Getting to know Colombia
Colombia is a country on the move, determined to forge ahead into a more prosperous and peaceful future.
In this region of extremes, you’ll find snow-capped Andean peaks, tropical Amazonian jungles, Caribbean shores, and two sun-kissed deserts. Cartagena and Medellin, as well as Salento and Mompox, the colonial villages in between, offer a plethora of stunning sights.
The legendary Colombian hospitality is what will keep you coming back again and again.
Located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is the country’s crown jewel and one of the best-preserved colonial destinations in the United States. You might think you’ve stepped back in time if you take a walk through the medieval city’s walled enclosure.
13 kilometers of ancient walls, or the vibrant colonial architecture that has been lovingly restored and transformed into restaurants and luxury hotels, may be the reason why so many visitors return to the city year after year. There are balconies with bougainvilleas draped over their railings, or there are the imposing Catholic churches that tower over every square. There’s something about this place that draws visitors, no matter what they are looking for.
With Bocagrande and Getsemani both vying for prime real estate, it’s no surprise that real estate in both areas is in high demand.
Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, is more popular than Bogotá, the country’s capital. Medellin used to be known as the most dangerous city in the world, but in the last quarter of a century, it has earned a new title: creative capital of the world.
In some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, cable cars connect the city’s hills to a modern metro system below, as well as a greenbelt of lush “eco parks” and eye-catching libraries and community centers.
Botero Plaza in the Old Quarter features a collection of 23 impressive sculptures donated by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. This is a great place to start your Medellin sightseeing.
If you’re looking to sample the country’s third-largest producer of coffee beans, Colombia is the place to go. In the subtropical Andean hills west of Bogota, between the small towns of Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales, the vast majority of production takes place. Coffee estates in the Eje Cafetero (or Coffee Axis) have recently begun offering tours, tastings, and luxurious farm stays to the general public.
You might find yourself spending an hour or so with the owner of a small farm to learn how a “cherry” becomes a coffee bean that can later be used to make your favorite cup of coffee at home
In spite of Colombia’s dense (and often impenetrable) jungles covering nearly a third of the country, when you think of the Amazon, you may not immediately picture Colombia. Leticia, a frontier town situated on the banks of the Amazon River, is the capital of the Amazon Basin, which stretches from Colombia to Brazil and Peru.
Leticia is a great place to learn about the indigenous people of the Amazon through ecotourism, wildlife safaris, and Amazon walks.
Tayronas National Natural
With its palm-covered coves and crystal-clear lagoons, the Tayrona National Natural Park is home to some of Colombia’s best beaches. The majority of the beaches are located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a rainforested highland that makes for an excellent side trip on any beach vacation.
It’s also a great place to go snorkeling around La Piscina beach and Cabo San Juan in Tayrona’s protected areas. It’s best to avoid the crowds by visiting during the shoulder seasons (February to November) because these remote beaches aren’t all that remote.
In Bogotá, the capital and largest city of Colombia, most visitors begin their journey. While some decry its crowded streets and gloomy weather, others are awed by its unique blend of colonial elegance and urban sophistication. This city divides opinion. No matter how you slice it, this eight-million-person metropolis tends to grow on you.
Explore La Candelaria’s historic center, which is lined with beautiful buildings such as Plaza de Bolvar and the Museum of Gold, before moving on to the surrounding suburbs and tourist attractions. The more affluent areas of North Bogotá have some of the best boutique shops and chef-driven restaurants in the country.
Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)
A popular hike in Colombia is the four-day, 44-kilometer trek to Ciudad Perdida, a long-lost city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains that was only discovered in the 1970s. It is claimed to be one of the greatest pre-Columbian settlements discovered in the Americas by the Tayrona Indians, who built and occupied this ancient metropolis between the 8th and 14th centuries.
While much of the site is covered in thick jungle, the stone terraces and stairways are still in excellent condition thanks to the current Indigenous people of the area.
This strange Caribbean island baffles many first-time visitors. The first thing to keep in mind is that it is located in Nicaragua rather than Colombia. As a final point, it’s worth noting that the locals don’t speak Spanish. Of course, when you’re relaxing on one of Colombia’s most beautiful beaches, none of that matters.
Golden beaches, cheerful palms, and some of the richest marine species in the world await visitors to the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, which includes this island
Fans of magical realism and Gabriel Garca Márquez’s literature will fall in love with Mompox’s dreamy charms. According to the Nobel laureate’s book The General in His Labyrinth, the fictional village of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude was inspired by this place.
It is said that “El Libertador” Simón Bolvar enlisted the help of his army in Mompox to help neighboring Venezuela gain independence from Spain. Mompox was once an active commercial post on the route between the Caribbean and the Andes, and it is known for this. In the mud of the Magdalena River’s banks, this colonial relic has been abandoned.
La Guajira Peninsula
As the most northerly point in South America, La Guajira is entitled to a uniqueness that is unmatched elsewhere in the continent. This remote and little-known peninsula is a tranquil sanctuary of sweeping sand dunes, bird-covered mangrove swamps, and wide swaths of unoccupied land where the La Guajira Desert meets the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
When you live on a peninsula that was never conquered by the Spanish and is still home to the Wayuu, indigenous beliefs are the law of the land.