Colombia

The Colombians are rightly proud of their country, and you’ll feel a tremendous sense of refreshment and delight when you visit. Colombia enjoys diverse geographical features, from flat lowlands to high snow-capped Andes mountain ranges.

Top sights

Surrounded by mountains, Medellin is a city of eternal spring, with a pleasant climate of around 24°C (75°F). It’s hard to imagine that this city was considered as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, considering it is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colombia. The importance of fashion is seen in its beautiful shopping malls. Medellin is also a very colorful city because of its gorgeous flowers; the city celebrates its flower festival for 12 days every August

Whenever you are in Colombia, make time to explore the beautiful city of Bogota. The heart of the Andes is known for its whirlwind festival, a celebration of traditional Colombian dance. In Bogotá, travelers, find it an ideal place to do business, or explore history, food, culture and many other local customs. Places to visit here include the gold museum which houses a collection of pre-Hispanic objects and the world-famous Plaza de Bolívar, the central plaza that acts as the heart of the city among a host of others.

The Caribbean city of Cartagena has excellent beaches and a historic old town with colonial architecture. The historic center of Cartagena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are looking to experience a pretty site at night, then you should be headed there. It’s also one of the safest places in the country. This city is an open-air museum, yet has more than just culture and history to offer.

Top things to do

Colombia boasts outdoor playgrounds like Lake Murray, Congaree National Park, tropical sandy beaches, thundering waterfalls, and amazing rainforests.

The most important event in Colombia’s calendar, Barranquilla carnival, is known to get the streets busy with musical and masquerade parades and intense festivities for four days. UNESCO has declared it a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Also remember that salsa isn’t just a taco topping. Dance in “the land of a thousand rhythms” in the southern city of Cali, Colombia’s salsa capital. The clubs start warming up in the early hours of the morning. Don’t forget to come packed with your dancing shoes to move those hips till sunrise.

Cuisine

Colombian food is typical of Latin American cuisine as a whole. You’ll find fish, beef, chicken, and pork on the menu, and most dishes are served with rice, beans, or potatoes. That said, no matter where you go in the country, you’ll also find arepas at every meal. Made of ground corn dough or flour, arepas con queso (with cheese) are best sampled from street vendors (for $1).

Ajiaco is a heavy, potato-based soup that is especially popular in and around Bogota. Additional ingredients include shredded chicken, small chunks of corn on the cob, capers, and cream. The soup is typically served with a side of rice and fresh avocado, which you add to taste.

Also try Mondongo, another hearty Colombian soup. The base is chopped tripe (stomach lining or intestines) in a broth, and it is always served with accompaniments for mixing, including rice, avocado, bananas, and fresh cilantro.

Thirsty? Colombia’s selection of tropical fruits is unmatched, and you can get a glass of fresh fruit juice for no more than a dollar or two.

And of course, Colombia is well-known for its coffee. Join the locals and order a tinto, a very small cup of coffee that is often sold on the streets, out of thermoses.  If you prefer to savor a cup while sitting, the chain of Juan Valdez Cafes is the Colombian take on Starbucks, and offers free Wi-Fi to customers.

Want something that packs more punch? Aguardiente (or guaro as the locals call it) is a clear, anise-flavored (black licorice) alcohol that is inexpensive and available nationwide. Drink it straight, with a water chaser.

Souvenirs

If budget allows, Colombia is known for its high-quality emeralds, but even jewelry-lovers with a smaller pocketbook can find gold items made with pre-Columbian designs.  The indigenous groups make and sell items like Arhuacas bags and Wayuu hammocks, bags and bracelets.

And of course, a bag of freshly-roasted Colombian coffee is an inexpensive and much-appreciated memento for your friends at home.

Where abouts in Colombia?

Colorful Colonial Cartagena Awaits You Colorful Colonial Cartagena Photo essay of colorful colonial Cartagena, a city where old meets new in a seamless pattern of color, warmth and beauty...

Cartagena - Bolivar, Colombia

Cartagena Old Town is a Photographer’s Dream Old town Cartagena is a photographer's dream Cartagena's narrow streets and gorgeous architecture have made its Old Town one of Latin America’s most popular destinat...

Corredor de Carga, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

How to Cross the Darien Gap Between Panama and Colombia Is it possible to cross the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama? No road goes through the hazardous jungle, so what a...

Darién Gap, Panama

Cartagena Icons That Are Not from Cartagena Not all Cartagena icons are from Cartagena Colombia’s most popular destination captures the heart of everyone who visits, but some Cartagena icons are not original...

Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia

Cartagena Street Life If you have a camera, the street life in Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean coastline, is one of the best reasons to vis...

Cartagena - Bolivar, Colombia

Latest Colombia articles

Tourism website: Colombia Travel

Time zone: UTC/GMT -05:00

Currency: COP – Colombian peso

Official language: Spanish

UNESCO World Heritage sites: 8

See more of the country in our Colombia photo galleries.

Follow As We Saw It on