South America is undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic regions in the world, with its fair share of breathtaking natural wonders and cultural sites. Colombia is easily one of the best countries in the region, both in terms of cost of living and tourist destinations.
Not only is Colombia very affordable for travelers, it is also a perfect place for nature lovers, foodies, and culture enthusiasts. Check out the top 5 best places to visit in Colombia and find out what makes this South American country so magical.
Hailed as the “City of Eternal Spring”, Medellin attracts people with its temperate weather, averaging at 24°C all throughout the year. Being the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province, the city’s high-rise apartments and office buildings are set against a backdrop of picturesque peaks.
Despite being a bustling city with a modern transportation system and an abundance of public spaces like parks, museums, and libraries, Medellin remains nature-friendly with its famous annual Flower Festivaland dreamy location along the valley floor.
While the city may appear busy during the weekdays – and it is – Medellin takes a more laidback stance over the weekends. The city’s numerous clubs attract tourists and locals aside, and you really wouldn’t want to miss the infectious energy of Medellin’s basement salsa clubs.
Former home to drug lord Pablo Escobar, Medellin was once called the murder capital of the world, but that’s all in the past now, and the city
The Amazon Region referred to by Colombians as Amazonia, remains a place of keen interest for ecologists, anthropologists, and explorers alike, not only because of its biodiversity but also because of the craft and culture preserved in the region, thanks to its indigenous population.
The Amazon basin, an astounding expanse of 643,000 square kilometers, accounts for about a third of Colombia’s total area. The high diversity of plant and animal species in the region certainly adds to its intriguing charm.
Thanks to the Amazon River, the Amazonian cuisine is primarily centered on freshwater fishes, such as the pirarucu, the largest freshwater fish in the world which is also known for its exceptional taste. Cassava-based dishes are also popular in the region, as well as local fruits.
You can visit the region all year round, but the way you experience the Amazonia will vary widely depending on the season. The months of January to June mark the wet season whereas the months of July to December mark the dry season.
If you want to see the region in its green splendor, try visiting around July, in time for the Festival de la Confraternidad in Leticia, which brings together the ethnic tradition, folklore, and cuisine of three different countries around the Amazon – Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.
If you prefer to cruise over the Amazon River during the low tide, then you might want to visit the region in November during the festival of Amazon Folk Music Pirarucú de Oro in Leticia. Not only will boat trips be smoother at this time, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to enjoy local festivities.
One of the most highly fortified cities in South America, the beautiful walled city of Cartagena still has its distinctive old town charm. Walking along the colorful streets of this lovely port city declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, one can’t help but be inspired by the rich history and culture of this colonial city.
Cartagena has a lot of architectural wonders, making strolls around town a definite feast for the eyes. Plaza Bolivar, the Spanish Inquisition Museum, and the Convent of San Pedro Claver are must-see sites for visitors. You can enter museums in the city for free during the last Sundays of every month.
Another highlight of Cartagena is its generous food offering, giving tourists a variety of options for its delicious street food to its high-end bistros. While the restaurants in the city are great, make sure to try some of their street food offerings which are equally satisfying and a lot cheaper.
While Cartagena is not the place to be if you’re looking for beautiful beaches in Colombia, Playa Blanca, with its white-sand beaches and picture-perfect palm trees, does not disappoint. It’s the perfect place to bask in the Colombian sun or sleep in a hammock after a long day of touring the city’s center.
Playa Blanca is about 20 kilometers away from the heart of Cartagena so it might take a while to get there, but the scenery is well worth the trip. Whether you’re swimming or just lounging on the beach, it’s hard not to admire the serene seascape.
If you love soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach, then you definitely wouldn’t want to miss the Tayrona National Park, which was located on the Caribbean coast near Santa Maria. The many beaches dotting the park are some of the most beautiful in Colombia and are still relatively secluded.
But more than its sandy beaches shaded with coconut palms, the Tayrona National Park also boasts an assortment of ecosystems – from swamps to cloud forests. True enough, the Tayrona National Park is more than just a site for swimming and snorkeling.
The Park is also famous for its diverse flora and fauna and is in fact often visited by birdwatchers all over the world who want to get a glimpse of the endangered Andean condor. The Park is also a great place to hike and see wild lizards and monkeys among others in their habitat.
Home to the indigenous people called the Tayronas. The Tayrona National Park also has many archaeological sites, the most popular being the Pueblito Chairama, an ancient city located at the east end of the Park.
Colombia has a rich colonial history, but its pre-colonial roots are equally astounding. If you want to learn more about the indigenous civilizations that used to thrive in Colombia, then you should not miss a visit to San Agustin.
This small town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, owing to the archaeological sites scattered throughout the countryside, such as Parque Arquelogico, Alto De Los Idoles, and Obando. The four smaller sites of El Tablon, La Chaquira, La Pelota, and El Purutal are also worth visiting.
But San Agustin is not just about the archaeological sites and rich pre-colonial history; it also has its fair share of good eateries. El Tomate is particularly noteworthy, not only because it serves good food, but also because it provides a great treat for vegetarians – something pretty hard to come by in Colombia.
Like the rest of Colombia, residents of San Agustin sure love their sweets and pastries. That said, you can find a bakery on almost every corner of this small town. While in the small town, you should try out their assortment of local sweet delicacies and pastries while sipping good coffee.
If you want a tourist destination where you can admire the lush green scenery existing alongside beautiful centuries-old architecture and a rich culture, then Colombia is the country for you. Like the rest of South America, Colombia exudes an air of both adventure and mystery.
Colombia is an affordable destination with a lot to offer in terms of food, scenery, and experience. If you ever find yourself in South America, you wouldn’t want to miss touring this country.
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