18 Must See Places in Colombia
Which places should you visit when coming to Colombia?
For two years I have been living in this incredibly amazing country now, to be exact in the city of Medellin and I did not regret any minute of it. Colombia is just so versatile and offers something for every taste. Pulsating big cities, the beautiful landscapes of the coffee zone, amazing Caribbean beaches or the incredible nature and wildlife of the Amazon make this country so unique and exciting to travel. Every month I discover new places that fascinate me. And yet I haven’t seen everything what is to be seen here by far. With this post I just want to give you a small impression what Colombia has to offer. I created a small list of some of my favorite spots. The list is numbered but that does not mean that I like number 1 better than number 18. These places are just so different that one can’t really tell which one is more beautiful. Most likely some people who have already been to Colombia have a completely different list of favorites. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite places in Colombia. Whoever speaks German can also check my blog about Colombia, Kolumbienblog.com. I hope that in the near future I will have enough time to translate it also into English.
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Capurganá is a very small and relaxed fishing village in the department of Chocó on the Caribbean coast. Capurganá is located not far from the Panamanian border, which you can cross easily from the neighbor village Sapzurro by foot. Capurganá is yet by far not as much discovered by tourists as for instance the cities of Santa Marta and Cartagena further north of the coast. The reason may be that the guerillas were still active in this region a few years ago. Also it is not that as accessible and a little more inconvenient to go to there. Still this place is great, very relaxed and surrounded by beautiful nature. Take a trip to La Miel, which is a beautiful beach and buy some great cheap Panamanian rum. If you need a place to stay and you are not traveling on a budget I recommend you to stay at the Bahia Lodge that is simply a beautiful place with great service. More about this beautiful place you can read here
Things to do
- Visit Sapzurro
- Cross the border to Panama to spend a day at La Miel
- Relax at the beach
- Go to San Blas by boat
Where to stay?
Budget Travel: La Bohemia
Upper Price Range: Hotel Bahía Pinorroa
Palomino in La Guajira is a very small village just about one hour after the Tayrona Park. The advantage of Palomino compared to Tayrona is that you don’t have to pay an entrance fee, you have more hostels and hotels in different prize ranges for accommodation available and for the people who like it quiet you will find less tourists. For a relaxing time at the beach between palm trees one of my favorite places in Colombia. In order to get there just take the bus to Tayrona and ask the driver to let you go off in Palomino. As accommodation I recommend you the Tiki Hut Hostel or the Hotel Playa Mandala. Read more about Palomino
Things to do
- Relax on the beach
- Go surfing
- Enjoy the sunset
- Visit la Quebrada de Valencia
Where to stay?
For Budget traveller I recommend the Finca Escondida Hostel right at the beach
Tips: Don’t forget to bring Mosquito repellent; Eat a pizza at the beach bar it is delicious
Nuquí is also located in the department of Chocó but on the side of the pacific coast. You shouldn’t go there if you are afraid of water because Nuqui lies in one of the rainiest areas on this planet. But that is part of the charm of Nuqui. Here you can find very few tourists and everything is very urban and simple so don’t expect a lot of luxury. Things are very basic and that’s what I like about it so much. The best time to go Nuqui is for the whale-watching season between June and October to see the humpback whales. I recommend booking a whale watching tour with Ignacio, just ask someone in the village where to find him, everyone knows him. He also offers a tour to a waterfall and the thermal springs that I can also recommend. Visit the Playa Guachalito which is just a half an hour boatride from Nuqui away or enjoy a nice bath at the Cascada del or the thermal springs. Read more about Nuqui
Things to do
- Visit Utria
- Watch whales
- Visit the Cascada del amor, Playa Guachalito and the hot springs
- Eat fish
Where to stay?
Middle Price Range: La Joviseña
Budget Travel: Hotel Nuquimar
Tip: Don`t forget to bring rain gear as this is one of the rainiest areas in the world
The Tayrona Park is probably one of the most famous tourist destinations in Colombia. I believe that almost every traveller that comes to Colombia is going to stop at Tayrona. And there is a reason for this. The Tayrona Park is an incredibly beautiful nature park located just around one hour with the bus from Santa Marta. In Tayrona you can see some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia and maybe even in entire Latin America. But not only the beaches are an attraction but the wildlife with all the monkeys, snakes, parrots and other animals. The scenery is truly beautiful. You are surrounded by nature with a view on the Sierra Nevada. Definitely a place not to be missed Colombia.
Tips: Bring a pocket light and ear plugs. If possible try to get as many drinks and food as possible but don’t bring glass bottles. Try not to rely on your credit card and bring enogh cash. Don`t feed the animals
5.Salento/Valle de Cocora
Salento is a little village close to Armenia in the heart of the Colombian coffee zone in the region of Quindío. Known is Saltento especially for the nearby Valley, the Valle de Cocora which impresses with its wax palm trees that can grow up to 50 meters high. But also Salento in itself is an attraction as are the coffee fincas around. Hiking in this area is an absolute highlight and it even feels a little surreal passing these amazingly huge palm trees. Read more here
Things to do
- Hike the valley
- Eat “Trucha” (trout)
- Visit a coffe farm
- Stroll the town
Where to stay?
Budget traveller: Hostal Estrella de Agua
Low/Middle price range: Posada Casa Salento
Upper Prize range: Hotel Salento Real Eje Cafetero
Tips: Bring rain gear and trekking shoes, hike the valley as early as possible in order to avoid tourist crowds
Santa Marta is worth more than just a stopover on the way to the Tayrona Park. With its bars and restaurants around the historical city center at the Parque de los Novios it spreads a really nice charm. I personally prefer Santa Marta to Cartagena anytime. It is simply much more relaxed. Of course from here you can plan many trip to places in the nearby area like Minca, Barranquilla or Palomino.
What to do?
- Go to the beach
- Make party at “La Puerta”
- Have a beer at the “Parque de Los Novios”
- Make a daytrip to Targanga
Accommodation: If you are not on a budget don’t miss out on Casa de Leda this place ist incredible. For Budget travellers I recommend Zleeping Hostel or for people that like to party the Dreamer Hostel
At the in Antioquia located Rio Claro lays a small natural reserve the Reserva Natural Cañon de Rio Claro – El Refugio. The Refugio you can reach by bus either coming from Bogota or Medellin. You can spend a night in the beautiful open plan cabañas that offer you a great view over the river. For the more adventurous people zip lining, caving and other activities are being offered. Very fascinating is the nightly soundscape in this beautiful functioning ecosystem. More about Rio Claro here
Tips: Bring a pocket lamp, book one of the cabanas overlooking the river
Obviously Medellin had to be on this list eventually it is the city where I live and spend most of my time. Apart from the perfect climax with its pleasant summer temperatures whole year round I just love the friendliness of the people the stunning nature that surrounds Medellin and the great nightlife. Medellin might not be the most beautiful city in South America but it has a lot to offer. Apart from that Medellin is by far not as dangerous anymore as a few years ago. I can honestly say that I feel very comfortable here and that compared to other cities I have visited in Latin America Medellin appears to be very safe. A few things to do and see in Medellin would be the Jardin Botanico at the university, Parque Arvi at the last stop of the metrocable or a night out at la 33, La 70 or Parque Lleras in El Poblado. 30+ Things You Should Do In Medellin
Where to stay in Medellin?
Guatape is a little village just about two hours from Medellin. One of the most famous tourist sights is La Piedra del Peñol. A 200-meter high rock from which you have an incredible view. If you believe the sign at the bottom of the rock it is even the best view in the world. A lot of Colombian families spent their holidays in one of the Fincas in this area. Pablo Escobar also enjoyed spending time in Guatape and had his little place there, which can be visited by boat.
You have no Hostel yet? Check out the Galeria Guatape Hostel a truly amazing place.
Jardín is a little village in the Colombian coffee zone. It is located in the eastern part of Antioquia. From Medellin it takes roughly 4 hours to get there by bus. Apart from the „pueblo“ itself that counts as one of the most beautiful ones in Antioquia you should consider an outing to one of the coffee fincas or to La cueva del esplendor a waterfall that flows into a cave. Even more impressive than La cueva itself was the panoramic view on the way. Read my post about Jardin
Things to do
- Visit La Cueva del Esplendor
- Visit a coffee farm
- See how Panela is made
- Eat sweets at Dulces de Jardin
Tips: Get around with a “moto raton” (mototaxi), it is fun and cheap. Eat trout at Estadero El Arka.
11.San Andrés und Providencia
If you like to relax and spend your time at the beach San Andres and Providencia certainly is the right destination for you. The islands are located 770 KM away from the Colombian mainland and are actually closer to Nicaragua than to Colombia. Here you can find beautiful beaches that look like the ones you see on postcards and wallpapers. If you don`t like slacking around all day long you can also go for one of the many water activities like diving or you can cruise around these amazing islands with a scooter. San Andres is the bigger and busier island of the two, whereby Providencia is a little more native and quieter. If you are looking for dream beaches you will find them here for sure. If you like to know more about San Andres and Providencia read this post.
12.Cartagena de Indias
Another pearl of the Caribbean is Cartagena. The beautiful colonial town impresses especially through his historic city Centre and the fortress that surrounds it. A stroll through the small alleys in the evening hours of the historic Centre is very romantic. But Cartagena offers more than just a beautiful Center, long sandy beaches; culinary delicacies and a buzzing nightlife attract people from all over the world. If you would like to read more about Cartagena read my post here.
Where to stay?
Some of the best Hostels are:
El Genoves Hostal
El Viajero Cartagena Hostel
The river that is also called the river of the five colors is a very unique natural spectacle. During the time of June and December the different colors are most visible and that makes it the best time to plan your visit to the Sierra de Macarena. Book yourself a tour on site and enjoy 3 days long the beautiful nature around Caño Cristales. This is certainly a place of the beaten path but that doesn’t make it less beautiful.
The desert that is named after a rattle snake is located between the cities Bogota and San Augustin. There are not only coffee fields and dream beaches in Colombia. There are also incredibly fascinating deserts like the Tatatcoa desert. The desert that originates through the draining of a lake is a perfect place to watch the stars. Book a tour and enjoy a few days around the area.
Santa Cruz de Mompox short Mompox is probably one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Colombia. The UNESCO World Heritage is located on the Rio Magdalena and impresses through its stunning colonials buildings. This place is another place that is found rather a little off the beaten path. Not many tourists visit this beautiful treasure in Colombia. Still you shouldn’t miss this magic place. More here
Where to stay in Mompox?
Bioma Boutique Hotel
Portal de la Marquesa
16.Villa de Leyva
Another beautiful colonial city is Villa de Leyva in the department Boyacá. This little town is not far from Bogota and impresses through largest cobblestone square in South America. If you like colonial buildings and architecture you should not miss out on Villa de Leyva. Even the surroundings of Villa de Leyva are breathtaking.
If you are coming to Colombia an absolute must is a visit in the Amazon. From Bogota you can catch flights frequently to Leticia from where you can start your trip into the jungle. Here where Colombia borders with Peru and Brazil you can not only the flora and fauna are incredible but here you can also make a quick trip to Peru and Brazil.
Minca is a little mountain village about 45 minutes from the coastal city Santa Marta. The village is just a few kilometers from the Caribbean Sea away but still it is located already in Colombian coffee zone. Here you can enjoy a tour to a coffee farm or simply relax yourself. Particularly beautiful is the view over Santa Marta in the evening.
Things to Do in Minca
- Visit a coffee farm, take a shower under a waterfall
- Go bird watching
- Enjoy the view over Santa Marta
- Eat a lot
- Go hiking
Tips: Bring a pocket lamp + water proofed and warm clothes for the nights
Where to stay in Minca?
The best Hostels in Mica are: