So, you have made up your mind and you decided to come explore magical Colombia on your next trip! But, what now?
After having done some research, you will probably have figured out that this country is big, very big. And, it is divided by mountain chains, deserts, jungle, and rivers.
This makes it difficult to decide where you should go and what you would like to include in your trip. However, we are here to help you take that decision and to recommend the best places to visit in Colombia when you travel here for the first time.
An absolute must to include on your trip to Colombia is the colonial city of Cartagena. This Caribbean flavored and colorful pearl is located at the northern coast of Colombia and receives direct flights from the U.S and some European cities.
Thanks to these direct flights, you can make it the starting or ending point of your trip. But why should you visit Cartagena?
First of all, it is a romantic place with colonial charm and hot weather. The colonial center of Cartagena, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, is not too big and it is perfect to discover in one day.
You should allow yourself to get lost in the narrow streets that are bordered with houses painted in bright colors and with wooden balconies hanging over it.
There are some charming museums that can tell you everything you want to know about its history, and cute churches where Colombians love to get married.
Secondly, there are superb hotels and restaurants all around town to relax and pamper yourself. You can find an incredible number of amazing chefs and their restaurants in this city.
Furthermore, thanks to its coastal location, you can order really fresh and delicious seafood. You absolutely have to try some Ceviche here!
Lastly, not only the colonial center of Cartagena has things to offer to its visitors. There are quite some daytrips you can take. Some of them will take you on a boat trip to the well-known Rosario Islands for the day.
Here you can relax on a white-sanded beach with a cocktail in your hand. Don´t forget to jump in the crystal-clear water and have a look at the underwater world.
Other possible trips include visits to an aviarium, the mangroves, and local villages.
What other place in Colombia cannot be skipped on your trip? With Cartagena you will visit a colonial coastal city, but what about nature?!
We can say that another one of the best places to visit in Colombia is definitely the coffee zone. Here you can indulge in the misty green mountains and take a jump in Colombia´s coffee culture.
The coffee zone is located over three departments and that is why it is also known as the Coffee Triangle. It is, obviously, the place where most of the famous Colombian coffee is produced.
This coffee is popular all over the world and the plantations are a joy to walk through and observe from the top of a mountain. But what makes it really worth to visit the coffee zone?
Well, the most popular place of the region is the town of Salento. This little village shows typical traditional architecture, consisting of colorful houses and a cozy market square.
It is the perfect spot to go souvenir hunting and eat some of the famous trout of the region.
But, it is mostly famous for its nearby location to the Cocora Valley. Here you can undertake the well-known Cocora Valley hike.
On this hike through the mountains you will pass through little creeks, cloud forest, a hummingbird sanctuary, and last but not least, the incredibly beautiful valley where the tallest palm trees in the world are growing.
A must if you visit Colombia because these trees are endemic to the country!
Besides all the green and the mountains, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit an active coffee farm. This experience will allow you to learn everything there is to know about the origins of coffee.
Usually, you will walk through the plantations, which offers you spectacular views. You won´t just observe your surroundings but you can also pick some coffee cherries yourself in order to realize how hard the labor actually is.
After that, you will go through the process that turns the freshly plucked coffee beans into a delicious cup of coffee.
Not only a must for coffee enthusiasts, but for everyone who would like to experience some authentic Colombian culture.
Finally, the coffee zone is one of the absolute best places to visit in Colombia to go bird watching. The region has numerous bird reserves.
But, even without really trying you will be able to spot a big variety of birds in the region.
Maybe you are not into birding and you just want to relax in nature. In that case you should visit some of the hot springs in the mountains.
The most famous one is Santa Rosa de Cabal and it displays a beautiful waterfall in the background.
If you are looking to combine nature with beach time than you have to include a visit to Tayrona National Park to your trip.
The park is a one-hour drive away from Santa Marta and is a real treasure for nature lovers.
Tayrona park is quite unique because you can spot snow-capped mountains from the beach. It is actually one of the few places in the world where the mountains are that close to the shore.
Thanks to its location, a typical eco-system was created, in which many endemic animals found their home.
You can spot wildlife like monkeys, reptiles, insects, and big butterflies on your hike.
However, you should not just visit for its wildlife but also because it is an amazing place to relax.
On your hike you will pass through different beaches and palm tree forests, and spot giant boulders everywhere.
You can decide to spend some time on a beach of your choice and enjoy some swimming and sunbathing.
If you make it all the way to the iconic beach of Cabo San Juan, you can try to get a hammock and let the light breeze and views over the Caribbean take your stress away.
Cabo San Juan is the most popular spot of Tayrona Park because seen from a higher point, you will notice that it shows two perfectly mirrored beaches. Watching the sun set and rise is a spectacular view.
For those who relax while working out, there is the Pueblito Hike. This could easily be called a mini Lost City hike. It brings its hikers to the ruins of a city that used to belong to the indigenous Tairona people who still inhabit the region.
This hike, starting from Cabo San Juan, is not an easy one and it goes mostly uphill over boulders and an uneven path. However, it is interesting to see how people used to live thousands of years ago in this region.
Are you ready for some tropical adventure and relaxing time!? Because this is exactly why Tayrona Park is one of the best places to visit in Colombia.
Can you visit Colombia and not visit its capital Bogota? It is of course possible, but we don´t recommend it. This metropolis has many things to offer and is able appeal to any type of traveler.
Many visitors start or end their trip in Bogota because there are a lot of airlines that have direct flights to the country´s capital nowadays.
Even better, the airport is the perfect hub to connect to almost any other place in Colombia.
Over the last ten years, the city has done great effort to improve its safety. This resulted in the availability of a lot of good hotels, restaurants, and easy transport to bring you to the different points of interest in the capital.
A definite recommendation are the museums of Bogota. There is the gorgeous and well-known Gold Museum where you can admire over 50.000 golden objects that were made by the different indigenous communities of Colombia.
The museum is located in the history center and the ideal starting point for a day full of discovery. From the Gold Museum you can easily walk to the Botero Museum.
The entrance to this one-off is free and it houses art from Colombia´s most famous artist Fernando Botero.
However, it also exhibits pieces of his private collection, going from Salvador Dali to Monet and Renoir.
Getting a delicious and typical lunch or dinner won´t be difficult at all in Bogota. Every day new and experimental restaurants open their doors. But, that doesn’t mean you cannot eat cheap and typical food. The dish to try is definitely the ajiaco, a soup made of 7 different types of potato!
There is food for any style and budget, and you should take advantage of the huge variety of tropical and local fruits that are available.
A meal without a fresh juice can be considered a missed chance to get to know something new.
Furthermore, try to wrap your head around how big the city really is by taking the cable car up the Monserrate Hill.
This will bring you to the top of a mountain where the Monserrate cathedral is located.
The views over Colombia´s capital are spectacular and if you are lucky you might even see some volcanoes in the distance.
And, when you are tired of all the sightseeing, just enjoy a movie, a stroll in the park, or shopping spree in one of the malls. Bogota truly can feel a bit like home for everyone.
We think that these 4 places are excellent examples of destinations that you should get to know on your trip.
They offer a great combination of Caribbean flavor, colonial impressions, wildlife, cultural heritage, and unique and authentic aspects. Together they are the 4 corners of a perfect Colombia puzzle.
Tell us. What do you think? After having read this article on best places to visit in Colombia, do you feel ready to decide on where you want to travel?