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20 BEST Places to Visit in Colombia (2024 Guide!)

20 BEST Places to Visit in Colombia (2024 Guide!)

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Colombia is one of, if not my very favorite countries that I have visited in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend well over 5 months there and in the future plan to spend many more.

But why?

Well, Colombia is a beautiful destination in South America filled with amazing things to do and, of course, places to visit. From the Caribbean coast to the mountainous regions to the Amazon, Colombia has something for every traveler.

But with tourism only beginning to ramp up, where are the best places to visit in Colombia?

Well, after many months of traveling between 2017 and 2020 I’ve come up with the best places to visit in Colombia that every traveler should add to their bucket list!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Some of our favorite places in Colombia include:

  1. Medellin – We highly recommend taking this Comuna 13 tour
  2. Guatape – Climb El Penol, walk around this colorful city, and go off-roading on this ATV tour
  3. Cartagena – This place is beautiful and you can take this catamaran tour to visit nearby islands
  4. Tayrona National Park – Stay at the exceptionally rated Senda Watapuy – it’s truly a slice of paradise
  5. San Andres Island – For a unique experience, try this helmet diving tour

1. Medellin

A photo of the Medellin skyline from our Comuna 13 Tour
A photo of the Medellin skyline from our visit to Comuna 13

Medellin is high on every traveler’s list of places to visit in Colombia. The city was once the most dangerous in Colombia but now boasts the trendiest cafes, bars, and restaurants. It’s hard to come to Medellin and not spoil yourself with amazing food.

But venture out of the tourist area of El Poblado and you’ll find plenty to do. Some of the best activities include the infamous Comuna 13 tour, riding the cable cars to Parque Arvi, and the Real City free walking tour downtown (it’s the best I’ve ever done!)

For the adventurous, there are some incredible tours in Medellin to choose from. Head just outside the city on a coffee tour from Medellin or you can even go paragliding over the Colombian Andes for just $99 USD!

Due to Medellin’s elevation, the weather is perfect all year round. This has given Medellin the nickname “the city of eternal spring”. The city is livable, safe, and very inviting.

Medellin is my favorite city in all of Latin America and should be on every traveler’s Colombia Itinerary!

Check out our Medellin itinerary blog, it is a day-by-day planning guide to make the most of this amazing city!

Where to stay in Medellin

In Medellin, Elcielo Hotel & Restaurant is easily the best choice for luxury travelers located in El Poblado, where all the action happens – yet off the street so it stays quiet. It has a modern design and every amenity you could want including a fitness center, restaurant, and pool. This price isn’t insane so it will suit both high and medium price ranges.

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Los Patios Hostel is a great budget option for backpackers or budget-conscious travelers as they offer both dorm beds and private rooms. This hostel is famous for good reviews in Medellin and the place has a beautiful rooftop tiki bar and pool.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

2. Guatape

A lady poses for a photo on a colorful street in Guatape, Colombia
The streets in Guatape are stunning!

Guatape is a small town situated only two hours from Medellin making it a popular spot to visit on a day trip from Medellin to Guatape. It is famous for a few reasons and probably the most pronounced is El Penol, the 10,000-ton monolithic rock located 5 minutes from the city. The locals claim that the views from the top of El Penol “are the best in the world” and despite not quite agreeing, I think that it’s still spectacular.

The town of Guatape is located on the bank of a man-made lake that is home to hundreds of small islands. From the top of El Penol, you can see it all! There is a catch though, to get that view you must endure over 700 stairs to climb to the top of El Penol. Worth it? I think so!

Another reason Guatape is one of the best places to visit in Colombia is that it is the most colorful town I have ever seen! The buildings around the town are colored beautifully and also decorated with the famous zocalos. Zocalos are the pretty decorations on the lower part of the buildings and you’ll see plenty in Guatape.

You can either go on a day trip to Guatape from Medellin or spend a night or two. If you ask me what’s better then I most definitely would stay a few nights but the 8-hour day trip includes climbing the rock El Penol as well as a boat ride on the lake where you can get out and swim if you want. Also not a bad choice!

There are actually a lot of other amazing things to do in Guatape that can’t be done on just a day trip!

Some of the most exciting are an ATV jungle tour where you’ll navigate through different types of terrain (you might end up covered in mud), going for a swim at a waterfall, taking a dinner cruise on the lake (it has a jacuzzi), and more!

Where to stay in Guatape

If you want a really high-end stay you must stay at Hotel los Recuerdos as the grounds are spectacular! It’s a little outside the heart of the city but a close drive and you can see views of Penol Rock. Enjoy plush beds, the on-site restaurant, and jacuzzi.

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Alternatively, Lake View Hostel is a cute place perfect for budget or solo travelers offering dorm beds as well as private rooms for really low prices. You will get amazing views right from the hostel’s front door and it’s only a 5-minute walk to the city center.

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3. Jardin

A colorful house in Jardin Colombia
A colorful house in Jardin Colombia

Jardin was once a little-known Puebla near Medellin that locals visited to escape the city. Surrounded by coffee plantations, it is considered the “less touristic Salento.” However, the secrets out and Jardin is quickly becoming a popular place to visit in Colombia.

With that said, in comparison to Guatape and Salento, it’s quiet (especially during the week.)

In Jardin, you can accomplish quite a lot. Some of the best things to do include taking the cable car to get a stunning view of the town, coffee plantation tours, Gallito de Roca sighting, horse riding tours, and of course my favorite, sipping coffee in the main square.

Also, be sure to check out the main cathedral as it’s simply stunning on the inside. The botanical gardens are also a nice way to spend an hour or two.

Overall, Jardin is a great alternative if you want to escape the crowds on a day trip from Medellin or to stay a while. But get in quickly because this town is too beautiful to stay quiet forever!

Important: From Medellin, it takes around 3 hours to reach Jardin by bus. From Terminal Norte, there are two companies that make the trip, Rapido Ochoa and Brasilia. Tickets cost 25,000 COP ($5.25 USD). Or you can also book them online in advance with Bookaway here.

Where to stay in Jardin

In Jardin, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a true luxury stay but the best-rated is 40 Amigos Hotel. Even though the playful exterior doesn’t seem to offer much the furniture and mattresses are high quality and everything is clean. An American breakfast is included and it is just a few minutes walk to town..

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Sergeant Pepper’s Hostel is one of the few hostels in town that is simple and cozy. The rates are low and it includes a good breakfast. All of the rooms have an attached bathroom and there is a shared kitchen for your convenience.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

Related Read: If you crave beautiful viewpoints than our guide to the best hikes in South America will help you decide where to hike next!

4. Cartagena

A beautiful colonial street in the walled city of Cartagena Colombia
The streets in Cartagena are stunning!

Cartagena is the most beautiful city in Colombia. Wandering the walled colonial city will literally take your breath away.

Located on the Caribbean coast to the north, Cartagena is a city rich in both history and culture. The African influence is strong here and the mix of three different cultures (Spanish, African, and Native) means there’s plenty of new food to try!

Walking the old city is a step back in time while walking the huge fort wall that surrounds the city is a great example of just how important this city really was. Venture outside to the nearby beaches and you’re welcomed by calm Caribbean seas and white sandy beaches such as Playa Blanca.

There’s so much to do in Cartagena you could spend weeks here. However, a few things I recommend doing include a city walking tour in the Old Town of Cartagena to learn about the city’s history, visiting La Cervicharia (Cartagena’s most famous restaurant), and a trip to one of the many islands or beaches nearby.

This particular tour is one of the best tours in Cartagena because it visits the beautiful Rosario Islands!

Regardless of what you love, I am sure you’ll find it in Cartagena!

Where to stay in Cartagena

An incredible choice, if you want to be treated like royalty, is Sofitel Legend Santa Clara located in the old walled city of Cartagena just across from the beach. This hotel has 2 restaurants, and pool and hot tub, a gym, and a sauna. All rooms are spacious with high ceilings.

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A choice that can accommodate most solo or budget travelers is El Barrio Hostal also in the center of the historic city. There are both bunk rooms and private rooms. While it may not be perfect is a super quiet and clean space with an included breakfast.

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5. San Andres Island

San andres island colombia beach dock
A gorgeous island paradise!

San Andres Island is located 805 kilometers (500 miles) from Colombia deep in the Caribbean. In fact, San Andres Island is actually closer to the coast of Nicaragua than Colombia! Both countries still bicker about who really has the rights to this piece of paradise, but as of right now, San Andres Island is technically part of Colombia.

This small island leaves traditional Colombian culture behind and opens you up to a new culture all of its own. On San Andres Island you’ll find a very Caribbean atmosphere and when you first arrive you may think you’re actually in Jamaica.

Apart from the many amazing beaches and island hopping boat tours, the island is also home to some world-class scuba diving that I really loved. The many reefs around San Andres Island are colorful and filled with sea life. The diving here is considered to be some of the best in the world and based on my own experience, I would have to agree.

They also have this unique activity called helmet diving where the oxygenated helmet weighs you down enough to be able to walk on the bottom of the ocean!

After a day exploring you’re welcomed with stunning sunsets and fresh seafood!

This island is a magical place that’s truly in the middle of the sea! San Andres Island is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Colombia.

Where to stay on San Andres Island

It’ll be hard to choose a better quality stay than Hotel Casablanca right on the beach! They have not 1 but 5 restaurants to eat at and a friendly staff who makes sure everything is clean. You can even upgrade to a bungalow for a romantic stay or for families who need more space.

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If you want a beach club on a budget then a stay at Dreamer Beach Club will impress! This 4-star hostel has very affordable dorm rooms and private double rooms. The pool yard feels like a resort with day beds, lush plants, and a modern pool. The best part? A 2-minute walk to the beach!

You can book on or Hostelworld.

6. Rosario Islands

A beach on Isla Grande in the Roserio Islands, Colombia
A beach on Isla Grande in the Rosario Islands, Colombia

The Rosario Islands are 30 stunning Caribbean islands off the coast of Cartagena with some just an hour’s boat ride away. They provide a great opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Cartagena and enjoy some island time!

From Cartagena, you can explore many of the islands with some of the most popular being Isla Grande and Isla Baru. What makes Isla Baru so popular is that you can actually get there by car as there is a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The beach that is famous here is Playa Blanca which you can visit on day tours, however, if you want a true island getaway you’ll have to venture out to Isla Grande.

On Isla Grande, there is a range of accommodation options and you can enjoy a luxury or cheap escape. From the island, you can do snorkeling tours, boat trips, and eat fresh seafood right from the ocean.

Another Island that’s visited on day trips is Isla Cholon. On weekends Colombians and tourists meet at a sand bar and a wild party is hosted during the day. This is a must-do for anyone who loves to party Colombian style!

Regardless of where you go, the Rosario Islands will take you to some of the nicest beaches in Colombia!

Where to stay in on the Rosario Islands

If you’re looking to treat yourself to relaxation let the staff at Hotel Playa Manglares Isla Baru take care of you!

From the shaded beach hammocks and terrace to the deck and rooms with stunning views, you can enjoy the island for all that it is. It’s a 10-minute drive from town so you will feel at peace here. Fresh breakfast is served daily and there is a restaurant for your other meals.

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For a low cost at DespertArte espacio de Arte y Hospedaje you can wake up to the sound of the waves and snorkel to see beautiful fish just steps away from your hostel. The hospitality here is overwhelming. The rooms are nice but simple and clean, plus the beds have bug nets. Guests just don’t want to leave and I can see why!

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7. Tayrona National Park

Bailey sits on a rock at Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park looking over the beach
Cabo San Juan, Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park is truly a special place to visit in Colombia. Tayrona is located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast near the city of Santa Marta. In fact, we think Santa Marta is a great base for exploring the park since so many of the best Tayrona tours leave from there.

Within the park, there’s one main hiking trail that can be accessed from two locations with the most popular being the El Zaino entrance. This end of the trail visits most of the stunning beaches in Tayrona National Park.

As the national park is on the coast, the beaches here are pristine. Some of the most popular beaches to visit include Cabo San Juan and La Piscina. Both of these beaches can be visited on a day trip or overnight trip to the park. At Cabo San Juan there are accommodation options such as hammocks and camping.

Another cool beach you can visit only by boat from Taganga (a town near Santa Marta) is Playa Crystal. This beach is only visited by boat from Taganga and you can only stay for the day. However, it is considered one of the best beach destinations in Colombia. 

If you need more info check out our tips for visiting Tayrona National Park!

Where to stay near Tayrona National Park

For impressive facilities and grounds, the Senda Watapuy hotel is a fine resort-like stay in the mountains. They offer bungalows with private pools and family rooms for a medium price point. All with an open-air tiki hut design. There’s an indoor and outdoor pool and restaurant and bar and you can even wander off to the river. You can book on

For low-end budgets, Origen Hostel is an incredible hostel with bunks and private rooms in the middle of the jungle! It takes a short hike to get to the property but is also located very close to the entrance to Tayrona. You will get to swim under the stars (heated pool), spot monkeys and other wildlife, and be surrounded by foliage. The restaurant is completely fresh vegetarian food. You can book on or Hostelworld.

Related Read: For a trip that hits so many of these places, check out our 10-day Colombia itinerary!

8. Santa Marta

A sunset over the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia
Sunset over the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia

Santa Marta is a city that gets a bad reputation in Colombia. But for many, it will be your gateway to some of the most beautiful places to visit in Colombia. For starters, it sits on the doorstep of Minca and is your gateway to Tayrona National Park as well as many remote beaches along the Caribbean coast.

In terms of proximity to big cities, it is only a 3-hour journey east of Cartagena whereas it is much farther from both Bogota and Medellin and it will require either a long overnight bus or a flight.

There are a lot of great things to do in Santa Marta including a walking tour, visiting a few museums, sailing trips, and of course, lots of day trips to the places mentioned above.

I personally love Santa Marta. There isn’t anything much better than wandering the beach at sunset and enjoying a cheap drink. Yes, the beach here is busy, but it’s filled with Colombians and as such, very vibrant.

My recommendation is to avoid the middle of the day around the city. At this time it’s far too hot, but in the afternoon the place cools down and becomes full of life. Instead, spend your days exploring the surrounding area including Playa Blanca or Taganga. Then when it cools off, head to the beach for drinks at Sunset Bar!

Where to stay in Santa Marta

An epic beachfront property is Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida close to the ZuZu shopping plaza. It is a bit more pricey than other stays but rooms are modern and spacious many offering ocean views. They have a delicious restaurant and You do have to upgrade for high-speed wifi.

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Casa Avelina Hostal is a nice low-budget hostel with a courtyard pool. The mattresses are very comfortable and the room has AC and blackout blinds. It’s a little outside the city but very easy to catch the bus to town or Tayrona. Bahía de Santa Marta is the closest beach.

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9. Minca

The view of the pool and the landscape from Casas Viejas, Minca
The view from our hostel, Casas Viejas!

Minca is a small town that sits in the hills that overlook the city of Santa Marta. It’s a popular place among local Colombians as well as international tourists who enjoy Minca’s high elevation and cooler temperatures. On average, Minca is 10 degrees colder than Santa Marta and as the temperature changes, so do your surroundings.

Minca is surrounded by beautiful forests, picturesque waterfalls, wildlife, and fantastic views. You can either visit Minca on a day trip or spend a few nights there. On day trips you’ll visit places like Pozo Azul, enjoy a coffee tour, and some cool viewpoints – but you won’t get the full experience.

My recommendation is to spend a few nights in Minca and choose a hotel surrounded by nature with breathtaking views. Some of the best include Casas Viejas (my favorite,) Loma Nevada Minca Hotel, and Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro For these hotels, you can bird watch from your room and spot hummingbirds feeding on flowers.

Also while you’re in Minca, be sure to visit lots of waterfalls and join a tour to see wildlife and the local coffee and cacao farms. The most popular coffee farm is La Victoria and here they also make their own craft beer! For more info check out our guide to the best things to do in Minca, Colombia.

Other places to stay in Minca

If you like the idea of seeing the beauty of the jungle but still want some luxuries then check out Mincaecohabs Hotel by DOT. You have full jungle views from your own hut and there is a restaurant, front desk, and laundry service. There are lots of nature trails accessible from the property. The only thing to note is that it is near the main road so there can tend to be street noise.

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Río Elemento is by far the best affordable hostel to stay at right in the middle of Minca but it is tucked away enough so you can relax in a natural environment. Tons of outdoor hangout spots and a great pool and restaurant bar. It’s a great base spot for hiking and there are bike rentals available.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

Related Read: If you’re just beginning to make plans you might be interested in our Colombia travel guide that has everything you need to help plan your trip!

10. Costeño Beach

A photo of the beach at Costeño Beach, Colombia
The beach at Costeño Beach, Colombia

If the busy beaches of Santa Marta have got you a little disappointed then Costeño Beach is the perfect place to visit in Colombia. This remote beach is only home to a few hotels and hostels. There’s no town or shops – just palm trees and a white sandy beach.

Located only an hour from Santa Marta you can easily reach Costeño Beach with the same bus that goes to Tayrona. In fact, Costeño Beach is one of the first beaches after Tayrona National Park so it’s not only a great place to avoid the crowds, but also to use as a base to visit Tayrona National Park. From Costeño, you are only 10 minutes from the entrance to the park and can get there for 10,000 COP ($2 USD).

At Costeño you can enjoy some downtime away from the crowds, take a surf lesson, go horse riding, or enjoy a relaxing massage. With that said, Costeno Beach does come with one catch, the beach is very rough and not great for swimming. However, just pick a hotel with a pool like the Costeño Beach Hostel!

We have a great guide to Costeño Beach for more info! It includes the best places to stay, things to do, getting there, and very important things to know before you go!

Where to stay in Costeño Beach

The suites at Cayena Beach Villa are stunning and have high-quality furnishing, a balcony, and nice decor! The food is not to be missed and the staff will take note of food allergies. There is a beautiful pool and sun terrace to enjoy from. It is definitely worth spending the money on this stay.

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Costeño Beach Hostel is one of the best hostels we’ve stayed at. They have a large pool for sunning and a set daily menu. On Friday there is a party vibe for socializing. There is a cafe but it is overpriced and the drinks aren’t good. If you plan a few months in advance you can probably snag a spot here.

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11. Palomino

Palomino Beach, Colombia
Palomino Beach, Colombia

For some, the remoteness of Costeño Beach is a little bit of a turn-off. So instead, head a little further along the coast to Palomino. Palomino is a small beach town perfect for some time away from the big cities of Colombia. Despite being only 2 hours from Santa Marta, you’ll be surrounded by palm trees, a pristine beach, and lots of friendly street dogs.

Palomino is only around 45 minutes from Costeño Beach but boasts a lot more infrastructure including lots of great hostels and hotels, trendy cafes, and very good restaurants. For many, this is the perfect mix.

The most famous thing to do in Palomino is river tubing. On these tours, you’ll be taken to the El Buritica River with your guide. Here you’ll jump on your tube and float the 1.5 to 2 hours toward the beach. The surrounding scenery is breathtaking and this activity is one of the best things to do in Colombia.

Both Costeno Beach and Palomino are must-visit places in Colombia – and you can easily visit one after the other because of their close proximity!

Where to stay in Palomino

Aite Eco Resort is one of the best high-end stays in Palomino. They have their own private beach which goes on for miles, a small pool, and a restaurant. There is a no music policy so your sleep will not be interrupted but the wifi is limited. Pick from double rooms or bungalows. It is a 15-minute walk from the town center.

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For those who don’t want to spend a whole lot, Tiki Hut Hostel is a superb option just feet from the beach. There are rows of showers and toilets by the pool and lockers for your belongings. Dorm rooms have mosquito nets and ceiling fans. There are double rooms with private or shared bathrooms.

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Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

12. San Gil

Bailey bungee jumping in San Gil, Colombia
It was pretty scary, but we’re so glad we both did it!

San Gil is known as Colombia’s adventure capital. Here you can join a range of great tours including abseiling and (my favorite) bungee jumping! For only 70,000 COP ($20 USD) you can leap off a platform 70 meters (230 feet) high attached only by a bungee cord. It’s known as the cheapest place in the world to bungee jump, and take my word for it, it’s amazing.

Other than bungee jumping, you can do lots of activities in San Gil including whitewater rafting, paragliding, and more. After a day of activities, you can try your luck at a local Colombian game called Tejo.

In the game, you’ll throw and bag at a target and if you hit it, gunpowder will go off. It’s usually played with lots of alcohol so do be careful!

With all of this and more, it’s no wonder San Gil made our list of the 20 best places to visit in Colombia!

Where to stay in San Gil

San Gil only has a few nice stays to pick from but I think Hotel Verano located 10 minutes outside the city might be the best option. It’s a 3-star hotel so the prices are still affordable and there are many different room sizes. They have a pool, a restaurant, and a spa. It is also easy to arrange many activities with help from the staff.

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Sam’s VIP Hostel is our top choice for backpackers and is one the cheapest stays you will find that also has nice facilities. They have a great bar, rooftop pool, and nightly activities for guests. You can even rent motorbikes to get around.

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13. Nuquí on the Pacific Coast

A sunset on a beach in Nuquí, Colombia
A sunset on a beach in Nuquí, Colombia

Nuquí is a very remote town on Colombia’s Pacific coast. This part of the country is completely cut off from the rest of Colombia and the only way to get there is by flight. Only in recent times has the region opened to tourists and it’s now a must for any traveler who loves getting off the beaten path.

You won’t get Wi-Fi out here or many creature comforts, but what you will get are stunning waterfalls, authentic culture, luscious jungles, hot springs, and lots and lots of wildlife. One of the most popular wildlife tours here is whale watching and during the months of June to October, you’re bound to see plenty.

Other than whale-watching tours you can take trips to nearby remote beaches, visit mangroves, take a trip down the Rio Jovi and visit beautiful waterfalls. A trip to Nuquí is about getting into a culture cut off from the rest of the world and visiting something truly unique in a world so known.

Where to stay in Nuquí

Hotel OBEGA PACIFIC doesn’t look very special and the prices aren’t expensive but it is a nice hotel in Nuquí that has private rooms twin and double rooms. It is beachfront with a pool and has a 24-hour staff. They serve delicious food in the restaurant and the views from the higher floors are great.

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You will be taken care of like family at Cabaña Villa Sofi. This affordable guesthouse is one of the only elevated places to stay that is right in town. There is a shared lounge and garden and you can add on an American breakfast for only $2 USD.

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14. Salento

Bailey drinks a fancy coffee in Salento, Colombia
Look at that coffee!

Salento is one of the most peaceful places on earth. Located in the hills of southern Colombia, this magical town is surrounded by beauty.

The region around Salento is famous for growing coffee and a short wander of the town will make that very clear. On every corner, small boutique coffee shops brew coffee in every way you could think of but with their own unique touch. People often say Colombians know how to grow coffee but not roast it. Well, Salento’s here to change that!

In Salento, I personally really enjoyed just taking in the scenery and drinking lots of coffee. But, there are a couple of fun things to do like go on a coffee farm or chocolate farm tour, or hike up to the viewpoint overlooking the town.

For me, a visit to Salento was like a journey back in time. The cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings were picture-perfect set against the rolling hills of the countryside in the background. For more check out our guide to Salento, Colombia.

Where to stay in Salento

Hotel Kawa Mountain Retreat has lots of accommodations and charm on the quiet outskirts of town including a restaurant, bar, and hot tub. You’ll pay a bit more here but most rooms have a view of the river or garden and include a buffet breakfast.

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With the lure of cheap door beds and moderately priced private rooms, Viajero Hostel Salento also boasts some insane mountain views! It’s a fun place for social travels – take part in some karaoke, grab drinks from the bar, or do yoga on the lawn. It’s only blocks from the main square so overall it is a very good value!

You can book on or Hostelworld.

15. Valle de Cocora

Bailey poses for a photo in the Valle de Cocora near Salento, Colombia
Valle de Cocora near Salento, Colombia

Valle de Cocora is one of the best places to explore in Colombia because it is truly unique.

One of the most interesting facts about Colombia is that it is home to the world’s tallest palm trees – the wax palms! These iconic trees are found near Salento in the Valle de Cocora, and they stand over 40 meters (131 feet) tall and consist of only one main stem.

Wandering through the hiking trails around the valley is a breathtaking and peaceful way to spend the day. So breathtaking in fact, that it’s made our 20 best places to visit in Colombia!

The Valle de Cocora is free to hike and explore! It is also easily accessed by a ‘collectivo’ (shared taxi) jeep from Salento for only 4,000 COP per person. From the main plaza in Salento, these jeeps leave regularly and the ride only takes about 40 minutes to the Valle de Cocora. From there, you can explore the area on foot or hire a horse!

This hiking tour lets you hike up the Valle de Cocora and even visits a hummingbird farm where you can watch these incredible tiny creatures up close!

Where to stay in Valle de Cocora

A luxury glamping experience in Valle de Cocora is Glamping Lumbre. Take advantage of the room service in your fully enclosed room with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer lush views of the valley. Roam around the property, eat at the restaurant, or enjoy drinks from the bar. It is also a great base to go on hikes, including a waterfall hike.

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A more affordable version of Glamping Lumbre is Condor Cocora which offers standard tents on wooden platforms. There are still great views of the valley here and the staff prepares a yummy breakfast. In the evening you can roast marshmallows on a fire. There is only electricity in the restaurant which is open until 7 pm and showers may not have hot water.

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16. Bogota

The view from Mount Monserrate in Bogota, Colombia
The view from Mount Monserrate in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota is Colombia’s capital, and also the largest city in the country with a population of around 10 million! To many, the very starting point of their trip. Most people only spend a day or two here as they fly in or out, but in that time, you can enjoy some of the best attractions Bogota has to offer.

My personal favorite tour is graffiti walking tours. On these interesting tours, you’ll visit some of the most famous murals in the city and learn about the story and history behind them. This tour is a history lesson through art and one I highly recommend.

Another thing you should do is take the cable car up to the top of Monserrate Hill. From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city, especially at sunset!

For whenever you think you’ll be hungry you could go on a local food tour like this one and get a feel for the flavors of the region by hopping into different establishments in the La Candelaria neighborhood.

Despite being “just another big city” don’t waste your time in Bogota and get out and see this vibrant city! If you need more ideas, check out our 3-day Bogota itinerary.

Where to stay in Bogota

The Click Clack Hotel Bogotá is a luxury pick, but still affordable starting at $80 USD nightly. You’ll be struck by the hotel’s unique and stylish design – both inside and out. The rooms have big windows, high ceilings and feature cool extras like rain showers and electric black-out curtains. The location is awesome too with restaurants, cafes, and bars all nearby.

You can book on

Spotty Bogotá Centro is a great hostel with a rooftop pool and shared lounge! It’s perfect for a working holiday with co-working spaces and an excellent restaurant and bar. There are also fun games like ping pong and pool. Tons of room options from 4 and 8-share dorms to private double rooms with or without a view.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

17. Leticia

A monkey on Isla de Los Micos, Leticia, Colombia
A monkey on Isla de Los Micos, Leticia, Colombia

The Amazon jungle is one of the must-visit places in the world. But, what many people don’t know is that you can visit the Amazon Jungle in Colombia. Leticia is just one of a few places to visit the Amazon in Colombia, but in my opinion, the best choice.

Located right on the border with Peru and Brazil, this small town sits on the upper part of the Amazon River. This off-the-beaten-path town is actually quite easy to get to by flight from Botogta and a few airlines (including Avianca) operate this route.

Once in Leticia, there are lots of tours you can do with the most popular being boat cruises down the Amazon River (yes, the actual Amazon River.)

On these tours, you’ll jump on a boat and visit Isla de Los Micos where you can see tons of monkeys, visit a remote village, see the lake of jumping fish, watch for Pink dolphins, visit the largest water lilies in the world, and enjoy a local meal. This is a must-do tour and one I loved!

You can also go zip-lining in the rainforest here too! It offers some pretty sick viewpoints of the Amazon from the different towers and bridges that you’ll go walk through.

Many people who really want to experience the Amazon jungle commonly book a multiday guided tour such as this one. It allows you to visit indigenous communities and try some of their homemade dishes. A very cultural experience if you ask me!

Another popular thing to do is to visit Peru and Brazil. As you are right on the border you can simply jump over and enjoy a Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail) or head to Peru for some ceviche and a glass of Inca Cola. Talk about a cool place to visit in Colombia!

Where to stay in Leticia

Waira Suites is a newer hotel just 5 blocks away from the Acuarios Shopping Center. All rooms have a LCD cable TV, a mini-bar, and a private bathroom. The property has two pools, a restaurant, and a bar. The wifi strength isn’t the best but if you’re here to relax in the middle of the jungle it won’t be an issue!

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For an adult-only backpacker or solo stay Hostel Casa de las Palmas is one of the lowest priced and only a couple of minutes of walking to town. It has a cool little garden and pool – it’s a very relaxing atmosphere in the Amazonas. Expect a great staff and a talkative crowd.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

Related Read: A gateway into Peru’s forgotten amazonian can be found in Puerto Maldonado.

18. Cali

Iglesia La Ermita, Cali, Colombia
Iglesia La Ermita, Cali, Colombia

Cali is the salsa capital of the world, so guess what? The best and must-do things in the city involve salsa!

First off, be sure to join a salsa class. These are super common around the city and you can do a private or group lesson. Most hotels and hostels can provide these or book you a tour.

Next, go to a salsa show and see how the professionals do it. These shows will blow your mind, and around the city, there are lots to choose from. Delirio is a very famous salsa circus and the performances are very entertaining.

If you don’t want to see a show you can also head to one of the hundreds of salsa bars to test your skills. A great place is called La Topa Tolondra. This is a very popular salsa bar and you’ll find some great dancers here!

Salsa aside, there’s lots more to do in Cali. Of course, a walking tour is always a good idea to see the most scenic buildings and learn about the city’s history. You can also take a deeper dive into the positing rebuilding that Cali has gone through in recent years on a tour of Comuna 20 which is compromised of 11 different neighborhoods.

Or if you are a food lover go on a street food tour and connect to the city through its cuisine!

Outside the city center is an adventure lovers’ paradise. From taking a day trip to the rural town of San Cipriano or going swimming in the Jordan River to ATVing, paragliding, horseback riding, and more!

So, be sure to stay for a few nights to see the entire city and enjoy one of Colombia’s least touristic cities filled with authentic experiences! Although not the most popular place to visit in Colombia, it is still one of the best!

Where to stay in Cali

For comfortable sleep and a beautiful atmosphere with nice touches stay at the centrally located Alko Hotel Casa Nispero. Each room has a coffee maker and robe and some have a private jacuzzi on the balcony. You can enjoy food and drinks and the restaurant and bar or go for a dip in the pool. If you have the money it is truly one of the most wonderful places to stay in Cali!

You can book on

El Viajero Hostel Cali & Salsa School is such a lively and unique hostel to stay at that is a 10-minute walk from the historical district. Included in your low-cost stay are free private dance lessons and other classes so this place is a great value! There is also a pool and a bar. The rooms aren’t that great but it will meet basic needs.

You can book on or Hostelworld.

19. Popayan

A sunset at the Popayan viewpoint in Papayan, Colombia
Sunset at the Popayan viewpoint in Popayan, Colombia

Popayan is a little-known city south of Cali. In fact, it’s often not visited by many tourists – but that’s what makes it a fun place to explore. We stopped here on our way north from Ecuador and enjoyed a few nights wandering through the beautiful colonial buildings in the city center.

There are lots of great restaurants and bars and things are cheap here as it’s a university city. Be sure to head to the Popayan viewpoint in town to watch the sunset.

I wish we would’ve known about this private Popayán city tour before because a local will take you to all the best scenic streets and local cafes. The best part is that it also ventures out to see the Pyramid of Morro Tulcan and ends with a relaxing dip in the Hot Spring Thermals of Coconuco which is located in the Andes mountains. For $81 USD and a half day of adventures, it’s definitely a must-do tour if you’re in the area.

Although there isn’t much to do in Popayan, it’s still a great option if you’re heading south toward Ecuador or vice versa. You can mingle with Colombians and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere away from the tourist trail.

Where to stay in Popayan

Hotel Dann Monasterio is a romantic and elegant stay that is just waiting for you to soak in all its amenities. From the spa, gym, pool, and Turkish bath, to Spanish galleries and a garden courtyard with a water fountain this place has all that and more! There are rooms for individuals and families so it’s a place everyone will love!

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A cheap and simple place to crash for a couple of nights is Lienzo Hostel. This is a house converted into a hostel but the bold-colored murals give the space personality. There is a shared kitchen and a 24-hour service desk. Each room has a patio and a daily American breakfast is provided.

You can book on

20. Las Lajas Cathedral

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia
Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia

Located on the border with Ecuador, Ipiales is a rather unpleasant city with a rather famous cathedral. Located just outside of the city sits the most beautiful cathedral in all of South America which makes a trip here so worth it.

The Las Lajas Sanctuary is one of the most spectacular cathedrals I have ever seen. It is far better than any others in South America and would even put many in Europe to shame.

Situated in a small valley, Las Lajas was built with precision and the architecture is truly amazing. I think the photo above speaks for itself. It is definitely one of the best places to visit in Colombia and worth checking out if you are crossing the border to or from Ecuador.

Las Lajas is easily reached by a collectivo from the bus terminal in Ipiales that costs only 2,500 COP ($.50) per person each way. Checking out Las Lajas is free! For more information, read our blog all about Las Lajas Sanctuary.

Where to stay in Ipiales

Loft Hotel Ipiales hotel is relatively new and it is gorgeous. If you’re looking for a nice place to stay in a modern hotel with plenty of facilities, this is it. All rooms have air conditioning and TVs with Netflix. On-site there is also a restaurant serving an included breakfast as well as a sauna. It’s the perfect place to relax before or after a hectic border crossing.

You can book on

There aren’t many options when it comes to hostels in Ipiales. In fact, Six Avenue Hostel is one of your only choices, luckily it is a well-reviewed hostel that costs as little as $6 USD for a dorm bed. This hostel has a central location and common areas to meet other travelers.

You can book on

Prepare for Your Trip

A bids eye view of Rododero Beach, Santa Marta
A birds-eye view of Rodadero Beach in Santa Marta

Travel Insurance

You should never travel without insurance (as I learned recently when I had an incident.) Thankfully I was covered by SafteyWing medical insurance and got an emergency evacuation flight home. Because of this, I highly recommend SafteyWing Travel Insurance.

There are lots of provides out there but these are the cheapest and best we have found over the 8 years we have been traveling.


If you like to book tours in advance then Bailey and I always recommend using Viator which is a TripAdvisor company, however, even though we aren’t the biggest fans of TripAdvisor we’ve had great experiences with Viator. The service is really good and prices are usually the same as they are in the city or town you are visiting.


For all of our accommodation, we use one of two companies or Hostelworld. The reason? Well between the two you can find almost every hotel in the world and they both have great cancelation policy options and price match guarantees.

This comes in handy if you’re booking in advance and prices change closer to the date. Trust me, you should always check this as you can save lots!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie on Costeño Beach, Colombia
Thanks for reading!

Colombia is a country everyone falls in love with, and with a list this long of breathtaking places to visit, it’s no wonder why.

I really hope you enjoyed this blog on the best places to visit in Colombia. If you have any questions about the places mentioned above or anything else, please leave them below in the comments.

Also, if you loved this blog, be sure to check out all our other Colombia travel blogs too, here are some of our favorites.

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Ana Lopez

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

You bb isit a lot if Colombia and you have good zones selections. Next time visit, Putumayo,los Llanos Orientales, Guainía, Huila and Boyacá. There are beautiful !!


Wednesday 15th of November 2023

Hi Duke,

What is the best way to exchange Colombian Peso? Before I go there ? Or there is a currency exchange store in the city? How much per day the food there in average ? Thanks,


Thursday 16th of November 2023


There are currency exchange places in Colombia and at the airport.

For food, I would allow at least $30 USD per day if you want to eat out. It can be cheaper or more expensive depending where you eat.

Thanks Daniel


Friday 3rd of November 2023

thank you for let me see where to go because i waas confuse but one thing you should do a video talking abaut colombia culture where to go and more


Friday 28th of July 2023


I read your blog , Its really Informative


Wednesday 29th of June 2022

Recently arrived in Colombia & just read through your blog, really helpful thank you. Found it to be the right amount of information, not too long, not too short. Muchos Gracias!


Thursday 19th of January 2023

@Craig, Muchas gracias*