Colombia. What can we say about this place? It’s enchanting, diverse and so much fun to explore! From big cities to small villages, to giant waterfalls and palm trees to coffee farms and islands, there isn’t much Colombia doesn’t have for you to enjoy. And that is what our below Colombia itinerary will show, just how absolutely historic, beautiful, and wonderful traveling through Colombia really is.
Whether you’re coming to Colombia for 7 days, 10 days, or for spending 2 weeks in Colombia, one this is for sure, Colombia will leave you speechless, swooning, and head-over-heels in love.
So, how about we get you ready for your whirlwind Colombia adventure that lies waiting for you?! Let’s get to it!
Colombia Itinerary & Travel Guide
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How Many Days Do You Need In Colombia?
Whatever time you can allocate to traveling to Colombia, that is good enough! However, the more time the better! There is SO much to see and experience in Colombia. From its big cities like Bogota, Medellin, and Cali, to its smaller towns like Salento and Jardin, you have plenty to see and do.
To get a taste of what Colombia has to offer, do your best to spend at least 7-10 days here. If you can spend more time, like two or three weeks, that’s even better!
Best Time To Visit Colombia
One of the best things about Colombia is, for the most part, it really is a great destination for year-round travel. However, there are months that are a little bit better than the rest.
- December to March: Colombia’s peak season and for good reason. Little to no-rainfall, loads of sunshine and the temperatures are not sweltering hot and humid.
- April to May and October to November: Considered Colombia’s rainy months
- June to August: While hot, summer is another great time ti visit Colombia for it’s lack of rainfall and sunny day! If you’re looking to spend endless days on the beach, these are your months!
Best Way To Get Around Colombia
Understand that Colombia is very mountainous, so it takes time to maneuver through the valleys and canyons when traveling overland. If you are short on time, flying will be your best bet. If you are looking to be as budget-friendly as possible, bus travel is for you.
TIP: Bear in mind that when planning your transportation, by miles your next location may be short, but in actuality, your intended destination will take you quite long to get to. For instance, Bogota and Medellin are only 260 miles (415 km) away from each other but take around 9-10 hours via bus. So definitely do your research before planning any overland travel to understand how long it will really take.
Colombia By Air
LATAM and Avianca are great airlines that fly all over Colombia. One of the best things about flying around Colombia is how relatively inexpensive it can be. Flying is how we opted to get around Colombia. We wanted to maximize our time in the country and flying allowed us to go just that. For reference, the longest flight we took was a little over an hour.
Colombia By Bus
Busses are a well-oiled machine in Colombia and a popular choice for people traveling around the country looking to travel on a budget. From luxury overnight busses to the smaller and local Chiva’s, you can pretty much find a bus going to wherever you are wanting to go.
If you want to buy bus tickets you can ask your accommodation for help or, head down to the local bus station and purchase tickets there. Just know the trips can be long, so pack accordingly. Snacks, water, and a jacket when the AC gets too cold.
Colombia By Taxi’s/Uber
When in the cities and towns themselves, first walk! Walking is by far the best way to experience a place. If there are places a little too far, we used Uber to get around and it worked so well!
Taxies are also another option but know that not many people speak English in Colombia. So if you opt to take a Taxi, be prepared for a language barrier. Same with busses and metro’s in cities. Totally doable, just be patient when booking your ticket and know exactly what lines/routes you need to take so you purchase the correct ticket.
Visa Entry To Colombia
For the U.S, UK, and lots of European and Asian countries, Colombia will allow you to enter their country for 90-days without requiring a visa. However, you will have to present a passport valid for at least six months on entry with one blank visa page plus proof of onward flight/travel.
Not sure if Colombia requires a visa for your country? Check out the latest Colombia visa requirements here.
Getting To Colombia
Colombia is a large country and home to several international airports. Depending on where you are wanting to go, selecting a roundtrip flight in and out of one city may make the most sense for your trip. Or selecting a multi-city flight may work better. For us, we flew into Bogota and out of Cartagena.
International Airports in Colombia:
- Barranquilla: Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
- Cali: Aeropuerto Internacional Alfonso Bonilla Aragon (CLO)
- Cartagena: Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG)
- Bogota: El Dorado International Airport (BOG)
2 Weeks in Colombia Itinerary + Map
Day 1: Fly Into Bogota
For the purposes of this Colombia itinerary, you are flying into Bogota! Bogota is not only the capital of Colombia but it’s the largest international airport and where many international flights, in and out of Colombia, operate.
Day 2 to 3: Explore Bogota
First, welcome to Colombia! Bogota is home to around 9 million people and is a bustling Colombian metropolis. But don’t let this big city fool you, it’s home to amazing restaurants (food zones), markets, street art, and history.
Sitting at 8,661 ft and being so close to the equator Bogota’s temperatures barely change. During the day, you can find temperatures in the 60s whereas, at night, temps fall to the ’50s and even high-40s. So, you’ll want to make sure you bring a jacket with you!
While exploring Bogota, you’ll see the Andes Mountains the city from the east and west. As you wander, you’ll find vendors selling fresh juices and empanadas, and stumble through different neighborhoods – our favorites being La Candelaria, Chapinero & Usaquen. Sadly, due to time restrictions, Bogota is often skipped by tourists and we think that is SUCH a mistake. We absolutely LOVED Bogota and would go back in a heartbeat.
Things To Do In Bogota
- Check out Museo del Oro (Gold Museum)
- Go to the top of Cerro Monserrate (Mount Monserrate)
- Explore the street art and historic district of La Candelaria
- Visit Plaza Boliver
- Play Tejo & take a shot of aguardiente (Colombia liquor) while doing so
- Join Bogota’s Free Walking Tour
- Eat Ajiaco at La Puerta Falsa
- Enjoy The Sunday Usquen Flea Market
- Rent a Bike and Enjoy Ciclovia Sundays or do a bike tour
- Drink a Beer or Two at Bogota Brewing Company
- Drink as much Coffee as you Can (Azahar Café, Colo Coffee, Varietale, Café del Mercado)
- Go out for dinner and drinks in Zona G (Chapinero area)
For a complete list on Things To Do In Bogota, check out our latest Bogota travel guide here!
La Candalaria: The historic center of Bogota and home to popular sites like Monseratte, Plaza Boliver, La Puerto Falsa, museums, and endless street art. We read that at night, the area gets a little sketchy, but we’d have to disagree. We stayed in La Candalra and spent many nights out at Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo eating and drinking and never at any point felt unsafe. This area is fantastic and if you are looking to be close to popular attractions, La Candelaria is a great place to stay.
Chapinero: Definitely more modern and offers a wide variety of restaurants and bars than La Candelaria. This area neighborhood is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Bogota. We spent a few nights out in Chapinero (playing Tejo at Tejo Turmequé, eating at El Chato, and drinking at Huerta Coctelería Artesanal), Chapinero is a great place to stay if you want more modern and an amazing food scene.
Bogota doesn’t fall short on things to do and explore in the city, and that’s also true for things to experience outside of the city. Perfect for a day trip, the below locations are located a few hours from Bogota allowing you to escape the city if you so choose.
- Salt Cathedral: Located around 600 feet underground, in a former salt mine in Zipaquir, you can explore Colombia’s Salt Cathedral.
- Lake Guatavita: Inspiring the legend of El Dorado and is a sacred site for the Muisca people, Lake Guatavita is a crater lake surrounded by forest tree lines. You can also do a combo of this tour and the Salt Cathderal if you would like to experience both places.
- Villa De Leyva: Located around 3-hours from Bogota, Villa de Leyva is a colonial town known for its whitewashed colonial buildings and cobbled streets.
- Chingaza National Park: Hike to the Siecha Lakes in Chingaza National Park, one of the most beautiful places for nature lovers just outside of Bogota.
Day 4: Travel Day – Bogota to Salento
It’s time to leave Bogota and head west to Salento! Your second destination on our Colombia itinerary and maybe our favorite area! If you are looking to fly, you’ll have to fly into either Pereira or Armenia (about a one-hour flight) and then coordinate ground pickup with your hotel or get a cab to take you the hour ride to Salento. Or, do what we did and rent a car!
Another option is to travel overland via bus. Just know that there is no direct route from Bogota to Salento. You’ll need to take a bus from Bogota to Armenia and then once in Armenia catch a second bus direct to Salento. Buses usually will take you a full day of travel, especially since you have a connection.
Day 5 to 6: Salento & Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora)
Of the places we visited in Colombia, Cocora Valley was the most stunning and spectacular. We loved every single second we spent in Cocora Valley and Salento. Cocora Valley makes you question if the views that lay before you are even real, it’s that beautiful.
200 ft (60 meters) towering palm trees set against rolling mountainous lush, green hills. It’s really something where no matter how many pictures you take, it just doesn’t do the view justice.
Cocora Valley lies outside of the small coffee town of Salento, about a 20-minute ride by Jeep. You can easily coordinate transportation from Salento to Cocora Valley via Jeep Willy transport. These jeeps are found in the main square of Salento and shuttle visitors back and forth from Cocora Valley.
Once in Cocora Valley, just hike and enjoy every single second. If you’re looking for beauty, Salento and Cocora Valley will not disappoint.
Get our travel guide on hiking in Cocora Valley here!
Things To Do In Salento
- Hike the 6.4 mile loop through Cocora Valley
- Take in the views of El Bosque de Las Palmas
- Stroll down Calle Real in Salento
- Take a coffee tour at Las Acacias Coffee Farm
- Devour the local delicacy, trout
- Hike to waterfall or two (Cascadas de Cocora or Santa Rita)
- Wander around Salento’s Main Square, Plaza de Bolívar Salento
- Watch the sunset from Salento’s mirador, Alto de la Cruz
- Enjoy music at Kafe del Alma
Check out everything you need to see and do in Salento!
For accommodations in Salento, you have two options. Staying in town, or outside of town. If you stay in town, you’ll be right in the thick of everything and able to walk to the many amazing restaurants, in-town coffee shops, and just outside-of-town coffee farms.
If you’re looking to stay out in nature, we suggest staying outside of Salento, close to Cocora Valley. That’s what we did and absolutely, positively loved it. We had a car rented so getting to Cocora Valley and Salento was easy for us, as we were able to come and go as we pleased since we had our own vehicle. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you’ll have to coordinate your transportation with your accommodation, which they are more than happy to supply for you.
Day 7: Travel Day – Salento to Medellin
About 165 miles (267 km) north of Salento you’ll find Medellin. If you want to fly, you’ll need to make your way to Pierra or Armenia and catch a flight into Medellin, around a 45-minute-ish flight. Another option is to travel overland via bus. There is a direct bus that departs from Salento to Medellin and takes around 8-9 hours.
Day 8 to 9: Medellin
Cue the Narcos theme song! Medellin is your third stop on this Colombia itinerary! Medellin was once the most dangerous city in the world and the hometown of the infamous drug lord, Pablo Escobar. What a stark difference Medellin is today from what it used to be a few decades ago.
It’s thriving, it’s beautiful, it’s friendly, and most importantly, safe to visit. It’s truly the underdog that transformed into the lead role and a favorite of so many who visit Colombia, including yours truly.
From its MetroCables that take you over the city to its Commua tours that show you the beautiful and innovative transformation the city has gone through, Medellin is one of those places that will surprise you in all the best ways possible.
Things To Do in Medellin
- Check out sculptures by Fernando Botero in Botero Plaza
- Drink coffee at Pergamino Cafe
- Ride the MetroCable to Parque Arvi
- Take a free tour of Comuna 13 with Zippy Tour
- Go Paragliding with Dream of Flying
- Watch the sunset from Miradaor Las Palmas
- Catch a Atlético Nacional or Independiente Medellín football match
- Visit one of Medellin’s breweries
- Wander through Parque Poblado or Parque Lieras
- Try Bandeja Paisa (local Medellin dish)
TIP: Please avoid taking any Pablo Escobar tours. While Narcos has brought a little celebrity spotlight on the Medellin Cartel, it’s important to remember the thousands of lives they took and the damage they did to the country. Focus on taking tours (the like Comuna 13 tour with Zippy Tour mentioned above) that focus on the positive things that have happened in Medellin. It’s also rumored that a portion of any Escobar tours goes to his family. Consider where you’re money is going and try to travel as ethically as possible.
El Poblado: The popular place where loads of tourists stay and for good reason. The neighborhood is safe and home to amazing hotels, restaurants, and bars, all within walking distance of each other. Not to mention amazing coffee shops (looking at you Pergamino) and rooftop bars. Plus, getting to the metro line is really easy and that will take you all over Medellin. We stayed in this neighborhood and loved it.
Laureles: A quieter version of El Poblado, but just as nice and safe. Just like El Poblado, Laureles is home to great eateries and coffee shops. Whichever neighborhood you choose, you most certainly won’t go wrong.
- Guatape: One of the most popular things to do when visiting Medellin is take a trip to Guatape! Known for its colorful houses and El Peñón de Guatapé which is a massive rock formation that borders a large lake. You can walk the 742 steps leading to the summit of Peñol Rockor take a boat ride on the lake Guatape.
- Dream Flying Paragliding: One of our favorite things we did in Colombia was go paragliding over Medellin. Definitely something we’ll never forget and the guys at Dream Flying we’re amazing!
- Cooking Class: So technically not a day trip from Medellin, but we wanted to include this on our list. We love us a cooking class. It’s on our our favorite ways to learn about a new countries cuisine. On this tour, you’ll learn how to make some the best and quintessential Colombian dishes.
Day 10 : Travel Day – Medellin To Cartagena
Time to head to a new location and it’s gonna be a hot one! Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for Cartagena and its nearby island friends, the Rosario Islands. From Medellin, the flight to Cartagena takes around 1-hour vs the bus that takes around 14 hours (on a good day we’re told). So it’s definitely our recommendation to fly to avoid spending a full day cruising the roads of Colombia via bus.
Day: 11 – 13: Cartagena + Rosario Islands
The last destination on our Colombia itinerary and one of the most popular destinations in Colombia visited by tourists is none other than Cartagena!
Cartagena is a Colombia port city nestled on the Caribbean coast. It’s known for its tropical weather, cobblestone alleys, quaint plazas, colonial stone walls, and its oh-so-lovely colorful buildings that make Cartagena every vibe you could want. It actually reminded us a lot of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico.
Plus, one of Colombia’s prettiest islands lies an hour away, the Rosario Islands. What better way to end your trip than eating amazing food, spending time relaxing on beaches, and wandering aimlessly around a historic city soaking up the Colombian sunshine?
Be sure to read our 18 things to know before visiting Cartagena!
Things To Do In Cartagena
- Eat ceviche at La Cevichería
- Explore the eclectic and colorful neighborhood of Gestamani
- Dance Salsa and Cafe Havana
- Watch the sunset from the Old City Ramparts
- Explore Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
- Walk the streets of Cartagena’s historical city center
- Buy fruit from the Palenqueras
- Take a day trip or stay overnight at Isla Grande of the Rosario Islands
- Enjoy a fresh mojitos at a rooftop bar
- Don’t miss dining at Celele, The Rum Box, Alquimico or La Cocina de Pepina
- Enjoy a night out at Plaza de la Trinidad
Get our complete list of things not to miss in Cartagena and Getsemani!
Two great options are staying either within Cartagena’s walled city or just outside it, in the Gestamani neighborhood. Both are only minutes from each other so whichever you choose, the other option is a short walk away to explore and enjoy.
Cartagena’s walled city is the picturesque Cartagena you have in your mind, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. Whereas Gestamani is the hip and colorful neighborhood just outside the city walls. It’s much more local, home to quaint shops and restaurants and loads of street art.
- Rosario Islands: Located an hour boats ride away are the Rosario Islands, Isle Grande being the largest and most popular. Spend your day swimming in Caribbean waters and relaxing on the beach.
- Playa Blanca & Isa Baru: Catch a ride overland to Playa Blanca one of the nicest beach close to Cartagena, located on Isa Baru.
- El Totumo Mud Volcano: If you are looking for a earthy spa day, El Totumo is for you. Enjoy a all natural mud bath in a volcano!
Day 14: Fly Out of Cartagena
The saddest day of any trip is always the day you depart. Sadly, that day is today. After 14 days in Colombia, you’re back home, but hopefully will be back soon to explore the many other places this AMAZING country has to offer.
Have More More Than 2 Weeks? 3 Week & 4 Week Colombia Itinerary Stops
If you have more time in Colombia (LUCKY YOU!) the below destinations are great options to consider adding to your Colombia itinerary and trip. Or feel free to swap any of these out with our recommended Colombia itinerary above. It’s your trip! Make it everything you want it to be.
- San Andres: An small little island nestled off the cost of Nicaragua. Amazing beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving.
- Tatacoa Desert: Insane desert landscapes and incredible stargazing
- La Guajira: Massive sand dunes that jut up to the Carribean blue sea
- Parque Tayrona: Home to Colombia’s most beautiful beaches, lagoons, and tropical jungles
- Jardin: Small colonial town known for its brightly painted houses
- The Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida): Taking a miniumum of 4-5 days, the Lost City Trek takes you through the jungles and hills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to reach La Ciudad Perdida aka the Lost City.
- Leticia: For those wanting to explore the Amazon river and Colombia rainforst, Leticia is the jumping off point for tour companies to take you down the Amazon river.
Have Less Than 2 Weeks? 7 Day and 10 Day Colombia Itinerary
7 Day Colombia Itinerary
For 7 days in Colombia, we recommend 2 places. You can do 3 but you’ll be on the move a lot and not really get to experience the place you are in. We suggest choosing a city, Bogota or Medellin, and then a place like Cartagena to experience the beaches and colonial architecture.
- Fly Into Bogota or Medellin
- Bogota or Medellin
- Bogota or Medellin
- Flight to Cartagena
- Cartagena (Optional day trip to Rosario Islands)
- Depart from Cartagena
10 Day Colombia Itinerary
For a 10-day Colombia itinerary, you can use our 7-day Colombia Itinerary, but add another stop into the mix. Below is just a suggestion, but if you would like to see Cocora Valley, we suggest swapping Cocora Valley in with either Medellin or Bogota.
- Fly into Bogota
- Flight to Medellin
- Flight to Cartagena
- Depart from Cartagena
Things To Know About Colombia Before You Visit
- English isn’t widely spoken so brush up on your Spanish, a few words goes a long way
- Take Uber’s over public transportation
- Pack everything, you’ll be experiencing different types of weather
- Flying is relatively affordable so opt to fly to locations to allow you more time to explore
- Avoid talking about Pablo Escobar and definitely do not take one of his tours (he did a lot of terrible things to Colombia and it’s people)
- Wear sunscreen, all the time! You’re close to the equator and the sun is strong!
- Don’t be afraid to eat street food – street corn, arepa’s, bunuelo’s, fresh fruit and juice are all things we recommend
- Police are everywhere, so don’t let that alarm you (it’s a good thing!)
- Coffee is a way of life, go for a morning and an afternoon coffee to be one with the locals
- Colombians are VERY polite and kind and will go out of there way to be helpful
- For the most part, tipping is included in your bill, if it’s not, you should tip
- It’ll surprise you at how many accommodations don’t have hot water for showering, just ask
Tip: Download Google Translate to help navigate language barriers as well as Maps.Me to use an offline map when cell reception is nonexistent.
Is Colombia Expensive?
Expensive is relative to the individual, but for us, we can say Colombia was a very affordable place to visit! When we visited, the Colombia Peso (COP) was $4,000 to $1 USD.
Colombia has everything for every type of traveler. Luxury accommodations and fine dining to mid-range accommodations options and meals to budget-friendly options. If you’re a budget traveler, you can spend on average, $50-ish USD a day.
Of the destinations we discussed above, Cartagena is by far the most expensive place you’ll visit on our above Colombia itinerary. It’s a party town that caters to visiting tourists, so expect to pay more for accommodations and food here.
If you are looking to travel as inexpensively as possible, a few tips to follow are just below:
- Travel overland by bus
- Eat street food or cook your own meals
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Walk vs taking ubers or public transportation
- Stay in hostel shared dorm rooms or couch surf
Is It Safe To Travel To Colombia?
Colombia is not the country it used to be in the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. It’s transformed for the better. However, that’s not to say you should let your guard down. The below safety tips are what we follow when we travel in our home country and aboard.
Saftey Tips For Travel:
- Back Pockets: We never leave any of our belongings in our back pockets. They are either in our front pockets or zipped away and out of sight (don’t make it easy for someone to pickpocket you)
- Cross Body Bags: Lauren always wears a cross body bag. WEaring a bag acorss your body vs over your shoulder, makes it harder for someone looking to run by and grab your bag.
- Backpacks: If either of us are wearing backpacks, they are either completely on our back (not draped over one shoulder) or, on the front of us when walking through high-traffic areas like a metro station or tourist attraction
- Phones: We try to have our phones out as little as possible, and when we do, we usually face a wall or have one person on guard.
- Wallet/Money: Jesse carries all our cash and when he opens his wallet, he does so carefully so to not show people how much money he is carrying or giving them a opportunity to snatch it out of his hand
- Be Aware If we are walking through a busy area, we are very aware of our belongings and our hands are usually in our pockets. Plus, be aware of who is walking around you or by you.
Because we take safety precautions, like the ones we listed above, we can say Colombia is SAFE, especially in the areas we visited! Not once did we ever feel unsafe or threatened during our time here. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, bad things can happen to you in your own country, you don’t need to go to Colombia for that 🙂
Just be smart, be aware, take precautions, and you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
You never know what’s going to happen when you head to a new country. Not to be Debbie-downers, but accidents happen. For us, when we were in Colombia, we made sure we had travel insurance. We decided to get our coverage under Travel Insurance through World Nomads.
There is no better peace of mind knowing you’re covered if the unexpected happens. World Nomads has definitely come in handy a time or two for us!
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For more travel tips, guides, and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstus, Pinterest, and Facebook. Oh and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!
– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)