and your family. Medellin is also a city bursting with activities and experiences. You can explore Comuna 13, a formerly notorious neighborhood, now is very peaceful. Tour the colorful neighborhood and learn about its dark past and rejuvenation. If your family likes sports, it is highly recommended to try and catch a futbol match. The sport is like a religion to the locals and being a part of the electric crowd is incomparable. Once again, Parque Arvi is great for families of all ages, the park boasts many hikes and activities on the lake and in the forest for all abilities. 

For an adventure involving more nature and ‘into the wild’ feel, there are many places to discover in the rainforest and at the beautiful beaches. Cartagena is the perfect place if you want to relax and enjoy the sand and the surf. On top of the usual rest and relaxation the beach provides, teens and adolescents may enjoy a snorkeling excursion where they can discover the underwater life of Colombia. Then explore the old town which is an old fortress with cobblestone streets that will be fun to explore and live a little bit of the history. You can also make your way to Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, where you can tour a coffee plantation, see how it’s made and even taste a cup of pure Colombian coffee. A perfect place for this is Salento, a small town that is perfect for discovering coffee culture. You can also hike or horseback ride through the Valle de Cocora, which will make an unforgettable memory when you travel to Colombia with your family! 

Colombia With Kids

It may seem unexpected to travel to Colombia with a child. But, traveling to Colombia with a child is quite popular, practical, and safe. Colombians are family centered, and they will always welcome children with open arms. 

The major cities in Colombia all have activities and opportunities for children to play and learn. From the seaside of Cartagena to the concrete jungles of Medellin and Bogota, you can find activities that the kids will love. 

Is Colombia Safe with Kids?

Ever since the 90’s Colombia has been known to be a very rough and even a violent country. All of that has most successfully been turned around. Now, traveling to Colombia with a child is just as safe as traveling to any other country or city with kids. It is always a good idea to practice common safety habits and precautions, such as no wandering around alone at night or not entering any known/official vehicles. Applying these same concepts with children will help keep your family safe while having fun. If you’re worried about the logistics of getting around with your children, it is recommended to hire a guide, or join guided tours. This way someone else can focus on the navigation while you easily attend to your children. 

If you want to know more about safety in Colombia, click here: Is traveling to Colombia safe?

Are Car Seats Required in Colombia?

Information regarding this topic can be quite confusing and you may receive mixed information depending on who you ask. According to the Republic of Colombia Seat Belt Legislation, children under 10 years old may not sit in the front seat, and shall use a seat belt at all times. All children 2 years of age or under are required to be seated in the back, and in a seat that restrains them appropriately. This legislation is quite brief, and the reality is that local Colombians are laxed with car seats when it comes to their children. We would recommend that while traveling, children (at least) 10 years of age or under, be in a car seat. Because, if anything were to happen, the incident would be covered by insurance. We recommend speaking to your insurance company if you are not sure what would be covered, and what would not. 

Colombia With Kids

Traveling with Kids in Bogota

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, has activities from museums to sampling tasty treats that kids of all ages will enjoy. The famous Museo del Oro is a great place where kids can marvel at all of the shiny treasure discovered in Colombia throughout the years, it will be a fun way for them to learn about some Colombian history with the interactive exhibits featured in the museum. Venture up to Montserrate, where you can ride a cable car to the top (to avoid some complaints or exhaustion) and see the best view of Bogota, you and your family will feel on top of the world! For young children, Bogota has a Children’s Museum, north of Simon Bolivar Park, with interactive exhibits and activities to keep the little ones entertained. If your children aren’t picky eaters, head to Paloquemao where you can go on a food tour and sample some great Colombian cuisine. However, if your children are picky eaters, then you can wander the stalls and try some fresh fruits and small snacks that the kids will love. On Sundays, many main roads and highways close for Ciclovia, where people can bike, rollerblade, and walk all along main roads. Taking the kids for a bike ride will surely be a fun way to see the city!

Traveling with Kids in Medellin

Medellin is probably one of the best cities in Colombia for kids! With the recent innovations and constructions of beneficial urban development, it feels like the activities are endless, and will keep your little ones entertained throughout your stay in Medellin. The first, and most obvious is Parque Explora, a fantastic science museum that is so much more! There are play areas, such as, an aquarium, a learning center, a small park, and even a small zoo. This multifaceted museum teaches kids all about Colombia’s ecology and wildlife with hands-on exhibits, 3D interactions, and animals galore. And when you’re finished you can hop on over the Botanical Gardens next door to relax after a fun filled day! If you’re ready to be outdoors, head to Parque Arvi, where you can take a cable over some of the city’s barrios (neighborhoods) and explore some of Colombia’s nearby wilderness areas. With lakes, hiking trails, and even a few small markets. Just the cable car ride will get the kids excited before they explore the best of Colombia’s nature. You can also check out the Water Museum which is also a part of the Barefoot Park. This museum is all about water and why it is so important to our Earth and to humans. The interactive exhibits are impressive and fun for children to adults, and most importantly, educational! 

Traveling with Kids in Cartagena

Cartagena is a great place to travel to Colombia with kids. This is partly due to the wonderful beaches where you and the whole family can relax and frolic in the ocean, enjoy building sandcastles, and take a dip in the relaxing waters. You can find many beaches where the waves aren’t so strong, which makes it perfect for kids both young and old. Visit the Museo del Cacao where you and your kids can learn all about delicious chocolate! From how it’s made to fun facts about which country consumes the most chocolate per year, kids will love spending the afternoon learning about their favorite sweet treat! If you’re kids love drawing or art, they may be interested in checking out all of the street art that you can find in Cartagena. From the old town to the surrounding barrios (neighborhoods), you can easily spend the day finding every little masterpiece in Cartagena! 

The Best Waterfalls in Colombia

Colombia is a lush country, due to the tropical climate it receives frequent rainfall, which results in this mountainous paradise boasting many beautiful waterfalls. You can find these waterfalls all around Colombia, you can hike, swim, and horseback ride to some of the most beautiful falls in the country! While on your tour of Colombia you cannot miss the iconic Colombia waterfalls. 

La Chorrera 

One of the best Bogota waterfalls, La Chorrera is also the tallest waterfall in Colombia! Located just next to the town, Choachi, you can hike about 3 hours to the falls and marvel at the height and beauty of La Chorrera. These falls drop 590 meters into a pool, which provides a relaxing mist that will provide the best refreshment after your trek. Due to the speed at which the falls drop, it is not safe to swim at the bottom, but the views and spraying mist will do the trick in providing revitalization before your hike back to Choachi. As La Chorrera is best known for its height and stunning falls, it is easily one of the best Colombian waterfalls, and at the top of everyone’s list! 

Tequendama Falls 

Adding to the list of notable Bogota waterfalls, Tequendama Falls has a stunning and unforgettable view. Only 32 km from Bogota, Tequendama Falls is easily accessible and people from all over come to view these ominous falls. You are unable to hike to the bottom of the falls, but there is a viewing platform where you can see the falls cascade into the depths of the rainforest. What makes these falls unique is the abandoned hotel that sits within view of the falls. The dilapidated hotel has provided a chilling element to the view of the falls, especially on days where the mist rising from the falls is powerful enough to appear like a cloud rising from the forest, a spooky photo op! 

Salto de Bordones 

Not too far from the town, San Agustin, Salto de Bordones is one of Colombia’s tallest waterfalls. The 400 meter fall is completely uninterrupted as it makes its way down to where the falls pool. You are unable to hike to the base of the falls, but your hike will provide the best views from a dirt road, where you can see a panoramic view of the mountains, the national park, and the Salto de Bordones waterfall. This stunning view, encompassing much of Colombia’s natural beauty, is one of Colombia’s best waterfalls.

Marinka Waterfalls 

If you’re traveling from Minca, the perfect day trip is to the Marinka Waterfalls. Located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, you can take a 1 hour hike to the falls, where you can swim and frolic until your heart’s content. There is a 3000COP fee to access the falls and park, because you will be entering a national park, where you can also enjoy the surrounding jungle! If you visit during the low season you are sure to have the falls to yourself and enjoy a tropical paradise at this Colombian waterfall. 

La Cueva del Esplendor 

Looking for some adventures around Jardin? La Cueva del Esplendor is a calming waterfall situated in a cave, with a unique way of getting there. While hiking is a popular method of access to the falls, it is possible to go by horseback, until the final stretch that has to be made on foot. Once you get to the cave, a circular opening at the top allows the waterfall to flow into the cave’s pool. Here, you can swim, go caving, and even abseiling! Visiting La Cueva del Esplendor is truly a unique adventure that includes one of Colombia’s best waterfalls!

Salto de Candelas

While not the tallest waterfall in Colombia, it is the most powerful! Salto de Candelas is about 70km from Boyaca, and gathers water from the River Cusiana. The waterfall’s current is so strong, the sounds of the tumbling waters are unforgettable. Most people make a trip to the ancient heritage site, Paramo de Oceta, while visiting Salto de Candelas to add their Colombia waterfall adventure. A bit of history, mixed with beautiful Colombian nature is the perfect way to see the best of Colombia’s waterfalls!

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The Lost City, Colombia

Hidden in the peaks of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains is the Lost City (or Ciudad Perdida, in Spanish), an archaeological site believed to have been founded in the year 800, and discovered in 1972. Treasure looters were hiking in the mountains when they came across stone steps which, when followed, led them to the ancient city ruins.

It was only when the ceramic and tomb artefacts from the abandoned site began to circulate the black market that archaeologists pursued the leads and discovered the Lost City for themselves a few years later. Reconstruction began almost immediately and by 1982, and tourist hikes began shortly thereafter.

Today, visitors to Colombia can trek the legendary road to the Lost City, accompanied by an authorised tour company, to appreciate the 200 stone structures, 169 terraces, ceremonial buildings and more.

The starting point for the trek is Santa Marta, so this is where you will stay before and possibly after your hike, and where your belongings will be stored since you’ll only be taking the bare essentials in your backpack.

Take a look at our brief guide to Colombia’s Lost City to see if it’s for you.

How long is the Lost City trek?

To access the Lost City visitors must trek around 42 km in total, including a climb of 1,200 steep stone steps through the dense jungle, so the hike is not for the faint hearted. Tours are typically 4, 5 or 6 days in duration, so you have the option to select the number of days based on your preferred hiking intensity and your physical capabilities.

Hikers will need to be in fairly good health and be physically fit in order to undertake the arduous journey, but we can assure you that the reward is deserving of the physical demand!

Is the Lost City trek safe?

You might have heard about the conflict that used to be rife in the region of the Lost City, so it’s understandable if you have some safety concerns. For several years in the early 2000’s the trek was closed due to the conflict, but since it completely reopened in 2005 and there have been no problems – big or small – since.

The Lost City is patrolled by the Colombian army, so you might be a little taken aback to begin with when you first catch sight of an armed officer. But rest assured that they are there for your safety and their presence has been, and continues to be effective, enabling thousands upon thousands of people to enjoy the wonders of the trek to the Lost City year after year.

As far as the hike goes, be aware of the physical requirements as the trail includes steep rocky climbs, river crossings and 1,200 ancient steps to ascend (all amongst the heat and humidity of the Colombian jungle).

And how high is the Lost City Colombia?

The trek to Colombia’s Lost City is a tough one and should only be considered for those in good physical health. But amongst the conditions and terrain we’ve just described, one thing you won’t have to add to the mix, unlike many of the best South American treks, is a high altitude – thankfully!

The highest points of the Lost City trek reach between 900-1,200 metres, so you need not worry about the effects of high altitude climbs.

Since you are only able to complete the Lost City trail with an authorised tour company, rest assured that you’ll be in good, safe hands!

Top tips to keep you safe, sane and comfortable!

If you’ve read our guide and you think that the Lost City trek is for you, here are some hints and tips to ensure you make the most out of your hike and have a safe and enjoyable time:

Prepare: plan and book your tour in advance to familiarise yourself with the company, their recommendations and advice

Hydrate: the trek is physically demanding so make sure you have plenty of water and you take the time to hydrate throughout the day

Don’t leave the beaten track: you will be hiking with a guide, and that is for good reason. They know the path, they know the terrain and they know how to keep you safe, so always stay on the path with your guide to ensure maximum safety

Be realistic: assess your physical health and check out the different tours that are available (4, 5 or 6 days). Only commit to the trek that meets your physical capabilities so you can enjoy the experience to the utmost

Bare necessities: it can be tempting to go overboard when it comes to packing, but you’re going to be hiking for a number of days so you want to stay comfortable. Don’t overload yourself with things you don’t need, and read your tour companies recommended packing list for inspiration

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The Tatacoa Desert

Deserts are not what comes to mind for most people when they think about Colombia. Jungles – yes. Great coast-lines – check. Mountains – definitely. But what deserts are in Colombia? In fact there are two true deserts, the desert Colombia shares with Venezuela (La Guajira) and the more centrally-located Tatacoa Desert. This majestic place should not be missed if you’re in that part of the country, and it’s a desert with two different faces. The gently-undulating rocky plateau of the Grey Desert could easily double up as the Lunar surface in certain areas, whereas the more barren areas of the Red Desert bares more than a passing resemblance to Mars. How do I get to the Tatacoa Desert? Read on!

Getting To Tatacoa Desert

Not as difficult as you might expect. First task is to get to the county capital, Neiva. There are inexpensive buses running from Bogota and other major cities (takes about 6 hours), and even cheap flights landing at Neiva Airport. From the local bus station you can catch a “colectivo” (a shared small bus or van which collects enough passengers before going to the destination) to the town of Villavieja, which will take you around 45 minutes. From there it’s only a 15 minutes taxi ride to the desert. Not a problem. Alternatively you can avoid the airport queues and multiple buses by taking a private car from Bogota to Neiva via the Tatacoa Desert.

Things To Do In The Tatacoa Desert

The stunning landscapes of the desert will take up much of your time. The winding canyons of and tall pillars of rock in the Red Desert are a delight to explore, and before digital cameras many people would have run out of film. With the sparse vegetation limited to some hard trees, succulents, and cacti (up to 5m/16ft high!) it looks like the setting of an American Wild West movie. Moving on to the Grey you gain the surreal feeling of being on the Moon, with it’s barren Luna landscape providing a disquieting beauty. Bizarrely enough there’s a small swimming pool here to cool off in.

Away from the daytime the Tatacoa Desert is known for its stargazing opportunities. Not only is there no major settlements anywhere near the desert but it even has its own observatory! The Tatacoa Observatory offers the chance to use it’s telescopes to view distant astronomical objects, and perhaps even discuss the stars and solar bodies with it’s resident astronomer. If you time your visit for the arrival of a new moon then you’re in for a real treat.

Bike tours of the area, which is a great way to explore for a couple of hours, can be arranged from local companies such as Tatacoa BiciTour. There are plenty of walking guides out there too who will take you through the winding canyons. Both of these options will need to be arranged in advance.

How To Stay Safe In Tatacoa Desert

Firstly, it’s a desert. It can reach 40°C (104°F) and there is little to no shade. You need to avoid sunstroke at all costs so you’ll need a hat, light clothing, and plenty of drinking water (carry a litre per hour as a minimum). Also best if you can schedule your visit outside of the hottest hours, especially if you’re going to be there for more than an hour.

There’s also a good number of insects that may bother you out there, mostly harmless but they will include mosquitos. Take a bottle of good insect repellent if you’re intolerant of them, or if mosquitoes tend to find you particularly tasty. There are also a number of poisonous spiders and scorpions native to the area but these are much more likely to stay out of your way.

Lastly, if you’re visiting late in the day you’d be best off taking a torch with you. There’s little in the way of electricity or lighting so you will need an independent light source of some kind.

The best beaches in Colombia

As a country bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Colombia is blessed with some of the most beautiful coastline in South America. While its center has a mountainous, volcanic landscape with the peaks of the Andes at its heart, the north and western coasts are lined with tremendous tropical beaches.

Here we will introduce you to some of the best Colombia beaches – you decide which you want to visit first!

Beaches on Colombia’s Pacific coast

Less-visited than its neighbouring Caribbean coast, Colombia’s Pacific beaches are more untouched, less developed and dripping in biodiverse beauty.

Go off the beaten track in El Valle

Just west of Medellin, El Valle is a small, isolated town offering quiet beaches backed by tropical jungle. The small fishing town is known for its marine life and biodiversity, and in particular is a great place to observe the sea turtles that nest there from September to December as they emerge from the ocean during the day, and lay eggs during the night.

June to October, and especially September, are also prime-time for whale-watching just off the coast of the beaches of El Valle.

For a bustling beach day, head to Playa Blanca, Isla Baru

Known as one of the best beaches in Cartagena, and certainly its most famous, Playa Blanca is famed for its turquoise, crystal-clear waters and golden sand; a picture-perfect beach if ever you have seen one. Here you can hire jet skis or partake in other water sports, and there are some great snorkeling spots just a few minutes boat ride away. Between July and October it’s possible to spot humpback whales!

Playa Blanca is not a relaxing, tranquil beach. It is a busier, more developed one, so come early to avoid the crowds who flock there during the busy season in December and January, and visit on weekdays if you can.

Have an adventure with watersports at Rodadero

Further south of Playa Blanca is Rodadero, a popular tourist beach spot on Colombia’s Pacific coast but more laid-back than Playa Blanca. Backed by a mountainous landscape there’s no doubt that Rodadero is a visual treat, not to mention the white sand and beautiful blue waters.

Vendors line the beach selling water activities such as sailing, diving, paddle boating and jet-skiing, so there’s plenty of adventure to be had at Rodadero. 

Indulge in isolation at Guachalito Beach

Nuquí, a small fishing village, is home to Playa Guachalito, an isolated, undisturbed beach that makes for a perfect escape into total relaxation. It is largely untouched and far less developed than other beaches along the coast, and rich in sea life making for a superb snorkeling session if you want to immerse into the clear waters.

The jungle begins to intrude on the beach in this untamed tropical paradise and the scenery is out of this world. From July to October hump-back whales visit the region to give birth so it’s a great time for whale watching. 

Tierra Bomba Island

Just off the coast of Cartagena is Isla Tierrabomba, which can be reached by boat from the mainland in just 15 minutes. A day trip to the island promises a tranquil escape from the city, complete with golden sands and bright blue ocean to bask in the Colombian sun. On the island there are a handful of hotels and day resorts ready to give you the ultimate beach experience.

The best beach club Cartagena is said to be Blue Apple, a Balearic inspired beach club, restaurant and boutique hotel. Offering water sports, fresh cuisine using local produce, relaxing music and delectable drinks and spa treatments to help you unwind, this is the ultimate way to while away the time on Tierra Bomba Island.

Tropical paradise on the Caribbean coast

Some of the best beaches in Colombia sit on the tropical Caribbean coast, and the best beach towns in Colombia are frequently said to be Santa Marta, Barranquilla and Punta Gallinas, each with their own unique offerings.

If you are visiting the Caribbean coast, check out the highlights below.

Chaos and the calm at Santa Marta Bay

Not strictly one of the best beaches in Colombia, but without doubt the most beautiful bay, Santa Marta bay is one of the main attractions in the coastal city. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, visit the marina or have a spot to eat in one of the nearby seafood restaurants to take a break from the chaos of the city.

Enjoy a slower pace of life at Playa Cristal

One of the best beaches in Santa Marta (well, just north of Santa Marta) is Playa Cristal in the magical Tayrona National Park. A quiet beach with calm, gentle waves is a favorite for those looking to relax and take in the tranquil surroundings that the local landscape has to offer. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia, and has made many top twenty lists for the most beautiful beach in the world.

This is thanks to its mountainous backdrop, coral filled waters and stunning marine life, that can be explored by swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters.

Pretty in paradise at Cabo San Juan Beach

Also located in Tayrona National Park is El Cabo San Juan beach. Equally untouched and undeveloped, it is an idyllic jungle beach just 30 minutes outside of Santa Marta, set right on the edge of the rainforest.

If you’re looking for a beach stay rather than a beach day, Colombia’s Caribbean coast is home to some of the best beach resorts in Colombia, offering everything from child-friendly hotels with a long list of amenities and impressive entertainment packages to luxury, tranquil retreats for the adult audience, complete with indulgent spas and world class fine-dining.

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What to see in Bogota in one day

If you’re lucky enough to have a free day in Bogota, you won’t be short on things to keep you busy and you may have to prioritize your activities.

The beating heart of Colombia, Bogota is the country’s vibrant, lively capital city focussed around La Candelaria, the historic center. This vast, sprawling, gritty city is steeped in culture and history, and with so much to do you’ll be longing for more time to spend in Bogota.

So, how do I spend a day in Bogota? Here are some of our suggestions that you may wish to consider.

Beat the crowds and head to Monserrate

If you only have one day in Bogota, you cannot miss Cerro de Monserrate, the mountain rising over the downtown area with a white church at its peak. Monserrate dominates Bogota’s skyline and while it can be viewed from below, the views from the summit simply cannot be beaten.

The panoramic views are simply spectacular and can be best appreciated at sunrise or sunset, so either get up early and start your day with awe-inspiring sights, or plan your itinerary to make sure you can get there to watch the sun go down.

An important religious site for tourists and pilgrims, the church atop the mountain can be reached by hiking (or crawling!) but since you’re short on time, the funicular railway or cable car is the way to go.

Explore the historic center, La Candelaria

The most popular destination for tourists, La Candelaria is a colonial district and the official first neighborhood of Bogota. Peppered with old houses, churches, theatres, museums and buildings built in Spanish colonial, art deco and baroque architectural styles, La Candelaria contains some of the best things to do in Bogota in one day, and the cobblestone streets can be explored on foot.

Calle del Embudo

The district’s most colourful street with buildings painted in bright, bold hues is unavoidable during your walking tour of La Candelaria. The narrow, winding street is decorated with impressive street art and full-wall murals, so make sure you keep your camera out.

Bolívar Square

This is Bogota’s main, central square at the very heart of La Candelaria and is lined with historical buildings dating as far back as the early 1800’s, so it’s the perfect place to marvel at different architectural styles. It houses the Palace of Justice – including the Supreme Court of Justice for Colombia – the National Cathedral of Colombia and the National Capitol. 

Gold Museum

The Museo del Oro contains more than 34,000 pieces of gold, laid out over three floors across a number of themed rooms. Named one of the best museums on the planet by National Geographic magazine, this impressive museum showcases the largest collection of prehispanic gold work in the world, where visitors can learn how indigenous people used these gold creations as part of daily life and in sacred rituals.

Botero Museum

The Museo Botero was founded in the year 2000 and primarily showcases the work of Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. It is open to the public free of charge and contains more than 120 pieces of art created and donated by Botero, and more than 80 pieces created by other, international artists (including the likes of Picasso and Monet to name just a couple!). You may not have heard the name Fernando Botero, but you’ll probably recognise some of his pieces by his distinguished and distinctive style.

Take a quick self-guided tour of Usaquén

Another of Bogota’s most popular and visited districts is Usaquén, sitting just north of the city. Filled with picturesque, narrow streets this laid-back neighbourhood is a charming escape from the hustle and bustle of the touristic center. Flea markets, unique shops and delicious independent restaurants line the streets of Usaquén so it could be a great spot to stop for some lunch!

How many days do you need in Bogota?

While you can squeeze in the highlights in Bogota in one day, the truth is, there’s a lot more to explore and you can only really scratch the surface in just one day!

Typically, most visitors tend to spend 2-4 nights in the Colombian capital in order to make the most of all it has to offer. You can read more about the best things to do in Bogota in our detailed guide.

Is Bogota expensive to visit?

Compared to other parts of Colombia, the answer is yes. Compared to other parts of the world, though, for a capital city in particular you might be pleasantly surprised. Here we have broken down the average costs for the three main categories most consider when travelling abroad; accommodation, food and transport.


Like most cities throughout the world, Bogota is home to hotels, hostels, B&B’s, apartments and more, so there is something out there for everyone regardless of their taste and preference. Ranging from 1 star, low-budget accommodation to 5 star, upscale resorts, there’s a Bogota hotel for all price points and budgets and, if you shop around and plan your trip in advance, you can even find some real bargains on the higher-end hotels.

Prices vary by season and availability, but if you’re planning your trip with at least a few months notice you can expect a 4 star hotel to cost in the region of 40-60 EUR per night based on double occupancy. For a 5 star hotel, the price jumps to around 70-100 EUR per night.

As far as capital cities go, Bogota can be considered great value for money when booking a hotel!


Despite declaring independence from Spain in 1810, the Spanish influence on Colombian cuisine is still present (and that’s not a bad thing). We know how important food is in the enjoyment of travel and your trip to Colombia will certainly not disappoint – we’re confident that your tastebuds will be suitability tantalised!

Colombian food is a rich culmination of European, African and indigenous flavours and ingredients based on meat, potatoes, corn and rice.

As the capital city, Bogota is brimming with restaurants offering local and international meals at all price points. 

On average, though, you can expect to pay between;

12,000-15,000 Pesos (2.69-3.37 EUR) per person for a typical local meal,

300-500 Pesos (0.6-.011 EUR) for a piece of street food (such as an empanada),

25,000-30,000 Pesos (5.61-6.73 EUR) per person for a meal in a Western-style restaurant

More expensive options are available for those seeking fine-dining restaurants headed up by internationally-recognised chefs, of which Bogota has plenty of options on offer.

If you want to know about food and water safety in Colombia, click here: Food and Water Safety in Colombia


The TransMilenio is Bogota’s extensive bus network – the largest Bus Rapid Transit system in the world – providing frequent, inexpensive services from early in the morning (4:30 AM) to late at night (11 PM). It is convenient, accessible and easy to use. A mandatory rechargeable card will cost 5,000 Pesos (or 1.12 EUR) and the cost of a one-way ticket within the metro area is 2,300 Pesos (0.52 EUR). Typically, most visitors can budget on spending around 20,000 Pesos (4.50 EUR) each in a single day in Bogota.

Tayrona National Park

Situated on Colombia’s caribbean coast, the Tayrona National park is a Colombian treasure. Located a short distance from Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park is one of the best things to do in Santa Marta. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta line up along the coast, which is lined with a few of the most beautiful and serene beaches in the country, coconut trees, and dense rainforest. This unexpected paradise boasts beautiful rainforests, beaches, mountains, flora, and fauna. The Tayrona National Park is a natural reservation, but has played a part in ecotourism, with archaeological findings and places to spot the native fauna, it is Colombia’s Coastal gem. 

It is important to note that for centuries the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has been inhabited by indigenous tribes who still reside on parts of the Sierra to this day. While their reservations sit along the borders of Tayrona National Park, sacred ancestral lands overlap into it, including the mountainous regions as well as some lagoon and beach areas. The four indigenous tribes are Kankuamo, Kogui, Wiwa, and Arhuaco. You can learn about these different indigenous tribes while at Tayrona National Park, as it is recommended to be respectful of the sacred areas in and around the park. 

Things to do in Tayrona National Park

You will truly be impressed by the amount of activities available in Tayrona, from hiking, to swimming, to historical sites, you may even need more than a day here, as it is one of the top things to do in Colombia.


Tayrona National Park has a selection of trails for both beginners and advanced hikers. Trails include hikes through the forest, hikes to the beaches, and hikes with historical significance. Whether you want to spend one hour, or up to four hours wandering the forests and the hills, you are sure to be impressed by the lush flora and active fauna all around you! If you choose to hike or take a tour of the park, it is recommended that a certified guide be hired, so they can show you all of the Park’s treasures.

Snorkeling and Diving

A unique activity facilitated at Tayrona National Park, is the opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive! In the Neguanje section of the park, Playa Cristal is a lovely beach where you will find expert guides with equipment rentals, ready to show you a beautiful underwater world. If you’re more of a diver, then head over to the Isla Aguja and Granate section of the park, where you can rent equipment and take lessons from the experts at the diving school of Taganga. Colorful fish and underwater creatures await your discovery at Tayrona National Park.

Cultural Heritage Observation

Two trails in the Tayrona National Park lead to the observation site of one of the archaeological findings discovered in the Tayrona National Park. The park used to be a territory of the Tayrona civilization many hundreds of years ago. This archaeological finding, called Pueblito, includes some of the remains from the Tayrona Civilization, how they have lasted for these hundreds of years is truly impressive and a must see while visiting Tayrona National Park. 

Things to See in Tayrona National Park


Among mammals, reptiles, birds, and sea creatures, there is an abundance of wildlife in Tayrona National Park. While hiking through the forest with your guide, you should be able to spot sloths, armadillos, deer, various kinds of monkeys, and many more creatures. Make sure to keep an eye out for the elusive jaguar, spotting this big cat would be remarkable. Tayrona National Park is a great place for amateur and experienced bird watchers alike, with almost 400 hundred species of birds flying around, you’re sure to spot something you’ve never seen before. If you choose to head down to the beaches and snorkel, you’ll be able to see various coral reefs, mollusks, and different crustaceans. With this many species, there are so many things to see in Tayrona.   


Many of the beaches in the Park, while beautiful, are not completely suitable for swimming. After a hike, there is nothing more satisfying than relaxing on a white sandy beach where you can rest and enjoy the sound of the waves. Some of our recommendations are as follows. Playa La Piscina is one of the few beaches you can swim in, as the waters are calm and clear blue, it will be the perfect to take a dip. Playa Cabo San Juan del Guia is the beach with iconic views, when people think of Tayrona National Park, they think of the picturesque view of the mountains behind Playa Cabo San Juan de Guia, complete with the little hut where people can actually stay the night! One of our favorites is Playa Cristal, because at this beach you can snorkel, swim and relax in this little crescent shaped piece of paradise. Whichever beach you decide to go to, it will be your little slice of heaven waiting just beyond the forest.

What to Bring to Tayrona National Park 

The Park is so vast, you will definitely be spending at least a few hours there, below is a list of items that are recommended to bring/have with you for a day at there!

  • Light clothing (cotton recommended), long sleeve and pants option for protection from the elements when hiking
  • Adequate footwear suitable for hiking, and maybe a waterproof option when visiting the beaches
  • Bathing suit and small towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Cap
  • Light rain jacket (when visiting during rainy season)
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent 
  • Cash (use of cards is unlikely in shops)

Tayrona National Park Information

The opening hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. A limited number of tourists are able to enter the park at one time, you are able to organize the reservation through a certified guide, or by contacting the park directly. The entrance fee is 54,500 COP (about 12.25 EUR), children under the age 5-12 , as well as students receive a discount, if you are a student you must present a student ID and a valid ID confirming you are under 25. It is important to note that the sacred sights of the four indigenous tribes are not accessible and bathing in the sea is not permitted after 6:00 PM. All rules and regulations are in place for your safety and for the preservation of the park. 

Cover photo source:

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!