12 Top Attractions & Places to Visit in Colombia
Cast all of your out-of-date ideas aside, like drug wars and mobsters, and you'll find that Colombia is a country overflowing with self-confidence and hurrying carelessly into a more relaxed and prosperous future. In this land of contrasts, you'll come across snow-capped Andean heights, tropical Amazonian forests, blue-green Caribbean coasts, and two sun-kissed deserts. You'll also find a host of magnificent attractions at the places in between, from the bustling cities of Cartagena and Medellin to the peaceful colonial towns of Salento and Mompox.
Most of all else, the renowned Colombian hospitality will definitely find you returning for more. Find the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Colombia.
Cartagena is the crown jewel of Colombia's Caribbean shore and one of the best-preserved colonial destinations in the Americas. Take a stroll via the historical walled city, and you may really feel as if you have actually went back in time to a different era.
Possibly it's the 13 kilometers of centuries-old walls, or the vibrant colonial design, a lot of which are now perfectly restored dining establishments and luxury hotels. Maybe it's the bougainvillea-covered terraces along the labyrinthine streets or the rising Catholic churches that tower above every plaza. Whatever it is, site visitors can not fall but help for this Caribbean charmer.
Past the old town hall exists laid-back Getsemani, and along the beachfront is Bocagrande, a more recent part of town, where upscale condos and hotels defend prime seafront real estate. And less than an hour away by watercraft are islands and coastlines, providing perfect getaways and day trips.
Bogotá could be the Colombian capital, yet it's the smaller and more manageable city of Medellin that has a tendency to capture the hearts of site visitors. Medellin was referred to as one of the most harmful city on the planet in the very early 1990s, but a quarter of a century, later on, it has made a reputation for something entirely various: technology.
The city boasts cable cars linking the settlements in its hills to a modern metro system in the valley below, a greenbelt of rich "eco parks," and striking collections and recreation center in a few of the poorest communities.
A great day of taking in the sights might start in the Old Quarter at Botero Plaza, where you'll find a collection of 23 portly sculptures donated by the precious Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Adjacent to the plaza is the must-visit Museum of Antioquia and the striking Rafael Uribe Royal Residence of Culture. Then, head into the hills above the town by riding the sleek escalator system through Comuna 13 to explore this community's vivid homes and intricate road murals.
Complete your day in Medellin's trendiest commune, El Poblado, where you'll find humming restaurants, boutique stores, and the huge majority of the city's hotels.
3. Eje Cafetero
The world's third-largest producer of coffee beans, Colombia is a fantastic nation for samplings and scenic tours. The vast majority of production takes place in the subtropical Andean hillsides west of Bogota in between the small cities of Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales. This region, known as the Eje Cafetero (or Coffee Axis), is home to a growing number of coffee ranches that have opened their operations to the public recently for trips, samplings, and extravagant farm stays.
These little (and typically natural) ranches are the type of places where the farmer-owner might take an hour out of his day to explain the procedure of exactly how a simple "cherry" turns into a coffee bean that will certainly eventually be roasted and ground into a cappucino back residence.
The tiny resort town of Salento is easily the most attractive place to base on your own, with various ranch scenic tours close-by and lots of things to do. You'll also have easy accessibility to attractions like Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world. You can lease bikes from Salento to explore the region under your own heavy steam or ride on one of the old-fashioned Willy jeeps that serve as the town's de facto taxi cabs.
Image the Amazon, and Colombia may not be the very first nation ahead to mind - which is strange, because about a third of the nation is buried in its thick (and commonly bulletproof) jungles. The capital of the huge Amazon Container is the little frontier town of Leticia, which rests along the banks of the magnificent Amazon River, right where Colombia bumps up against Brazil and Peru.
Leticia makes a great base for eco-tourism, wild animals safaris, or walkings into the Amazon to find out about the indigenous people that call this area house. The only means to show up here is by plane from Bogotá, and you can continue forward by watercraft either downriver to Manaus, Brazil, or upriver to Iquitos, Peru.
5. Tayrona National Natural Park
You'll find some of the very best coastlines in Colombia within the safeguarded Tayrona National Natural Park, which is understood for its palm-shaded coves and crystal-clear seaside shallows. Most coastlines are set against the significant hills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, whose rainforested hillsides produce a great side trip on any beach vacation.
Tayrona is also a fantastic place for snorkeling at protected areas near La Piscina beach and Cabo San Juan. Though remote, these secluded coastlines aren't specifically a trick, so it's best to visit in low season (February to November) to prevent the massive crowds. Also, unless you're paying for the lush Ecohabs Tayrona, be prepared to oversleep an outdoor tents (or hammock) at one of the many beachside campgrounds.
Most site visitors to Colombia will certainly begin their trip in the nation's largest city-- and beating heart-- Bogotá. It's a city that typically splits point of view, with some experiencing its gridlocked streets and uninspiring weather, and others falling head over heals for its distinct mix of colonial appeal and urban sophistication. Regardless, this city of 8 million often tends to grow on individuals that provide it sufficient time.
Start your sightseeing in the historic facility of La Candelaria, where you'll find the outstanding structures lining Plaza de Bolívar and can't- miss social attractions like the blindingly intense Museum of Gold. After that, head over to the wealthier neighborhoods of North Bogotá for a few of the country's best store stores and chef-driven dining establishments.
7. The Lost City
Colombia's most popular walking is certainly the four-day, 44-kilometer expedition to Ciudad Perdida, a lost city concealed deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta hills that was just discovered in the 1970s. Built and inhabited by Tayrona Indians between the 8th and 14th centuries, this ancient city is stated to be one of the largest pre-Columbian settlements uncovered in the Americas.
Much of the site continues to be buried underneath a thick jungle quilt-- the modern aboriginal residents of the area have banned excavations-- but you'll find that the stone balconies and stairways remain in superior form. It's not possible to visit this website alone, so you'll need to reserve a scenic tour from Santa Marta ahead of time.
8. Providencia Island
This wacky Caribbean Island leaves numerous novice visitors perplexed. For starters, it's far closer to Nicaragua than Colombia. Then there's the fact that its homeowners do not speak Spanish but rather an English Creole. Of course, none of that really matters when you find yourself sunning on the most magnificent beaches under the Colombian flag.
Bit more than a glob of gold sands and buoyant hands, this separated island is the jewel of the UNESCO-protected Seaflower Biosphere Book, with several of the world's best aquatic biodiversity just waiting to be discovered. You'll require to the very first stop on the more popular San Andrés Island and capture a brief receptacle plane or three-hour catamaran trip to reach Providencia. Once there, you'll find the largest collection of homes and hotels in the little district of Aguadulce on the stunning west coast of the island.
Fans of magic realistic look and the writings of Gabriel García Márquez will fall for the drowsy appeals of Mompox. It includes prominently in the Nobel laureate's publication The General in His Maze and is believed to be the motivation for the fictional town of Macondo in his most renowned book, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Mompox was once a flourishing cog in the trading course in between the Caribbean coast and the Andes, well known as the spot where "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar hired his army to get freedom for neighboring Venezuela. Currently, this colonial relic along the sloppy coasts of the Magdalena River is really a town that time failed to remember.
Though it does not have a riches of things to do, many site visitors find themselves investing far longer than prepared strolling via the patched roads; taking in the setting of the colonial architecture; or taking boat trips through the Pijiño Swamp, a popular tourist attraction for birders.
10. La Guajira Peninsula
It's the most northern point in South America, so possibly it's just suitable that La Guajira differs anywhere else on the continent. This remote and little-visited peninsula is a peaceful oasis of sweeping dune, bird-covered mangrove swamps, and vast stretches of empty land where the orange-brown La Guajira Desert fulfills the blue-green Caribbean Sea.
Aboriginal beliefs are the law of the land here, as the peninsula is home to the pleased Wayuu people, who were never ever put down under Spanish regulation and keep a vibrant culture to now.
Keep in mind that tourist is still new in La Guajira, and the ride in from the local capital of Riohacha needs both persistence and a feeling of experience. The windsurfing Mecca of Cabo de la Vela has the most tourist infrastructure and will likely be your best access point into the area.
11. Ranch Nápoles
If there's one man that lingers huge over Colombia's current history, it's the billionaire drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. What a couple of individuals understand is that you can really visit the extravagant estate developed and owned by Escobar in Puerto Triunfo, concerning 110 miles east of Medellin.
The expansive complex, called Ranch Nápoles, came under disrepair in the years after Escobar's death in 1993. But the neighborhood municipality took control of the residential property in the mid-2000s and turned it right into-- of all things-- an ever-growing amusement park with a diverse mix of themed areas, hotels, a theme park, and safari-style zoo.
The hotels and amusements might be new, but indicators of Escobar are anywhere. His antique car collection remains on display alongside the damages of his previous mansion, one of the Cessna planes he used to smuggle drugs to the United States is set down atop the entrance gate, and there's a little museum that grapples with his tradition.
There is also a Jurassic area loaded with the life-size dinosaur reproductions he acquired for his boy and a wild hippo herd that, after years of heavy procreation, has expanded from four to 40 and now represents the largest herd beyond Africa.
12. Caño Cristales
Caño Cristales was off limitations for years while in the hold of guerrilla competitors yet is officially back in business and inviting more tourists than in the past. Most site visitors pertain to this remote river canyon in the Orinoquían area to hike between its waterfalls and bathe in its all-natural swimming holes.
While worth the trip in any season, the canyon is particularly prismatic in between July and November, when an algae bloom turns the riverbed into a rainbow of colors. The isolated station of La Macarena is your base for trips to Caño Cristales, and it's just obtainable by air from Bogotá or Villavicencio.
Cast all of your obsolete concepts aside, like medication wars and mobsters, and you'll find that Colombia is a country teeming with self-confidence and rushing hastily right into a more calm and thriving future. You'll also find a host of stunning attractions at the places in between, from the bustling cities of Cartagena and Medellin to the peaceful colonial towns of Salento and Mompox.
Most visitors to Colombia will unavoidably begin their trip in the nation's biggest city-- and defeating heart-- Bogotá. Of program, none of that actually matters when you find on your own sunning on the most sensational beaches under the Colombian flag.
As soon as there, you'll find the largest collection of cottages and hotels in the small hamlet of Aguadulce on the magnificent west shore of the island.