Colombia is known for many things, from coffee and Carnival to cultural diversity. It’s also packed with striking cities like Medellin and Cartagena, plus remote escapes like the Tayrona Region and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
When you consider everything it has to offer, it’s easy to see why this country is one of our favourite destinations in Latin America. To help you get inspired for your next adventure, we’ve asked our travel designers to tell us the top reasons to visit Colombia.
Why Visit Colombia?
Colombia is a traveller’s dream, offering endless opportunities for adventure. It also promises an abundance of delicious food, vibrant festivals, fantastic wildlife, idyllic beaches and inspiring art. Add to that its impressive commitment to sustainability, and the real question isn’t whether or not you should visit – it’s ‘what are you waiting for?’
1. Fascinating Wildlife & Nature
Colombia is one of the most ecologically diverse places on earth; it’s teeming with incredible plants and animals and a vast array of ecosystems. The Tayrona Region features lush coastal rainforests that are home to hundreds of species, while the Colombian Amazon is a nature-lover’s dream come true.
In the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta you’ll encounter all kinds of animals, from jaguars to otters. The tropical grasslands of Los Llanos are a haven for water birds, big cats and many other mammals. No matter which corner of the country you’re in, you’ll find magnificent wilderness areas where the world’s natural wonders are on full display.
2. Delicious Coffee & Food
Colombian coffee is renowned across the globe for its exceptional quality, and here you can sample it straight from the source. There are coffee plantations all over the country, but most beans are grown in the Coffee Triangle. In this region you can not only learn about the industry, but also enjoy outdoor activities and luxurious hotels like Hacienda Bambusa.
3. Thriving Art Scene
Colombia’s bigger cities have blossoming art scenes. In Bogotá’s La Macarena and San Felipe neighbourhoods, large galleries and small studios showcase the work of local creators. Medellín is notable for its street art; in Comuna 13, colourful murals reflect the transformation of this once-infamous area. Don’t miss Fernando Botero’s famous bronze sculptures, either.
There’s also plenty of art to appreciate outside of the urban centres. The charming town of Barichara is practically a work of art in itself. It’s also full of local artisans who will welcome you into their studios to show you their crafts, such as traditional papermaking.
5. Vibrant Festivals
With nearly 20 national holidays and countless local festivals, Colombia certainly knows how to celebrate. Medellín’s Feria de las Flores (Flowers Festival) is an explosion of colour that includes a pageant and a parade, while the Feria de Manizales brings the heart of the Coffee Triangle to life at the beginning of each year.
You can’t talk about Colombian festivals without mentioning the Carnaval de Barranquilla, one of the world’s biggest carnival celebrations. If you want to experience this spectacular event for yourself, the best time to visit Colombia is in February or March.
6. Extraordinary Adventures
It’s exceptionally easy – and rewarding – to get off the beaten track in Colombia. Small towns like Barichara and Villa de Leyva offer a refreshing change of pace and plenty of local charm. They can also be the gateway to more remote adventures; hike the Camino Real from Barichara to Guane to see pristine landscapes and visit lovely villages.
Los Llanos is also full of untouched nature to navigate, including the rushing rivers and waterfalls of the Serranía de la Macarena national park. For the boldest explorers, Colombia’s Pacific Coast is a truly isolated and authentic destination.
7. Captivating Culture
Colombian culture is an eclectic collection of influences from other continents as well as Indigenous groups. Many of its most iconic traditions flourish in Cartagena, including salsa dancing and rum production. This is a wonderful city to experience by night, with a festive evening atmosphere and live music around every corner.
Beyond Cartagena, you can get to know the traditional folk music of Los Llanos, visit Indigenous communities in the Amazon or tour Palenque to learn about Afro-Colombian history. Literature lovers can also visit some of the sites that inspired Gabriel García Márquez.
8. Inspiring Sustainability
As if there wasn’t enough to love about Colombia already, it’s one of South America’s best spots for responsible travel. This country is leading the way in environmental protection, cultural preservation and sustainable accommodation. It has 27 tourist destinations that are certified as sustainable, including La Candelaria in Bogotá.
Here sustainability isn’t just an idea – it’s an integral part of public policy and tourism. You can experience the effects of this commitment firsthand at environmentally conscious hotels like Las Islas, which supports marine habitat conservation and the development of local communities.
Luxury accommodation in Colombia
Casa San Agustin$$$$$Casa San Agustin is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Cartagena’s vibrant old town. The hotel comprises three connecting 17th-century buildings, in the middle of which are the remains of an aqueduct which was used to collect rainwater for the walled city. There are 31 rooms and suites, some with their own Jacuzzi and small balcony. Rooms have maintained their colonial charm with dark wooden beamed ceilings and tiled bathrooms, but the soft blues and greens and natural fabrics add a fresh, contemporary edge. The large duplex prestige suite is ideal for small groups or families with two large en suite bedrooms, living room and small kitchen. There are beautiful orchids, Colombia’s national flower, in each room. The open-air swimming pool sits at the heart of the hotel with the aqueduct towering above. It is the perfect place to cool off and relax after a day exploring the city of Cartagena. There is a small rooftop terrace as well as a library, which features original frescoes uncovered during the renovation, where a daily afternoon tea is served. The Alma Restaurant is the perfect place to try traditional Colombian cuisine, with seafood casserole and ceviche perennially popular. The Alma Bar is a beautiful space and ideal for unwinding with a G&T. Breakfast can be enjoyed indoors or on the patio. The Aurum Spa is inspired by the gold Colombia is so famous for, and is a beautifully relaxing space where guests can indulge in a treatment.
Casa Oropéndola$$$$$Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria moutain range, is the wonderfully secluded Casa Oropéndola. Sitting 1,500 metres above sea level between dense rainforest and coffee fields and with views across the Caribbean, this is the perfect place to switch off and reconnect with nature. The lodge has been built in harmony with its natural surroundings and there is a strong focus on protecting the environment and preserving the local culture. The decor is inspired by its location with timber-clad walls, natural colours and wicker furniture. There are just four rooms which are simple but comfortable, all featuring a hammock positioned by the window so you can make the most of the extraordinary views. There is a large living room with a fireplace leading out onto the decking where you can gaze out across the forest and over the ocean. The dining area features floor-to-ceiling windows and here you will enjoy delicious Colombian cuisine made using local organic produce such as coffee, cacoa and honey as well as herbs, fruits and vegetables picked from the garden. Guests staying at Casa Oropéndola will receive three meals a day as well as snacks, local fruit, fresh juices, coffee and tea and picnic lunches for when
you are out on excursions. The surrounding cloud forest results in an incredible variety of flora and fauna and there are countless walking trails right on your doorstep. There is plenty to do at the lodge including cooking classes and yoga, but there is also a lot to be said for simply sitting back and taking in this very special environment.
Casa Miajara$$$$$Located close to the centre of Barichara, Casa Miajara is a lovely private villa with hands down one of the best views of the cathedral. The casa consists of three distinct areas. At the front of the house you’ll find the lounge, a covered outdoor area with sofas and hammocks that leads on the swimming pool. Looking out over the cathedral and surrounded by decking with sun loungers, this stunning pool is a real highlight of the property. The next area houses the four bedrooms, each with an outdoor bathroom. Walking down through the garden, filled with orchids, cacti and bougainvillea, brings you to the dining area with kitchen and outdoor dining table. The design of Casa Miajara is in keeping with the charming houses in Barichara, but there are lots of quirky design touches that give this place plenty of character whilst not detracting from its original charm.
Hacienda Bambusa$$$$$Surrounded by the verdant forest, meandering rivers and with the Central Andes Range in the distance, the Hacienda Bambusa is a traditional farm that raises cattle and grows cocoa, ginger, plantain, bananas and tangerines. The main house, built in the vernacular style with bamboo guadua and clay tiles, has just eight rooms. Each has a private bathroom, balcony, a small sitting area and a hammock for lazy afternoons listening to the birds before dinner is served. In the kitchen, chef Vanessa Quintana cooks up delectable Colombian tasting menus making the most of this fertile region’s produce. Days can be spent exploring the hacienda and beyond with a range of activities and excursions such as hiking, horse riding, trips to cacao and coffee plantations, hot air ballooning or tours of beautiful local towns and nearby Los Nevados National Natural Park.
Kasamar$$$$$Kasamar is a private villa on the outskirts of Tayrona National Park – a great option for families, groups of friends or people who are after an exclusive getaway. The house has four en-suite bedrooms with air conditioning and ample space for relaxing and eating. The upper levels of the house have open sides so you can enjoy the sea breeze as you relax in the hammocks or on the wicker chairs with a good book. The views out over the ocean and jungle really are something very special. There are two swimming pools, which is great as the ocean is a little too rough for swimming. Guests staying here will enjoy the services of a personal chef so you can enjoy delicious meals at times that suit you. The nearby river can be explored by canoe and Tayrona National Park is a short drive away.
Four Seasons Casa Medina$$$$$The beautiful Four Seasons Casa Medina was the creative vision of Santiago Medina Mejia, a Paris-educated artist and architect from Medellin. He salvaged local architectural treasures, such as stone columns and hand-carved wooden doors from two recently demolished colonial convents, to create was declared a monument by the country’s Ministry of Culture in the 1980s. The hotel features 62 rooms and suites, where beamed ceilings and aged leather accents coupled with fresh, contemporary touches making them a sophisticated blend of old and new. The hotel has two restaurants; the lively La Bodega that focuses on tapas and Colombian coffee, and Castanyoles Raciones y Tapas, where guests chave the option to dine in the beautiful glass atrium with Spanish tiles, living walls and drop lights. There is also a gym and a spa with treatment rooms, relaxation room and steam room.
Whatever you're looking for from your adventure in Colombia, our travel designers are ready to help.