Have you ever thought about visiting Colombia but been unsure of where to start? Here are our top recommendations of what to include in a two week trip.
Colombia offers a warm welcome to visitors keen to explore and learn more about its history, people and landscapes. It is a beautiful, vibrant and diverse country. You’ll find music playing from street corners and plenty of friendly locals to strike up conversation with, not to mention the delicious street food to indulge in – think arepas de huevo (fried corn cake filled with egg) and pandebono (a Colombian cheese bread).
As Colombia’s capital and largest city, Bogota is not only the most logical place to start your trip but it also warrants a day or two on your itinerary. At 8,661 feet above sea level don’t expect the tropical heat you may associate with other parts of Colombia, but do expect a city full of personality. As the multicultural hub of Colombia there are plenty of cultural activities to enjoy, whilst its location in the Andes mountain range means there’s plenty of opportunity to visit the surrounding countryside.
Top recommendations: Make sure to visit the famous gold museum; admire the old streets and urban artwork in La Candelaria; ride the cable car and take in the whole city from the top of Montserrate Hill; head to the Zona Rosa for a night out.
2. Tatacoa desert
The Tatacoa desert in central Colombia is one of the driest locations in the country, and is fascinating to visit for a day or two. Its dusty rich ochre hues and interesting geographical formations give the place its surreal and isolating beauty. Witnessing the sunset is an absolute must. The region is known as one of the best places for stargazing in South America. So come prepared!
Top tip: Time your trip with the new moon in order to get the best night skies for stargazing!
3. San Agustin
If you are a fan of history and archaeology, the small town of San Agustin located in the Magdalena valley is well worth a visit. Rather than the town itself, it is the surrounding landscape that holds the biggest attraction in this valley. Scattered with the largest number of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America, it is one of the greatest mysteries of ancient civilisation. The archaeological site of San Agustin has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1995.
Top tip: If you don’t fancy walking around the valley you can opt to visit on horseback.
4. Cocora Valley in the coffee region
One spot not be missed on your trip to Colombia is the Cocora Valley, home to Colombia’s national tree, the wax palm. These palms with their long thin trunks can grow to heights of 60 metres. Located in the heart of Colombia’s coffee region, near Salento, the photogenic palms rise up out of the mist to form a prominent feature in this lush green valley. If you enjoy hiking, Cocora valley has become a popular place to take a stroll and, of course, take photos with the palms, and for good reason. With the tropical weather changing throughout the day you can expect to a variety of vistas from blue skies in the morning to atmospheric mist in the afternoon.
Top tips: There are two hiking routes you can choose from. If you don’t have much time, or are mostly there to photograph the trees, there is a route that takes you straight there (1-1.5 hours). However, if you are feeling more energetic and are up for a longer hike, there is a lovely route that takes you up through the valley along the stream and then loops back round through the palms (allow 5-6 hours).
The city of eternal spring, Medellin, has a pleasant climate and an infectious energy for life. In little more than a decade Medellin has transformed itself from a city divided by violence to a thriving metropolitan hub of industry and commerce. Recognised as a city of innovation as a result of its integrated public transport system, its metro system and escalators have enabled its poorer residents living on the steep hillsides to safely ride into the city, making the city a more inclusive place as a result.
Top recommendations: Ride the metrocable cars to get a feel for how its installation has positively impacted Medellin’s most marginal populations living on the cities hillsides; take a tour of Comuna 13 – once Colombia’s most dangerous barrio – now regenerated through the transformative power of street art and the introduction of public escalators; eat Antioquia’s most typical dish – bandeja paisa (a very generous dish consisting of pork cooked with red beans, belly pork, rice, fried egg, patacones (plantain), chorizo,black pudding, avocado ); visit the Sculpture Park – containing more than 20 sculptures by Botero, one of Colombia’s most famous artists.
It’s hard to imagine Colombia without thinking of Cartagena and therefore it is a fitting place to end your trip. Cartagena’s old town, with its colourful houses, narrow streets and balconies flowing with bougainvillea has the charm of a Spanish village but the humidity, heat and rhythm of a Caribbean city. With some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the country, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Top recommendations: admire the sunset from the city walls; stroll the shaded streets and enjoy a refreshment from one of the many bars and cafes; take a trip to the Rosario islands to enjoy the pristine white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters.
Are you interested in a trip to Colombia? Would you like to visit some of the places mentioned in this blog? Our 2-week ‘Highlights of Colombia’ tour encompasses all the above locations and more. For more information you can get in touch with us here.