Nowadays Colombia becomes a perfect destination to an immense number of travelers. It’s the second most biodiverse country on our planet yielding only to Brazil, which is approximately 7 times bigger! That’s why most of the 10 best places to visit in Colombia are natural.
You should definitely start exploring the country with its capital Bogota, the coldest touristic city of Colombia. The historical center and The Seventh Avenue are the heart of the city. Take a free walking tour not to miss a single detail of the history and the culture of Colombia. After, go up the Colpatria tower to see the endless city from above. Thousands of streets running through the capital won’t let you stay indifferent. At night, party in one of the best clubs in Latin America “Theatron” or sink into the Latin rhythms in one of the bars of La Candelaria.
2. Cities near Bogota
Later visit some small towns of the nearby districts. Zipaquira (district of Cundinamarca) holds a well-known Salt Cathedral (Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá), an underground Catholic church in tunnels of a salt mine. Chia town, located on the way to Zipaquira, is famous for its gastronomy and a big variety of restaurants. For example, on a weekend in Andres Carne de Res you can not only try traditional Colombian cuisine and meat but also party as a local. Villa De Leiva of Boyaca department is a must see of the central Colombia. It’s a place full of amazing architecture, a spirit of centuries and little local restaurants.
3. Tatacoa Desert
The second biggest drought zone of Colombia is a great destination if you’re a fan of unique sights and unity with nature. Tatacoa isn’t just a desert, rather a tropical dry forest. Also called the Valley of Sorrows, Tatacoa can be visited in just a day, but the experience won’t be full if you don’t stay a night in a handmade bungalow in one of the local hostels. Wake up with the singing of birds, breakfast with a traditional Colombian food and rent a horse for a 3-hour ride in the desert. Chill in a natural pool, take innumerable photos of a Mars-like land and witness the stars in a local astronomical observatory at night.
The most passionate and emotional city of all Colombia is Cali. No wonder it’s a home of salsa dance. During the day take a taxi to the monument of Cristo Rey that is only a few metres smaller than the one in Rio de Janeiro. Located on a hill it offers the best view of the city. When it comes to night, the city reveals its soul. People of all ages leave their houses to dance salsa in a nearby bar or club. If you stay in a hotel, make sure to take a master class in salsa in the evening and practice it over the night!
5. The Pacific Coast
The pacific region is not a typical touristic destination and may take time and a lot of effort to visit, but it’s totally worth it. It is better to start the trip from Buenaventura, the main port of the country. There you can take a boat to an island with a virgin nature, hidden waterfalls and exotic fauna. Depending on an island you can boat from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours admiring big green rocks, natural tunnels and exotic nature. The best time to visit the Pacific coast is definitely from July to November when Pacific humpback whales and their youngs come there to raise the new generation.
EXTRA: Read our 7 Best Places to See on the Colombian Coast!
The second largest city of Colombia conquered hearts of most of the tourists. The combination of a perfect weather, developed infrastructure and paisa (the regional) culture is a bomb. It is never enough of being in Medellin, that’s why there are so many foreigners living there. It is the only city in Colombia that has a comfortable and modern metro system. It is a motherland of a famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero, so make sure to visit Botero plaza and The Museum of Antioquia with his works. Medellin is also a perfect place to try the local food of Antioquia (bandeja paisa, parva, pan de queso, etc.).
7. The Coffee Triangle
Are you a fan of greens, palms and fresh air? Don’t forget to see the highest palm trees of the world in Colombia’s coffee triangle! The best way to come to Salento, a little village next to the Cocora valley, is from Pereira or Armenia cities. Stay there for a day or two, rent a Suburban or a horse, hike in the greenest forest of the country. Visit a coffee plantation to learn how the best coffee in the world is grown and made. Get rest from a big city life and continue the Colombian journey.
EXTRA: Read Why You’ll LOVE Teaching English in Colombia!
8. The Caribbean Coast
No surprise here: you must visit the Caribbean coast of a Caribbean country to see the most beautiful waters on earth. There are so many places to enjoy there! Cartagena with its incredibly colorful streets. Barranquilla – the motherland of Shakira. Santa Marta and the whole Magdalena department with the best beaches of Caribbean coastline of Colombia. Make sure to reserve several days for the Tayrona National Park. Enjoy the incredible biodiversity of 408 species of birds and mammals and 770 species of plants, witness the life of an aboriginal settlement that goes back to the first century AD!
Straight from Tayrona get off to a little village high in the mountains of Sierra Nevada. It’s a place to find harmony and enjoy the beauty of life. Start your morning with yoga practice. Take a moto-taxi to three waterfalls or hike by yourself. Swim in refreshing pure water, meditate facing a powerful stream falling down the rock, soak in the heat and party at night because it’s Colombia.
10. San Andres and Providencia Islands
Take a flight from the capital or one of the previously mentioned cities of the Caribbean coast to visit San Andres and Providencia islands. It’s a vacation dedication not only for Colombians but for Brazilians, Americans and other foreign tourists. The clearest water of Colombia, the beaches from the postcards and comfort of a high level are waiting for you here. Located next to Nicaragua in the Caribbean sea the islands have a unique biodiversity. If you want to get some adrenaline from extreme sports, there are lots of options for you as well.
Words and by Diana Mirsaeva. Images from Flickr Commons and Pixabay.