15 Best Things to Do in Colombia for an Unforgettable Trip

15 Best Things to Do in Colombia for an Unforgettable Trip

Updated On: June 10, 2024 by   Miranne KhaledMiranne Khaled

Throughout the years, Colombia has been among the countries that earned negative impressions from the other half of the planet. People have been scared to fly and see the raw beauty of this country without having images of drugs, violence, and Pablo Escobar flashing before them. This is when you cast these terrible misconceptions aside and see this beautiful place for what it is.

Since 2015, Colombia has experienced a tourism boom, with a surge in its number of flights, thanks to travellers who helped debunk its ugly myth. Unfortunately, the media has contributed to creating the misperceptions that have been banishing people for many years. There is so much in Colombia that you wouldn’t want to miss. 

Colombia isn’t only the land where our beloved Shakira and Sofia Vergara come from. It is a true South American gem where many contrasts meet. It is home to two vast deserts along with splendid Caribbean coasts. It also embraces the tropical jungles of the Amazon and the snowy Andean Mountains.

It is about time you took on this enthralling journey and experienced authentic Latin culture for yourself. We promise that you will leave this land with a strong urge to come back again someday. The friendliness and generous hospitality of the Colombians are another thing that you will remember for years to come. So, find out the best things to do in Colombia in our exclusive list!

1. Walk through the Historic Walled City of Cartagena

Colombia

Although it is not the capital city of Colombia, Cartagena is the country’s crown jewel, featuring centuries of rich history and heritage. It is commonly known as the walled city because it has around 11 kilometres of defensive walls surrounding its centre. Back in the day, those walls served as Colombia’s protection base, with several fortifications augmenting them.

The rich history and heritage of this old city have contributed to its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This colonial city remains well-maintained, narrating the long history of Spanish rule many centuries ago. You can observe the vibrant architecture and colourful buildings that give the city a lively ambience.

Disney has taken inspiration from this beautiful city while creating the settings for its latest Latino movie, Encanto. The depiction shows the colourful trees embellishing the buildings, unravelling the allure of this beautiful city. 

2. Take A Coffee Tour in the Eje Cafetero Region

Colombia

Colombia is known to be the world’s third-largest producer of coffee beans. It has vast lands where coffee plantations and production take place. The best part is that you can take a fascinating tour around the subtropical Andean hills where the production happens, which is the Eje Cafetero. 

The Eje Cafetero, literally translating into the Coffee Axis, is home to the majority of coffee plantations in Colombia. It is situated in the western part of the capital city of Bogota. Here, you can learn about the grinding and roasting processes of your favourite Black Americano. 

Aside from the educational tour of coffee plantations, you can do other activities around this region. Situated nearby is Salento, a small resort town where you can stay. You can also rent a bike and ride through the vast landscapes, discovering the beauty of this region and enjoying the picturesque scenes. If you also want to see the world’s tallest palm trees, don’t forget to pass by the renowned Cocora Valley.

3. Hike to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)

Colombia

The world embraces more than a few lost and forgotten cities. The good news is that treasure hunters usually discover traces that lead them to what could have been overlooked for good. This is the same scenario with Ciudad Perdida, the renowned lost city of Colombia. 

The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is located in the deepest parts of Colombia’s jungles. If you would love to embark on an enthralling journey of discovery, you will need to head to Santa Marta, where the tour begins. Cartagena and Barranquilla are the only cities you can reach by land, unlike other cities that require flying.

The hiking tour takes 4 to 5 days, so it is not for the weak, and solo trekking isn’t allowed. Through this magnificent experience, you’ll discover an ancient city that is even six centuries older than Machu Picchu. A large portion of this city remains submerged in the lush jungles of Colombia. This site is usually open in January and February when the rain is less heavy than the rest of the year.

4. Explore the Cave of Splendor

If you are eager to see natural wonders, look no further than the Cave of Splendor. This unique cave is the result of natural factors, making it one of the most mesmerizing attractions in Colombia. It is situated in the northeast of Jardín in Antioquia.

Known as La Cueva del Esplendor, it is also embellished by the coursing river that streams over its roof. Cascading into a pool of water, the river forms a luminescent waterfall that adds more beauty to the already beautiful wonder. 

Hiking is the most popular activity in this destination. However, some tours offer horseback access to the cave. Exploration of the inside of the cave is also offered in some cases, but it is not that common.

5. Take A Mud Bath in the Volcán de Lodo El Totumo

Want to go on a brand new adventure? You should put the El Totumo Mud Volcano at the top of your itinerary. As scary as it sounds, this destination is among the hot tourist destinations in Colombia. It is located in Santa Catalina in northern Colombia, attracting people from all over the world. However, the volcano is easy to access from Cartagena.

This is the smallest volcano in Colombia, and it is popular for its mud bath, which visitors enjoy diving into. All you have to do is climb up a few steps to get into the mud volcano.

Given its chemical composition, mud is believed to have healing properties. This mud volcano is deemed a gift of nature and is known for treating many rheumatic problems. Moreover, this mud detoxifies the body from harmful toxins, cleanses the skin, and rids it from accumulating dead skin cells.

6. Go See the Caño Cristales River

If you wish to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you shouldn’t miss visiting the beautiful river of Caño Cristales. This river has earned several titles, with “The River that Escaped from Paradise” being the most popular. It is also known to be the world’s most beautiful river for its natural red colour. Yes, you read that right. The river features a unique red colour; no wonder it’s one of the most exciting attractions in Colombia.

Caño Cristales is situated in the province of Meta in Colombia’s La Macarena National Park. While it is famous for its red colour, it’s also known as the River of Five Colors, given the other hues it sometimes features, including green, black, yellow, and blue. This is because the water is so clear, exposing the colourful algae that grow beneath, giving the river its colourful effect.

Before visiting the river, you need to know that there are certain times to do so. The aquatic red plants are at their peak from July through October. Ensure you know the weather and climate conditions before booking your tour. Otherwise, you may miss the river’s natural beauty and be disappointed. 

7. Explore the Huge La Macarena National Park

La Macarena National Park is best known for the renowned Caño Cristales River. However, the most beautiful river in Colombia is just a part of it, and there is so much more to it than just that. Commonly known as Serranía de La Macarena, the park is a vast area of natural landscapes that embrace several forms of nature. 

Located in the Meta Department, the park encompasses part of the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountain Range. It is also home to the East Llanos, a spacious tropical grassland plains. The llanos are the Spanish word for “the plains,” and they stretch for several kilometres, reaching the borders of Venezuela.

Moreover, the park features the raw beauty that Colombia embraces. It is home to a biodiverse environment, offering many unique species. Not only are the aquatic flora and fauna eccentric, but also the reptiles, insects, plants, and bird species. It embraces some endangered species of animals, including unique monkeys, jaguars, cougars, and deer.

8. Visit Casa Terracota

Colombia

Can you imagine being inside a pottery house? The most significant piece of pottery in the world can be found in Colombia. You can live this fantasy in Casa Terracota, a home made entirely of clay. Being a hot tourist attraction in Colombia, it is easy to access, as it is situated in Boyacá town, which is a few minutes away from Tunja city.

People usually refer to this architectural piece as “Casa de Flintstones,” for it resembles the appearance of houses from the primitive ages. Octavio Mendoza was the artist behind this creation; he designed and built the entire house with only clay. He let his unique structure harden under the sun until it became the solid ceramic house it was.

The house is in the beautiful town of Villa de Leyva, Colombia. Its intriguing appearance beautifully blends with the surrounding landscapes of green plains. Visitors are allowed to get inside the house and explore it. 

You will feel the oddity, in a good way, once you pass the threshold of this splendid house. The interiors are designed like regular houses, with several bedrooms, a dining room, and a full working kitchen. There are also different levels to explore, with the upstairs having a lovely suite, patio, and lounging area. The good part is that even the furniture pieces are made of clay!

9. Stand on La Mano del Gigante

Colombia offers myriads of spectacular views that will leave you in awe. It offers eccentric spots to fill your vision with the best sights ever. La Mano del Gigante, meaning the Giant’s Hand, is one of the best attractions in Colombia, overseeing a vast part of the Huila department. 

La Mano del Gigante reaches around 4,855 feet above sea level, a high enough viewpoint to offer gorgeous sights. It is designed into an actual huge hand, an intriguing design that assisted in drawing tourists from all corners of the globe to the Huila area.

This splendid area offers many fascinating activities that will keep you busy while exploring great parts of Colombia all at once. Paragliding and coffee tours are some of the most popular around the area before making your way to the Giant’s Hands walkway. Taking the renowned walkway terminates at the mentioned attraction. You can also cycle your way up there while observing incredible landscapes.

10. Ride a Téléphérique to the Las Lajas Sanctuary

Colombia

Want to see a hidden gem in Colombia? The Las Lajas Sanctuary should be your next destination. It was one of the most prominent cathedrals in Colombia and South America. Another exciting adventure is riding the téléphérique, the exhilarating mountain cable car.

Las Lajas Sanctuary is situated in a gorge near Ipiales city, near the border where Colombia meets Ecuador. Its location is a bit secluded from the major cities and is considered a hidden treasure in Colombia. This architectural masterpiece is eye candy that used to be a place of worship. While many eccentric worship places worldwide exist, none dangles off a cliff.  

There are several famous legends surrounding the construction of this sanctuary. The most famous tale is about a mother and her deaf-mute daughter who were stuck in this area during a storm. They saw the Virgin Mary in this place, and the daughter was cured. Believing that the area had healing powers, a sanctuary was built in this holy area, and it became famous among the Colombians.

11. Enter the Magical World of Bichacue Yath Arte & Naturaleza

One of the most fascinating attractions in Colombia is the nature preserve known as Bichacue Yath Arte & Naturaleza. This tremendous natural forest is tucked away among the lush trees of Colombia, revealing a world that resembles that of fairytales. Bichacue is located in Cali and used to be a coffee farm. However, it became a nature preserve after the coffee industry damaged the land.

Visitors of this fascinating sanctuary have always claimed it looks like a land where mythical creatures live. The landscapes resemble those from a magical movie, where elves and fairies call the hills their homes. While roaming the vast lands of nature, you will come across small shops from which you can purchase handmade crafts. 

In the Bichacue area, you will not only enjoy nature and purchase some lovely goods but also learn a lot. It’s a perfect destination for tourists from all age groups, even little children, for it’s deemed an educational retreat. You can learn a lot about pre-colonial Colombia’s history and ecology.

12. Visit the Museo del Oro (The Museum of Gold)

Do you happen to be a history buff? Then, museums are your thing. However, we are introducing you this time to a museum that is one of its kind: the Museum of Gold. This splendid museum is found in the city of Bogotá. It is home to the world’s largest gold collection, which dates back to the pre-Columbian era.

While there are several gold museums worldwide, only a few stand out like this one. It houses an array of gold artefacts dating back to ancient times and showcases collections from the many cultures that once settled in Colombia.

The museum has several rooms, each displaying a different era in Colombian history. You can spend many hours discovering the highlights of Colombian history and observing the prominent collections it displays. The museum is open throughout the week except for Mondays, so you will easily have the opportunity to visit it during your stay.

13. Discover the Windows of Tisquizoque

Florián City is home to one of the best climbing areas in Colombia, the Windows of Tisquizoque. It lies in Florian city, in the eastern Andes. Being tucked away in the forest has made it off the beaten path for many years. However, today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colombia.

The view of this attraction is one to die for. You will see the mouth of a cave apparent high on a mountain, resembling a window, hence the name—a river courses out of the cave’s mouth, creating a cascading waterfall. The river falls into the ground, forming a spectacular sight of mist, making for a perfect spot to take a picture. 

Bike adventures are one of the popular activities around this area. Since the renowned attraction is a little remote, a motorcycle tour solves the issue. You will get to your destination in no time while enjoying a new bike adventure.

14. Climb Up the Rock of Guatapé

Colombia

The Rock of Guatapé is a prehistoric rock that has attracted tourists for years. This massive stone is several million years old and used to be a worshipped deity for the Tahamies Indians, former inhabitants of the area. The exciting part is that you can climb to the top of the ten-million-ton rock.

The climbing journey takes 708 steps to get to the top, but the sights and landscapes you will be rewarded with are worth the effort. Once you are up there, spectacular landscapes of nature are unravelled, for the rock overlooks more than a few lakes and islands. Rare species of plants also grow in this area; their raw beauty captures your attention. 

Getting to the Guatape rock is not hard. You will need to reach the Caribe Bus Station from which you will find the proper transportation. Most people either take a taxi or the Medellin Metro to the La Piedra del Peñol, another name for the famous rock. The ticket you’ll purchase at the bus station only costs 4 dollars, and you’ll be ready to embark on your new adventurous journey.

15. Meet the Wise Old Men at El Gallineral Park

They may sound weird when you first hear it, but you will no longer be perplexed once you learn who the old men are. Before we get to this part, we need to introduce the mesmerizing El Gallineral Park briefly. It is situated in San Gil near the Fonce River in Colombia, and it is open all week long until 6 p.m. with a small entrance fee. 

El Gallineral Park is home to thousands of trees over three centuries old. Their age gives them an impressive appearance. However, the Spanish moss that covers them, like curtains, also plays a role. The Spanish moss-covered trees give the appearance of wise old men, and that’s what the community of the old men is.

Besides observing the unique appearance of the trees, you have spacious lands to explore. The park is also home to several walkways, where people are allowed to roam between the trees. Moreover, artificial pools serve as various squares between the trees.

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