7 Amazing Things to Do in Colombia: A Gringo’s Guide
Oh, Colombia! It’s nearly impossible to list off a meager seven things to do in Colombia. But I wanted to share some of my best experiences in the country after spending nearly 10 months here.
As a massive country of nearly 50 million people, you can imagine there’s tons to do. Uniquely situated on the Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Amazon River – natural beauty isn’t in short supply.
Not to mention the mountains throughout Colombia provide stunning views in nearly every inland city. You simply can’t miss the views throughout Eje Cafetero! Hell, there’s a lot you can’t miss when visiting the country.
7 Amazing Things to Do in Colombia: A Gringo’s Guide
Alright, enough of the small talk. Let’s dive in and check out some of the best things to do in Colombia:
– Visit Parque Tayrona
It’s a tourist trap. Thousands visit Parque Tayrona nearly every day. Why? Because it’s worth it. The stunning beaches. The mountain hikes. Palm trees all over. If you come to Colombia and skip Parque Tayrona, you missed out.
Parque Tayrona truly is a tropical paradise. Some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen were in Tayrona. I’m talking crystal clear waters surrounded by pristine white sand with massive palm trees in the background.
While there’s dozens of amazing things to do in Colombia, I’d venture to say that a visit to Parque Tayrona is the only “MUST” in Colombia. Make it a priority to take a trip when you’re in the country. It’s just a short trip from Santa Marta.
– Check Out Valle de Cocora
The highlight of El Cafetero, Valle de Cocora features the highest palm trees in the whole world. The trees are called the Quindio Wax Palm Tree and offer unique photo opportunities. You’ll find stunning views, mountain landscapes, and great hiking throughout the valley.
You’ll find stunning views, mountain landscapes, and great hiking throughout the valley. Located outside Salento, and a short drive from both Armenia and Pereira – Valle de Cocora is a must if you’re in the coffee region of Colombia.
You can even rent a horse to hike up to the top where you’ll find amazing views. Just be careful! My horse bucked me off and I went rolling down the mountain for a bit. Not a pleasant experience!
– Party in Bogota
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bogota has the best nightlife in all of Latin America. It’s not even close, especially when you throw out tourist traps like Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Zona T features dozens, if not hundreds, of bars, pubs, and clubs. There’s so many spots you’ll struggle to even check out every single one. There’s just too many places to go.
People go out to mingle, there’s every type of music imaginable, and there’s even a late night spot that stays open until 6-7 in the morning. What more could you want! If you like to party, Bogota is a must visit for a weekend of rumba.
– The Old City in Cartagena
While every tourist that goes to Cartagena checks out the Old City, there’s a reason – it’s amazing. The Old City aka Ciudad Amurallada is one of the finest colonial cities in the world.
Compared to places like Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Ciudad Amurallada truly shines. The area is truly beautiful and a must for any visitors to Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
Here you’ll find amazing architecture, stunning ocean views, and so much more. The best thing to do? Grab a cup of amazing Colombian coffee and start exploring every nook and cranny in the morning before it gets too hot.
– Salto de Tequendama
As the largest “waste waterfall” in the world, Salto de Tequendama isn’t a hugely popular tourist destination. To be frank, it smells like poop here. All of Bogota’s waste gets sent to the river accompanying the waterfall. While the smell isn’t pleasant, the views are absolutely amazing.
While the smell isn’t pleasant, the views are absolutely amazing. Situated about 30 minutes outside Bogota, you’ll find a “haunted” hotel and a giant waterfall – an ideal scene for taking selfies and Instagram photos.
Most don’t consider the waterfall an important tourist attraction in Colombia, but I loved it. We were the only tourists the day we went. We got a private tour of the old hotel, which was being renovated. Then we got free reign to take some photos from the giant balcony overlooking the falls.
– Dance Salsa in Cali
Gringos can’t dance. Why? Because Colombian moms teach their kids to dance salsa before they even start walking. You’ll see 5-year olds who can dance salsa better than you ever could in Cali.
Still, taking a few lessons and working on your salsa dancing is a must when in Cali, Colombia. As the salsa dancing capital of the world, you won’t find a better place to bust a move. Plus, it’s cheap to take classes and lessons.
A few salsa bars have beginners lessons and classes during the week before the floor opens up and everyone starts dancing. Just ask around while in Cali. Or head over to El Manicero and take some group lessons with the locals.
– San Fernando de Bocachica
One of the best tourist experiences in my life was visiting San Fernando de Bocachica near Cartagena. We took a small boat to the island where this colonial Spanish slave prison was located.
It was deserted outside of a few local kids running around. We had this giant prison filled with stunning views all to ourselves. No other travelers. No other gringos. It was amazing.
We took stupid photos, climbed through tunnels with local kids playing a joke on us, and generally had an amazing time. If you’re in Cartagena, you absolutely must check it out.
My Favorite Things to Do in Colombia
Above you’ll find a small sampling of my favorite things to do in Colombia. With such a large and diverse country, there was no way I could cover them all. If you’re headed to the South American nation, try to enjoy a few of these things while exploring the unique Colombian culture.