How to Create Your Ideal Colombia Itinerary in 2020

How to Create Your Ideal Colombia Itinerary in 2020
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Thanks to the internet, any travelers can try to create a Colombia itinerary. After all, it’s not complicated to write “Best places to visit in Colombia”, “2 weeks in Colombia”, or “Colombia points of interest” in the Google research bar.

Then, you read the top 5 results, pick some Colombian places – because the pic is pretty cool -, try to measure the distance on Google Map and you start building your itinerary.

Is it what you’re doing right now? (Yes, I’m a magician – Harry’s cousin – and I can read your mind.)

While it’s a good way to begin your roadmap, it’s far from being sufficient. Sorry.

The country changes fast, and most of Colombia’s travel blogs aren’t updated enough. Besides, too many travelers write about Colombia even if they just have spent 2 months in the countryDid you know it’s twice the size of France?

We created this Colombia Travel Blog to help travelers to create unique Colombia itineraries. And this is what we’re doing to do right now.

Table of Contents: Build your Colombia Vacation Itinerary

  1. Major mistakes when creating a Colombia itinerary
  2. Our secret for creating a mind-blowing Colombia itinerary
  3. Which Colombia destinations can you visit
  4. Think about the weather when creating your itinerary
  5. Examples of Colombia Itineraries

Major mistakes when creating a Colombia itinerary

Creating an excellent Colombia travel itinerary is not simple and takes a lot of practice.

With Colombia Insider, we spend our days making Colombia tours for our clients, so we know a bunch of mistakes that people usually do.

Learn about them, and I guarantee you it will be a lot easier to build a roadmap for your two weeks in Colombia.

#1 Don’t pick too many Colombia places

Take your time (+)

Colombia is twice the size of France. Even if you were traveling 1 year non-stop, you wouldn’t be able to be everywhere.

I know you want to tick off “Colombia” from your bucket list, but I ask you to answer the following question:

Why do you travel?

If it’s because you want to spend joyful moments in a foreign country, try new experiences and learn about a different culture, then you should seriously consider reducing the number of stops in your Colombia itinerary.

#2 Don’t base your decision on a Cool Instagram pic

Instagram pictures are fake (+)

Instagram is a great tool to find some inspiration, but you should be aware that many pictures are “fake”Except our account :p. Influencers spent hours to get the perfect shot then they edit the pic with a software.

Don’t try to be like this guy with his tiny Italian bathing suit, who is kissing a hot babe and watching hundreds of doves from their infinity pool. It doesn’t exist.

It will be silly to make a detour in your itinerary for a picture.

#3 Don’t think that roads are in good conditions

You need time to move from one place to another (+)

To estimate the transportation time, many travelers use Google Map.

– “Oh, there is only 100 km, I’m sure we can do it in 1 hour.”

Wrong!

In many cases, it will be 5 hours.

#4 Don’t miss half of the activities

Ask around to know how long you should stay (+)

Tourism is growing and many activities aren’t on the internet. Send emails to the hotels in the area, ask in Facebook groups or check our Colombia website (the easiest way).

Then, you will know how long you can stay in a place.

#5 Don’t follow the other travelers

Be different (+)

People don’t have time, so 95 % of them decide to follow classic Colombia itineraries. I’m sure you’re different. Hence, create something different. Work hard on it. Or use our services :).

Furthermore, most of the “perfect week in Colombia” articles are far from being perfect ;).

#6 Don’t spend too much time in big Colombia cities

The country side of Colombia is mind-blowing (+)

I love big cities in Colombia. They are excellent places for partying, organizing Colombia tours and learn about the history, dance Salsa, etc. However, it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to go.

Colombia is a gorgeous country with all kinds of beautiful landscapes. Don’t hesitate to spend most of your time in the countryside.

#7 Don’t be scared of night buses

Everyone use night buses (+)

Night buses are safe, numerous, and every Colombian uses them. We love Copetran, Expreso Brasilia Rapido Ochoa, and Bolivariano. Most of the bus company’s website are terrible, with half of the departures missing. Call or ask the bus company to be sure.

It will help you to save 1 or 2 days in your Colombia itinerary.

#8 Let you some extra time

Public transportation arrive often late (+)

Colombian time is a real thing. With public transportation, you know when you leave, but you never know when you arrive.

The same problems can happen with small airline companies like Viva Air and Satena.

Arrive the day before your flight return. Trust me.

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Dibulla

The secret for building a mind-blowing Colombia itinerary

It’s easy. Every person who travels a lot will tell you the same thing.

Slow down!

Take the time to enjoy every Colombia highlight you decide to visit. This is why you have to decide cautiously the ones that deserve to be in your itinerary.

If you travel fast, the experience will be superficial and you will come back exhausted.

If you slow down and reduce the number of places you want to explore, you will save time and hundreds of dollars! There is nothing to win by traveling faster, except wasting energy and money.

We recommend spending at least 5 – 7 days for each region you pick. It’s the best way to travel in Colombia.

Top destinations in Colombia for your itinerary: Ranked by region

Because it takes time to move from one place to another in Colombia, it’s super important to pick a region instead of a single destination.

You have to take into consideration your favorite places, but you should minimize the number of regions you want to visit.

As a rule of thumb, number of regions = number of weeks in Colombia

#1 Eastern Caribbean Coast

Colombia itinerary

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Cartagena

It’s the most visited region in Colombia. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit on the Eastern Caribbean Coast of Colombia: (+)

  • The Rosario islands: Paradise islands, a bit overcrowded, especially during the high season. 1-2 hours away from Cartagena.
  • Cartagena: Sumptuous walled city, famous for its city center and luxury restaurants.
  • Mompox: Pretty colonial town, surrounded by the Magdalena River. Time-consuming to get there.
  • Santa Marta: Major touristic hub to explore the surroundings, not very interesting itself.
  • Tayrona: Famous national park with many beaches and trails. Easy to explore, no guide needed.
  • Minca: Town located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Perfect for hiking and birdwatching.
  • Paso del Mango: Secret Minca’s sibling with only a few accommodation options. Peaceful.
  • Palomino: Touristy beach town, with many hostels and not much to do. Tubing is the main activity.
  • Dibulla: A quiet beach town with lovely beaches, 1 hour away from Riohacha.
  • Riohacha: Not very interesting but it’s the main point of departure for the expeditions to La Guajira
  • Cabo de la Vela: A fishing town, in the middle of the desert. Famous for kitesurfing.
  • La Guajira: The largest desert in Colombia. Breathtaking sceneries. Tours are mandatory.

#2 Western Caribbean Coast

Colombia itinerary

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Isla Mucura – San Bernardo islands

The western side is less visited than the Eastern Coast and the different places are more challenging to access. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit on the Western Caribbean Coast of Colombia: (+)

  • San Bernardo islands: Private paradise islands with hotels and crystal-blue water. You can plan a day trip from Rincon del Mar.
  • Rincon del Mar: Quiet fishing town with welcomings locals and lovely beaches.
  • Isla Fuerte: Unknown island with cool beaches. There are surfing and diving spots.
  • San Francisco: A hidden tiny town with not much to do.
  • Capurgana: Atypical town, in the middle of the Darian Gap. Beaches & hammocks. Cool diving spots.
  • Sapzurro: Quiet town, only accessible from Capurgana. The last place before the Panama border.

#3 Medellin and Antioquia

Colombia itinerary

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View from Horizontes

One of my favorite regions in Colombia, with green hills, colorful Chivas, and typical colonial towns. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in Antioquia, Colombia: (+)

  • Medellin: Favorite city for many travelers. Welcoming people and easy to move around. Cool nightlife.
  • Santa Fe de Antioquia: Peaceful colonial town, located near a famous suspension bridge – Puente del Occidente.
  • Horizontes: Secret cute town with mind-blowing views at 360 deg.
  • Guatape: Colorful colonial town, overcrowded during the high season. Famous for the view from the massive granite rock “El Peñol”.
  • San Rafael: Town located 1h away from Guatape. Lots of rivers and canyons.
  • San Carlos: The paradise for swimming in rivers and chasing waterfalls. Lots of hikes too.
  • Jerico: Famous religious town, with lots of hikes and coffee farms. Not too much visited yet.
  • Jardin: Colorful and peaceful colonial town with lots of activities and coffee farms.
  • Tamesis: Astonishing view above the canyon, lots of extreme sports. Non-touristy yet.

#4 The Coffee Region

Colombia itinerary

Summit Santa Isabel Los Nevados
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Los Nevados – Santa Isabel

Called also the coffee triangle, this region as a lot to offer. Don’t just stop in Salento. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in the coffee region, Colombia: (+)

  • Pereira: The best city to explore the coffee region, the high mountains Los Nevados and the natural thermal bath.
  • Salento: The most famous coffee town in Colombia. Departures from the main square to Valle de Cocora.
  • Filandia: The Salento’s sibling. A colorful colonial town with good restaurants.
  • Buenavista: Cute tiny coffee town with astonishing views and delicious coffee.
  • Salamina: Lovely little town. It’s a good option to explore another secret version of Valle de Cocora.

#5 Cali and the South of Colombia

Colombia itinerary

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View from El Purace

Travelers neglect this region, but there are many hidden treasures. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in Cali and the South of Colombia: (+)

  • Cali: The Capital of Salsa. It’s also a great city for canyoning, birdwatching, and hiking.
  • Popayan: A white colonial city with lots of impressive churches. Don’t miss the Purace national park.
  • San Agustin: Famous for its UNESCO Archeological site with more than 500 statues. The departure point for the 4-days trek to Las Papas.
  • Tierradentro: Another UNESCO Archeological site with underground tombs. Complicated access.
  • Tatacoa desert: Famous for its super Instagram pictures. It’s a cool place to observe the stars.
  • Paicol: Unknown and peaceful colonial town with cool activities.
  • Mocoa: A town at the limit of the Amazon. Lots of rivers and famous place for Ayahuasca ceremonies.
  • Pasto: Famous for the festival Blanco y Negro at the beginning of January.
  • Ipiales: The closest town to the border with Ecuador. There is an impressive church called Las Lajas.

#6 The Pacific Coast

Colombia itinerary

Add a beach spot in your Colombia itinerary - Pacific coast Guachalito
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Guachalito

A hidden region, difficult of access, with raw nature and large black sand beaches. We loved it. Very humid. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit on the Pacific Coast of Colombia: (+)

  • Ladrilleros and La Barra: The cheapest way to uncover the Pacific Coast. Departure by boat from Buenaventura.
  • Guachalito: The most beautiful part of the Pacific coast. Long beaches with nobody around.
  • Jovi: Tiny town with only 1 accommodation option. 0 tourist.
  • Termales: Little beach town with a cool vibe. Cool spot for surfers.
  • Jurubira: Another tiny beach town, with a few hotels.
  • El Valle: Small town with a cool vibe and beautiful beaches.
  • Bahia Solano: The “big city” on the Pacific coast. Not pleasant.

#7 The Amazon

Colombia itinerary

Add the amazon in your Colombia itinerary - Parrots going to bed at sunset - Leticia
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Parrots going to bed at sunset – Leticia

A place to observe the wildlife through the jungle. We really like to kayak among the trees on the Amazon river. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in the Amazon, Colombia: (+)

  • Leticia: The main city where are located most of the local travel agencies. It’s messy and big.
  • Puerto Nariño: Little town where no car or scooter are allowed. Only accessible by boat.

#8 Bogota and around

Colombia itinerary

Street-arts-in-Bogota
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Bogota is a vast capital city, surrounded by Paramos and waterfalls. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit around Bogota, Colombia: (+)

  • Bogota: An excellent city to understand the history of Colombia. Fantastic tours, delicious restaurants, and fun nightlife.
  • Suesca: The place to be if you want to rock climbing.
  • Tobia: A little town that offers many extreme sports activities.

#9 Meta and around

Colombia itinerary

Caño-Cristales-La-Macarena-Tom
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Caño Cristales

A fantastic region that recently opens its doors to tourism. Mind-blowing rivers and outdoor activities. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in the Meta, Colombia: (+)

  • San Jose del Guaviare: A place with a bloody past, nowadays safe. Many great day trips. Tours are mandatory.
  • Caño Cristales: One of the most beautiful rivers in the world. It’s mind-blowing.

#10 The Colombian islands

Colombia itinerary

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Providencia

Colombia has 3 islands far away from the coast. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the paradise islands in Colombia: (+)

  • Isla Gorgona: Island in the pacific ocean, world-famous for its fantastic diving spots.
  • Providencia: The most beautiful island in Colombia. Peaceful and no touristy. It’s a hidden paradise.
  • San Andres: Located near Providencia, the island is crowded by tourists. Lots of hotels. Good diving spots.

#11 Boyaca and around

Colombia itinerary

Villa de Leyva, view from el Santo
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Villa de Leyva

A lovely region with cute colonial towns and hikes. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in Boyaca, Colombia: (+)

  • Villa de Leyva: A romantic colonial town with delicious restaurants, SPA, and daily activities.
  • Mongui: A cute colonial town. It’s the departure point to the Paramo de Oceta.

#12 Santander and Around

Colombia itinerary

Chicamocha Canyon, San Gil
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Chicamocha Canyon

A region that offers many extreme sports activities like rafting, cave exploring and bungee jumping. Get an overall idea and plenty of tips here.

List of the best places to visit in Santander, Colombia: (+)

  • San Gil: The main city to book your extreme sports activities.
  • Barichara: Well-know colonial town with a great view of the Chicamocha Canyon.
  • Cocuy: Famous national park with 3 sumptuous day treks. You can’t stay overnight anymore. The guide is mandatory.

Take into consideration the seasons when creating your Colombia Itinerary

Depending on the activities you plan to do, there are better months than others.

Must read: We give all the tip to find the best time for visiting Colombia

#1 The high season

Colombians and Americans love the Eastern Caribbean Coast. Be ready to be surrounded by tourists during national public holidays and from Mid-December to Mid-January. Also, don’t plan your 7 days in Colombia during the Holy Week.

#2 The Weather

There are rainy and dry months in Colombia. Although you shouldn’t worry too much about the rain – only intermittent strong but short rainfalls -, it should be something you should think of if you want to multi-day hike or practice many extreme sports.

  • Rainiest months: May and November
  • Driest months: January – March, July – August

Because of the high level of humidity, it’s extremely hard to predict the weather in Colombia. Don’t trust the meteorological websites.

#3 The festivals

Colombians love dancing and there is always a reason to celebrate. There is a full list written in our Ebook.

#4 The “special seasons”

There are Colombian places you want to visit for a specific reason. It would be silly to travel there during the wrong month.

  • Whale-watching on the Pacific Coast: From July to mid-September.
  • Opening season in Caño Cristales: Mid-June to End of November.

Example of Colombia Itineraries

Let me give you a few examples that you can use for your backpacking Colombia adventure or for creating your honeymoon itinerary.

Colombia Itinerary 1 week

Sunset coconuts Rincon del Mar | 1 week colombia itinerary
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Rincon del mar

With 1 week only, you don’t want to spend too much time on transportation.

Let’s say you absolutely want to include Cartagena in your itinerary. An excellent Colombia tour would be:

Detailed of our 1 week in Colombia (+)

  • Day 1: Arrival in Cartagena. Stroll in the old city center.
  • Day 2: Book a tour to the Bazurto market then learn about the history of Cartagena in the afternoon.
  • Day 3: Departure to Rincon del Mar – 4 hours – and chill at the beach.
  • Day 4: Day trip to the San Bernardo Islands.
  • Day 5: Go fishing and snorkeling with locals then bioluminescent plankton at night.
  • Day 6: Beach, then drive back to Cartagena. Plan a romantic restaurant at night.
  • Day 7: Cooking Class for lunch or a private tour to La Boquilla.

Read more: Ideas for your 1 week in Colombia

Colombia Itinerary 2 Weeks

Jerico La nohelia coffee picking | 2 weeks colombia itinerary
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La Nohelia, Jerico

Now, you’ve got more flexibility for getting around Colombia. Let’s try to organize an expedition to an off the beaten path destination. We will include Medellin in our Colombia itinerary for 2 weeks.

Detailed of our 2 weeks in Colombia (+)

  • Day 1: Arrival in Medellin. Explore the city.
  • Day 2&3: Plan some tours to understand Colombia’s history and how Medellin has changed over the years. And don’t forget to organize a paragliding session around 9 am to observe the city from the sky.
  • Day 4: Fly to Bahia Solano and take a tuk-tuk in the direction of El Valle.
  • Day 5 – 7: Explore the Pacific coast and chill at the beach. There is the waterfall El Tigre, whale-watching (from July to Mid-December), Playa Blanca, a tour through the mangroves, free some baby turtles on the beach.
  • Day 8: Fly back to Medellin then take a bus to Jerico
  • Day 9 – 10: Visit Jerico. There is a fantastic tour that goes to La Cascada Arco Iris and an easy hike to Parque de Los Nubes.
  • Day 11: Take the Chiva bus to Andes, then a bus to Jardin.
  • Day 12 – 13: Plan a day trip to Salto del Angel and Cueva de las Guacharos, a canyoning activity for beginners and a coffee tour in a traditional Finca.
  • Day 14: Drive back to Medellin | 4 hours

Colombia Itinerary 3 weeks

View from El Pico Loro in Pance, Cali | 3 weeks colombia itinerary
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Pico Loro, Pance

3 weeks in Colombia is an excellent amount of time for exploring the country. This time, we will include Bogota and Cali in our Colombia itinerary for 3 weeks.

Detailed of our 3 weeks in Colombia (+)

  • Day 1: Arrival in Bogota
  • Day 2-3: Plan some tours to understand Colombia’s history and culture. There are many interesting museums in the capital. Night bus in the direction of San Jose del Guaviare.
  • Day 4-7: Explore the surroundings of San Jose del Guaviare then fly back to Bogota.
  • Day 8: Tour to explore another Bogota’s district then a night bus to Pereira.
  • Day 9: Visit of colonial town Marsella in the afternoon.
  • Day 10 – 13: 4-day trek in the Paramo Los Nevados + Thermal bath.
  • Day 14: Departure to Filandia | 1 hour.
  • Day 15: Explore Valle de Cocora.
  • Day 16: Bus to Buenavista & Paragliding session | 2 hours.
  • Day 17: Coffee tour.
  • Day 18: Bus to Cali | 6 hours.
  • Day 19-20: Canyoning and Pico Loro.
  • Day 21: Fly to Bogota.

Do you like our Colombia Itineraries? It’s our job to organize fantastic adventures in Colombia for our clients. Check out our services!

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Colombia Itinerary Avoid making mistakes
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I fell in love with Colombia 5 years ago. Through this website, we help every month thousands of travelers to plan their trip to this beautiful country. Use our Premium service on the site www.Colombia-insider.com if you want us to take care of everything for the organization of your trip to Colombia.

2 comments

  1. Astrid Brauksiepe says:

    Hi Tom,
    I am loving your trip planner!
    I am planning a trip with a group of about 10mpeaople. Is it realistic to travel by public buses? Can we pre book seats for that many people? Or would it be better to use a local operator?

    Thank you very much,
    Astrid

    • Tom says:

      Thank you for the compliment, Astrid 🙂

      Yes, you can travel by public buses, but I would buy the ticket a few days in advance.

      Ex: You arrive in Cartagena, and you know you’re going to stay three days before heading to Rincon del Mar -> You buy your ticket for Rincon the day you arrive in Cartagena.

      After, you can have some good deal with local operators for a short distance or long distance when you’re 10 people. And your life would be more comfortable ^^.

      We are soon launching our travel planning company, It’s Colombia insider

      For a ten people itinerary, our service is basically free as we always get discounts for our clients (we’ve got exclusive deals). Let me know if you’re interested 🙂

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