Get Ready to Plan Your Colombian Getaway
Colombia is a country that will thrill you with a huge range of destinations catering to all tastes. In this land of contrasts, you'll encounter snow-capped Andean peaks, tropical Amazonian jungles, turquoise Caribbean coasts and sun-kissed deserts. You'll also find a host of spectacular attractions in between, from the bustling cities of Cartagena and Medellin to the quiet colonial villages of Salento and Mompox. Read on to discover our must-visit destinations for your 2021 Colombian vacation!
Most visitors to Colombia will inevitably begin their trip in the nation's largest city—and beating heart—Bogotá. This bustling city of eight million is full of action, marked by its unique combination of colonial charm and urban sophistication.
INSIDER TIP: Begin your sightseeing in the historic center of La Candelaria, where you'll find the impressive buildings lining Plaza de Bolívar and can't-miss cultural attractions like the blindingly bright Museum of Gold. Then, head over to the wealthier neighborhoods of North Bogotá for some of the nation's best boutique shops and chef-driven restaurants.
Bogotá might be the Colombian capital, but it's the smaller and more manageable city of Medellin that tends to capture the hearts of visitors. The city boasts cable cars linking the settlements in its hills to a modern metro system in the valley below through a greenbelt of lush eco-parks and striking libraries. With a remarkable transformation story, it is now a renowned vacation destination known for fascinating history alongside modern amenities and world-class art.
INSIDER TIP: Start your day of sightseeing in the Old Quarter at Botero Plaza, where you'll find a collection of 23 portly sculptures by the beloved Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Adjacent to the plaza is the must-visit Museum of Antioquia and the striking Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. Then, head into the hills above town by riding the sleek escalator system through Comuna 13 to explore this neighborhood's colorful homes and elaborate street murals. Finish your day in Medellin's trendiest commune, El Poblado, where you'll find buzzing eateries, boutique shops and the vast majority of the city's hotels. Enjoy a day tour to Guatape, a colorful colonial town 2 hours away, climb the 750 steps of the rock for a magnificent view.
Why Visit Colombia Now?
- Winner of nine World Tourism Awards for 2020, including leading LGBT destination and leading gastronomic destination
- San Andres and Providence voted #3 in Best Islands in Central and South America by Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards 2020
- Cartagena named among the top 25 worldwide destinations by Tripadvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2020
- Located near the equator with a temperate year-round climate
- Plenty of short flights into Colombia from all over North America. A flight from Miami to Cartagena is less than three hours!
Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena is the crown jewel of Colombia's Caribbean coast and one of the best-preserved colonial destinations in the Americas. Maybe it's the 13 kilometers of centuries-old walls, or the colorful colonial architecture, many of which are now beautifully restored restaurants and luxury hotels. Perhaps it's the bougainvillea-covered balconies along the labyrinthine streets or the soaring Catholic churches that tower above every plaza. Whatever it is, visitors can't help but fall for this Caribbean charmer.
INSIDER TIP: Beyond the old city center is laid-back Getsemani, a hip colonial neighborhood with great restaurants, graffiti art and where you can walk and appreciate a true local experience. A trip to the Rosario Islands, which is one hour away by boat or to Baru which can be reached by land, will offer an ideal getaway for those looking for white sand beaches and relaxation under the sun, these can be done as a day trip or by staying at one of the properties available.
Coffee Cultural Landscape
The world's third-largest producer of coffee beans, Colombia is a fantastic country for coffee tastings and tours. The vast majority of production takes place in the subtropical Andean hills west of Bogotá between the small cities of Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales. This region is home to a growing number of coffee plantations that have opened up their operations to the public for tours, tastings and lavish farm stays.
INSIDER TIP: The small town of Salento is easily the most attractive place to base yourself, with numerous farm tours nearby and plenty of things to do. You'll also have easy access to attractions like Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world. You can rent bicycles from Salento to explore the region under your own steam or ride on one of the old-fashioned Willy jeeps that serve as the town's de facto taxis.
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Santa Marta and Tayrona National Natural Park
You'll find some of the best beaches in Colombia within the protected Tayrona National Natural Park, which is known for its palm-shaded coves and crystal-clear coastal lagoons. Most beaches are set against the dramatic mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, whose rainforested hills make for a great side trip on any beach vacation.
INSIDER TIP: Tayrona is a fantastic place for snorkeling in protected areas near La Pascina beach and Cabo San Juan. Though remote, these secluded beaches aren't exactly a secret. Tayrona closes for two weeks three times a year for indigenous groups celebrations and to allow the park to rest from visitors. For 2021 these dates are: Feb 1 to 15, Jun 1 to 15 and Oct 19 to Nov. 2.