11 Incredible must see destinations in Colombia + itinerary

11 Incredible must see destinations in Colombia + itinerary

Colombia has it all. Vast jungles, beautiful beaches, amazing hostels, waterfalls and rivers, fun cities and quaint coffee farms. The people are so friendly, always up for a good time and everything is cheap! The coffee is some of the best in the world too. I had an unbelievable time exploring the country for two months and it’s hands down my favourite country in Latin America so far. Here’s 11 of my must see destinations across Colombia.

I started from Bogota for you to use this as an itinerary as most people fly in there and worked my way up to the north of the country. If you’re starting from Cartagena, you could use this as an itinerary from the bottom up instead.

A note on safety in Colombia

There is a common misconception about Colombia being extremely dangerous and I’d like to blow this out of the water now. I never felt unsafe in Colombia, I genuinely felt more unsafe in parts of Mexico. Obviously, you’re still in South America and need to keep your wits about you, not walk home drunk or be a loud obnoxious tourist but outside of that, you’ll generally be okay. The bad stories I heard of people getting robbed were typically when they were walking home alone at three in the morning or buying drugs off randoms on the street. Don’t do this and you’ll lower the risks of getting into trouble by about 90%. I always used Uber to get home late at night or if I was getting public transport, I went with other travellers. Colombia is so amazing and it’d be a damn shame to miss out on all this country has to offer when in my experience, it’s no more unsafe than other countries in South America. Okay rant complete, onto the good stuff.

1. Bogotá

A lot of people skip Bogotá and I think that’s a waste of seeing Colombia. Sure there are other places that might be better if you have limited time, but if you have time definitely hit up the capital of the country. Bogotá has fantastic museums, cheap food and insane nightclubs. My favourite nightclub in all of Colombia was here and it has THIRTEEN rooms. The nightclub is called Theatron and it was so fucking fun, you should go to Bogotá for the nightlife alone.

Duration: 2-3 days to see museums and hit the nightclub

2. San Gil

San Gil is an inland town in the east of Colombia near Bogota. It’s a hub for extreme sports activities like white water rafting and bungee jumping. I didn’t get to San Gil as adventure sports aren’t my buzz but travellers I met loved it. If you’re into adrenaline rushes at budget prices, hit up San Gil for sure.

Duration: 3-4 days for muchos activities

3. Salento

Salento is a coffee region in south Colombia and it’s a quaint and magnificent place with many fun activities. I spent seven nights there and had an argument with the hostel staff because I thought I’d been there five. You know a place is good when you lose track of time! Salento has ginormous waterfalls, coffee farms, fun nightlife, tasty food and cute hostels. It’s home to the tallest palm trees in the world at Cocora Valley and it’s a great place to ride horses through pretty rivers and nature. Salento is also one of the only places in Colombia where you can play the tradicional game of Tejo. When playing Tejo, you throw a chunk of metal at dynamite until it explodes, gaining points for each explosion. You can sip beers and chat shit with travellers while you play and it’s SO fun. My fave hostel there was Coffee Tree Boutique and they have two giant St. Bernard dogs. Omg DO go to Salento, it’s the best!

Duration: 3-5 days

4. Jardín

I didn’t get to Jardín either and I have minor regrets about it (Medellín sucked me in). Jardín is a colonial little town three hours south of Medellín with coffee farms, pretty hikes and green nature. Everyone I met loved it, so if you have time I’d definitely hit this gem up for a couple of nights.

Duration: 2-3 days

5. Medellín

If it was possible to marry a city, Medellín would be the one for me. It is truly remarkable. I fell in love with Medellín fast. Banging nightlife, tasty food, good public transport, amazing cafes and friendly locals, all topped off with cheap prices. There is so much to do, you’ll never get bored! Medellín is often named the city of eternal spring. The weather is always a comfortable 24-28 degrees and the nights cool down slightly so you can sleep well (unless you’ve gotten a bit too excited on the white coffee). I spent a month here, but six days would give you enough time to do some tours, party, watch a football match and explore.

Duration: 5-7 days (minimum four nights if you’re in a rush)

6. Guatapé

Guatapé is a small town about two hours out of Medellin. Guatapé has cute, colourful streets and is surrounded by a massive lagoon to do water sports in. It’s famous for La Piedra Del Peñol, a giant granite rock with 100’s of steps for tourists to take in the sweeping views. Many people do a day trip to Guatapé from Medellin, but I think it’s worth staying a night or two so you can jet ski (and see Pablo Escobar’s blown up house), climb the rock and wander around. If you stay a night, you get to beat the crowds and enjoy the rock and the pretty streets before the tourists arrive in the afternoon.

Duration: 1-2 days

7. Cartagena

Some people love it, some people hate it, but I’m a big fan of Cartagena and spent ten nights there. Cartagena has fun nightlife, loads of bars and tasty food options with great hostels. The streets are colourful and pretty and there is fantastic art everywhere. I couldn’t get away! The weather is also warm at about 30-35 degrees. The beaches in Cartagena aren’t amazing, but you can visit Isla Rosario, a super pretty island with a nice beach. My favourite area was the Getsemani neighbourhood, with charming streets and local art.

Duration: 4-5 days

8. Minca

Minca is a gorgeous tiny town in the mountainous jungle area of north Colombia. There are many massive, beautiful hostels spread around the mountains where you can chill out and soak up the nature next to rivers and waterfalls. My favourite hostel there was Rio Elemento. It might be one my favourite hostels ever actually. It backs onto a river so you can walk from your bed to the water in under four minutes. It has free breakfast, an amazing pool, a nice bar and friendly staff. Other popular hostels in Minca include Casa Loma and Mundo Nuevo.

Duration: 3-5 days

9. Magdalena

The area of Magdalena is in the Colombian jungle, next to flowing rivers and waterfalls. Magdalena doesn’t have many towns and travellers generally bounce around the awesome hostels there. You can chill or party, swim at the beach, wander around the jungle and mountains and go tubing down the river, having a fabulous old time. My favourite hostels in Magdalena are:

  • Rio Hostel (previously called El Rio): Insane party hostel with a French bakery, tasty restaurant, river and sick raves
  • Journey Hostel: Gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the jungle, river and ocean with family dinners and a good location
  • Los Hermanos Beach Hostel: Cosy hostel right on the beach

Duration: 4-5 days

A note on Minca/Magdalena; It’s easy to travel the north of Colombia by bus for under $5 AUD. Ask your accommodation how to get to the next destination and they’ll help you out! Below is a map of these areas with the hostels marked in green to get your head around the different locations.

Map of North Colombia

10. Tyrona National Park

Tyrona National Park is a famous national reserve in the north of Colombia, where the jungle meets the ocean. You have to hike through luscious nature to get to the beach, where you’ll encounter a range of local wildlife. After the hike, you finish at a sparkling turquoise beach. There are three options for accommodation when visiting Tyrona National Park. The first option is to stay a night inside the park and sleep in a hammock next to the ocean. If you choose this option, make sure you get there early to secure a spot and bring loads of bug spray. The second option is to stay in hotels just outside the park and walk in during the day. The third option is to take public transport down or do a tour with the hostels in Minca or Magdalena.

Duration: 1-2 days

11. Palomino

Palomino is Colombia’s up and coming little beach town and I loved it there! There’s not much to do except chill, party, surf, tan and swim and that’s a perfect destination for me. There’s also a river in the area that you can tube down and finish in the ocean with a beer in hand and it’s mad fun!

Duration: 3-5 days

Oh my god, I loved Colombia so much and I’m so pumped to go back soon. I didn’t add Cali to this list as I didn’t go and heard it’s rather dangerous. If you love salsa though, you should 100% hit it up as it’s the home of salsa dancing in Colombia. I hope this gives you a plan and some butterflies of excitement for visiting this bloody awesome country!

Yours in white coffee and fun,


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