Colombia best places to visit

Colombia has many touristic destinations and there are many things to be done. If one wants to travel to Colombia, there are some places that stand out from the rest. Here you have a few of the best destinations to visit in Colombia.

Colombia is a country of beautiful and colorful contrasts, with an impressive range of natural wonders, from miles of snow-white sandy beaches to glacier-capped mountains that touch the sky. The diversity and vibrancy of its cultures reveal Colombia to be a top tourist destination.

Colombia is a country with a rich history of cultural diversity and natural beauty, including everything from the Amazon rainforest to the Caribbean Sea. There are many different places to visit in Colombia, and you’ll never run out of things to do or see. Here are some of the best places you can visit while in Colombia.

  1. Cartagena – Cartagena is a city located at the northern tip of South America’s Caribbean coast. It’s famous for its colonial architecture, including the beautiful colonial-era fortresses that line its cobblestone streets.
  2. Bogota – Bogota is Colombia’s capital city, and it’s also home to many important landmarks like El Capitolio Nacional de Colombia (which was once the tallest building in South America). In addition to these landmarks there are plenty of museums, restaurants and other attractions that make it one of Colombia’s most popular cities among tourists from around the world.
  3. Medellin – Medellin is another popular destination for travelers thanks to its mountainscapes which include several national parks as well as rivers that flow through town all year round! You can also visit Parque Lleras where people come together every Sunday afternoon for live music performances by local artists who perform on stage between

25 Places to Visit in Colombia


Best cities to visit in Colombia

1. MEDELLIN, THE BEST CITY TO VISIT IN COLOMBIA

A woman stands in front of a street mural in Medellin, Colombia.
Medellin’s Comuna 13 is one of the best places to visit in Colombia for street art & urban culture.

Colombia’s second-biggest city was once considered the most dangerous city in the world. But not anymore. Thanks to some imaginative civil projects and the will and resilience of local residents, Medellin has emerged from its shadowy past to become one of the best places to visit in Colombia.

Dubbed the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, Medellin is located in a rich and fertile part of Colombia responsible for producing much of the country’s coffee, fruit and flowers. The city itself is surprisingly large: Brick houses spread out for miles in every direction, best viewed from lookouts accessed via cable cars connected to the only metro system in Colombia.

The highlights of Medellin include the Museo de Casa de la Memoria, a tasteful homage to the city’s tumultuous past, and Comuna 13, a set of barrios that cling to the side of the hill and provide a canvas for Medellin’s best street art.

Spend your days in Medellin visiting fruit markets, sipping on freshly squeezed OJ and nibbling on empanadas and arepas. Or you can skip over to El Poblado, the city’s most affluent area, and enjoy the many restaurants. Take a stroll through Laureles, a delightful inner-city suburb filled with parks, cafes and bars.

Take a selfie in Plaza Botero (which is lined with sculptures by the Medellin-born artist), and if you’re lucky enough to be in town on the first weekend of the month, drop into the San Alejo Handicraft Market for some authentic souvenirs.

Medellin is the biggest transport hub in Antioquia Department and a perfect departure point for exploring Colombia’s coffee belt and the colourful colonial towns that characterise this part of the country. It’s worth spending at two or three days in the city itself – most of your time should be dedicated to eating and drinking.

Get there: Fly into Jose Cordova International Airport (1-hour flight from Bogota).

Stay: 574 Hotel – Boutique on a budget near Lleras Park in El Poblado, with bright, tidy rooms and breakfast included. Or try one of these unique Medellin Airbnbs.


2. CARTAGENA, ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN COLOMBIA

Colourful architecture in Cartagena, Colombia.
Pretty colonial architecture in Cartagena, one of the most popular places in Colombia for visitors.

The port city of Cartagena was founded in 1533. One of the best places in Colombia for vibrant architecture and culture, several parts of Cartagena were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Because of its location on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena has a unique feel. Visitors to the city also enjoy easy access to beaches, islands and jungle trekking.

The city itself is divided into three neighbourhoods: Getsemani, San Sebastian and Santa Catalina (where you’ll find the iconic cathedral and many of the most recognisable streets and buildings), plus San Diego, traditionally home to Cartagena’s merchants.

Must-dos in Cartagena include climbing the Castillo fortress for a view, roaming the Plaza Santo Domingo, and shopping for souvenirs at Las Bovedas covered market. If the bustling UNESCO Walled City gets to be too much, make a break for one of the stunning beaches nearby or charter a boat to Colombia’s Caribbean islands.

As you explore Cartagena by foot, keep an eye out for the famous Palenqueras, fruit sellers dressed in vibrant costume and carting baskets of tropical goodies. They’re hard to miss!

Get there: Fly into Rafael Nunez International Airport (1-hour flight from Medellin; 1.5-hour flight from Bogota)

Stay: Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio – Beautiful colonial-inspired rooms with tiled floors and four-poster beds, an infinity pool and garden terrace set in a heritage building 100m from Bolivar Park.


3. BOGOTA, COLOMBIA’S DYNAMIC CAPITAL CITY

Bogota's city skyline.
The view from Monserrate in Bogota, Colombia.

The largest city in Colombia and the nation’s capital, Bogota is an essential stop on any Colombia itinerary.

The Spaniards founded Santa Fe de Bogota in 1538 at a breathtaking altitude of 8,661 feet. Nestled at the foot of green mountains, it is nowadays a bustling city and home to more than 11 million people.

To get the best overview of the colonial old town, the business district and the outskirts stretching far to the horizon, you can take the cable car to the top of Monserrate (10,340 feet).

Stunning historic buildings line the narrow streets of the old town, Barrio Del Candelaria. The heart of the city is the Plaza Bolivar, where musicians regularly perform and other events take place.

On Sundays and public holidays, the main road Carrera Septima is closed for cyclists, inline skaters, joggers, and walkers. After the sporting performance, a folk festival takes place in the streets.

Plan for at least two days in Bogotá to visit the main sights, more if you’d like to see surrounding attractions or if you’re lucky enough that one of the many festivals is taking place so you can swing the dancing leg Bogota’s to salsa rhythms.

By Marcelle from Grey World Nomads

Get there: Fly into El Dorado International Airport (1-hour flight from Medellin).

Stay: GHL Hotel Bioxury – Efficient rooms with modern bathrooms and a lovely shared atrium space walking distance from El Retiro.


4. CALI, COLOMBIA’S SALSA CAPITAL

The gem of South America, Colombia has something for everyone. Here are 24 of the very best places to visit in Colombia, as recommended by travel writers.
Street musicians in Cali, Colombia. Photo credit: Tiago Fernandez/Depositphotos.com.

Cali is best known by outsiders as the former home of the infamous Cali Cartel. Many travellers skip it without knowing this Colombian city is famous for something else as well.

If you’re interested in learning how to salsa dance, Cali is considered the world capital of salsa. I spent two months there taking group salsa lessons in the afternoon and practicing what I learned at night at local haunts such as Tin Tin Deo.

Colombians are some of the friendliest people in the world. They understand that everyone begins somewhere, and so you don’t need to be shy if you’re new to salsa. At the clubs I danced the night away and took shots of aguardiente with new friends, who taught me to how to fit in by learning Colombian slang.

Cali is also home to the world salsa championships where you can watch kids as young as four and five years compete in individual or group events. It lasts several days over several venues and is a great way to see Cali from a local perspective.

By Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic

Get there: Fly into Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (1-hour flight from Bogota or Medellin).

Stay: Alko Hotel Casa Nispero – Stunning boutique rooms with exposed rafters and a central courtyard complete with pool close to Cali City Theatre.


5. POPAYAN, ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S FINEST COLONIAL CITIES

Colonial architecture in Popayan, Colombia.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Asunció in Popayan, Colombia. Photo credit: Feliperma 15/WikiCommons.

Popayan is located in the Cauca Department in the west of Colombia. It’s one of the top destinations in Colombia for a stopover when travelling by bus from Ecuador to the city of Cali.

Popayan, otherwise known as La Ciudad Blanca (‘the white city’), is definitely worth a stopover for at least two nights (more if you can spare it). The climate is much milder than sweltering Cali, and with all the charm of a typical colonial town, the small city provides a great introduction to Colombia.

The colonial centre is a beautiful tribute to post-colonial Spanish architecture and one could easily spend days exploring the cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings. The Iglesia San Francisco in the old town is worth a look, and you can take a tour through the building to view a collection of mummies which were discovered after an earthquake damaged the building in the 1980s.

If you’re looking for more adventurous activities, you can hike up El Morro de Tulcan, a viewpoint over the city that housed an Indian pyramid dating back to the 1500s. It’s a great place to catch the sunset and is easy walking distance from the city centre (or a cheap taxi ride away).

By Emma from Mum’s Money

Get there: 2.5-3 hours by road from Cali.

Stay: Hotel Dann Monasterio – Comfortable rooms in a 1570 Franciscan convent with swimming pool, Spanish galleries and a central courtyard.


Best places to visit in Colombia: Small towns & pueblos

6. GUATAPE, COLOMBIA’S MOST COLOURFUL TOWN

Guatape, Colombia - a beautiful landscape of lakes and islands.
The majestic Embalse El Peñol-Guatapé lake at Guatape, Colombia.

Guatape is often called ‘the most colourful town in Colombia’. With tiny streets, colourful houses and clusters of joyful tourists, this place is straight out of Disneyland!

Guatape is located 10 minutes’ drive away from La Piedra, one of the largest free-standing rocks in the world. Since the whole region is quite small, one day for both these Colombia is more than enough.

After spending the morning hiking La Piedra, you can dedicate the afternoon to marvelling at Guatape’s lively roads. A few cafes sit just across from the central plaza, providing ample opportunities for people-watching.

Needless to say, the colours that decorate Guatape’s streets are spectacular. From bright reds to rich blues, you’ve never seen such charming houses.

By Daisy from Beyond My Border

Get there: 2 hours by road from Medellin.

Day trip: Guatape, Piedra del Penol and boat tour departing from Medellin (11 hours; from $37 per person).

Stay: Oak Tree House – An atmospheric retreat with wide outdoor balconies just outside the centre of Guatape.


7. JARDIN, A TYPICAL COLONIAL TOWN IN THE COFFEE REGION

The gem of South America, Colombia has something for everyone. Here are 24 of the very best places to visit in Colombia, as recommended by travel writers.
The main square in Jardin, Colombia.

Located in the heart of Antioquia’s coffee region, Jardin is another pretty pueblo with a long and vibrant history. Here too, residents paint the facades of their homes with bright colours and hang flowers from their windowsills and awnings.

The centre of Jardin is characterised by an impressive cathedral built from locally hewn rock and a main plaza paved with river stones. You’re never far away from nature in Jardin: It’s just a few minutes’ drive to waterfalls and forest paths, birdwatching areas and mountain trails.

In town, boutiques sell locally made handicrafts and you can sample sweet treats at a generations-old candy shop (even the Pope is a fan).

Not surprising for a town so close to coffee country, Jardin has a wealth of local drinking holes and uber-trendy cafes that roast beans grown in the hills around the town.

What makes Jardin one of the best places to visit in Colombia is the feeling of community. Plan to spend a few days in Jardin, but don’t be surprised if you wind up staying longer.

Get there: 3-3.5 hours by road from Medellin.

Stay: Casa Passiflora Hotel Boutique – Elegant rooms behind a traditional brightly painted facade a few blocks from the main square.


8. JERICO, A HIDDEN GEM IN ANTIOQUIA

A woman peers out a wooden window in Jerico, Colombia.
A woman looking out of her window in Jerico, Colombia.

Jerico is a smaller and lesser-known town located roughly halfway between Jardin and Medellin. It’s a gruelling twist-and-turn-heavy bus ride to get up the mountainside, but it’s well worth the journey to visit one of the most interesting places in Colombia.

Jerico is still relatively off the international tourist radar. (Until recently, you couldn’t even find it in Lonely Planet.) Plenty of Colombian tourists come here, many of them pilgrims visiting the birthplace of Santa Laura, Colombia’s first and only saint, who was born in Jerico in 1874 and is something of a local icon.

Jerico remains a tight-knit, deeply pious community. There are no fewer than 17 churches in town and a seminary with a healthy population of 40-plus would-be priests – not bad for a small town of just over 12,000 people.

Museums, historical libraries and a charming botanical garden are among the top things to do in town. Jerico even has its own mini Christ the Redeemer statue, which offers great views over the city.

Like Jardin, Jerico is also a good base for coffee tourism. La Nohelia is a local farm that offers ecotourism activities (including coffee tours) and onsite accommodation.

If the great outdoors is calling, take an early morning hike to Las Nubes, a lookout that leads you high into the clouds, and pay a visit to Ecoland to try tandem paragliding over the lush valley.

In town, climb the giant stone staircases that connect the upper and lower parts of Jerico. Drop into workshops to watch craftsman making carriels, traditional leather bags, and drink local coffee at El Saturia and Don Rafa. Don’t miss Bomarzo, a recently opened multipurpose creative space that houses galleries, cafes and artist studios.

An ideal place to base your stay in Jerico is El Despertar, a boutique hotel set in an Antioquian-style mansion house.

Get there: 3-3.5 hours by road from Medellin; 2.5 hours by road from Jardin.

Stay: El Despertar Hotel – Beautiful rooms with hammocks and ensuite bathrooms set inside a historic Antioquian home in the heart of town.


9. VILLA DE LEYVA, HOME TO COLOMBIA’S BIGGEST SPANISH SQUARE

The gem of South America, Colombia has something for everyone. Here are 24 of the very best places to visit in Colombia, as recommended by travel writers.
Colonial architecture in Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

With its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and white-washed facades, Villa de Leyva is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia. It’s best know for being home to the biggest Spanish Square in the country, the 150,000 square-foot Plaza Mayor.

Located under 100 miles (160km) from Bogota (or about 3.5 hours by car or bus), this charming town is a favourite destination for both local and international travellers. In fact, the town is so pretty and well-preserved that it is a popular filming location for period films and TV shows. When you walk around its cobblestone streets, it feels like you’re stuck in time.

Besides the 16th-century architecture and historical museums, Villa de Leyva is set in a valley that is rich in fossils from the Cretaceous era. So you can also see some fine specimens on display at the specialised museums in the area. Villa de Leyva also has a thriving gastronomic scene, so it’s a great place to taste some of the best local dishes Colombia has to offer.

Villa de Leyva is a great stopover if you’re travelling between Bogota and San Gil. It’s recommended to spend at least two days to really soak up the timeless atmosphere.

By Bianca from Nomad Biba

Get there: 3.5-4 hours by road from Bogota.

Day trip: Villa de Leyva tour with a stop in Raquira departing Bogota (12 hours; from $80 per person).

Stay: Maria Bonita Hotel – Colonial-style rooms with a central courtyard three blocks from the town square.


10. RAQUIRA, POTTERY CAPITAL OF COLOMBIA

A colourful shopfront in Raquira, Colombia.
A colourful souvenir store in Raquira, Colombia. Photo credit: STYLEPICS/Depositphotos.com.

Raquira is as colourful as nearby Villa de Leyva is white. The brightly painted facades in this town bring a smile to your face, and you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around as part of a day trip or stopover.

This charming little village is widely known as the pottery capital of Colombia. Just about every piece of Colombian ceramic you can buy was made in this tiny town. So you know what to do if you have some spare room in your backpack. Fully packed? Indulge in a pottery workshop and return home with memories instead.

Though pottery is dominant, it’s not the only type of souvenir you can buy in Raquira. All kinds of artisanías – from hammocks, to Mochilas (the pretty handwoven bags from Northern Colombia) and clothing – can be bought here for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Bogota.

Buses leave for Raquira about five times daily from Villa de Leyva. It’s a 30 minute trip. Four hours is enough for lunch and to pick up some souvenirs. Try to sneak in a bit of people watching on the little plaza as well. A good day to visit is on Sunday, when the local market is in full swing.

By Barbara from Travel Gear For Kids

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