10 Places to discover in Colombia

10 Places to discover in Colombia
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Today, I’ve got a list of the mind-blowing places to discover in Colombia! Thanks to Tristan Quevilly, admire astonishing pictures of Colombia without moving from your seat. 

Photos can be more powerful than thousands of words. There is no need to describe “The man jumping the puddle,” “The iconic V-J day in Times Square” or  “Tankman.”

It’s time to travel with your eyes, without breathing or thinking. Allow me 5 min of your precious time to convince you to plan your next vacation to Colombia.

Ready?

Vamos compañero.

1.  Bahia Solano, an underrated place to discover in Colombia

Places to visit in Colombia : Bahia Solano
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Sunset from Bahia Solano on the Pacific Coast | Credit: @tristan29photography

Except for a few travelers, the Pacific Coast is an unexplored territory. After hundreds of years of slavery, many Afro-Colombians have run away from cities to live a peaceful life on the Pacific Coast. Nowadays, the inhabitants of this secret part of the world enjoy every day with dance, percussion music, coconut rice, and fresh fish.

Learn more about Bahia Solano (+)

As Buddha says, simple life = happy life.

The boat and the tuk-tuk are the only mode of transports to travel between the little towns nestled on the coast. Once there, grab one and explore El Valle and its surroundings.

But no worries, you don’t have to cross the rainforest on foot to arrive in this paradise. There are flights between the small airport in Bahia Solano and Medellin (Olaya Herrera Airport).

And for the most adventurous who want to visit this place in Colombia, boats are leaving from Buenaventura (Near Cali).

Read more: Our travel guide to visit el Valle & Bahia Solano

2. Cabo de la Vela, perfect for Kitesurfers and desert lovers

Places to visit in Colombia: Cabo de la Vela
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Pilón de Azúcar beach near Cabo de la Vela | @tristan29photography

Cabo de la Vela stands on the Western Caribbean Coast of Colombia, between a flat crystal-blue ocean and a mysterious yellowish desert. Along the main road, houses made of wood welcome the travelers keen to discover the biggest desert of Colombia.

More about Cabo de la Vela (+)

I’m sure Cabo de la Vela will be one of the favorite places to visit in Colombia for wind lovers. Every day, a steady breeze helps kitesurfers to do great tricks above the water. And there are kitesurfing schools if you wanna give it a try 😉

Then, take a quick dip in Playa Pilòn de Azucar and observe a mesmerizing sunset from the lighthouse before getting to bed your hammock, under a shiny Milky Way. Still lulled by the wind.

Must read: Our travel guide to visit La Guajira

3. Caño Cristales, discover a magical river in Colombia

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The river Caño Cristales near La Macarena | Credit: @tristan29photography

Like San Jose del Guaviare, La Macarena wasn’t a place where tourists could hang out 10 years ago. Both sites were surrounded by FARC, an important and dangerous guerrilla movement based in Colombia.

More about Caño Cristales (+)

But the political situation has improved a lot in the country and peace agreements have been signed between the FARC and The government in 2017.

Nowadays, both places are ready to welcome tourists and show them the latest secret gems discovered in Colombia.

Caño Cristales offers amazing sceneries from June to the end of November. During this period of the year, the rains give life to colorful aquatic plants everywhere in the river. Blue, red, yellow, green … The result is astonishing!

It’s definitively one of the best places in Colombia.

4. Cartagena de Indias, discover a romantic city

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Everything is chaotic; everything is nosy. 

But when you pass the clock tower gate, the magic happens like in a book by Gabriel García Márquez From there, a maze of colorful alleys and flourished balconies lead the travelers to the different colonial monuments. 

Learn more about Cartagena (+)

Explore, wander, and lose yourself in the old city of Cartagena. However, there are so many exciting places to visit in Colombia that 2 nights are enough to appreciate the charm of it – Or maybe a little more if you’re a food addict who loves looking for delicious restaurants. 

Take the time to explore the Rosario islands before going back to the city for a last outstanding sunset from the walled city.

Must read: Our travel guide to visit Cartagena

5. La Ciudad Perdida, enjoy a 4-day trek in the Sierra Nevada

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The lost city in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta | @tristan29photography

You don’t decide to hike 4 days in the jungle to observe the ruins of the lost city. 

No, it’s not worth it.

You do it for the experiences and the challenges. You want to know how it feels to cross rivers and monkey bridges while it’s raining on your face. Would you be the next Indiana Jones? 

Learn more about the lost city (+)

5 certified companies are authorized to bring visitors to the lost city. During the adventure, the staff cooks tasty meals that give you enough energy to survive in this green maze. Plus, you will get the occasion to learn from the local guides the history and the culture of the indigenous living there.

For these inhabitants, the Sierra Nevada is a sacred place that deserves to be protected and respected. Praise Pachamama before sleeping in your hammock like a baby. You will need some good rest for this great adventure. 

6. The Tatacoa Desert, observe a starry night

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The Tatacoa Desert near Neiva | Credit: @tristan29photography

Like Paulo Coelho, you want to look for your soulmate in the desert. But, unfortunately, you can’t add the La Guajira desert in your Colombia itinerary

No worries, there is another solution to wander between cactuses and mesmerizing shapes of rock. 

Learn more about Tatacoa (+)

Take a bus from Bogota till Neiva then jump in a shared jeep in the direction of Tatacoa. The small town of Villavieja is a perfect starting point to visit the two deserts in Tatacoa – Grey and Red – before cooling off in a pool. 

But stay awake! Because the Tatacoa desert is also the best place in Colombia to observe the stars and the Milky Way. Book a tour with the Astronomical Observatory and look for Martians or shooting stars. 

Must read: Our travel guide to visit Tatacoa

7. Leticia, discover the Amazon

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Sunset above the Amazon river near Leticia | Credit: @Tristan29photography

Each day flights lands in Leticia with a handful of travelers keen to live an original experience in the Amazon

The city, nestled on the banks of the Amazon river, is the starting point of many travel agencies offering 3-day tours, 4-day tours, night experiences, fishing and so on.

Learn more about Leticia (+)

Select your company carefully and remember that the Amazon is like Nikita – beautiful but dangerous. Avoid the cheapest agencies and don’t forget to check the conditions of your travel insurance.

However, depending on your plans, you don’t have to book a full tour.

There are fantastic reserves you can get access on your own and gorgeous eco-lodges offering daily activities. 

Must read: Our travel guide to discover Leticia

8. Tayrona Park, discover a national park next to the beach

The Beach Cabo San Juan in the National Park of Tayrona
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The Beach Cabo San Juan in the National Park of Tayrona | Credit: @tristan29photography

I consider myself like an experienced traveler. However, I have to be honest with you guys. My sense of direction is bad. So bad that I think my mum forgot to add the function “compass” in my brain when I’ve been conceived.

Learn more about Tayrona (+)

Fortunately, I’m visiting places in Colombia with Adrien. He knows. 

I don’t mind being lost in a city or a small town. I truly believe it’s the best way to discover a place. Or maybe I’m looking for excuses :).

But this lack of direction is problematic when you hike within national parks. And Colombians are not big fans of signs. In short, I have to deal with it. 

Fortunately, it’s not the case with Tayrona. Take the secret entrance – Calabazo – and plan a 3-day trek in this national park located on the Western Caribbean coast of Colombia

By doing it differently from the other travelers, you will be able to sleep on secluded beaches and observe a lot more animals!

Must read: Our travel guide to explore Tayrona

9. El Peñol, enjoy the view

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El Peñol, The Rock of Guatape | Credit: @tristan29photography

In Medellin, take the bus at the North Terminal to reach the colonial town of Guatape and El Peñol.

This giant granitic rock of 285 m high is one of the favorite touristic destinations in the department of Antioquia.

Learn more about El Peñol (+)

After climbing the 740 steps – gosh I hate stairs -, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view from the top. Try to get there at sunset if you decide to spend the night in Guatape. This colorful colonial town is located only 2 km away from El Peñol.

All around, green hills, artificial lakes and cozy hostels with hammocks provide a peaceful environment to rest from the city’s noises. 

Must read: Our travel guide to visit Guatape

10. Discover The Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta

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Sunrise from Cerro Kennedy, a 2-day hike starting from Minca | @Tristan29photography

The Caribbean coast of Colombia is not only about beaches. Take a shared jeep from Santa Marta to Minca and explore the Sierra Nevada of Santa MartaThese mountains are isolated from the Andes chain. The peak Cristobal Colon is the highest summit of Colombia with 5700 m.

More about the Sierra Nevada (+)

Most of the Sierra Nevada is not open to the public because the national park is considered as sacred for the indigenous community living there. 

The most famous way to visit it is to book a 4-day tour to the lost city. 

But it’s not the only way.

You can travel to Minca to get a pleasant foretaste in the area. There, excellent accommodations like Casa Loma welcome travelers from all around the world. The place is a wonderful playground for bird lovers, waterfall addicts, and fans of organic coffees. 

It’s one of the best places in Colombia to observe birds!

Must read: Our travel guide to visit Minca

All the pictures in this article have been taken by Tristan Quevilly. The quality of the photos has been reduced to improve the loading of this article. However, you can find them in better quality on his photography website. He took a lot of gorgeous pictures of Colombia.

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Places to visit in Colombia
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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.

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