The dreamy beaches, the colorful pueblos, the charming cities, and the astonishing national parks are only some of the things to say about Columbia.
For many years people avoided traveling to Columbia, and it’s only recently that tourists have discovered the fantastic South America gem that Columbia truly is.
If there would be just one to depict Columbia, “diversity” would be it as Columbia is the home of multiple nations. Spanish colonial towns, modern cities, and places on the edge of Amazon are only some of the many attractions that Columbia has to offer for the tourists around the world.
Without any further ado, let’s see the 12 places to visit in Columbia:
- 1 Bogota
- 2 Medellin
- 3 Guadalupe
- 4 Cali
- 5 Popayan
- 6 Las Lajas
- 7 Guatape
- 8 Jardin
- 9 Cocora Valley
- 10 Jerico
- 11 Tayrona National Park
- 12 Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)
It was the Spaniards that founded Santa Fe de Bogota back in the 1500s at an impressive 2,600m altitude. Nowadays, the city accommodates eight million peoples and the best way to check the town is by the cable car to the top of Cerro Monserrate (3,200m).
The narrow streets in the old town and the amazing historic buildings are the main centers of attention, whereas the Plaza Bolivar stands out as the heart of the city that it is.
You should plan a two days visit to Bogota for admiring all the main sights and surrounding attractions.
You may have heard of Medellin, known for years as one of the most dangerous cities in the whole world. That’s not the case anymore as the civil projects, the residents, and their will sure managed to turn it into one of the best places to see in Colombia.
It’s the city of “eternal spring” as it’s right in a generous and fertile region of Columbia which gives a big part of the country’s fruit, flowers, and coffee.
The city is impressive within its brick houses, and it’s again the cable car helping you get the best view of the town.
Don’t miss the fresh food market, El Poblado (an affluent zone) and the many restaurants. Take a selfie in Plaza Botero and check the cafes in Laureles too.
If you want to enjoy the city at its fullest, you should plan to spend at least three days in Medellin.
It’s a small village in the Santander Department of Columbia, and it’s quite challenging to get there. You need to ride the bus for five or six hours, and an hour by jeep for getting to Guadalupe, but it’s all worth it.
The surrounding nature is what makes this village so attractive. Las Gachas de Guadalupe are plunge pools (natural) that develop in a shallow river. You may take a bath in summer, or you can also slide along the rocks, dropping into the water.
The scenery near Guadalupe is astonishing, with the Las Gachas only increasing its beauty.
Yes, Cali used to be the home of the famous Cali Cartel, but you shouldn’t skip on the cause of that. Many tourists don’t know, but Cali is the world capital of salsa.
Therefore, you shouldn’t miss out on the occasion of showing off your salsa skills (or learn the basics right in the middle of salsa’s place of birth).
Cali is the no.1 destination for the world salsa championships, with kids as your as four years competing against each other.
Found in the Cauca Department in the western Columbia, Popayan is a popular stop for the backpackers heading toward Cali by bus.
Also known as La Ciudad Blanca (“the white city”), Popayan has a mild climate and impresses with the post-colonial Spanish architecture. Take a look at the Iglesia San Francisco in the old town and check the mummies collection discovered in the 80s.
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a gorgeous basilica church in the south of Colombia, right next to the border with Ecuador. It has Gothic architecture and an impressive bridge spreading over the Guaitara River.
The church is one of the most original churches in the world but remains hidden from most travelers.
However, the religious believers never skip it and come to pray to the Virgin Mary, hoping for a miracle. Many believe that Virgin Mary’s face showed up on a rock on the canyon cliff somewhere in the 17th century. As a matter of fact, it seems that many miracles took place in the area, which explains the attraction for religious tourists.
Many name it “the most colorful town in Colombia,” and we couldn’t agree more. The colorful houses, the small streets, and the crowded tourists give the town a magical feel.
The town is only ten minutes away from La Piedra, which is one of the most massive free-standing rocks at the moment.
The colors that you see in the streets are amazing, as the bright reds and calming blues give the houses a unique feel to the entire town.
Right in the heart of Antioquia’s coffee region, Jardin is a beautiful pueblo that also has a fascinating history. People living in this town are painting the facades of their homes in vivid colors, adding a flower to the awnings and windowsills.
In the center of the town, you can admire the cathedral that is made with hewn rock; river stones are paving the central plaza. You are only a few minutes drive away from the waterfalls and forests too.
Don’t hesitate to do some shopping with locally made handcrafts and generations-old candy shops being the main attractions.
The feeling of community you get in this town is what makes it so unique, more than anything else.
Close to Salento, Cocora Valley lures the tourists with its green valley and Los Nevados mountains. It’s where wax palm was born (it’s the national tree of Colombia) and finding it near the mountains is impressive.
A small river, a couple of waterfalls, and some trails should be on your list when taking a trip to Cocora Valley. Do try a horse ride which can make even six hours in this area.
Even if it’s small, Jerico isn’t the most common destination for foreign tourists. However, many pilgrims and Colombian tourists check it as it’s the birthplace of Santa Laura- only Colombia’s saint.
At the end of the day, Jerico is a highly religious town that cradles no less than 17 churches and a seminary. Historical libraries, museums, and pleasant botanical gardens are the main things to do in the city.
Tayrona National Park
It’s a jungle-laden national park that you find near Santa Marta. You can get there by foot, and you should try a hike there. Take the plunge and spend the night in a hammock at Cabo San Juan (you can rent one).
A walk is going to take you 2.5 to 4 hours, depending on how the mud is.
Never skin the opportunity of enjoying the sounds and sights of the jungle. You may even get a glimpse of some howler monkeys while you’re there!
Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)
Santa Marta is a starting point for many adventures that go deep within the jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountain area.
Go ahead and try the four-day trip to Colombia’s Lost City, which is an old archeological site that Tayrona people build around 800AD. It was discovered only 50 years ago. The indigenous communities and the archeologists allow tourists to visit a part of it.
Steep terrain and difficult paths are awaiting, so you may need to be determined to finish the trails. Be aware that you need both permits and a guide as it’s a part of National Park.
Even if you may find it challenging to get here, taking a peek at Colombia’s ancient history
is going to worth all the efforts and time.