Tours to Colombia are selling like proverbial hotcakes at the moment, but do you know what to see in Colombia? Idyllic beaches, jungle, mountains and towns filled with people whose friendliness is legendary… picking only five was a tough call, but here is our list of what to see in Colombia:
You’ll easily see why this jewel of a city tops so many travellers’ wish lists. As one of the centres of the Spanish empire, there is a treasure trove of incredible colonial architecture contained inside the old city walls. Go for a stroll through the atmospheric cobbled streets, taking in the historical sights, before hitting the beach. Cartagena occupies a prime spot on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, and Playa Bocagrande is where you’ll find both the top beach resorts for international jet setters, as well as the locals relaxing on the sand at weekends.
Colombia has a wealth of indigenous and colonial culture, but a holiday is also an opportunity to relax, and that’s where the many tiny islands off the Caribbean coat come in. There are several to choose from, including Islas del Rosario, conveniently located just off the coast of Cartagena, and Providencia, a UNESCO Biosphere Nature Reserve, which is a short flight from the mainland. There are incredible white-sand beaches and the clear, warm Caribbean Sea for swimming. A 20km (12.5 mile) long coral barrier creates fantastic conditions for diving, and the tiny local population of only 4000 means that Providencia is one of the most relaxing things to see in Colombia.
3. Flower Festival in Medellin
It might only be Colombia’s second city, but Medellin has garnered some pretty impressive accolades, from ‘city of eternal spring’ to ‘South America’s most beautiful city’. Medellin’s position high in the mountains means that not only is the city surrounded by stunning, rugged landscape, but also that the temperature hovers pleasantly at 22ºC all year round. For 10 days in early August, however, Medellin blooms into the feast of flowers, when 140 cultural events – encompassing everything from singing contests, to a horse fair, to classic car parades – take place in the city for the benefit of tourists and the famously vivacious locals alike.
4. The Triangle of Coffee
If there is one thing that Colombia is famous for, it’s coffee. The triangle of coffee – centred on the cities of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales – is where the majority of the country’s coffee is produced. A visit to the area is one of the top things to see in Colombia, not only due to the fame of the finished product, but because of the beauty of the area and the abundance of traditional country homes converted into cosy tourist accommodation. Dramatic valleys and steep hills blanketed in coffee plants, and the countryside dotted with fincas terraces (coffee farms). The best way to see the area is with a tour of a coffee plantation, where you’ll be shown the process of producing coffee from bean to mug – of course there will be a chance to taste it, too!
Near the charming town of Santa Marta is Tayrona National Park, a popular choice for visitors wondering what to see in Colombia. The park boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia and offers the possibility to hike through mangrove swamps, thorny scrubland and cloud forest, rich with wildlife, including several species of monkey, eagles, condors and parrots. As well as the natural world, the Tayrona Park also offers the chance to get to know some of the indigenous cultures of Colombia. The Tayrona tribe who originally lived here have left behind intriguing archaeological sites to explore, plus the descendants of the tribe still inhabit the region and maintain many of their traditions.
If our top 5 of ‘what to see in Colombia’ has got you interested, we’ve got plenty more ideas for what to see and do on a Colombia tour on our website.