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Minca is one of the coolest places to visit in Colombia. But I didn’t always feel that way. In fact, on my first visit to Minca, Colombia I wasn’t overly impressed. Luckily, there was a good reason for that…I only visited on a day trip.
After returning to Colombia a few years later and hearing rave reviews from travelers who stayed a few nights, I decided to head back to Minca to explore the place some more. What I realized on my second visit was just how amazing Minca really is. The many awesome things to do in Minca and the scenery make it one of my favorite places in Colombia.
The epic views, birdlife, and the fact you are completely surrounded by nature make a visit to Minca a must-do for every traveler! So, here are all the best things to do in Minca, Colombia from my two visits to this magical place!
- About Minca, Colombia
- How to Get to Minca, Colombia
- 15 Things to do in Minca, Colombia
- 1. Tour the La Victoria Coffee Farm
- 2. Enjoy local craft beer
- 3. Visit the Los Pinos Viewpoint
- 4. Go birdwatching
- 5. Cool off at Pozo Azul
- 6. Stay at Casas Viejas
- 7. Visit a Cacao Farm
- 8. Hike to Cerro Kennedy
- 9. Marinka Waterfall
- 10. Rent a motorbike and explore
- 11. Watch an epic sunset
- 12. Take a yoga class
- 13. Eat and drink at the many trendy cafes in Minca
- 14. Shop for handmade gifts
- 15. Buy bug spray!
- Where to Stay in Minca, Colombia
- Thanks for reading!
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
About Minca, Colombia
Minca, Colombia is a small village in the hills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains located only a short drive from the large city of Santa Marta. For travelers, it’s a beautiful region with lots to discover including waterfalls, coffee farms, and even a brewery.
Once upon a time, Minca was an off-the-beaten-path destination in Colombia. However, it is now well and truly on the typical backpacker trail. Visitors are flocking to the area to see the unique wildlife and enjoy the cooler temperatures in Minca. Beautiful hostels and hotels have also popped up all over the mountainside making the area even more popular.
All of this and more make Minca a bucket list place to explore and this blog is going to show you everything you need to know!
How to Get to Minca, Colombia
From Santa Marta
From Minca, Santa Marta is the closest and easiest way to get to Minca. It is only 21 kilometers (13 miles) away which is around a 45-minute drive.
You can hire a private taxi, a moto-taxi, or a shared shuttle (collectivo). Which one to go with will depend on your budget and situation.
The cheapest option is the collectivo which costs 9,000 COP ($2 USD) each way and you can find located at the Mercado Publico in Centro on the corner of Carrera 9 and Calle 11. A landmark to look for is the Cootrasminca sign. You can ask the locals for help finding it if you are struggling.
For backpackers, the moto-taxi to Minca is an ok option for just 20,000 COP ($4.25 USD). Helmets are provided. These will also be located at the Mercado Publico.
Booking a private taxi is the most expensive at around $17 USD but it will be the most comfortable and is plenty spacious enough if you are carrying a lot of luggage. It will drop you off at the Minca church and you will just need to get another local with a 4×4 vehicle or a motorbike to take you to your accommodation.
The public bus from Cartagena is the most popular way to Minca but you can also go by a private shuttle which starts at $236 USD for two people.
You can cut the cost all the way down to around $12 USD per person if you opt for the public bus instead. For more information on which bus to take, where to get off, and how to get back to Cartagena check out this guide.
If you don’t want to commit to spending a couple of days in Minca or just don’t have the time to spare your next best bet is to go on a guided tour from Santa Marta. There are all kinds including a coffee and cocoa tour (one of the most popular!), an e-bike tour, an 8-hour combo tour (includes all the highlights of Minca), quad biking, a hiking tour, and more!
If however, you do have a couple of days to spare this 2-day Minca Tour is of really great value. For only $80 USD it includes all transport from Santa Marta, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will get to visit a waterfall, learn about coffee and cocoa, go on a birdwatching tour, interact with indigenous people and learn about their culture.
15 Things to do in Minca, Colombia
1. Tour the La Victoria Coffee Farm
The La Victoria Coffee Farm is one of the oldest and largest coffee farms in northern Colombia. The farm was opened by Charles and Alice Bowden in 1892 and to this day still operates with much of the same machinery.
This massive coffee farm produces some of the finest coffee in the world. Touring the farm is easily one of the best things to do in Minca and on the tour you’ll learn all about how coffee is grown and harvested.
The farm uses water to power the processing plant, composts all waste, and is 100% organic. This makes the farm eco-friendly and seeing how they’ve managed this is very impressive.
Cost: Tours at the farm cost 10,000 COP (around $3 USD) and include two coffees as a tour of the property in English or Spanish.
Getting there: You can either walk from Minca town to the farm (which takes around an hour and 20 minutes) or you can take a moto-taxi from town for 10,000 COP.
2. Enjoy local craft beer
After exploring the La Victoria farm you then have two options to enjoy amazing local craft beers. The first and easiest is to head over to the Nevada Brewery that’s located next to the La Victoria coffee farm. Here you can try the three tap beers the brewery produces.
The second option is to hike from the coffee farm to Casas Viejas (20 minutes) and try the exact same beers with an epic view at their bar. The bar at casa Viejas opens at 2 pm so just make sure you arrive after that.
The beer is produced by the same owners of the coffee farm and they use coffee and cacao in two of the beers!
All of the beers at both Nevada and Casas Viejas are on tap and they have a pale ale (my favorite), red ale, and pilsner. All beers are priced at 10,000 COP ($2 USD) per pint. Honestly, if you love beer you’ll love this activity in Minca!
Important: At this time, the brewery/ hostel is only allowing hostel guests to drink at their bar.
Related Read: Once of the best places to relax and adventure in this country is on San Andres Island, Colombia.
3. Visit the Los Pinos Viewpoint
The Los Pinos Viewpoint is one of the best in Minca. For those wanting to go on a hike, the 3-hour return walk is a great option. The viewpoint overlooks the Sierra Nevada region and you truly get a magnificent view from here!
From town, head up Cerro Kennedy Oriente until you reach the viewpoint. The walk is nice and in the area are a few hostels you can visit including Hostel Sierra. You can also take a motorbike for 20,000 COP ($4.25 USD). If you can, make it up here for sunset!
Important: Please note Casa Elemento (a famous hostel near Los Pinos) is now closed so do not make a booking for the hostel online (as they will not refund you).
4. Go birdwatching
One thing you’ll notice when you arrive in Minca is the amount of birdlife around. If you watch closely you can find lots of hummingbirds feeding, and larger birds flying overhead in search of prey.
If you do stay a night or two in Minca then you’ll no doubt hear the birds every morning and afternoon during peak feeding times.
However, if you stay in Minca town then you’ll likely miss lots of it so instead, either head out on a birdwatching tour or stay at a hotel far from town in the jungle. Birdwatching tours will take you to well-known areas to find lots of hummingbirds, toucans, and other unique and interesting birds in the area.
For me, wandering around the area of my hostel high in the mountains of Minca was enough and I saw plenty. But for someone keener, the birdwatching tour will be an unforgettable experience!
5. Cool off at Pozo Azul
Pozo Azul is the most famous waterfall in Minca. However, in all honesty, it’s not that great and this place is severely overrated. But with that said, it’s an easy place to visit especially if you’re heading to La Victoria Coffee Farm as it’s on the way.
So, stop off for a quick cool down at the falls. You can swim in a few sections of the falls with the top section being the best. The water is freezing though so I wasn’t in long!
Important info: The turnoff to the falls is impossible to miss if you head up the main road towards La Victoria and you’ll find lots of vans and cars parked at the entrance. The waterfall is completely free to visit and it takes around an hour to reach from town or $10,000 COP (3 USD) in a motor taxi.
6. Stay at Casas Viejas
Without a doubt, the best thing I did in Minca was staying at Casas Viejas. It’s hard to imagine a budget hostel to be such an epic place but it’s true. In fact, Casas Viejas won an award for the 2nd best hostel in Latin America in 2019! I’ve personally stayed in hundreds of hostels and to me, this is by far the best.
The birdwatching at the hostel alone is epic and the sound of nature is loud. From the hostel, they have their own private trails to waterfalls and sunset viewpoints. They also offer daily yoga, massages, wildlife tours, and horseback riding tours.
By no means is Casas Viejas fancy, in fact, the rooms are very simple. But with the communal meals that are so delicious, an infinity pool with breathtaking views, lack of wifi (there is none), and craft beers on tap make it the best place to stay in Minca, Colombia!
Booking: You can book your stay here at Casa Viejas on Booking.com or HostelWorld. The hostel offers dorm accommodation and private rooms. This hostel books up fast so if you want to stay you need to book ASAP!
7. Visit a Cacao Farm
Around Minca you won’t only find amazing coffee growing on the hillsides, cacao is another plant that thrives in the cooler climate here. You can visit cacao farms around Minca and find out how you go from a bean to a bar of chocolate.
There are a few farms to visit but the one we visited (and the most popular) is La Candelaria. Here at the farm, they run a cacao tour for 25,000 COP ($5.30 USD) and it includes a detailed explanation of how they use the bean to make chocolate as well as a few demonstrations.
Even if you don’t want to do the tour you can come here for a coffee and some chocolate. The farm is also a coffee farm and they run a coffee tour – but I don’t think you can beat the one at La Victoria.
Getting there: From Minca town it’s about an hour of uphill walking to the plantation. A great idea is to get a motor taxi to La Victoria then walk down to Pozo Azul and then onto the farm. Alternatively, a motor taxi is 15,000 COP ($3 USD) to the farm from Minca town.
Related Read: Here are the best things to do in Guatape, Colombia as well as other important info for visiting!
8. Hike to Cerro Kennedy
Cerro Kennedy is the most adventurous hike in Minca and the one I missed out on. But why? Well, I didn’t know it existed! So for that reason, I want to make sure it’s mentioned more on the web so that other keen hikers can give it a go.
This 2-day one-night trail leads you to over 3,100 meters (10,170 feet) above sea level and gives you the most epic views in all of the Sierra Nevada. From the summit, you can spot the snow-covered peaks of Pico Colón and Pico Bolívar.
As I didn’t do the trail, please read this article for more information.
9. Marinka Waterfall
Marinka Waterfall is another popular waterfall to visit in Minca. Although not the most spectacular waterfall ever, the area here is stunning, and in my opinion, it’s a better waterfall to visit than Pozo Azul.
The falls are surrounded by stunning jungle and bamboo. Just for the scenery, it’s worth a visit. If you walk there, the water is perfect to cool off in. There is an upper and lower area to the falls with the bottom area being the best for swimming as the upper pools are very shallow.
Important: The hike to the falls from Minca takes under an hour but is uphill. You can also take a moto-taxi for 5,000 COP ($1 USD). There is an entrance fee of 5,000 COP ($1 USD) at the falls.
Hot tip: Get to the falls before 10 am to enjoy a much more relaxed experience. By midday, the place is packed with tourists.
10. Rent a motorbike and explore
One of the biggest regrets I had in Minca was not having our own wheels! We almost rented one but were worried about the road conditions. Looking back, the roads were bumpy but anyone with some experience could manage easily.
With your own motorbike, you could explore all of Minca in a day and visit even more places mentioned here (just ask the rental guy for ideas). For a full-day rental, they will try to charge you around 100,000 COP ($22 USD) but a friend of mine got a bike for 5 hours for 50,000 COP ($11 USD).
In 5 hours you could hit a few waterfalls, La Victoria, La Candelaria, Los Pinos, and more!
Bike rental is not cheap but between two people it’s much cheaper than moto-taxis! Also if you want a bike for longer, it’s possible to get one for 180,000 COP ($38 USD) for two days and nights.
If you want to secure one online in advance and not have to worry about hunting or haggling for a deal you can instead book this motorcycle rental here for just $30 USD for two people for one day.
11. Watch an epic sunset
The sunsets in Minca are out of this world. No matter where you’re staying you should make it to at least one viewpoint to watch the sunset.
But where should you go?
Well, many of the places mentioned above are perfect for watching the sunset. Casa Viejas has its own hike to a sunset viewpoint you can do (even if you’re not staying there), La Candelaria is another epic spot, and Los Pinos and Hostel Sierra are also great options.
The closest is La Candelaria but with a moto-taxi, you could arrange a return trip for a better rate if he waits for you. So don’t spend those golden hours in your hotel, head out to watch an epic sunset in Minca, Colombia!
12. Take a yoga class
With all the serenity in Minca, there’s no better activity to start your day than with a yoga class. If you haven’t tried yoga before then Minca is the perfect place to learn or refine your skills if you’re a pro.
Many of the hostels including Casas Viejas (where I stayed) offer yoga lessons. Some other great hostels are Casa Yoga (obviously), Casa Loma Hostel, and Aloha Ke Akua Retreat. All of these places offer yoga but I am unaware of the prices except for at Casas Viejas where it costs 20,000 COP ($4.25 USD) for a small group session with a yoga instructor run every day at 8 am.
13. Eat and drink at the many trendy cafes in Minca
If you’re staying in Minca town, then I must say you have a lot of options for great cafes. Around town, there are plenty of tasty places to stop for a coffee, light meal, or even a super healthy juice!
A place we loved was called Smoothies Restaurant. They serve delicious juices that helped replenish us after a long day of exploring.
Another popular place is La Miga. Here you can enjoy beautiful fresh bread and pastries that taste like home (it’s hard to get good bread in Colombia.) If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast be sure to make one morning a La Miga morning.
14. Shop for handmade gifts
You can get all sorts of gifts and souvenirs around Colombia but if you want some really cool handmade items, then save your pennies for Minca. In the town, there are lots of local sellers who make all their own products.
There are some really cool things you can get such as oils, snacks, bracelets, rings, and necklaces. By buying locally you’re supporting the community and you get to take really unique items back home with you.
Now, that’s much better than taking number 10,345 of 1,000,0000,000 fridge magnets back home with you!
15. Buy bug spray!
I thought I’d finish this list with a rather odd thing to do but still super important. Did you know there is a term called “Minca legs” commonly used among travelers in Colombia? Well, there is and if you don’t buy and wear bug spray you’ll have them for the rest of your holiday.
Now, you’re probably thinking that mosquito bites go away quickly! However, in Minca, it’s not the mosquitos you need to worry about. I mean yes, they have them, but the bites don’t last long…it’s the sand flies (as we call them in Australia) that are the real problem.
These little guys bite without you noticing and leave a red dot (of blood) below the skin. This won’t be itchy for a day or so but once it gets red and swells a little they’re so itchy! The bites also hang around for around 1 to 2 weeks!
If (like me) you’ve been around them for a while (they’re everywhere in New Zealand) the bites won’t show as much because your body does get used to them. However, if they’re new to you and you have nice pale skin then you’re in for a real treat if you don’t wear bug spray!
I wish I had a photo to show you but people didn’t want me photographing their Minca legs!
Hot Tip: Buy bug spray in Minca they have a brand that is said to work the best for the sandflies in the area. Just ask at the local pharmacy when you arrive.
Related Read: Less than an hour away from Minca you can explore all the fun things to do in Taganga, Colombia!
Where to Stay in Minca, Colombia
For a stay surrounded by nature
Casas Viejas – This is where I stayed and the place I recommend to everyone I meet. Honestly, this hostel isn’t super fancy but it’s so beautiful and the pool is incredible! The only downside is that you are far from some attractions, however, the hostel is only 20 minutes from La Victoria, a short walk to a stunning viewpoint, and they offer a large selection of tours from the property.
Loma Nevada Minca Hotel – If you want something a little fancier than Casas Viejas but are still on a budget then this hotel is perfect. It’s located in the same area and has epic views of the region. You can get their deluxe room with a balcony overlooking the Sierra Nevada for around $50 USD a night. This was the place I was going to stay but changed last minute for Casas Viejas mainly because we wanted a social vibe.
Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro – For those after a luxury stay in Minca surrounded by nature, then the Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro is a perfect choice. Beautiful rooms, balconies, included breakfast and more. Surprisingly for what you get this place is very cheap and their superior room with mountain views is only $75 USD per night.
In Minca town
Finca Hostal Bolivar – Casa Maracuya – This hostel is the perfect budget option in Minca town. Although close to all the shops and restaurants it’s set on a quiet property and they’re only a short walk to a very beautiful viewpoint. The hostel has great reviews and has hot water!
Sweet Harmony by Xarm Hotels: For luxury travelers, there isn’t much in Minca town but this beautiful hotel is the best option. The rooms are beautifully designed and the hotel is far enough from Minca that you’re completely surrounded by nature. This is a good mix between staying in town and still being surrounded by a lush landscape.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Thanks so much for reading our things to do in Minca travel guide! We hope it helped inspire and plan your trip to this beautiful destination in Colombia.
If you have any questions at all please leave them below in the comments section! If you liked this article then be sure to check out all our Colombia travel guides here or these related articles below.