Colombia is situated in the northwest of South America. The country is characterized by its five different natural regions, from the Andes mountain range, the Pacific and Caribbean coastal area, the Llanos (plains), to the Amazon rainforest. The dry season runs from December to March, ideal time for exploring the country! I’ve been travelling in Colombia for about three weeks in January/February and I highly recommend following destinations and places of interest:
Bogotá, the capital and largest city of Colombia, has a population of over 8 million people. It is located at an average of 2’640 meters above sea level, in the Colombian Andes region. Bogotá is part of the world’s best cities for street art and graffiti. A must-see museum is the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) that shows the world’s largest collection of pre-Columbian gold ornaments made by indigenous cultures. Highly recommended is also the Museo Botero, one of Latin America’s largest collections of modern and impressionist art, donated by Colombia’s most celebrated artist Fernando Botero. The Cerro de Monserrate offers a spectacular view on Bogotá, which can be easily reached by cable car or funicular.
Colombia is home to some of the world’s best coffee. To visit the Zona Cafetera, I highly recommend you to stay at the charming town of Salento, a popular touristic destination from where you can take part in coffee plantation tours. The nearby Cocora Valley is worth a visit too! It is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, and offers beautiful hikes, surrounded by almost 60m high wax palms, Colombia’s national tree.
Medellín is the second largest city in the country, with an estimated population of 2.5 million inhabitants. It has a modern public transportation system with a metro line, the tranvia (with some street art along its way) and a few cable cars, ideal to move around the city. Medellín is also the birthplace of painter Fernando Botero. The Plaza Botero is a must-see square, where many of Botero’s famous big bronze statues are placed. The city’s main cathedral, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana, on the central Parque Bolivar is nice too! Regarding museums, I recommend the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (MAMM), offering interesting exhibitions on modern Latin art.
In the outskirts of Medellín, the picturesque town of Guatapé is full of colorfully painted houses. The town and its region got famous since a lake reservoir was created by the Colombian government for a hydro-electric dam in the late 1960s. The region’s most famous attraction is the 200m high rock formation called La Piedra del Peñol. Visitors can scale the rock via a staircase, a path including more than 600 steps. An open-air viewing are on the top of the rock offers a spectacular scenery over the lake reservoir.
Cartagena de Indias is a city located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean coast region. It is the fifth-largest city and most visited city in the country by tourists. It’s main attraction is the colorful historic old town surrounded by the city wall. In 1984, Cartagena’s colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Getsemani, a traditional neighbourhood next to the old town, is a nice place to stay overnight and to discover some street art too.
Along the Caribbean coast you will find some idylic tropical beaches to relax, with an average temperature of 28 Celsius. I highly recommend to stay at an eco-hostel close to the tiny village of Palomino. It is located 72km northwest of the city Santa Marta, close to the Venezuelan border, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Palomino’s paradise attracts tourists for its beautiful coconut trees and white beaches made up of volcanic sand.