7 Awesome Places To Visit In Colombia – For Your Perfect Travel Itinerary

Places To Visit In Colombia - For Your Perfect Travel Itinerary

After Kelly taking in the places to visit in Colombia on her first ever solo trip, we returned and travelled there together for 52 days. Our Colombia trip was packed full of adventure as we experienced as much of this stunning country as we could. Being constantly blown away by the kindness and energy of the people as well as all of the beautiful places in Colombia. We experienced diverse and mind-blowing landscapes, stunning architecture and tons of colour, music and vibrance; all of which had a lasting effect on us.

In this post we have included some of our best travel memories and places to visit in Colombia including cities, towns, village and places that were far off the beaten track. We hope this will give you some great ideas for places to visit in Colombia, all highly recommended from our travels and hopefully sparking some inspiration for planning your perfect Colombia travel itinerary.

Our Favourite Places in Colombia To Visit

We will show you our Colombia itinerary trip which took us through the country starting in Bogota and returning there after our amazing 52 days backpacking and adventuring. We have also included the places in Colombia where we would recommend staying, covering each of our stops as well information on the bus terminals and onward transportation times for each place.

Note from the author: This article has been written by me from my travel experience. I may recommend & provide links to products & services that I have used & may make commission from such links. This commission helps cover the costs of running this website & will be at no extra cost to you. Anything that I recommend is from my personal experience & belief that it is worth using. Happy reading!

Places To Visit In Colombia

Bogota

Why visit Bogota?

Bogota is Colombia’s high altitude vibrant capital filled with inspiring street art, museums, parks, gardens, up and coming foodie scene and eclectic mix of colonial, European and South American architecture; you certainly will not be short of things to see or do here. We took two amazing Bogota tours including a street art tour through La Candaleria, Bogota’s old town and a bike tour of the city with Bogota Bike Tours. Both are a great way to get to know the city.

Read more on Bogota here with our 8 Tips for Colombia’s capital city including more info on the tours we took.

Bogota is probably the perfect and most affordable place to start your trip to Colombia as flights into the capital are usually the best value. Once you’ve had your fill of Bogota buses onto Medellin, Salento and pretty much anywhere else in the country your itinerary is taking you, all leave daily from the main bus station – Terminal de Transporte Bogotá. Below are a few more transport details.

Where to stay in Bogota

We would recommend staying in La Candelaria as this will place you right near all of the sites and attractions Bogota has to offer. Cranky Croc Hostel – A really great hostel located right in the centre of ‘La Candelaria’ which is Bogota’s ‘Old Town’is the perfect location from which to see all of Bogota’s best bits and sights.

Bogota Bus Terminal – Onward Travel

Looking to move on from Bogota to Salento or the catch the Bogota to Medellin bus? This is where you want to get yourself…

Terminal de transporte Bogotá Location hereTheir website here.

Bogota to Medellin Bus time – 10 hrs avg.

Bogota to Pereira bus – 9 hrs avg. then 1.5 hrs to Salento.

Bogota to Armenia bus – 8 hrs avg. then 45 mins to Salento.

Note – If you are travelling onto Salento then you will have to get the bus from Bogota to Pereira or Armenia then change for Salento. At Pereira or Armenia grab a local bus to Salento which will drop you off at the town square.

We also used Uber in Bogota to get from the airport or longer journeys whilst we were there. Our experience with using Uber in Colombia was really safe and a great way to get around. A little less available in the small towns and villages but still readily available in the bigger cities we visited in Colombia.

Salento

Why visit Salento?

Next on our Colombia travel itinerary was Salento. This was one of the most beautiful places in Colombia; we loved its chilled vibe, must-visit Cocora Valley, coffee tours and all-round gorgeous scenery. If you love coffee and have ever wondered how it starts if life, from being grown, harvested and produced into what you put into your cup, this is the place for you!

You can check some more in-depth information about Salento here and what got up to there including visiting Cocora valley, Coffee tours in Salento and Salento town itself.

Where to stay in Salento

We stayed at a great place called Kasaguadua an eco-lodge built by Nick and Carlos in the middle of the jungle in Salento. If you are up for a break from the norm of a hostel or hotel we would definitely recommend this place. The guys also do tours if you are staying there in which they take you around the surrounding jungle area of the lodge teaching you about all the flora, fauna and makeup of the land. Super interesting!

Salento Bus Terminal – Onward Travel

The Salento bus terminal is located just on the edge of town not far from the centre its location can be found here. Check out Flota Occidental for the services onward.

Salento to Medellin bus time – 7 hrs avg.

Medellin

Why visit Medellin?

Probably one of the most famous places in Colombia for its history. This city is certainly buzzing. With cool and full of life neighbourhoods filled with great food places and bars. It is really easy to be led into the party vibe of this city without even realising it. Arguably one of the best cites in Colombia and we could definitely see why when we visited!

You can check out our post on Medellin for things do and see around Medellin as well as what we got up to there in 4 days.

Where to stay in Medellin

The Purple Monkey Hostel located in barrio Manilla, one of Medellin’s funky and lively neighbourhoods. We found it was the perfect place to explore Medellin with a short walk to both the metro station at El Poblado and an Exito supermarket close-by.

Medellin Bus Terminal – Onward Travel

The Medellin bus terminal has both north (del Norte) and a south terminal (del Sur) so if you are looking for the Medellin to Cartagena bus the north terminal is the one you want. Always check on their website below for up-to-date terminal information on your next Colombia destination. Both terminals are close to stops on the metro station line.

Terminal de transporte del norte (North)LocationTheir Website

Terminal de transporte del sur (South)LocationTheir Website

Medellin to Cartagena bus time – 13.5 hrs avg.

Cartagena

Why visit Cartagena?

As places to visit in Colombia go they don’t get much more wow than Cartagena! Bright colourful buildings, amazing street art, a booming party scene and a world heritage site. This walled port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast named after Cartagena in Spain and Colombia’s fifth biggest city offers the perfect place to just wander around and take it all in. Soak up the alluring colonial architecture, walk the old city walls, take in some history and meander through the array of plazas located through-out Cartagena. Top Tip: It’s a HOT city, remember to pack a hat and carry water with you when wandering!

Check out our 11 Awesome Things To Do In Cartagena for some serious inspiration for your trip to Cartagena.

Where to stay in Cartagena

Akel house is a really great place to stay. Very clean and one of the cheapest hotels to stay in Cartagena. With breakfast included and located inside Cartagena’s walled city, close to the Getsemani neighbourhood we would highly recommend this place to stay in Cartagena de Indias.

Cartagena Bus Terminal – Onward Travel

Looking for the bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta or your next destination? Here is the information for the bus terminal in Cartagena –

Terminal de transportes de CartagenaLocationTheir website.

Cartagena to Santa Marta bus time – 4.5 hrs avg.

Santa Marta to Minca by taxi / collectivo- 40min avg.

There are many options travelling on from Cartagena. We took a little detour and flew onto San Andres Island (1.5 hr flight) detailed below before returning to Cartagena then taking the bus from Cartagena onto Santa Marta. Then from Santa Marta bus terminal we a took a taxi to Minca.

Cartagena is also another possibility when looking to find a cheaper flight into or out of the country. Normally not as good value as Bogota but depending on your Colombia Itinerary this could also be an option to start or end your journey.

San Andres Island

Why visit San Andres?

Next on our awesome places to visit in Colombia located 800km off the coast (nearer to Nicaragua than Colombia) are the beautiful islands of San Andres and Providencia. Known for its stunning reefs and reggae (and reggaeton) music and Caribbean vibes. The language on the island is a mix of Spanish and English creole.The unique cultural diversity of the island gave it a feeling like no place we have ever been. We especially love that to date it is still this most laid back place that we have ever visited.

Flights to San Andres fly from Cartagena airport with an additional tourist tax fee payable on check-in at Cartagena Airport. This goes directly towards the upkeep and all-round functioning of the island. If you are looking for some Caribbean vibes and some picture-perfect beaches blended in with Colombian culture to add to your Colombia trip itinerary this is your place. You cannot fly straight to Providencia but it is accessible by boat from San Andres if you fancy exploring some more!

You can check out more information, pictures and what we got up to on this Colombian Caribbean island in our San Andres Island post.

Where to stay on San Andres Island

We would highly recommend Villa Verde for a place to stay on San Andres Island. With the option to camp or stay in the hostel,being close to the beach and scooters available to rent get around the island. We loved our stay and our host Luis at the relaxed Villa Verde!

Minca

Why visit Minca?

The sleepy mountain town of Minca located in the Sierra Nevada 15km from Santa Marta offers a tranquil rest and break from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities of Santa Marta or Cartagena. With a laid back vibe (yes, it seems to be somewhat of a Colombian pattern!), cooler temperatures and loads of hiking or biking opportunities, Minca was another favourite place of ours to visit in Colombia. One of the lesser known places but we loved it here and would definitely recommend adding to your Colombia itinerary.

For more details on Minca check out our post with 5 Alluring Reasons To Visit this laid back mountain town.

Where to stay in Minca

Casa Loma is a place like no other. Located a short walk from Minca’s town centre, Casa Loma is total peace and serenity, with no wifi and a delicious vegetarian kitchen, it is the perfect place to relax, unwind and disconnect. We extended our stay there a couple of times as we loved it so much, the Cabanas are awesome!

We also booked the Lost City Trek or Ciudad Perdida through Casa Loma and were picked up and dropped back to Minca’s town centre after the 5-day trek. If you are thinking about doing this incredible trek check out our post here for all you need to know.

Minca – Onward Travel

As Minca is such a small and remote mountain town the transportation consists of a taxi or collectivo back to Santa Marta. The collectivos in Minca to Santa Marta are located in the centre of town near the Supermarket. You will see them pulled up at the side of the main road leading out of Minca.

For onward travel or the bus from Santa Marta to San Gil go to –

Terminal de Transportes de Santa MartaLocation here.

Minca to Santa Marta by taxi / collectivo time – 40min avg.

Santa Marta to San Gil time – 12hrs avg.

San Gil

Why visit San Gil?

Named the ‘adventure capital’ of Colombia San Gil boasts a heap of adrenaline filled activities and unique, fun things to do in Colombia. The town of San Gil is actually very relaxed and with very much a local vibe, is great to kick back, relax in one of the plazas or go for a stroll around.

There is also a lot of hiking near San Gil and the surrounding area. One hike we did was the el Camino Real from nearby town of Barachara to Los Santos through the Colombian countryside over two days. Check out our post for more details on our epic Colombian hiking adventure.

We would highly recommend visiting the beautiful nearby town of Barachara even if you don’t fancy taking on the el Camino Real. A tour to Barachara from San Gil can be booked through your hostel or easily visited by taking a local bus from the local ‘Terminalito Provincial’ bus station located here in San Gil.

Where to stay in San Gil

We stayed at Sam’s VIP hostel which we would highly recommend. The hostel located right in the centre of San Gil has everything you need and is a great place to base yourself and make friends with other backpackers.

Some of the epic adventure activities in San Gil include:

Rafting and Kayaking

Paragliding

Waterfalls and Rappelling

Biking

San Gil Bus Terminal – Onward Travel

San Gils’s bus terminal is located just on the outskirts of town within walking distance or short taxi ride from most of the hostels in San Gil or 2km from Sam’s VIP hostel.

Terminal de Transporte De San GilLocation here.

San Gil to Bogota bus time – 7hrs avg.

From San Gil we took a bus back to Bogota to grab our flights out of Colombia.

Transport & Buses in Colombia

We found the best way to get around in Colombia are certainly the buses. Found at every village, town and city the bus terminals are usually a hub of activity with buses running all around the country. With all the different counters, especially at the major city terminals, it can become a bit confusing. Our advice would be just to ask at the desks, Colombian’s are very friendly and love to help.

Some journeys in Colombia are more than often quite long (and often made longer by unknown events, such a stopping for food, road works etc.) – we would suggest always catching the earliest bus (unless you are catching a night bus) so you are able to make it to your destination at a good time and are also able to make any onward connections.

In our experience Colombians are one of the kindest and most genuinely helpful people we have ever met. If you are travelling and need help finding your bus stop or anything else, don’t be shy to ask as people will happily guide you to where you need to be. Don’t even be surprised if someone comes to help you before you ask, it’s just in their nature to do so!

Top Tip – Always wear / take something warm with you as a lot of the buses in Colombia leave the air conditioning on for the duration of the journey so if you are on a long journey it will get more than a little bit cool!

Places To Visit In Colombia – To Sum It Up

We hope you have enjoyed our round-up of these beautiful places to visit in Colombia and found the information helpful in planning your own perfect Colombia backpacking itinerary. The bus transportation in Colombia is really well set up, making it easy to travel between places. So if you are travelling to Colombia for 2 weeks, a month or longer we hope our recommendations have made it onto your list!

Please let us know if you have any questions, by posting them just below in the comments. Each of our articles linked has more in-depth information on all of these locations so if you are looking for some more information on things to do in Colombia be sure to check them out!

Happy adventuring,

Adam & Kelly x

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