Santa Marta City in Colombia
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Top 10 Places to Visit in Colombia

User Avatar Author: Nicole Guevara
2 years ago - October 21, 2022

Reading time: 13 mins

It’s time to explore what awaits you in these magical Colombian places: adventure, culture, friendly people, delicious delights, and festivals aplenty! Colombia’s scenery is distinctive, and its music is bright and rhythmic. There are vibrant cities and tranquil, picturesque towns with views of lush hills, rolling plains, and unique beaches.

You may also like: Our Top-10 Tips for Colombia Travel

Colombia is where nature and culture combine to create lasting and beautiful memories for all who visit. It’s an incredibly diverse country with plenty of mountains, beaches, rivers, and valleys, plus a comfortable and idyllic climate.

The Colombian people stand out for their friendliness and kindness to tourists. They always welcome you with a smile and are eager to guide and help you in any way.

With each passing day, Colombia welcomes more and more international visitors, which is simply new. Its doors are open to all who want to travel there and explore.

Magical Places to Visit in Colombia

Do you want to know more about the magical experience that Colombia offers? Get to know the top 10 most worthwhile places to visit in Colombia.

1. Cartagena

This coastal city invites you to do as much sightseeing as possible! If you want to take it easy, you can rest, relax, and enjoy the sea’s refreshing breeze and warm waters.

Cartagena’s Historical Center is surrounded by a 6.8-mile (11-kilometer) stone wall built over time to defend the city from pirates and would-be attackers. It is affectionately known as “The Walled City.” Cartagena’s Old City is also home to the beautiful Cathedral of Cartagena and the Colored Houses of Gethsemani.

The beauty and importance of Cartagena’s historical architecture are part of why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. It is officially named Cartagena de Indias and is one of South America’s most beautiful and well-preserved cities.

The weather in Cartagena de Indias is charming. The tropical climate is delightful and perfect for sailing to nearby islands and enjoying their beautiful beaches, people, and natural beauty.

You can enjoy the Cartagena Music Festival and the renowned international celebration that is the traveling Hay Festival, which takes place in January and brings together performers and presenters from all over the world to share in a celebration of arts, literature, music, performance, and so much more! You can enjoy this beautiful city on our vacation package to Colombia.

2. Barranquilla

Barranquilla’s nickname is La Arenosa or The Sandy One, which is believed to be about the sand that sweeps through the city streets thanks to the refreshing ocean breeze. It is one of Colombia’s most important port cities and an increasingly popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners.

That said, and given its privileged geography, Barranquilla is also known as the ‘Golden Gate’ of Colombia, with great potential in economic and industrial development, reflected in the city’s dynamic growth. It is here that the Magdalena River ends its long northward journey, flowing into the Caribbean Sea. Barranquilla is also the birthplace of many Colombian musicians, writers, and painters of note.

Barranquilla’s Carnival celebration is not only the most important folk and cultural festival in Colombia, but also a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity proclaimed by UNESCO. It is also the second most popular Carnival celebration in South America (behind Río de Janeiro in Brazil) and one of the most authentic expressions of the Colombian people. Each year, the nation’s rich ethnic diversity, lore, and traditions are displayed in the festival’s colorful parades, cuisine, art, music, and dance.

3. Bogotá

Bogotá is Colombia’s capital and largest city. It is a point of convergence for people from all over the country, so it is diverse and multicultural, combining the old with the new.

The capital of the country has a privileged location. The city rests within a valley surrounded by abundant vegetation, offering some of the continent’s most enjoyable green landscapes.

The city is part of the Andean region. Bogotá is green thanks to its many parks and the eastern hills, where there are two well-known sanctuaries (or shrines), Monserrate and Guadalupe. You can visit Bogotá in our best itinerary for Colombia.

Bogota’s Bolivar Plaza

Stroll through the neighborhood of La Candelaria, the heart of the historic center. Here, you’ll find large mansions built in colonial times and a unique bohemian atmosphere like that on display at the mythical Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo. Activities like this neighborhood visit are part of the city’s great cultural offerings and a treasure trove of genuinely remarkable museums, like the Gold and Botero Museums.

Additionally, the city hosts major internationally recognized events, such as the Festivales al Parque, which brings together thousands of spectators with rock, hip-hop, jazz, salsa, Colombian music, and all kinds of rhythms.

One can also attend La Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair), which takes place every year in April and welcomes renowned authors from the literary world. Also, the Theater Festival, held every two years, turns the city into a vast stage where imagination and art reign.

4. Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a city where diversity is fully present in its landscape, people, and just about every cultural aspect; it is a destination that welcomes all its visitors and makes them feel right at home.

Its main characteristic is the extraordinary coastal Caribbean landscapes that highlight the green vegetation, mountains, and beautiful blue seas. Similarly, the contrast between the beaches and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada makes this paradise visually stunning and memorable.

When you visit Santa Marta, don’t miss the historical walk through the city. Also, be sure to visit nearby Tayrona National Park, where you can explore some pre-Colombian cultures whose descendants still reside in the vicinity and welcome tourists wishing to learn about their history and traditions.

Santa Marta is also a hub for many extreme sports if you fancy yourself an adventurer.

Las Fiestas del Mar takes place in the middle of the year, marking another excellent season to enjoy Santa Marta, its traditions, and all the Caribbean charisma. You can enjoy water-based sports at this event, accompanied by diverse cultural and musical activities.

5. Medellín

Medellín is a captivating city, not only because of its pleasant climate; but also because of its welcoming people, delicious food, and Paisa charm visitors love.

In 2013 Medellín was named the Most Innovative City in the world in the Wall Street Journal’s City of the Year contest.

Medellín is known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its pleasant year-round weather. So, in general, you can wear spring-summer clothes and carry a light jacket. Of course, don’t forget to use sunscreen, even on rainy days.

You don’t want to miss the Flower Fair, which is recognized worldwide. Medellín is one of the few places where you’ll see such an extraordinary variety of flowers. This festival is typically celebrated in August. Since its inception in 1957, it has been one of the symbols of Paisa culture.

Medellín is also home to many top-level events, such as Colombiamoda, the Medellín Book and Culture Festival, and Expoartesano.

6. Mompox

UNESCO declared Santa Cruz de Mompox a Special, Tourist, Historical and Cultural District.

This magical place of Andalusian colonial architecture and charming cobblestone streets enchants visitors with its frozen-in-time feel, warm people, and comfortable weather.

There are six churches among the architecturally and historically significant buildings of Mompox. They receive a constant flow of tourists. Among them are the Church of Santa Bárbara and its famous baroque tower, the Church and Convent of San Francisco, and the Cathedral of Mompox or Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Holy Week in Mompox is a tradition maintained throughout many centuries. The Sevillian-inspired layout and aesthetic of Mompox is the backdrop against which Holy Week is celebrated reverently, beginning with Palm Sunday church celebrations, Holy Wednesday’s march with candles and flowers, paying homage to the deceased, plus all the traditional processions and observances of each successive holy day, culminating with Easter Sunday.

7. San Andrés

San Andrés is one of the most delightful island destinations in the Caribbean. It is located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the coast of Nicaragua. With the charm of its white-sand beaches surrounded by clear water appearing in several different shades of blue and green, it’s no wonder San Andrés is referred to as the “Sea of ​Seven Colors.”

In this paradise of about 75,000 residents, English, Spanish, and Creole blend to form a rich and genuine Caribbean culture.

This island is a place for peaceful relaxation. However, you can enjoy a lively scene with tropical rhythms and world-class nightclubs at night. During the day, enjoy activities such as swimming with manta rays while visiting a unique “aquarium” of the open sea, showing visitors the remarkable marine diversity.

A beautiful and fragile coral reef protects the archipelago and its magical beaches.

8. La Guajira

Enter the heart of the Guajira desert, where you can see the Wildlife Sanctuary of Riohacha and Los Flamencos, Puntas Gallinas, Cabo de la Vela, and Macuira National Park.

In La Guajira, your experience may be equal parts sea and desert.

The department of La Guajira offers a diversity of landscapes and colors, making it a magical destination where the ancient tradition of the Wayúus is preserved, a pre-Columbian people that never yielded to Spanish colonization.

Microclimates form oases like tropical forests. It is a destination not amenable to mass tourism, making it authentic and off-the-beaten-track.

9. Cali

Cali is the capital of a department called Valle del Cauca. Many of its tourist attractions commemorate the city’s rich history. Cali is known for its vibrant culture and rich musical traditions.

Throughout Colombia, Cali has distinguished itself as the “Rumba Capital.” However, it is also known as the “Salsa Capital” thanks to its citywide dance celebrations that even spill over into the streets.

One of the best things to do in Cali is to explore the Juanchito sector, where there are many dance clubs. The unique atmosphere here will make your body vibrate. Additionally, the city hosts the Cali Fair and the World Salsa Festival.

10. Santa Fe de Antioquia

Santa Fe de Antioquia is a Colombian Heritage Town with many of Antioquia’s most important historical treasures from the Colonial and Republican eras.

The town was one of the region’s leading economic and urban development centers for over two centuries, as attested by its remarkable colonial architecture.

Santa Fe de Antioquia is one of Colombia’s most traditional places. Here, you can learn first-hand about the characteristics of colonial towns.

It hosts many local and regional festivals, and in December, there is a famous film festival. Films are shown outdoors on a big screen; the event is free of charge and promotes discussions about cinema and access to cinematography.

6 Regions of Colombia you Should Travel to

Colombia has six natural regions, each with its characteristics, customs, gastronomy, and music.

Don’t miss everything you need to know before traveling to Colombia.

The Caribbean Coast

This region sits in the north and hugs the Atlantic coast. It is an essential part of the Caribbean, as its strong cultural identity can be felt. The inhabitants of this region are known as costeños and have a notable Afro-American influence. This region is home to tourist destinations as striking and unique as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo, and Tayrona National Park.

Orinoquía Region

The Orinoquía is also known as the Eastern Plains. 75% of it is savannah, and 25% is forest. This area is home to one of the most beautiful places in Colombia, Caño Cristales, and its “river of five colors,” which creates a visual effect very similar to that of a liquid rainbow during certain times of the year thanks to the colorful aquatic plants that inhabit it.

Insular Region

Colombia’s numerous islands make up what is known as the Insular region between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. These islands are connected to the continental territory via natural underwater platforms. This region encompasses both the islands of the Caribbean Sea and those of the Pacific Ocean. Its climate is delightfully tropical, and its destinations are prominent tourist choices.

The Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast is one of Colombia’s most beautiful and undisturbed regions. Here, you find the biodiversity of the Colombian Chocó rainforest, imposing maritime landscapes such as Nuquí, cultural cities such as Cali, exuberant vegetation such as Nariño, and the indigenous peoples of Cauca. The extensive Pacific Coast is both stunning and pristine.

The Amazon

The most extensive jungle area is the Amazon region, the country’s least populated and most remote region. It is also home to the most essential and beautiful tropical forest in the world, the Amazon Forest, which has thousands of animal and botanical species. But the Amazon region goes much further: it has striking departments with rich cultural heritage and traditions.

The Andes

The Andes Mountain range traverses this region and extends the length of ​​South America along the west. The Andes spread into three fields in Colombia: Eastern, Central, and Western. These form numerous valleys, canyons, plateaus, and moors. Some mountain peaks are snow-capped, and through these valleys flow two of the most impressive rivers in the country: the Cauca and the Magdalena. Incidentally, you will find one of the most important and picturesque areas worth visiting in this region: the world-famous Eje Cafetero or Coffee Triangle. Much of Colombia’s incredible coffee production is located here.

Making Your Decisions Easy: What to Know Before Choosing the Ideal Destination

Remember, when planning your trip, you must consider some questions to choose the right destination for you. You must start with these questions and encourage yourself to select your destination.

  1. How much time do you have available to travel?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Purpose of the trip
  4. Holidays
  5. Weather
Embark on a magical trip with us!
If you enjoyed the vibrant energy of Colombia with its colorful landscapes, rich culture, and history, keep the momentum going when you visit neighboring Ecuador. Stay at the award-winning Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel in the heart of the most well-preserved historic quarter in all South America—Quito! Then, enjoy great adventure at the one-and-only Mashpi Lodge in the rainforest of the Andean Chocó.

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