9 Things to Do In Ibague, Colombia
To be honest, there’s not a ton of things to do in Ibague, Colombia. The city just isn’t too touristy. This isn’t Santa Marta or Cartagena.
The mid-sized city in the center of Colombia barely sees foreigners. There’s just not a lot of draw for tourists in the city.
Still, there are a few things to do in Ibague, Colombia. I sent a month in the city and did a little exploring. I talked with locals, looked online, and made an attempt to do as much tourism as possible.
What is Ibague, Colombia Like?
I wrote a little more about Ibague here. The city is nestled in a stunning valley with mountains surrounding almost every side. After living in Bogota, Colombia for awhile, I was impressed with the natural beauty found around the city.
The climate is fairly awesome, as well. During the day the temperature was pretty hot, usually around 80 degrees. In the evening, things dipped down to around 71 degrees. You won’t need AC at night if you have a small fan in Ibague.
The people were friendly as ever. The city doesn’t see many foreigners, so individuals who are taking English classes relish the chance to say a few words to a gringo. I truly enjoyed interacting with the people in the city.
9 Things to Do In Ibague, Colombia
And tourism? Well, there’s really not a lot here. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t have a good time in Ibague. So here are nine great things to do in Ibague, Colombia:
Interact with Locals
Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met are in Ibague. If you visit the city, make sure you make an effort to get out and meet some residents of the city. People in Ibague are friendly and always willing to help.
The city has a population of around 500,000 – but there’s a definite small-town vibe here. You’ll quickly begin to recognize the same people going to the same places and people will often say what’s up.
Check Out the Views
Make no mistake about it – you’ll find some absolutely stunning views in Ibague. My apartment had amazing views of the mountains all around the city, but so did many of the restaurants and malls around the city.
It really doesn’t matter where you are in the city, you’ll find sweeping views around every corner. Grab a coffee from Juan Valdez and just take in the lush mountainside and beautiful nature.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
Nearly every city has a botanical garden these days, but most of them aren’t anything special. The botanical garden in Ibague is a little different. Going by the name of San Jorge, the botanical garden in Ibague is by far the best one I’ve ever visited.
The garden areas look spectacular, but the best part is the hiking opportunities available. Situated on the edge of the city, San Jorge offers a stunning two-hour hike up to a beautiful mirador that overlooks all of Ibague. If you enjoy hiking, this is a must while in the city.
Take a Trip to Juntas
A stunning small town situated 45 minutes outside of Ibague, Juntas is a great spot to visit while in the city. You can take the bus from Ibague to Juntas and it only costs around $1 USD.
Once in the town, you’ll have a variety of hiking options available. There’s a fantastic mirador here, Canon Combeima, and many trails to hike. There are also a few small restaurants and hotels – if you want to spend the night.
Hike to La Rivera
Just a little further up the train from Juntas, about an hour and a half hike, you’ll find a stunning finca/hotel named La Rivera. Here you’ll find a cable car, an a amazing restaurant, some of the best views I’ve seen, and even a zoo.
You could easily spend a whole day here, or you could spend the night. I was thoroughly impressed with the place and will definitely go back the next time I’m in Ibague. They even had WiFi to ensure you could post your Instagram photos ASAP.
Enjoy Some Rumba
Rumba is Colombian for partying. And the nightlife in Ibague is pretty solid from what I gathered. As there’s not a ton to do in the city, the locals love to let loose on the weekends.
While you won’t find much to do during the week from a nightlife perspective, you certainly will on Friday and Saturday. Some popular spots in the city include:
- El Tereque
- La Estacion
Hop On a Chiva
A chiva is basically a Colombian party bus, and boy are they popular in Ibague. Every single night of the week you’d hear chivas cruise by my apartment blaring music. People would be dancing, drinking, and having a good time.
Most groups would pay $5-15 per person to hop on the chiva for two hours before going to a bar, club, or private party. If you make some local friends while in Ibague, see if you can get on a chiva one night.
La Martinica Hike
Another great hike located just outside the city, La Martinica isn’t for beginners. The route is semi-tough and will take nearly two hours to complete. But the views are absolutely spectacular.
This isn’t a hike to do alone. Bring a friend and make sure you have adequate water, as there aren’t many, if any, vendors here most days.
Check Out Playa Hawai
If you enjoy water parks, then you’ll want to check out the best one in Ibague – Playa Hawai. More than just a water park, this place offers a hotel, water park, and little lake area. It’s pretty and well-worth a visit if you plan to spend a decent chunk of time in Ibague.
Things to Do In Ibague, Colombia
Ibague isn’t touristy, but you can find enough things to do in the city. There’s enough hiking and attractions here to keep tourists entertained for a week or so. For digital nomads working a lot, you shouldn’t get too bored here for at least a month.