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Colombia Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Colombia travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

Forget what you’ve seen on the news or on Netflix: Colombia is a gorgeous, culturally-rich country that is absolutely worth visiting.

As crime rates have decreased in recent years, tourism to Colombia has steadily increased, with more and more travelers singing the praises of this exciting, diverse destination.

There’s a little something for every kind of traveler in Colombia, from outdoor adventurers to history buffs to coffee addicts.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Colombia is home to several world-class cities that blend historic charm with modern sophistication.

Bogota, the country’s capital, is home to several top museums, a vibrant culture, and delicious food — both on the street and in top restaurants.

Cartagena is a charming Old World city by the sea, featuring a walled colonial historic district that will transport you back in time.

And Medellin, once known for its role in the drug trade, is now home to a thriving art scene with tons of awesome shops and restaurants.

Each city also makes a great home base for day trips to top attractions like Tayrona National Park and Guatape. Read on to learn more.

Colombia’s natural wonders are also absolutely worth exploring. From beautiful beaches to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, there’s much to experience in this beautiful country.

Outside of the city of Leticia, you can embark on a cruise down the Amazon River for the adventure of a lifetime, interacting with some of the area’s unique wildlife (although ideally from a safe distance!).

The country’s Pacific Coast is home to some of the best whale watching in the world from July through November.

Head to Bahia Solano to see humpback whales migrate from the South Pole – it’s a truly incredible sight.

And of course, you can’t miss the beaches of Tayrona National Park, complete with white sand, clear blue waters, and aerial hammocks perfect for relaxing.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Colombia in South America.

Note: This ultimate guide to Colombia travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Colombia Map

Use this Colombia travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Colombia map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Amazon Travel

Looking for visit the Amazon from Colombia? Don’t miss:

Bogota Travel Guide

The following Bogota tourist information can help you plan the perfect trip!

Cartagena Travel Guide

If you’re looking for a Cartagena guide for your trip, check out:

Colombia Travel Tips

The following Colombia travel advice can help you plan the perfect trip!

Medellin Travel Guide

Looking for a Medellin city guide? These posts can help!

Santa Marta Travel Guide

The following travel guides can help you plan an epic trip to Santa Marta in Colombia!

Tayrona National Park

Looking to experience Colombia travel and adventure? Don’t miss Tayrona National Park!

Traveling In South America

These guides share Colombia travel advice as well as tips for exploring South America in general!

Best Colombia Tours

Explore local culture with a Colombian tour guide through these unique excursions:

Click here for a full list of Colombia travel tours!

Colombia Hotels

Click here to browse the best Colombia travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

Colombia Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Colombia tour. When visiting Colombia — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Colombia travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Colombia Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Colombia.

Q: What are the best places to visit in Colombia?

One of the most popular places to visit in Colombia is the country’s Caribbean coast. Aside from gorgeous beaches, this area has tons to offer travelers looking for some sun-soaked adventures.

Cartagena

Cartagena, one of the largest cities in the area, sits right on the coast and blends Old World charm with the exciting vibe of a modern, beachfront city. Here you can explore one of the best-preserved colonial cities in Latin America, full of gorgeous churches and bright-colored buildings that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Not far from the city is Tayrona National Park, where you can lounge on the idyllic beaches or trek through the lush jungle.

You can also take a day trip to El Tutomo Volcano, located just an hour from Cartegena. Take a dip in the mud baths and emerge with incredibly soft skin and hair (as well as a few new friends!). For a little extra R&R, book a mud massage or mud wash!

Medellin

Located in Central Colombia, the city of Medellin has quickly become a top spot for travelers. Featuring gorgeous colonial architecture, beautiful parks, and a trendy art scene, Medellin has much to offer every kind of traveler.

One of the city’s top attractions is the Plaza Botero, a park dedicated to artist Fernando Botero, featuring 23 of the artist’s sculptures in the open air. You can see more of his work, as well as three floors worth of Colombian art, at the Museum of Antioquia.

Want to see some of the best views of Medellin? Hop on the Medellin Metrocable, a cablecar line offering amazing panoramic views of the city.

You can also take a stroll through the trendy neighborhood of El Poblado and search for the best cup of coffee in the city.

For a great day trip, head to Guatape, a small town featuring a 740-step monolith that you can climb for incredible views of the surrounding area. The town is also a top spot for outdoor adventurers, with opportunities for kayaking, hiking, swimming, and more.

Bogota

Not far from Medellin is Bogota, the capital of Colombia. Featuring colorful street art and colonial architecture, the city is the perfect spot for a bike tour. This is a great way to get to know the city and its culture, as you’ll wander through colorful markets, stop to play traditional games, and get to know a bit about the country’s tumultuous history.

In the city’s historic center, La Candelaria, you’ll find attractions like the Gold Museum, an entire museum dedicated to the history, art, and pursuit of one of the most sought-after metals in the world.

At the National Museum of Colombia, you’ll find over 20,000 objects and artifacts that tell the story of the country’s rich history.

And for some incredible views of the city, climb up to the church at Monserrate, Bogota’s tallest mountain.

Q: Is Colombia expensive for tourists?

Colombia is a fairly inexpensive destination. You can easily find inexpensive accommodation, food, and transportation options throughout the country, particularly if you avoid more tourist-heavy areas.

The average traveler spends about $36 USD per day in Colombia on accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and other travel expenses.

Q: What is the best way to travel around Colombia?

Air travel is considered the best way to get around Colombia. Colombia is a fairly large country so you can save a ton of time traveling between cities by plane.

Domestic flights are also pretty inexpensive, sometimes only a little more than a bus ticket on the same route. Check out low-cost carriers like Viva Air that often offer great deals on flights; if you’re traveling from the U.S., Viva even offers flights from Miami!

Buses are also a great way to get around, particularly if you’re traveling somewhere off the beaten path, as you’ll find routes servicing almost every town in the country.

While buses are ubiquitous in Colombia, they are not always the most relaxing way to travel. Bus drivers have been known to blast music throughout the bus or crank up the sound on whatever movie they’re showing.

You also may have to get off the bus mid-journey for at a military checkpoint and could be subject to a security inspection. If you opt for the bus, don’t expect to sleep through the trip.

Q: Is Colombia safe for travel?

Colombia can get a bad rap when it comes to safety but it has come a long way in recent years. Violent crimes like muggings and kidnappings have decreased significantly and while petty theft does happen, it’s no reason to avoid the country altogether.

It’s a good idea to stay somewhere with 24-hour security so that you have someone to turn to if something goes wrong. You’ll also want to heed the usual advice for avoiding petty theft abroad — don’t show any signs of obvious wealth, keep your phone and any other valuables out of sight and in a safe place to avoid pickpockets, and always be aware of your surroundings.

This is also a place where you don’t want to go out alone at night, particularly if you’re a solo female traveler. If you’re out late, get an Uber back to your accommodation or walk back in a group.

Q: What do I need to know before going to Colombia?

One thing to know before going to Colombia is that only about 4% of the country’s population speaks English. It’s definitely a good idea to learn the language or at least a few Spanish phrases before your trip so that you can communicate with the locals.

At the very least, make sure you have a good translator app on your phone so that you’re not stuck at shops and restaurants. Learning a few phrases in the native language also shows a level of respect for the culture of the country you’re visiting. Time to get that Duoling streak back up!

Once you get to Colombia, you’ll quickly learn that cash is king in this country. Some higher-end shops and hotels will take credit cards but in most cases, you’ll need cash.

The flip side of this is that it’s not exactly safe to carry a lot of cash with you in Colombia. If there’s a lockbox or safe at your accommodation, keep some cash there and just carry as much as you need for the day.

Note, too, that more remote destinations like Tayrona National Park do not have any ATMs, so you’ll want to make sure you have enough cash for the duration of your stay before you head out.

It’s also important to look where you’re going in Colombia. This probably seems pretty obvious but it’s a particularly important tip here.

The sidewalks and roads in Colombia are known to have large cracks and holes that can make it easy to trip and fall. Move carefully (particularly at night!) and watch out for any loose bricks, uneven pavement, or cracks that could send you to the doctor.

Q: How many days should you spend in Colombia?

Most experts suggest spending about 10 days in Colombia to really maximize your time in the country.

There’s a lot to see in Colombia and a 10-day trip will allow you to spend a little time in most of the country’s top destinations while giving you ample time to travel from place to place.

Q: What is the best month to visit Colombia?

While the weather in Colombia varies from place to place, the country is widely considered a year-round destination.

December through March is considered Colombia’s high season, with much of the country experiencing pleasant, sunny weather.

December and January are the country’s busiest months for tourism, so if you’re planning on visiting during these months be sure to book your travel and accommodations far in advance.

September through November is technically Colombia’s low season, but the weather is generally pretty dry. These months are definitely worth considering if you want to avoid the crowds and save a little money on travel expenses.

Q: Do I need a Colombia travel visa?

Travelers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, European Union, and Australia do not need a visa to enter Colombia. Travelers from most South American nations including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela simply need a national ID to enter the country and can leave their passports at home.

It’s recommended to view your country’s Colombia International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit rules and Colombia Travel Requirements. You can also contact the Consulate General of Colombia.

Q: Where is Colombia?

Colombia is located in northwestern South America. It shares borders with Panama (northwest), Venezuela and Brazil (east), and Peru and Ecuador (south).

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Colombia?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are typically accepted in big cities and tourist areas. That being said, Colombia is a country where many places are cash-only, so make sure to always have some on you.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Colombia?

The tap water is generally safe to drink in most places in Colombia as long as your destination isn’t too remote. That being said, it’s recommended to check with your hotel to be sure.

Q: What is the local currency in Colombia?

The local currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso.

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