There are so many incredible things to do in Colombia. From hiking Colombia’s Cocora Valley, to exploring Tayrona National Park and bathing in mud at El Totumo Mud Volcano, Colombia truly has something for every adventure loving traveler. Not to mention the ‘City of Flowers’ Medellín and the colorful street art of Cartagena’s Old Town. So here is what we consider to be the top things to do in Colombia, certainly worthy of a place on your South America Bucket List that’s for sure.
Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Colombia
Old Town Cartagena
The charming Old Town of Cartagena is possibly the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Colombia. Get lost wandering around the maze of colorful streets, admire the old colonial buildings and churches. Keep an eye out for some impressive street art too. In Getsemaní, Cartagena’s answer to the bohemian underground scene, you’ll encounter the most colorful street art amongst a mix of upscale establishments.
Hiking Colombia’s Cocora Valley, just outside the pretty little town of Salento, is top of most Colombian travelers Bucket lists these days. High in the Colombian Andes in Los Nevados National Natural Park, you’ll find the or Cocora Valley or Valle de Cocora. The spectacular trails takes in cloud forest, jungle, farmland and the tallest palm trees in the world; the Quindío wax palm.
Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park, in northern Colombia and is known for its coastal lagoons, rainforest and rich biodiversity. Visit Colombia’s answer to Jurassic Park to hike through jungles filled with monkeys, exotic birds, (and bugs) only to then reach the white-sand beaches of the Caribbean. At its heart, the Pueblito ruins are an archaeological site accessed via forest trails, with structures built by the Tayrona civilization. Tip: The cashier requires your passport at the entrance to the park when you buy your ticket so don’t forget to bring it with you.
El Totumo Mud Volcano (or in Spanish; Volcán de Lodo El Totumo) is an active, 50 feet tall, mud volcano located 45 minutes outside of Cartagena in the coastal Bolivar region at the edge of an enormous lagoon off the coast of the Caribbean. Visit this popular tourist destination to jump into its healing and skin-softening mud bath (locals believe the mud is rich in fifty-five different essential minerals) and for the crazy photo-op.
Medellín is known as the City of Flowers, thanks to its eternal spring-like climate. Visit the second largest city in Colombia for its music, museums, nightlife and friendly people. Modern metro-cables link the city to surrounding barrios and offer incredible views of the Aburrá Valley. Don’t miss the sculptures by Fernando Botero that decorate downtown’s Botero Plaza, and the Museo de Antioquia which displays even more of Botero’s work.
Lost City of Teyuna
Hidden in the Sierra Nevada National Park on Colombia’s north coast, the Lost City of Teyuna, known as the Ciudad Perdida, was off limits to visitors for many years. Colombia’s ‘Lost City‘ is older than Peru’s Machu Picchu (by 650 years) and it is considered by many to be the best hike in South America. It’s also perhaps the toughest trek in South America too! The hike passes through dense misty jungles, crosses rushing creeks & rivers and snakes over rugged mountainsides. This challenging 47km hike deep into the Colombian jungle will take about 5 days and is not for the fainthearted.
Parque Arqueológico Nacional de Tierradentro
Parque Arqueológico Nacional de Tierradentro, is scattered across the hills around the small town of San Andrés de Pisimbalá. Tierradentro is one of the ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia that started to flourish around 200 BC, and continued into the 17th century. Today, this historical and mountainous area is a national archeological park in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Inza, Department of Cauca, Colombia. Here you will find four tomb sites, an above-ground statuary and two museums.
Bogotá Street art
The Colombian capital, Bogota, has been a mecca for street artists since graffiti was decriminalised in 2011. Not only famous for its lively nightlife and vibrant culture but also for its impressive street art which most often carries an economic, social and political message. Go on a Bogotá street art tour to admire this incredible street art in the historic La Candelaria district.
Colombian Coffee Triangle
The Colombian Coffee Triangle, known locally as the ‘Eje Cafetero,’ and also known as the Coffee Zone or Coffee Belt, consists of three Colombian departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio. It’s famous for growing and producing the majority of Colombian coffee, considered by many to be the best coffee in the world. Set amidst the rugged hills between Medellin it’s also simply a beautiful place to visit.
Explore Museo del Oro
One of Colombia’s greatest treasures; Museo del Oro or the Gold Museum is the most famous museum in Bogota and among the most captivating in South America. This Bogotá museum houses the world’s largest collection of pre-Columbian gold relics. It has over 55,000 well preserved gold pieces and other essential materials dating back to Pre-Hispanic culture.
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There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do in Colombia.
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