Colombia Travel Guide

Colombia is a country that has a natural vibrance. Its people are a welcoming community with a zest for life. Colombia somewhat recently overcame a challenging past… and transformed itself into being one of the top-visited places in South America.  The country boasts a terrain that includes beautiful beaches, mountains, and jungles. There are many cool cities in Colombia… such as Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota that are full of national landmarks and museums.  You might also want to drink some coffee when visiting Colombia—it’s considered to produce the highest quality coffee in the world.

Picture of two girls that wrote Colombia Travel Guide in Comuna 13 in Medellin Colombia. Girls are standing in front of a home that is covered in graffiti.
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Know Before You Go

Language

Spanish is the official language of Colombia and is spoken by the majority of the population.

When to Visit

Colombia has a temperate climate and is a great place to visit year-round. For the least chance of rain, the best time to visit is between December and March.

Currency & Payment

The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian Peso. Credit cards are accepted as a form of payment in major cities. Small cities and local vendors will only accept cash. ATMs can be found throughout the country.

Transportation

Transferring between regions in Colombia is possible via bus or plane. Inner-city transportation varies. Major cities offer public buses and cabs. Rideshare apps such as Uber work in major cities. In some cities, motor scooters are available instead of taxis. Always negotiate the rate before getting into a motor scooter. If taking a cab, make sure they are licensed and use a meter.

What to Pack

Here’s a list of suggested items to pack for Colombia…in addition to what you’d automatically think to bring. 

  • Power adaptor: Colombia uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US and Canada. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat types, so US & Canadian travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter. If coming from another country, you will need a two-pin flat adapter and a 220-volt converter.

  • Umbrella/Poncho: It rains frequently in Colombia…especially in cities like Bogota, so be sure to bring some rain gear with you. 

  • Small backpack: If you’d like to go hiking or on an excursion, bring a small backpack that you won’t mind getting dirty to easily carry your things in. 

  • Mosquito net and/or repellant: You will need this particularly if visiting areas near the beach or jungle.

  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll do a lot of walking in Colombia so be sure to bring comfortable shoes. 

Experiences

Here’s a list of some top things to experience in Colombia:

  1. Spend time in Medellin: The city has a somewhat fairly recent tragic history that involved drugs and murder but it has entered a renaissance and completely transformed itself over the years. Now, the city is one of the fastest-growing and most entrepreneurial in the region. There’s lots of cool street art, shops and things to do here.

     

  2. Visit the cities capital, Bogota: It’s worth spending at least a day or two in Bogota. There’sstreet art, museums and swooping mountaintop views here to see.

     

  3. Explore Tayrona National Park: This park is a large protected area, located where the foothills of the Sierra Nevada meet the Caribbean coast. It’s known for its awesome lagoons and biodiversity. Visitors can hike two hours into the park to explore the great beaches protected within. Guests can either visit for the day or camp on the grounds overnight.

     

  4. Walkthrough old town Cartegena: There’s a lot to see in this quaint old-town port city, located amidst Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

  5. See the amazing views in Guatape: Guatape is a little colorful town located about 2 hours away from Medellin. There, you can climb La Piedra del Peñón which requires walking up 740 steps…but once at the top, you’ll have incredible sights of the most beautiful town in Colombia.

  6. Hike the Cocora Valley: Take a hike through a forest of wax palm trees which are a whopping 223 ft. tall.

  7. Learn how to Salsa in Cali: Salsa can be practiced all throughout Colombia and is super prevalent in Cali. In fact, Cali has been dubbed the “salsa capital of the world.”

  8. Visit the Coffee Region: Colombian coffee is world-class, amazing. Visiting the coffee region in Colombia will inform you of how coffee is madefrom its initial growth all the way until it makes its way to your coffee cup. 

  9. Take a mud bath in Totumo Volcano: Immerse yourself in a mudbath located in the Totumo Volcano, which is near Cartagena.

  10. Go trekking in the Trekking to the Lost City of Teyuna: Take a walk through the Sierra Nevada mountains and traverse through diverse terrain that includes jungles, hills, and rivers.

Fast Facts

Here are some facts about Colombia that you may have not already known!

  1. Medellín was once “the murder city of the world” with 17 murders every day in 1991. It’s since had a huge comeback and is now a very safe place to travel. 
  2. Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world by area.
  3. The official name of Colombia is the Republic of Colombia and is inspired by the last name of explorer Christopher Columbus. 
  4. Colombia has a vibrant music scene…many famous musicians were born there…including Shakira.
  5. The traditional national sport of Colombia is called Tejo, a team sport that involves launching objects at a target and making them explode.
  6. Colombia is the third-largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. 
  7. Colombia produces up to two-thirds of the world’s emeralds.
  8.  Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is a hub for street artists. The government encourages and sponsors street art in the community. 
  9. There are 3,500 butterfly species in Colombia.
  10. Colombia is part of the Ring of Fire, a group of countries in the Pacific Ocean vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Budget Suggestions

Here’s a look at what you might spend on the basics during a trip to Colombia. Costs may fluctuate based on the region that you visit or the time of year that you go. This estimate is based on what it would cost to go to Medellin, Colombia. 

 

Item

Budget Travel

Mid-Range

High End

Notes

Accommodation

$5 – $15/Night (Hostel dorm)

$30 – $90/Night 

(Airbnb or hotel)

$90 – $200+/night (Hotel)

Hostelworld.com, Booking.com & Airbnb are good resources for affordable housing.

Food

$2 – $5/meal
(Local Food)

$7 – $15/meal
(average restaurant)

$20 – $60+/meal
(high-end restaurant)

If you smile when ordering in local cafes, they’ll sometimes charge you less. Being polite goes a long way.

Alcohol

$1 – $2
(Domestic Drinks)

$3 – $10
(Cocktails, Wines, etc.)

Transportation

$.60/way 

(public transport)

$1.20/base + $0.38/km 

(public taxi)

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