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.
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:
- What to do in Salento
- What to do in Medellin
- What to do in Bogota
- What to do in Baranquilla
- What to do in Villa de Levya
Cover photo source: https://southamericabackpacker.com/colombia/medellin/