Colombia is not only popular among backpackers, but more and more “normal tourists” are also finding this versatile holiday destination. And that’s very understandable because you’ll find a great combination of rugged nature reserves, an impressive history and super sweet people. And all while enjoying cheerful salsa music. Which places should not be missing during your trip through Colombia?
Filandía – Valle de Cocora
Although most Dutch people go to Salento, we thought it would be better to stay in Filandía. This place is half an hour’s drive from Salento and is a lot less touristy (especially local tourism). You can dance salsa between the Colombians here in the evening and there are several coffee plantations in the immediate vicinity.
The best kept secret of Colombia: mountain village of Jardín. This place is only a four-hour drive from Medellín, but you enter a totally different world. Jardín is surrounded by banana trees and the area is a perfect start of an intensive hike. In the village it seems as if time has stood still; colorful streets and a pleasant square where old men drink a cup of coffee on the terrace. Don’t expect too much luxury in Jardín from tourism is still in its infancy here. A wonderful place to experience authentic Colombian life.
There is a good chance that you will visit Medellín during your trip. Although the city used to be known for drug cartels, tourism in Medellín is developing really quick. You can have fun there for a day or two. Take a look at street art-paradise Comuna13 and if you’re lucky you can see a fun soccer match of Atletico Nacional or Independiente Medellín.
Read more >> What to do in Medellín
Guatapé is the last stop in the Colombian interior. This place is a two-hour drive from Medellín and is known for “El Penol de Guatape”. This huge rock attracts many tourists to Guatapé. That’s also the reason why it’s best to stay at least one night in this colorful village. Then you can climb the rock at your leisure the next morning, before the tourist buses arrive. There are more than 700 steps, but the view is more than worth it.
Tayrona Park
After Guatapé it is time to fly north, for example from Medellín to Santa Marta. From there you can take the bus to Tayrona Park; one of the best known nature parks in Colombia. Walk through the green nature reserve to the beautiful coastline where you can even sleep in a hammock or tent. Because huge numbers of tourists visit Tayrona Park, we chose to take the alternative Calabazo entrance and this was the best choice ever. Recommended if you like hiking and prefer not to walk in one big parade of tourists!
Since KLM flies directly to Cartagena, the chances(especially if you are Dutch ;)) are even bigger that you’ll start or end in this pleasant port city. Although the old center is flattened by tourists, you will find beautiful squares and pleasant streets. Great to spend an evening strolling around and having a nice party in one of the many bars. Also check out the street art and live music in the upcoming Getsamaní neighborhood.
Although the opinions about Palomino are divided, it’s a wonderful place to relax for a few days. Why are the opinions divided? Because the beach is narrow and the sea very rough, but I think the atmosphere is so relaxed there! Moreover, you can eat super tasty in atmospheric restaurants. Do you want some action? Then sit in a tube with your buttocks and float down the river.

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