From its rich history to its stunning geography, Colombia is a dazzling destination for adventure seekers and culture buffs alike. Get that straight-out-of-a novel feeling from the country's dense mixture of modern cities, gorgeous biodiversity (Caribbean beaches, Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountains), colonial architecture, traditional festivals and unique regional cuisine. If you're looking to live it up in a country where every day offers anything from live music and parades to mountain climbs and coffee plantations, let Orbitz help you plan your Colombia vacation.
Colombia's strategic location at the equator makes it an ideal destination to visit year-round, thanks to comfortable temperatures averaging between 70⁰F (20⁰C) and 86⁰F (30⁰C). The mercury moves with altitude, however, so expect different climates in the mountains and lowland areas. Columbia also has two seasons -- dry (verano) and wet (invierno) -- which vary in different areas of the country.
To join the locals for traditional festivities, check out some of Colombia's top picks, such as Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Popayan; the Festival of the Flowers (Feria de las Flores) in Medellin; the Cartagena International Music Festival (Festival Internacional de Musica); the Iberoamerican Theater Festival of Bogota; and the Bogota International Book Fair. And if you're craving a scene buzzing with international action, Colombia's more popular cities and destinations draw globetrotting crowds between late December and mid-January, and mid-June to mid-July.
You will find here 12 reasons for going to Colombia and, once you are there, a million reasons for wanting to stay.
The capital of the country is a cosmopolitan city where modern buildings and avenues contrast with the colonial churches and stately houses in its traditional historic center. Bogota's numerous and well-know museums, Museo del Oro, Museo Botero, Museo Nacional, and its libraries, theaters, and art galleries are ideal scenarios for enjoying excellent cultural events. Street by street, the city can be passionately enjoyed thanks to its inviting public spaces and big recreational parks. On Sundays, the main streets are closed to give way to bicycles, and every night the entire city moves to the sound of all types of musical genres and trends. Each day offers something to do, a restaurant experience, or a place to visit. The latest in technology, fashion, and entertainment, and excellent national and foreign brand name products can be purchased in its shopping centers and malls.
In the fertile mountain soils of the central mountain range, farmers in the image of Juan Valdez produce the mildest coffee in the world. From the midst of the coffee plantations emerge the traditional coffee "haciendas", with their colorful architecture and infinity of flowers, where the tourism will find welcoming accommodations from which to depart visit picturesque villages, spectacular natural environments, such as the Parque Natural de Los Nevados, and interesting places like the Parque de la Cultura Cafetera and the Parque de la Cultura Agropecuaria. This is the ideal location for becoming passionate about coffee and Colombia.
In the warm, fertile valley of the Cauca River in western Colombia, there is this inviting city with wide tree-lined avenues, where modern and old colonial buildings are harmoniously combined. Cali is an industrial development pole thanks to its strategic location on the route to the Pacific Ocean, as well as an urban center, famous for the beauty of its women and its night life enjoyed to the rhythm of salsa. Here, people happily share their passion for music and dancing. Not far from Cali, visitors will find El Paraíso an Cañasgordas, handsome colonial houses that were a source of inspiration for famous Colombian novelists.
This is one of the most beautiful cities in America, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Visitors to Cartagena de Indias go back in time when they stroll the narrow streets, framed by seigneurial colonial houses, cloisters, and churches and when they visit the ramparts, forts, and castles that revive past struggles in which pirates and buccaneers ambushed the treasures of the Spanish Empire. The passion for the Caribbean is felt during its fresh and romantic nights while savoring exquisite dishes and listening to festive tunes on the beaches. At the nearby Islas del Rosario, the tropical sun is brighter and the sea is warmer.
In the heart of the Amazon jungle, the largest ecological reserve in the world, on the shores of the Amazon River, we find the Colombian port of Leticia, the starting point for getting to know the exuberant tropical rainforest with its infinite variety of species of fauna and flora. Visiting the Parque Natural Amacayacu, with its streams and lakes, where the Victoria Regia, the world's largest water lily grows; touring Indian settlements and observing pink dolphins, jaguars, and anacondas are truly passionate experiences.
Any Colombia travel guide will tell you that your travel to Colombia should include eco-tourism and outdoor adventure since it has more than nine million acres of national parks. Take easy trips from Bogotá to Chingaza National Park or the Orange-Breasted Falcon Reserve. For more adventure, travel to Playa del Viento on the Caribbean coast and set up at Estado Natural Ecolodge, where you can bird watch windsurf, horse back ride, snorkel and hike. For whale watching between June and September, head to Gorgona Island. If you want to scuba dive during your Colombia vacation, visit Taganga, San Andreas or Providencia Island. And of course, there's the Amazon rainforest. Embark from Leticia for your wild jungle adventure.
Like any country in South America, Colombia has its own specialty dishes. Experience the local cuisine with bandeja paisa. This national dish offers a sampling of some of the best of Colombian food, including red beans and rice, plantain, ground beef, arepas, dirty rice chorizo and a fried egg. Be sure to check out some local drinks (both with and without alcohol) like aguardinente and refajo. Being an international city, Bogotá offers delectable dining experiences. Visit the provicial Rafael, the Italian bohemian spot El Patio, the cevicheria 80 Sillas, Casa Brava for grilled meats or Casa Medina, for something a little French.
Bogotá is the capital and largest city in the country and is full of fun activities, a vibrant nightlife and a global dining scene. Visit the Banco de la Republica Art Museum and MamBo-The Modern Art Museum of Bogotá. Take an ecological tour to see Simon Bolivar Park and Jose Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden. Kick back in trendy neighborhoods like La Candelaria, upscale Parque 93 and Zona Rosa, which is a gay-friendly enclave of the city that also sports hip clubs and restaurants. Colombia travel should also include modern Medellín; the seaside scape of beautiful Cartagena and blossoming Cali.
The industrial and trade centre of the western part of the country is Medellín, a vigorous city with an excellent infrastructure. Its pleasant spring-like weather is ideal for enjoying public spaces such as the Plaza Fernando Botero, which resembles an open air art gallery. This metropolis has a passion for beauty, fashion, flowers, and design. In addition to its active cultural life, it offers visitors the Museo de Antioquia, the Colección Botero, modern recreational centers, and shopping malls where the latest fashion collections and great variety of articles may be obtained at good prices. Nights are of tangos and warmth of "aguardiente".
In the midst of the warm and clear waters of the Caribbean, 700 kilometers away from the continent, there rises an archipelago that evokes a remote past of buccaneer and pirate adventures and now offers the visitor scenes of amazing beauty. San Andrés is a magical island that awakens a passion in all who visit it. Its tourist services are excellent, as well as its active shopping places and extensive beaches of white sand, bordered by palm trees and a balmy sea where many water sports are practiced. Providencia, on the contrary, is a remote island where mountains and beaches offer perfect places for resting and its coral reef is ideal for scuba diving.
Located on one of the loveliest bays of the Caribbean Sea, this city aside from its historic attractions such as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Libertator Simón Bolívar passed away, is the point of departure for visiting interesting places that awaken a passion for adventure and ecological tourism. Among those interesting places, the Parque Tayrona stands out with its pretty coves, archeological sites, the majestic Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and the tourist complexes in its surrounding.
Located in the northwestern Colombian Andes Mountains, Santander is one of the departments in Colombia with more passion for historical wealth. Bucaramanga, the capital, is the center of a metropolitan area surrounded by eight cores of regional development. A few kilometers from Bucaramanga, in the jurisdiction of Rionegro, at the site called Galápagos, we find the largest volcano in Santander. San Gil, located on the banks of the Fonce River, is a national monument where the Gallineral Park offers an opportunity for adventurous entertainment in canoeing and other sports. A spectacular landscape can be admired from the Chicamocha Canyon, which comprises the mountainous zone where the Fonce and Suárez Rivers meet. Additionally, it possesses the largest water sports and adventure facility in the country. Last, there is Barichara, a village of cobble-stone streets and wooden balcones, a National Monument since 1975.