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.

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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.

Hiking San Jorge Botanical Gardens.

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.

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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.

Unbeatable Ibague views.

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.

More picturesque views.

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
  • Ukelele

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.

Make sure you know some Spanish before you go! This is a great place to start.
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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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Michael Davies - July 6, 2017

I live in Ibague and theres a few other things I would suggest if you’re in the city.

Firstly you mentioned playa hawai but I think a much better option is piscilago which is situated about 1 hour bus from Ibague. There is a massive waterpark and also a zoo.

An hour away the other way you have a town called armero which was destroyed by a volcano eruption. You can go and see all the ruins of the town and the place also has a small museum with all the information and stories of the tragedy.

The orchard gardens is also a nice day out, i enjoyed it just as much as the botanical garden infact. Its a well informed tour describing the lifecycle of orchids and showing you all the different varieties. Theres also great views on the walk.

Situated in Ibague there’s a place called el carmen which is a small lake where you can go and fish, you can hire rods there and drink a few beers, there is also a restaurant and pool there along with horse riding.

Again about an hour away there is the parque del arroz. This is a tour showing you how rice is produced. great day out.

Also on tuesdays in cinemark, in the multicentro mall the cinema costs about 7000 maybe less and all the movies are in english, so if you want to relax and just watch a film , tuesday is definitely the best time to go.

Foodwise you need to try the tamal in ibague, usually sold at the weekend and cost 4000. here is the home of tamal so you wont find a better place to get it than here.

I have an apartment in ibague and im renting a double private toom for 1-3 people. The price included breakfast. Here in my complex is the only complex with an aqua park, theres 3 pools here, a gym, and were close to all the malls abs buses to the countryside. so if people want a nice comfortable base with an english host and my colombian partner who can point you in all the right directions then I will add the link to my airbnb below.
You can come here, enjoy a day round the pool in the sunshine, go on trips. But it really is a nice relaxing base.

Heres the link anwyay, hope to meet some new people soon

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19486056?location=Ibagu%C3%A9%2C%20Tolima%2C%20Colombia&check_in=2017-07-12&check_out=2017-07-13&s=y4gnJUk7

Reply
    NomadicJake - July 6, 2017

    This is a fantastic addition to the post! In fact, would you have any interest in writing a guest post as a “Part 2” to my original post. This is too good of information to pass up.

    Let me know. You could link your Airbnb in the post if you like.

    My email is: [email protected]

    Reply
      Michael Davies - July 6, 2017

      Hi mate ,

      I’ve only just joined this site as I saw your article on Ibague and thought id add a bit more info so im not sure what you want me to do, but my email is [email protected]. I will definitely write a guest post, just tell me what you need me to do and il get writing it this week

      take care

      mike

      Reply
        NomadicJake - July 6, 2017

        Cool! Sending an email now.

        Reply
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Toks - August 28, 2017

Stunning

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    NomadicJake - August 28, 2017

    It’s a great city!

    Reply
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