Best Places To Visit In Colombia: 14 travel explanations to help you out

Best Places To Visit In Colombia: 14 travel explanations to help you out

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To help you to plan your future trip to Colombia, I wrote down 14 best places to visit in Colombia

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.

And NO,

It’s not a tourist trap article. Don’t assume it’s (only) a list of easy Gringo Trail’s Highlights you could read everywhere else. After 2 years backpacking through the country, I give you 14 best places to visit in Colombia

It’s a vast country with many things to do. Hence, I find it hard to decide on everyone which ones you must see, especially if you travel for 2 or 3 weeks only. After all, each traveler expects something different from his adventure.

So I selected 14 themes with one “winner” for each.

Grab your notebook and a pen. There is a damn hard mission waiting for you:

  • Which best places to visit in Colombia should you include on your itinerary?
  • What are the unusual places to visit in Colombia?
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1. San Gil, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for Extrem Sensation lovers

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 IndiasTake 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 place to visit 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

How to travel to San Gil (+)

  • Buses from Bogota: Around 7 hours / 45 000 COP
  • Buses from Santa Marta: Around 13 hours / 80 000 COP
  • Buses from Cartagena – 2 Buses. You have to first stop in Barranquilla
  • Fly to Bucaramanga then 2 hours bus to San Gil

Accommodation in San Gil

Lanscape around chicamocha Canyon near San Gil
Chicamocha Canyon

2. Isla Tintipan and Isla Mucura, 2 of the best places to visit in Colombia for chilling

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?

How to travel to San Bernardo (+)

Woman´s hand holding a Pina Colada drink San Andres Colombia tourist attraction


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3. Medellin, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for city lovers

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 cafe 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!

How to travel to Medellin (+)

  • Bus from Bogota: Around 65 000 COP / 9 hours
  • Bus from Cali: Around 65 000 COP / 9 hours
  • Bus from Manizales: Around 35 000 COP / 5 hours
  • Bus from Cartagena: Around 100 000 COP / 13 hours

Accommodation in Medellin

Learn the best tips to decide where to stay in Medellin

Sunrise in Medellin
Sunrise in Medellin

4. El Peñol de Guatape, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for the view

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.

How to travel to Guatape (+)

Accommodation in Guatape

View from the top of El Peñol
View from the top of El Peñol

Don’t forget to check out our Map of Colombia to find your next destination!

5. Jardin, one of the best places to visit in Colombia to travel out of the Gringo Trail

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.

Read more: Get our favorite highlights in Jardin

How to travel to Jardin (+)

Accommodations in Jardin

Colorful chairs on the main square - Jardin
Colorful chairs on the main square – Jardin

6. Valle de Cocora, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for contemplating giant wax palm trees

Do you think this title is weird?

I agree. But there is a reason behind it. 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.

Read more: Find out our best highlights for Salento

How to travel to Valle de Cocora

How to Valle de Cocora (+)

Take a jeep on the main square in Salento: 20 min / 3 000 COP

More explanation in our itinerary about Guatape, Jardin, and Salento

Accommodation in Salento

On the way to Valle de Cocora
On the way to Valle de Cocora

7. Filandia, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for experiencing the coffee culture

Every morning, it’s the first thing you do. You walk with the eyes half-closed to the kitchen, and you press the button.

*Bip 

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.

Read more: Get our favorite highlights for Filandia

How to travel to Filandia (+)

Bus from Armenia: 1 hour / Around 7 000 COP

Or bus from Pereira: 1 hour / Around 7 000 COP

Accommodation in Filandia

Houses in Filandia - Matyas Rehak
Houses in Filandia – Credit: Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

8. Tierradentro, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for learning about 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

Read more: Get our favorite travel tips for Tierradentro

How to travel to Tierradentro (+)

Bus from Popayan: Around 35 000 COP / Around 6 hours

Or

Bus from San Agustin:

  • San Agustin to Pilato: Around 5000 COP / 45 min
  • Bus Pilato to La Plata at 6 or 10 am: Around 22 000 COP / 3 hours
  • La Plata San Andres at 4 pm: Around 12 000 COP / 1.5 hours
Inside of a tomb - Tierradentro
Inside of a tomb – Tierradentro

9. Caño Cristales, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for falling in love with nature

If a rainbow could be liquid, it will be like Caño Cristales.

Don’t you believe me? Check out the pictures below 😉

Crazy, right?

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.)

How to travel to Caño Cristales (+)

  • Flights from Bogota: From 220 000 COP

Or

  • 2 buses: Bogota- San Vincente & San Vincente – La Macarena: Around 120 000 COP / 24 hours

Our insider travel guide to visit Caño Cristales

Based on our travel experiences
River Cano cristal in Tourist Colombia Attractions

10. Puerto Nariño, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for living in the jungle

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.

If you decide to sleep at Casa de Aguila, you will have the opportunity to nap in your hammock while a monkey is stealing your bananas.

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?

How to travel to Puerto Nariño (+)

Accommodation in Puerto Nariño

Sunset on the amazon River
Sunset on the Amazon River

11. Punta Gallinas, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for 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.

How to travel to Punta Gallinas (+)

Kids in Punta Gallinas - Ekaterina McClaud
Kids in Punta Gallinas with a lagoon in the background – Credit: Ekaterina McClaud / Shutterstock

12. Capurgana, one of the best places to visit 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.

How to travel to Capurgana (+)

Read our detailed guide about Capurgana and Sapzurro

Accommodation in Capurgana

The dock of Capurgana - Credit :Juanillo1970 / Shutterstock
The dock of Capurgana – Credit: Juanillo1970 / Shutterstock

13. How to explore the Tayrona National Park of Colombia

I think you’ve already heard about this one. It’s the most visited Colombia tourist attractions 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 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!

How to visit Tayrona like an insider (+)

Accommodations near Tayrona

My favorite hostels around Tayrona National Park

The beach of Cabo San Juan in Tayrona
The beach of Cabo San Juan in Tayrona

14. Cocuy, one of the best places to visit in Colombia for hiking mountains

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 😉

How to travel to the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy

How to travel to the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy (+)

Bus from Bogota to Cocuy: Around 9 hours / 45 000 COP

Landscape in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy
Landscape in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy

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! 


Create easily a stunning Colombia itinerary

#1 Get top quality content to plan your Colombia adventure

#2 Every week, we review a Colombia itinerary. Send yours!

#3 Get our top-notch guidebook to organize your trip for Colombia

Save time. Save money. Get the most of your trip.



Our Colombia Guide Book: Get a Free 43-page Sample


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2 comments

  1. Elvis says:

    All of these images are looking so fabulous and cool. Truly your shared all these places are the best for visit and tourists can enjoy some time with buddies. I also explored these all fabulous places in my these tours and have a joyful time with my family and friends. I hope you will enjoy there a lot.

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