Because of its bad reputation, many travelers decide not to go to Cali. What a mistake!

The city, also known as the salsa capital, is a must if you want to discover this aspect of Colombian culture.

The city has its own rhythm and its people are known to love to party. I like to think that this is linked to the climate of Cali. Indeed, it’s pretty hot during the day, but fortunately, every day around 5 pm, a cool breeze starts to blow.
It’s the daily signal that tells the inhabitants that it’s time to take a walk in the streets. Then, in the evening, people go to salsa bars to dance and have a good time.

From a historical point of view, you won’t have many places to visit. There are a few churches and museums scattered between the old center and the San Antonio district but not much more.

However, it is a fantastic place to learn salsa and an excellent base for exploring the South of Colombia. Indeed, the Pacific coast is only 3 hours away, the coffee region is only 3-4 hours away and Popayan is also 3-4 hours away.
In addition, the mountains and rivers surrounding Cali offer many opportunities for activities such as hiking, canyoning, bird watching, and paragliding.

As with all large cities in South America, I advise you to take a taxi at night and not to bring valuables into view.


Food in Cali

I’ve been eating my way around the city, and my pants are slowly getting tighter. Is that why everyone dances so much here? To work the kilos off, perhaps? Probably not, but here’s some of the food I’ve tried so far in Cali!

  • Pandebono: Deliciously soft cheese bread. These are sold everywhere around the city and are mostly eaten for breakfast. There are a couple of stories about how Pandebono got its name – some say it was because of an Italian who used to call them Pan de Buono or the good bread. But however it got its name, you know a bread has got to be good when it features in a classic Salsa song! ¡Esto es cuestión de pandebono!
  • Aborrajado: Sweet plantain stuffed with cheese. Two of my favorite things: could food really get much better? Well, yes, ok, it could, but these round cheese-filled morsels really hit the spot.
  • Marranito: The little pig! Another plantain-filled snack, but this time, the plantain is savory, and it is filled with chicharrón or fried pork rinds.
  • Champus: Champus seems to be one of those drinks you love or hate. It’s a mix of corn and fruits like lulo and pineapple. It’s both a drink and a snack – you eat it with a spoon. I love it, but it’s not for everyone!
  • Lulada: This is one of the most traditional drinks from the Valle de Cauca region. It’s made by mixing the fruit lulo with water, ice and sugar. Apparently, it makes for a pretty good cocktail too—just add alcohol.


Articles you must read before coming to Cali


Getting to Cali? (+)

From Bogota:

  • Bus at the main terminal (Salitre). I recommend a night bus | Bolivariano & Expreso Palmira | 12 hours
  • Many direct flights from the airport | Avianca & Latam | 1 hour |

From Medellin: 

From Cartagena:

  • Only a few direct flights from the airport | Avianca & Latam | 1h30 |

From Santa Marta:

  • Flights from the airport with 1 stopover | Latam & Avianca | 4 h |

From San Agustin:

  • Bus at the terminal | Cootrans Laboyana | 8h

From Popayan:

  • Bus at the main terminal | Transporte Puerto Tejada & Coomotor | 4 hours

From Neiva:

  • Bus at the main terminal. I recommend a night bus. Schedule – Double-check with the bus company| Flota Magdalena & Coomotor & Bolivariano | 11 hours

From Armenia:

  • Bus at the main terminal | Expreso Palmira & Expreso Trejos | 3h30

From Pereira: 

  • Bus at the main terminal | Expreso Palmira & Expreso Trejos | 4h30

From Manizales: 

  • Bus at the main terminal | Expreso Palmira & Expreso Trejos | 5h30

From Buenaventura:

Cali's bus terminal? (+)

The bus terminal is 15 min away from Granada and San Antonio. Take a taxi.

Cali's airport? (+)

The Cali’s airport is outside of the city. You can take a taxi or a bus. It takes 1 h.

Table of Contents

Click on the orange links below ⬇️ and scroll down ⬇️ to read the chosen section.

Where to stay in San Antonio

San Antonio is the kingdom of the backpackers. They like to hang out in the park, drinking cheap beers at night from the shops around. Locals love to do it. There are many good restaurants and lovely cafes, which are perfect stops after a short wander in the district. Be cautious when it's late at night.

  • Magic Garden

    Hostel - $

    Magic Garden

    Pleasant vibes, quiet at night, and breathtaking view. Breakfast is top-notch, as is the staff.
    Get the best price
  • El Viajero

    Hostel - $$

    El Viajero

    Famous hostel with a pool and a salsa studio. Good if you're looking for parties.
    Get the best price
  • Ruta Sur

    Hostel - $$

    Ruta Sur

    Upscale hostel. Private room only. Lovely courtyard. Delicious breakfast and staff.
    Get the best price
  • Rossa Palma

    Hostel - $$

    Rossa Palma

    The perfect place to dance salsa and meet other travelers. Swimming pool and yoga studio. Everything is well laid out.
    Get the best price
  • San Antonio

    Boutique - $$$

    San Antonio

    Excellent value for money and perfect location. Comfy rooms and delicious breakfast. Nice decoration with colorful paintings.
    Get the best price
  • Casa Nispero

    Luxe - $$$$

    Casa Nispero

    Modern establishment with an inner courtyard and swimming pool. Spacious rooms and baths. Qualified staff.
    Get the best price

Where to stay in Granada

Granada is the party district of Cali. It's also one of the wealthiest. Most of the tourists don't know about it. Therefore, you won't meet many of them. There are delicious restaurants and it's one of the safest areas in Cali.

  • Pelican Larry

    Hostel - $

    Pelican Larry

    Perfect location. Many activities like Salsa and bike tours. Great common area and breakfast.
    Get the best price
  • Guadalupe

    Hotel - $$


    White colonial house. Clean and well located in Granada. Large rooms with comfy beds.
    Get the best price
  • Casa Centenario

    Hotel - $$

    Casa Centenario

    Economical option with a perfect location and a delicious breakfast. Good staff.
    Get the best price
  • Leclerc

    Boutique - $$$


    Upscale hotel with lovely bedrooms. Great value for money. Small and personalized services.
    Get the best price
  • Arte hotel

    Boutique - $$$

    Arte hotel

    A classic and efficient style. Spacious rooms and cozy beds. Top-notch staff. Excellent value for money.
    Get the best price
  • Movitch

    Luxury - $$$$


    One of the best hotels in Cali. Fantastic staff and facilities. Tasty breakfast. Location. Classy and modern atmosphere.
    Get the best price

Where to stay in San Fernando & Pance

San Fernando is an up and coming district. There is no tourist. Many local bars and restaurants near Parque del Perro. Pance is a small town located in the mountains, at 2 hours from Cali. It's a perfect option to get some fresh air and swim in cold water.

  • Oasis

    Hostel- $


    Many social events and tours. Salsa studio. Clean with many social areas. Breakfast.
    Get the best price
  • Jardin Azul

    Hotel - $$

    Jardin Azul

    Nice hotel with spacious rooms, a lush garden, and a small swimming pool. Quiet district.
    Get the best price
  • Batara

    Hotel in Pance - $


    Small hotel with a great view. Birds everywhere. Natural pool. Awesome owners!
    Get the best price

Things to do in Cali

While there are not many things to do in the city of Cali (expect dancing Salsa), the surroundings offer many great activities and day trips.

  • Learn salsa

    1-2 hours | $

    Learn salsa

    Learn the basic steps of Salsa with a local teacher then go looking for partners in bars and practice! Great vibes.
    We recommend
  • Cali's nightlife

    Evening | $

    Cali's nightlife

    The nightlife in Cali is fantastic if you like dancing. Find the best bars and clubs on our "Colombia Insider" map on Mapstr.
  • Salsa tour

    3 hours | $

    Salsa tour

    Join this tour to learn about Salsa's history, visit an authentic Cali's district, and dance with locals.
    Get the best prices
  • City tour

    3 hours | $$

    City tour

    There are not many highlights in Cali. A quick city will help you to get the most of it.
    Get the best prices
  • Food tour

    3 hours | $

    Food tour

    Alameda is the biggest market in Cali. Try fruits and street foods. Buy magic potions.
    Learn more
  • Aero Fenix

    3 hours | $

    Aero Fenix

    Impressive aircraft collection from before WWII. Perfect to spend a couple of hours. Museum.
    Learn more
  • Caliwood

    1 - 2 hours | $


    How did the industry of cinema begin in Colombia? Lots of film posters and projectors. Museum.
    Learn more
  • La Tertulia

    2 - 3 hours | $

    La Tertulia

    Art museum. Interesting and interactive. Three floors. Cool activities and cafe nearby.
    Learn more
  • Salsa History

    1 - 2 hours | $

    Salsa History

    Learn about the history of the Salsa and why it became such a thing in Cali. Great photos!
    Learn more
  • Salsa & Art

    2 hours | $

    Salsa & Art

    If churches and old building are not your things, wander in Cali while learning about other stuff.
    Learn more
  • Cristo Rey

    2 hours | $

    Cristo Rey

    A short cab ride from the center. Cool view of Cali, especially at night. Site closes at 8 pm.
    Google Map
  • 3 Cruces

    2 - 3 hours | Free

    3 Cruces

    Sunday hike. Do it early so you won't get burnt. Don't do it alone during the week.
    Learn more
  • Andoke

    2 - 4 hours | $


    Admire thousands of beautiful butterflies. Specific hours for the tours. Good explanations.
    Learn more
  • Loma de la Cruz

    1 hour | Free

    Loma de la Cruz

    People meet every Thursday at 7 pm for Andean dancing. Fun moments. Handcrafts shops.
    Google Map
  • Parque El Peñon

    Evening | Free

    Parque El Peñon

    Musicians get there around 5 pm to perform live music. Lovely and safe area. Good music.
    Learn more
  • Birdwatching

    Full day | $$$$


    The areas of Cali are extremely famous for observing birds. Wake up early and enjoy!
    Learn more
  • San Cipriano

    12 hours | $$$

    San Cipriano

    Go to San Cipriano for chasing waterfalls and going down the river on an inner tube.
    Get the best prices
  • Paragliding

    9 hours | $$$


    The best view is always from the sky. Run till the cliff and jump. Don't forget your glider.
    Get the best prices
  • Canyoning

    4 - 7 hours | $$


    With its 7 rivers, canyoning is a must around Cali. Rappelling, toboggan and big jumps.
    We recommend
  • Pico Loro

    10 - 12 hours | $$

    Pico Loro

    A fantastic view of the Valle del Cauca, the Andean mountains. 4-5 hours hike. Steep hike.
    Get the best prices
  • La Sirena

    12 - 15 hours | $$$$

    La Sirena

    El Danubio is made of gorgeous natural pools and waterfalls. Take your swimming shorts!
    Get the best prices
  • Pance

    Weekend trip


    2 hours away from Cali, Pance is small town perfect for taking a deep breath of fresh air.
    Learn more
  • La Barra

    3 - 4 days

    La Barra

    From Cali, the Pacific is only 4 hours away. Explore these black sand beaches. Raw nature. Read our travel guide.

Our articles about Cali

We spent 2 months in Cali and wrote about our travel experiences.

Partners we recommend in Cali

Some local partners we have met, tested and approved during our stay in the Cali.

  • Valley Adventours is an excellent local agency that offers many excellent day-trips and activities.
  • Salsa Classes Medellin is the ideal solution to learn how to dance Salsa while traveling in Colombia.
  • AVIS is an excellent rental car company, implanted in 7 Colombia cities

Where to eat & drink?

For us, good restaurants and exciting nightlife are important when traveling. We gathered our favorite picks on an interactive Map. Download the APP "Mapstr" and look for "Colombia Insider"!

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