For a long while there, Colombia was one of those countries a lot of people wouldn’t even consider visiting. This, of course, is not to say that people never visited or that it was impossible to visit. Colombia was just one of those places that would have been lower on your travel list. Well, that has truly begun to change, with some incredible experiences and best things to do in Colombia that are too good to ignore.
As I said, things have really changed and Colombia is climbing higher and higher on many a traveller’s list of countries to visit. This is not without reason, of course.
Colombia is beautiful, the culture, by and large, is fun and vibrant and the plethora of sights to see. There really is a whole heap of the best things to do in Colombia that I’m almost certain you’ll love.
Now, with our daily commitments (I’m naming you, work!), most of us are only afforded a few weeks a year. So, to help you on your way, we’ve got 10 of the best things to do in Colombia for your next trip.
Let’s jump straight in shall we? Take a look below at some of the best things to do in Colombia. 🇨🇴
1.) Tayrona National Park
Start your trip off to Colombia with a splash by hopping into Tayrona National Park’s natural reef lagoon, La Piscina. This natural attraction is on Colombia’s northernmost coastline, bordering the Caribbean Sea.
If you love a challenge, there are hiking trails following the shoreline, and towering rock formations speckled throughout the turquoise water to climb on ( and to be fair, good on you for getting your exercise on your holidays if you do decide to go for the hike!).
For a more relaxing experience (which is probably where you’ll find me), chill at the beautiful beach and enjoy the lapping waves.
Tayrona National Park is one of the most picturesque locations in Colombia and far removed from the hustle and bustle of heavily urbanized areas. It really is one of the prettiest areas and best things to do in Colombia.
2.) San Andrés Island
A short boat trip away from the Colombian coastline lies San Andrés Island, where the view is nothing but beautiful blue as far as you can see.
Surrounded on all sides by the Caribbean Sea, the island boasts a quaint waterfront where travellers can sip on drinks (cocktail hour every day on holidays is a must, I reckon) while watching the sunset or enjoy a traditional Colombian meal.
If you’re looking for more active experiences, canoes are available to rent and it is just a short paddle to Johnny Cay. It’s an absolutely beautiful archipelago.
3.) Tierradentro Tombs
Navigating through a series of trapdoors, damp corridors, and spiralling tunnels underground are just a few things to expect when you visit this mysterious landmark in southwest Colombia.
Built in the 7th century, these tombs are one of the country’s most treasured archaeological finds, yet they are not as popular with tourists (yet), making the location a great trip for travellers who don’t care for crowds.
For a small entry fee, visitors can explore the tombs alone or with a guide, peruse the two on-site museums, and learn more about the native Paez population.
4.) Tour a Coffee Plantation
With all the hype about Colombian coffee, no traveller should miss taking a tour of a coffee plantation and enjoying a cup of black gold; even if you’re not really into coffee (it would be like going to Champagne in France and not trying at least a sip of that sparking stuff).
Hacienda Venecia is a plantation that offers tours (by reservation online) with hands-on activities, a detailed history of the coffee industry, and delicious cups of their fresh-grown joe. It really is one of the best things to do in Colombia if you love coffee!
5.) Santuario de Las Lajas
One of the most beautiful works of architecture in South America lies near Colombia’s border with Ecuador. Santuario de Las Lajas is a Gothic-style cathedral built into and over a deep river gorge.
Within the church (built into the cliff) is a museum with lots of history about the cathedral. It’s definitely worth popping in for history buffs, though, you might wanna give it a miss if you’re not too interested in history. 🤣
6.) Cartagena’s Old Town
As one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements in South America, this area of Cartagena is rich with culture and history.
Stroll down the quiet streets within the old walls, climb into a carriage for a horse-drawn tour of the city, or indulge your taste buds (and tummy) with a myriad of tropical fruits being sold on the streets (wouldn’t hurt to rinse them before you tuck in, of course).
No matter what you do in Cartagena, you will get the experience the energy that has come to characterise this Old Town area.
7.) Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
As much of Colombia’s wealth stems from salt mining, it only makes sense that one of the most popular sights in the country would be salt-centric. Not far from Bogota lies the salt mining capital of Colombia and in it a beautiful, underground church.
An abandoned, carved out salt mine serves as the setting of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. During the week, visitors can learn more about the salt industry and the church itself, but on Sunday the cathedral opens its doors to nearly 3,000 parishioners for traditional Mass.
8.) Laguna de Guatavita
For an adventure and a gorgeous view of Colombia’s aquatic and terrestrial beauty, a hike to Laguna de Guativita is a must-do.
The lake was most likely formed when the ground around the area became weak because of excessive salt mining in the region and became a sinkhole of sorts.
Now a sparkling turquoise body of water, visitors to Lake Guatavita can indulge in quite a few interesting cultural things here. Much as we’d like for you to, it wouldn’t make sense to just come here and not throw in a bit of culture into your plans right?
Join a guided tour of the state-protected reserve, hike on your own in the area surrounding the lake, or spend some time learning about the native people who used to inhabit this region.
9.) Amazon Jungle
With deforestation taking a toll on the Colombian Amazon Jungle, do not miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience nature at its finest. There are a few tour companies that offer excursions into the jungle ranging from 1-day to 5-days, depending on how much walking or hiking you’re into.
Reset your internal clock and disconnect from the loud world by relaxing, exploring the beauty of Colombia. Oh and don’t forget sleeping under the stars, and filling up on traditional food during a jungle experience.
It really is one of the best things to do in Colombia if you’re an avid nature lover. 🍃
If you love to swing your hips (or at least try), you won’t wanna miss the World Capital of Salsa, Cali.
When you aren’t sashaying your way through the streets and barhopping around the vibrant capital, stop in and visit Iglesia la Ermita. This Gothic-style church, which was built in the 1930s, boasts some beautiful buildings and stained glass.
Another landmark attraction is Cristo Rey, a 26-meter statue of Jesus Christ that stands at the top of the Hill of Crystals.
Recharge after your short walk up and down the hill by filling up on empanadas, drinking lulada (made from lulo fruit and great with a bit of alcohol) or snacking on some pandebono.