If you are like me and are going with a short timeframe such as a week to 10 days, here is a great 10-day Colombia itinerary so you don't miss anything.
I could write a love letter to Colombia.
And as lame as that last sentence may sound, Colombia was my most fun trip, ever.
It started out while I was traveling through Bolivia and Peru, all the backpackers who were doing the circuit through South America would tell me I had to go to Colombia. I didn’t get there for another year but it was the best.
What do you expect from the homeland of Shakira anyway?!
I usually have a lot of time to read while I’m traveling so I brought Anna Karenina with me.
Don’t bring Anna Karenina with you, or any other long, tedious, book to Colombia. You won’t read it. I still haven’t finished it.
So, when you're in Columbia, if you see as many cities as I did, you will end up spending a lot of time on the road. But buses aren't the only option. There are cheap flights between cities too.
Check out Viva Air, and for even better discounts, use the Spanish version of the site.
First things first, start with Bogotá. It's good for about two days, and one to two nights.
I found this guide to the city to be really helpful. I didn't get to everything on the list, but I was able to pick and choose what I thought was interesting.
This city has its rough edges, so don’t be naive, especially if you’re going out dancing, always take a cab back to your hostel. But don’t miss out on how amazingly and unique the city is.
Bogotá street art
The art galleries aren’t inside here, they’re the graffiti that is everywhere. Most hostels offer graffiti tours of the city on bikes and I suggest you go. This graffiti touris free and is offered at least once a day.
Next, either take the train car to Monserrate, the church on top of the mountain, or walk the winding path up to the top yourself.
I woke up early one morning and hiked to the top. It was a nice hike and with the jet-lag and elevation change was a little challenging.
It was also Sunday morning so it was very crowded but still a good start to the day.
This is such a unique and fun day trip!
For directions on how to get there, see this post. Even with my minimal Spanish I managed without a problem.
I’m not sure why mines are a tourist attraction in South America but this one is very unique and completely worth the trip.
I get claustrophobic sometimes but that wasn't an issue at Catedral de Sal. It has huge caverns that are lit with purple light and statues of angels.
Catedral de Sal, if you look closely you can see the pews below.
It combines the appreciation for mining here with the strong Catholic influence and is totally fascinating.
The trip would not be complete without a long stop in Medellin.
For an idea of how to get there from Bogota, click here.
Such a beautiful city.
Medellin is the city of eternal spring. It’s cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoons. It’s also filled with greenhouses that grow a lot of the flowers that we buy in supermarkets in the US.
There is a lot to do here! I found this guide from Nomadic Matt very helpful when planning my stop in Medellin on my Colombia itinerary.
For me, I enjoyed this colorful city and an organic farm nearby.
Next, and last should be Cartagena. This city has a completely different feel.
I was surprised at how resort-like it was with a mix of South American city and Caribbean.
Cartagena is a great place to end your trip by relaxing, dancing, and enjoying a very vibrant and picturesque city.
Flights to Cartagena are surprisingly cheap and take only about 45 minutes. If you want more information on how to get there, this guide lays out quickly.
It’s a photographer’s dream because the buildings are extremely quaint and colorful. I practiced Salsa here for a few nights. It’s a great town for relaxing on the coast.
Cartagena also has a section of the city that is an old, walled, fortress that fun for an afternoon as well.
You can get dinner at a restaurant on the wall and look out over the sea.
If you want a calm ending to your Colombia itinerary, I suggest ending in Cartagena and enjoying some down time in this amazing city. Get some great food, do some shopping, and do a little extra sight-seeing like at the Museum of Chocolate.
However, if you want a more fast-paced trip with a full itinerary, make time for one last stop in Santa Marta.
As a last stop, you can go to Santa Marta to see the national park and camp along the beach.
Out by the pool, waiting for our taxi into town to dance.
This stop is worth about another 2 days. If you go to and stay in hostels, are two hostels I recommend, one is La Brisa Loca, it’s in town and has a great rooftop bar. The other is the Dreamer Hostel, it’s a bit further away from everything but has a great pool and a really fun vibe.
Sunset at Tayrona National Park
For camping, check out Tayrona National Park. It is right along the coast and has some amazing accommodations in huts along the beach.
Oh, this is a sad one.
If you're anything like me, you'll leave determined to come back some day.
When I think of the countries that I want to go back to, Colombia tops the list because there is so much to it. There’s a vibrant culture and a way of life that makes me think that if I were going to live in South America, this might be the first place I look.
I hope this ten-day Colombia itinerary helps you decide where is the best for you to go on your trip!