Top things to see in Colombia

Top Things to See in Colombia

From colourful colonial buildings to a dazzling Caribbean coastline and spectacular national parks, Colombia is emerging as a must visit holiday destination. Here are our top five places to explore in Colombia on your next South American holiday.

1. Cartagena

Founded in 1533, Cartagena de Indias is perfectly placed on the sparkling Caribbean coastline and oozes with history and a casual beachside charm. As one of South America’s best preserved colonial cities, it’s little wonder its Old Town, surrounded by ancient stone walls has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll along the narrow and winding streets, lined with restaurants, bars and charming colourful buildings and admire the famous Clock Tower set above the main Old City Gate. This beautiful city also inspired author Gabriel García Márquez to write many of his famous books, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude. Santo Domingo Church is reputedly Cartagena’s oldest church, founded in 1534, and finally completed during the 1700s after extensive alterations after the original building was poorly constructed. Inside, be met by large stone columns and a marble altar with the Virgin wearing a golden crown of emeralds.
Explore the colourful streets of Cartagena, Colombia

2. Utria National Park

Located off the coast of Colombia, this tiny World Heritage-listed atoll has been transformed from a former island prison to a wildlife sanctuary. Considered one of the most bio-diverse National Parks in Colombia, if not the world, all manner of ecosystems thrive here from mangrove swamps, dense jungle and the sparkling sea. Arrive during June to September to spot migrating whales, whilst the deep blue waters and coral reefs around the island host an abundance of marine life, from inquisitive dolphins to porpoises and shoals of colourful fish. Onshore, look out for monkeys, caimans and a myriad of bird species including the blue-footed booby. You may even spot the endemic anole, the world’s only pure blue lizard. 
Explore Utria National Park, Colombia

3. Bogotá

The bustling cosmopolitan capital city of Bogotá, is at the foot of the majestic Andean mountains, home to art, fashion and history. Explore the cobbled laneways of historic downtown La Candelaria, lined with casual cafes, 300-year old colonial houses, churches and convents and graffiti splattered walls. Close by is the Museo del Oro, Bogotá’s most famous museum housing more than 55,000 golden artefacts across three floors, including intricate pieces from its indigenous people. For foodies, head to the Paloquemao markets, one of the largest food markets in Bogotá. Arrive early to breathe in the heavenly aromas of freshly baked bread, pass by exotic flowers and odd-shaped fruit and vegetables, and eye up the freshly caught fish and meat. Sample the arepas con huevo (eggs, ground beef and cheese) or try the beef-filled empanadas. For the best views in town, ride the funicular or Teleférico gondola up Montserrate. Rising 3,152 metres above sea level, admire the picturesque views over Bogotá downtown and its surrounding mountains and visit the church with a shrine devoted to El Señor Caído.
Bogotá, Colombia

4. Medellín

Once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities, today Medellín  is nicknamed the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, due to its pleasant weather enjoyed all year round with an average of 22 degrees Celsius. Stroll through the picturesque parks and gardens including the Botanical Gardens. Covering 14 hectares, over 4,500 flowers and 1,000 plant species can be found here. For breathtaking scenery, take the metrocable up to Parque Arvil and enjoy panoramic views of the neighbourhoods and the Andes. With a prime focus on the arts and innovation, this vibrant Colombian city has become one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Discover the history and culture of this transformed city by touring Comuna 13. Once the city’s most violent neighbourhood, today it has reinvented itself into a much safer place and has become a popular attraction through its evocative street art and murals. Tie a visit here with the Museo de Antioquia, formerly the City Hall and now a museum. Admire the great collection of artworks by Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero, known for his style “Boterismo”, where he liked to paint all things in an enlarged and exaggerated form.
Visit Medellín, Colombia

5. Pereira

Coffee lover or not, a trip to Colombia is not complete until you’ve sampled its rich coffee. And where better to taste test the fruity, chocolatey aromas than in the heart of the coffee-growing mountainous region of Pereira. Famous for its Arabica beans, Pereira forms part of Colombia’s coffee triangle, along with Manizales and Armenia. It even has its own coffee amusement park, ‘Parque del Café’. Set against the undulating hills and lush green valleys of the Andes Mountains, Pereira enjoys warm weather throughout the year, the perfect weather for coffee production. Enjoy visits to colonial-era towns such as Salento for its misty mountain scenery and tall wax palm trees or the hidden gem of Filandia, for its beautifully brightly-coloured colonial housing, set against a backdrop of rolling green hills. Discover how coffee is sorted, roasted, grounded and brewed and of course, sample some of the country’s best coffee.
Pereira, Colombia
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