To help you to plan your future trip to Colombia, I wrote down 14 beautiful Colombia tourist attractions.
Before traveling to a country, I like to know the must-see places. Who knows, I could fall in love with a picture and decide to organize my journey around it.
Colombia is a vast country with many things to do. Therefore, I find it hard to make choices, especially when traveling for 2 or 3 weeks.
So I selected 14 themes with one “winner” for each.
1. San Gil to get your adrenaline fix
There are two options if you plan to travel to the Caribbean coast of Colombia from Bogota. You can buy a cheap flight ticket with Viva Colombia, or you can take the bus.
Most of the time, buses are cheaper, but it’s a long way to arrive at Cartagena de Indias. Take this opportunity to stop in the department of Santander! Thus, you could visit Barichara, a lovely colonial town, and you will get your adrenaline fix.
Indeed, San Gil is a perfect Colombia tourist attraction for people looking for fun activities. Try the rafting level 5 on the Magdalena river, fly above the fantastic Chicamocha Canyon or jump off a bridge – But, don’t forget the elastic rope.
After that, you deserve to chill on the beaches around Cartagena
2. Isla Tintipan and Isla Mucura, Caribbean islands
Beaches on the Caribbean coast of Colombia are lovely, but it’s not white sand and blue crystal water.
If you want the perfect selfie with your coconut and a paradisical background -to make your friends jealous and sad -, you should travel to the islands around.
The cutest island is Providencia, but it’s quite an adventure to get there – It’s near Nicaragua. However, there are two islands, not so far from the coast, which will be perfect for your I want my butt tanned‘s stop.
From Cartagena, Tolu, or Rincon del Mar, you can take a boat to discover the Archipelago of San Bernardo and sleep on Isla Mucura or Isla Tintipan. White sands, few tourists, palm trees, coconuts, and rum. What do you need more?
3. Medellin, a city for digital nomads
Don’t want to find sand inside your ears for days? Skip the beaches and enjoy the ideal weather of Medellin.
Its nickname is “Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera.” It means the “City of Eternal Spring.” Many of my long-term travel friends have been stuck in Medellin for more than a few days.
It’s such a welcoming place! The inhabitants are extremely polite and kind. They almost must help you. Also, there are two awesome districts (Laureles and Poblado), great restaurants, lovely cafes to take the sun on the terrasse, and fun parties. It’s hard to resist guys. I guess this is why many digital nomads decide to live in Medellin. Or Spanish students ;)
Medellin is the capital of the department of Antioquia.
And there are many fantastic trips to do around like Guatape, Jerico, Jardin, and the Pacific coast!
4. El Peñol de Guatape, most famous Medellin day trip
El Peñol is the most famous Colombia sightseeing near Medellin. You can easily get there by yourself with a bus – a couple of hours.
Then, you will have to climb the 750 stairs to arrive at the top of this giant monolith. You will see, It’s a perfect ratio Pain/ reward. A viewpoint from a tower is cool, but you don’t deserve it so much. You’re just taking the lift. Here, your legs will hurt, and you will probably make one break or two – if your only sport is beer pong.
From the “peak,” grab a delicious fruit juice and enjoy an incredible 360-degree view of the department of Antioquia.
And don’t forget to visit the cute village of Guatape before going back to Medellin. It’s a perfect colonial town surrounded by lakes and mountains. Don’t hesitate to sleep there 1 or 2 nights if you’re not in a rush.
5. Jardin, a pleasant colonial town
There are plenty of beautiful colonial towns in the department of Antioquia and the coffee region. At first sight, they seem pretty similar: cobblestone streets, white wall and colorful windows, a HUGE church and a lovely main square with trees and benches.
However, some of them have more character.
Personally, I love Jardin. It’s one of the best Colombia travel destinations.
The town is surrounded by coffee plantations, waterfalls, old cable cars and Colombians wearing cowboy’s hat while drinking their coffees.
It’s a perfect stop if you plan to travel from Medellin to Salento.
6. Valle de Cocora, the most famous Colombia’s hike
Do you know the joke:
How do the dwarfs wash their testicles? By running naked in the grass during the morning dew… Haha.
I love stupid jokes. Anyway, it matches perfectly with Cocora Valley. Tall wax palm trees – up to 60 m- stand up like giants, and there is no other tree around. Only green grass.
It’s a perfect option if you like to hike 4-5 hours without a guide. You cross monkey bridges, take slow-motion videos of hummingbirds, and at the end, you wander in this unreal valley – But you maybe should keep your clothes on.
With its astonishing landscape, Valle de Cocora is one of the best things to do in Colombia.
7. Filandia, a great alternative to Salento
Every morning, it’s the first thing you do. You walk with the eyes half-closed to the kitchen, and you press the button.
The sound of the dark brown liquid dropping in the cup and the aromas flying around your nostrils start waking you up.
Yes, I’m speaking about coffee.
I’m sure you know that Colombia is world wild famous for its coffee. And there is one region called La Zona Cafetera where many local farmers grow the beans. Salento is the most known colonial town in the area.
But Filandia is another lovely town under the radar of the gringo community. If you look at a place somewhat away from the main Colombia tourist attractions, it’s a place you should definitively think to add to your Colombia itinerary.
8. Tierradentro, mysterious underground tombs
Colombia doesn’t have important archaeologic sites like Peru or Mexico. However, you can still learn a lot about the indigenous living here before the invasion by the Spaniards.
The most famous Colombian ruins are in San Agustin – An important site where more than 500 statues have been discovered.
But did you hear about Tierradentro?
If you are a history lover and you plan to travel to the south of Colombia, it would be a great stop to add to your itinerary.
These underground tombs – some measuring up to 12 m wide and 7 m deep – are located in 4 areas in the park of Tierradentro and describe the daily life and the rituals of the indigenous in the years 700 AD.
More information: Unesco Website
9. Caño Cristales, most beautiful river in the world
Don’t you believe me? Check out the pictures below 😉
It was under FARC control for a while. Thus it was impossible to get access to it. But not anymore! During the raining season, weird colorful algae grow up in the river’s bed. And when the sun goes out, the result is astonishing.
It’s a protected area with several rules to follow (No sunscreen, guides, etc.)
10. Puerto Nariño, a hidden town in the Amazon
Amazon is a paradise for bird and monkey lovers. Most of the travelers choose to stay in Leticia, but there is another little town – only 3000 people – just 3 hours away by boat.
Puerto Nariño is considered as the green lungs of Colombia. The inhabitants are not allowed to use scooters or cars, and they care a lot about their environment.
There are many local guides and Colombia travel agencies in town that organize day trips in the jungle. Would you be able to sleep among the dancing shadows of nature at night?
11. Punta Gallinas, being lost in a desert
Don’t you like spiders and ugly pink dolphins?
It’s alright. Instead of traveling to the south of Colombia, go to the northernmost point of South America. Enjoy the silence of the desert and the shining stars in the sky. And maybe, like Santiago – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho – you will meet the love of your life in the desert.
I found my behalf in Punta Gallinas. She is large, and I can sleep inside it. Yes, it’s a hammock. In La Guajira, the indigenous Wayúus use to sleep in these large hammocks called Chinchorro.
From Cabo de la Vela, you can easily book a 2 days tour to Punta Gallinas. The landscape is outstanding, and the contrast between the colors makes that place magical.
Moreover, you will enjoy the best Colombia sunsets.
12. Capurgana, an oasis on the Caribbean Coast
Amazon in Colombia is fun, but there is no beach. La Guajira is magical, but there is no river or forest. If you like to get jungle, rivers, and sand at the same time, I have the ideal place for you guys.
Capurgana is only accessible by boat or flight (once a week), and the inhabitants are living in their own tiny universe. I stayed there when I was working as a guide on San Blas.
In my opinion, it’s a perfect balance between activities and chill. In 2 days, you quickly know where the best juices, restaurants, and snorkeling spots are. Then you walk barefoot down the streets and order every evening for sunset, a Coco Loco at the bar on the beach.
I stayed more than one year in Capurgana and it’s a perfect vacation spot in Colombia.
13. Tayrona, Colombia’s most famous national park
I think you’ve already heard about this one. It’s the most visited Colombia tourist attraction on the Caribbean Coast.
And there is a reason why. It’s an awesome National Park! Depending on your time, you can easily spend 2 to 4 days in Tayrona. Follow the different paths, spot the monkeys in the lush vegetation, and chose your favorite beach to stay for the night. There are a few campings and restaurants inside.
It’s better to sleep near the entrance of the Tayrona National Park to enjoy the most of your visit. Thus, you will be able to let your big backpack at the reception of your hotel and start hiking early in the morning.
Hiking within the national parks in one of the best activities in Colombia. Don’t miss it!
14. Cocuy, gorgeous hiking trails
In love with mountains and fresh air?
Let the beaches for lazy tourists and explore something BIG! La Sierra Nevada del Cocuy belongs to the Cordillera Orientals mountains of the Andes. Within the set of highlands, you will wander between Fraijones -plants -, glacier and unforgettable landscapes. But you have to deserve it, the hikes are not short!
Once in Guican or Cocuy, you have to find a guide and register at the Park Office. Nowadays, only three 1-day trips are authorized: Laguna Grande, El Pulpito, and Ritabuca.
You will hike above 4000m high, so don’t forget about acclimatization 😉
So, which Colombia tourist attraction would you pick up for your itinerary?
Would you like to discover more places and activities in Colombia? Read the Colombia post written by Travelgal Nicole!
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