Colombia Destination Guide
In Colombia, you will never run out of interesting things to see and do. The country is rich in history, art and culture, and spectacular scenery. Colombia's tourism industry, established in the 1940s, has been growing steadily. Besides Bogota, the other major tourist destinations are Cartagena, Santa Marta, Eje Cafetero, San Andrés Island, Medellín, Barranquilla and Cali, each with its own tourist attractions.
Colombia's rich and diverse geography and its wealth of flora and flora have spawned an eco tourism industry.
Use our Colombia destination guide below to plan what you want to see and do during your Colombia holiday. A perfect way to get to know the real Colombia and get amongst the locals is to take a Colombia tour. Also be sure to check out some further useful information for travelling around Colombia. You can also find out what there is to see and do in the following Colombian destinations:
Things to See & Do in Colombia
National parks and places that are eco-tourist destinations include the Colombian National Coffee Park in Montenegro, Quindio, Amacayacu Park in the Department of Amazonas, the PANACA theme Park and PANACA Savanna Park, the Tayrona Park in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range (near Santa Marta), the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in the Los Nevados National Park (near Manizales), the Cocora Valley in Salento, Quindío, the Gorgona and Malpelo islands, the Tatacoa Desert, Cabo de la Vela in the Guajira Peninsula and the Chicamocha Canyon National Park.
Follow the links below or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Colombia:
Are you a driving/riding enthusiast looking for a muddy challenge? Colombia has the rugged terrain that will make your dreams come true. Go off-road in a 4-wheel drive or on a motorbike.
In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, you can take a break from the hectic pace of the city in the colonial churches and the museums. At the Museo Del Oro (one of the well known gold museums of the world), you are greeted by a large number of Colombian exhibits. If you're interested in the ancient and modern art of Colombia, there's the Museo Nacional. Don't miss a visit to the beautiful churches of Iglesia de Santa Clara and Iglesia de San Ignacio. One of the historical sites in Bogota is the Plaza Bolivar (the main square) with its cathedral. A majority of these historical sites are in La Candelaria, Bogota's oldest district. There are many churches here, as well as The Capitol Municipal Palace.
Villa de Leyva, or Villa de Leiva, is a town from the colonial era. It is quite close to Bogotá, and is a great place for a weekend excursion or a day outing. Some wonderful instances of colonial architecture and spectacular scenery can be seen here, and it has good accommodation. You can dine on the local cuisine in a historic setting.
The third largest city in Colombia is Cali, home to the coffee and sugar industry. Cali boasts a great nightlife in the salsotecas. It has historic sites and you can go on excursions to nearby areas to visit the haciendas of the sugar barons and the fine archaeological sites of Tierradentro and San Augustin.
Once upon a time, this fortress and walled city proved too much for pirates and invaders. Today, Cartagena welcomes travellers with its vibrant nightlife, colonial charm and nearby attractions.
On public holidays and Sundays, you can skate or cycle from 0700 to 1400 hours across 121 km (75 miles) of Bogota's streets, which turn into ciclovías (cycleways). The streets are absolutely free of cars on these days.
Isla Gorgona, in the Pacific Ocean, used to be a prison-island. But now it is a nature reserve with plentiful wildlife, such as monkeys and snakes, whose waters offer sightings of sea turtles and whales, and some excellent diving.
Probably the best adventure you could have in Colombia is in the world-famous rain forests of the Amazon Basin. You can go on a jungle tour and explore almost one-third of the country's territory. Take a boat trip from Leticia to the Amacayu National Park nearby. You might even get a chance to see Indian tribes, as the tour often includes such visits.
If you like, you could spend some time on a coffee farm. There are over 300 haciendas in Colombia with lodging facilities for tourists, and guided walks through fields of coffee. Horse riding, mountain biking, fishing, and trips to villages in the locality are also on offer. Or you can climb the 5,400 metres (17,717 feet) high Nevado del Ruiz, which is one of the five volcanoes in Los Nevados National Park. All these are permanently capped with snow. Just book yourself into a guided trek available from Manizales.
This city, the capital of the Antioquia department in Colombia, has a temperate climate which has inspired Colombians to refer to it as ‘The Capital of Flowers', and ‘Land of Eternal Spring'.
This picturesque town in a tranquil valley has a rich cultural and religious heritage, and is one of the country's most lovely colonial towns. It has been completely restored after having been hit by an earthquake, and is in fact a place of national importance, famed for its dazzling Semana Santa celebrations.
In Cundinamarca and Fonce, you can dare the rapids of the Rio Negro and go kayaking in the Chicamocha Canyon in Santander.
San Andres is the place to be if you like diving in crystal clear seas, strolling across white beaches, nightclubbing and going to pubs. What's more, you can experience the city's colourful culture, choose from a wide range of hotels that comes with full amenities, and shop duty free. Located in the Caribbean, San Andres is a Colombian archipelago. Because of its proximity to Jamaica and Nicaragua, it is a carefree place to relax in, far from the potential hazards of the Colombian mainland.
Santa Marta, Colombia's first Spanish colony, is situated on the coast and has wonderful beaches. From here you can access the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Tayrona national parks, as well as the legendary lost city of the Taironas.
UNESCO's Seaflower Biosphere Reserve at San Andrés and Providencia offers tropical waters full of all kinds of fish and numerous species of coral. A couple of other places for memorable diving are the Tayrona National Park and the Islas del Rosario.
Before the era of the Incas, people buried their dead in the Parque Arqueológico de San Agustin, a large park nestled in the Magdalena River gorge in the south of Colombia. Fierce looking stone figures, some mythical, others animal-like, guard these tombs.
If you'd like to see something bizarre that is a major tourist attraction, head to this small Caribbean island with its hole in the ground that blows strong gusts of air. The hole, a little larger than a basketball, is on the island's southern end. It is at a distance of around ten metres from the sea. This is how it works: the hole connects via an underground tunnel to the shore, and whenever a wave surges onto the shore in the right way, the impact sends a strong blast of air into the tunnel and pushes air out through the hole. The blast of air is strong, and has the force of 50 hair driers. Sometimes you can see a geyser erupt from the hole if the conditions - the waves and tides - are conducive.
You can raft down the white waters of the Chicamocha and Servitá rivers, which rush down from the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy and merge at Capitanejo.