Located between the Caribbean, the Amazon Jungle, and the Andes Mountains, Colombia has something for everyone.
A bright, colorful country, it is a very popular tourist destination and for good reason.
Rich with culture and history and full of tropical climates, it makes a great place for fans of the outdoors or those who want to experience its many beaches and islands.
Add in the vibrant nightlife in cities like Medellin and it is a perfect vacation spot.
This Colombia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Power voltage is 110V at 60 Hz.
- Colombia’s currency is the Colombian Peso and 1 Colombian Peso is equal to 0.0003 USD.
- The best way to get around Colombia is by bus.
- As long as your stay is under 90 days, you do not need a tourist visa, just a valid US passport.
- Popular network providers in Colombia include Claro, Tigo, and Movistar. You can purchase a SIM card through any of these networks by visiting their official stores.
- Colombia has a sales tax rate of 19%.
Budget: Colombia offers backpacker hostels with a mix of dorm-styled and private rooms for around 320 to 1,200 Colombian Pesos per night. Hostels tend to come with swimming pools, lounge areas, and/or complimentary breakfast.
Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay 160,000 to 500,000 Colombian Pesos per night. Amenities include air-conditioned rooms and suites, outdoor pools, hotel restaurant and bar, fitness areas, complimentary breakfast, and free Wi-Fi.
High-End: Upscale hotels can go from 650,000 to 1,500,000 Colombian Pesos per night and include top-class hospitality service, upscale rooms with private balconies, prime city locations, ocean views, elegant dining, pools and spas, and more.
Food: The cuisine of Colombia is a mix of Indigenous, African, Spanish, and Arab cuisine and favors rice and bread, legumes, meat and seafood, and a variety of fresh fruits. When out and about, stop by local street vendors to taste some chopped papaya and mangoes or grilled corn on the cob or pastel del pollo (chicken-stuffed pastry) or Obleas con Arequipe (wafer sandwich with caramel sauce). At night, head down to a sit-down restaurant to enjoy more Colombian cuisine. Expect to pay roughly 25,000 Colombian Pesos per day for food.
Getting to Colombia: The El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá is Colombia’s busiest airport and is just 9 miles, or a 30 to 60-minute drive, to Bogotá city. If traveling closer to the Amazon region, the Alfredo Vásquez Cobo International Airport is a good option.
Flights: You can check for the best flights to Colombia on Skyscanner.
Train: Colombia has a nonexistent train system for passengers.
Bus: Colombia offers many bus options both for shorter distances and to travel between cities. Long-distance buses are similar to a train and offer air-conditioning and sometimes Wi-Fi. Take a bus from Cali to Bogotá in about 10 hours for 70,000 Colombia Pesos, or take a city bus for 2,000 Colombian Pesos.
Rent a car: To rent a car in Colombia, you will need a valid US license valid for at least two years. Note that is not as recommended to rent a car, as it is considered less safe than taking a bus. If you do rent, make sure to find a rental agency that offers insurance. Prices start at around 400,000 Colombian Pesos per day. Colombia also offers taxi services and Ubers.
Places to Stay
Ibis Medellin: Stay in the heart of Medellin at this stylish hotel. The convention center, Museum of Modern Art, downtown area, and the train station are all just minutes away. Once you’re done exploring, head back to the hotel for free high-speed Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms, and the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
Hotel Vilar America: Come stay at this charming hotel situated between the historic and nightlife districts of Bogotá. Enjoy free Wi-Fi and breakfast, family rooms with flat-screen TVs, and the hotel’s restaurant before venturing out in Bogotá.
Hotel Cosmos Cali: Enjoy air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs at this hotel in Cali. Room service, free Wi-Fi, and breakfast are included. Take a short walk to the Cali City Theater or head down to the Cali bullring.
- Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the beautiful sun with some sunscreen.
- Hiking Boots: Keep your feet comfortable with a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
- Swimsuit: With so many beaches and waters to explore, make sure to bring a swimsuit with you.
See our packing tips: packing tips
When to Go
The best time to visit depends on where you are going. December to March are the driest months in general, which is ideal for those going to the Andes Mountains. If you’re heading to the Amazon region, go between July and August, where there is less rainfall. To avoid the crowds and get better prices on flights and hotels, November is a good month to visit Columbia.
Things to Do
Tayrona National Park: Found in the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, head over to the Tayrona National Park to explore beautiful beaches and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria, the highest coastal mountain in the world. Once there, you can hike through the hillsides to see Pueblito, a village full of history and sacred sites from an ancient civilization, or go to the rainforest and see a variety of animals and species, including the very rare cotton-top tamarin (monkeys).
Gold Museum: Spend time at this very popular gold exhibition in Bogotá. Take a guided tour to learn more about Colombia and its history or explore at your own pace and see artifacts and gold pieces from pre-Hispanic metallurgy.
Walled City of Cartagena: Feel like you are back in time and explore the bright, colorful streets of Cartagena. Walk past beautiful restored colonial houses and buildings, enjoy fine dining, shop at designer boutique stores, and sample delicious fruits from the fruit stands.
Laguna de Guatape: One of the most popular places in Medellin is the town of Guatape. Take a guided tour or explore on your own. Climb the 700 steps of the El Peñol rock to experience views like no other, see the artwork that decorates the town, visit the abandoned mansion of Pablo Escobar, and swim in the lake of Guatape.
San Andres Island: Spend a day (or more) at this famous coral island. Swim in the warm waters, scuba dive with stingrays, explore the various caves, and take in peaceful sights.
Tour Company Suggestions
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies.
We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling you should always have travel insurance. We do.