The Best Things to Do in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is one of the best places to visit in Colombia. A vibrant hot spot for Colombian culture, Medellin has developed into one the most impressive cities in South America. Known for its violent past due to drug cartels and civil wars, Medellin has had a most impressive turnaround, with its residents beaming with pride on how far the city has come. One of the most unique aspects of Medellin is the sprawl of the different neighborhoods around the city. The public transportation includes a metro and cable cars that connect each neighborhood to the city center. This has proven to be important for the city’s growth as it allows people living in the poorer neighborhoods to easily access jobs located in the center. Even just walking around the city you will notice the cheerfulness and optimism of the locals, so much so, it provides a contagious atmosphere and leaves you absolutely loving Medellin. 

What to do in Medellin? 

As the city is constantly developing and evolving, new activities are springing up all over the place! Learn about Medellin’s past, enjoy displays of creative art, and sample some of the tastes of Colombia. You will never run out of options when deciding what to do in Medellin! 

Free Walking Tour

Now, we know this may sound touristy and obvious, however, it is truly the best way to get to know the city upon your arrival. Free walking tours cover all the basics of Medellin with great explanations, and the local guides are enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about their home country. Almost everyone will recommend Real City Walking Tours, as they have the reputation of providing the best and most comprehensible free tour of Medellin. As it is a free tour, tips are expected, although we promise it will be worth every penny. 

Museo de Antioquia

The Museum of Antioquia is a beautiful former city hall turned art museum. Fernando Botero is a famous Colombian artist, and is known for his paintings depicting his subjects in exaggerated forms. Many of his works reside here in the Museo de Antioquia, as well as pre-Colombian works, and both national and international pieces. It is on everyone’s list as one of the best things to do in Medellin! 

Casa de la Memoria

A very important part of Medellin’s history, Casa de la Memoria is a museum and memorial for all of the lives lost due to the violence in Medellin. An enlightening and sombering exhibit, it is raved about by locals and visitors as a very important place to learn about what happened within the city. 

Parque Arvi

You’ll notice that Medellin is set against beautiful hills, with some of the neighborhoods appearing to be climbing the hills. Past the neighborhoods, you are able to take a cable car to the entrance of Park Arvi, which is a nature reserve that has many walking trails, and even some archaeological sites to discover. It’s an accessible breath of fresh air away from the city center. 


Futbol (soccer) is like a religion to the people of Colombia, and even Medellin. If you get the chance, seeing a match is an absolute highlight, as you won’t see locals behave as they do when it comes to futbol! The local teams of Medellin are, Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín, and they provide an intense rivalry to the point where the die hard fans must be separated at games. However, the energy in the stadium is electric and too much fun not to miss, this is sure one of the best things to do in Medellin. 

What to See in Medellin?

Comuna 13

Comuna 13 used to be one of the most violents neighborhoods in Medellin, armed guards would stand outside the gate and reject anyone who did not live in the area. Affected by drug cartels and violence, the neighborhood has made a comeback with beautiful buildings accompanied with street art, it drew the attention of tourists and now is a lot safer. The best way to see Comuna 13 is to hire a guide or take a tour. It is also popular to take a graffiti tour, where you will learn about the street images that were in response to the brutal police treatment among other issues in the community. This special area is at the top of everyone’s list as one of the best things to see in Medellin. 

Plaza Botero

In the heart of downtown Medellin, in front of the Museo de Antioquia, you’ll find PLaza Botero. Fernando Botero is a famous Colobian artist known for depicting his subjects in exaggerated forms. This square has about 23 different Botero statues and sculptures, it’s a perfect place to view Botero’s work while people-watching. You can also find street performers or other artists hanging around, maybe in hopes of becoming the next Botero. 

Minorista Market

Probably the most beautiful market in Medellin, this local market is mainly for fresh, local produce. Fruits and vegetables that are as bright as they are delicious. Watch the locals do their shopping and maybe even get some fruit of your own, as you won’t get anything better around town! Occasionally you can find some stalls with some artisanal products or people wanting to sell some old items, but the size and colors will leave you with a lasting impression.


This popular neighborhood has been deemed ‘gringolandia’ due the expats, tourists, and backpackers choosing this locality to stay. However, the neighbourhood has a wonderful cafe scene, where you can sip some of the best Colombian coffee, and enjoy the lovely Medellin atmosphere. Filled with other comfort amenities, if you’re looking for gyms, spas, and international food options, you will find it in Poblado.

Where to Go Out in Medellin

The nightlife culture in Medellin is abundant, from micro breweries to salsa clubs, if you’re feeling social there’s no better place than Medellin!

Micro Breweries

A growing scene in Colombia is the brewing of craft beers. A small selection of microbreweries you can visit will match perfectly with the Colombian Cuisine. Check out 3 Cordilleras, 20 Mision Cerveza, and Brew House, which are among the many micro breweries that have grown in Medellin. 

Parque Lleras

Located in the Poblado neighborhood this open air park turns into a popular night spot. By day you can find people relaxing in the shade of the trees, with local artists, and artisanal vendors selling goods. But, once the sun goes down, bring a beer, or buy one from one of the local bars in Parque Lleras and see where the night takes you! 

Salsa Dancing

Even though Medellin is not the salsa capital, it comes in a close second, as you can find many bars and clubs who play the perfect rhythmic music to dance the night away. If you don’t know how to salsa you can always take a lesson or two during the week to practice your skills. Even when you get to the bar, a local would be happy to lead you in dance!

What to Do Near Medellin?


Just 2 hours outside of Medellin is Guatape, a picturesque lake town where you can find the most amazing colored waters and lush foliage. You can take boat rides as tours of the town, or take a party boat to really enjoy yourself and let loose! Not only is the lake beautiful but the town itself holds some of the most colorful streets you will find in Colombia, we recommend checking out Plaza de Zocalos, you’ll be sure to get the perfect photo op! 


If you’re looking to explore more of Colombia, the perfect way to do it is to venture from the city for a day and explore some of the smaller towns of Colombia. Getting from Medellin to Salento takes about 5 to 6 hours, so it’s ideal to spend the night here. Sitting in Colombia’s ‘coffee triangle,’ Salento calmly rests in the Cocora Valley, surrounded by lush wax-palm trees and coffee plantations. This is the perfect place to go on a memorable hike, tour a coffee plantation, and even go horseback riding! 


Another city to visit, worthy of a night or two, Cali is about 7 and a half hours from Medellin. The official salsa capital of the world, Cali is the perfect place to dance the night away! From the colonial landmarks to the vibrant ethnic diversity and culture, Cali is a great place to get a taste of everything Colombia has to offer. You can’t miss the huge Cristo Rey statue, Barrio Granada, and the many museums Cali has to offer. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to get from Medellin to Cali

Is Medellin Safe?

A common question that is always asked when traveling to Medellin, even Colombia. This makes sense due to the city’s past issues with violence and drug cartels. However, since Medellin’s rebirth, the city’s numbers in safety have gone up! It is much safer to wander the city these days, however, we would like to remind you to practice common sense safety practices (especially at night) and always be on the look out for pickpockets. And, while it is unlikely, if you are confronted by a thief, the situation may become more dangerous if you attempt to resist or fight back. Medellin has come a long way from it’s dark past and this thriving city has so much to see and explore, and many people feel the past threats have since disappeared and the city is safer.

For more information click here: Is it safe in Colombia?

What can you not do in Medellin?

Medellin has come a long way from it’s violent past, and the locals are very proud of what the city is today, for good reason. Due it’s past there are still some common sense things that you should not do when in Medellin, or even Colombia in general. Here are some tips for things to avoid doing during your stay in Medellin, Colombia.

Pablo Escobar & Drugs

As many people know, the cause of Medellin’s violent past was the presence of drug lords inhabiting the city, most famously, Pablo Escobar. While the popular Netflix show has become a huge hit, please do not talk about, or speak to locals about Pablo Escobar. The violence he brought on the city is something that locals are trying to move past, so most people will likely get offended if you talk about him in a lighthearted manner. On top of this, please do not go searching for cocaine, as that is the reason for Pablo Escobar’s ruthless hold on the city, not to mention, taking reckless drugs is dangerous anywhere. 

Being Alone

While most of us are independent and solo travel often, it is still a good idea to be on your guard. This is mostly relevant to being in the city at night, or taking transportation at night. The best recommendation for transport (alone and otherwise) is Uber or any taxi service app. This way you will not be taken advantage of regarding the price, as well as the drivers being held to a standard, so they should not give you trouble. Please never enter an unknown taxi or car, as this is when things could become dangerous. 

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!


Do not expect many things to be open or available on Sundays. As Colombia’s locals are largely religious, Sunday is a holy day and reserved for services and religious dedication. The only things open will be chain restaurants and coffee shops, so we suggest saving that amazing local place you’ve ben wanting to try, for some day during the week!

Why is Medellin so popular?

Medellin is situated in the Andes Mountains, surrounded by gorgeous landscapes that you can see throughout the city. But the local’s pride and joy is Medellin’s rebirth into a dynamic, international, and accessible city. In the mid 90’s the violence was beginning to make its way from Medellin’s city streets and more urban developments began. With the installation of the public transportation system the city came alive. People left their neighborhoods for both careers and excitement! Ever since, Medellin has grown into a popular city that all locals, expats, and tourists have fallen in love with. Some of the characteristics that make Medellin so popular are the people, who are welcoming and cheerful, they will always greet you with welcome arms and invite you for a salsa dance. The nightlife, Medellin has been proven to be fun for everyone, whether it be dive bars with unique beers, or bass pounding discotheques, your weekends will never be dull. The cuisine, from the best pure Colombian coffee, to fresh arepas from a local street vendor, one thing is for sure, you won’t be leaving Medellin hungry! Finally, the culture, with museums from Medellin’s history to famous Colombian artists, you are sure to learn about many of Colombia’s greatest characters. There is much to discover about why everyone who visits Medellin falls in love with it, what will be your reason? 

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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