Put aside your preconceived notions about Colombia, which may center on its violent past, and you’ll see a nation full of hope and optimism as it plunges forward into a brighter, safer, and more prosperous future.

In this land of extremes, you can visit the snowy Andes, the steamy Amazon, the azure Caribbean, and two sunbaked deserts. From the enchantment of Cartagena and the buzz of Medellin to the serenity of colonial villages like Salento and Mompox, you’ll find a wealth of spectacular attractions at the places in between.

The legendary warmth of Colombians’ hospitality is what will keep you coming back for more. Our guide to the best tourist destinations in Colombia will help you plan your trip.

Top 7 Places To Visit In Colombia


Top 7 Places To Visit In Colombia

Colombia’s landscape is one of the most dramatic in the world, with its snow-capped active volcanoes, cloud forests, jungle coastlines, and vast swaths of Amazonian rain forest. Its neighbor to the south, Brazil, is the world’s most bio-diverse country.

1. Cartagena

Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is a stunning colonial city that has been remarkably well-preserved. It’s possible to get the impression that you’ve traveled back in time when you take a stroll through the ancient walled city.

Perhaps it’s the 13 kilometers of walls that have stood the test of time, or the vibrant colonial buildings that have been lovingly restored to become restaurants and five-star hotels.

Maybe it’s the tangle of winding streets covered in bougainvillea or the soaring Catholic churches that dominate each plaza. Whatever it is, there’s something irresistible about this Caribbean paradise.

2. Medellin

Although Bogotá is the nation’s official seat of government, tourists are more likely to fall in love with Medellin, a far more manageable and compact city. A quarter of a century after being labeled the most dangerous city in the world, Medellin is now known for something very different: inventiveness.

Some of the city’s poorest districts are served by impressive libraries and community centers, while cable cars connect the hillside communities to the metro system below.

Medellin’s Old Quarter is a terrific place to begin a day of touring, thanks in large part to the 23 rotund sculptures that renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero generously gifted to the plaza.

3. Eje Cafetero

Colombia, the world’s third-largest coffee bean grower, is a great place to visit for coffee tours and tastings. The majority of the country’s output comes from the area between the tiny towns of Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales in the subtropical Andean hills west of Bogota.

In recent years, an increasing number of coffee estates in this area, known as the Eje Cafetero (or Coffee Axis), have opened their doors to the public for tours, tastings, and luxurious farm stays.

The farmer-owner of one of these modest (and usually organic) farms might take an hour out of his day to show you around and tell you all about how a simple “cherry” becomes a coffee bean that gets roasted and ground into a latte back home.

4. Leticia

Despite the fact that roughly one-third of Colombia is covered in its thick (and often impenetrable) forests, the Amazon does not immediately bring to mind the country of Colombia.

Leticia, a sleepy border hamlet on Colombia’s side of the river where it meets the borders of Brazil and Peru, serves as the administrative center for the Amazon Basin. Eco-travelers, those interested in animal safaris, and those interested in learning more about the Amazonian Indigenous peoples would find Leticia to be an ideal home base.

A flight from Bogotá is required to get here, and then you can take a boat downstream to Manaus, Brazil, or upstream to Iquitos, Peru.

5. Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia, a major seaport, was established that year. Cartagena, Colombia is home to some of Colombia’s most impressive historical buildings and cultural attractions, earning it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Cartagena’s location on the Caribbean coast gives it a distinct atmosphere.

Beaches, islands, and jungle hiking are all easily accessible from the city. Getsemani, San Sebastian, and Santa Catalina (where the cathedral and many of the most recognizable streets and structures are located) make up the core of the city, whereas San Diego has historically been the home of Cartagena’s merchants.

6. Bogota

Bogota, the country’s capital and largest city, should be on the agenda of anyone visiting Colombia. Santa Fe de Bogota, built by the Spaniards in 1538, sits at an impressive height of 8,661 feet.

A bustling metropolis of over 11 million people, it is located at the foot of verdant mountains. Take the cable car up to the peak of Monserrate for a bird’s-eye perspective over the colonial old town, the financial center, and the far-flung outskirts (10,340 feet).

The ancient town, known as Barrio La Candelaria, is filled with beautiful historic houses despite its short alleys. The city’s beating heart is the Plaza Bolivar, where you can catch live music and other events almost each night of the week.

7. Cali

When people outside of Colombia think of Cali, they think of the notorious Cali Cartel. Many visitors to Colombia overlook Medelln because they aren’t aware of the city’s secondary claim to fame.

Cali is the salsa capital of the globe, so if you want to learn the dance you should go there. I stayed for two months, attending afternoon salsa classes with a group and then putting my newfound skills to use at night at popular spots like Tin Tin Deo.

Colombians are known for their warm hospitality. You shouldn’t feel awkward if you’re new to salsa since they realize that everyone has to start somewhere. Clubs were where I really got to know the locals and where I learned the lingo of the dance floor and the bar.


Colombia is a country full of wonders, from its colorful pueblos and fascinating towns to its breathtaking national parks and lovely beaches. Tourists generally avoided Colombia until recently. But the times they are a-changing. This South American treasure is now at the top of many people’s bucket lists.

Colombia is so geographically, culturally, and gastronomically varied that it is often compared to a conglomeration of many countries. From the Caribbean coast to the edge of the Amazon, from Spanish historic villages to modern metropolises, from popular tourist destinations to lesser-known jewels, here are the 30 top areas to visit in Colombia.