Salento is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia and my favorite place to visit. The hike to the Cocora Valley is the best thing to do here.

15 Most Beautiful Places In Colombia 2023 (+ Things To Do There)

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Wondering where the most beautiful places in Colombia are? A few years ago I had the opportunity to live in Colombia for a short time to teach English, and I had the opportunity to travel all over of this beautiful country.

The whole country is pretty spectacular, which makes it a little difficult to narrow down the best spots, but below you’ll find a list of 15 amazing locations throughout Colombia and a few of the best things to do in each of them.

Most Beautiful Places In Colombia & What To Do There

If you have the time, I would suggest everywhere and anywhere in this South American country. No destination in Colombia will disappoint.

But of course you probably don’t have that much time so you’ll have to narrow it down a bit. Choosing a major city, one to two small towns and maybe a beach would make a perfect Colombian vacation.

If I went back and could only choose a couple of locations to visit, I would go with Bogotá, Villa de Leyva, the Coffee Region and San Agustín. But you can use our list below to find which of the most beautiful places in Colombia you want to add to your trip!

1. Salento

Salento is one of the most beautiful places in the Coffee Region of Colombia with one of the best hiking trails in the country. It is one of the best places to travel if you’re a nature lover and it is also a great place to see a typical small Colombian town.

The end of the Salento hike with incredible views of the palm tree valley. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in Colombia.

➡️ For a 6 Hour Salento Cocora Valley Hike from multiple Coffee Region cities, we recommend booking your tour here with Gran Colombia Tours.

➡️ For a 8 Hour Salento Cocora Valley Hike and Coffee Farm Tour, we recommend booking your tour here with Gran Colombia Tours.

➡️ For a 8 Hour Salento Coffee Farm Tour from Pereira, we recommend booking your tour here with Nature Trips Colombia.

3 Of The Best Things To Do In Salento

➡️ Finca La Montaña

After all of my Colombia travels, this remains one of my favorite places. You have to cross rivers and hike up a steep mountain, but the view at Finca La Montaña is spectacular.

The beautiful view from this hike is what makes Salento one of the best places in Colombia and my favorite nature spot.

It is part of the Palm Tree Valley hike which will not disappoint as one of the top most beautiful places in Colombia to visit.

To get there you’ll take one of the Willy Jeep’s from the main square, and then it is best to start the hike going counterclockwise so that you go up the steep muddy part of the mountain rather than down, which is much harder on your knees.

Cost: $1-$2 (COP 3,000-6,000) Hike, $4-$8 (COP 15,00-30,000) Roundtrip Transportation from Salento
Trail: Valle de Cocora to Acaime, AllTrails
Tour Options: Cocora Valley Hike and Cocora Valley Hike and Coffee Farm

➡️ Valle Del Cocora / El Bosque De Las Palmas

If you go counterclockwise on the same hike above, you will find this ridiculously beautiful valley and forest towards the end of the hike. Once you leave Finca La Montaña, you’ll eventually start seeing palm trees along the side of the mountain and in the valley below.

The trail will wind down into the valley before looping back around to where you started.

Incredible views of the Palm Tree Valley just outside of Salento.

➡️ Cerro Mirador Salento / Calle Real

Calle Real is that picture you’ll see of Salento when you search online. It’s colorful, full of shops and restaurants, and just the perfect place to spend time doing nothing.

The Mirador is a viewpoint above town that you have to climb up a decent amount of steps to get to but you will have great views of the town.

Walking around the colorful street of Calle Real in Salento. It is one of the cutest places in Colombia with that typical small town feel.

2. Villa de Leyva

One of the most charming and beautiful colonial places in Colombia is just three hours north of Bogotá in the town of Villa de Leyva. The town is absolutely gorgeous and you will really feel like you’ve gone back in time as you wander around this beautiful little town.

Morning foggy views of Villa de Leyva. This town is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia to visit.

6 Of The Best Things To Do In Villa de Leyva

➡️ Villa de Leyva Plaza

The Villa de Leyva Plaza is the main square in town and it is part of what makes this one of the most charming and beautiful places in Colombia to visit. I enjoyed simply wandering around the square doing absolutely nothing.

Clouds rolling in over the mountains on a lovely morning in the Villa De Leyva Plaza.

My favorite time of day was early in the morning when the clouds hung over the mountains just above the town.

➡️ Pozos Azules

I planned to do a quad tour (one of the more popular activities here) but wasn’t feeling it after speaking with numerous “car-salesman” type tour shops, so instead I rented a mountain bike to do my own thing.

It turned out great and allowed me to see a couple of great sites around town starting with Pozos Azules.

The landscape around Villa de Leyva has surrounding mountains and trees but in comparison to most of Colombia it is a warm and dry climate. The Pozos Azules are manmade bright blue “wells” of water right in the middle of this dry land, however they are not for swimming, just looking.

Cost: $2 (COP 8,000) Entrance, $16-$32 (COP 60,000-120,000) Bike Rental (depends on amount of time rented)
Trail: Villa de Leyva – Santa Sofía, AllTrails (not the whole trail, just up to the part that says Eccehomo)

➡️ Museo El Fósil

A little further up the trail about 10 minutes is Museo El Fósil. Villa de Leyva was long ago an area underwater with lots of creatures swimming around. It has always been the place to find fossils but the biggest discovery was of a nearly complete Kronosaurus.

Adorable puppies saying hello outside of El Fosil Museum.

They built this one room museum around the 20 something foot long fossil to preserve it and educate. The fossil was really cool to see but I was most distracted by the adorable puppies that came to say hello when I sat to eat a snack, and I ended up with a better picture of them than the fossil 🙄.

Cost: $3 (COP 12,000) Museum Entrance

➡️ Convento Santo Ecce Homo

Of all the places along the bike trail, my favorite was the 1620 monastery Santo Ecce Homo. It is a ways from El Fósil and part of it is uphill, but it is definitely worth the trouble.

The most beautiful monastery just outside of Villa De Leyva and one of my favorite places to visit.

Cost: $1-$2 (COP 5,000-8,000) Entrance

➡️ La Piedra de la Suerte

Translated this means the Lucky Rock, and they say that it will bring you luck if you touch it. It’s just right along side the north part of the trail heading back towards Villa de Leyva.

Touching La Piedra de la Suerte on the bike trail heading back to Villa de Leyva.

➡️ Casa Terracota

Just outside the town and the last stop along the bike trail is the largest terracota house in the world. It was built by the Colombian architect Octavio Mendoza and is entirely made of clay all the way down to the furniture.

Cost: $6-$9 (COP 23,000-35,000) Entrance

3. San Agustín

San Agustín is surrounded by beautiful nature and is one of the best historical places in Colombia to visit with pre-Columbian history dating back thousands of years. It is thought that the Mayans traveled here along the river all the way down, long before the Incas were ever in Peru.

The San Agustin Archeological Park is one of the best historical places in Colombia to visit, and it has some beautiful views like this one.

3 Things To Do In San Agustín

➡️ La Chaquira

Not a lot is known about this civilization but they believe only a small percentage of their ruins have been uncovered. La Chaquira is one of the many historical sites in the area, but the best part about this site is the view of the mountains, waterfalls and the Magdalena River below.

The amazing view from La Chaquira historical site of the mountains and Magdalena River down below, is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia.

You can hike but I think the best experience is on horseback. I rode alone with a guide that took me to El Tablon, La Chaquira, La Pelota, El Purutal and ended at the Archeological Park. I waited until I arrived in town to find a tour which was much cheaper, but you can find tours online.

Cost: $22-100 (COP 80,000-410,000) Horseback Riding Tour
Trail: San Agustín to La Chaquira, AllTrails

➡️ El Purutal

Along the same hike or horseback riding trail to see La Chaquira, you can visit El Purutal. My guide was great at explaining how the ancient civilization used the colored tree sap (blue, red and yellow) to paint the statues.

El Purutal is one of the stops along the horseback riding tour where you can see the statues colored with dyes from trees.

➡️ Parque Arqueológico De San Agustín

With over 190 acres of archeological history, the San Agustín Archeological Park is one of the best historical places in Colombia. The park not only has structures, statues and artifacts dating back to the first century, but it also has some of the most beautiful views.

The Parador Andino is just one of the sites inside the San Agustin Archeological Park with historic statues and beautiful views.
Parador Andino

I visited the park immediately after my horseback riding tour to some of the other historical sites, but entrance to the park was not included. My guide dropped me off right at the entrance so other tours may do the same.

Cost: $14 (COP 50,000) Park Entrance, $2 (COP 5,000) Bus Transportation from San Agustín

4. Santa Rosa de Cabal

Santa Rosa de Cabal is a small town in the Coffee Region that is best known for its hot springs up in the mountains. Pereira and Manizales are the two closest big cities to Santa Rosa and it is easily accessed by a taxi (more expensive) or a bus (very cheap and easy), and the drive up the mountain is beautiful.

The main square of Santa Rosa de Cabal.

➡️ For a 8 Hour Tour of Santa Rosa and the Hot Springs from multiple Coffee Region cities, we recommend booking your tour here with Gran Colombia Tours.

➡️ For a 3 Hour Coffee and Culture Tour in Santa Rosa from Pereira, we recommend booking your tour here with Nature Trips Colombia.

3 Things To Do In Santa Rosa de Cabal

➡️ Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados / Nevado Santa Isabel

Before visiting I thought of Colombia as just a rainforest or tropical destination, but there are actually a few snowy destinations. The Nevado Santa Isabel and Los Nevados Park are beautiful parks and the best places in Colombia to find snowy, cold weather.

One of the most accomplishing hikes up to a glacier in Nevado Santa Isabel and literally one of the coolest places in Colombia.

There are multi day tour options, but you can take a tour from Santa Rosa de Cabal, Pereira or Manizales in just one day, but it is a very long day. You should be fairly fit and accustomed to hiking if you want to make it up to the top glacier.

Cost: $80 (COP 300,000) Tour

➡️ Cascada Santa Helena / Termales Santa Rosa De Cabal

The Cascada Santa Helena is a perfectly shaped waterfall that gives a gorgeous backdrop at this Santa Rosa hot springs, making it another one of the most beautiful places to visit.

The most perfect waterfall at Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal. It is one of the coolest places in Colombia to visit with beautiful nature.

You can stay overnight, spend time at the spa, simply enjoy the hot waters or go on a “expedition” to learn more about the area and the hot springs ($5, COP 1,800). It is generally pretty busy so expect a decent amount of people.

Cost: $10 (COP 36,000) Entrance, $1 (COP 3,000) Bus Transportation from Santa Rosa
Tour Options: Santa Rosa de Cabal and Hot Springs Tour

➡️ Termales San Vicente

Generally known as the fancier hot springs in Santa Rosa, San Vicente is a little bit further from town and a little more expensive. I hiked there with friends and although we got a little lost, we saw some beautiful nature.

I actually prefer the other hot springs to this one but you might enjoy staying overnight here more than the other one.

The river we had to cross to get to the Termales. It was beautiful but very cold.
Hiking to the Termales

Cost: $14 (COP 50,000) Entrance, $2 (COP 5,000) Bus Transportation from San Agustín

5. Bogotá

Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and one of my favorite cities in the country. The weather is colder than most other places in the country but I thought it was lovely.

Wandering around the beautiful Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota.

5 Of The Best Things To Do In Bogotá

➡️ Monserrate

On the southeast side of Bogotá you can ride or hike up the mountain for fantastic views of the city, visit the church or eat at one of the restaurants up top.

I went just before sundown and got to see both a sunny view of the city and a city lights view, which were both beautiful. The city and surrounding mountains make this one of the prettiest places in Colombia to visit.

The view from Monserrate in Bogota is one of the most beautiful city views in Colombia.

Cost: Free Hiking, $7 (COP 23,500) Cable Car
Trail: Monserrate, AllTrails
Tour Options: Monserrate Guided Walk and Bogota City Tour

➡️ Museo Quinta De Bolívar

If you are a history or colonial time lover, one of the best places in Colombia to visit is the old home turned museum of Simón Bolívar (if you’re unfamiliar, he’s like the George Washington of the area).

The historic Bogota home of Simon Bolivar.

The house was built around 1800 and was gifted to the Libertador (Simón Bolívar) in the middle of 1820. He owned the house for 10 years but only lived there for a short amount of time. Throughout the 1900s the home was converted into a museum, restored and declared a national monument.

Cost: Free on Sundays, $1 (COP 3,000) All Other Days

➡️ Plaza de Bolívar

Pretty much every town in Colombia has a square dedicated to the Liberator Simón Bolívar, and this is usually an indicator of the center of town. But of all the main squares throughout the country, the Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá is the main one in Colombia.

If you read in Spanish, I found a great bookstore while wondering around the area called Fondo de Cultura Economica. There are also a lot of museums nearby the square.

The main plaza with the cathedral in Bogota is one of the most beautiful city places in Colombia.

➡️ For a Bogota City Tour, we recommend booking your tour here with Gran Colombia Tours.

➡️ Museo de Oro

The Museum of Gold is probably the most popular museum in Colombia with more than 30,000 gold artifacts from the pre-Hispanic era. The museum gets more than half a million visitors each year so expect lots of people if you visit.

Visiting the Gold Museum is one of the best things to do in Bogota.

Cost: Free on Sundays or $1 (COP 4,000) Tuesday – Saturday
Tour Options: Bogota City Tour with Gold Museum

➡️ Catedral De Sal

One of the most unique places in Colombia to visit is the Salt Cathedral just a little outside of Bogotá. As long as you’re not claustrophobic, this is an awesome experience to go down inside of a salt mine.

One of the coolest experiences just outside of Bogota is going down inside of the Salt Mine.

There are a few different ticket options to choose from and unless you have a Colombian license, you’ll have a little bit of a higher price. I went with the Basic ticket but if you want to have a city tour and some other things included you can look at the Standard or Premium ticket.

Cost: $8 (COP 30,000) Transportation from Bogotá, $21-$30 (COP 77,500-113,000) Entrance
Tour Options: Zipaquira Salt Cathedral Tours

6. Filandia

Filandia is a lot like the town of Salento, but a lot less traveled and one of the best lesser known places in Colombia to visit. It has that typical Coffee Region small town look and beautiful nature surrounding it that will not disappoint.

A huge storm rolling in behind the Filandia main square. It is one of the best lesser known and most beautiful places in Colombia.

➡️ For a Filandia, Salento and Cocora Tour, we recommend booking here with Quindio Tours.

The Best Thing To Do In Filandia

➡️ Cascadas Dobles Hike

This hike is not super well known online. It is more of a secret local spot and the only place I’ve heard you can get a map is at the Bidea Hostel in town. You can watch this Youtube Video for a visual of how to get there but here are a few more specific instructions:

  • From Parque de Bolívar, take Calle 6 out of town and follow it until you turn left on Filandia-Correg La India.
  • When you reach the structure with Mary holding Jesus, keep left going towards Selina.
  • Keep left again when you come to the little covered bench (see video for visual).
  • You’ll pass by a lot of homes and farms and eventually come to the house on the right where the waterfalls are behind and down the mountain. They didn’t charge when I was there but the video mentions a 5,000 peso cost equal to about $1.30.
  • There is a trail and some steps down to the water but be careful because some are quite steep and muddy.
  • Once you get down to the bottom, you’ll see the river and the beautiful double waterfalls.
  • Make sure to head back up if it starts to rain or looks like rain because it will be a lot harder to get back up the mountain.

The beautiful Doble Cascadas just outside of Filandia.

Cost: $4-$6 (COP 12,600-20,000) Roundtrip Transportation from Pereira

7. Popayán

Popayán is a beautiful white walled city in the southwest part of the country and it is one of the biggest religious places in Colombia to visit. The most popular time to visit is during Semana Santa or Holy Week (the week of Easter).

Popayán is not as common for foreign travelers as some of the bigger cities in Colombia but it definitely deserves a visit. And don’t forget to bring sunglasses because when the sun shines down on all of the beautiful white buildings, it gets super bright.

The most beautiful white walled city of Popayan, Colombia after a little rain.

2 Things To Do In Popayán

➡️ Centro De Popayán

Wandering around the center of Popayán is one of the best things to do in this city. There are also some good places to the east where you can see the city from above (El Morro del Tulcán or Cerro Las Tres Cruces).

Just one of the beautiful white buildings in Popayan.

➡️ Puracé National Natural Park

If you visit San Agustín, you can travel between there and Popayán through the Puracé National Natural Park. You wouldn’t stop on this ride, but you’d have some spectacular views from a window seat.

If you want to spend more time in the park, there are some tours available from Popayán. The huge volcano and many hiking trails would give you plenty to do in this National Park.

A beautiful roadside waterfall in between San Agustin and Popayan.

8. Medellín

Possibly one of the most popular places in Colombia to visit, Medellín is a beautiful city with lots to do. We really enjoyed our visit here but because of all the smog, I did get a lot of headaches so if you suffer from this too you might want to prepare for that.

Medellin is one of the most popular places in Colombia to visit.

8 Of The Best Things To Do In Medellín

➡️ La Catedral / Monasterio Santa Gertrudis La Magna

If Monserrate is the best place to see the city of Bogotá from up high, then La Catedral is one of the best places in Colombia to see the city of Medellín from up high.

You’ll have to get a ride about an hour south of town, but it was one of our favorite parts of our visit to Medellín.

La Catedral is now a monastery but 30 years ago it was built by Pablo Escobar to be the prison of Pablo Escobar. You can find tours up to the monastery or you can take a much cheaper and more convenient Uber.

A beautiful view of Medellin from La Catedral.

Some reviews are a little negative about this spot because of its relation to Pablo, but I studied history (a lot of Colombian history) so I really enjoyed seeing this site like I would any other historical location and loved the views.

Cost: $20 (COP 75,000) Roundtrip Uber
Tour Options: Full Escobar Tour with La Catedral and Guatape

➡️ Estadio Atanasio Girardot

Whether you’re a fan or not, you should go to a futbol game while in the country. You may not find this on a normal list of beautiful places to visit, but futbol is a beautiful game and we think a stadium full of cheering fans is a beautiful thing.

Watching a Copa Libertadores game at the Atletico Nacional stadium.

Of all the futbol places in Colombia to visit, the Estadio Atanasio Girardot is one of the best because it is home to one of the best teams in the country, Atlético Nacional. We went to a Copa Libertadores game (a huge tournament in South America) so our tickets were more than the normal game, but they were still only $20 (COP 75,000).

➡️ For a Guided Futbol Experience in Medellin, we recommend booking here with Travel Is Living Medellin.

➡️ Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero is one of the most popular places to visit in Medellín. There isn’t anything in particular to do here other than admire the artistic sculptures of Fernando Botero. It is a beautiful urban city site that you shouldn’t miss in Medellín.

➡️ Plaza Botero is often a stop on many City Tours in Medellin.

Plaza Botero is one of the most popular places to visit in Medellin.

➡️ Jardín Botánico De Medellín

Medellín sits like a bowl below the surrounding mountains which makes the smog pretty bad in the city. The Medellín Botanical Garden is the perfect place to breathe in some fresh air while in the middle of the city.

If you're a nature lover, you'll love visiting the Botanical Garden in Medellin.

➡️ Comuna 13

Comuna 13 is a neighborhood in Medellín most famous for the colorful homes spread over the hill, the orange escalators taking you from the bottom to the top and the loads of artistic graffiti throughout the area.

It used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellín but is now a beautiful and popular tourist spot.

➡️ Comuna 13 is best visited on a Guided Tour with Locals.

The free walking tour of Comuna 13 that we did was one of our favorites in Medellin. The two that took us around their neighborhood were amazing.

➡️ Pueblito Paisa

If you don’t get the chance to visit a typical small town while in Colombia, Medellín created their own replica right in the middle of the city at Pueblito Paisa (which means little country town).

If you get the chance to go to the real thing this might not seem quite as cool, but there are still some beautiful views of the city from up here.

➡️ For a Medellin City Tour with Pueblito Paisa included, we recommend booking your tour here with AEROTUREX S.A.S.

The beautiful view of Medellin from the top of Pueblito Paisa.

➡️ Hacienda Napoles

Hacienda Nápoles is a few hours outside of Medellín but there are tours that will take you from the city out to this old Pablo Escobar site turned zoo/theme park. The ride out has some beautiful views but be prepared for one of the hottest places in Colombia, or at least it was when we went.

Hacienda Napoles is a historical home turned theme park out in the valley a few hours from Medellin.

My mom remembers most the amazing hot chocolate they served for breakfast when we stopped and she was so excited when they said it was made with water and not milk.

Cost: $38-130 (COP 142,000-500,000) Tour

➡️ Santa Fe de Antioquia

If you don’t get the chance to visit the Coffee Region and see some typical small Colombian towns, Santa Fe de Antioquia is a great place to visit just a little outside of Medellín.

Many of the buildings have preserved the colonial style, most of the area has cobbled streets and there are some beautiful surrounding mountains.

A foggy rainy day in Santa Fe de Antioquia just outside of Medellin.

We went to see a parade during Semana Santa (Holy Week, the week of Easter) but unfortunately it rained too much for them to continue with the event. But we still enjoyed the beautiful town and had a great Patacones lunch (a flat fried plantain with meat on top).

Cost: $8 (COP 30,000) Roundtrip Transportation from Medellín
Tour Options: Medellin Travels or Camantours.

9. Pereira

Pereira is known as the capital of the Coffee Region and one of the biggest cities in the area. This is a great place to stay to easily tour the Coffee Region, even on day trips.

Pereira is also one of the best places to live in Colombia, so if you’re interested in spending some more time in Colombia, look into the cheaper city of Pereira.

Pereira is a great base city to explore the beautiful Coffee Region of Colombia.

The Best Hike To Do In Pereira

➡️ La Florida Pereira

La Florida is about 25 minutes outside of Pereira. To get there, I went to the main square (Plaza Bolívar de Pereira) and asked which bus to take to La Florida; I can’t remember the exact cost but it was most definitely under $1.

You can find a good hiking route on the AllTrails site below. Along the hike there were beautiful views, waterfalls and even some monkeys in the trees.

Pereira is a great base city to explore the beautiful Coffee Region of Colombia.

Trail: La Florida – El Manzano, AllTrails

10. Cartagena

Cartagena is a hot, humid, beautiful and historic coastal city in Colombia. It is (or was) a huge cruise stop so you’ll find lots of tourists and quite a bit of English in this city. I recommend staying somewhere within the old city walls; it will be more expensive but it’s the nicest, safest and most convenient area to stay.

5 Of The Top Things To Do In Cartagena

➡️ Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca is one of the best beaches in Colombia to visit and it is just an hour from Cartagena. The white sand and clear blue water make this a very popular tourist destination.

Once you get out to the beach, there are other activities you can do like riding a jet ski. Don’t be afraid to barter with them on the price, they’ll start off really high (especially if they know you’re a foreigner) but I was able to get them down to 25,000 pesos or about $7 (this was a few years ago).

Playa Blanca is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia just outside of Cartagena.

Cost: $10-$25 (COP 37,000-93,000) Tour to Playa Blanca, $7-$15 (COP 25,000-55,000) Jet Ski
Online Advance Tour Options: Playa Blanca from Cartagena

➡️ Castillo De San Felipe De Barajas

The Castillo is a fortress built during the 17th century to defend the city of Cartagena. It is one of the most beautiful historical places in Colombia to visit and only costs about $7 (COP 25,000) to enter.

The Castillo fortress in Cartagena is one of the top things to do in the city.

Cost: $7 (COP 25,000) Castillo Entrance
Tour Options: Cartagena City Tour with the Castillo

➡️ Murallas de Cartagena

The Walls of Cartagena (Murallas de Cartagena) are cool 17th century stone walls that stretch almost 7 miles around the city. They are the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset over the water.

The walls around Cartagena are the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the water.

➡️ For a Cartagena City Tour including the Walls, we recommend booking your tour here with Sion Tours.

➡️ Santuario De San Pedro Claver

The old city of Cartagena is full of beautiful buildings like Santuario De San Pedro Claver. It was built between the late 1500’s and the first half of the 1600’s and now has a museum where you can learn about it and the one it is named after.

Cartagena is full of beautiful buildings within the old city. The Santuario de San Pedro Claver is just one of many.

Cost: $7 (COP 24,000) Entrance

➡️ Monumento Torre Del Reloj

The Monumento Torre Del Reloj is the main entrance through the walls into the old city of Cartagena. It was built in the early 1600’s and over time the clock became the symbol of the city of Cartagena.

Another one of those beautiful sites in Cartagena is the Monumento Torre del Reloj. It marks the entrance to the old city on the east side.

11. Manizales

Not far from Pereira or Santa Rosa de Cabal, Manizales is one of the safest cities with lots of cultural events and a beautiful Cathedral.

The cathedral in Manizales is one of the most beautiful churches in Colombia.

The Best Thing To Do In Manizales

➡️ Cathedral Basilica Of Our Lady Of Rosary

The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Rosary is one of the coolest churches in the country with beautiful gothic architecture. It’s not as old as some of the other churches around Colombia, but it has beautiful stain glass, cool architecture and a long spiral staircase you can climb to the top and get great views of the city.

The cathedral in Manizales is one of the most beautiful churches in Colombia. The famous spiral orange steps will take you to the top of the church.

Cost: $3 (COP 10,000) Entrance

12. Guatape

Guatapé is probably one of the most popular places in Colombia to visit, especially on day trips from Medellín. It is only about 2 hours outside of Medellín and the views riding out there are spectacular as usual.

The view from on top of the Piedra del Peñol.

➡️ For an 11 Hour Guatape Trip from Medellin, we recommend booking your tour here with Tours Guatape.

3 Things To Do In Guatapé

➡️ Piedra Del Peñol

The most popular activity in Guatapé is climbing the giant rock a little southwest of town to reach the top with 360 degree views of the lakes and the entire area below. It is a little strenuous climbing the stairs so be sure to bring water and maybe some snacks to give you energy.

Getting ready to hike up the 740 step Guatape Piedra del Peñol.

Cost: $9 (COP 32,000) Roundtrip Transportation from Medellín, $6 (COP 20,000) Entrance
Tour Options: Tours Guatape

➡️ Plazoleta De Los Zócalos

If you google Guatapé, aside from seeing pictures of the Rock, you’ll see lots of colorful photos and a set of colorful stairs. The Plazoleta De Los Zócalos is where you can find these colorful buildings. It is the perfect place to get some cool photos and look around at some of the shops.

The church Parroquia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen in the middle of Guatape.

➡️ Boat Ride

We also enjoyed taking a boat ride on the lake after we wandered around the plaza and it only cost us about $3 (COP 12,000) each. We got to see some famous homes, a few Pablo Escobar sites and the church cross from the underwater city.

The underwater city is one of the sites to see on a boat ride in Guatape.

Cost: $3 (COP 12,000) Boat Ride

13. Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a northern coastal city in Colombia and it was the first Spanish settlement in the country. Tayrona National Park is the most popular place to visit near Santa Marta but you can also visit Simón Bolívar sites or a waveless beach.

I love Santa Marta graffiti on the street.

➡️ Santa Marta Tour Options

The Best Historic Place To Visit In Santa Marta

➡️ Quinta De San Pedro Alejandrino

If you visit Simón Bolívar’s home in Bogotá, you might be interested in visiting his last home and the place of his death at Quinta De San Pedro Alejandrino. It was built in the early 1600’s and remains a huge and beautiful area to visit in Santa Marta.

You can see the main house and the bedroom where Bolívar died, the botanical garden, and the Altar de la Patria (monument honoring Bolívar).

Bolívar is a real hero in South America so this is another one of the best patriotic places in Colombia.

The Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is one of the most historic places in Colombia to visit because this is where Simon Bolivar died.
The Room Where Simón Bolívar Died

Cost: $6 (COP 23,000) Entrance or $40-$80 (COP 150,000-300,000) Tour from Cartagena
Santa Marta Tour Option: Gran Colombia Tours

14. Armenia

If you’re visiting the Coffee Region, one of the other bigger cities in the area aside from Pereira is Armenia. It is not as big as Pereira but it can still be a good place to base yourself to explore other parts of the Coffee Region.

The Most Unique Thing To Do In Armenia

➡️ Parque del Café

One of the most unique places to visit in the Coffee Region is the coffee theme park, Parque del Café. They have shows and rides, but the prettiest thing to do is either ride the cable cars or climb up the Mirador for some great views of the area.

If you're in the coffee region, a fun place to spend the day is at the Coffee Theme Park. There are also some beautiful views from the park.

Cost: $18 (COP 67,500) Entrance
Tour Options: Gran Colombia Tours

15. Cali

Cali is a flat valley city in Colombia most famous for its Salsa music and dancing. There is plenty to do here but it is also doable as a day trip even from Pereira.

Cali used to be a very dangerous city, and although there are still some areas you should avoid, with normal precautions you shouldn’t have any issues while visiting Cali.

For my visit to Cali, I took a half day city tour which included stops to some of Cali’s top tourist spots like the Iglesia Ermita, Parque de Los Gatos, Monumento Cristo Rey, and the Jairo Varela plaza and museum.

The view of the valley of Cali at the top of Monumento Cristo Rey.

➡️ Cali Tour Options

2 Best Things To See In Cali

➡️ Monumento Cristo Rey

Like the Christ Redeemer in Rio, the Christ Monument in Cali is huge, has beautiful views of the city and is a very popular place to visit. It is a little bit smaller at 85 feet tall as opposed to the 125 foot tall Brazilian statue.

The Monumento Cristo Rey is just like the one in Brazil but not quite as big. It's one of the top sites to visit in Cali.

➡️ Iglesia Ermita

This is a beautiful gothic style church along the Cali River. There is a nice park nearby and the Plazoleta Jairo Varela and Museum (Salsa artist and monument) is just on the other side of the river and park.

Iglesia Ermita is a beautiful gothic style church in Cali Colombia.

What Are Three Popular Tourist Destinations In Colombia?

The three most visited cities in Colombia are probably Medellín, Bogotá and Cartagena. Of these three, my favorite was Bogotá.

But Colombia is so much more than just these three destinations. There are insanely beautiful places outside of these cities that you should definitely visit if you get the chance.

Which Is The Most Beautiful Town In Colombia?

This isn’t the easiest question to answer because there really are so many beautiful places in Colombia to visit. I loved every single place I traveled to but I do have my three top favorites:

➡️ The overall best region would probably have to be the Coffee Region. Of which, the Valle de Cocora is one of the most beautiful parts.

➡️ The most adorable colonial town with a beautiful monastery is just a few hours north of Bogotá in Villa de Leyva.

➡️ And the coolest Pre-Columbian era historical site with amazing mountain and river views is in San Agustín, in the southwest part of the country.

These are all smaller towns that take a little more time and effort to get to, but they are worth it. They are also great places to be active and outdoors whether that’s hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding.

Is Colombia Safe?

Colombia had a bit of a rough past back in the 1980’s and 90’s; it was violent and chaotic. They have a saying in Colombia that “God made our land so beautiful it was unfair to the rest of the world. So to even the score, God populated the land with a race of evil men.”

Since then, Colombia and its people have made enormous progress and it is such a fantastic place to visit, but unfortunately a lot still associate this violent past with the Colombia of today.

Everywhere I went and everyone I met was extremely kind and welcoming so please don’t be afraid to travel here. Be smart like you would for any foreign travel but don’t be afraid!

Having a little fun after helping clean up the Tokio community in Pereira.

Is Colombia Safe To Travel Alone?

As long as you are cautious and aware (especially with ride-share and transportation safety) like you would be anywhere else in the world, yes, Colombia is a safe place to travel to alone.

The only issue I ever ran into was a pickpocketer while I was in a big city and I was not alone. I caught him digging in my bottom backpack pocket and he made some excuse then left without getting anything.

Is Colombia Safe For Solo Female Travelers?

For the majority of my travels in Colombia, I went alone. I was a 22 year old solo female traveler that looked more like a teenager.

I was always smart, cautious and aware, but I never had any problems traveling alone. The people were fantastic everywhere I went and I never felt unsafe.

What Is The Best Part Of Colombia To Stay In?

📍 If you have food allergies or are wanting to eat healthy (especially vegan), that will be a lot easier in a bigger city like Medellín or Bogotá. Compared to the US, prices are pretty cheap in Colombia so picking a nice hotel in a nice part of town shouldn’t break the bank here.

📍 If you want to be close to some of the most beautiful nature places, the best part of Colombia to stay in would be the Coffee Region. That would consist of areas like Pereira, Manizales, Armenia, Salento, Filandia and Santa Rosa de Cabal.

📍 If you’re going for a beach trip in Cartagena, I would suggest staying inside the old city walls for the best experience. It will be more expensive but it is a lovely area, safe and close to everything.

📍 One of the best weekend trips I took was up to Villa de Leyva a few hours north of Bogotá. If you want to feel like you’re back in charming colonial times, this is the best place to stay in Colombia.

We mostly prefer to stay in hotels because of past experiences with bad Airbnb’s in Colombia but if you do choose these kinds of rentals, just be sure to choose highly rated ones.

What Is The Weather Like In Colombia Year Round?

Colombia weather can vary pretty greatly throughout the country. Up in the mountains it’s cold and snowy, high altitude cities are foggy and cool, beaches and valleys are very hot and humid, and some areas (like the Coffee Region) have year round spring weather.

Rain is pretty much always a possibility in Colombia (make sure to bring good shoes and a rain jacket) but spring is the rainy season as well as the cheaper season. Storms typically happen either in the morning or afternoon, not the whole day, but events and activities usually continue on regardless of the weather.

A storm moving away over the mountains with a beautiful rainbow following it.

Summer and Fall are the dry seasons in Colombia and usually the more expensive times to visit. Although, if you’re coming from the United States or Europe, Colombian prices will seem quite cheap regardless of the season.

So, what is the best month to visit Colombia? I loved watching the storms build over the mountains during the spring so if you don’t mind rain and want cheaper prices, visit anytime in the first half of the year. Otherwise any month in the summer or fall would be the best time to avoid wet weather.

The Best Food In Colombia

You can check our Healthy & Allergy Friendly Restaurants Around The World post to see more info about different locations, but below are some of the healthy and allergy friendly options in a few of the different cities listed above.

➡️ Bogotá ~ Quinua Y Amaranto / Productos Savvy / Bread Basket Gluten Free / Restaurante Naturalmente Vegano / Mercy Vegan Food / Maha Vegan Food / La Cocinita Verde / Freshii Bavaria

➡️ Cali ~ El Buen Alimento Alquimia Vegetariana / Tierra Verde Gluten Free Food / Mascabado Cocina Artesanal y Casa de Té / HOM STORE Oeste / Sandwich Lovers / Vegano Flor de Loto / Frutos del Sol Bio-Restaurante / Dulcinea Café Vintage Restaurante Vegano / SanOrganiko / Biotienda Al Natural

➡️ Medellín (lots of vegan food in Medellín) ~ Saludpan / Naturalia Café / Paleo Market – Mercado Saludable / Restaurante Justo / Betty’s Bowls / Ceres Organic Market / AMA – Restaurante Vegano-Café-Mercado Orgánico

➡️ Salento ~ Coco Bowl / Makao / Cumana Bistro Food / Serendipia Veggie Food & Pizza Bar / El Cacharrito / Brunch de Salento / Finca Momota Coffee Tour Salento (organic coffee farm)

➡️ San Agustín ~ Restaurante Tomate / Fonte Cafe / El Faro Ambrosia / Arlequin – Vegetarian And Vegan Burgers / Ecotienda Alimentación Consciente / SiembraSur

Gluten Free food just outside of Medellin. The patacones were some of our favorite dishes.
Gluten Free Patacones with Avocado Sauce and Chicken

Unfortunately not many restaurants have websites about their food and ingredients, but you can still find healthy and allergy friendly options. If you are in a restaurant but aren’t sure what to say (or don’t speak Spanish), you can use some of these phrases:

❓ ¿Tienes comida sin gluten? ~ Do you have gluten free food?

❓ ¿Tienes comida vegana o vegetariana? ~ Do you have vegan or vegetarian food?

❓ Tengo alergias a (tengo un alergia a)… gluten, lácteos, soya, nueces, maní, carne, huevos ~
I have allergies to (I have an allergy to)… gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, peanuts, meat, eggs

❓ ¿Que tipo de aceite usas? ~ What type of oil do you use?
Possible Answers: Girasol (sunflower), Oliva (olive), Coco (coconut), Soya (soy), Ajonjolí (sesame), Maní (peanut), Maíz (corn)

The best hot chocolate made without dairy! This was my moms favorite part of the day trip out to hacienda napoles.
Hot Chocolate Made Without Dairy

If you have food allergies and want to plan ahead, we typically bring as many snacks as we can with us when we travel. Some of our favorite healthy and allergy friendly things we like to bring with us include Organic Tru Roots Quick Cook, Lundberg Organic Microwave Rice, Organic Microwaveable Beans, and Truvani Organic Bars.

What’s The Best Food To Try In Colombia?

One of the most popular dishes in the Colombian cuisine is the Bandeja Paisa and it is delicious. It usually consists of various combinations of rice, beans, avocado, fried egg, plain arepa, chicharron (fried pork rinds), sweet plantain, beef and sausage.

The dish should be naturally gluten and dairy free but you should still check and ask about cross contamination. Pretty much every restaurant will serve it, but if you find a nicer restaurant in a bigger city they will be more likely to know about allergies or do things a little bit healthier.

Are Arepas Gluten Free?

If you’re familiar with Arepas, know that Colombian Arepas are different than Venezuelan Arepas. In Venezuela they fill the arepas with all kinds of things (meats, cheeses, sauces, etc) but in Colombia arepas are usually just small plain corn-cakes served on the side of a dish.

A Colombian arepa (or the shell of a Venezuelan arepa) should be made with just masarepa (cooked cornmeal), water and salt. So yes, all arepas should be gluten free (“sin gluten” in Spanish) but you should always still check with a restaurant.

Dinner at a Venezuelan arepa restaurant in Bogota.
Venezuelan Arepa at a restaurant in Bogotá

Wrap Up: The Most Beautiful Places In Colombia

Colombia is one of the most beautiful places in the world and there are so many incredible towns to visit with unique and fun experiences. They may have had a rough past, but Colombia is so worth visiting now, and is one of the best places to visit in South America!