Colombia lives and beats, whether it’s the rhythm of reggaeton or the rhythm of cumbia. Not only is it a proud musical nation, it’s also the only country in South America to have both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and has some of the most spectacular biodiversity in the world thanks to its many elevation, biome and terrain.
The vastness of Colombia’s nature, from the peaks of the Andes to the silky deserts and jade-green seas, is only matched by the warmth, vibrancy and resilience of its people. Immediately upon arrival, you may be met with a friendly smile, a greeting or some enthusiastic conversation with the locals.
Whether it’s the winding and peaceful mountain roads pueblosWith a vibrant cosmopolitan life or beautiful beaches, Colombia has it all.
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Travel restrictions and entry requirements
All visitors must present a departure or return ticket valid for a period of 90 days to be allowed entry into Colombia as a tourist. Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival.
If you are fully vaccinated against Covid, you can enter Colombia without having any kind of test for the virus. At least 14 days must have passed since your second dose of vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. For unvaccinated travelers or those who received a second dose less than 14 days before arrival in Colombia, you must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 72 hours before when boarding the flight. Children 17 years of age and younger do not need to present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to participate.
Masks are still advised when in hospitals, medical clinics, airports and on flights.
Best time to go
Colombia has a wide range of climates and elevations so you can enjoy a visit at any time of the year. That said, December to March is the peak season, when the weather is warmest and sunniest in most places. There are also some major events taking place during these months, such as the Barranquilla Festival, which takes place the weekend before Ash Wednesday each year (February or March). The Hay Festival also takes place in Cartagena, Medellín and the Andean town of Jericó at the end of January each year and is a great opportunity to hear from authors, artists and journalists from South America and more than that. June through September are popular months to visit as it is also a sunnier time of year and the spectacular Medellín Flower Festival takes place in early August.
Top Cities and Regions
The capital of Colombia is definitely a place that grows in you. At 2,600m, it’s an Andes city surrounded by beautiful peaks and bustling streets. La Candelaria is a picturesque old town and has incredible museums, such as the Botero Museum, which displays fascinating works by the famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. A ride up Mount Monserrate by the giant cable car is the best way to enjoy the city views. The trendy Chapinero neighborhood further north is the perfect spot to hit the bars and sample delicious Colombian food.
Home to some of Colombia’s best nightlife but also blessed with laid-back cafes, Medellín is known as the City of Eternal Spring and, as the name suggests, has a mild climate all around. year. The energetic Comuna 13 neighborhood shows how art and culture have helped revive the once dangerous area. Paisas (people from Medellín) are extremely proud of their city; especially the metro system that includes a cable car network to better connect the neighborhoods higher up in the mountains (and offer some of the best views). The Poblado area is the best place to dine, sip signature cocktails and dance the night away.
Almost too hot to handle but worthy of the rhythm and taste, the Caribbean coast is home to the colors and architecture of Cartagena’s historic walled center, as well as the glorious ocean and the vibrant beach club like Green Apple Beach on the island of Tierra Bomba, just a short boat ride away. Further along the coast are the beautiful seaside city of Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park, a beautiful setting for hiking and where the sea meets the jungle.
In addition to the delicious taste of Colombia’s famous arabica beans, the coffee region is also a place worth visiting for its sheer mountainous beauty. There are many different colors pueblos (village), of which the most impressive are Salento and Filandia. One of the most popular hiking trails in the country is in Cocora Valley, covered with wax palm trees hundreds of meters high above the verdant valley and can live up to 200 years.
Best secret destination
Boyacá’s pristine landscape is the source of 90% of the world’s emeralds; Fittingly, many of the region’s peaks and fields are brilliant emerald green. The slopes of the cocoa farm Saint Louis Farm, in the village of San Pablo de Borbur, offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and rivers, as well as tours that learn about the farm’s bean-to-bar chocolate production and visits to the nearby emerald mine. Villa de Leyva is a beautiful historic town, home to whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets.
The flourishing Chocó is an area on the Pacific coast of Colombia recognized as a biodiversity hotspot, home to approximately 10,000 species of plants, 600 species of birds and 235 species of mammals. The waves of the Pacific Ocean are perfect for surfing, and visitors can also watch migrating whales and newly hatched turtles in this magnificent, predominantly African-Colombian region.
The Santander region is perhaps Colombia’s best road trip destination. Departing from the pleasant city of Bucaramanga, the road leads to the breathtaking Chicamocha Gorge before reaching the town of San Gil, a mix of extreme sports from whitewater rafting to paragliding and ziplining. Then the trip leads to Barichara, often described as the most beautiful town in Colombia, where rust-colored soil forms the cobblestones of the streets. Crafts abound here, whether it’s paper made from pineapple or bags made from stayA lovely plant of the agave family.
best things to do
Dance Bar in Medellín
Home to internationally renowned reggaeton artists such as Karol G, Maluma and J Balvin, Medellín has a lively music and bar scene. Whether you’re after a glass of rum and coke, a fancy cocktail, just a pint of beer or a bottle of schnapps (Licorice-flavored Colombian wine) shared among friends, the many bars in El Poblado and along La 70 will give you a good time.
Attend the Barranquilla Masquerade
A frenetic and passionate celebration with an energy comparable to Rio, the Barranquilla Carnival is a great way to experience the folklore and traditions that pervade the country’s rich and diverse culture. .
Salsa dancing in Cali
Known as the salsa capital of the world, tropical Cali is a thriving city that embodies the pulse of Colombian rhythms. San Antonio’s picturesque, historic neighborhood and steep parkland are home to some of the best salsa schools in the country. If you want to turn your left foot into something more versatile, sign up for a class here before showing off your newly polished moves at one of the city’s many salsa clubs.
Visit a traditional finca
Whether it’s to explore the coffee or cocoa production process or just to relax among the banana trees and chirping of Colombia’s diverse bird population, visiting a finca (meaning site) camp or estate) is a must. Top Fincas to see for yourself include nohelia in Jericho, Saint Louis Farm in Boyacá and oak farm in Santander.
Buses are basically what connects Colombia, but keep in mind that some distances are long and winding. Buses are generally comfortable and budget-friendly; Colombia also has some of the most beautiful bus routes you’ll ever experience. In general, the easiest option is to head to the city’s bus terminal and the people there will happily provide information on which company is best to get you to your next destination.
Uber, plus other apps like Cabify, DiDi, or Picap (think Uber but on the back of a motorbike), work well for getting around cities. Many rural areas are served by smaller buses and collective (this sometimes means behind a truck), which is a particularly fun way to get around.
There are plenty of good-priced domestic flights between most cities, with airlines including Avianca, LATAM, Wingo and Viva Air. Bogotá and Medellín are the most connected cities when it comes to flights to other parts of the country.
How to get there
There are direct flights from London to Bogotá with Avianca, which are convenient but tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, there are indirect flights across Europe with airlines, including Air Europa, Air France and KLM, flying to Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena and Cali; Air Europa often has some of the best value airfares.
Money saving tips
Most cafes and restaurants offer a today’s menu (set menu) for lunch that typically includes soup, fresh fruit juice and a main course of rice, salad, banana and protein options, all for the equivalent of a few pounds.
By visiting outside of high season (choose April, May, October or November) you can save a lot of money on accommodation and will likely have more options.
Frequently asked questions
How is the weather?
It depends on the area you are visiting; Colombia is incredibly diverse. Many places with tropical and extremely hot climates (e.g. Caribbean coast, Amazon region, Chocó) and other places at higher altitudes are generally sunny and mild during the day but colder at night (eg. such as Bogotá, Villa de Leyva in Boyacá). Medellín is known for its mild year-round climate.
What time zone is it in?
Colombia Standard Time, GMT-5.
What currency do I need?
Colombian Peso (COP). Many places accept card payments but make sure you have enough money for your daily expenses as many things can only be paid in cash (like the bus if you don’t buy your ticket at the big bus station, the beauty of salon treatments, street food and taxis).
What language is spoken?
Spanish. There are also dozens of local languages that vary by region, but you can almost always get acquainted with a Spanish or English speaking guide.
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