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Perfect 1 Month Itinerary For Colombia [Colombia Travel Guide] 

colombia itinerary

Colombia is an incredibly beautiful country. Once only really known internationally for cocaine, coffee and civil war, Colombia has turned itself around. It is now dismantling its negative reputation and is a haven for travellers and expats alike. It ranks as many people’s favourite South American country, and I can’t help but agree with this. Colombia’s strength is in its variety. Every place you visit feels like a different country. In one small country you get beaches, jungles, glistening snowy mountains, lush coffee plantations, thick subtropical forest, vibrant and interesting cities, adorable colourful towns, loads of history and culture, very friendly people, and so much more! Here’s my 1 month itinerary for Colombia covering the very best bits.

A non-rushed itinerary for Colombia

There is so much to do in Colombia. Often travellers get a little overwhelmed and end up trying to do way too much. I’ve read a lot of travel bloggers who do try to do everything in a month. They end up moving every single day and spending zero time in each place. 

I’ve created an itinerary for Colombia that covers most of the best bits without rushing too much. I just don’t think you can really get to understand a country if you zoom around it, changing places every single day and spending all your time on buses. But that’s just me. 

In this itinerary for Colombia, I’ve given a recommended minimum amount of days for each place, remember this is a minimum. As I spent 4 months in Colombia, I stayed in most of these places longer. I’ve also given you a few extra days to play with and recommended a few extra places you can go to if you’d like to extend your time in a certain region. Because let’s face it – when travelling, flexibility is great! You never know when you might meet someone you want to spend a bit more time with or discover a place you never want to leave.

Things you must know about Colombia

Colombia is turning itself around.

Many still assume it’s full of drugs, kidnappings, guerrillas and violence. Yes, Colombia is not the safest country in the world. But much of the stuff people hear of Colombia is in the past or at least rarely impacts the tens of thousands of tourists that now head there. 

This is not to say Colombia doesn’t still have it’s problems. The drug trade and paramilitaries still exist, a high percentage of the population live in poverty and petty crime is common. And social leaders and politicians who are trying to implement change are still targeted and assassinated.

However, the days of all powerful cartels are no more. Major crime rates are decreasing, kidnapping has been reduced by over 90% since the cartel days and poverty rates are reducing. Colombia is a country turning itself around. 

Warm, kind people

Colombians are friendly, warm and kind. During my 4 months in Colombia, I experienced countless moments of kindness. Despite the horror faced by their country’s dark and bloody history, Colombians are on the whole unexpectedly up-beat people, who love to explore Colombia, party and spend time with friends and family. 

When I asked a Colombian how this could be, the explanation given was that Colombians had so little joy in recent memory that they hold onto these moments as they are precious. As this guy pointed out, if Colombians can find some joy even in the darkest days, maybe we all can.

The papaya rule

Colombians have a little saying, “no dar papaya”. This saying is referring to petty crime. “No dar papaya” is not actually about tasty fruit, it’s about your valuables. If you have your valuables out on show (your tasty papaya), someone will want your valuables (your tasty papaya) and potentially take it. So do as Colombians suggest, keep your phone, camera, wallet, money or whatever possessions you hold dear away! Here are some awesome products you can get to help you stay safe and secure whilst travelling . We followed the papaya rule in Colombia and had no issues. 

1 month itinerary for Colombia

This itinerary for Colombia is a baseline, with the days adding up to less than a month. You can then choose the extras you want to do from suggested nearby areas or from the further list at the bottom. This means if you are a chilled out traveller like us, you can spend longer in places, or if you want to do loads, you can also do that!

Itinerary for Colombia: Map

things to do in bogota

First on our itinerary for Colombia is Bogota. Bogota is the vibrant capital of Colombia, and usually the starting point for travellers. It’s a city travellers seem to love or hate. I spent 5 weeks learning Spanish in Bogota, and loved the city despite the noise and traffic.

Trundling through La Candelaria (the old town), I admired the colourful houses and street art. Within La Candelaria there is a pretty square, which is where the city of Bogota grew from. It’s often packed with musicians, a market and comedians. In La Candelaria there are plenty of cosy restaurants and vibrant bars. 

In Bogota, you can explore the stunning Simon Bolivar Park and take a trip up Monserrate Hill on the cable car, which is totally worth doing for the views. The museum and gallery scene is impressive.  The Gold Museum explores the meaning of gold for Colombia’s indigenous communities historically and the cosmological beliefs of these communities. Did you know some groups believed in three worlds and that humans can become animals through wearing certain decorations?

Fernando Botero is probably Colombia’s most famous artist. Seeing his work in the flesh at Museo Botero really makes you appreciate the talent of this artist. Both the War and Peace Tour by Beyond Bogota and the Bogota Graffiti Tour are totally worth doing and the guides are truly experts on their subjects. 

Yes, Bogota traffic is awful and you should keep your valuables hidden (phone theft is rife) but this shouldn’t detract from what Bogota offers. Here are 18 awesome and unique things to do in Bogota, Colombia.  

Where we stayed in Bogota: 

We stayed in  CGH Hostel and Casa Del Arbol in Bogota. Both had super friendly owners, were comfortable and very well located in La Candelaria. I do recommend only staying in this area to get the best experience from Bogota. 

colombia travel guide

Taganga felt unsafe and after a massive rainfall, the beach ended up covered in plastic waste from the town. I know some people like it there. It’s raw I guess (aside from the main touristy street along the front) but I felt on edge. 

James visited Taganga 5 years ago, and said it was very different. He said that the town had been left to fall into disrepair. It’s been neglected by the authorities, it barely has roads and no running water. I felt sorry for the place, but it also wasn’t somewhere I felt comfortable. 

Santa Marta was nicer  and the best location to go to Tayrona, Minca and the Lost City Trek. Compared to Taganga, there are a lot more restaurant options and it feels safer. 

tayrona national park

Next on our itinerary for Colombia is Tayrona National Park. Tayrona National Park is a beautiful national park and a must see on any itinerary for Colombia. Shakira even sings about how beautiful it is in some of her earlier songs! 

The scenery is stunning. It’s a mix of jungle, beach and sea. It is touristy as the beaches are very popular, but not tourists-covering-every-square-inch-of-the-beach touristy! The most popular beach takes a fair few hours to walk to, so that probably manages the flow of people. 

I do not recommend just doing a day trip to Tayrona National Park, you won’t be able to appreciate it properly. I recommend staying 1 or 2 nights. Despite all the tourists, for me it was really worth a visit. We got extremely lucky and spotted a jaguarundi (a type of big cat) just outside our campsite when we walked back through the jungle at night.  We met monkeys, swam in the sea and did a number of walks within the park. Sadly we couldn’t visit the Mini Lost City as the route was closed when we visited in April 2019. 

There are a number of places you can stay in Tayrona National Park . We chose to stay in a tent in Don Pedro, but you can also stay in hammocks. You don’t have to bring your own tent, all campsites in Tayrona National Park have pre-set up tents. The campsite was fine, much better than Cabo San Juan (the most popular campsite) in my opinion as the tents weren’t in the direct sun and it wasn’t such a trek from the entrance. 

Don Pedro campsite isn’t right next to the beach, but it’s closer to our favourite beach which was La Piscina, which is far less busy than Cabo San Juan and swimmable. 

If you want more luxury, EcoHabs are available too but come with a hefty price tag. Quite a few of the beaches in Tayrona are not swimmable, so check out which beaches are swimmable and don’t put yourself in danger. There are some violent looking waves! 

You can get a bus to Tayrona National Park directly from Santa Marta Central Market where you will find buses that leave approximately every 30 minutes. Make sure you get there early by either 8am – 9am as the park can get full and has a certain capacity. 

The bus will take you to the first entrance, where you will pay for a ticket and collect your wristband. You then need to either walk to the second entrance of the park or catch the collectivo (mini bus). If you decide to walk it’s about an hour, and then from the second entrance it was about an hour and a half to Don Pedro campsite and a couple of hours to Cabo San Juan. 

You can get a horse though if you don’t feel like walking, but I did think the horses didn’t seem in amazing condition.

As an add on for this itinerary for Colombia, from Santa Marta, you can also do the famous Lost City Trek. This is a 4-6 day trek in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. 

During this trek, you venture through dry and dusty dunes and then jungles to get to the Lost City. The Lost City (called Teyuna) was built by the “Taironas” in 800 AD, way before the arrival of the Spanish in the region. It has unique terrace architecture. 

If you’d like to do this trek, you need to get yourself a guide. It costs around $300 – $350USD per person. 

Make sure you bring clothes for all weather. The first bit can be dry and hot, but it can also be rainy in the jungle so bring a spare set of clothes. Oh and get a good pair of trekking shoes (I have an awesome pair of Salomon shoes , remember to go a size up though!). 

colombia itinerary

Just a mere 45 minutes along a windy mountain road from Santa Marta is Minca. Minca is nestled in the jungle covered mountains and is a completely different world from Santa Marta. This little town should be on your itinerary for Colombia.

It’s a great place for independent trekking, visiting waterfalls and coffee plantations. A lot of people take motorbikes around to see the different attractions, but I genuinely loved walking up and down the hilly paths and taking in the beauty of the area. 

El Paraiso Coffee and Chocolate Finca has some beautiful views and you can learn about the coffee and chocolate making process, along with getting a chocolate face mask.  Casa Elemento is up a massive hill, but worth the trek as it has big hammocks you can sit in, drink beer and admire the views. If you head slightly down from the main hammocks you might even get a hammock all to yourself.

Cascada Marinca is a pretty waterfall. It has two tiers, one in which you can jump in. Cascada Marinca is also a two-tiered waterfall in the area. Whilst Casa Pozo Azul is free, Cascada Marinca waterfall is not. I don’t think it was worth the money though as there isn’t any pool to swim in and you can only just duck your head under the waterfall.

Minca is unique in the sense that it is at the cutting edge of modern tourism in Colombia. 10 years ago you would not have considered visiting this little village, despite being so close to Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park. The area around Minca was a no-go zone battleground for some of the most violent aspects of Colombia’s civil war. It really shows how much the situation in the country has changed, as Minca is safe and very popular with tourists these days. 

Where we stayed in Minca: 

Coco Bomgo was lovely. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. The rooms are basic but affordable. The breakfast changed up everyday and always is a traditional Colombian one. Other guests at the hostel were friendly and the hostel in general just had a welcoming atmosphere. 


Cartagena is on most people’s travel itinerary for Colombia. It is probably the most visited place in Colombia and is popular with cruise ships. It was one of the few places in Colombia which was visitable throughout the years of conflict. It’s friggin boiling hot and by the sea. Despite being touristy, Cartagena’s old Town really is a feast for the eyes. You can wander around the colourful streets and admire the cute balconies, windows and climbing plants covering the streets…until you almost suffer from heatstroke and desperately have to find some aircon. 

We heard negative things about the islands off Cartagena, that the beaches were packed with tourists and you get hassled a lot. If you want lovely Colombian beaches, see the ones at Tayrona National Park. We decided to give the Cartagena islands a miss, partly because of this information and also because I picked up a vomiting bug so couldn’t leave the guesthouse. 

Cartagena Fort is very impressive. It has been kept in amazing condition (it was rebuilt after falling into disrepair in the 1900s). Don’t miss the informative (and at times ridiculous/hypocritical) video, shown in a hut at the top, to the left of the fort. The air conditioning in the hut is also incredible!

travel colombia

Next on our itinerary for Colombia is Medellin. Medellin was once known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Medellin isn’t the prettiest city, but has lots to offer. It’s a favourite city amongst expats, this is probably to do with the trendy and wealthy area known as Poblado. 

The Museo de Antioquia, which holds the biggest collection of Botero paintings in the world and the Botero Plaza is totally worth visiting. Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous and loved painters. Seeing his work in real life really makes you appreciate the uniqueness and talent of this artist.

One of the top things to do in Medellin is a walking tour. But not a Pablo Escobar Tour; considering the death and destruction Escobar caused during his life and the sorrow many people in Medellin still experience from the loss of loved ones. For a balanced, nuanced and insightful tour of the city and its dark history, go for Real Tours Medellin and take a downtown tour. I did a lot of walking tours in Colombia, and this one was one of the best. It’s brutally honest, funny, but also heart breaking in parts. 

The Museum of Memories Medellin has been set up in memory of the lives lost or destroyed during the conflict in Colombia. It’s powerful stuff. If you aren’t a fluent Spanish speaker, make sure to download the app and the English guide before you venture around the museum.  

It’s worth taking the very long cable car all the way up to Arvi Park. The cable car gives you spectacular views across the city and then you get to travel over the forest canopy for several kilometers. To do the walks in Arvi Park you either need a guide or you need to download Maps.Me. The routes are really badly marked. I’ve also pulled together a guide for a very scenic walk in Arvi Park , it was like walking through a fairy tale. 

colombia travel

Often visitors take a day trip from Medellin to Guatape. This is a long day, but I don’t really think Guatape is worth spending any longer than that. We stayed for 3 days and this was too long. It is colourful and pretty, but so touristy and a bit trashy.  I can imagine that back in the day it was pretty special, but now you get touted endlessly at shops and restaurants (which isn’t actually that common in Colombia). Guatape has lost its authenticity. 

Many people visit Guatape to climb the staircase up to the Rock of Guatape. I am sure the view is lovely on a clear day, but it was absolutely tipping it down when we visited.

colombia travel

The hidden gem that is Jardin is a mere few hours away from Medellin, but most tourists don’t know about it so miss it out on their itinerary for Colombia. What a mistake. Deep in cowboy country, Jardin is authentic, colourful and quaint. It’s surrounded by lush green mountains.

In Jardin, you can soar through the air like a bird as you try out paragliding, visit enchanting waterfalls such as the one in Cueva del Esplendor, drink beers in the plaza with the local cowboys, horse ride past coffee and banana plantations and so much more. Jardin was one of my favourite places in Colombia (and probably the world) and a wonderful place to relax. Here are 11 unmissable things to do in beautiful Jardin . 

Colombia travel guide

Salento is next on our itinerary for Colombia and is home to the famous Valle De Cocora, where the mountainside is lined with palm trees. Salento is far more touristy than humble Jardin, but both are beautiful. 

The countryside surrounding Salento is divine, as is the laid-back feel and the colourful Salento houses. Salento is in ranching country, so locals wear cowboy hats and drink coffee from massive vats set on the counter of bars. We were only meant to spend 3 days here, but extended it to 5. Opps! 

Salento is famous for trekking and horse riding, with the most famous trek being in the Valle De Cocora. This trek through the jungle to the palm trees is so pretty it almost made me drool. Many people skip doing the whole trek through the jungle, but it’s worth doing, particularly to visit the hummingbird sanctuary. Another glorious (and often missed) trek is to Santa Rita La Cascada, which you can do directly from Salento. 

Salento also has some beautiful coffee plantations, which you can visit and have a tour. We visited one of the more popular ones, Finca El Ocaso Salento . If you visit, make sure you have a coffee in the cafe afterwards as it has a spectacular view. I recommend walking to this finca if you can, it’s along a peaceful road with breathtaking views. 

Where we stayed in Salento: 

El Zorzal is a low key guest house in a delightful setting. The garden is full of clucking chickens and a strong willed rooster, not too mention Toni the friendly giant tiger-skinned dog! The staff are friendly and the rooms are basic but comfortable and you can while away the hours in the garden watching the amazing birds that Colombia is famous for. 

Paramo Salento

From Salento, you can do a multi-day trek into Los Nevados National Park to see the out-of-this-world páramo (high mountain plains). This trek should have been amazing, but for us it rained for the entire 4 days. The accommodation is super basic, so we couldn’t dry our clothes and the whole experience was pretty cold, wet and miserable.

It’s tricky to trek in Los Nevados National Natural Park without a guide, as the guest houses get full and the guides call ahead. We did our trek with Paramo Trek Salento . This company is good, but in the terrible weather and cold, I found some things were overlooked.

Itinerary for Colombia: Other places i n Colombia worth visiting

Colombia has so much to offer. We loved it so much and there was so much to do, we spent 4 whole months there. I’d go back again in a heartbeat. In fact it is one of my favourite countries on earth. Other places worth visiting in Colombia are:

colombia travel

Villa De Leyva is a 4 or 5 hours bus ride away from Bogota. It’s got cute, whitewashed colonial buildings and a scenic plaza. The town has numerous museums, one being a dinosaur and fossil one (Museo Paleontológico). You can climb up to the Jesus Statue on a hill to a viewpoint. Or you can venture to the nearby La Periquera and trek past 7 waterfalls. Pozo Azules are a series of bright blue sulphuric pools and are a short trek just outside of Villa De Leyva.

extreme sports travel

If you are an adventure sports enthusiast and adrenaline junkie, San Gil is for you. You can kayak, white water raft, paraglide, go canyoning and caving, try out waterfall repelling and so much more. Once you’ve worn out your adrenaline levels, you can visit the local Barichara to wander around the colonial town and hike the Camino Real. Parque El Gallineral (also known as Bosque El Gallineral, Isla Del Amor and Bella Isla) is worth taking a stroll around, it has some pretty interesting and ghostly looking trees.

swim in the river pance

Popayán (known as La Ciudad Blanca or The White City) is in western Colombia. It’s renowned for its whitewashed colonial buildings and Easter week parades. It’s a little off-the-beaten track, and there’s so much more to this historic city and its surrounding area than what most travel blogs flag up. Here are the best things to do in Popayan . 

How to get from Popayan to San Agustin

San Agustin is home to various archaeological sites, such as the pre-Columbian statues, burial sites and various other artifacts from indigenous communities dating back 6,000 years ago. You can see the beautiful surrounding countryside on multi-day horse riding trips and explore the Magdalena River, with its various canyons and waterfalls. Or you can chill the F out like we did in one of the best hostels we found on our South American trip.

leticia colombia

The town of Leticia itself is nothing to write home about, it’s what surrounds it which matters. Colombia has literally everything – snowy mountains, beaches, cool cities, quaint towns AND the Amazon jungle. I’d say you can’t visit South America without going to the world’s largest rain-forest. It’s full of incredible plants and animals, and obviously lots of killer bugs and snakes. You can get excursions into the Amazon in Leticia, these usually involve staying in a jungle lodge, going on jungle treks and boat trips. Leticia is the point where Colombia meets Peru and Brazil, you can access both these countries easily from here. And even take the 1 week amazon boat to Manaus like we did .

Whilst in Leticia, do make sure you visit the Parque Santander at 5:15pm to watch the millions of birds come to roost. It is absolutely mind-blowing.

beaches colombia

San Andrés is a teeny little island nearer to Nicaragua than Colombia. It’s got more of a Caribbean vibe than a Colombian one, and has white sand beaches with crystal clear waters. San Andrés is more English speaking than the rest of Colombia. It’s popular with scuba divers, but it is extremely popular with Colombian tourists more than anything so can get pretty busy.

Popular activities on the island include cruises to see manta rays and tropical fish, diving, renting a bike to explore the island or just chilling on the beach. San Andrés can be a little pricey, particularly compared to other parts of Colombia. And obviously being an island in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, you have to fly there. You can fly from most main city airports in Colombia.

Getting around Colombia: Transport

I absolutely love Colombia, but at times it can be a little bit of a pain getting around. It’s pretty small compared to other South American countries (such as Brazil and Argentina) however still a lot bigger than somewhere like the UK. Transport however is pretty affordable, whatever you decide to do.

Planes are affordable, but beware of weight limits for bags or you will end up spending a lot of money.  I recommend Latam airlines, although they are not the cheapest they tend to not have lots of hidden costs. Latam are safe and well managed.

You can get between most destinations by bus, but journeys can be long and tiresome. They often take far longer than expected, on uncomfortable buses. The buses in Colombia are certainly not the worst in the world, particularly compared to those in Asia (*cough* Nepal), but they aren’t the best. They are often sticky, hot and a bit broken.

Sadly, there are no working train lines in Colombia.

In most cities (Bogota, Medellin and Cali) you can use Uber. Although Uber is not strictly legal (the driver will ask you to sit in the front seat), it’s often safer than getting a taxi. In the main cities, do avoid getting taxis off the street. You can pick them up from bus stations and airports at the taxi points. Some places such as Jardin and Guatape you can take tuk tuks (auto rickshaws).

We spent 4 months in Colombia and felt very safe. Keep your valuables out of sight as petty crime is the most common offence against tourists. Oh and try not to wander around the cities at night at 3am on your own. Largely Colombia is pretty safe and plenty of tourists visit without any issues. Do always check the Foreign Office Colombia travel advice page , as Colombia is a bit of a mixed bag. Some areas are safe, whilst there are others you should probably avoid.

Cost of travelling in Colombia

Colombia is a pretty affordable South American country. We spent £880 ($1,030 USD) per person per month which included all activities, transport, accommodation and food. Obviously as a couple our costs are reduced slightly as we can share the cost of a room, but we also didn’t go for the cheapest accommodation.

We stayed largely in budget private rooms with an en-suite and paid £10 to £20 ($13 to $26 USD) per night. You can get budget dorm beds from £5 to £10 ($6.45 – $13) per night depending on where you are in Colombia. Both Cartagena and Bogota (La Candelaria) can be a little bit more pricey then the rest of Colombia. The accommodation, even the budget stuff, tends to be of a high quality. If you’ve got a bit more money to spend, you really can get some absolutely gorgeous hotels.

Also, most activities such as learning Spanish, scuba diving and paragliding are very affordable and a lot cheaper than you can get elsewhere (in Brazil or Peru for example).

A few things to note about Colombia

Venezuelan crisis .

As you may know, the situation in Venezuela has escalated in recent years. Over 4 million people have left Venezuela, with millions ending up in Colombia. 

On the streets of many Colombian cities, you’ll see Venezuelans selling sweets or begging, often young couples with children. These aren’t the usual homeless people, where it is advised that you donate to homeless charities to avoid them using the money for abuse substances which could lead to their death. 

Giving money to Venezuelans

We often gave money to Venezuelans. Although, I understand that it’s not a long-term solution. It’s something to help make day-to-day life easier. Colombians often do the same and have historically been welcoming to Venezuelans, as Colombians (and other Latin American citizens) often fled to Venezuela during their own decades of violent conflict. 

Although due to the sheer level of people entering the country, Colombians are becoming less welcoming and aid agencies struggle to keep pace with the swell of refugees . Sadly attacks on Venezuelans are escalating. As is the level of people taking advantage of the situation through human trafficking and slavery. The UN Refugee Agency continues to urgently seek funding to help support countries like Colombia . 

Sexual exploitation

Colombia recently has had a surge in tourism. This is fantastic news for a country recovering from years of civil conflict and violence. Many Colombians express delight that tourists feel safe to visit and are often proud of the progress Colombia is making as a country. 

Sadly, with tourism there has been a surge of sexual exploitation of children. In Cartagena, a “rape tour” has recently been exposed, where tourists were taken around the city to rape children. Some Westerners and other tourists, rather than spending their money on positive things within a country use their power and money to abuse locals. It’s disgusting and sickening. 

The Colombian government has launched a scheme to protect children from sexual exploitation and asks tourists (and locals) to report anything they see that involves a child and seems suspicious. 

Report anything suspicious 

If you do see anything suspicious during your travels in Colombia, report it or call the Colombian police on 123. If you can’t speak Spanish, ask your hotel or a local tour company to help you out. As all hotels and legit tour companies have also signed up to the scheme to help tackle the abuse. 

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2 comments on “ Perfect 1 Month Itinerary For Colombia [Colombia Travel Guide]  ”

Great blog Lara. I have a friend that is going to go to Colombia so will forward your blog to her. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get there too. Your links within your blogs are really useful. Enjoy planning your next trip!

I totally think you should visit, hopefully we will be over there again when you do!

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  • Other countries

1 month itinerary for Colombia for the adventurous traveler

  • December 16, 2016

Colombia in one month is not a lot of time to explore this beautiful country, but it is still enough time to visit some of the highlights of the country and give you a taste so you want to come back for more. I love nature and outdoor adventures, so this was my focus when I planned my 1 month in Colombia.

So why did I end up in Colombia on my first solo travel? Colombia had for many years been on my bucket list. To be honest, I think it was Shakira that started the idea when she put her country on the world map with her hip-shaking song “whenever-wherever.” Back in 2007 my best friend and I were about to decide in which country to work voluntarily the following year. I wanted to go to Colombia, and she was more into Mexico. The organization only had programs in Colombia from August, and we wanted to go in January, so we ended up choosing Mexico. It took me almost nine years before I pursued my dream and took the flight to Colombia. Hands down, Colombia did not disappoint me!

Bogotá: Amazing city bike tour, but a bit boring

Day 1-2: Bike ride and cable car to Monserrate: My travel took off in the capital of Colombia, Bogotá. It was not a city that took my heart away, so I only stayed two nights. I arrived at night but the second day I started out with the 5 hour Bogotá bike tour around the city which was one of the best experiences in Bogotá, and I will definitely recommend this for everybody. They have tours in the morning at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm and you just show up at their shop located in La Candelaria (Carrera 3 no 12-71).

1 month itinerary Colombia

At night I took the cable car to Cerro de Monserrate to see the beautiful view of the capital. Monserrate is a hilltop and there is a church up there. The cable car is operating until 11.30 pm, but I would recommend to go there before sunset to see the city in daylight and then see it when all the lights are on.

1 month itinerary for Colombia #colombia #monserrate

Day 3: Museum Botero, located in La Candelaria. Open all days except Tuesday. Before taking the flight to Santa Marta, I spend half the day at Museo Botero which was a fascinating experience. The museum also has sculpture and paintings from other known artists like Dali and even some Danish artists. I am in general not a city person, so two nights for me was enough, and I didn’t find the city that interesting.

Santa Marta and the Lost City Trail (Cuidad Perdida)

Day 4: Tayrona National park. I only stayed one day in Tayrona National park, and I wish I had taken a bus earlier in the morning because I arrived a bit late. It was a warm experience, and suddenly we had to walk very fast to get out of the park again in time. But the park is beautiful, and we even saw monkeys! I go nuts when I see monkeys so this was one big highlight for me. You can sleep there as well, but I was short of time and the day after I was doing the Lost City Trek.

Day 5-8: Lost City Trek. High in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains, you will find the Lost City, a site which by many has been called ‘the new Machu Picchu.’ Doing the Lost City Trek was another tick on my bucket list and is an adventure that I always will remember. I booked the trip at the hostel I was staying. This was here I found my travel partner from Holland as well.

If you are into hiking, history and impressive nature, this is the perfect trek. After the tour, I heard that many people don’t support it because they don’t believe the indigenous that lives there are being respected. I don’t know too much about the circumstances but the guide we had lived five years in the jungle with the indigenous to learn about their culture and I felt there was a lot of respect from the guide towards the native people living there. The company is called Baquianos Tour . The guide did not speak English, so you might want to ask about that when booking the tour.

1 month itinerary Colombia

Day 9: Coffee farm tour at Minca. After a lot of hiking, I decided to use my last day on a half day excursion to a coffee farm which I also booked at the hostel. I had a goal to learn to drink coffee during this Colombia trip so learning a bit about coffee beans, the production process and understand the difference between first and second class made the whole learn-to-like-coffee process a lot more interesting. As part of the trip, we visited some waterfalls as well.

The New Medellin after the fall of Pablo Escobar

I skipped Cartagena. From other travelers, I got the impression that it was kind of a party place. I decided to win some more days and take the plane to Medellin instead. Medellin surprised me. I’m not a big city person, and I thought I would stay there for a maximum of three days. I stayed for 5 days, and I could have been there for two weeks more!

Day 11: Walking tour. Start out with the free walking tour – it helped me understand the Colombian people, their culture, their dramatic historical and political background and life after Pablo Escobar. In Medellín Pablo is like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter; he is the he-who-must-not-be-named. It’s a sensitive subject to the Colombians, and they want to change their country’s reputation of being a country with violence, drugs cartels, and cocaine. So treat the subject with care. Remember to sign up for the walking tour and bring some tips for the very professional guides.

Paragliding and graffiti in Medellin

Day 12: Metro & cable cars: Take a trip with the metro and cable car to see the city from above and explore the Arví park at the end of the journey.

Day 13: Paragliding. I got some hangover that day (damn you Aguardiente!) but my travel partner and I managed to find our way to the paragliding place, and it was a great experience to see Medellin from another perspective. We asked for information at our hostel, they told us how to get there and we managed to get there and get back home all by ourselves. I will not recommend it with hangover though… 😀

Day 14: Comuna 13 & Cerro Nutibara. Comuna 13 was earlier one of the most dangerous neighborhood. Today you find an escalator, beautiful graffiti and an amazing view of the city. I didn’t have any expectations of that trip, but it was such a surprise to see this odd neighborhood. I mean – a modern looking escalator in the middle of a ghetto-ish looking neighborhood? And then with all the graffiti. I didn’t do the guided graffiti tour, but I would do it next time to get some more history about the graffiti. In the afternoon we visited the Cerro Nutibara where you will find another great view of the city. Its kind of a weekend-escape place for the paisanos (people from medellín) and you´ll find stalls with food and souvenirs as well.

1 month itinerary Colombia

Day 15: El Peñol de Guatapé. The impressive stone is located a 2-hour bus ride from Medellín. Buy your tickets at the main bus terminal. When you arrive at El Peñol, the taxi drivers will try to convince you that you cannot walk there but you can! Just turn to your right when you see some stairs.

The stone is impressive! I was a bit like “how did they place that stone there? “. Well, it wasn´t placed there by anybody, but it just seems like it dropped down from the sky. It has an elevation of 2,135 meters (7,005 ft) over sea level, 22 cubic megametres of the rock mass and it is 385 meters (1,263 ft) long, with an approximate weight of 66 million tonnes. El Peñol has some rock breaks that was used to construct 650 stairs, so its possible to go all the way up – and that view is something from another planet! Good exercise though! 😉

1 month itinerary Colombia

Other things I did there that I can recommend doing is to enjoy Medellín nightlife and dance some reggaeton! I didn’t think I would be out partying in Colombia, but the good vibes in Medellin tempted me. The paisanos are incredibly friendly – but be careful when they offer you to share a bottle of Aguardiente! 😉

Salento and all its nature and coffee

Day 16: Salento was a whole other experience. My travel partner and I decided to stay in hostel Kasaguaduana in the middle of nowhere. We walked until we got to a gate. From there we walked yet another 20 minutes in a densely overgrown downhill path. All the way we were like “what the hell is this? Where are we?”. But finally, we found this little paradise on earth. A sustainable lifetime dream project by a Colombian/English couple. The walk from the main center to the hostel and back again was long – and when it was dark it was dark everywhere! We had to walk with our flashlight through the overgrown path, and it was an experience in itself!

Day 17: Valle de Cocora. A nationally protected park with 60-meter high wax palms – the national tree of Colombia. Another must-do in Salento and you´ll find buses going to the park from the center. Again I had this feeling I was on another planet when I saw the stunning view of the tall wax palms.

1 month itinerary Colombia

Day 18: Mountain biking & coffee farm tour. Last day in Salento and we decided to use it effectively. We rented a bike to explore the area. On the way, we passed a coffee farm “El Ocas Salento” where I took another round coffee trip. During this coffee tour, we got to pick our coffee beans and being involved in the process was something I enjoyed.

1 month itinerary Colombia

Wet desert walk at Desierto de la Tatacoa

Day 19-20: Desert of Tatacoa. A long bus ride took us to the only desert in Colombia. Guess what – it was raining when we arrived! I thought that this must be the weirdest desert in the world. But then I learned that there’s an average of 1070mm of rain each year. We were waiting 2 hours for the rain to stop before we could finally explore the odd-looking desert. The walk was not easy – the rain had the sand turned into mud. Heavy mud! With 2 kilo heavy feet, we walked around this spacey looking desert. And apropos. The same day we were there a movie company were filming a science fiction series and we had spacey people walking around in the desert. A bizarre experience! This dessert is also a perfect place to observe stars – but because of the rain, we could not see the sky.

1 month itinerary Colombia

San Agustín and ruins

Day 20: Archaeological Park of San Agustín. I only had two nights in San Agustin since I was running out of time. As soon as I stepped out of the bus, I got help from the local tourist office to find a place to stay. People were so friendly here, and I felt very safe walking around alone, also at night. I arrived a bit late but had time to visit the Archaeological Park . The park was a nice walk, I enjoyed being a tourist by my own after two weeks with a travel partner (she went back home after Tatacoa), but it’s not the most impressive ruins if you compare to the Mayan ruins in Mexico or Guatemala.

Day 21: Jeep Tour. On this tour, I saw waterfalls, viewpoints and some ruins. It was an excellent tour, but to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed by the ruins again. I loved the waterfalls though. San Agustin is a beautiful place and maybe I should had used more days there, but I wasn’t that impressed with their ruins as I have been in some other places. But I think I will come back another time to explore the area more because I liked the city.

Then I had a long bus ride to Bogotá before heading to my last big adventure in Colombia.

The Amazon jungle in Leticia

Day 22- 29: Leticia & the Amazon. I had a lot of doubts whether I should go to Letitia or not. Its a very remote place and you can only go there by plane meaning the tickets are not cheap. Furthermore to stay here is expensive as well. On the other hand, I wanted to experience the Amazon, and I was so close already. In the end, I decided to do it – and it was one of the best experience I had in Colombia!

1 month itinerary Colombia

I had been in contact with some travel agencies before leaving and ended up with Selvaventura . Claudia from the company picked me up at the airport and took me to their agency that is a hostel as well. At the agency, I got my briefing, and I was very surprised to find out that I was going to Brazil! That was an adventure itself because First I had to take a taxi to the river. Then a boat to Brazil. Then another taxi to another part of the river and then a peke peek boat to Palmari Lodge where I stayed three nights. Among the activities there I did with my guide:

  • Kayak in the Amazon river to observe monkeys and pink and grey river dolphins
  • Visiting the local villages to see and learn about how they live
  • Fishing piranha fish in the river
  • Night boat trip to catch caimans
  • Night walk in the jungle to observe nocturne animals (this was so cool!)
  • Making pieces of jewelry with natural materials
  • Canopy in the jungle

1 month itinerary Colombia

Lodge Palmari was where I met Victor . After my days here we took together to Leticia. From there we took a boat trip to Puerto Nariño, a river village where we stayed one night. At the coastline, you will find offices selling tickets to the small river villages. Next day we made another boat trip to observe more of the Amazon river and the river dolphins.

1 month itinerary Colombia

Day 30 I took the flight back to Bogota and then back to Denmark.

A travel tip: Flying is often cheaper and faster than taking the bus.

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I’m massively in favour of the coffee tour, and like your take on the street art and paragliding- I would definitely squeeze those into any itinerary.

The street art in Colombia in general is pretty awesome! When its art it really adds beauty to a big city! Thanks for your comment 🙂

Sounds like you had an amaaazing time. We also spent 1 month in Colombia but had a bit of a different itinerary. Salento and Medellin are my fave places ever!!

I would love to go back to these places! Colombia is something special 🙂

I am going to Colombia this Summer and Palmari sounds amazing! We went to the Peruvian Amazon 2 years ago and fell in love. It sounds like you had a great time there, would you recommend it?

I really liked the experience even though it was the most expensive part of my trip! I saw a post about another girl doing a trip in the amazon jungle but another place and she kind of did same activities as me; observing river dolphins, catching piranha fist, kayak in the river and visiting small village. I don’t know what you did in Peru, but that was what u did you might want to try something else. At Palmari you can also stay multiple days in the jungle: walking and making food, sleeping in hammocks. It was raining heavily when I was there so I didn’t have the chance, but I would love to come back and try it! Have a great trip to Colombia 🙂

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Pati's Journey Within

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

In this post, I will help you plan and create your best Colombia itinerary. Below you will find an extensive Colombia itinerary that can be adjusted according to your travel duration and the type of traveller you are. I will include some bonus off-the-beaten-track destinations, and of course, important tips and advice on how to create the best Colombia travel plan.

Colombia is a fascinating country. It is also one of my favourite countries in the world. I spent 4 months travelling through Colombia and I could easily spend another year there. It is a spectacular country and home to some of the kindest people.

I loved everything about Colombia. Its nature, its coast, its lush mountains, its villages and its cities. How incredible the hostel scene is in Colombia and the kindness of the people.  The music, how much people enjoy life and how simple things gained a new value for me. Colombia has a rich and dramatic history and a very diverse culture.

One day, as I walked down the street in Riohacha, I came across this sign:

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

If you want to know the Pacific Ocean… Go to Chile.

If you want to know the Atlantic Ocean… Go to Jamaica.

If you want to know the American Andes… Go to Bolivia.

If you want to know the plains of the Orinoco… Go to Venezuela.

If you want to know the jungles of the Amazon… Go to Brazil.

If you want to get to know the pre-Columbian cultures… Go to Mexico.

But if you want to experience all this together… Come to Colombia.

And it’s very much true. Whatever type of traveller you are, whatever you are looking for – adventure, jungle trekking, beach chilling, hiking, exploring the desert and indigenous cultures, visiting ancient ruins, or partying and having a good time – it is all there for you in Colombia!

I guess if you are here – you have already decided to go. Great decision! 

But now you are wondering – how am I even going to see it all?!

I’m going to give it to you straight – you will not.

Before I give you all the details let me highlight the places and experiences that should appear on every Colombia itinerary (no matter the length of your trip):

Bogota (Hike up or take a cable car up the Monserate and visit the historic district of La Candelaria)

Medellin (Take a Comuna 13 Graffiti walking tour and walk through the Plaza Botero)

Salento (Hike Cocora Valley and take a ride in a Willy Jeep)

Tayrona National Park (hike the jungle and spend a night and sleep in a hammock overlooking the Caribbean Sea)

Cartagena (admire Centro Historic and the district of Getsemani and take a trip to Playa Blanca)

But in case you have more time and are planning on travelling around Colombia for a month, two months or more I will list all the best as well as off-the-beaten-path towns to put on your Colombia itinerary. 

I will not be fooling you by saying that you can see all of Colombia in a month. Not even in two or three months.  Even if you would have spent just one day in every place – it wouldn’t be possible! 

Let me tell you, you will want to rest for a few days on the beach, take a hike you didn’t know existed or visit the village that all travellers you met are raving about, chill by the infinity pool overlooking the mountains in Minca, sleep in a hammock in Cabo da la Vela, and forget the world in Rincon. You will want to walk the streets of Jardin and Salento and marvel at the Guatape and raft in San Gil. 

But give yourself some time. When it comes to travelling in a country like Colombia – less is more. 

Still, how do you make a decision about what to put on your list? Colombia is a big country, so planning your trip while trying to tick all “must-see destinations” can be easily overwhelming.

But I’m here for the rescue! I have created the most extensive Colombia itinerary for you!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Table of Contents

What will you find in this Colombia itinerary / Colombia travel planning guide?

This Colombia itinerary can be adjusted to your travel needs and duration. I have provided advice on how many days you should spend in one place and added travel days as very often it will take nearly a whole day to get from one place to another.

I’ve linked the destinations for the smoothest possible transition. I have also provided short lists of things to do and places to stay. 

This Colombia Itinerary spreads across 2 months, but it is totally adjustable for shorter or longer stay. If you have more time you can add more locations from the off-the-beaten-track list or extend your stay in a few locations.

If you are only travelling for a month or less, just skip some of the destinations. 

Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller?

For example: Skip Cali, and return to Medellin after visiting  Salento. You can also skip the Jardin and head to Salento straight. The other option is to skip San Gil and Villa de Leyva and head straight to Cartagena. As you can see, this route is very flexible: )

This Colombia itinerary is designed so that you can see all the options and choose the destinations you can, and want to see. 

And why is this a Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller? Because you can choose and pick the locations but also the duration of your travel. The number of days I suggested for each location, is the minimal advised time you should spend there. You can extend it, skip it or change it – this is your trip and I am here to make it easier for you to plan your Colombia trip!

For a more detailed guide on specific Colombia destinations, I will include links to relevant posts.

You could divide Colombia into a few different tourist interest areas.

I think dividing it this way will help you plan your Colombia itinerary better. The areas that end up on most of the itineraries are: Caribbean Coast, Medellin and Antioquia department (Jardin, Guatape), Bogota and surrounding areas (Villa de Leyva or Chingaza National Park) and Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero – Salento, Filandia, Armenia). 

Some travellers that stay for longer would also add Cali and Pacific Coast, Amazonas with Leticia, Santander with San Gil and other southern departments like Meta or areas around Popayan .

Epic Colombia itinerariy for every type of traveller

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 1 – Arrive in Bogota

Day 2 – Heal the jet lag and climb Monserrate  or take a bike city tour (highly recommended!)

I suggest you spend a day in Bogota to sleep off or walk off the jet lag. If you want to spend this day exploring this enormous and fascinating city, I strongly recommend that you take a bicycle city tour. I took one myself and it was the best way to get to know the city, its dramatic history, visit the fruit market and eat some weirdest fruit out there and get myself accustomed to Colombia. Highly recommended!

You can also climb the mountain of Monserrate for the most spectacular views of Bogota. Don’t worry, you can also take a cable car! After visiting Monserrate, I recommend that you visit the historic district of La Candelaria. You will find a few great museums here like Museo Botero or Museo de Bogota .

A visit to Museo del Oro is also a great thing to do in Bogota!

Bogota has some bad name to it and you do need to know where to go and when not to. But if you follow basic safety rules and visit during the day, you might end up really liking the city. In fact, I like Bogota more than Medellin!

If you are wary of wandering around on your own, join a group tour! It’s an excellent way to meet other travellers and ask all burning questions.

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

There are many epic hostels in Bogota and various areas you could stay in. The most popular hostels in Bogota include Cranky Croc Hostel , Viajero , Hobu Hostel and Republica Hostel . For a private room in a hostel with access to coworking space, I recommend Selina and if you are looking for a private room in a great location check out Suites 109 GH Usaquén. 

Days 3 and 4 – Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is one of the most beautiful and popular colonial towns in Colombia. It is such a charming town that I recommend spending at least one night to fully immerse yourself in its charm. Enjoy the walk down the stone-made streets among colonial buildings, go hiking or enjoy a great dinner without feeling rushed. 

Although the town retains its original architecture and magic, be aware that being just an hour’s drive from Bogota, it is also a popular tourist spot. 

The Plaza Mayor is one of South America’s largest plazas and one of Colombia’s most photographed squares. Surrounding the plaza are a number of cafes, restaurants and hotels where you can relax and watch life go by. There are a number of archaeological sites and museums that can be found in the area, as well as Pozoz Azules (Blue Ponds) located just 2 km away from Villa de Leyva.

Day 5 – Travel to San Gil

Days 6, 7 and 8 – San Gil

San Gil is known to be Colombia’s adventure capital and many travelers head here to try rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking and much more. So if you are looking for some adventure and want to spike your adrenaline levels make your way to San Gil.

San Gil is located in the Santander Department and to be honest, no one visits San Gil for the town itself. The town is, however, famously surrounded by mountains, deep canyons, fast waters and waterfalls.

San Gil is said to be an exceptional place for rafting with Rio Suarez offering one of the very few in the world raft class 5 rapids. But even if extreme sports like bungy jumping or canyoning are not your thing, San Gil is also an awesome hiking destination with an incredible  Chicamocha National Park and numerous waterfalls that can be visited on foot. 

Oh, and with Colombia’s prettiest village of Barichara just around the corner, you might notice that even 3 days won’t be enough to really enjoy the town and its surroundings.

Tips for travelling to and from San Gil

San Gil logistically can be a little bit tricky to put on your itinerary. You can either return from Villa de Leyva to Bogota and take a bus to San Gil which takes around 8 hours. In this case, I recommend spending a night in Bogota.  Or you can skip Villa de Leyva and travel to San Gil straight away from Bogota.

Alternatively, you can also travel from Villa de Leyva to San Gil by first taking a bus to Tunja and then changing there for the bus to San Gil which takes around 5 to 6 hours. 

After you spent your time in San Gil you can take a bus to Bucamaranga and then take a flight or bus from there to either Cartagena or Santa Marta . Consider spending a night in Bucamaranga. 

If visiting San Gil isn’t your thing or feels like too much hassle then skip to the next location on this list – Cartegena. 

Day 9 – Travel to Cartagena

Days 10, 11 and 12 – Cartagena

I recommend that you stay in Cartagena for a minimum of 3 days. There are plenty of things to do in Cartagena and few great day trips you can take from here as well.

Explore the incredibly picturesque and colourful Centro Historico and head to the Getsemani district to discover its incredible murals. Getsemani is my favourite part of Cartagena, especially in the afternoon. 

I highly recommend Cartagena free walking tour. It was one of the best walking tours I have taken in Colombia. I have only stayed in Cartagena for a total of 5 days (which is short by my standards) so the walking tour allowed me to learn more about the city and discover places I wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

You can easily stay in Cartagena for a few extra days as there are a few incredible day tips you can take from there.

You can take a day trip to Playa Blanca , although I do recommend staying for one night to enjoy this paradise tourist-free. 

Another great thing you can do in Cartagena is visiting Rosario Islands . There are many ways you can see this Caribbean paradise and many travellers opt for a day trip, but you can easily spend days island hopping and relaxing. 

For the best accommodation in Cartagena, i recommend you check out Casa Movida Hostel , Republica Hostel and Viajero . Hostel La Antigua Capsula offers great prices and the best location too. 

For more private accommodation take a look at The Clock Hostel & Suites or Casa del Puerto Hostel & Suites .

Day 13 – Travel to Rincon del Mar

Days 14, 15 and 16 – Rincon del Mar and San Bernardo Islands trip

If you have already read some of my Colombia posts or follow me on Instagram , you probably know how much I love Rincon del Mar!

Visiting places like Rincon del Mar is a quintessence of what backpacking is for me. Until the last moment, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to Rincon, and I am so glad I did! This is a true tranquil Colombian paradise. If you are looking to relax on the beach, swim surrounded by bioluminescent plankton and if you are considering visiting the San Bernando islands – you have to visit Rincon.

Ten years ago, Rincon del Mar wasn’t even on a map, so the population of this small fishing village is only getting used to the new touristy reality. You won’t find hoards of vendors on the beach. The streets of Rincon del Mar are full of locals going about their life and the weekend street party is very much how it used to be years ago.

But don’t be fooled. There are many fantastic beach hostels and accommodations available in Rincón del Mar. And there are tones of activities. That is if you want to do something apart from lazing in the hammock and eating fish all day long.

From Rincon, you can either take a day trip to the San Bernando Islands or continue from here and stay on any of them for a night or two. Some travellers choose to travel back to Cartagena by boat. 

You can also spend a night in a hotel on the water!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

There are some incredible beachfront hostels and eco-lodges in Rincon del Mar. I stayed in Hostel Beach House and loved it! Mamallena also has fantastic reviews and of course, there is Dos Aguas ! Famous eco-lodge which I highly recommend (on the side of the pricier and need to booked well in advenced)!

Day 17 – Return to Cartagena and spend one night and travel to Santa Marta first thing in the morning

Days 18 and 19 – Arrive in Santa Marta 

On day 17 take an early bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta and spend the afternoon exploring and enjoying dinner in one of the great restaurants in Parque de Los Novios.

Although many claim that there isn’t much to do in Santa Marta, I strongly disagree. It is actually one of my favourite cities in Colombia and I spent a total of 3 weeks there! I could easily imagine myself living in Santa Marta actually. 

But for our short trip, I recommend you spend a whole day exploring the town, visiting Simon Bolivar Museum and admiring the sunset at the marina. If you are around during the weekend, head to La Brisa Loca for the best party in town.

Or you can just hop on a boat to Playa Blanca and chill on the beach all day.

There are tons of great hostels and private accommodation options in Santa Marta. My favourites are   Flamingo co-living and Co-working and Distrito Hostel. I stayed in both and wholeheartedly recommend both!

Some other epic hostels in Santa Marta include Viajero , Masaya and the newly refurbished Republica Hostel . 

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 20 and 21 – Tayrona National Park

Take off as early as you can to beat the crowds. The gate is open from 8 am. I suggest you store your luggage in the hostel/hotel in Santa Marta. The majority of hotels will have no problems storing your luggage as long as you spend a couple of nights with them. 

The best way to visit Tayrona National Park is on a two-day trip. I wrote a full article about this which includes all the accommodation options. You can read it here.

You will spend the first day trekking in the jungle to some of Colombia’s most beautiful beaches. After spending the night in the hammock I suggest leaving Tayrona around midday and heading back to Santa Marta to pick up your luggage. You will have enough time to get on a bus to your next beach destination. 

You will want to leave Santa Marta at the latest at 3pm by taking the Palomino bus from in front of the market.

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

The most popular option for accommodation around Park Tayrona is Journey Hostel . Great for meeting people and with a fantastic pool and view. If you want to splash a bit of money check out the Hotel Jasayma Parque Tayrona .

Few other options include Bohemia Beach and Hostal Paraiso Tayrona .

Day 22, 23 and 24 – Beach time (Mendihuaca, Costeno or Palomino)

It’s time to relax a bit. I suggest you spend the full 2 days in one of those beach towns. The choice will depend on what are you looking for.

All 3 towns are great for surfing and not so much for swimming, but the beaches are great and sunsets to die for. 

Mendihuaca is a remote surfer’s beach, of which not many tourists know about. Along the beach, you will find eco-lodges facing the beach and you will fall asleep to the sound of the sea. But don’t expect too many facilities. Electricity is available for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening and the showers are cold. But the beach is magical. There is a small café on the beach run by Isabela who bakes the best cakes and makes great cocktails. 

Costeno Beach is home to 3 of the famous beach hostels. With nothing else around you will spend your time in a great hostel or private room and enjoy great facilities such as a pool, a restaurant, surf lessons and a party at night. The destination hostel in this part of Colombia is definitely Costeno Beach Hostel . Many travellers stop here not only to chill on the remote beach but to also enjoy what this hostel has on offer like great food, a vibe, a young crowd of cool travellers and an awesome pool. 

Palomino is an actual town with many accommodation options and plenty of bars and restaurants. It’s famous for being a hippy town in Colombia, but in recent years it has gained mixed reviews. The beach in Palomino is receding yet surfing is still great. I really liked Palomino, but if you are looking for a relaxing time in the middle of nowhere with some facilities and Internet access – Costeno is your choice. 

If you are planning a Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas trip – Palomino would be the best choice for a base.

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Days 25, 26 and 27 – Cabo de la vela and Punta Gallinas Trip

This trip is optional but highly recommended. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in Colombia, although it didn’t come without challenges. I do, however, believe that travelling isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding. And this particular one is eye-opening and breathtaking.

Cabo de la Vela  is a small fishing town only accessible by jeep or motorbike, located in the La Guajira desert , on the Eastern Caribbean Coast of Colombia. The La Guajira region is a beautiful part of Colombia, yet one of the most impoverished and neglected regions of the country. It is home to the Wayuu indigenous people living in tough desert conditions.

Further up is Punta Gallinas , the northernmost point of mainland Colombia and South America. It’s stunning, wild and breathtaking. But it’s here where you will ride through the desert and witness the poverty, families living in sheds in the desert and creating artificial checkpoints/tolls made of ropes and colourful clothes which are meant to stop you on your way and give food, water or candy to children.

This whole trip is an adventure of contrasts. The trip takes 3 days and 2 nights and you have to take an organized tour. Although you could travel to Cabo independently, it is not recommended you go any further due to roadblocks and no clearly marked roads. 

You will travel for 3 days, travel in the jeep through the La Guajira desert, visit in my opinion, one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia, see incredible sunsets but also see poverty, and the problem of waste and learn how communities here lack necessities like clean drinking water or access to medical health.

It can be a heartbreaking journey. But at the same time, you will see what in my opinion is one of the most beautiful regions of the country.

You will spend the night sleeping in the Wayuu hammock and be able to wash or take a shower just for a couple of hours in the evening and in the morning. There are no luxuries on this trip, and it will be tiring at times. But on the last day, you will slide from the dunes right into the blue ocean.

Everything about this trip is worth it. 

There are a number of agencies organizing this trip, many of which offer it only in Spanish. Please do your research and choose wisely. The cheaper in this case often means broken cars, delays and lack of guidance. 

The best point to start this trip is the city of Riohacha , but you can also start from Palomino . If you are taking your tour from Riohacha you will have to stay there overnight and travel back by bus or plane. I travelled back to Santa Marta by bus.

I know people who took the tour from Santa Marta, too. I do not recommend it . It takes about 7 hours to get to Cabo from Santa Marta. You will spend more hours in the jeep than exploring the La Guajira. 

If you have decided to make this trip, you can read all the details in this post that I wrote.

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 28 – Travel from Riohacha to Santa Marta

Days 29, 30 and 31 – Minca

Travellers often wonder if they should make a detour and visit Minca . If you are wondering as well, I will tell you, don’t!

Minca is one of my favourite places in Colombia. If you have only a couple of weeks in Colombia and want to add one smaller, off-the-beaten-path destination to your list – Minca should be your choice.

You can stay in Casas Viejas perched on top of a mountain, wake up to the tranquillity of the green rolling hills, take a swim in an infinity pool, take a great hike to the waterfall and just relax and forget the world for a few days! Why wouldn’t you! And you will be only an hour’s drive from Santa Marta!

Minca is often visited on a day trip, but I recommend spending 2 nights so that you get a full day of exploration and chilling! You will not regret it!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 32 – Travel to Medellin

Days 33, 34 and 35 Medellin

Medellin is a fascinating city with a very dramatic history and hundreds of great things to do! Once, one of the most dangerous cities in the world Medellin is now a top tourist and digital nomads destination in Colombia. It is also on every traveller’s Colombia itinerary. 

Of course, 3 days is not enough to discover it all. Many travellers extend their stay and some even grow roots here. 

But if you only have a couple or three days in Medellín, you can’t miss the Comuna 13 graffiti free walking tour where you will learn all about the past of the city, as well as taking the cable car ride from San Javier to La Aurora. You can also take a walk through the historic center of Medellín and visit the Parque de Bolívar, Plaza Botero or Museo de Antioquia.

While in Medellín I recommend taking a day trip to Guatape . This beautiful, colourful town is also famous for La Piedra del Penol rock. After climbing 172 steps you will be rewarded with the most spectacular views. Put it on your list, please!

This complete guide describes the best areas to stay in Medellin with some excellent hostel recommendations.  

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 36 – Travel to Jardin

Days 37 and 38 – Jardin

Jardin came to me as a surprise. The moment I arrived in Jardin I just couldn’t stop whispering ‘wow’ to myself.  This colourful colonial town has really retained its original atmosphere and charm. It’s like going back in time when life was just so much… slower. 

The town itself is beautiful with its colours and surrounding mountains. There are also quite a few things you can do there as hiking, hiking and hiking too!  Ok, you can also visit a botanical bird-watching garden, have a very good coffee in the main square, indulge in salchipapas, go horse riding and take tons of photos! It’s a magical stunning place!


Day 39 – Travel to Salento

Day 40, 41, 42, 43 – Salento

A word of warning! If you are planning on travelling from Jardin to Salento, prepare for a long and tiring all-day journey. If you don’t want to spend all day travelling and changing buses, you will have to skip Jardin and travel directly from Medellin to Salento.

Because you simply cannot miss Salento!

Salento is probably one of the best towns to base yourself for exploring the Colombian coffee region, the so-called Eje Cafetero. Not only because it is a very charming, colourful town with tons of things to do, but also because there are many tours and trips you can do from Salento. Although Salento is more touristy than Jardin or Filandia, the array of activities and access to great trips, including the spectacular Cocora Valley , makes it one of the best towns to visit in the Coffee Triangle region of Colombia.

My recommendation is to stay at least 3 days in Salento and take a day trip to Cocora Valley as a day trip to Filandia (in a Willy Jeep!) . But trust me, you could easily extend your stay and just wander around town, go zip-lining, hike or take a trip to the waterfalls. 

Salento is also a perfect place to take a coffee farm tour and taste the best Colombian coffee!

In this article, I have listed all the great things you can do in Salento! Consider spending more than just 3 days and thank me later!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

During my stay in Salento, I stayed in Casa La Eliana and I liked it so much that I extended my stay. I had a great private room with a balcony for an incredible price. 

If you’d like to stay in a hostel I recommend Soa Hostel , Yambolombia Hostel or Hostal Vistaguila.  

Day 44 Travel to Cali

Days 45, 46, 47 – Cali

If you arrive in Colombia and want to learn how to dance salsa, go to Cali! Cali is the salsa capital and everyone here knows how to dance, everyone dances and even many hostels include salsa lessons in their rates.

But there is so much more to this city. Travellers say Cali has a remarkable atmosphere and a wonderful community. People say that you come to Cali to experience and feel it not to visit the sites and landmarks. Unfortunately, I personally had to skip the Cali part of my journey as I had some sudden change of plans. I very much regret it but I guess I have a good reason to come back. Not like I need one anyway!

But apart from learning how to salsa, you can also enjoy its lively nightlife, go hiking, learn to play tejo or climb up to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and the magnificent view over the city. Or you can of course take a guided tour of Cali. 

Have you considered an eSIM yet?

Tired of roaming bills or wasting time anxiously looking for a SIM vendor at the airport?

Day 48 – Travel to Popayan

Days 49 and 50 – Popayan

Popayan, the “White City”, is known for its whitewashed colonial buildings and Easter week parades. Popayan is one of the oldest and best-preserved cities in South America and a wonderful town to explore. If you have some more time to explore Colombia and plan to venture to this part of the country you should put Popayan on your Colombia itinerary.

Because some of the best things to do in Popayan are out of town, I recommend staying for at least a couple of days. Some of the recommended things to do are hiking Volcan Puracé and exploring Puracé National Park.

You should also do the highly-rated Free Walking Tour in Popayan!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Day 51 – Travel to San Agustin

Days 52, 53 – San Agustin

San Agustin is the best place that you have probably never heard about. It is a very unique and special location in Colombia, especially if you are fascinated by prehistory and want to visit the pre-Incan monuments. 

San Agustin is most famous for its Archaeological Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America and is home to the largest collection of megalithic sculptures in South America. But San Agustin is also a wonderful town surrounded by lush Andes mountains and a place where you can visit the largest waterfall in Colombia and admire the narrows of the mighty Magdalena River. After visiting San Agustín you can take a direct bus from here to Bogota!

Day 54 – return to Bogota or Medellin

Days 55, 56 – Rest 

Day 57 – Return home

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Additional off the beaten path destinations worth adding to your Colombia itinerary

Mayapo Beach

Palomino marks the start of the La Guajira department of Colombia – very much underrated as a travel destination among international travellers. Many travellers stop their coastal journey at this point.

Yet, I am confident it will change soon because La Guajira boasts some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and beach destinations. Mayapo Beach is just one of them.

Mayapo Beach is a quintessence of a paradise beach. Crystal blue sea, white sand, tranquillity and the best winds for practising kitesurfing. What else do you need?

It is, however, a popular vacation destination for Colombians travelling in Guajira and Riohacha, so make sure you visit on weekdays to be able to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity.

On the beach of Mayapo, you will find a few hostels and rustic restaurants offering chairs and hammocks to relax in, but you will also meet indigenous Wahoo people selling their crafts and traditional bags. If you decide to travel further into Cabo de la Vera and Punta Gallinas, Mayapo is the best introduction to this magnificent region of Colombia. Or you can stop here on your way back to recharge and get some rest.

Capurgana and Sapzurro

Capurganá and Sapzurro are two beach towns located to the far west of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. So much so that you can actually take a boat trip or hike to neighbouring La Miel beach in Panama.

You can get to both Capurganá and Sapzurro by taking a boat from Acandi, Turbo or Necoli.

Both towns are pretty isolated and provide paradisical beaches, lush jungle and an authentic village atmosphere. You can take a hike in the jungle between the two towns, take a hike across the Panama border to the village of La Miel, spend a day on the beach, hike to El Cielo waterfall, or during Easter time, watch turtles arrive at Acando beach to lay their eggs.

Not many travellers make their way to the Pacific coast of Colombia. Mostly as it is not always the easiest to get there (much of it can only be reached by plane), and in the past, the area wasn’t the safest either. But it is gradually changing.

This is where you can visit beautiful wild beaches surrounded by lush jungles and take a trip to see the humpback whales summer and early autumn months. An incredible experience! You can also help release small baby turtles to the ocean !

This coast is also home to some of the best surfing and if you are not planning a trip to Amazon, then you will find some of the most incredible jungle and waterfall trekking here as well!

The most famous spot on the Pacific coast is Pacifico Hostel located in Juanchaco , which is mainly catering for young backpackers. It offers basic accommodation and good food as well as trips and activities. Other popular destinations on Colombia’s Pacific coast are La Barra, Guachalito, El Valle and Arusí.

Do your research before you go. In addition, the departments of Nariño and Cauca have bad safety reputations. Never take overnight buses in the area. It’s not an easy place to get to and is far from luxury. So much more worth discovering!

Epic Colombia itinerary for every type of traveller / How to plan travel in Colombia

Tatacoa desert

The Tatacoa desert is a very unusual and unique part of Colombia well off the gringo trail. It offers an interesting eroded landscape and red labyrinths made of uniquely shaped formations. 

It is actually a semi-desert, but don’t be fooled, it is hot!

There are loads of surprising things you can do there, including hiking, visiting the astronomical observatory or taking a desert biking tour!

Make sure you spare the day for lounging by the pool in your hostel. Surrounded by the desert!


Jerico is another of those beautiful traditional towns that somehow have been left out of tourist itineraries. Yet, maybe that’s a good thing, and sometimes I feel guilty for even mentioning those places as I might be contributing to changing them.

Nevertheless, if you like to discover the secret and beautiful colonial towns in Colombia, Jerico should be on your list.

Just a 3-hour drive from Medellin, Jerico can be easily added to your route between Medellin and Salento, for example.  Once in Jerico, you can take a coffee and Arcoiris waterfall tour , hike to the Cerro Las Nubes, discover the colour-splashed town and watch everyday life while sipping some great coffee or hiking along the Canyon del Río Cauca.

Jerico is also a great place to try paragliding!


If you enjoyed your visit to San Agustin Archaeological Park, you should consider visiting the mysterious Terradentro!

Located in the heart of the Andes, 6 hours from Popayán, these pre-Columbian underground burial chambers hide painted figures, ceramics and walls painted with red and black geometric motifs which are unlike anything else found in the Americas.

This UNESCO site is hidden away among the almost vertical hills and valleys of the southern Colombian Andes. The indigenous culture that built those tombs disappeared over a thousand years ago, leaving little record as to who they were. Stepping down into these tombs is a truly incredible experience as some of them are more than 7m deep! Incredible adventure!

If you are visiting Popayan you can easily make a detour and visit Terradentro from there!

Leticia and the Amazonas

The town of Leticia lies along the Amazon River, near the borders of Brazil and Peru. It’s a great place to base yourself for exploring the indigenous communities and discovering the jungle and wildlife of the Colombian Amazon.

Once you arrive in Leticia, which is easily accessible by plane from many cystitis areas in Colombia, you can undertake an entire day of Amazon River tour or multi-day jungle treks. You can stay in Leticia for a few days and enjoy ziplining, go kayaking or take a day tour to Peru and Brazil.

It’s a perfect journey to nourish the adventurous soul within you. Please remember to plan your trip well and venture into Amazon with a guide or with an organized tour. There is no saving money when it comes to saving.

Cano Cristales

Cano Cristales is the only place I was dying to visit, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able due to failed logistics. But if you have the chance and time to do it, please go!

Cano Cristales has been called the most beautiful river in the world. Also called a river of colours, Cano Cristales water is painted red, pink, yellow and purple caused by plants that live on the rocks under the stream of the river. The best time to visit is between June and November, as this is when the colours are most visible. 

It is very complicated to plan this visit independently; but not impossible. It is located near the town of La Macarena, in the department of Meta , where you can fly from Bogota. You can also take a 3-day organized tour and all the people that I have met and went to see the river did just that. I should have taken the hint, but I was determined to do it alone. Unfortunately, I found it too risky at the time and I had to give up the idea. If you went there, please share your experience in the comments!


Things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Colombia

Create a must-do list and then add a few other destinations, but plan around places you don’t want to miss. There is no way you will be able to do the whole Colombian tourist route in a month. If you only have a couple of weeks, choose 2 main cities and plan day trips around them. For example – stay for a few days in Medellin and travel to Guatape and Jerico. Then fly to Cartagena and take trips to Rosario Islands or Rincon. 

Colombia is a big country and travelling from one place to another can take a whole day. You will have to account for that.

Keep in mind that some trips like Cabo de la Vela or The Lost City trek will require a bit of a rest on return, allow it! 

In Colombia and many other Latin American countries, it is cheaper to travel by bus, and travellers widely use buses. Apart from busses, colectivos (shared private minivans) which are very popular and often the only way to get somewhere. For example, to get to Minca you will have to take a colectivo. Before travelling, ensure that the department you are travelling to has safe roads and opt for a plane if bus travel isn’t recommended. You can also fly to the most popular places like Medellin, Bogota, Cali, Santa Marta, Bucamaranga or Leticia. There are some places in Colombia that can only be accessed by plane like some destinations on the Pacific coast. 

Reserve some time to learn more about the place. Spend time with locals, ask questions and learn more about history and culture. It is more valuable than ticking places from your list. Colombia is a fascinating country.

Know your budget – this will determine places you will travel to, way of transport and type of accommodation. 

Be flexible. I booked my ticket to Guatemala a week before departure. I was afraid to book everything up front in case I heard about this great destination and didn’t have enough time to visit it. For example, I was not planning to visit Jardin at all, and I’m so glad I did! Besides, at the last minute, I had to skip Cali. Had I booked the ticket upfront, I would have lost the money. I understand it’s hard to be flexible when you work with time constraints. But I would say the moment you arrive in Colombia, wherever you go and whatever you do, you will have a blast. Allow yourself a bit of spontaneity and flexibility.

Although Colombia doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to safety, I have felt safe more often than not. I was travelling solo for over 4 months and I was careful and mindful. But Colombians are wonderful and caring people and I often felt well taken care of. Of course, in this case, good research is the key. In Colombia, you really need to know where to go and where not to. If you want to read everything I have to say about safety while travelling in Colombia, read this post. 

The hostels in Colombia are great! If you want to save money and meet other travellers hostels should be your choice. I have to admit that all the hostels I stayed in were clean, well looked after, comfortable and often beautiful! Many hostels also accept volunteers, so if you want to stay longer, consider working as a volunteer in the hostel too!

When packing for Colombia, consider the temperature and climate in Colombia change according to the region rather than the time of the year. Back a rain jacket and full shoes for Bogotá, as well as for the coffee region. A sweater will come in handy, too! The Caribbean coast, on the contrary, is hot and humid all year round. 

People often ask what is the best time to visit Colombia. I am a perfect example of the fact that there is no such thing as the perfect time. I travelled between May and September, so during the rainy season. Hmmm, it wasn’t very rainy on the Caribbean coast (unless I went for a swim) I will tell you that. In Salento, I had very mixed weather. But keep in mind that the weather isn’t predictable in the mountains anyway. As I said earlier, the weather you experience in Colombia will depend mainly on where you travel not when. 

Whether you are a hardcore backpacker or not, sometimes you will have to take an organized tour. Some areas of Colombia are not recommended and or even impossible to explore individually. Things like Lost City or Amazonas will have to be booked in advance.

That’s it, my friends! I hope this Colombia itinerary and planning tips will help you in creating your perfect Colombia trip.

If there is anything you think I have missed and you’d like to ask any additional questions please put them in the comments below or hit me on Instagram. I will always answer your questions and I will be very happy to help. 

Colombia is a wonderful country and I am already planning my return trip! I hope you will have an incredible time!

See you on the road and happy travelling!

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

If you are still drafting your Colombia itinerary read my Colombia planning post!

Heading to Colombia coffee region next? Read my posts about why you should visit Jardin and all the surprisingly awesome things to do in Salento!

Planning to see all the gorgeous beaches of the Colombian Caribbean coast? Here is the guide to all beach towns in Colombia!

And if you are planning your first solo trip, visit this post where I provide all the tips and hacks for solo travellers and backpackers. 

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The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route

Posted on Last updated: March 11, 2024

Right then, this is a biggie! In this post, I’m sharing with you my Colombia backpacking route. I’ve lived and traveled extensively in Colombia and although all of the information in this post is great for anyone backpacking Colombia, it does contain a lot of information specifically for Solo female travel Colombia.

So, if you are planning a trip to Colombia here on my blog you are going to find everything you need to backpack Colombia .

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet? The Insurance companies I recommend are  Hey Mondo and Safety Wing Hey Mondo  is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing  is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy. Read my full  travel insurance post  here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route | Everything You Need to Know about backpacking Colombia

When is the best time to go to Colombia?

Ok first up, when is the best time to go to Colombia . Honesty, there isn’t a bad time to go… apart from maybe, Samana Santa , which as anyone who has lived in Latin America knows is the WORST time to try and travel anywhere. If you happen to find yourself in a Latin American country like Guatemala , Costa Rica , Mexico , or Colombia , do yourself a favor and bunker down somewhere for a few weeks. Make sure you book your accommodation well in advance too as prices can skyrocket!

Other than Easter there is no bad time to visit Colombia . Although in my humble opinion, the best time to visit Colombia is around Christmas. If you are in Colombia backpacking during December you are in for a real treat. Colombians LOVE Christmas and Medellin is a particularly great place to visit in Colombia at Christmas because of all the lights.

I think everyone will have their own opinions on the best month to visit Colombia depending on what kinds of things they like. For example in August in Medellin , there is the Flower Festival. December in Cali is the salsa festival. February you have the carnival in Barranquilla. So if you are wondering when to go to Colombia then the best thing to do is do a little research into the different festivals and try and plan around that.

If you like to plan your Colombian trip around the weather I wouldn’t worry. Colombia doesn’t have seasons as such. Things don’t really change that drastically depending on the season. In Colombia you will always find somewhere hot and other places that are cooler, normally this variation is down to the altitude rather than the season.

For example Bogota is cold and wet most of the year. You get all the seasons in a day. The morning may be cool, then it will rain, then the sun will come out, then more rain. You just never know!

If however, you are wondering the best time to travel to Colombia for the best prices then avoid December and January. These months many Colombians take time off to travel. Things quieten down a little during February and by March it’s moving into low season. Summer is also the time when many Colombians take a vacation so prices will rise a little.

The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route | Everything You Need to Know about backpacking Colombia

Getting Around Colombia

Traveling around Colombia has vastly improved since I was first here a few years ago. For one they have done a lot of improvements on the roads that connect the main cities. They even finished the tunnel between Medellin and the airport which has halved the travel time.

Travel between the main cities to visit in Colombia is pretty easy. You have two options, take a bus or catch a plane . In general, I prefer to take a bus (normally a night but if the journey is long), because I find traveling by plane too much hassle, plus if you need to check a bag it can get expensive.

I have extensive travel guides detailing the best ways to travel between the main tourist cities in Colombia:

How to get from El Dorado airport Bogota to La Candelaria

How To Travel From Bogota To Cali by Bus Or Plane

How To Get From Cali To Medellin Or From Medellin To Cali Colombia

Salento Travel | How to get to Salento from Bogota Medellin or Cali

How to get from Bogotá to Medellín on the bus or plane

Medellin to Santa Marta (or Santa Marta to Medellin)

How to get from Medellin to Cartagena

There are of course other Colombia tourist places not included in this list but these are the main ones. Once you have taken the bus once or twice it gets much easier. The main thing to remember is to do a little research first and decide which company to book with first as once you get into the bus station you will need to go to the desk of the company you want to travel with. It’s not just one central place where you can buy tickets for all buses which confuses many people.

When you are in the main cities I’d advise getting to know the public transport if you can, it will save you a lot of money. I wrote this guide about transport in Medellin . For Bogota, it is pretty complicated when you first arrive. Stick to the transmilenio and to save yourself some time and stress consider asking Colombian Buddy to give you a hand figuring it out.

I personally use Uber or one of the other ride-sharing apps 9 times out of 10 because I’m so over taxis in Colombia haha. In my personal experience, they don’t really believe me when I direct them, they don’t know how to read the map when I show them and I can’t even tell you how many taxis I’ve had to get out of as the driver doesn’t know where they are going. So for ease, I just use Uber, that way you don’t get lost. Plus their cars are always nicer.

Do use Uber, Beat, or DiDi with care though. There is still a lot of animosity between the drivers. You will need to always get into the front seat of the car when using Uber.

Need Transportation in Colombia?

I highly recommend booking Colombia transportation with GottoGo . You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and flights on their website—I love their customer service. I know them personally from my time living in Guatemala, and they genuinely care for their customers. If a delay occurs and you miss your bus, call them for help. If you book through GottoGo, you will pay more than at the bus station, but it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.

The Best Backpack Route Colombia

Ok so here it is, what you have all been waiting for my Colombia travel route. As most people fly into Bogota I’m going to start there. But I will do a loop. So if you are crossing the land border from Ecuador then start in Cali , or if you come via San Blas then you will want to start in Cartagena or Santa Marta.

  • Laticia (Amazon) – note, you will need to fly here from Bogota and then return to Bogota before traveling on to Cali. 
  • Bucaramanga / San Gil
  • Barranquilla
  • Santa Marta
  • Cabo de la Vala
  • Punta Gallinas
  • Bogota   

Yes, there are areas I’ve skipped, but you can easily add them to your Colombia backpacking itinerary if you have more time. The same goes for removing things if you have less time. This Colombia backpacking route is suitable for solo female travelers , I’m not advising you to go anywhere unsafe. However, this is Colombia and there is a lot of petty crime. So you do need to be careful with your things. But more on that in the safety section.

This Colombia travel route starts and ends in Bogota and I have marked it on the map above. In this, I have included the best tourist places in Colombia as well as some Colombia points of interest that you should try and visit if you can. Of course, it goes without saying that there are many incredible places to visit that aren’t considered tourist destinations in Colombia. So if at all possible try and leave some time in your schedule to get off the beaten track a little and explore some new places.

The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route | Everything You Need to Know about backpacking Colombia

Colombia Adventure Travel Musts

If you are looking for some adventure highlights Colombia there are a few things you should think about doing. The number one thing I would recommend doing is the Lost City Trek , it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Another must-do while backpacking Colombia is taking a trip into the desert. You can go it alone and hang out in Cabo de la Vela and learn to kitesurf or take an organized tour. You can read all about how to get there in this post.

Some other Colombia highlights include:

  • Paragliding
  • Visiting a Coffee farm
  • Visiting a Cacao farm
  • Chilling out in Salento
  • Learning to salsa in Medellin or Cali
  • Chasing waterfalls
  • Visiting the salt cathedral
  • Soaking up the culture in Bogota

Colombia trip itinerary

It’s really hard to give you a one size fits all best places to visit in Colombia travel itinerary, but I’m going to try. Of course, the more time you have the more places you can explore. My advice would be if you have more time to stop off at some of the smaller pueblos in between the main ‘tourist’ cities and pueblos. Less is more in Colombia so don’t try and cram in too much. Instead, take your time to get to know a place by staying a little longer.

On this best places in Colombia trip itinerary, I’ve included the most popular places people visit and linked to more detailed helpful guides if I have them. This is not only a backpacking route for Colombia but will also suit other types of travelers too as it includes all of the main Colombian tourist attractions you will not want to miss while in Colombia.

One Month in Colombia

The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route | Everything You Need to Know about backpacking Colombia

If you have one month in Colombia, this is the route I would recommend you take time to see as much of Colombia as you can.

Colombia itinerary for 1 month:

Bogota – 2 nights – No one really wants to stay in Bogota for longer than they have to. But there is a lot of cool stuff to see and do there. I have a 24 hour and a 2-day itinerary for Bogota you can follow. If you do decide to stay for longer check out this accommodation guide to Bogota to pick a good base and then you can also think about doing some of these great Bogota day trips . I spent 2 months living in Bogota and it really isn’t that bad. But with so much to see and do in Colombia don’t spend more time here than needed.

Laticia (Amazon) – 3 nights  – This might be one of the things you need to skip, especially if you are on a tight budget as the flights here are over $100 return. If you do have the time and money though please go, and then tell me all about it! Sadly I still haven’t made it there yet, but I hope to get there soon. You can only fly here direct from Bogota.

Cali – 3 nights – Cali is the Salsa world capital and THE place to come to dance salsa in Colombia. You only need a few nights here and if you aren’t really into Salsa I’d probably skip Cali. However, if you fall in love with salsa it is easy to spend more than a week dancing your time away.

Salento – 2 nights – I went to Salento for 2 nights , I ended up staying for 7! It was just so chill and I really loved just chilling there. 2 nights is enough time to do all the cool stuff in Salento, any more time is a bonus.

Jardin – 1 night – If you have time stop at Jardin on the way to Medellin. But I’d say choose Jardin or Salento if you are short on time. Salento is much more touristy, Jardin is far quieter and less developed. Be careful of the buses though as there are only 2 buses a day from Salento.

Medellin – 4 nights – This is the minimum amount of time you should spend in Medellin. If you can I’d advise you to stay for at least a week and do a week of Spanish classes and learn to dance salsa . Medellin is a Digital Nomad hotspot , has great nightlife , and is just a cool city to hang out for a while.

Bucaramanga – 2 nights – This is another place you can skip if you don’t have the time. It’s not particularly a tourist hot spot, but it is a lovely town and popular with Colombians. This is also where you will need to stop on the was to San Gil which is the perfect place if you are an adrenaline seeker.

Cartagena – 1 night – I must admit, Cartagena is my least favorite place in Colombia, but some people love it. It’s beautiful, yes. But it’s super touristy and so expensive – however it is possible to find some hidden treasures. One night in Cartagena is enough to see all the hot spots before moving on, however it is also possible to spend more days here.

Barranquilla – 1 night – In between Cartagena and Santa Marta, although there isn’t much to see and do here, it’s worth a stop off if you have the time. And an absolute must-see if you are there during carnival.

Santa Marta – 1 night – I’ve actually spent a lot of time in Santa Marta and I really like it there. It’s a great jumping-off spot to explore other places on the coast, accommodation is very cheap and there is a great market to stock up on things you might need. But there isn’t really much to do there so 1 day in Santa Marta is enough.

Taganga – 1 night – Taganga is a small fishing village next to Santa Marta. You could just take a day trip there, or you could skip staying in Santa Marta and just spend a few nights in Taganga instead. Many people are there for scuba diving or the party!

Parque Tayrona – 2 nights  – Don’t skip Parque Tayrona ! You can just go there on a day trip, but I’d spend at least 2 or 3 nights camping there.

Minca – 2 nights – I really really liked Minca , I could have easily spent a week there. But there isn’t that much to do so 2 nights is plenty if you don’t have much time.

Palamino – 2 nights – Palomino is a super chill beach town that is perfect to hang out and soak up some sun and do some yoga.

Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas – 3 nights – It’s not the easiest place to get to, but wow is it worth it! You can attempt to go it alone, or you can book on a tour as I did . There actually isn’t all that much difference in price and the tour is a lot less stressful!

Santa Marta or Cartagena – 1 night – Head back to either Santa Marta or Cartagena to take a bus or a flight back to Bogota.

Bogota – 1 night – Spend the night here before flying off to your next destination!

Having 1 month in Colombia is a nice amount of time, of course in my opinion you need 3 months to really enjoy Colombia. If you do have the option to take more time then you can easily spread out this Itinerary over a longer time then do. It is a lot to cram into a month. If you want to skip some places then I’d advise skipping Laticia, Cali if you aren’t interested in salsa dancing, choose to visit either Salento or Jardin (Salento is amazing but Jardin is less touristy), Bucaramanga, and Barranquilla. If you want to do t he Lost City trek then you will need 5 nights at least so you might want to skip going to Punta Gallinas and Coba de la Vela . 

Three Weeks in Colombia

The cable cars in Medellin Colombia

Only have three weeks in Colombia? No problem. You won’t be able to see the whole of Colombia during this time, but with this itinerary, you can make the most of your 3 weeks in Colombia.

Colombia itinerary for 3 weeks:

  • Bogota – 2 days
  • Cali – 4 days
  • Salento – 2 days
  • Medellin – 6 days
  • Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Minca – 7 days

Two Weeks in Colombia

Then it’s time to hike down the river for the best lunch I’ve eaten in Colombia. I’ve got a real thing about plastic so getting my lunch given to me wrapped in a banana leaf was a big win!

Got two weeks in Colombia? Then use this itinerary to help you make the most of your short vacation in Colombia. I’m not going to lie, 2 weeks in Colombia is nowhere near enough time, but you can see a few of the most popular places and get a feel of the Country.

Colombia two-week itinerary:

  • Bogota 2 days
  • Salento 2 days
  • Medellin 5 days
  • Cartagena (Santa Marta, Minac, etc) 5 days

A week in Colombia

Colombian Adventures | Visiting a Coffee Farm outside Medellin

1 week in Colombia is really not enough time. But if it’s all the time you have, then it’s all the time you have. You can make the most of your time by flying from place to place. If you decide to do this then I’d strongly recommend only packing hand luggage as the budget Colombian airlines like to charge for baggage!

Colombia itinerary for 1 week:

  • Bogota 1 day
  • Medellin 2 days
  • Cartagena 2 days

The Best Hostels in Colombia

I’ve listed all of the best hostels in Colombia here on this page . Although I do also have more detailed accommodation guides for Bogota and Medellin .

Other Important Things to Consider When Backpacking Colombia

There are some other common questions people ask about when traveling to Colombia so I’ve tried to answer them as best I can here.

Colombia Travel Vaccines

If you are traveling to Colombia vaccinations may be a concern. Yellow fever is a good idea, especially if you are planning to hike to the Lost City, visit Taganga, and/ or visit the Amazon. They won’t check this as you are entering the country, but it’s advised to get it.

What do I need to travel to Colombia?

If you are wondering what to pack I have some great packing guides you can read:

Complete Packing List for The Caribbean Coast of Colombia

My Ultimate Backpacking Packing List

Other than that there isn’t much you really need. Most countries can enter Colombia on a tourist ‘visa’ which is good for 90 days. After 90 days, you can renew at immigration or online. The rule is you can only stay in Colombia for 6 months in any year. You can, of course, get around this by entering 90 days before the end of the year. You then renew online for another 90 days. Once that is up, leave the country for a few days and re-enter and you will get another 90 days. After that 90 days is up you will need to leave.

Word of warning, do not mess with Colombian Immigration. If you overstay you will get 2 weeks to leave and have to pay a fine. Trust me, I learned the hard way!

Solo Female Travel Colombia

Looking for solo travel Colombia information? I personally traveled Colombian solo and had no issues at all. I did have some things robbed in Bogota and I’m not denying that there are some safety issues you need to take seriously, however, if you are planning on traveling to Colombia alone I have a few guides you can read that will help you get prepared. Is it safe to travel to Colombia alone? Absolutely! Do you need to be prepared? YES

Safety In Bogota Colombia

Is Medellin Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

What I Learned Traveling Solo in Colombia as a Woman

The Ultimate Colombia Backpacking Route

Final Thoughts

And that’s it! My Ultimate Colombia backpacking route! I hope it has been of use to you as you prepare for backpacking Colombia. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions that I don’t answer on this Colombia blog!

Picture of Claire Summers

Claire Summers

Hi I’m Claire!

At 34 I sold all my worldly possessions that wouldn’t fit into 3 boxes or my backpack and hit the road.

I started Claire’s Itchy Feet to inspire women to pack their bags and travel more. With no plans to stop anytime soon I’m always looking for my next adventure be it attempting to surf or climbing a volcano I’ll try (almost) anything once!

© 2023 Claire’s Itchy Feet  

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Colombia Itinerary: One Month Guide to Backpacking Colombia

Colombia is one of the most beautiful, colourful, authentic and diverse countries that I’ve ever had the pleasure to travel. So this Colombia itinerary will give you all the advice and information you need for backpacking in this wonderful part of the world. 

When planning my trip and noting the cities I wanted to visit, I thought a month would suffice, but I fell in love with the culture and stayed for a further three weeks.

Colombia is one of those countries you could cover parts of in two weeks, or simply stay in forever but I think a month is a good amount of time to cover the historical cities of Medellín and Guatapé, the colourful town of Bogota, to get your salsa on in Cali, to visit some of the best beaches in the North and fit in some paragliding in San Gil.

You could also use this one-month itinerary for Colombia 2 week itinerary if you are short on time.

Whatever you’re looking for, Colombia is sure to offer it – so let’s get exploring! 

Here is my Colombia itinerary…

Medellin colombia

Backpacking Colombia

How to get to colombia.

The cheapest option for your Colombia itinerary would be to fly to Bogota – this serves as your perfect base to start your Colombian trip! You’ve got a wealth of airlines that fly direct, from slightly cheaper like Lufthansa to around £200 more if you want to fly with British Airways. I decided for a non-direct flight as it was slightly cheaper, flying with BA, with a stop in Madrid and it was perfectly comfortable, but direct flights are always available. 

When is the best time to visit  Colombia

Colombia’s tropical climate is a result of being located right by the equator and therefore the country does not experience massive changes in their weather. Some months, like other countries, are better to visit than others and although they experience a small dry season between July and August, the overall best time to visit on your Colombia itinerary is between December and March for the least amount of rainfall. 

How to get around  Colombia

Depending on the airport you fly into, you’ve got the choice of booking a taxi there and then or using Uber, Cabbify or the Tappsi app (which limits the language barrier). I would NEVER recommend hailing a taxi off the street, especially if you’re not with a local and it’s obvious you’re backpacking Colombia.

When I first arrived in Colombia, I was really nervous to even leave Bogota Airport and therefore had planned ahead and booked transport through my hostel. The driver was waiting for me when I arrived and it took the stress off my shoulders. I would always explore the option of your accommodation providing pick up if this is your first time in Colombia and you’re nervous. 

For general travelling around Colombia, you’ve got many options and this will ALWAYS be based on the type of traveller you are. Colombia is extremely accessible via bus – for the smaller distances, a ‘collectivo’ is provided (you can book this with the local tour agency) which is usually a small bus and is quite a cramped experience.

For the longer distances to main cities, you’ve got the option of coaches and for me personally, it made more sense to take night buses to arrive in cities during the morning, ready for the day ahead. Night buses usually have air conditioning, reclining seats and some even give you food before you take that shut-eye – be warned that both the air-con AND movies playing are cranked up to the highest level, so bring jumpers, and a blanket and earplugs.

Wifi is standard on buses but usually patchy so make sure you’ve got Google maps downloaded offline so you can see where you’re going. Another tip – although most buses provide a toilet, it’s likely they’ll be no toilet paper so ensure you’ve got some at hand – I also recommend wet wipes and don’t forget the hand sanitiser! 

It’s common practice for buses to stop at ‘requisas’ (military checkpoints) in the middle of the night which will involve soldiers getting on the bus and asking for identification – this is a normal procedure so don’t be scared. Sometimes buses stop for meals – if the driver is hungry – but this is not always the case so always take snacks and water.

Colombia does have a reputation for not being the safest country to travel, but as a solo female traveller I had no problems – I was careful. I always kept my small backpack on my lap, I never even placed it on the floor and my valuables were around my waist in a small, hidden bum bag.

I booked all my buses in Colombia through ‘Busbud’ which offer discount codes and had great experiences on everyone I took. I would recommend Expreso Brasilia and Copetran which are cheaper options and Berlinas, Bolivariano and Fronteras for the more trustworthy and expensive options. Don’t worry – you can also take these buses during the day if you feel more comfortable.

Another option if the buses don’t tickle your fancy is to travel internally from the main cities – it’s more expensive, but there’s nothing wrong in spending a little more for peace of mind. The main airlines to use are Avianca, LATAM and Viva Air – Viva Air is the cheaper of the three but keep your eyes peeled as they don’t declare their final price until you add luggage later.

Colombia itinerary jungle

Budgeting for a month

Backpacking Colombia is one of those countries where you can do as much or as little as you want – and everyone is different. The country itself is very reasonable to travel, with the exchange rate currently at £1 to 4899 Colombian pesos – it’s when you add in stunning excursions, and restaurants that things begin to add up.

For me personally, I love eating street food and staying in hostels to meet others, but other travellers prefer slightly more luxurious accommodation and restaurant-style food.

I would always recommend budgeting high and returning with money than running out and therefore would suggest £800-£1000 max for the month you are away during your Colombia itinerary.

Top 10 Things to do in Colombia

So, what is there to do in this magical country? Here are my quick fire cities and the top things you should fit into your Colombia itinerary. 


I had a fantastic time exploring the art and food scene in Bogota with the group below, which I booked through my hostel. The Bogota Graffiti Tour and The Bogota Food Tour were provided by True Colombian Experience and were really informative as well as being fun.

I met some great people on the tour and together we climbed to take the cable car up Monseratte for views over the city. You should attempt to go there for sunset, the views are magnificent but please do go with people. I would also recommend taking a taxi to the top, as some of the stories of people walking up there have not been pleasant.


Literally the home of great coffee, you must visit a coffee ‘finca’ to have a look at how they make the coffee we literally buy from our local supermarket (Sainsbury’s own uses Colombian beans!). You’ll hear the word ‘tinto’ a lot and that’s the word you use if you want a long black (or an Americano in British English). Don’t forget to hike Valle de Cocora where you can be surrounded by some of the tallest palm trees!


Made famous by the popular Netflix series ‘Narcos’, book onto the ‘Comuna 13’ tour so you can visit the infamous neighbourhood – previously one of the most dangerous in Medellín due to gang culture and drug trafficking. You can learn about the journey of reinventing itself and I would recommend Zippy tours – our guide was extremely informative. Remember to tip the guide after as these tours are free but a lot of work goes into them! Medellín is well known for its expansive nightlife, so feel free to go out and get your salsa on in one of the bars in El Lleras – but be careful, pickpocketing is rife here and always keep a thumb/hand over your drinks.

Colombia itinerary ocean

You can visit Guatapé from Medellín, and the town is quaint and beautiful. Get up early to climb El Peñón de Guatapé (The Rock of Guatapé) – there’s 700 steps and it gets HOT up there, so don’t forget the sunscreen, a cap and water. Make sure you book onto a tour to visit Casa de Manuela – the original summer house of Pablo Escobar. You can book this directly through your accommodation which is usually more expensive or book with a man with a boat by the river 🙂 My friends and I did this and it was much cheaper!

I loved Cartagena so much I extended my stay for weeks on end. The colourful, walled town of Getsemani is perfect to walk around and I enjoyed the beaches. There’s a great nightlife here too and some fantastic places to enjoy Colombian food. Make sure you organise a boat tour to all the various islands. It’s cheaper to rent privately and go with a group then through an organised tour with the hostel, but either way, it’s a great day trip out! 

Santa Marta

I didn’t love Santa Marta, it’s a pretty busy city but makes a great place to base yourself for day trips to the neighbouring fishing village of Taganga. If you’re interested in hiking for a few days, the Lost City Trek is challenging but worth adding to your list. You can book through your accommodation so that you’re with a group, or simply through a tour agency in the city.


Situated 660 metres above sea level, welcome to nature’s paradise. It gets very chilly here during the night so make sure you pack some layers. Although you can easily base yourself in the nearby city of Santa Marta and just visit for a day trip, I would recommend 2-3 days in Minca so you can enjoy walking to the Marinka waterfalls and explore the various trails available. I would recommend hiking Los Pinos but leave early as it takes around three hours to complete. E XTRA TRAVEL TIP: Wear mosquito spray AND baby oil – which unlike mosquito spray, kills the sand flies that will be eating away on your body so make sure you pack your tiger balm too, they itch like mad.

Despite the fact the town of Palomino is very quiet, the beaches here are absolutely stunning and worth a visit. You can stay here or nearer to Tayrona National Park – which is an excursion to add to your list. Some people actually stay WITHIN the park, but I just enjoyed hiking through it for a day. 

san gil colombia

Cabo de la Vela/Punta Gallinas

NOT for the faint-hearted, Punta Gallinas take a little while to get to – but boy is it worth it. Unlike others who booked with a tour agency, a group of friends and I made our own way there using public transport. You have to get a bus to a town called Riohacha, ask to be dropped where you can grab a colectivo to Uribia and then on arrival in Uribia, ask to be taken to where the 4×4 jeeps depart for Cabo de la Vela in La Guajira which is the desert.

Here you will meet many Wayuu people, an Indigenous tribe that live in the peninsula of La Guajira, which in itself is an incredible experience. Here accommodation is limited, but you can book directly through the place you stay to take you to visit the most northern part of Colombia and the sand dunes.

I would absolutely recommend doing this with a group, as I don’t think I would have felt so safe without one – there were barely any tourists around and it was tricky to get back, For a more in-depth analysis about what to expect, read my full experience here .

When you leave the desert, you’ll need to return to Santa Marta in order to get back en route to San Gil. It takes a while but it’s worth it. I loved San Gil, walking around the town if I wanted more of a relaxed day and then waking up early to go paragliding. If paragliding is not for you, you’ve also got the choice of white water rafting, bungee jumping or visiting the nearby waterfall called ‘Cascada de Juan Curi’.

I’m one of the few who didn’t spend too long in Cali, although many friends decided to book a salsa or spanish learning course here. I would recommend dancing classes at either Swing Latino or El Manicero. Walking through the small, artsy barrio of San Antonio will be nice during the day and taking in panoramic sites by walking to El Cristo Rey is a must – please DO be careful, and watch your belongings at all times. If you fancy a weekend hike, I would recommend Cerro de las Tres Cruces which is pretty strenuous but the path is well marked and the views of the city are nothing short of incredible. Lots of locals walk this for their own exercise and I suggest you do not walk it unaccompanied.

Villa de Leyva

Less than three hours away from Bogota is Villa de Leyva which is a stunning town, very different to any of the ones mentioned above. Take the time to walk around the cobbled streets, and visit the main square which in itself is very beautiful. I booked a tour through my hostel which included a visit to The Terracotta House (a popular tourist attraction with a house-made entirely from clay), the fossil museum and the Pozo Azules (a series of pools that have taken on a crazy, artificial-looking blue colour – but are totally natural). If you’re a wine fan, many of my friends visited vineyards too.

backpacking Colombia south america

Top places to Eat in Colombia

There is an unlimited choice of options to eat throughout Colombia depending on your budget and the type of cuisine/atmosphere you’re looking for. A lot of the time, the ‘menu del dia’ is the best option, giving you a starter, main, dessert and a drink for around 8,000-10,000 Colombian pesos (that’s around £2!)

If you’re in Colombia the most common food to try are Arepas (a cornbread stuffed with cheese or meat – great for those with gluten intolerances), Empanadas (stuffed pastries with meat or vegetables) and Sancocho (a hot stew consisting of meat, plantain and cassava which is a popular root plant of the region).

Tamales are also a firm favourite of mine which is corn dough, cooked with a filling of meat and vegetables, wrapped in a banana leaf. You’ll be sure to find all this and more with many street vendors, but if you’re looking for more information, here are some of my favourites for this Colombia Itinerary.

Bogota: Los Simbolos 

You must try the street food in Colombia, but if you want a guaranteed great snack, I will always recommend my friends at Los Simbolos who are Venezuelan refugees, who moved to Colombia in search of a better life. The family-run business makes possibly the best empanadas I’ve ever tasted, from inside their house. 

Salento: Restaurante Andrea

Tasty food, reasonable prices – what more could you want? I recommend the traditional Trucha a la Plancha (grilled fish)

Medellín: Café Zorba/ Las Delicias de la Flaca

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, I would recommend Café Zorba for a variety of pizza options. If you’re looking for another local experience, my friends at Las Delicias de la Flaca provide another family-friendly option, cooking up the tastiest arepas. I visited here every night and it was better than any restaurant food I’ve tasted. There’s also a variety of dining options in the affluent El Poblado area – the safest place to stay in Medellín , with security manning the streets.

Guatapé: Hecho Con Amor Deli/ Thai Terrace

Another great option for vegetarians or those with dietary requirements is Hecho Con Amor which serves a variety of delicious foods from lentil burgers to salads and soups – and the desserts here are fantastic. If you’re looking for something a little different, Thai Terrace is a gorgeous restaurant situated on the top of the Lake View Hostel, offering an extensive menu of Thai food. It was a cuisine I didn’t realise I missed until I had it again!

hecho con amor

Cartagena: Viva Food/La Taperia

Cartagena is a town that suits every budget. Whether you prefer eating street food at the Holy Trinity Square, sitting down for local food at Viva Food or are in the mood for a fantastic steak at La Taperia, there’s something for everyone here.

Santa Marta: Mercado Público/Taganga

Make sure you pay a visit to the Mercado Público, otherwise known as the Santa Marta Market, where you can try food from over 500 different vendors. I love visiting these types of places, it shows you such a contrast between how you buy food and how they do in another culture. For the best fish, make sure you eat in the coastal town of Taganga – they show you how they cook it in front of your eyes.

Minca: Lazy Cat

Popular for a reason, if you’ve been missing home comforts, I couldn’t recommend Lazy Cat more. Sometimes, although eating all the local food is great, a taste of home is really needed and the restaurant provides just that. From burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas and dishes made in the wok, the food is tasty and the atmosphere is great. They also do really good coffee – so try to get here for your morning ‘tinto’.

Palomino: La Frontera/Sua

I had to include both of these restaurants in my list, as they’re really close in location to each other and they offer you the choice of pizza (La Frontera) or fish (Sua). When you’re that close to the sea, you’ve got to try the seafood, but if you fancy something more homely, La Frontera is a great option. They’re both only a 15-minute walk from the coast.

Cabo de la Vela: Toti’s

Honestly, the food is really quite basic here. You’ll read in my article I’ve linked to this post that I spent most of my time eating at Toti’s, a restaurant overlooking the ocean and I have to say, the fish was the best I’ve ever had. We mainly ate here for lunch and dinner, but the majority of huts that are on the beach serve breakfast, lunch or dinner which is either goat or fish. Bring snacks when you visit.

San Gil: Gringo Mikes/La Mansion de Sam/Sam’s Gastro Pub

You’ve got two options for food here, either go LOCAL style or settle for what you know is good. Gringo Mike’s is really popular here, in fact, the majority of people I met asked me to eat here with them. What you see is what you get, with typical food such as burgers, burritos, seafood dishes and salads to name a few.

I stayed at a hostel called Sam’s VIP which actually owns both La Mansion de Sam and Sam’s Gastropub and the food there was ALSO fantastic but heavy on the meat. If you’re a vegetarian, I had an amazing lunch at Miel Y Trigo which was a ‘menu del dia’ – a starter, main course and a dessert including a drink. The quinoa soup is delicious!

Cali: Corinne Cafe/ Asados El Galán

For breakfast, make sure Corinne Cafe is on the list with options including waffles, bagels and salad. Asados El Galán is a lovely restaurant preferable for dinner, that serves either barbecued beef, chicken or pork complete with plantain and salad. It’s really reasonable for money and the meat is divine.

Villa de Leyva: El Rincón Gourmet de la Villa

This restaurant serves lovely Spanish food that I found really delicious and it’s also a piano bar. It’s not the cheapest of restaurants, but I found it worth the price tag. The service was great too.

Medellin colombia

Top places to drink in Colombia

It would be a crime to visit Colombia and not try their fantastic coffee – although it’s known fact their exported coffee is slightly tastier than their imported coffee. The chain Juan Valdez is actually VERY good if you’re looking for a quick “tinto” – remember, this is black coffee in Colombia, although the term differs in different Latin countries.

If you’re looking for something a little more fruity and alcoholic, there’s tons of fantastic bars to visit too. I visited so many places that listing them all would take hours, so with that in mind, here are my absolute top 5 favourites that you must include in your Colombia itinerary.

Cartagena: Cafe Del Mural 

This beautifully decorated cafe I visited about ten million times, whether for some time for myself or introducing a new group of friends to it. The coffee here ranges from hot to iced, nitrogen infused to alcohol based – and its taste is FANTASTIC. Whatever crazy creation you think of, it’s likely to be on their menu. They also offer coffee making workshops too, so you can see if you’re a secret barista.

Salento: Cafe Jesus Martin

You can’t be in the ‘well renowned for its incredible coffee’ town of Salento without trying a ‘tinto’ at Cafe Jesus Martin. The coffee is delicious (and I’m a coffee snob and went back for a second cup so I’m not lying) and there’s also a great selection of cakes. Plus, he’s made it onto the BBC for his impact on the coffee world so that’s not too bad either.

Medellín: Envy Bar

We’re swapping the coffee for the Espresso martinis at Envy Bar which you MUST pay a visit to if you end up in Medellín. This rooftop bar has STUNNING panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and across the city, which is lit up in the night sky. It’s a stylish bar, so make sure you dress to look the part.

Cali: La Topa Tolondra

You can’t visit Cali without trying your hand at Salsa – and if that’s too stressful for you, at least visit La Topa Tolondra to see the professionals dance the night away. I wouldn’t say the drinks menu is extensive, but the electric atmosphere more than makes up for it and really showcases the best of Latino dance culture. Not too many tourists visit this bar, so it’s a great way to feel like a local.

Villa de Leyva – La Galleta Pastelería Cafe

For such a small town, there’s a vast array of coffee shops to enjoy a drink at. My favourite in this little town was called La Galleta Pasteleria cafe. I couldn’t eat it (I’m gluten intolerant) but my friend had the most delicious ‘milhoja’ which is otherwise known as ‘millefeuille’. Please try one for me!

Salento colombia

Where to stay in Colombia

Throughout my month of travelling, I stayed in a variety of places, from hostel dorms to private rooms with ensuites. Here are some of my favourites for this Colombia Itinerary.

I never stayed in an Airbnb, preferring to be around people so I don’t want to advise on specific Airbnb rentals, but what I would say is that if you do wish to stay in an Airbnb, please do so within the areas below which are deemed the safest and always check the reviews of the place as well as the level of security around it.

If you would prefer to choose a different area to the ones suggested below, please do your research on it – especially if you’re to be travelling alone. The majority of hostels have private rooms, so if you’re keen to mix with others but would also like some privacy, or simply don’t want to stay in a dorm with others, this is always cheaper than a hotel. As many people recommend, never walk alone at night.

Bogotá – La Candelaria

High Budget: The Orchids Hotel , a double room is approx £71/night

Medium Budget : Selina Hostel , a private room is approx £32/night

Low Budget: Cranky Croc Hoste l, a dorm room is approx £9/night, privates from £25/night

High Budget: Hotel El Mirador del Cocora , a double room is approx £43/night

Medium Budget: Hotel Salento Real Eje Cafetero , a double room is approx £28/night

Low Budget: Viajero Hostel , a dorm room is approx £6-£8/night, privates from £25/night

Medellín – El Poblado District

(the safest part, with security lining every corner, parading the streets).

High Budget: Celestino Boutique Hotel, a double room is approx £58/night

Medium Budget: Los Patios Hostel, a double room is approx £28/night, dorms from £9/night

Low Budget: Purple Monkey Hostel, a dorm room is approx £8/night, privates from £20/night

viajerp tayrona

High Budget: Hotel Los Recuerdos , a double room is approx £70/night

Medium Budget: La Madriguera , a double room is approx £37/night

Low Budget: Lake View Hostel , a dorm room is approx £5/night, privates from £26/night

Cartagena – Getsemani

High Budget: Hotel Casa de Lola , a double room is approx £109/night

Medium Budget: Selina Hostel , a double room is approx £40/night, dorms from £16/night 

Low Budget: Casa Del Pozo Boutique Hostel, a dorm room is approx £11/night, privates from £60/night

High Budget: Hotel Boutique Marbore , a double room is approx £45/night

Medium Budget : Republica Hostel , a dorm room is approx £7/night, privates from £45/night

Low Budget: La Brisa Loca Hostel , a dorm room is approx £6/night, privates from £25/night

High Budget: Siembra Boutique hotel , a double room is approx £51/night

Medium Budget: Casa Viejas , a double room is approx £23/night, dorms from £10/night

Low Budget: Costeño River Minca , a dorm room is approx £6/night, privates from £18/night

EXTRA places to visit: If you like to PARTY , make sure you visit El Rio Hostel, where you can choose from a dorm or a hammock. If you would like to stay on a BEACH , then don’t forget to pay a visit to Costeño Beach Hostel. If you want to visit Tayrona Park, look at staying either inside the park or go for a day trip and stay at Viajero Tayrona for the most unbelievable beach views.

High Budget: Makao Hotel, a double room is approx £49/night

Medium Budget: The Dreamer Hostel, a dorm room is approx £9/night, privates from £38/night

Low Budget: Tiki Huts , a dorm room is approx £7/night, privates from £25/night

Cabo de la Vela

Daniel’s – hammock/dorm (single beds in one room), price upon arrival

High Budget : Hotel Alejandria Resort , a double room is approx £58/night

Medium Budget: Sam’s VIP Hostel , a dorm room is approx £5/night, privates from £17/night

Low Budget: La Mansion Hostel , a dorm room is approx £4/night, privates from £13/night

(San Antonio and Miraflores are very safe areas to stay, but even then I would not recommend walking around alone at night)

High Budget: Hotel Spirito by Spiwak , a double room is approx £112/night

Medium Budget: Casa Miraflores , a double room is approx £17/night

Low Budget: Viajero Hostel and Salsa school, a dorm room is approx £6/night, privates from £18/night

High Budget: Casa Emaus , a double room is approx £92/night

Medium Budget: Hostal Renacer , a double room is approx £24/night

Low Budget : Hostal Rana , a dorm room is £6/night

I really hope that this Colombia Itinerary can give you something to eventually look forward to when restrictions ease and cases lower – Colombia is, without doubt, a country worth exploring and hopefully, with this information, it’ll make planning your future trip even easier. Happy Backpacking Colombia!!

And remember simply pick your favourite spots if you are on a Colombia 2 week itinerary. 

Author Bio: Emily runs the blog Emilys Eyes Explore . She has been travelling the world since September 2018, after finally being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Determined to change her life and mentality around, she moved to Spain for two months to learn Spanish, flew to South America, travelled around India, explored Malaysia, ventured around SE Asia and started life in Australia. Emily blogs to raise awareness of travelling solo as a female who suffers from depression and anxiety and it is her hope that people in the same position will be able to relate to the stories she shares and in turn feel less lonely and isolated as she shares her thoughts, feelings and emotions along this journey. Check out her Instagram too! 

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Photo credit: Author and Pexels.

If you on a bigger trip exploring the world check out my guides to France , Germany, Greece, Iceland , Italy , Portugal , Spain and United Kingdom .

My Travel Tips and Recommendations

To book flights, I always use flight search engine, Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals. 


For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through  I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up with Airbnb already, you can use  this link  to get £25 off your first visit!

Photography and Technology

Here is a list of the technology I always travel with:

  • Canon G7X Mark II
  • Canon EOS M50 and lens
  • GoPro Hero Black 7
  • DJI Mavic Pro
  • RØDE VideoMic GO On Microphone

You can also find me on social media:  Facebook ,  Twitter,   YouTube  and  Instagram .

To receive my articles and reviews straight to your inbox  SUBSCRIBE HERE .

Did you know I also vlog my trips? Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get alerted when all my travel videos goes live…  CHECK THEM OUT HERE

Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please  share it for me with all your friends and family!

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valle de cocora salento colombia travel guide

One Month Colombia Backpacking Itinerary | 2024

After three months in Colombia, I thought I’d seen most of what the country had to offer. Then, I looked at a map of Colombia and realized that I’ve only scratched the surface. Colombia is a country that I’d recommend to any type of traveler. It offers such a wide variety of adventures and environments that cater to any travel style. Are you looking for a luxury getaway along the sparkling Caribbean coast? Are you looking to trek through the soaring Andes reaching altitudes of over 5,000 meters? How about an excursion into the Amazon Rainforest? Yeah, Colombia’s got you covered.

Few countries can claim to have it all, but Colombia has a strong case. A month won’t be enough to experience all of Colombia’s treasures, but I can set you off with a good start for taking on this vibrant Latin American country. Grab your passport, backpack, and vamonos .

valle de cocora salento colombia travel guide

And hey, if this post helps you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by  buying me a beer ! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated. It allows me to keep providing free travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world.

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Fly Into Cartagena

Cartagena is an excellent starting point for your adventures in Colombia. It’s one of the cheapest airports to fly internationally to, with flight prices comparable to Bogota and Medellin. If you’re a backpacker on a budget, use Skiplagged to find the cheapest flights possible. It’s free to use and I’ve saved thousands of dollars on flights since I started using it religiously. Cartagena is quite touristy, so it allows you to gradually get your feet set in Colombia instead of diving straight into the chaos of Bogota or Medellin. You’ll also get the most expensive part of Colombia out of the way.

Oh, and before you go, make sure to have good travel insurance handy while you’re off adventuring across the world. I use  SafetyWing to keep me covered throughout my travels for as low as $45 a month.

Cartagena | 3 Nights

cartagena colombia old town

Bienvenidos a Colombia. I know, I know. You’re hyped to be in Colombia and you are going to want to party. Go big in Cartagena. Laze the hangover ( guayabo ) away with a boat trip to one of the nearby islands or beaches then run it back the following night. I love the vibe of Cartagena. Walk around, enjoy the vibrant colors of the Walled City and Barrio Getsemani, and post up on the walls for sunset before treating yourself to a nice dinner and a rooftop nightclub. There’s an electric energy to this city. The music and dancing is contagious, and it’s impossible not to have a good time in Cartagena.

Must-Do Things in Cartagena : Islas Rosario, Playa Blanca and Isla Baru, Getsemani Walking Tour, Roam Around Walled City

Hostel Recommendation for Cartagena : Casa Zahri Boutique Hostel (Getsemani) or Casa Movida (Walled City)

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

The Backpacker’s Guide to Cartagena

Boat to San Bernardo Islands

From the port just outside the Walled City of Cartagena, you can catch a boat to anywhere your heart desires. Well, maybe not anywhere, but in this case, you’ll want to hit up the San Bernardo Islands. A ticket will only run you 10,000 pesos ($2.50) one way for the 2-hour long journey by speedboat. You’ll likely get dropped off at Santa Cruz del Islote, and from there, you can catch another boat to where you need to go.

San Bernardo Islands | 2 Nights

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

A getaway from Cartagena is essential. While there are plenty of islands nearby, I’d recommend the San Bernardo Islands, part of one of Colombia’s vast system of National Parks. If you’re looking for a secluded paradise getaway, this is the place to be. Check out Isla Mucura for beautiful island vibes, or roam through Santa Cruz del Islote, the most densely populated island in the world.

Hostel Recommendations : Isla Roots, Casa en el Agua

Back to Cartagena | 1 Night

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Ahh back to civilization. Enjoy a night in Cartagena as a stopping point en route to the other side of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. If you happen to be in Colombia during Carnaval, stop by Barranquilla for the best party in the country. If not, keep driving past and don’t look back until you find yourself in Santa Marta. No hate to Barranquilla, but getting robbed is still fresh in my brain. A bus to Santa Marta from Cartagena costs about 50,000 pesos and will take about 5 hours, but you truly never know with Colombian buses .

Santa Marta & Magdalena District | 6 Nights

Santa Marta itself isn’t the most exciting city, but it is a good home base for adventuring within the area. The touristic center is nice enough, and you’ll find a good amount of bars, restaurants, and cafes to keep yourself fed and entertained. Stay close to Parque de los Novios. You’ll only be a short walk from the beach and everything else a traveler needs. Masaya Hostel is the best in Santa Marta. Rest up, because you’re visiting Tayrona National Park the next day.

Day 1 – Visit Tayrona National Park (Overnight Stay)

Tayrona Colombia

Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s most famous destinations. It’s home to stunning beaches, jungle hikes, and gorgeous golden hours. Most travelers will just do a day trip here, but I’d recommend staying overnight and disconnecting from the outside world. There are hammocks and tents right along the beach that you can rent for the night. When I was there in 2016, a hammock was 7,000 pesos ($2 USD) for a night, but I’m not sure what it costs these days.

Day 2 – Back To Santa Marta (Visit Playa Rodadero or Taganga for sunset)

Take in the sunrise at Tayrona then hike back before the heat becomes unbearable. You’ll likely find yourself back in Santa Marta around noon or the early afternoon. Take a chill day before catching sunset from one of the nearby beaches. Taganga was nice back in 2016, although noticeably less nice when I came back in 2022. It’s still a beautiful spot for a sunset, though. Playa Rodadero is an alternative, or you can just walk along Santa Marta’s boardwalk and beaches.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Day 3 – Minca (Stay 1-2 nights)

If you don’t want to stay the night in Santa Marta, you can go straight to Minca on day two. Moving around a lot gets exhausting. You’ll want to spend a couple of nights chilling out in Minca. It’s all about choosing what hostel you want to stay at. Besides a trip to nearby Marinka waterfalls, you’ll likely be spending most of your days at your hostel. I was at Sierra Minca Hostel , but Casa Loma is another one that my fellow travelers spoke highly of.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Day 4 and 5 – Palomino

From Minca, you’ll have to head back to Santa Marta. Catch a bus to Palomino for some laid back beach town vibes. Come here to surf or just have some lazy days along the beach or the river. Life is simple in Palomino.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

If you have extra time, check out El Rio Hostel in Buritaca or Costeno Beach Hostel . Both are on the way to Palomino and are among the nicest hostels in Colombia . And of course, there’s the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) Trek. This takes four days and departs from Santa Marta. It is a top bucket list item in Colombia for avid trekkers.

Day 6 – Leave Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a big travel hub, so to get to where you’re going next, you’ll have to pass back through Santa Marta. The airport is cheap to fly in and out of, and buses will take you anywhere in the country from Santa Marta. Our overland itinerary takes us south to the state of Santander and the wonders of inland Colombia.

Bus to Bucaramanga or San Gil

The bus to Bucaramanga from Santa Marta cost me 80,000 pesos ($22 USD) and took about 10 hours. I decided to take a day bus and spend the night in Bucaramanga before taking another bus ($6 USD) to San Gil the next morning. I’m usually a big fan of night buses, but I’ve heard a few horror stories about bandits in Colombia, so I decided to play it safe. Before I became a travel blogger, heck yeah I would’ve risked it to save on a night of accommodation. But these days I carry too much expensive crap to be playin’ games. A decent hotel in Bucaramanga by the bus station only cost me $13 for the night, so it wasn’t too bad.

San Gil | 3 Nights

San Gil is a quiet town often referred to as the adventure capital of Colombia. It’s a well-deserved title. I mean, where else can you go white-water rafting, paragliding, spelunking, canyoning, and bungee jumping, to name a few of San Gil’s various offerings. The town itself is pretty quiet without much to do besides a few short hikes and green areas.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Must-Do Things in San Gil

Cascadas de juan curi (juan curi waterfalls).

You can visit these waterfalls on your own or take a tour for $20 that includes rappelling down the waterfalls. If you’re a thrill seeker, it is definitely adrenaline-inducing. I did it in Baños, Ecuador and kind of feared for my life the whole time, but it’s a thing to tick off the bucket list. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, just take a bus towards Charala and ask the driver to drop you off at Juan Curi. He’ll drop you off right at the entrance where you pay about $3.50 to get in. It’s a 20-minute hike or so to the base of the waterfalls. The bus there and back costs about $1.75 each way. 

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Chicamocha Canyon Paragliding

This costs 200,000 pesos ($55 USD) and is a top bucket list thing to do in Colombia. Chicamocha Canyon is one of Colombia’s most iconic natural attractions, and there’s no better way to see it than taking to the skies. I stayed at Sam’s VIP Hostel in San Gil and they sorted everything out for me. Great hostel and great staff for an absolute steal at about $5 a night.

Trek from Barichara to Guane

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Barichara is often called the most beautiful village in Colombia. It definitely has a strong case. This village often feels like it was lost in time. This colonial town nestled in the lush, rolling green hills of Santander is stunning to walk through. It’s a sleepy little town, so I’d recommend it for a day trip. A popular thing to do is make the six kilometer trek to the neighboring town of Guane, which is even sleepier. The hike takes about an hour and a half each way, but you can catch a bus or a Tuk Tuk from Guane to go back to Barichara.

Other Things To Do In San Gil : White Water Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Chicamocha Canyon trekking, Cueva de la Vaca

Bus to Villa de Leyva/Raquira

Next up, Boyaca. This is one of the most beautiful regions of Colombia. It often felt like I was driving through Northern Italy or the rolling hills of the Alps. To get here from San Gil, I had to catch a bus to Tunja and then another bus to Villa de Leyva. I stayed the night in Tunja, and it was an okay city. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. It cost me 30,000 pesos ($8 USD) to get to Tunja and then another $2.50 to get to Villa de Leyva.

Villa de Leyva | 2 Nights

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Villa de Leyva is a gem that I’m glad I didn’t visit sooner. If Villa de Leyva had been my first stop in Colombia, I might not have seen any other part of the country. It was love at first sight, and the exact type of vibe that I love in a city. This laid-back town nestled in the hills of Boyaca has an immaculate vibe. In all honesty, there isn’t too much to do in Villa de Leyva, but after traveling so long, I was very much enticed by the prospect of doing nothing. It’s a beautiful and budget-friendly town that is perfect for working remotely in Colombia . I stayed at Selina while I was here and loved it.

Other Things in the Area : El Cocuy National Park, Paramo La Rusia, Raquira

Bus to Bogota

There is a direct bus from Villa de Leyva to Bogota. However, calling it a bus is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s a big van and it usually takes about four hours to get to Bogota from here, depending on traffic. My van dropped me off at Portal Norte. From there, it’s about 30,000 pesos ($8) to take a taxi to the center or 2,600 pesos to take the Transmilenio. I stayed in the Chapinero neighborhood of Bogota.

Bogota | 3 Nights

bogota colombia candelaria

The best things to do in Bogota basically involve getting out of the city. Don’t get me wrong, Bogota is a lively and exciting city, but it does take a while to grow on you. Most travelers won’t have that time, and even if they did, they’d prefer to spend it in Medellin or elsewhere. Two or three nights in Bogota should suffice, although there are quite a lot of activities in and around Bogota that I’d recommend.

Must-Do Things in Bogota : La Candelaria Neighborhood, Comuna El Paraiso, Cerro Monserrate, Museum of Gold, Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, and Guatavita Lagoon

Fly or Bus to Medellin (I’d recommend flying if you can)

Flights from Bogota to Medellin with Viva Colombia are affordable and comparable to paying for a bus. The journey can be long and daunting, so if you have some extra funds, shell it out on a flight.

Medellin | 6 Nights

masaya hostel medellin colombia

Ahh, finally, the promised land. Medallo, where do I even begin? My love story with Medellin runs deep. It’s a city that many travelers find themselves falling in love with. I’m not a city person, but I’ve come to realize that I am a people person. The people of Medellin are what made me fall in love with the city. There are countless stories to be told by the friendly, talented, and fun paisas of Medallo. And of course, it is the top party city in Colombia .

Day 1 – Comuna 13

Comuna 13 is an essential stop in Medellin. This vibrant barrio has a fascinating story, going from one of Colombia’s most violent neighborhoods to being the triumph of Colombian heart and soul. Filled with street art, murals, performers, and more, Comuna 13 is one of the liveliest neighborhoods of Medellin. Roaming through it now, it’s hard to believe it was once the most dangerous neighborhood in the country. It is an inspiring story of reinvention and what the Colombian people are capable of when given opportunity.

comuna 13 medellin colombia

You can visit Comuna 13 on your own, but I’d recommend going with a local tour guide. I visited Comuna 13 on my own the first two times, and then the third time I finally went with a local guide. Having the context and learning the significance of Comuna 13 and its history made a huge difference in my experience. Go with a guide if you can.

Day 2 – Guatape

guatape lakes view colombia

About two hours outside of Medellin is the small town of Guatape. It is home to the iconic El Peñon, a huge monolith overlooking the stunning Colombian countryside. Once you’re done climbing the 750 steps to the top, head to Guatape town. Wandering through Guatape is a treat, with it being one of Colombia’s most beautiful and colorful cities. If you have more time to kill, be sure to visit a coffee farm and go on a boat ride through the lakes. 

Day 3 – Chill day, Museums, Pueblito Paisa

Everyone needs a chill day now and then. Medellin is perfect for a chill day. Go hang out at the rooftop pool of Masaya , you deserve it. Otherwise, you can check out any of the many museums that call Medellin home. For sunset, head to Pueblito Paisa on Cerro Nutibara for one of the best panoramic views you’ll find in the city. Party time? Walk down Provenza and find whatever bar fits your fancy. As a traveler, you’ll likely end up in Vintrash at some point.

Day 4- Parque Arvi hiking, paragliding, etc

Parque Arvi is one of the best natural getaways close to the city of Medellin. Hop on the cable cars to the top of the hill and go for a nice little hike. I never found them myself, but I was told there were some waterfalls that you could hike to around here. Another option for today is to take to the skies. Paragliding is a popular thing to do over Medellin. It was my first time ever paragliding, and wow, what a place to do it.

paragliding medellin colombia

You’re also long overdue for a crazy night out. Head to Provenza or Laureles for a crazy night out. You can also hop on a Chiva party bus for about 30,000 pesos. Bring your own booze. There’s no better way to pregame than cruising around Medellin on a Chiva for a few hours.

Day 5 – Be Hungover

Sometimes, the best thing to do is absolutely nothing. Nurse your hungover self. Hang out at the pool. Eat some amazing food in El Poblado. Do what you gotta do to feel alive again.

Day 6 – Catch A Bus To Jardin

Jardin is a small town that’s become quite popular among travelers. It is about four hours from Medellin and will be a pleasant change of pace after the chaos of the big city.

The Backpacker’s Guide to Medellin

Jardin | 2 Nights

Talk about a change of scenery. Colombia has no shortage of places to immerse yourself in nature, but Jardin is definitely one of the top destinations. It hasn’t quite hit the level of popularity that Colombia’s other iconic destinations have, so now’s the best time to go. You’re never too far from a good hike or a natural beauty while you’re here. Chill out, sip on some coffee, trek to Cascada La Escalera waterfalls, do whatever. Life is chill here.

Bus to Salento

Salento | 3 nights.

Salento is possibly my favorite place in Colombia. The town had immaculate, laid-back vibes with beautiful views everywhere you looked. Of course, the most surreal region of Colombia can be found just 30 minutes from Salento town. The Valle de Cocora, with its towering wax palm trees is unlike anywhere else in the world. It should be the top destination on your Colombia bucket list.

Hostel Recommendation for Salento : Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel

Day 1: Valle de Cocora Trekking

valle de cocora salento colombia travel guide

Day 2: Coffee Farm and Chill

Aside from Valle de Cocora, visiting a coffee farm is a popular thing to do in Salento. You can hike about an hour to one of the coffee farms and take a tour for about 30,000 pesos ($8 USD). The tours usually last two hours and will take you through the entire coffee making process. Of course, you’ll get to taste some coffee at the end. You can catch a Jeep back to town for 3,000 pesos if you don’t feel like making the hike back uphill.

This shouldn’t take up your entire day, so you can also explore town and check out the miradors just outside the city center.

salento colombia travel guide

Day 3: Filandia and Waterfalls

Another town close to Salento is Filandia. Just be sure to check the bus schedules from Salento as they aren’t too frequent in the afternoon. You might find yourself stranded in Filandia, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you have more time, be sure to check out Los Nevados National Park . The famed trek up Nevado de Tolima departs from Salento.

The Backpacker’s Guide to Salento

Bus or Fly Back to Medellin

From Salento, you can catch a bus back to Medellin but you’ll have to connect through Armenia or Pereira first. Flying back to Medellin or elsewhere in Colombia is an option. Both Pereira and Armenia have airports with affordable flights within the country.

Comuna 13 Medellín Colombia

Now, I’m dropping you off in Medellin. Fly out of Medellin or bus to Cali and continue through Ecuador . I haven’t personally visited Cali, but haven’t heard great things about it. If you plan on continuing south through Latin America, Ecuador is an incredible country. I’d recommend flying straight to Quito from Medellin. And of course, I’ve got you covered with an itinerary for Ecuador , as well. And of course, there is so much more of Colombia to explore. Fly down to Leticia and experience the Amazon. See the Caño Cristales , go hiking through the Colombian Andes, roam through the Tatacoa Desert , truly, this list barely scratches the surface. A month in Colombia is not nearly enough time, and you’ll find yourself wanting to come back to this country time and time again.

And if you don’t feel like figuring this all out yourself, check out TruTravels 12-Day Colombia Uncovered group trip. I tagged along for a portion of my time in Colombia and had an excellent time with the crew. Say hi to Jose for me.

Buy Me A Beer!

If this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by  buying me a beer ! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.

More on Colombia

The Backpacker’s Guide to Medellin, Colombia

The Best Hostels in Colombia

The Best Places to Work Remotely in Colombia

The Best Party Cities in Colombia

The Backpacker’s Guide to Bogota

The 17 Best Travel Destinations in Colombia

View All Posts on Colombia

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colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Worldly Adventurer

Three Mind-Blowing Colombia Itineraries For One & Two Weeks

By Author Tom Osborne

Posted on Last updated: 6th October 2023

Fancy heading to a country which has it all? Colombia is the place for you. Whether you love sitting on a beach and swimming in warm tranquil waters, climbing mountains, tasting delicious food, chocolate or coffee, exploring ancient ruins or trekking through jungles – Colombia has something for everyone.

Visiting Colombia is perfect for a vacation or make it a longer adventure backpacking through Colombia.

As a huge country, it does require you to move around if you want to appreciate all of its diversity and the following Colombia travel itineraries aim to help you do just that!

The routes below for traveling through Colombia help you to navigate all of the most fascinating places to see and things to do , with options for a week, ten-day or two-week stay. 

All are aimed at being both accessible and helping you to minimize your travel time. To help you travel as sustainably and environmentally-friendly as possible, I’ve tried to keep flights far and few between. 

Colombian tea planted in the Rainforest.

Click to navigate this article:

How to plan a trip to and travel around Colombia

  • Colombia is a big place. Whenever travelling remember: less is more. Plan your Colombia itinerary to allow you to take your time and get to know the culture and the places you are visiting before jumping on a bus or plane to your next spot. 
  • Flying is a relatively affordable means for traveling through Colombia, particularly if you book in advance. It can save you a lot of time, too. There are a few different airlines and most routes are serviced by more than one. It is not uncommon to find a one-way flight between Santa Marta and Medellin for as little as $40-$60 USD, for example. Key airlines: Copa, Avianca, Satena and LATAM (Check for the best prices via ) Some will include baggage in their fare but others won’t. Be sure to check this before you book!
  • Buses are also really reasonable in price per distance traveled. However, a lot of the routes are very long and some are notorious for pickpockets. I never had any problems but we did meet people who had had items stolen from their bag whilst they were sleeping on the route between Cali and the Ecuadorian border. To keep yourself and your items safe, carry a money belt (applicable for any travel in Colombia), and if you have to take a night bus, make sure your valuables are on your person at all times. 
  • Wherever you are coming from, you may well have to fly into Bogotá. Colombia has so many incredible places to see; sadly Bogotá is not one of them. If you can, try to begin your trip in Medellin, Cartagena or even Cali. If you are flying into Bogotá, you can easily take a connecting flight elsewhere. 

The buildings of Medellin Colombia among the trees.

One week in Colombia itinerary 

Medellin – guatape – jardin – salento .

There is so much to see and do in Colombia; however, for me, the area around Medellin is the absolute highlight.

This Colombia travel itinerary couples the country’s most interesting city with the coffee-growing mountains around Salento and Jardin .

If you are looking for a Colombia itinerary to help you explore this glorious country in one week, this is where to head. 

Days One and Two: Medellin

Medellin is one of the most notorious cities on the planet and also one of my absolute favorites. It’s a vibrant, youthful city that is the capital of the Paisa region – whose people are known for their remarkable hospitality. 

Book yourself in advance on the walking tour with Real City Tours for your first morning in Medellin. The tours start at 9.14am, 10.24am or in the afternoon at 2.19pm (yup, seriously) and are free but, like most others in cities across South America, run on tips – which you will definitely want to do.

The guides are engaging, personable and thorough in their explanations of the journey of Colombia for the past 100 years or so. They are frank and mainly from Medellin so they have first-hand stories of the tragedies that have taken place here.

The cable cars in Medellin Colombia.

In the afternoon, head out to the gondola, which takes you up into Park Arvi for a spectacular view over the city. To get there, take Metro line A up to Acevedo before changing onto line K (the gondola). Once you get to the end of line K, you’ll transfer again onto line L. A ticket on this gondola is $6,000 COL ($1.80 USD) each way. 

Top Tip: If you only want to ride up and straight back down again, you only need one ticket. If you get off the gondola and want to walk around the park, you’ll have to pay again.

Medellin is well known for its lively nightlife. If you’re staying in El Poblado , you’ll be right near the heart of the action. Check out three great bars: El Social (Carrera 35#8a-8) has a more local vibe, Mad Radio (Calle 8a # 33 – 40) has good and sometimes live music (it is a radio station too!) and great cocktails, and Panorama (Calle 8 # 34 – 33) also has great cocktails and a lovely view of the city.

For later on there are many clubs offering loads of different music styles. Try Calle 9+1 for everything from underground house to disco and techno.

On your second day in Medellin, head to Comuna 13 , which was the nucleus of the cocaine empire that once existed in this city until the early 90s.

It’s now perfectly safe and boasts a newly installed set of escalators, which takes you up the hillside and graffiti from some of the most talented street artists from Colombia and across the world. 

Cat-themed street art in Medellin Colombia.

There are plenty of free tour options. Or, if you’ve already been on the Real City walking tour, I’d recommend heading to Comuna 13 by yourself and exploring it on foot.

To get there, hop on the Metro to San Javier (orange line out of San Antonio) and then punch in “ Escalator Comuna 13 ” on Google Maps, or click here. It’s perfectly safe during the day to walk around (you’ll see plenty of other tourists) or you can hop in a local taxi or Uber. 

Top Tip: as you head up the hill towards the start of the escalators along Carrera 109, make sure you stop off at the small empanada shack with a blue sign above it. The lady selling them is delightful and so are her empanadas !

In the afternoon head to the botanical gardens to see the nicest park in the city, full of beautiful flowers attracting plenty of birds. To get there, take the Metro to Universidad.

Feeling peckish? Check out the restaurant in the middle called IN SITU for good food in a sea of tranquillity – a great escape from the madness of the city.

Depending on when you are in Medellin, you may be able to catch an Atletico Nacional football match. The team aren’t amazing but the atmosphere is incredible. Tickets are super reasonable ranging from around $18,000 – $40,000 COP ($5-$12 USD). You can buy them at the stadium before the game.

Where to stay in Medellin: There are plenty of brilliant places to stay in Medellin ; we recommended the art-inspired 23 Hotel , with its spherical windows and mountain views from the bathroom!

Overlooking the lakes and hills of Guatape Colombia.

Day Three: Guatapé 

On the third day of this Colombia travel itinerary, you’ll want to head out on a day trip to the beautiful town of Guatapé . Sitting on a lakeside, this quaint town is just two hours from Medellin and is perfect for a day trip.

The highlight here is a hike up to the top of El Peñol for spectacular views of the huge lake, considered one of the most picturesque in all of South America . It costs 18,000 COP ($5.30 USD) to hike El Peñol and you can buy drinks and snacks at the bottom or at the cafe at the top. Spend the rest of your day wandering the beautiful streets or grab a coffee and chill in one of the plazas.

To get to Guatapé take a bus from Terminal Norte , which is located next to the Caribe Metro Station on Line A. Tickets are sold at either booth #9 or #14 in the terminal and shouldn’t cost more than $15,000 COP ($4.50 USD). Once on the bus you can choose to be dropped in the town center or at El Peñol. 

A garden in the hillside town of Jardin Colombia.

Days Four and Five: Jardín

From Medellin, hop on a bus to Jardín . Tickets should be $27,000 COP ($8 USD). It takes three hours or so and departs from Terminal Sur .

Jardín was one of my absolute favorite places in all of Colombia (read our complete guide to Jardín ). It is delightfully set in the mountains, surrounded by the greenery of the banana and coffee plantations. The town is quiet and rustic and the plaza in the middle is completely idyllic – perfect for grabbing a coffee or two and sitting for a few hours in the morning. 

After some lunch head off on an easy stroll up through the banana and coffee plantations to the old yellow gondola, Garrucha . Here is a route map .

Chill out for a bit in the cafe at the top of the gondola, which boasts lovely views over the town and the surrounding mountains. Head back down in the gondola $7,500 COP ($2.30 USD) per person, as it rattles just over the top of a plantation. It’s quite an experience!

A great way to spend an hour or so wandering around and getting your twitching fix is in the Parque Nacional Jardin de Rocas. You can see the strange but beautiful (and wonderfully named!) Andean cock-of-the-rock, as well as hundreds of smaller and beautifully colored birds dancing around the flowers and fruit left out for them to eat.

Entrance is 10,000 COP ($3USD). The website claims you should contact them in advance to book a spot to visit, however, we just turned up rang the bell and the owner came out and greeted us with a warm smile.

If you fancy a sweet treat in the late afternoon, head to Dulces Del Jardin , a family-run dulceria which is famous for its arequipe , a sweet spread a lot like dulce de leche . They also do a cracking pana cota and arroz con leche (rice pudding).

The colorfully painted buildings of Salento Colombia.

Days Six and Seven: Salento 

Nestled in the Los Nevados mountains, the beautifully picturesque town of Salento is surrounded by lush green fields and plantations. This is the beating heart of Colombia’s coffee-growing region, where you can learn why this is one of the best places on earth for coffee beans. 

Take a jeep from the plaza in the center of town and head out to one of the many fincas (coffee estates). Don Elias is a small, family-run finca, with a short but personal tour that leaves hourly. Finca El Ocaso is bigger, with a longer tour which goes into more detail about the coffee-making process, from berry to cup.

Both give you a good idea of how it all works. All the cafes around Salento will serve great coffee if you just want to drink as much as you can.

Another top thing to do in Colombia is play the national game, tejo . This game is essentially throwing rocks at gunpowder and Salento is supposedly where it comes from. Head to one of the two best spots: Bar Danubio (pool upstairs, tejo downstairs) or Los Amigos.

Don’t be afraid to get involved. The laws of the game are written in English and the people working there are super friendly and helpful. Most importantly, the beers are cheap and the rum measures are large! Plus, if you hit that gunpowder, it’s utterly exhilarating. 

In Cocora Valley, the tallest palm trees in the world.

Finally, the Cocora Valley hike is one of the highlights in all of Colombia. Here you can walk amongst the tallest palm trees in the world. The trail is essentially a loop with a small detour halfway to a gorgeously situated finca that sells wonderful coffee and hot chocolate for you to sip on as you watch hummingbirds dancing around you.

Read our complete guide to Los Nevados National Park for more information.

To get here:

  • Get an early jeep from Salento (they leave at half past the hour every hour from 6.30am from the main square and cost $3,600 COP ($1USD)); you will avoid the tours this way.
  • Begin the loop by heading down the right side. The track up this side is narrow and a bit muddy and there is one point where you have to negotiate a steep hill. By starting on the right, you go up the narrow, occasionally muddy track instead of down – something you’ll likely find easier. 

Top Tip: Get a jeep ride over to Filandia for an afternoon of people-watching and coffee-drinking in the quaint, beautiful plaza and get amazing views up the mirador tower just a short walk from the town. 

From Salento you can either get a bus back to Bogotá or to Medellin. If heading to Bogotá, you’ll have to go back to Armenia and catch a connecting bus. You can also fly from Armenia to Bogotá, as there are three flights a day. 

If heading to Medellin, there are a number of direct buses from the bus terminal in Salento. The timetable changes regularly so head to the terminal a day or so before you plan to leave to check the times and buy a ticket as the most popular buses can sell out. 

10 Days in Colombia: Travelling through the south

Cali – popayan – san agustin – tatacoa desert – salento.

If you have 10 days in Colombia, start in Cali , heading south on a largely untrodden tourist path.

Here, you can discover the mysterious, ancient pre-Columbian civilizations, watch the sunset over the colonial city of Popayan , star gaze in the desert, and finish in the coffee plantations of Salento.

One of many cat sculptures in Cali Colombia.

Days One and Two: Cali 

Spend your first few days of this ten-day travel itinerary getting to grips with Colombia by learning how to salsa like the best of them in Cali.

By day, wander the streets of Barrio San Antonio (the bohemian district in Cali) dotted with cafes and bars and explore the nearby Iglesia de San Antonio (Carrera 10). In the evenings, dance the nights away in the party capital of Colombia.

For the best music, make sure you check out: Zaperoco Salsa Bar ( Ave. 5 Norte #16 ), one of the oldest institutions with great music, so either sit back and listen or get on the floor and dance! La Topa Tolondra ( Calle 5 #13-7 ), is another bustling bar with live music.

Cali isn’t safe to walk around at night, so always take a taxi – Uber works here.

Days Three and Four: Popayan 

Heading south, catch a bus from Cali to Popayan (2.5-4 hours). It follows the Panamerican Highway so the journey is smooth and easy. Multiple services run each day from the bus terminal in Cali.

Spend a day wandering Popayan and exploring its cobbled streets, delightful churches and a picturesque plaza, Caldas Park . The food here is really good too, as it’s home to the particularly moreish empanadas de Pipian , which are filled with potato and served with a delightful peanut and chilli dip. The best place to try them is La Fresa (corner of Calle 5 and Carrera 9).

For sunset, grab a few beers and head up Cerro El Morro for a spectacular view over the city. The climb up the grass bank is pretty steep if you head up from the main street so bring appropriate footwear! Otherwise, you can take the gentler path via Calle 1BN.

For your second day, you have two options:

Visit the famous market in Silvia

Head to the market in Silvia where people from villages in the surrounding mountains congregate every Tuesday. This is more of a food market so you’ll be able to try some local delicacies and empanadas, but the best part is just wandering around, talking to the locals and generally soaking up the atmosphere. 

Most hostels and hotels advertise tours for Silvia, however, the cheapest and best option is to hop on a bus from the Popayan bus terminal. Look for the bus company Coomotoristas.

Buses are frequent throughout the day but it will take over an hour to get to Silvia so head off early to catch the best of the market in the morning. 

A soaring Andean Condor.

Purace National Park

Want to see a condor up close? The Purace National Park is home to three condors as well as a really interesting variety of wildlife. The park ranger will put out some meat on a rock, which juts out from the edge of a cliff to bring the condors closer. 

Unfortunately, bus timetables make this trip impossible to do on your own if you want to really enjoy the park. Therefore, the best option is to take a tour. There are a number of tour operators running these but they appear to change quite often.

We went into the tourist office just off the main plaza in Popoyan and got all the information we needed from there (FYI the tourist office on Google maps is incorrect. You’ll find it on the west side of the plaza ). If you want to book in advance, Popayan Tours run day trips. 

Days Five to Seven: San Agustin 

San Agustin is the best spot in all of Colombia for archaeology. Here, a civilization that we unfortunately know little about existed for some 1,000 years from around 1 AD has left us with hundreds of beautifully carved and well-preserved statues, which are well worth the arduous journey to reach. 

To get to San Agustin from Popayan on what is a slow but scenic drive (roughly four hours), there are a number of departures from the bus terminal in Popayan. The times are subject to change so head to the bus terminal the day before and purchase a ticket.

Note that, while you have a ticket to get you to San Agustin, the bus will not take you all the way there because it will most likely carry on to Pitalito. Don’t panic, the driver will get out and flag down one of the regularly passing collectivos for you, which will take you the rest of the way, for no extra cost.

The following day, head out to the Archaeological Park .  It’s located around five kilometers from town so it is perfectly possible to walk.

Otherwise, it is relatively inexpensive to take a bus or taxi from town. The park is split over a number of different sites and has a brilliant museum, which is a great starting point for any visit. 

A walk up to Chaquira for a bit more archaeology and some great views is highly recommended.

For your second day in this beautiful town, take advantage of a horseback or jeep tour of the other sites around the town. Both take you out into the beautiful countryside and could include: visiting the highest waterfall in Colombia – ‘ Salto de Bordones ‘ – or some of the other amazing archaeological sites in the area, such as Alto de los Ídolos and Alto de Las Piedras . 

Most hostels or hotels will be able to set this up for you so ask at reception. If they don’t, there are tour agencies just off the plaza in town.

Horseback tours should cost between $50,000 COP-$70,000 COP ($15-$20 USD) per person depending on whether you have a private or group tour. For a jeep tour, it will cost between $40,000 COP-$50,000 COP ($12-$15 USD) per person. 

An aerial view of the orange, red and yellow rock in the Tatacoa Desert, Colombia

Day Eight: Tatacoa Desert 

From San Agustin, head north to visit the sparse desert-like landscape near Neiva , the Tatacoa Desert . Here, you can cycle through the barren lands in the day, swim in a pool in the middle of the desert and star gaze from an observatory at night.

The Tatacoa Desert is split into two parts: the red and grey. In the morning, cycle out into the grey desert. Aim for the Los Hoyos , which is where the swimming pool is. Next to the pool is a 30-minute walking loop you can do out into the desert to get close to eccentric-shaped sand banks. 

Most hotels and hotels rent bikes for around $4,000 COP ($1.30 USD) per hour. Another option is to hire a tuk-tuk, which will cost around $60,000 COP ($18 USD) for a round trip.

After 4pm the sun will have calmed down a bit so head out into the red desert. Take the trail from the back of La Guaca hostel. There is a map and it is well-signposted along the way.

Later that day, book yourself onto an evening tour of the Astronomical Observatory Tatacoa for a bit of stargazing. 

To get to the Tatacoa Desert from San Agustin, it’s a bit of an adventure, but completely worth it!

First take a jeep as early as you can from San Agustin to Pitalito, they depart from the corner of Calle 3 and Carrera 11 and cost between $5,000 COP ($1.50 USD) and $7,000 COP ($2 USD) per person.

Upon arrival at the Pitalito bus station, take a bus north towards Neiva (four and five hours, $25,000 COP-$38,000 COP ($6-$11 USD)). 

From Neiva, take a jeep to Villavieja with the bus company Coomotors. Jeeps leave hourly until around 6pm and cost $8,000 COP ($2.50 USD) per person and take two hours. Once you have made it to Villavieja, jump in a tuk-tuk and head into the desert to your accommodation.

The colorful streets of Salento, Colombia.

Days Nine and Ten: Neiva to Salento 

From the desert, head back to Villavieja and onto Neiva. The jeeps depart from the square in the middle of Villavieja where you were dropped on the way here. There is a Coomotors bus from Neiva to Armenia which departs at 12.30pm and $60,000 COP ($18 USD) per person. The bus takes six-seven hours. 

Once you make it to Armenia, there are buses, which run to Salento or Filandia and go regularly between 5.30AM and 8PM. You don’t need to buy a ticket from inside the terminal for this bus as it is considered a local service.

Follow the signs for the local buses and once outside keep walking around to the right and you’ll find a bus with ‘Salento’ on the front. It costs $4,000 COP ($1.20 USD). If you arrive late or don’t fancy the bus, taxis are readily available from the terminal and should cost around $20,000 COP ($6 USD) to Salento. 

Spend your final day in Salento as per the itinerary above. 

Two Weeks in northern Colombia

Cartagena – rincon – caribbean islands – minca – tayrona national park – palomino.

Colombia’s northern coast is home to one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, with crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, and deserted islands.

On this Colombia vacation itinerary, spend two weeks beach-hopping, exploring Cartagena and the beautiful Tayrona National Park . 

Cartagena Colombia at sunset over the water.

Days One and Two: Cartagena 

The beautiful, walled city of Cartagena was made for a few days of wandering its streets – although given the heat, which is unbearable by midday, you’ll want to get out early and enjoy a mid-afternoon siesta. We’ve got a full guide to Cartagena on the site, but you can also keep reading below for some further great suggestions.

Start by heading to the castle to learn about the conflict between the Spanish and English (and pick up an audio guide, which is both hilarious and informative).

After that, head back across the river and into the streets of the beautiful neighborhood Getsemani. Stroll around streets packed with colorful buildings and look out for street art. 

For lunch, grab an arepa on the go, from Colombitalia Arepas . Arepas are a corn tortilla and are everywhere in Colombia. Served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here you can get one with pizza toppings on – delicious!

A quiet street in Cartagena, Colombia

In the evening head into the old town for a stroll around the cobbled streets. High-end shops and fantastic ice cream sellers (check out Gelateria Tramonti ) are the main attraction here.

For sunset, get to the famous Cafe del Mar on the city walls early to grab a table. Otherwise, just hang out anywhere along the wall and people will come around and offer you a beer if you fancy.

For dinner, swanky restaurants abound but for something really special, check out Interno , the first restaurant in the world to be run from inside a women’s prison, where practically all staff are prisoners.

The food is excellent – you’ll pay $90,000 COP ($26 USD) for a set menu. For fantastic steak, check out Quebracho .

Stay overnight in one of our favorite hotels and guesthouses in Cartagena , whatever your budget.

A sombrero vueltiao, a typical Colombia hat woven by the Zenu people from cana flecha and seen on a day tour of Cartagena

The next day, gain a unique perspective of Cartagena and Colombia with a tour led by the Zenú , an indigenous people who have been forced out of their homes through the centuries and now survive selling coffee on the streets of Cartagena (read all about founder Steph’s experience of this sustainable Cartagena tour and book here ).

Few tourists ever even hear about the Zenú. Not only will you see the city in a different light as your guide narrates the story of Cartagena from an indigenous perspective, but you’ll learn about their struggles for justice and exceptional prowess when it comes to craftsmanship, as you visit their workshop to see how caña flecha is woven into the famous Colombian hat, the sombrero vueltiao .

Help support sustainable, responsible tourism in Cartagena by booking this Zenú Indigenous Heritage Tour with IMPULSE Travel Colombia and get a 5% discount by using the code WORLDLY5 at checkout.

Alternatively, head outside the city; our guide to the best trips to take from Cartagena can get you started.

Days Three and Four: Rincon 

Just a few hours away from Cartagena, is the quaint fishing town of Rincon del Mar . Here you can fall out of your accommodation onto the beach and spend the day lazing in a hammock and swimming in the tranquil, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea .

Get a room at Dos Aguas Lodge , by far the best spot in Rincon with a beautiful quiet beach right outside your door.

Rincon is also a fantastic spot to launch yourself into the San Bernardo Islands (you can see them from the shore!). If you don’t have much time, take a day trip out to the islands leaving at around 8AM and returning at 2PM (Colombian time of course…things are very relaxed here and don’t always run on time).

Tours cost $60,000 COP ($18 USD) per person and can be booked from any of the families living along the beachfront.

An island off the North coast of Colombia, in the Caribbean Sea.

To get to Rincon, take a 25-minute taxi journey to the bus terminal outside Cartagena. Hop on a bus to San Onofre (2-3 hours, $20,000 COP-$30,000 COP ($6-$8 USD)) and let the bus driver know you want to get off in San Onofre (it continues further).

When you arrive, take a moto for $10,000 COP ($2.5 USD) or a taxi for $20,000 COP ($6 USD) to get you to Rincon – there is no bus for this route. If it’s night, a taxi is safer. 

Days Five and Six: Find your paradise and stay a night or two on a deserted island 

From either Cartegena or Rincon, you can sail out to paradise and live on a private island. Head to Isla Baru or  Playa Blanca for white sandy beaches, palm trees, crystal clear waters, go snorkeling or just sunbathe in this heavenly escape. 

Isla Grande : Pick up a local guide to explore secluded beaches, chill on the beach and relax by a bonfire as the sun sets. 

Days Seven to Nine: Minca 

Minca has become a must-visit for anyone taking a trip along Colombia’s north coast. An inland town surrounded by forest, it makes a strong contrast to the seaside stops along this route. 

While in Minca, you can go bird watching with Jungle Joe, head up to the beautiful waterfalls at Pozo Azul (walk up the track on the left of the first pool for a quieter spot and some rock jumping!), have lunch on the deck of the Lazy Cat restaurant and look out for the iguanas in the trees.

Finally, if you aren’t staying there already, head up to Casa Loma hostel for sunset. They have a beautiful deck and bar set up for watching the sun go down. Minca is known for its dramatic and colorful sunsets.

Mountains silhouetted against the sunset in Minca Colombia.

To get to Minca, you need to travel through Santa Marta . You may decide to stop in Santa Marta to break up the journey.

Buses run to Santa Marta from Cartagena bus terminal and it will take between five and seven hours (it took us six and a half). They depart regularly throughout the day so you’ll be able to turn up and buy a ticket when you are ready to go. 

From Santa Marta you can take a collectivo jeep from the town at the corner of Calle 12 and Carrera 9 and will cost between $7,000 COP-$8,000 COP ($1-2 USD). You can also take a taxi for $40,000 COP-$50,000 COP ($12-15 USD). The journey will take between 45 minutes to an hour.

A white-sand beach and tropical coastline in Tayrona National Park in Colombia

Days Ten and Eleven: Tayrona Park

The Tayrona National Park is one of the most famous spots in all of Colombia. It hugs the Caribbean coast of Colombia and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Think white sand, crystal clear waters, and beautiful palm trees. The best bit is that roads only get you so far which means much of the park remains an untouched wilderness for you to explore. 

Because of the inaccessibility of the park, and the fact it is basically rainforest, it is very hot and very humid and the accommodation is very basic. Because of this, it’s recommended to only do either a day trip or stay just one night in the park. 

For a day trip, the best option is to stay the night in one of the many accommodations lining the road near the main entrance and then head into the national park the following morning.

Either Eco Hostel Yuluka (they have a swimming pool with a slide!) or Villa Del Rio (the father of the guy who runs it will give you a lift to the park entrance in the morning for free!) are great choices.

For an overnight stay in the park, book a cabin at Playa Brava – a white sandy beach where a family run a small hotel with cabins.

All the other options in the park are either sleeping in hammocks (pretty close together) or tents (these get incredibly hot!).

You can also stay at Cabo San Juan , which has a few camp spots, hammocks, and cabins. For both sets of accommodation, it is incredibly important to book in advance. 

Sunset along the river in Palomino Colombia.

Days Twelve to Fourteen: Palomino 

Palomino is a delightful sleepy beach town, perfect for taking some time to chill out, do a bit of tubing in the river, and generally relax by the sea. There is one main street, which runs all the way from the main highway down to the beach.

Most of the places to stay and eat line this one street and it takes around 10 minutes to walk. As you stroll down to the beach, you’ll find people selling the tubing experience if you are interested.

The town is known for its excellent fish: eat at 7 Mares (reserve a table and get a free dip selection on arrival!), Bitacora and La Frontera Pizzeria .

Casa Colibri is a great place to stay; the rooms are excellent, large, light and comfortable, some of which have air conditioning, the breakfast is amazing, a medley of breakfast dishes, pancakes, eggs, yogurt, granola, and Joe, the owner, is informative and lovely. 

To get to Palomino, take a taxi from the exit of the Tayrona National Park, or flag down one of the buses that pass every 30 minutes or so along the road. You’ll be picking them up as they run from Santa Marta to Riohacha.

To return to Bogotá or Medellin for your flight home, return to Santa Marta by taxi or bus.

Optional Extras for any Colombia travel itinerary

Bahia solano – six days.

My favorite place – and a truly unmissable place to see in Colombia – is Bahia Solano , an under-visited and largely untouched paradise on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Here you can meet humpback whales, see dolphins from the shore, trek into the jungle, swim with bioluminescent plankton, and relax on your own private beach. 

There are a lot of options for places to stay in the Bahia Solano area and in El Valle (a town 30 minutes south of Bahia Solano) but without a doubt the best possible place to stay is at Mecana Beach Eco Hotel .

From its location on Mecana Beach , you can hike into an area of jungle that is protected by the hotel and is packed with interesting wildlife or visit a local indigenous community.

Humpback whale with her calf in the Caribbean Sea.

What’s more, between June-October every year, up to 14,000 humpback whales migrate to the area to mate, reproduce or nurture young calves.

For the best chance to spot them, take a tour with the lovely people at Mecana Eco Hotel ($350,000 COP ($105 USD) for two people, less if in a group), the biologists and Madre Agua ($150,000 COP ($45 USD) per person), or with a local captain (this is the cheapest way – although prices vary). 

Normally, I always want to support the local economy wherever possible but I have to recommend that you go with either Madre Agua or Mecana Eco Hotel .

The reason being you go out with people who study whales and love the whales. You get more scientific information about their behaviors and the Madre Agua crew even have a microphone they can put in the water so you can hear the whales.

But most importantly, by going with either of these two, you will ensure that your visit does not interrupt the natural habits of the whales. As both have biologists in the team, they know where a boat should be and how far away it should be to ensure this. 

To get here you have two options:

  • Take a boat from Buenaventura ; this takes nine hours and is the cheapest option. However, Buenaventura is the main export port for the cocaine trade in Colombia. We met many people who traveled through here. However, it is still one of the more dangerous cities in Colombia.
  • Take a flight from Medellin. This is the best option and the most enjoyable. You can either fly with Satena (one or two flights per week) or with San German . Crucially, San German is only available to buy direct from them, they will not pop up on Skyscanner . The flight takes around one hour and is normally in a very small 12-seater plane!

Top Tip : the San German flights go from the smaller city center airport in Medellin, called Olaya Herrera.

La Guajira – Four Days

At the very northern tip of South America lies La Guajira, an arid peninsula that feels a world away from the lush, water-rich landscapes of the rest of Colombia. Its indigenous people, the wayuu , were never conquered by the Spanish, and they retain a clear identity of their own, while their land is one of stunning contrast, framing untamed sand dunes against the deep blue Caribbean ocean.

Tourism is increasing here, slowly, and most come for the golden, powdery sand beaches along the very northern coast (Playa Taroa is perhaps the most beautiful) and the world-class windsurfing available at Cabo de Vela.

Sandboard down the sand dunes at Punta Gallinas in the La Guajira Peninsula, an unmissable place to visit in Colombia

Tours leave from Riohacha, a full day’s drive south of the northernmost tip of the peninsula and are the best ways of exploring the region – particularly as public transport is practically non-existent. One of the poorest parts of Colombia – indeed, three-quarters of La Guajira families face food insecurity – jobs are scarce here, which is why it’s so important to visit using a reputable local operator.

You can do this by taking a four-day tour with Macuira Tours ($290 USD pp). Indigenous-owned, their guides really know the region and will give you a fascinating insight into the daily life of those who live in one of the most extreme environments in Colombia.

Friday 28th of July 2023

Love your itinerary but the price-points on your recommended lodgings are not feasible at all for backpackers or people traveling long-term on a budget, with many over $100/night.

Steph Dyson

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Hi Amir, a lot of my readers aren't backpackers. Steph

Latitude Adjustment

Monday 29th of August 2022

Hello, Nice article and site you have. Not sure the timeframe when this was reported but a few points: Viva Air is a great airline to use and goes to most cities in Colombia and is more affordable than Avianca Guatape is overrun with tourists on the weekends. Folks should visit during the week Comuna 13 also is too crowded on the weekends. It is better to go with a tour guide so you get the history and a much better experience. Never go at night! Palamino is rustic and more geared toward backpackers. The beach is overrated. Go to Tayrona. Renting a car is a much better option as you see a lot more of the countryside and it is not that expensive and the roads are great, for the most part, but do not drive at night.

We are Expats living in El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia for over 4 years now and travel extensively around Colombia.

There are many beautiful places to see in eastern Colombia as well.

Cheers, John and Susan Latitude Adjustment

Tuesday 19th of September 2023

@Latitude Adjustment, Any reason as to why we shouldn't go out at night? Just curious, thanks!

Thursday 19th of January 2023

Thanks for these helpful comments! Steph

Mijn Reiservaring

Itinerary Colombia – 1 month of backpacking

Home » South America » Colombia » Itinerary Colombia – 1 month of backpacking

From city to beach and jungle to desert, Colombia has it all! Traveling to Colombia is becoming increasingly popular because of the great diversity of landmarks, nature and culture. The country has long had a negative image, but a roundtrip in Colombia is now much safer and more enjoyable than before. With a size of more than 1 million km², the distances between the cities are large, so it is useful to plan your itinerary in Colombia well. With this versatile itinerary through Colombia in 1 month, you’ll travel past bustling cities, tropical beaches and wild jungle.

In this article:

Itinerary Colombia for 1 month

  • Best time to travel
  • Costs and budget

Bogotá ➤ Salento ➤ Jardín ➤ Medellin ➤ Santa Marta ➤ Minca ➤ Tayrona ➤ Palomino ➤ Cartagena ➤ Rincón ➤ Isla Múcura ➤ Cartagena

Reisroute Colombia

Most people start their itinerary in Colombia in the capital Bogotá. From different cities in the world there are direct flights that take you to the city in about. Located at an altitude of 2600 meters, Bogotá is one of the top 5 highest capitals in the world. So don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel a little dizzy.

In Bogotá live no less than 10 million people. The center La Candelaria is full of colonial buildings, but also trendy restaurants and streets filled with street art. The city is very diverse and knows wealth and poverty. Not everyone loves Bogotá, but the city has a certain charm. To learn to appreciate the city, it is often recommended to stay longer than a few days. You can also undertake enough fun day trips from Bogotá.

Number of days in Bogota: ± 2-4 days


From Bogotá you can travel to Salento by bus in about 8 hours. The bus can be taken from Terminal de Transporte to Armenia . After a 7 hour ride you change in Armenia to the bus to Salento which will take you in an hour to your final destination. Not in the mood for a long bus ride? From Bogotá it’s possible to fly in an hour to Pereira and then catch a bus that will take you in 1 to 2 hours to Salento.

Would you like to see more of central Colombia, then follow the itinerary described in this article. If you have less time, you can also travel directly from Bogotá to Medellin and skip Salento and Jardín .

Salento is a destination that should not be missed in your itinerary in Colombia. The village is known for its colorful houses and pleasant atmosphere. But the real reason not to skip Salento is because it’s a perfect starting point for visiting the Cocora Valley . Here you’ll find the world’s tallest palm trees through which you can take beautiful yet challenging hikes.

All about what to do in Salento and useful tips for your visit to Valle de Cocora .

Number of days in Salento: ± 2-4 days

Salento stad Colombia

From Salento you can travel to the village of Jardín. This is a long journey of about 8 hours in total and at least one transfer. So first thing in the morning you will travel to Riosucio. There is a daily bus from Salento at 7:50 am that costs around 30,000 COP and takes 3 – 4 hours. From Riosucio you catch the bus to Jardín. This ride takes an average of 4 hours.

Jardín is a small village in the middle of the mountains surrounded by green jungle and numerous rivers, streams and waterfalls. It’s a perfect place to explore on foot and enjoy the viewpoints, the green nature and the beautiful birds and butterflies.

If you’re not much of a hiker, the small center is also great for strolling around and grabbing a drink at one of the many terraces. The center is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and charming atmosphere.

All tips and info for Jardín .

After Jardín you will continue your journey to the big city of Medellin . This can be done by taking a direct bus that takes about 4 hours. The views along the way are stunning!

Number of days in Jardín: ± 2-4 days

Jardín straat colombia

The large city of Medellin is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. It used to be one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia under the policy of the drug lord Pablo Escobar. Nowadays it is a very safe and pleasant city with plenty things to see and do.

The place to be for travelers is the neighborhood El Poblado with trendy restaurants and cute bars and cafes. One of the most popular activities in Medellin is the cable car that takes you to Parque Arví in the mountains.

There is also plenty to do outside the city. For example, just a 2-hour drive from Medellin lies the charming village of Guatapé . Guatapé is one of the most colorful villages in Colombia and is not without reason such a popular destination. You can climb the rock La Piedra del Peñol where a great view awaits you.

Number of days in Medellin: ± 3-4 days

Medellin Colombia

After the big city, it’s time for some sun, sandy beaches and mountains in the tropical north of Colombia. After a domestic flight of just over 1 hour you will arrive in the tropical Santa Marta . If you wish, you can travel on to the mountain village of Minca .

Santa Marta

As soon as you step off the plane in Santa Marta, a warm wall of heath greets you. This dusty city on the Caribbean coast has a very different climate than Medellin. Santa Marta is an important port of the region. The city itself is not very special to spend a long time, but it is mainly an ideal base for visiting various destinations.

From Santa Marta you can explore much of the Caribbean coast, but you can also easily travel inland such as to Minca . To travel to Minca you take the bus from Estacion Minca in Santa Marta.

Number of days in Santa Marta: ± 1-2 days

Breathtaking views, beautiful sunsets and a lovely laid-back vibe. If this sounds like music to your ears, then the mountain village of Minca in Colombia is definitely for you! The tiny village is located in the north of Colombia, in the district of Santa Marta. If you’re used to the climate in Medellin, Minca will be a real change of scenery and a good sweat. The climate is tropical with high daily temperatures and high humidity.

5 fun stuff to do in Minca .

Number of days in Minca: ± 3-4 days

Minca Colombia

After Minca, it’s time for jungle and beaches in Tayrona National Park . To reach the park, travel back to Santa Marta and take a bus east towards Palomino. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the national park, about an hour’s drive from the city. You can’t miss it, because you won’t be the only one!

Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park is the most visited park in Colombia and for good reason. Here you will find wild jungle with a great diversity of wildlife, beautiful beaches and you can get in touch with the indigenous people of the area.

It is possible to stay overnight in the park and I can definitely recommend that because it is a special experience.

Number of days in Tayrona: ± 1-2 days

Strand Tayrona Colombia

From Tayrona National Park, traveling to your next coastal destination, Palomino , is easy. Wait along the road and stop buses heading east. Often you only have to wait for a few minutes for these buses to arrive. Ask the bus driver if the bus actually goes to Palomino and about 45 minutes later you will be in the village!

Before traveling to Palomino, I was warned by other travelers, “Once you arrive in Palomino, you never want to leave!”. It’s a real backpacker village and it’s true, there are plenty of travelers who have decided to stay in the village for weeks and others decided to call it their new home.

What makes Palomino so popular is its lovely laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. You can go tubing on the river, swimming in the sea and go wild at the fun parties at various locations.

What to do in Palomino .

Days in Palomino : ± 2-100+ days

Palomino town Colombia

From Palomino you travel in about 7 hours by bus to the port city of Cartagena . There is a direct bus to the main bus terminal and from there you can take a cab to the center.

When in Cartagena you can stroll through the old colonial center. The colorful buildings with cute balconies and charming plants are located in the most atmospheric streets. In the evening there is a big party on the squares with musicians and artists. It is wise to be on your guard though, because pickpockets are regularly active in the city.

Number of days in Cartagena : ± 1-3 days

Cartagena Colombia

After the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s time for some relaxing beach days in Rincón del Mar . You’ll travel here in about 3 to 4 hours with a transfer in San Onofre.

Rincón del Mar

From the big city, to a tiny fishing village. Colombia has many beach destinations, of which Rincón del Mar is one. The relatively undiscovered destination is located on the tropical Caribbean coast, about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Cartagena. It’s a wonderful destination where you can witness the authentic traditional fisherman’s life.

All you can do here is take a swim in the sea, chill under a palm tree with a cocktail in your hand, and eat freshly caught fish. What more could you ask for?

Rincón is the perfect base for a visit to the tropical San Bernardo archipelago , consisting of 10 small islands. The most popular islands are isla Tintipán, La Palma, Múcura and Santa Cruz del Islote, the most populous island in the world! I can personally absolutely recommend the small island Isla Múcura.

All about the fishing village of Rincón del Mar .

Number of days in Rincón del Mar : ± 2-4 days

Rincon Colombia

From Rincón del Mar, you can reach the tropical Isla Múcura by speedboat in about an hour.

Isla Múcura

White sand beaches, a crystal clear sea and swaying palm trees on a tiny island. Isla Múcura is the perfect destination for a little bit of nothing, except swimming in the sea, sunbathing with a cocktail in your hand and taking time to read a good book. For me, it was one of the highlights of my itinerary in Colombia.

Exploring the island is difficult because of the dense mangroves, so you spend most of your time around your accommodation. These are all located on the beach, so that’s absolutely no problem!

All information about paradisiacal Isla Múcura .

From Isla Mucura you can either travel back to Rincón del Mar or take a direct speedboat to Cartagena. From Cartagena you can easily fly to your final destination in Colombia.

Number of days on Isla Mucura: ± 2-4 days

Isla-Mucura Colombia drone

Beste time to travel this itinerary in Colombia

Colombia has a dry season and a rainy season. The best time to travel Colombia with this itinerary is approximately from December to March and from July to September in the dry season. From April to May and from October to November it is rainy season in Colombia.

The temperature is constant throughout the year thanks to its location around the equator. But the temperatures do vary from city to city because of the altitude. So in Salento or Bogota you will need a vest in the evening and in Palomino you will still sweat like crazy at night.

Caribbean coast

The Caribbean coast is best visited in the winter months of December to March . From June to September it is generally dryer on the coast, but you have a slightly higher chance of a downpour. The rest of the year it rains considerably more and that’s not beneficial for your beach days. The climate there is generally dryer than the Pacific coast. At the Caribbean coast, the temperature is around 30°C all year round and it often does not cool down below 23°C at night.

Central Colombia

The best time to travel Central Colombia is from December to March and from June to September . The climate of central Colombia is very diverse thanks to the large differences in altitude of the different regions. When you drive from Medellin to Salento, you will notice multiple changes in temperature and humidity along the way. For example, in Salento it’s relatively dry during these months, but in Jardín you have almost every day of the year chance of rain.

Costs and budget for Colombia

South America is generally a tad more expensive than many South Asian countries. However, Colombia is definitely a backpacker-friendly country. This means that you can travel through it with a relatively small budget.

A simple but comfortable double room costs between 100,000 and 200,000 COP (€ 23 to € 46). For a bed in a dormitory you pay about 25,000 to 60,000 COP (€6 to €14).

As for meals, prices vary by city and type of restaurant. For example, a simple meal at a local joint will cost you COP 10,000 (€2.30) and for European food in a restaurant you will quickly pay 45,000 to 80,000 COP (€10 to €19).

Add in the tours and day trips and you end up with a budget of about 150,000 to 250,000 COP (€35 to €57) per day for a itinerary in Colombia.

All posts about Colombia ⇒

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Hi! Welcome to Mijn Reiservaring. Here I share my travelstories, useful travel tips and info about various destinations to make you ready for your next travels and awesome adventures. I hope to inspire you with my travel stories. Enjoy!

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Colombia Itinerary: 1, 2 or 3 Weeks in Colombia

Mark Stewart January 4, 2022 Destinations 7 Comments

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So you’re planning a trip to Colombia. First off, congratulations, you’ve made a great decision. There are few countries we’ve ever visited that offer such outstanding diversity and beauty. From idyllic Caribbean beaches and colourful villages strewn about Andean jungles, to cities overcoming their tragic past. Our Colombia travel itinerary will touch a little of everything that makes this country so amazing.

How to Use this Colombia Itinerary:

This Colombia travel itinerary builds on itself depending on how long you want to visit.

For one week in Colombia, simply use the first section. For a two-week Colombia trip, combine the first and second. Do the same for the three week in Colombia but visit every location in this article.

How Long is Your Trip?

  • One Week in Colombia
  • Two Weeks in Colombia
  • Three Weeks in Colombia

Colombia One Week Itinerary

2 Days in Cartagena, Colombia

Start your trip in the colourful coastal city of Cartagena.

Join a free walking tour and explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Take in the colonial architecture and old fortifications while sipping a strong local coffee, or practice your moves with salsa lessons from Cafe Havana.

Head over to Getsemani, the hip, backpacker district. Wander the alleyways in search of funky shops and small cafes. Sample grilled meats and fried arepas from street vendors while surveying wonderful works of street art.

Watch the sunset over the modern skyline across the harbour from a restaurant patio before finishing the night at one of the lively bars.

The following day, take a tour to one of the postcard-perfect beaches nearby. Playa Blanca is a popular spot. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the sand before heading back to the city for another great evening.

The first thing the next morning, head to the airport for a quick flight into Medellin!

Find your stay in Cartagena on

Yellow building and a white cathedral

Medellin – Days 3 & 4

Once you’ve settled in and dropped your bags off, it’s time to dig into this incredible city.

Trying to explore a city like Medellin in such a short window would be very tricky. Your best option here is to sign up for one of the phenomenal free walking tours.

Tours in Medellin, Colombia

Real City Tours offers a great option that takes you through the heart of Medellin and explains the vibrant and tragic history of the city. O ne of the best tours is this one through Comuna 13, the vibrant neighbourhood that was once one of the most dangerous on the planet.

Following the tour, enjoy one of the many great activities Medellin has to offer. If you can only fit in one activity during your time in Medellin, we highly suggest playing Tejo. I mean, what’s more fun than drinking beer and blowing things up?

Day Trip to Guatape – Day 5

Wake up early and make your way to the bus station for a day trip to what is possibly the most colourful city of all time. Just two hours by bus from the city, Guatape is a must-do while in Colombia. Climb the 700 stairs to the top of El Penol and get a 360-degree view of spectacular beauty.

You can either head back to Medellín now for some more fun in the city, or stay the night in Guatape. All that matters is that you’re back in Medellín to catch a bus the next morning.

Find your stay in Guatape on

Stone street with colourful buildings

Salento – Day 6

From Medellín, you’ll be spending the next several hours twisting through the Andes and some of the most verdant landscapes in the country. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the town of Salento, in the heart of coffee country.

Do some shopping or people watching while taking in the afternoon sun and drinking some of the best coffee on earth. Enjoy bandeja Paisa – the quintessential Colombian meal – at one of the best restaurants in Salento . And if you’re really lucky, take part in the occasional festivities in the town square.

On day two, visit the towering wax palms of the Cocorra Valley. Either take the back route in, roughly an hour round-trip, to the famous palms themselves; or take on the full seven-hour trek loop. If you decide on the shorter version, or perhaps you’re not one for hiking, visit a coffee plantation and experience the life cycle of this beloved beverage.

Now it’s time to leave the countryside and journey make your way to Bogota , Colombia’s capital.

Use to find your stay in Salento!

Two people hiking between palm trees

Bogota – Day 7

The final stop in our 1 week Colombia itinerary is in the buzzing, mountain city of Bogota. When arriving at the bus station in the morning, sit down for a steaming bowl of soup or a bunuello and coffee. Depending on your luggage situation, you can choose to rent a locker at the bus station.

Note: don’t flag down a taxi on the streets of Bogota. Always use Uber or the designated booth at the bus station.

For planning your day, we have a separate guide for quick visits to Bogota, highlighting some of our favourite things.

Wherever you’re off to from here, whether it’s home or another adventure; enjoy!

Find your stay in Bogot a on

Colombia Itinerary – 2 Weeks

Santa Marta and Around – 3 Nights

The port city of Santa Marta might not be the prettiest in Colombia, but that isn’t why you’re coming. It’s what lies outside the town itself that makes this one of the highlights of the country.

Fly into Santa Marta (Day 1) and spend a few hours checking out the shops of the old town. Visit the street stalls and sample some amazing Colombian street food like reganonas.

Camp in Tayrona National Park – Day 2

Prepare yourself for some of the most stunning and beautiful beaches in Colombia at Tayrona National Park.

Rise early and grab a taxi or local bus to the entrance of the park. From here, either enjoy a 2 to 3-hour hike – or horse ride – through the spectacular scenery to the main beach of Cabo San Juan. There’s a great campground here where you can spend the night. Another nice campground is at Playa Arrecifes.

Spend the afternoon exploring the rest of the park, relaxing on the beautiful beaches and swimming in the impossibly clear water.

After spending the night either in a rented tent or in a hammock under the stars make your way back to Santa Marta.

Blue water against a clean beach and a tree-covered hill

Mountain Town of Minca, Colombia – Day 3

Grab another bus now and venture high into the Sierra Nevada mountains, to the village of Minca, an hour outside Santa Marta. Minca is a quiet, laid-back town with a bohemian vibe.

Follow the road north of town to the jungle swimming holes of pozo azúl and take cooling refuge from the sweltering air. Stop at one of the restaurants along the route or pick up some snacks from the vendors on the trail near the pools.

Choose either to stay in Minca, perhaps at one of the eco-hostels near town, or head back to Santa Marta for the night.

In the morning, take the bus from Santa Marta to Cartagena further down the coast, where you’ll spend Days 4 and 5 (based on the 1-week itinerary above ).

Medellín and Guatape – Days 6 & 7

With the 2 week itinerary, you’re given one full extra day and night in Medellin. This is the perfect opportunity to take in both of the tours you would have sacrificed in the shorter visit.

Another great option, though you’ve got many, is to hit up Dragonfly for a soaring paragliding experience.

If you prefer the laid-back vibes of Guatape, (Day 8) you can easily spend your extra time extending your day trip. As long as you’re back in Medellín the next morning to catch the bus to Jardin!

Find your stay in Medellin on

Jardin – Days 9 & 10

Our favourite of the coffee-country towns in Colombia is Jardin, but the views along the ride from Medellín is worth the visit alone. Nestled in a stunning Andean valley, Jardin is the perfect spot to wind down a little from the chaos of the big city.

Hike up through surrounding hills and enjoy the views, sipping on a beer or two while building up the courage to ride the old Jardin cable car . Go fishing for your lunch and enjoy some incredible local mountain trout or visit the hidden waterfalls near town.

Following your second night relaxing in Jardin, it’s time to take one of the most exciting bus journeys in the country, as you make your way south to Salento.

Check to find you accommodation in Jardin!

Colourful houses along a road leading to green hills.

Salento – Days 11 & 12

Same as the 1-week itinerary .

Bogota – Days 13 & 14

A full extra day in Bogota can make a huge difference in your experience. The graffiti tour is one of the best we’ve ever encountered, and I highly recommend it.

Also, if you haven’t yet had your fill of tasty Colombian cuisine, you’ll find everything in Bogota.

If you’ve got even more time available, get a few additional suggestions for your Colombia itinerary below!

Bogota Graffiti Tour: A staircase in a park, brightly coloured in intricate graffiti

3 Weeks in Colombia

For those of you looking for a 3 week Colombia itinerary, here are a few suggestions to add to the 2-week plan above.

Scuba Diving in Colombia

If you’re one for underwater exploration, Santa Marta has some of the best and cheapest Scuba diving in Colombia. Specifically from the town of Tanganga, just north of the city.

There are several reputable dive shops scattered throughout Santa Marta and Tanganga that offer day trips. Many of these shops even offer great courses, from open-water to dive master, at much lower prices than anywhere else in the country.

The Lost City Trek

This one will eat up most of your third week alone, but is one of the most exciting things to do in Colombia.

Trek through the Sierra Nevada mountains near Santa Marta, to ancient city ruins, hidden deep in the jungle. 4, 5, and 6 day options are available, depending on time, budget and fitness level.

Book your Lost City Trek tour here.

Explore the Remote Coastal Desert of Punta Gallinas

Visit the northernmost tip of South America at Punta Gallinas. Drive through dune fields and a wasteland of dried lake beds through remote communities cut off from the rest of the country. Eat incredible fresh seafood, swim in bioluminescent coves and disconnect from the world.

Go Island Hopping & Stay at a Floating Hostel

While in Cartagena, spend a few extra days visiting the rest of the beaches nearby; or take visit the Rosario Islands and swim in a bioluminescent cove.

Spend a few nights at Casa en el Agua , a gorgeous eco-hostel built out in the sea several kilometres from shore!

Visit More of Coffee Country

On your way through coffee country from Medellin, consider adding a stop in Jerico before Jardin. Or if you enjoy your time kicking back in chilled-out Jardin, spend an extra day or two before heading farther south.

When you head down towards Salento, stop over in Filandia, another beautiful town only 45 minutes away.

White and blue colonial cathedral beside a green park.

Do What You Want!

Maybe you want to change things up even more. We’ve put together a complete guide to Colombia that can help you with even more options if you find the time.

Just try to remember, you’re never going to see everything a destination has to offer. Not in one shot anyway. If you’re tight on time, don’t worry about forcing more activities in, you won’t enjoy yourself – and that’s the whole reason you’re going, right?

More Colombia

Sunset over a very crowded beach

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About the Author

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Mark Stewart

Mark is a multi-passionate creative with a fascination for getting the most out of the human experience. While he isn't chasing adventures around the globe as a travel journalist and photographer, he works as a freelance writer, private chef and web developer.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

i’ve never been to Colombia but I have to say it looks incredible. Very colourful and green, it also looks like It wasn’t overcrowded by tourist !

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Thank you for a very detali itinerary. And your pictures are stunning. I would love to save this post for my future trip😀

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Colombia looks wonderful! I love the the small towns, palm trees, beaches, and your itinerary for island hopping. Definitely a place I would like to check out someday.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Love this breakdown! We would love to climb the 700 stairs to the top of El Penol and enjoy the panoramic views of the city!

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

It is such a gorgeous view from the top!

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Wow this is absolutely stunning. I love the natural beauty of Columbia

It is such a gorgeous place to check out! Thanks for reading!

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Colombia Itinerary: The Complete 3-Week Travel Guide

Colombia Itinerary: The Complete 3-Week Travel Guide

Discover the unexpected in extraordinary Colombia ! In a country of two sides, expect to find steel skyscrapers bordering colorful pueblos, beaches backing onto snow-capped mountains, and dense green jungle merging into red deserts. Travel this immense country with our 3-week Colombia itinerary, eating plenty of arepas as you go and always saying ‘yes’ to every adventure—whether that’s dancing in the street or tubing down roaring rivers.

Ultimate Colombia Itinerary

Colombia is such a diverse country; it’s home to a turquoise blue sea, beautiful beaches, mountains, coffee farms, colonial towns, and the tallest palm trees in the world. It’s vast, and with all this scenery, you’ll need months to discover it all. However, in 3-weeks, you can still explore various destinations with this ultimate Colombia itinerary. 

Tip: Looking for a more relaxed trip? Either have a look at our 2-week Colombia travel guide or consider dropping Tatacoa , Minca , or Palomino from your 3-week Colombia itinerary.

colombia itinerary cartagena fruit lady

Day 1: Bogota (Arrival)

On day 1, arrive in the capital city of Colombia: bustling Bogota . This city is often missed in favor of other cities on a Colombia itinerary. However, it’s well worth staying for a few days. The city is a melting pot of old and new—a place where towering glass skyscrapers fill the spaces between old colonial buildings and mammoth murals.

colombia itinerary bogota street art tour

Where to stay in Bogota

Stay in the beautiful area of La Candelaria with its quiet pedestrianized streets and colorfully painted houses. It’s also the safest area in Bogota and is a reasonable distance from all the things to do in the city. See all hotels in Bogota here .

Hotels in Bogota 😴

Botanico Hostel

Day 2: Bogota

Wake up on day 2 and enjoy a typical Colombian breakfast of Bandeja Paisa before joining a street art tour. On the tour, you’ll learn about the work of CRISP and the turbulent history between street artists and police. However, these days, artists have far more creative freedom in Bogota as they’re less likely to face persecution. Because of this, you’ll find colorful murals painted all around the city.

La Candelaria is a great neighborhood for your art tour and a nice spot for cafes and boutique shops.

Book your art tour in Bogota

colombia travel itinerary bogota

Monserrate Mountain, Bogota

In the afternoon, set your sights on the majestic mountain ridge that towers over Bogota: Monserrate. It’s possible to hike up here, but it can take anything between 2-4 hours (and the trail can only be entered in the morning). Because of this, we recommend taking the cable car/funicular instead.

things to do in bogota Cerro Monserrate cable car

Enjoy a cup of tea at the top, looking out over the views of sprawling Bogota below and reflecting on your time in this fascinating city.

Read: Top things to do in Bogota

Cerro Monserrate things to do bogota

Day 3: Bogota to Tatacoa Desert  

On Day 3 of your Colombia itinerary, get up early to embark on your journey to Tatacoa Desert (a 7-hour bus ride). Although the journey is long, it’s well worth it when you reach the otherworldly landscapes of Tatacoa.

The temperatures here are very hot. However, it does get an unusual amount of rainfall, making it greener and not technically a ‘desert’. 

desert colombia

How to get from Bogota to Tatacoa

By Bus: 6-9 hours, depending on stops to the nearest big town, Neiva. Here take a taxi or bus for another hour to get to Tatacoa.

Book your bus to Tatacoa

Colombia Itinerary: The Complete 3-Week Travel Guide

By Plane: Short on time? Consider flying from Bogota to Neiva (1 hour) and then taking a taxi or bus to Tatacoa. 

Book your flight to Neiva

However, if you want to travel sustainably , you could take an overnight bus on night 2. This means you’ll arrive in Tatacoa Desert first thing in the morning on Day 3.

colombia itinerary tatacoa desert

Where to stay in Tatacoa

Tatacoa desert has a mix of lodges and glamping options, providing you with the real desert stargazing experience. However, if you want more accommodation options (especially hotels with pools), consider staying in the nearby town of Villavieja. From here, it’s only a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride into the desert.  See all hotels in Tatacoa Desert .

Hotels in Tatacoa 😴

Mana Star Hotel

Day 4: Tatacoa Desert

Day 4 is here, and it’s time to explore Colombia’s best-kept secret: the incredible Tatacoa Desert! Jump in a tuk-tuk and embark on your tour of the two deserts. In the red desert, you’ll find different minerals which create a rainbow effect (much like the rainbow mountain in Peru ).

colombia itinerary hiking tatacoa desert

In contrast, the gray desert is nicknamed the ‘valley of the ghosts’ because of its unique shapes and moon-like landscapes.

colombia travel itinerary tatacoa desert tour

Spend a day here hiking among the otherworldly landscapes and, in the evening, stargaze in one of the most beautiful spots on earth. There are incredible stars because there is almost no light pollution in Tatacoa.

Read: Tatacoa Desert (Colombia’s best-kept secret)

tatacoa desert

Day 5: Tatacoa to Salento

The drive from Tatacoa to Salento takes around 7 hours, back north towards Bogota . Make sure to keep your eyes open for fantastic views as you worm up into the green mountains of Colombia’s most famous coffee region. 

colombia travel itinerary guide

How to get from Tatacoa to Salento

Take the bus back to Neiva (1 hour) by taking a bus or jeep from the square on the west side of Villavieja (cost 10,000 COP). From here, take a direct bus from Neiva to Armenia or Pereira (6.5 hours). Once you reach Armenia/Pereira, jump on a smaller bus to Salento , which takes 1 hour.

Please note: Bus times are slightly tricky, as they run mainly in the very early hours of the morning or later at night.

Book your bus to Pereira

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

You can fly from Neiva to Pereira or Armenia airport. However, there are no direct flights (each flight will make a change in Bogota, Colombia). Usually (including stopover), this will take around 3 hours. Please note that once you’ve added luggage, the flights often cost more than the bus. 

Book your flight to Salento

Where to stay in Salento

Stay anywhere in the village as it’s tiny and will locate you near the center. If you want a more remote experience, consider staying at an eco-resort or glamping in the nature of the Cocora Valley. See all your accommodation options in Salento .

Hotels in Salento 😴

Montana Glamping

Day 6: Salento

Salento is one of the most beautiful places to visit on your 3-week Colombia itinerary. Nestled deep in the mountains and the coffee highlands, it’s home to some of the most epic scenery in the country, including the legendary Cocora Valley . Here, you’ll find the world’s tallest palm trees towering over green rolling hills as the mountain mist creeps in.

travel colombia itinerary

Spend day 6 on a tour of the Cocora Valley . Jump in a Willy (the old-fashioned jeep) from the town center and choose to do the complete valley hike (5-6 hours) or one of the shorter trails.

colombia itinerary salento colorful houses

Alternatively, you can also go horseback riding, which offers you a completely different perspective of the landscape. It’s also a fantastic way to see the secret corners of the valley.

As with all animal tours, always do your research to check that the provider is ethical and sustainable (an important form of wildlife tourism ).

Read: Best things to do in Salento

colombia travel itinerary best hike

Day 7: Salento

On day 7, enjoy the delights of this Colombia backpacking town. The main street, Calle Real, is lined with colorful storefronts in all the colors of the rainbow. Make sure to come early before the shops open (before 9 AM) so you can see the colors at their best before the doors are open.

colombia itinerary things to do salento

Afterward, follow signs from Calle Real to the Mirador Salento, where you’ll find incredible views of the town and valley below. 

Mirador de Salento

In the afternoon, book a coffee tour and make the most of this UNESCO World Heritage Site (Salento is part of Colombia’s cultural coffee landscape). Alternatively, if you’d like a dip, head for the Santa Rita la Cascada, a beautiful waterfall just outside town.   

Book your coffee tour in Salento

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Day 8: Salento to Medellin

Say goodbye to the luscious greenery of Salento and head for the metropolis of Medellin—one of the best cities to visit if you’re backpacking in Colombia ! It sits around 7 hours north of Salento, and it’s easy to take a direct bus there. However, if you want a shorter journey, you can take a direct flight from Pereira or Armenia airport.

colombia itinerary El Poblado medellin street art

How to get from Salento to Medellin

By Bus: Take a bus from Salento to Periera or Armenia (roughly 1 hour). You can then take a direct bus to Medellin from either of these destinations in 5-6 hours. Buses should cost anything between 17-20 USD.

Book a bus to Medellin

El Poblado medellin

By Plane: Fly direct to Medellin from Pereira or Armenia. The flight time is between 40-50 minutes, so it’s a good option if you don’t have much time on your Colombia itinerary.

Book your flight to Medellin

colombia itinerary Castle Museum medellin

Where to stay in Medellin

The most popular area to stay in Medellin is El Poblado, which is more expensive as it’s known as the neighborhood for tourists and ex-pats. However, it’s also one of Medellin’s friendliest and safest areas. For something cheaper, look in the safe (but less touristy) neighborhood of Laureles. See all hotels in Medellin .

Hotels in Medellin 😴

Los Patios Hostel

Day 9: Medellin

Medellin is a wonderfully unusual city, nestled in a valley inland. Here you can find an urban landscape with plenty of amazing things to do.

colombia itinerary medellin Botanical gardens

It’s also known as the city of ‘La Primavera Eterna’, meaning ‘eternal spring’ because the weather is so good all year round. Because of this, it’s the perfect place to go on a bike tour , checking out the colorful buildings of El Poblado and the unique sculptures of Fernando Botero.

Book your electric bike tour in Medellin

colombia itinerary botero medellin

Comuna 13, Medellin

In the afternoon, head to the most interesting neighborhood of Medellin: Comuna 13. This was once one of the most dangerous areas of the city, known for its gangs and guerillas.

colombia itinerary medellin comuna 12

The history here is very somber. However, its sad past has led its inhabitants to push forward into the world of creativity.

In fact, now it’s known all over the country for its street art, graffiti, and music scene. Join a free tour and learn about the area (one of the top things to do on your Colombia itinerary!).

Read: Best things to do in Medellin

Comuna 13 medellin dancing

Day 10: Medellin ( Guatape )

Wake up early on day 10 and head for one of the prettiest villages in Colombia , just a 1.5-hour drive away. Guatape and its rock is a super colorful village lying close to the mountains and surrounded by many lakes. Spend the morning walking its cobbled streets and admiring all the colorfully painted doorways and windows. 

Click here to read everything about Guatape and its rock .

colombia itinerary medellin guatape street

From the village, jump in a tuk-tuk to ‘The Rock’, a 10 million tonne rock that can be seen from far and wide. Steps are now zig-zagged into the rock (675 in total), so you can climb to the top for awesome views of the valley and the many surrounding lakes. 

Book your tour to Guatape

colombia travel itinerary guatape

Day 11: Medellin to Minca

Minca is 15 hours away in the very north of Colombia. For this reason, taking a flight or an overnight bus is best, so you don’t waste too much time on your Colombia 3-week itinerary. 

colombia itinerary Marinka Waterfall minca

Take a morning flight to make the most of your time in Minca; it’s one of the most beautiful natural areas—nestled in the dense green hills of northern Colombia.

It’s also the gateway to the ruins of the ‘lost city’, which are thought to be 650 years older than Machu Picchu . It’s the perfect place to unwind, drinking coffee while you look out over the treetops and the coast in the far distance. 

colombia travel itinerary Marinka Waterfall minca

How to get from Medellin to Minca

By Bus: You can take an overnight bus from Medellin to Santa Marta, which takes around 15-16 hours. This will also save you from wasting valuable time on your Colombia itinerary. 

Book your bus to Santa Marta

By Plane: The nearest airport is Santa Marta, which is around a 45-minute taxi ride away, and normally costs 90,000 COP (21.50 USD). Alternatively, take a shared taxi (Collectivo) from Estacion de Minca (in the center of Santa Marta), which is a much cheaper option at 9,000 COP (2.25 USD) per person.

Book your flight to Santa Marta

minca colombia best things to do

Where to stay in Minca

Stay somewhere with a pool as during the day it gets very hot. You can stay anywhere in Minca as you’ll need to get on a motorcycle taxi to get around anyway. Choose from beautiful eco-lodges, treehouse-style hostels, and glamping; this is nature at its finest!  See all accommodation in Minca.

Hotels in Minca 😴

Siembra Boutique Hostel

Day 12: Minca

On day 12, explore the sights in this natural paradise, including the blue lagoon and the Marinka Waterfall. Both spots are also great for a dip and are walkable from the village, although the hot temperatures of the day can make it a little harder. For this reason, we recommend using a motorcycle taxi to get around.

colombia itinerary minca travel

Not far from the Blue Lagoon, you can also find the famous Finca la Victoria, which is one of the oldest coffee farms in Colombia. Join a coffee tour and learn all about the process from bean to cup, including their eco-friendly and organic techniques.

Discover the jungle town: all things to do in Minca!

colombia itinerary minca Marinka Waterfall viewpoint

Day 13: Minca to Tayrona National Park

On the coast just below Minca, discover the incredible Tayrona National Park , a beautiful protected area that isn’t dissimilar to the scenery you’d find in the Caribbean! 

colombia itinerary Tayrona national park travel guide

The park has two entrances, either El Zaino (the main entrance) or Calabazo. Arrive as early as possible (before 8 AM), so you’re guaranteed entry, as the park limits how many people can enter each day. Make sure to also wear suitable footwear as you’ll be doing lots of walking inside Tayrona.

Entrance Fee: 68,500 COP (± 16 USD) during the high season. 57,500 COP (± 13.5 USD) in the low season. Please note that you’ll also have to pay mandatory park insurance, which costs 10,000 COP (± 2.5 USD).

hiking trail tayrona national park colombia

How to get from Minca to Tayrona National Park

By Car: Either hire a car for yourself or jump in a taxi which takes 50-60 minutes from Minca . Prices for taxis can range from 60,000-80,000 COP (14 – 19 USD).

By bus: you can take a shared taxi (Collectivo) back to Santa Marta and then jump on the local bus, which runs between Santa Marta and Palomino . This local bus leaves every 30 minutes and costs 7000 COP (1.70 USD) to the El Zaino entrance at Tayrona.

tropical birds colombia

Where to stay in Tayrona National Park

There are no hotels inside Tayrona National Park itself, so if you’re looking for something a little more comfortable, you’ll need to stay on the main road just outside the park.

Hotels in Tayrona 😴

Chayrama Eco Lodge

Within the park, you can stay in a bungalow or eco-lodge, like Ecohabs Bamboo . However, if you want an authentic experience in nature, we recommend hiring a hammock or a tent; it’s the perfect way to see the stars after a fantastic day in Tayrona.  See all accommodation in Tayrona National Park .

camping in tayrona national park colombia

Day 14: Tayrona National Park

Wake up in the refreshing morning air after a night of stargazing from your hammock. Take a moment to admire the dense jungle surrounding you, with only the sounds of birds for company. 

colombia itinerary Playa del Cabo Tayrona National Park

Spend day 14 walking along the trails within Tayrona, discovering secret coves and beautiful blue water for swimming. The park is situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia , which is known for its dangerous waters.

hiking trail tayrona national park colombia

Because of this, some of the beaches within the national park aren’t safe for swimming. However, some places are suitable, for example, the most popular beaches of Cabo San Juan del Guia and Playa Cristal (great for snorkeling because of its clear water!). 

Read: Best things to do in Tayrona National Park

colombia itinerary Tayrona national park hike

Day 15: Tayrona to Palomino

Say goodbye to your hammock and the luscious landscapes and wildlife of Tayrona National Park, and hello to another charming village on the Caribbean Coast: Palomino! Just a 45-minute bus ride away, discover this laidback town that’s popular for those that are backpacking in Colombia.

colombia itinerary polomino beach

There isn’t much to do here, but that’s the beauty of it—it’s all about taking it slow, sunbathing in the shade of mango trees, watching the toucans fly between the palms, and enjoying the refreshing temperatures of the waterfalls outside of town. 

colombia travel itinerary palomino beach

How to get from Tayrona to Palomino

By Bus: A local bus travels between Santa Marta and Palomino, stopping along the way at Tayrona. You can jump on this bus just outside the national park entrance (just wave down the driver). The ticket price is 8,000-10,000 COP (1.85 – 2.30 USD)

Please note: There is one hour of walking from the end of the trail to the Tayrona National Park entrance. Skip this and take a motorbike taxi for 5,000 COP (1.15 USD).

colombia itinerary how to get around

Where to stay in Palomino

The beaches in Palomino aren’t great for swimming, so we recommend finding accommodation with a pool to cool down in. Choose somewhere like Casa del Pavo Real (only a 5-minute walk from the ocean).  See all hotels in Palomino, Colombia .

Hotels in Palomino 😴

Casa del Pavo Real

Day 16: Palomino

Head to the main Palomino beach to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Caribbean coast. There’s plenty of space to sunbathe under the shade of the palm trees, and we recommend buying yourself a freshly squeezed fruit juice from one of the many beach shacks.

colombia itinerary palomino travel

If you want a bit more action, head across the river to the next beach where you can book a surf lesson. 

colombia itinerary surf palomino

In the afternoon, enjoy Palomino’s most famous activity: tubing! This is an absolute must-do on any Colombia itinerary. Arrange a tour in town (or with your hotel), and you’ll be dropped at the river with a large inflatable tube. From here, you’ll spend a few hours floating down the river. It’s the perfect thing to do with friends and a great way to get a different perspective of Palomino from the river.

Read: Best things to do in Palomino

palomino Tubing

Day 17: Palomino

A top thing to do in Palomino is to visit one of the many dog shelters. Sadly, stray dogs are everywhere in Colombia, and many kind people are working hard to rescue and rehabilitate them. We did a tour with Dog Shelter Palomino, where we did a river walk with rope swings, enjoyed a picnic, and cuddled all the amazing dogs. It was such a lovely experience! 

Book your tour on their Instagram

Tip: Still got some time in Palomino? A 30-minute bus ride away, discover the incredible Quebrada Valencia Falls—the perfect place for a refreshing dip! 

colombia itinerary dog shelter palomino

Day 18: Palomino to Cartagena

After a relaxing few days on the coast, it’s time to head back to city life. This time, head for the colorful Cartagena, a city unlike any other you’ll find in Colombia. Discover a place where every house is painted in the brightest colors, and street sellers wander with tropical fruit baskets. 

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

The distance between Palomino and Cartagena is not that long in itself (just under 6 hours). However, the transport links can be a little strange, and with buses, you’ll generally need to change in Santa Marta. 

colombia itinerary cartagena travel tips

How to get from Palomino to Cartagena

By Bus: 7-9 hours with a change in Santa Marta (no need to prebook in advance). To get to Santa Marta, you’ll need to take the local bus, which takes 1.5 hours. Once you’re in Santa Marta, head for the central bus station. Buses leave for Cartagena every half an hour, costing 43,000 COP (10 USD). 

Book a bus in Colombia

colombia itinerary Getsemani cartagena car

Where to stay in Cartagena

The old town is the most charming area (within the walled city). You’ll also find the Getsemani neighborhood next door, which is a little cheaper and still convenient for seeing everything in Cartagena. Find your hotel in Cartagena here .

Hotels in Cartagena 😴

Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio

Day 19: Cartagena

Cartagena showcases city life unlike any other place on your Colombia 3-week itinerary. It’s not got the urban feel of cities like Bogota and Medellin. Instead, you’ll find tropical vibes and beautiful bright colonial buildings. Everywhere you look, there’s color; look out for the ladies carrying fruit on their heads and wearing vibrant dresses.

colombia travel guide salt in our hair cartagena fruit lady

Spend your first full day in Cartagena exploring the different neighborhoods, from the colonial houses of the walled city to the street art of Getsemani. After a day of wandering, make sure to also visit the famous Cafe Havana in Getsemani, where you can enjoy an authentic salsa dancing experience. 

Read: 10 best things to do in Cartagena

streets Getsemani cartagena colombia

Day 20: Cartagena  

On your penultimate day in Colombia, book a boat tour and discover the Baru Islands, a group of islands that lie just off the coast of Cartagena. You’ll find white sandy beaches and beautiful blue water. Plus, it’s a local favorite, so there’s a buzz that’s hard to beat, with beach bars playing music and serving cocktails.

colombia itinerary cartagena Playa Blanca

As you return to Cartagena by boat (45 minutes), you’ll also have exceptional views of the Cartegena skyline, bathed in sunset colors. It’s a beautiful way to end your time in this incredible country. 

Book your Baru Islands tour

colombia travel itinerary cartagena Playa Blanca

Tip: If you want an authentic Caribbean island experience, choose the Rosario Islands instead. This group of 28 islands is 1-hour boat ride from the city and is home to the most pristine beaches and fantastic snorkeling. 

colombia itinerary cartagena best beach

Day 21: Cartagena (Departure)

On the final day of your Colombia itinerary, it’s time to say goodbye to this vibrant country. 

Cartagena is a great destination to leave from, as it’s a top-rated holiday destination for Americans, so there are plenty of flight options to the USA. The airport (Rafael Nunez) also has direct flights to bigger cities like Bogota and Medellin . 

romantic city cartagena colombia travel itinerary

How to Visit Colombia in 3 Weeks

Whether you’re backpacking in Colombia or choosing a more upscale experience, there’s something for everyone, and it would be easy to carry on exploring for months! The country is enormous, but 3 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to see some of the main destinations in Colombia. This Colombia itinerary includes all the best activities, places, and transport options to make your trip one to remember.

Tip: If you want a more relaxed backpacking trip in Colombia, you can eliminate Tatacoa, Minca, or Palomino from your itinerary.

medellin colombia travel tips salt in our hair

Getting to Colombia

There are a few international airports in Colombia. You can fly to the USA from Cartagena airport, and from Bogota and Medellin, you can find direct flights worldwide. The best flights arrive at El Dorado Aiport (Bogota), where your Colombia itinerary starts. 

Tip: you can also cross borders from Panama or Ecuador if you’re already traveling in those countries. 

Getting Around Colombia

Traveling by local bus in Colombia is the cheapest way to get around. However, the country is enormous, and the distances can be very far between destinations on your Colombia itinerary. Because of this, we recommend taking overnight buses, so you don’t miss out on valuable sightseeing days. Plus, you’ll save on a night’s accommodation—win-win!

Book your bus in Colombia

bus tatacoa desert

By Plane: 

Because of the long distances, many people opt to fly between cities. However, tickets can be expensive, and once you’ve added the luggage cost, it can seem pretty unaffordable. If you’re short on time, though, it’s one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to travel. For more remote destinations like Tatacoa Desert and Minca, you’ll need to fly to the closest airports (normally about a 1-2 hour bus/taxi ride away).

Book your flight in Colombia

how to get around colombia itinerary

By Organized Tour

For ease of travel, book an organized tour to take you to various destinations on your Colombia itinerary. These types of tours will typically include return transportation (usually in a shared bus), as well as a guide to teach you more about each place. Whether it’s a day tour to the Baru Islands or a 4-day walking to the lost city (Minca), there is something to fit every type of traveler. 

colombia itinerary Piedra del Peñol guatape

Our Favorite Colombia Accommodations

There are so many fantastic places to stay in Colombia, whether it’s hammocks under the stars of the Caribbean Coast, a treehouse in the mountains, or a hotel with a rooftop pool among the skyscrapers of the big city. Below are our favorites for each destination on this Colombia 3-week itinerary.

  • Bogota: Botanico Hostel , Selina La Candelaria
  • Tatacoa Desert: Mana Star Hotel , El Penon de Constantino , Star Eco Hotel (Villavieja)
  • Salento: Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel , Terrazas de Salento , Montana Glamping , Hotel Terasu Salento
  • Medellin: Los Patios Hostel , Range Boutique Hostel , Nomanda Hotel , Sites Hotel
  • Minca: Siembra Boutique Hostel , Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge , Hostel Sierra
  • Tayrona: Eco Lodge Chayrama , Ecohabs Bamboo
  • Palomino: Casa del Pavo Real , Reserva Natural El Matuy
  • Cartagena: Sofitel Santa Clara , Republica Hostel Cartagena

colombia itinerary hostel

How Much Does 3 Weeks in Colombia Cost?

Colombia is known as a cheap destination to travel in, especially for food, accommodation, and activities. Transport can be a little more expensive because of the long distances and the need to take flights between a few locations on this Colombia itinerary. However, generally, it’s excellent for those who are backpacking in Colombia on a budget.

Costs of Traveling in Colombia

Travel on a budget in Colombia, from $150 − $1040 USD weekly per person, mid-range $570 − $1180 USD, and high-end from $1140 − $2060 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

  • Hotels: $15 − $250 USD Check available hotels
  • Hostels: $8 − $100 USD Check available hostels
  • Transport: $3 − $80 USD Book public transport
  • Food: $3 − $20 USD
  • Activities: $5 − $15 USD See tickets & tours
  • Sim: $1 − $3 USD Get an eSIM or SIM here
  • Travel Insurance: $2 − $6 USD Get Travel Insurance

Comuna 13 medellin

Best Time to Visit Colombia

The driest months to travel with this Colombia itinerary are December – March. This is the best time to visit most destinations. Outside of these months can be stormy. However, it’s still a good time to visit, and the prices will be much lower.

We also recommend avoiding the month of December for places like Tayrona National Park , as it gets very popular with locals on holiday and may be busy. 

hike cocora valley salento colombia itinerary

Do I need a Visa for 3 Weeks in Colombia? 

Most passport holders do not need a visa to enter Colombia for a stay of fewer than 90 days. However, you will need a valid passport and may need to show evidence of a return or onward journey.

Is Colombia Safe?

Colombia has a reputation for being unsafe, mainly because of drug cartels, gangs, and guerilla warfare. Its history has been turbulent. However, in general, things have been looking up in recent years. We had a very positive experience and always felt safe. However, as with all destinations, always exercise caution. For example, stick to safe neighborhoods, don’t walk down dark streets at night, and keep anything valuable locked up at your hotel.

Learn more about travel safety

things to do palomino dog shelter

Travel Insurance for Backpacking in Colombia

You might only be traveling in Colombia for 3 weeks, but we recommend purchasing single trip insurance to protect against any unforeseen circumstances. For example, lost baggage, phone theft, or a motorbike accident.

Travel Insurance Don't forget a travel insurance for your Colombia trip! Heymondo covers medical emergencies, theft, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, and more, with 24/7 worldwide assistance and medical chat. As a Salt in our Hair reader, we've got you 5% off! Check Heymondo here

If you’re backpacking in Colombia, taking out travel insurance is particularly important, as you’ll likely want to participate in group activities like surfing, mountain trekking, or horseriding.

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

What to Pack for a 3-Week Colombia Itinerary

Depending on the time of year you visit, you may have different weather when backpacking in Colombia. Especially during the nights in the mountains or desert, temperatures can drop, so make sure to always have extra layers with you.

Colombia Packing List

  • Take layers – Layers of clothing are essential to add or remove items, especially in mountainous destinations like Minca, when the temperatures can drop in the evening.
  • Quick-dry clothing – Depending on when you visit, you may have a little rain during your trip to Colombia. Take clothing made of fabrics that dry quickly because items take very long to dry due to the tropical, humid weather.
  • Microfiber towel – Like quick-dry clothing, it’s beneficial to take microfiber towels as they dry much faster and are incredibly lightweight.
  • Waterproof backpack – Keep your valuables dry in a waterproof backpack or a rain cover that comes with your bag. 
  • Raincoat – The final item for rain is a waterproof jacket/raincoat. Some can also be easily folded into a package that you can take anywhere.
  • Hat – Always take a hat/cap to protect you against that beautiful Colombian sunshine
  • Long socks & trousers – You might also want to take long socks & trousers for some hikes, night walks, or evenings outside to cover your legs and prevent mosquito bites.
  • Suitable footwear – Good walking shoes/sneakers/sandals are a must. Hikes can be somewhat challenging with muddy or rocky paths. It’s not wise to wear flip-flops here. 
  • Earplugs – Your nights can be disturbed by animal sounds, music, or the sound of the waves when sleeping in your hammock/tent in Colombia. Earplugs save you from having a sleepless night! 
  • Camera – Capture memories of your 3 weeks in Colombia with a waterproof camera like a GoPro, or get good protection gear for your camera so you won’t have problems if it rains unexpectedly. 
  • Power bank – For long hikes, power outages, or moments in the jungle, it’s helpful to have a power bank to recharge your phone ( get one here ).

things to do minca colombia hiking

Packing Sustainable Items

  • Insect repellent – Bring an insect repellent but get a non-toxic product to prevent harming nature or animals.
  • Sunscreen – An obvious addition to repellent is also sunscreen. We recommend a product without toxic ingredients, so it doesn’t harm the environment. ( Read about alternative sunscreens here )
  • Refillable water bottle/purifier – Water is drinkable from the tap in most places in Colombia, except on the coast and in less developed areas. Bring a reusable water bottle with you, which will save you from buying single-use plastic bottles; refill instead!
  • Stainless steel straw – Coconuts and fresh fruit juice are often sold on Colombia’s streets. Carry a stainless steel straw with you and avoid plastic or single-use straws. Top tip: With stainless steel, you can also scrape out the delicious inside of the coconut.

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10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia

10 best things to do in colombia in 2024, 8 best things to do in minca, colombia.

Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.

I’ve been using several of your blog posts about Colombia for a couple weeks now. I must say that it is genuinely the best layout I could have imagined to get information and recommandation for my 3-week trip coming up. Wonderful job ! :)

Ah thank you so so much Raphaelle! Truly appreciate that you’re taking the time to let us know. That’s super motivating to us ♥️

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  • November 18, 2020
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4 Epic 1-Month South America Backpacking Itineraries

What's the best way to spend one month in south america.

South America is a big place, so you won’t be able to see every country in one month. However, a month is still a reasonable amount of time to see two or three countries and the very best sights the continent has to offer.

You have so many options that there isn’t only one best route through South America that is suitable for all. It all depends on your budget and the things you would like to see and do whilst there.

Here are the four itineraries outlined in this post that will be suitable for almost every type of traveller:

South America Backpacking Itineraries - Torres Del Paine National Park

#1 The Gringo Trail - 1-Month South America Itinerary For Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia


Here is a full breakdown of this 1-month South America itinerary that covers Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia:

  • Day 1-3 – Quito
  • Day 4-5  – Cotopaxi Secret Garden
  • Day 6 – Quilotoa
  • Day 7-9  – Baños
  • Day 10-11 – Lima
  • Day 12-13 – Paracas National Park
  • Day 14-15 – Huacachina Oasis
  • Day 16 – 20 – Cusco and Machu Picchu
  • Day 21 – 23 – La Paz
  • Day 24-26 – Amazon Tour 
  • Day 27 – 30 – Uyuni / Salt Flats Tour
  • Day 31 – La Paz


+  ticks off some of the best sights in South America including Machu Picchu and the Salt Flats

+ the second cheapest itinerary option on the list and can be done on a budget if needed

+ follows a well established backpacker route so you’ll meet lot’s of people along the way

– misses out on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

the streets of Quito, Ecuador

Day 1-9 - Ecuador

Day 1-3 - quito.

Quito sits at a lofty 2800m above sea level so your first day should be taken easy to see how you adjust to the altitude.

For your second and third day here, you have lots of options for things to do, including visiting the equator, climbing to the top of the city’s famous cathedral, or your first volcano trek. 

I would personally recommend a walking tour and a visit to the cathedral on your second day as you still might be adjusting to the change in altitude. 

On your third, why not explore outside of the city. Quito is surrounded by smaller towns  such as Otavalo or Mindo  which have lot of great activities. 

Follow the links below if you are looking for more information on Ecuador’s capital:

  • Quito City Guide & 3-Day Itinerary
  • The 19 Best Things To Do In Quito For Backpackers

statue in Quito, Ecuador

Day 4-5 - Cotopaxi National Park

From Quito, you can take a short mini-bus to Cotopaxi Secret Garden Hostel. 

This is one of the best hostels in the whole of South America for many reasons. The food here is incredible and it’s all included within the price. You also get two free guided treks into the park if you stay with them. 

The main reason why this hostel is so great though is it’s situated in the middle of the park and you’ll gave one of the best views of the Cotopaxi Volcano.

Using the hostel as a base, you can then plan your own treks within the park or summit Cotopaxi Volcano if you’re brave enough.

For more information on how to visit Cotopaxi National Park, the post below has outlines of 4 ways to do it:

  • 4 Great Ways To Visit Cotopaxi National Park

snow-capped mountains in cotopaxi

Day 6 - Quilotoa

The next town to visit after Cotopaxi is Quilotoa and one of the most impressive sights in Ecuador – the Quilotoa Crater. 

The Cotopaxi Secret Garden team provide a shuttle bus that will take you to the town of Latacunga . From there you will need to take a local bus to Quilotoa which should take roughly 2 hours.

You only need 1 day here as there’s only one thing to do. Hike around the edge of the this extinct volcano and marvel at the jaw dropping scenery.

This scenic trail circles the crater’s edge and continuously offers up of breathtaking panoramas. The trail takes 4-5 hours to complete and allows hikers to witness the beauty of rural Ecuador on one side and the ever-changing turquoise shades of the waters on the other.

All you need to know about visiting the crater in a single day can be found in the post linked below:

  • How To Visit Quilotoa Crater For The Day

Day 7-9 - Baños

Your final stop in Ecuador is the adventure paradise of of Baños.

Here you can ride bikes along the route of waterfalls and visit the powerful Pailon del Diablo waterfall, trek up to the ‘Swing at the End of the World’ to see the incredible Tungurahua Volcano, and go white-water rafting along the Rio Verde.

The town is also fuelled by the thermal activity from the surrounding volcanoes, so a visit to the thermal baths here is always a must. 

Day 9 will need to be used as a travel day to get from Baños to Guayaquil (8 hour journey). From here you can then fly to Lima on the morning of day 10. 

For more on the backpackers favourite Baños, head to the post below:

  • Baños Guide & 4-Day Itinerary

ruta Itinerary

To get to Peru from Ecuador, you’ll need to take the bus from Banos to Guayaquil. From here, you take 2 hour flight to Lima which should cost between $100-150. 

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Day 10-20 - Peru

Day 10-11 - lima.

Once in Lima, take a day to rest after a full day of travelling on day 9.  There isn’t much for backpackers here and cities like Cusco have much more going on.  So, if you want to save a day here then move on.

If you do decide to stay, make sure you check out Miraflores and Barranco . These are the two best areas in Lima. 

Walk along the seafront in Miraflores at sunset for some incredible scenes. You can watch surfers and paragliders as the sun sets over the Pacific ocean.

In Barranco, find a whole in the wall diner to try ceviche and head to any of the old colonial-style mansions that have now been turned into bars and restaurants. I recommend Ayahuaca bar for one of the best Pisco Sours in Lima. 

If you decide to stay in Lima for the full two days, then check out the city guide for everything you need to know:

  • Is Lima Worth Visiting? The Complete Backpacker Guide To Lima

Lima Guide

Day 12-13 - Paracas

Paracas National Park is an untouched natural desert perfect for exploration and adventure.

You can navigate the park by tour, bicycle, ATV, or dune buggy . Whatever mode of transport you choose, make sure you are in the park as the sun is going down for some epic sunset views.

On your second day in Paracas, book a tour to the Ballestas Islands (also known as the Poor Mans Galapagos). This is the perfect tour for wildlife lovers as the islands are full of sea lions, penguins and even dolphins if you are lucky.

Check out the complete backpacker guide to Paracas for more info:

  • Paracas City Guide & 2 Day Itinerary 

Biking in Paracas National Reserve

Day 14-15 - Huacachina

Huacachina is a town geared more towards the adventure backpackers.

One day here is enough. Book onto a dune buggy tour and you’ll tick off two of the best activities to do here. You’ll fly across the desert in buggies and go sandboarding down the tallest sand dunes.

After your tour, head to the top of one of the dunes around the oasis to experience one of the best sunsets in Peru. 

If you’re looking to complete all of Huacachina in one day then all you need now is a night out. For a wild party then make sure you check out the famous Wild Rover backpacker hostel.

For more information on this unique place, head to the link below:

  • Huacachina Backpacker Guide & 2-Day Itinerary

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Joe from Shall We Go Home Travel on the boardwalks behind Perito Moreno Glacier

This could be you, living your dream trip in Patagonia.

Day 16-20 - Cusco / Machu Picchu

You have two options to get to Cusco: flight or overnight bus.

The bus is around 17 hours so I would personally recommend flying. Flights from the town of Ica cost under $100 and the flight time is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Once in Cusco you one day to explore the city and one day to explore its surroundings before preparing to visit Machu Picchu. 

On Day 17, I would recommend you take a day trip out of the city to see the beautiful Andean countryside. You can visit the popular Rainbow Mountain or one of the many other natural wonders in the Sacred Valley. 

On Day 18, take the train or bus to the town of Aguas Calientes. This is the closest town to Machu Picchu. Stay here overnight and then you can trek up the 1600 steps to Machu Picchu in the morning. Then on day 20 you can return to Cusco. These 3 days require so admin, so head to this post to see how to do it properly.

If you think a trip to Rainbow Mountain is for you, then head to the full guide below so you know what to expect:

  • Is Rainbow Mountain Worth It? A Guide To Peru’s Best Trek

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Day 21-31 - Bolivia

Day 21-23 - la paz.

Once you reach La Paz you have an endless list of activities to choose from such as biking down Death Road , trekking in the ‘Valley of the Moon’, or climbing Huayna Potosi (known as the easiest 6000m mountain to climb in the world).

Aside from all the adventure activities, the city is also an incredible place to explore. When wandering around you will see the impressive cable cars and their lines stretching out to every corner of La Paz.

Some routes will go as high as 4,000m (13,000 ft) above sea level, and it’s a great see more of La Paz and get incredible views of the city.

2 days is a good amount of time to cover it all. I recommend riding down Death Road one day and then using the other day to explore in the city.

Head to the complete La Paz backpacking guide to help you plan further:

  • The 13 Best Things To Do In La Paz As A Backpacker

Joe and Alex waving whilst sitting atop a cliff

Day 24-26 - The Amazon

Visiting the Amazon in Bolivia is much cheaper and easier compared to other countries in South America. You can fly from La Paz to the town of Rurrenabaque , which is where most Amazon tours embark.

The Pampas tour is the most popular among backpackers as you see much more wildlife.

You will spend 2 days winding through the tributaries of the Amazon on a longboat searching for c aimans, anacondas, and exotic birds . You can even go swimming with pink river dolphins!

This is one of the best tours in Bolivia and it costs a fraction of the price compared to countries like Brazil or Colombia. It was one of the best experiences I had whilst backpacking in South America, and I highly recommend it.

The complete guide to booking an amazon tour in Bolivia can be found here:

  • How To Visit The Amazon In Bolivia

birdseye view of the Amazon, Bolivia

Day 27-30 - Uyuni Salt Flats

The three-day/two-night salt flat tour will take you exploring on one of the most surreal landscapes in the world.

The first day of the tour is spent on the actual salt flat taking the popular perspective and reflection photos for the gram. Your tour guide will bring some funny objects for you to take your shots with but why not be original and bring your own.

On the second day, the tour heads out across the high-altitude desert known as the Altiplano to see even wilder landscapes such as volcanoes, geysers, and beautiful high-altitude lakes full of flamingos.

This is one of best tours in the whole of South America and shouldn’t be missed.

For more on the Uyuni Salt Flat Tour including the best tours companies and what to pack, head to the post below:

  • The Ultimate Guide To The Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

So, in one month you’ve seen Machu Pichu – a natural wonder of the world, the Amazon, the Salt Flat and countless volcanoes, mountains and other unique landscapes. What a way to spend a month in South America!

If you would like this 1-month itinerary in an easy-to-read, downloadable, PDF format, just pop your email in the form below:

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colombia travel itinerary 1 month

#2 The Inca Trail - 1-Month South America Itinerary For Peru, Bolivia And North Argentina

Here is a complete breakdown of this 1-month South America itinerary that covers Peru, Bolivia and Argentina:

  • Day 1 – Lima
  • Day 2-5 – Cusco
  • Day 6-8 – La Paz
  • Day 9-11 – Amazon Tour
  • Day 12 –  Cochabamba
  • Day 13-14 – Torotoro National Park
  • Day 15 – 17 – Sucre
  • Day 18 – 21 – Uyuni / Salt Flats Tour
  • Day 22-23 – Tupiza
  • Day 24-27 – Humahuaca, Tilcara and Purmamarca
  • Day 28-29  – Salta
  • Day 30 – Buenos Aires

+ the cheapest option out of all the itineraries as Bolivia and the north of Argentina are less touristy. You can enjoy yourself on $30 a day in these parts.

+ off the beaten track. Not many travellers come to these parts of the country so you will be getting an authentic experience. 

– fewer big sights and more laid-back towns with less travellers so may not be for everyone, especially solo travellers looking to meet other people

car on the salt flats

Day 1-11 - Peru And Bolivia

Follow a similar itinerary to the ‘Gringo Trail’ itinerary to tick off Machu Pichu and get started in Bolivia with La Paz and the Amazon. 

After the Amazon, instead of travelling straight down to Uyuni, you’ll head east in Bolivia to experience the lowlands and get off the beaten track. 

Day 12-23 - Bolivia

Day 12 - cochabamba.

Cochabamba is just a stop over town before your big adventure in Torotoro National Park. 

Unfortunately, the journey times in Bolivia mean that a full day is taken up on buses here, but you can always take the overnight bus or fly if you want to save time. 

A flight from Rurrenabaque to Cochabamba (with a connection in La Paz) is best here to save a big journey. Once you arrive, it’s time to get yourself ready for a trip to one of Bolivia’s best national parks the next day. 

For more on Cochabamba including the best hostels to stay in, click the link below:

  • The Best Things To Do In Cochabamba 

Day 13-14 - Torotoro National Park

Torotoro National Park is famous for its incredibly well-preserved fossils and dinosaur footprints, towering canyons, surreal rock formations and sprawling network of underground caves. This national park has something for nature lovers and natural history nerds alike.

It’s an additional 4-5-hour journey from Cochabamba to Torotoro though so it’s best to stay a couple of nights.

Once here, you can book guided tours into the park and visit the many natural wonders on offer. 

The full guide to visiting Torotoro National Park can be found here:

  • How To Visit Torotoro National Park 


Day 15-17 - Sucre

Known as Bolivia’s ‘White City’, the beautiful colonial-era architecture of Sucre and its warm climate make it a wonderful place to visit.

Take two of your days here to enjoy the artisan cafes, amazing chocolate shops and beautiful views of the colonial-era buildings and terracotta rooftops . It’s also the perfect place for a night out with lots of lively bars catering for the university student population.

We’ve turned this part of this one month Bolivia itinerary into an extended stay because Sucre is one of the best and cheapest places in South America for language schools.

With group classes costing on average $5 and private lessons c.$8, many people end up extending their stay in Sucre for longer to continue learning.

Me Gusta Spanish School have a variety of classes on offer and a group class (20 hours) for one-week costs 700BOB

Head to the city guide below for more information:

  • The Best Things To Do In Sucre, Bolivia 

Sucre Bolivia

Day 18-21 - Uyuni / Salt Flats Tour

Similar to the previous itinerary, spend one day in Uyuni and use the day to relax and book onto a Salt Flats tour.

The two night/three day tour usually drops you at the Chilean border on the morning of day three.  However, on the last day you can ask to return to Uyuni with the jeep.  This allows you to travel to Tupiza the next day and then into Argentina after that. 

If you want to save time here and don’t fancy the long journey on the last day returning to Uyuni then a 1 day tour might be best for you:

  • Uyuni Salt Flats Tour: 1-Day vs 3-Days

Day 22-23 - Tupiza

Known as the wild west of Bolivia, this small town is famous for is incredible red coloured cliffs and canyons which are free to explore.

Tupiza is 4 hours from Uyuni and an hour a way from the Argentinian border so it’s the perfect town to spend a night or two in before getting ready to cross the border.

Use one of your days to trek into mountains behind the town and explore the winding paths and canyons.

Then from Tupiza, it’s a 1-hour journey to the border at Villazon, and once you’ve crossed the border, it’s another short journey to the first town you will want to check out in Argentina – Humahuaca .

For more on Tupiza, check out our guides below:

  • Tupiza Guide & Best Things To Do

Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.

It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.

Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

backpacking in bolivia

Day 23-30 - North Argentina

Day 24-27 - humahuaca, tilcara and pumamarca.

Time to start you final adventure on this 1-month itinerary through Northern Argentina.

These tiny towns are all found along Route 40, which is one of the most scenic routes in the world , perfect for travelling along. Each town is a short bus ride away (1-2 hours) so you only need a day in each to see everything. 

Along the way, you will see two separate Rainbow Mountains and fall in love with the small, laid-back towns in the region.

For more information on each of these towns in the north of Argentina, head to the posts below:

  • How To Visit El Hornocal In Humahuaca
  • Humahuaca vs Pumamarca: Which Rainbow Mountain Is Best?
  • Tilcara Guide & Best Things To Do

mountains, south america

Day 27-29 - Salta

Once you reach Salta , you can take a couple of days to enjoy a bigger city and find a great restaurant to have some of what Argentina does best – steak and wine.

A trip out to a vineyard for some wine tasting is another great shout, especially as we are near the end of your month in South America. Cafayate   is the second best wine region in Argentina after Mendoza and they have some of the best wines in the world. 

To see an extended version of this north Argentina itinerary in greater detail, check out our post below:

  • The Essential North Argentina Backpacking Itinerary & Route

Day 30 - Buenos Aires

Finish up with a one or two days in Buenos Aires before flying home and you are done! One amazing month in South America complete!

Here some great things to do whilst in BA before you fly home:

  • Tango – experience the city’s famous tango dancing and enjoy its delicious cuisine.
  • Visit La Boca – This colourful neighbourhood is known for its vibrant street art, tango shows, and its famous soccer team, Boca Juniors.
  • Take a Boat Tour on the Rio de la Plata – Taking a boat tour of the river is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and get a great view of the skyline.

Exploring Buenos Aires, also known as the ‘Paris of South America’ one of many great reasons to add Argentina to your extended backpacking trip. For more great reasons, head to the post below:

  • Is Argentina Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit In 2023

Vineyards In Mendoza (Argentina)

#3 The Nature Lover - 1-Month South America Itinerary for Chile And Argentina

Here is the complete breakdown for this 1-month South America itinerary that covers Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia:

  • Day 1-2 – Santiago
  • Day 3-5 – Atacama desert tour
  • Day 6 – Puerto Natales
  • Day 7-11  – Torres Del Paine W Trek
  • Day 12  – Puerto Natales
  • Day 13-14 – El Calafate
  • Day 15  – 20 – El Chalten
  • Day 21 – 26  – Bariloche
  • Day 27-30  – Buenos Aires

+ See the best of Patagonia which is one of the most beautiful regions in the world 

+ Includes two of the best treks in the world – Torres Del Paine in Chile and Laguna De Los Tres in Argentina

– most expensive itinerary with several flights

– requires more forward planning and you will need to book this itinerary a few months in advance, especially if you wish to do it in summer (Dec-Feb) as it’s the busiest tourist season

Day 1-12 - Chile

Day 1-2 - santiago.

Once you land in Santiago , you have one full day to explore Chile’s capital.

The first thing to do is join a free walking tour. I’d recommend Strawberry Walking Tours .

They take you to several places in the city including Santa Lucia Hill to discover where Santiago’s history began, and through the Plaza de Armas to enjoy cosmopolitan Santiago.

In the evening, head up to the top of the Sky Costerna , Santiago’s tallest building, to find the best views of the city.

Want to see three countries instead of two? Extend your trip to a month and you will have more than enough time. See the post below for how to do it:

  • The Ideal 1-Month Backpacking Itinerary For Peru, Bolivia & Chile

south america backpacking guide

Day 3-5 - Atacama

Although the Atacama Desert is north of Santiago, it fits nicely into this itinerary and adds to the long list of incredible natural wonders you will see.

You can rent a jeep and drive around the desert for two days visiting the sinkholes, geysers, volcanoes, and high-altitude lakes.

At night, it’s the perfect place for a stargazing tour as the light pollution in the desert is minimal.  This was one of the best tours I did in South America and I recommend it to everyone who’s going to Atacama! Check it out below!

Torres Del Paine National Park

Day 6 - Puerto Natales

You will need to take a flight back to Santiago and then down to Puerto Natales to start the Patagonian part of this one-month itinerary. Puerto Natales is the closest town to Torres Del Paine National Park.

Take one day here to get your bearings, buy any last-minute gear for hiking, and prepare for the next 5 days of hiking on the W-trek route.

In Puerto Natales, I recommend staying at the Singing Lamb Hostel . They have a huge lounge area with sofas and tables, and the shared dorms had comfortable beds.

Day 7-11 - Torres Del Paine National Park

Time to end your time in Chile with one of the best multi-day treks in the world – the W-trek in Torres Del Paine National Park.

This 5-day self-guided trek takes you in the shape of a W – in, out, and around the beautiful Cordillera Paine mountain range.

The trek is relatively easy with the first two days taking you on an easy 3–4-hour hike past Lago Grey up to the stunning Grey Glacier. Then on the final day, you will trek up to the famous towers of Torres Del Paine.

A lot of people wake up at 3AM to start trekking to reach the towers for sunrise. If the weather is good then it is definitely worth it, as the three towers are lit up perfectly by the morning sun.

For more on this incredible place and why it’s a must-visit, head to the post below:

  • Is Torres Del Paine Worth Visiting? 12 Great Reasons To Visit Chilean Patagonia

Day 12 - Puerto Natales

After 5 days in the Patagonian wilderness, you will need to recover.

Take one final day in Puerto Natales to recuperate before moving on to Argentina the next morning. 

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate (Argentina)

Day 13-30 - Argentina

Day 13-14 - el calafate.

You are a 5-hour bus and border crossing away from Argentina and the town of El Calafate.

Take an early morning bus from Puerto Natales so you arrive early afternoon. From here you explore the town and plan your visit to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares  and the epic Perito Moreno Glacier.

You can take in the views of this huge chunk of ice from the visitor centre or take a boat to get a up close and personal. If you are lucky, you may catch a chunk of ice falling off and crashing into the water below.

To see some alternative itineraries for this region, head to the post below:

  • How Many Days Do You Need For El Calafate and El Chalten? 3 Great Itineraries For Every Traveller

glacier in south America

Day 15-20- El Chalten

El Chalten is known as the “Trekking Capital of Argentina”. You will have your pick of hikes from single day to multi-day options that take you into the beautiful Patagonian wilderness and Glacier National Park. 

One of the most iconic single day hikes is the Laguna de los Tres hike, popular for the sublime panoramic views it offers of Glaciar de Los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy. You can hike out-and-back to Laguna de Los Tres from El Chaltén in one day, but a popular option is to camp overnight near the lagoon and witness a fantastic sunrise the following morning.

The Laguna de los Tres trek is one of the best in Argentina as well as South America, and if you can only do one single day hike in Argentina’s Patagonia, this should be it.

If you are interested in spending more time in Chile and Argentina, check out the post below:

  • The Essential 1-Month Chile And Argentina Itinerary

Do You want Cheap Data Anywhere In South America?

Airalo is my favourite eSIM for travelling around South America. Here’s why:

  • Save Money – No more high roaming bills with access to the best eSIMs (digital SIM cards) for every country in South America!
  • Easy – No more stress trying to buy a physical SIM. You can download and install a data pack and get connected as soon as you land. 

Day 21-26- Bariloche

Nestled amidst the picturesque Andes Mountains, Bariloche offers a stunning display of natural beauty. From snow-capped peaks to crystal-clear lakes and lush forests , the landscape is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Surrounding the town are several must-visit spots that provide panoramic views of the region’s mountains, lake and forests, making it a favourite among photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Bariloche serves as a gateway to the Nahuel Huapi National Park , a vast protected area brimming with diverse flora and fauna. The park is perfect for trekking, birdwatching, and exploring the pristine wilderness. Don’t miss the chance to visit the array of islands within the Nahuel Huapi Lake, accessible by boat excursions.

For more on why this is such a fantastic place to visit and spend time in, head to the post below:

  • Is Bariloche Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit Argentina’s Lake District

Day 27-30 - Buenos Aires

You are nearly at the end of this one-month South America itinerary but there’s still so much fun to be had. 

Now it’s time for 3 days in one of the best capitals on the continent.  Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America,” as it feels like your visiting a European capital.

Here some great things to do whilst in BA:

See how to spend 3-days in Buenos Aires with the fully planned itinerary in the post below:

  • How Many Days Do You Need In Buenos Aires? The Ideal 3-Day Itinerary

lakes south america

#4 The Sun, Surf And Party Chaser - 1-Month South America Itinerary For Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Here is the complete breakdown for this 1-month South America itinerary that covers the coast of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru:

  • Day 1-2 – Bogota
  • Day 3-5 – Santa Marta
  • Day 6-8 – Palomino
  • Day 9-10  – Cartagena
  • Day 11-13 – San Bernardo Islands
  • Day 14 – Bogota
  • Day 15-21  – Montanita
  • Day 22-29  – Mancora
  • Day 30 – Lima

+ follows the Caribbean and Pacific coastline so you’ll enjoy consistent sun

+ You stay longer in less places to this itinerary is more relaxed

+ you hit two of the best surf and party towns in South America

– you won’t be many of the natural wonders of the continent such as Machu Picchu or the Salt Flats 

south america, flag in the wind

Day 1-14 - Colombia

Day 1-2 - bogota.

Bogata is a hub for international flights from the US and Europe and most stop here before connecting to other South America countries. So it makes sense to start your South America journey here.

However, you can only spend one day in the capital before moving on. There isn’t much here for backpackers and the rest of Colombia is much more interesting so best to get moving. You only have six weeks in South America, so you will have to miss every now and then.  

On the day you are here, find a free walking tour to help you explore the city with ease. Beyond Colombia   is my personal favourite and they will give you a good introduction to the city. On top of this they offer a free food tour as well. This is a great deal as you will get fed well and see the highlights of the city.

If you have time in the evening, walk to the top of Cerro Monserrate for an incredible viewpoint of sprawling Bogotá.

See how you can spend a month travelling through Colombia with this epic one month itinerary:

  • The Best One Month Colombia Itinerary: Bogota to Cartagena

Day 3-5 - Santa Marta

From Bogota, you want to take a short 2-hour flight to the Caribbean Coast in the north. You can then use Santa Marta as a base for exploring for the next few days.

Make sure you stay at the Dreamer Hostel. This is one of the best hostels in Colombia and maybe even South America . They allow you to leave your big bags in storage whilst you explore the region.

Spend one day in exploring the cloud forests in Minca .

Minca is a tiny town in the mountains, 30 minutes away from Santa Marta. Here you can find some great coffee and chocolate farm tours that will also let you do tastings, go searching for waterfalls and watch the sunset from one of the many great eco hostels that sit atop the mountain.

On your second day, trek into Tayrona National Park known for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons, rainforest, and rich biodiversity.

You can stay the night on the beach in Tayrona National Park, which is a fun experience, but just make sure you book ahead before trekking all the way as spaces are often limited.

For more detail on how to spend your days in Santa Marta, head to the itinerary post below:

  • How Many Days In Santa Marta? 3 Great Itinerary Options

beats in Tayrona National Park - Colombia

Day 6-8 - Palomino

Palomino is a quiet beach town north of Santa Marta (around 70km away).

It started as an off-the-beaten track town, but has it grown popular in recent years with backpackers. Travellers come here for a few days to enjoy tubing along the jungle rivers or to wander along the endless stretches of empty beach.

Tubing is a fun activity that starts in the jungle foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and ends on the beach in the Caribbean Sea. This can be a relaxing journey or depending on who you go with, it can turn into a party.

If you manage to join a big crew of backpackers, then people will bring alcohol and enjoy floating through the jungle with a few beers as well.

Make sure you have a beach day whilst here too. Palomino beach , with its white sands fringed with huge palms trees, is empty most of the time and you can enjoy peaceful walks up and down it without coming across another person.

Palomino is one of my favourite beaches in South America, for more, head to the list post below:

  • The Best Party Beaches In South America

Day 9-13 - Cartagena / San Bernardo Islands

Take a couple of days in Cartagena to rest up before embarking on an epic trip to the San Bernardo Islands. 

The San Bernardo Islands in Colombia are a tropical paradise that’s definitely worth visiting. With their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, they offer an idyllic escape for travelers seeking relaxation and adventure.

One highlight is the unique hostel ‘Casa en el Agua,’ located on a secluded island.

This floating hostel provides an unparalleled experience, allowing you to sleep over the Caribbean Sea, snorkel straight from your room, and soak in stunning sunsets.

For more on Cartagena and why it’s so great:

  • Is Cartagena Worth Visiting? 10 Reasons Not To Miss It!

Day 14 - Bogota

Fly from Cartagena back to Bogota and rest up for a day.

If you want, try a free walking tour and take the cable car up to Cerro Monseratte for great views of the city.

From Bogota, you’ll need to take a morning flight to Guayaquil in the south of Ecuador for the next part of this itinerary. 

colourful street in south america

Day 15-30 - Ecuador and Peru

Day 15-21 – montanita.

Montanita is the surf and party capital of Ecuador.

It draws in travellers and locals alike looking for good swells and beachside dance floors that stay open late into the night.  It’s not all just surfing and boozing though, and the town has a lot more on offer from immersive language schools to tranquil yoga retreats.

Spend a full week here learning to surf, learning some Spanish and partying the nights away!

For more on Montanita, head to the post below:

  • Is Montanita Worth Visiting? 10 Reasons To Visit In 2023

Day 22-29 – Mancora

If there is one word to describe Mancora it would be wild. This beach town is filled with locals, backpackers and other tourists wanting to do two simple things: surf and party.

The hottest places to let loose are the Loki and Wild Rover hostels, but to be honest any of the other backpacker hostels in town which double up as bars and clubs will lead to a wild night.

Once the party is over, it’s time to jump in the ocean and get rid of that hangover.

It’s is a great place for beginners who have never been on a board before, as well as intermediate and advanced surfers, and the continual waves, calm water and warm weather culminate in the perfect conditions for surfing.

For more on why Mancora is such a great place to visit, head to the post below:

  • Is Mancora Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit Peru’s Surf Paradise

surfing in Montanita, Ecuador

Which Is The Best One-Month South America Itinerary?

I personally think the ‘Gringo Trail’ Itinerary is the best one-month South America itinerary on this list.

You visit three countries, see amazing sights in each one and will always be around other travellers. It is also the cheapest option compared to the rest (apart from the ‘Inca Trail’).

Trying to do more than three countries will be difficult and means you will end up rushing and becoming stressed. I’m a firm believer of ‘slow travel’ and having more time in fewer countries.  I would even recommend doing two in a month instead but I understand most people have limited time and want to see as much as possible. 

Check out these month-long itineraries to see whether focussing on one country would work better for you:

  • Ecuador 1 month Itinerary
  • Peru 1 Month Itinerary
  • Bolivia Three Week Itinerary

How Much Does A Month In South America Cost?

For a month backpacking in South America, you should aim to spend around $1500.

Budget travellers will be able to manage a month on around $1000-1200 if they only stick to one or two countries, stay in dorms, and eat mainly at markets.

Flashpackers who prefer smaller dorms (or private rooms) and eating at a restaurant once a day should aim for $1500-2000.

Check out the budget guide linked below to help you plan your spending:

  • How To Budget For A Month In South America

Popular South America Itineraries

If you have more than two-weeks to spare then why not check out our other South America itineraries ranging from three weeks to three months:

  • 5 Expertly Curated Three-Week South America Itineraries
  • How Many Days Do You Need In South America – 6 Great Itineraries That Work For Every Traveller
  • The Comprehensive Six-Week South America Backpacking Itinerary
  • The Perfect 2-Month South America Itinerary For Budget Backpackers
  • The Ideal 3-Month South America Backpacking Itinerary
  • The Perfect 1-Month Peru and Bolivia Itinerary
  • A Flashpacker Five-Week South America Itinerary
  • The 8 Best Digital Nomad Cities In South America
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Joe Bayfield

Hi I'm Joe Bayfield, Bayf for short. I love South America and want people to visit this incredible continent. I’ve travelled through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina and also lived in Lima, Medellin and Buenos Aires. I write detailed South America itineraries to help you plan your next adventure!

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Colombia Itinerary: A Detailed Guide for 10 Days in Colombia

Colombia Itinerary: A Detailed Guide for 10 Days in Colombia

Last Updated on March 7, 2024

Explore the best of Colombia with this 10-day Colombia itinerary compiled by my friends Dorene and Troy from  Travel Life Experiences . 

Colombia has become quite a popular place to travel in recent years because of its own reinvention . Since the end of the 50-year civil war, there is a massive wave of optimism, economic development, and tourism. Now that the country has more political stability, it has opened up a whole new world to travelers.

Those curious enough to venture here will find a gorgeous and diverse country chocked full of beautiful beaches, tropical climates, mountainous areas, and coffee farms.

We spend several months each year living and traveling in Colombia , so this country has become a second home to us. Here is the perfect Colombia Itinerary for those who want to witness and experience its incredible diversity.

colombia itinerary - 10 days in colombia

Table of Contents

Is it Safe to Travel Colombia?

How to get to colombia, explore the candelaria district, book a day tour: bogota breaking borders tour, what to eat and drink in bogota, where to stay in bogota, colombia itinerary day 3-4: cartagena, take a day trip to the islas, where to stay in cartagena, where to stay in tayrona, where to stay in medellin, where to stay in guatapé, how to get to jardín, where to stay in jardín, colombia itinerary day 9: jardín, colombia itinerary day 10: medellin, visa entry to colombia, how to stay connected in colombia, best time to travel colombia, what to pack for colombia, further reading on colombia, colombia itinerary.

This is a common question from most travelers, which is no surprise because of the civil war in the ’80s and ’90s. Since the half-century-long civil war ended, the country has worked hard to improve everyone’s safety. We’ve traveled all around Colombia for the last three years with not one issue or any concern for our safety.

However, Colombia is still fighting the COVID19 pandemic and there have been a series of violent nationwide protests going on since 2009. Not to forget the ongoing guerilla activities, cartel fightings and petty crime. Read my article “I s Colombia Safe to Travel? ” for full details.

There are some things you can do to be prepared. The common saying in Colombia is ‘ No Dar Papaya ’ which literally means don’t give papaya or don’t be a target. This means you should never openly show your valuables (including your cell phone) and keep your bag close to you in crowded areas like buses, metros, busy attractions and even restaurants. 

The most common entry point for travelers is the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia’s capital . El Dorado Airport is served by several non-stop international service, mainly from Europe and the Americas.

Avianca is Colombia’s national airline and the largest carrier to fly there. The cheapest flights from US to Colombia are usually on Avianca. Flights from New York to Bogota are affordable and direct, with airfares as cheap as US$500 return. Flights from Los Angeles to Bogota are only slightly more expensive, at around US$570.

Madrid is usually the main hub if you’re flying from Europe. Direct flights from London to Bogota on Avianca usually cost around US$750 return. Madrid to Bogota flights are slightly cheaper at $700 and are direct too.

colombia itinerary - colombian flag

Colombia Itinerary 10 days

Even with just 10 days in Colombia, you’ll be able to pack in quite a lot and experience the best of the country. In that time frame, you can easily see the major historical attractions, hike through national parks, relax on the beaches, find the thrill of adventure sports, walk through colonial towns and drink lots of coffee while you learn about this country’s transformation.  

Colombia Itinerary Day 1-2: Bogota  

This Colombia itinerary starts in Bogota, the bustling cradle of Colombia. It’s a fascinating city, but it is often misunderstood. It’s gritty, rough around the edges, cool in temperature, but eclectic, artsy, and oh so fascinating. That is why it’s one of our favorite cities for culture, food, and history. Check out our full list of t hings to do in Bogota, Colombia .

Wander through history in the historic area of Bogota, called Candelaria. People watch at Plaza Bolivar , a vast cobblestone plaza surrounded by the important government buildings named after Simon Bolivar, the man who played a crucial role in Colombia’s independence from Spanish rule.

Be awestruck by the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro)  where intricate gold artifacts are on display from the original Tayrona people over 2000 years ago. Wander through the cobblestone streets to find colorful graffiti and take a coffee break in some of the best cafes in the country. If you can’t miss your Starbucks, there are many locations now, and you can also try its Colombian equivalent, Juan Valdez.

Joining a city tour will allow you time to take a cable car up to Mount Montserrate , a hill that rises 3100m and offers the best views of this enormous city. On top is a 17th-century church, as well as restaurants and viewing areas you should not miss. Other great neighborhoods worth exploring include Chapinero, Usaquen, and Zona Rosa.  

Colombia is a country in transformation with so many stories to tell about its dark past over the 52 years of civil war. The  Breaking Borders Tour  is located in the Egipto neighborhood above Candelaria. There, former gang members turned tour guides share their stories of crime, reform, and resilience. Read more about our experience on the tour.

colombia itinerary - streets of bogota

Bogota is the best place to eat in Colombia because there is everything! When in Bogota, you need to try a steaming bowl of Ajiaco (a chicken and corn chowder accompanied with rice and avocado.)  Almost every restaurant in Bogota serves it. Don’t miss a frosty pint from Colombia’s first microbrewery, BBC (Bogota Beer Company) , especially their signature location in Candelaria. There are many locations in major cities in Colombia if you miss your chance in Bogota.

colombia itinerary - ajiaco

There are so many options for accommodation in Bogota , you’ll be spoiled for choice. We recommend staying in the Candelaria district which is the charming historical district with lots of museums and places of interest. Two highly recommended options where we’ve stayed are:  

Casa Hotel Casa Guadalupe

An outstanding hotel with modern and yet charming rooms plus colorful interiors that boast the character of Colombia. It’s just 1km from Bolivar Square and has an excellent location. Great value for money!   Book here now!

Hostel Candelaria Real

Housed in a historical building, this affordable hotel is great for those on a budget but who still want some comfort and a good location. It doesn’t feel quite like a hostel, it has modern private rooms as well as dorm beds and a spacious roof terrace.  Check for the latest rates here.

Search for Bogota Hotels

Looking for some Caribbean heat, culture and the famous Walled City? Get ready for Cartagena. This city couldn’t be more different than Bogotá, so shed that jacket and prepare for the sun!

Fly from Bogota to Cartagena (it’s a short trip but a long distance by bus), shed some clothing, and take a short cab into the main town. Cartagena may look like Miami, but as soon as you spot the large walled old city of Cartagena you’ll know that you’re in a unique place.

Within the walled city are plenty of museums, restaurants, and shops, wander to your heart’s content, but you will need to find shade there in the afternoon. Quench your thirst with a refreshing limonada de coco (merely a delicious lemonade and coconut cream drink). Check out this list of 33 fun things to do in Cartagena !

colombia itinerary - cartagena walls

It’s beach and boating time! The best beaches in Colombia aren’t found here off the islands surrounding Cartagena. Sure, the beaches in the Boca Grande neighborhood are nearby, but the water is dark and choppy.  If you’re looking for turquoise waters, your best bet is to take a speedboat trip to the islands in the area.

You can book these island day trips online or ask around at the main pier at El Muelle de la Bodeguita, across the walled Old City. These boat trips bring you to either the Rosario Islands or Playa Blanca. Both options have beautiful white sand beaches with turquoise blue waters, each about an hour away by speedboat. 

Book Your Island Day Trip here!

colombia itinerary - islands around Cartagena

Staying inside the walled city is amazing, but also expensive. Many budget travelers stay in Getsemani, the neighborhood across from the walled town, which is about a 5-minute walk away. Now, this gentrified neighborhood is brimming with markets, shops, restaurants, and guesthouses. The district is historic and colorful by day, and lively and exciting by night.

You’ll find that Cartagena is the most expensive place to visit during your travels to Colombia. However, you can find some quality/decent value options. Refer to my guide on w here to stay in Cartagena, Colombia.

Hotel Boutique Casa San Miguel

The gorgeous and stylish boutique hotel is a small but intimate place to stay. It’s surprisingly reasonably priced, considering it has a swimming pool and a great location. We loved our time here and highly recommend it! Check the latest rates here.

Hotel Villa Colonial

This affordable hotel is set in a charming colonial-style building, with rooms overlooking Cartagena’s historic centre. It’s very well located, within easy walking distance from the interesting sights. Suitable for those on a budget. Check the latest rates here.

Find More Cartagena Hotels

colombia itinerary - streets of Cartagena

Colombia Itinerary Day 5: Tayrona National Park

A trip to Colombia is not complete until you have visited the magical Tayrona National Park . Relax on empty, gorgeous stretches of golden beaches, thick rainforests, and palm tree forests while learning about the indigenous tribes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Plan to leave Cartagena early so you can maximize your time in the park.

To get there from Cartagena, you need to take a bus (4.5 hours) or taxi/private car (3h45min). We recommend taking the bus as it’s cheap and comfortable. Book your bus tickets online to ensure availability.

There’s plenty to do in Tayrona: Wander through the park, hike, swim, canoe, or dine whatever suits you. Entrance fee to the park is 54,500COP ($17.65USD). Remember to bring a copy of your passport! The student price is 8,500COP ($2.75USD), eligible if you are under 25 years old and have a student card and copy of your passport. The park closes at 5 pm, unless you plan to stay in the park for the night.  

If you stay overnight in or near the park, you will need to plan accordingly to get to Santa Marta for your flight to Medellín the next day. A bus to Santa Marta could be as long as 1.5 hours or a 30-minute taxi drive, depending on where you’re staying.  Give yourself ample time or stay in Santa Marta for the night.

colombia itinerary - hiking in tayrona national park

For a real treat, camp in a hammock or tent in the national park. That is allowed but it means you’ll need to carry your own gear.  Here are some budget and comfortable options:

Tayrona Tented Lodge

This rustic but tastefully designed eco tented lodge is perched right on a wild and untamed beach. Each bungalow has a balcony and unobstructed sea view — you are literally staying right on the sand. It’s 7km from the national park, and a 1 hour 15 minute drive from Santa Marta. You’ll have to book WAY in advance.  Check the latest rates here.

Viajeros Tayrona Hostel & Ecohabs

This stylish eco-lodge has a great atmosphere and location right on the beach, just 13km from Tayrona National Park. Thatched-roof huts feature spanking clean and all-white interiors. It is surrounded by palm trees, plenty of hammocks. and lounging areas. It has a big swimming pool and lots of space to hang out after a day of hiking. Check the latest rates.

La Casablanca Tayrona House

Affordable and sparkling clean, this guesthouse is a good budget option located in Calabazo, just 10 minutes outside of the Tayrona National Park. It has a swimming pool and billards, plus the area around it is great for hiking. Check the latest rates.

Search for Hotels in Tayrona

colombia itinerary - beaches of tayrona

Colombia Itinerary Day 6:  Medellín

Catch an early-morning  flight from Santa Marta to Medellin (around US$60 return) so you can enjoy your day in the city of Eternal Spring. Medellin is one of the places we call home for several months a year, and definitely our favorite city in Colombia. There are SO things to do in Medellin you can easily spend weeks here and not see it all.

Spend your afternoon on a Medellin city walking tour to get your bearings of the city. Take the Metro Cable and learn about the importance of El Metro de Medellin  that give thousands of people access to the city each day. Head downtown and see the Parque de las Luces , and the round and peculiar statues at Parque Botero , created by the beloved Colombian painter and sculptor, Fernando Botero. While you are there, take the opportunity to visit the Museo de Antioquia that includes paintings from Botero.

I also recommend sampling many of the exotic fruits grown in Colombia at the Mercado Minorista . It’s the best place to try  Colombian snacks like empanadas (fried corn filled with meat or potatoes) and  buñelos (deep fried dough). If you’ve got a big appetite, don’t miss the  bandeja paisa which is a plate of chicharron (fried pork belly), ground beef, chicken, egg, sausage, rice, beans, and avocado.  

colombia itinerary - view of medellin

El Poblado is the most popular area with tourists. It has the most restaurants, most hotels, and it is the most expensive. Laureles would be in between, with a wide array of restaurants, cafes, and bars with lower prices than Poblado. Envigado is the city beside Medellin and closest to Poblado. It is a more authentic neighborhood with fewer travelers, a beautiful central park and many good and more Colombian in style, with some Western restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Here are a few options for places to stay:

El Poblado  –   Art Hotel Boutique Medellin

Stylish and modern, the Art Hotel is a boutique hotel featuring brick walls, contemporary art and a New York flair. All of its rooms feature brown leather furnishing, designer lighting and bright red chaise lounges. Art Hotel also has a wine bar, as well as an art gallery and movie theater. Check the latest rates here.

Laureles – Inntu Hotel

Another modern and slick hotel, Inntu Hotel offers good value for money with big, spacious and comfortable rooms. It also has a restaurant that serves American breakfast, and a beautiful spa with an indoor whirlpool that’s open to all guests. Check the rates.

Envigado – Arame Hotel  

This is a cheaper option but just as comfortable and modern as the Inntu Hotel. It’s great for budget-conscious travelers who are looking to immerse in the local community. Check the rates here.

Search for Medellin Hotels

colombia itinerary - typical colombian food

Colombia Itinerary Day 7: Guatapé

After spending some time in the big city of Medellin, now is the time to get back into the outdoors for some adventure!  That is where Guatapé comes into your Colombia Itinerary 10 days. It is the adventure playground of the Antioquia region and just a short (1hr to 1hr 20min) bus ride from the city. Get your bus tickets here .

Once you arrive, this playground is yours. Enjoy the colorful streets of the town, admire the zocalos (colored and themed borders on each home and business), bike around the ring road, hop on a boat along the dam, and definitely climb up to La Piedra del Penol (The Big Rock) to see some of the best views in the country. 

colombia itinerary - la piedra

Hotel Bahia Guatape

Located right on the central plaza (main square), this budget hotel is a great base from which you can walk all over town and enjoy some views of the lake. It’s clean and comfortable, plus it’s good on the pocket. Check the latest rates here.

Lake View Hostel

This casual and cosy hostel has the best lake views in town. There’s a laidback atmosphere here that we love. You can also book activities like horseback riding and fishing at the hostel. Be sure to ask for a room that overlooks the lake. Book here!

Search for Hotels in Guatape

colombia itinerary - colorful guatape

Colombia Itinerary Day 8: Jardín

Spend the next two days in one of the prettiest coffee town, Jardin . Here you will get a taste of traditional living, drink freshly harvested coffee or hike the mountains. Here’s an expert tip: many travelers travel further south to the coffee zone, but there are world-class coffee regions all over Colombia, and Jardin is no exception.

After a day of getting lost in the cobblestoned alleys of Jardin, I recommend spending the evening of people watching in one of the most gorgeous town squares in all of Colombia. For traditional food, check out the local favorite haunt, El Zodiaco, or try classic Italian pizza at Café Europa. Read my full guide to Jardin, Colombia.

colombia itinerary - jardin

Take a bus to Jardin from Medellin. There are several bus companies and different options of buses from Terminal Sur (the south terminal). Find your bus type and time, and pay approximately $26.000 COP ($9USD).   Relax and enjoy a comfortable 3-hour bus trip winding through the coffee farms of Antioquia.  

Hotel Plantación

This stylish boutique hotel is housed in a colonial building, featuring clean Scandinavian-style interior and rustic Colombian decor. I absolutely love the design of this hotel: its unique, simple and extremely tasteful. Prices are reasonable and location is great too. Check the latest rates here.

Avalon Hotel Campestre

Located right next to the cloud forest, this country-style retreat is a beautiful and comfortable lodge set amidst lush gardens. It’s close to the town of Jardin but still gives you the experience of staying in the forest. Check the latest rates.

Search for Hotels in Jardin

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Jardín is one of our favorite spots for hiking and drinking coffee. Some of the best things to do in Jardin include climbing the Cristo Rey Hill for spectacular views of the town, take La Garrucha (wooden cable car) up the mountain, and walk the Camino de la Herrera.

Active travelers can also choose to book a guided hike to explore one of the many waterfalls like Salto de Angel or  La Cueva del Esplendor , take a coffee farm tour with Jardin Eco Tours and enjoy one of the many fantastic coffee shops to appreciate your own cup of black magic.

Bus travel between Jardin and Medellin is frequent, so you can decide to take a bus back to Medellin this evening or stay another night in Jardín. It’s up to you! Read more on   what to do in Jardín .

colombia itinerary - coffee farm tour

Spend your last day in Medellin and enjoy the activities you didn’t get a chance to see on your previous trip here. We highly recommend you learn about the transformation and social enterprise projects happening in Medellin. One of the most popular and most exciting tours is the Comuna 13 Grafitti and Neighborhood Tour .  

Learn about this notorious neighborhood, find out why and how it has changed, see the incredible history-telling graffiti, and ride the surprising outdoor escalator. If you haven’t had the chance to take a cable car up the mountain, this is your opportunity to do on this tour.

Visit the Casa de Memoria Museum in central Medellin. It is a free memorial of the people of Medellin where you will see what they’ve loved and lost over the last many decades. It is sobering, humbling and should be seen by every visitor to the city. For a lighter afternoon, visit the Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden), take a cable car up to Parque Arvi park or wander through Parque Explora, an innovative science exhibition and planetarium.

Book the Grafitti Tour here!

colombia itinerary - medellin graffiti tour

Colombia Travel Guide

Entry into Colombia is relatively easy, and travelers from most countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and EU citizens) do not need a visa to enter Colombia. For those who do need a visa, you are eligible to stay for 90 days on a tourist visa, which can be easily extended for 6 months.

Canadians (the only nationality) are required to pay a reciprocity fee on arrival of 201.000 COP ($66USD) in cash or credit card on arrival. Although our 10-day Colombia itinerary won’t require you to be here that long, we feel confident knowing these visa requirements may encourage you to come again and stay longer!

colombia itinerary - streets of medellin

Most hotels and guesthouses have decent WiFi (I only struggled with internet connections in Cartagena). I recommend getting an eSIM card with data plan as that works faster than the WiFI in hotels. I personally use eSIMs wherever I travel these days as they are SO much more convenient – you can buy them online, and don’t need to go to the shop or activate your eSIM through the store.

Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store and it has eSIMs from over 190 countries and regions around the worlds. I have bought eSIMs from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Ecuador and Peru from Airalo and never had any issues.

Check out  Airalo’s eSIMs  here. 

How to Travel around Colombia

Colombia is very mountainous, so it takes time to maneuver around the mountains, canyons, and rivers. Having said that, your domestic airlines and buses are not only comfortable but they are also of high standard and reasonably priced.

Flying within Colombia is very affordable. Viva Colombia, LATAM, and Copa Airlines are all popular for flying within Colombia.

VivaAir – It is Colombia’s low-cost airline. It is safe and comfortable, but just be aware that they will charge you for everything including carry-on bags. Check their policies before booking. They usually fly from Bogota to Cartagena for just $50 return.

Latam and Avianca – They are high-quality airlines that often have good promotions to save money, as long as you book at least two weeks in advance.

Keep in mind when flying in and out of Medellin that you can fly into the main Airport, Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport (MDE), or you can also find domestic flights at Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) situated in the city.  

Search for Domestic Flights in Colombia

colombia itinerary - cable car

Numerous bus lines operate regionally and also throughout South America. It is best to visit the main terminals in the major cities to explore your options for price, size of bus and comfort or VIP class. Just bring a jacket because the air conditioning will be cranked up and be prepared for a long journey around the mountains.

For this 10-day Colombia itinerary, you’ll be flying for most of this journey to maximize your time in the country. But some segments will need to be done by bus. In general, bus travel in Colombia is convenient and comfortable. Pre-book your bus tickets here to ensure availability.

They are easily available and very reasonably priced. Most are metered, so make sure that the meter is on when you enter. Having your GPS to your location is a good idea because at times taxi drivers don’t always know the best directions.

Uber is available throughout the major cities with low pricing. However, you cannot use it from the airport in Medellin, only due to legalities in this city.

colombia itinerary - streets of cartagena

Colombia is great to visit all year, except for the peak tourist season from December to February and Semana Santa (Easter Week) when prices are at their highest.

Colombia’s proximity to the equator means temperature along the coast stays pretty much the same all year around, approximately 24°C (75°F). Changes in temperature and rainfall are determined more by region rather than season and it’s best to pack for all weather conditions  —  a sweater is needed along the coast at night and a jacket in the mountains.

In the Andean region, there are two dry and two wet seasons per year  —  the driest months are December to March and July to August. The rainy season hits the Andes between May to July and October to December when heavy rains can fall on a daily basis.

colombia itinerary - salento

As mentioned, be sure to pack for all seasons regardless of when you’re visiting. You won’t need an ultra thick winter coat, but you’ll need at least a down jacket for the mountains and Bogota.

1.  Soft Shell Jacket : Pack a thin waterproof, soft shell jacket regardless of the weather you’re traveling. It’s particularly useful for the rain. Alternatively, you can opt for an ultra light down jacket that is compact and can be squashed into a ball.

2. Quick-dry pants : Bring at least two pairs of comfy trousers for the hikes. Quick-dry and lightweight hiking trousers are the best options as they are comfortable, breathable and easy to wash and dry. I recommend bringing convertible pants that allow you to zip off the bottom part and convert them to shorts.

3. Hiking shoes : Make sure you bring some comfortable and light hiking shoes. Some say high ankle boots are better as they protect you from mosquito bites and keep your ankles safe during the hikes. Others say low ankle shoes are better as it gets too hot otherwise. I say anything works as long as your shoes are comfortable and sturdy enough to protect you.

4. Sports sandals : These are the best options for traveling Colombia as they let your feet breathe in the hot weather and still provide comfort and support. I don’t recommend bringing flip-flops as those are only useful for the beach and showers.

5. Bug Spray : This is a MUST, whether you are a mosquito magnet or not. There are lots of mosquitoes especially along the coast, regardless of season, so be sure to carry bug spray. Make sure to buy one with DEET.

6. Sunscreen : Another essential thing to bring on this trip as you’ll be on the beach, island-hopping, hiking and doing lots of outdoor activity under the tropical sun. I recommend getting at least SPF 30.

7. Dry bag : You’ll need a small dry bag to protect your valuables when you’re island-hopping or kayaking and hiking around waterfalls. A 10L bag will be enough for you and your partner (unless you’re carrying an SLR).

colombia itinerary - waterfalls in guatape

This Colombia Itinerary allows you to cover the best of the country in a short time. We hope you enjoy your travels to this incredible country as much as we have! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

If you’re planning to travel Colombia, check out other articles I’ve written on Colombia:

  • Is Colombia Safe to Travel in 2021 ?
  • 33 Cool Things to Do in Cartagena
  • Where to Stay in Cartagena, Colombia
  • Jardin, Colombia: The Cutest Town in the Coffee Triangle
  • Exploring Cocora Valley in Colombia
  • 22 Things to Do in Medellin
  • Bogota Travel Guide
  • My 2-Week Ecuador Itinerary

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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Dorene Wharton

We’re Dorene and Troy, a veteran marketer and TV editor couple from Canada. We’re redefining our mid-life by lifestyle redesign and full-time transformative travel. We help people who feel stuck and uninspired to make meaningful, conscious changes in their life, work and travel at  Travel Life Experiences . 

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Amazing! Delicious Delicacies. Very informative.

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A Complete Guide: 1 Week Itinerary Colombia (2024)

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colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Colombia is a country rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. From the bustling streets of Bogotá to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, there is no shortage of exciting things to see and do. To really get a taste of all that this country has to offer, I recommend spending at least 7 days in Colombia. If you’re planning a trip to Colombia, this 1-week itinerary for Colombia will allow you to experience some of the country’s most iconic attractions. Keep reading for an itinerary for one week in Colombia for your next visit!

Things To Know Before You Go

This route will have you start in Bogota and end in Cartagena. Bogota has many flight options from all over the US; I was able to score a $230 RT Flight from JFK using Delta Airlines.

This Colombia travel itinerary will have you flying around the country to save time, so make sure to pack efficiently to avoid baggage fees. I recommend flying with Avianca inside Colombia. Regarding transportation, I recommend using Uber or a local taxi; make sure to negotiate the price before getting into one.

The national currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso, which you will want to get at the airport or a local ATM. You’ll need them to pay for things in Guatape and some markets, as Colombia is a cash-based society.

Days 1-3 Places to See In Bogotá

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Day 1: Arrival in Bogotá After arriving in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, take some time to get settled in and explore the city. Start by visiting the historic center, La Candelaria, where you’ll find colorful colonial-style buildings, charming plazas, and a vibrant street scene. While in La Candelaria, visit the Gold Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Columbian gold artifacts. You can also visit the Botero Museum, which features works by the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. In the evening, head to the Zona Rosa, a lively neighborhood known for its bars and restaurants. Try traditional Colombian food, such as arepas, empanadas, and tamales, and wash it down with a refreshing aguardiente, the national drink of Colombia.

Day 2: Exploring Bogotá On your second day in Bogotá, continue exploring the city’s many attractions. Start by visiting Monserrate, a mountain that towers over the city and offers stunning views. You can take a cable car to the top or hike up if adventurous. After enjoying the views from Monserrate, head to the nearby Salt Cathedral, an underground cathedral carved into a salt mine. The cathedral is a beautiful example of modern architecture and is a must-see for anyone visiting Bogotá. In the afternoon, visit the La Plaza de Bolívar, the main square in Bogotá. You’ll find the National Capitol, the Cathedral of Bogotá, and other important buildings here. Be sure to stop by the Palacio de Nariño, the official residence of the President of Colombia.

Where To Stay: Hotel NH Bogota Andino , a business hotel close to the airport. While the rooms were a bit dated, it was the perfect place to rest since most of your time will be out exploring.

Also, I wish someone had told me a tip before visiting Bogota: take it easy! The altitude in Bogota, 8660 feet above sea level, is higher than in Colorado, which is only 5,280, so drink a LOT of water.

Now it’s time to head to Medellin.

Days 3-5 Places To See in Medellin

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

During my visit, I took a detour off the beaten path of visiting Medellin and spent most of my time in a small town called Guatape. If you plan on staying in Medellin, take a day trip to Guatape.

Day 3 : Arrival in Medellin Visit the historic center of Medellin, known as El Poblado. You’ll find a bustling street scene filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Take a ride on the metro cable, a system of cable cars that offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The metro cable has four lines that take you to different neighborhoods and attractions in Medellín, including the Arví Ecological Park, where you can hike and explore the beautiful natural scenery.

Take a trip to Parque Arví, a large urban park located on the outskirts of Medellín. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and birdwatching. You can also visit the Parque Explora, a science and technology museum within the park.

Day 4 : Exploring Medellin Experience the nightlife in Medellín, known for its vibrant bars and clubs. Then, visit the neighborhood of Poblado, where you’ll find a wide variety of options for dining and entertainment. Be sure to try traditional Colombian dishes, such as bandeja paisa, a hearty meal consisting of rice, beans, meat, and avocado. Overall, Medellín is a city full of exciting things to see and do. From its vibrant culture and history to its beautiful natural surroundings, this vibrant city has no shortage of experiences.

Day 5 : Exploring Guatape Perhaps my favorite part of this itinerary is a visit to Guatape. If you have more time, spend two days here. There is a bus service to Guatape for about $4 , which takes 2 hours. Or if you’d like to arrange private transport, I recommend my driver Cristian, for $60 RT he took me to Guatape and dropped me off at the Medellin airport. Contact him via Whatsapp at +57 321 290 3956 and let him know Abigail from TheLadyWhoTravels sent you!

If you’re after some great photos, you have to visit the Zocalos. You can find them in the main square, decorated with bright, beautiful art and painted houses. Make sure to go early to get the perfect shot, and head all the way down the stairs. Another main attraction in Gutatape is El Penol; you can climb to the top or take a picture at the bottom (like I did). Either way, it’s a must-do when visiting Guatape.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Abigail | Solo Travel Expert (@theladywhotravels_)

Where To Stay: Medellin: Celestino Boutique Hotel Guatape: Bosko is one of my favorite hotel stays of all time, the experience is like no other, and the service is five-star. Now it’s time to head to your last city of Cartagena.

Days 5-7 Places to See in Cartagena

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

Day 5 : Arrival in Cartagena

After arriving in Cartagena, take some time to explore the city’s historic center. Visit the Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress that protected the city from pirates, and the Palacio de la Inquisición, a former court where the Spanish Inquisition was held.

In the afternoon, visit the Mercado de Bazurto, a large and lively market and a great place to have dinner. Read below for my recommendations.

  • Alquimico for rooftop vibes with fantastic music, three floors of fun
  • Café Del Mar for Sunset, which has a view of Bocagrande beach 
  • Movich Hotel for rooftop views and drinks
  • Café Havana for Salsa Dancing 
  • El Rum Bar for rum and chocolate tasting
  • Café Vitrola for gourmet food

Day 6 : Exploring Cartagena

It’s time to visit a beach; there are many options in Cartagena, some better than others. The beaches in the city center are not blue and crowded with vendors, so I’d avoid that. Another option is Isla Baru, a 45-minute drive from Cartagena. While this beach is affordable and has blue water, I cannot recommend it because the vendors are relentless. Don’t believe me? Check out my experience below; it was so bad I paid an exorbitant fee to leave earlier than planned and spent the rest of my time at Blue Apple Beach Club in Tierra Bomba.

If you’re looking for blue water and white sand, then Bora Bora Beach club is the place to visit. It will take a full day, but it’s worth it; you can read more about it here . On the other hand, visit Blue Apple Beach Club if you want a quick trip. It’s close to town and has all the luxury of a beach club without the vendors. TLDR: Avoid Isla Baru!

Day 7 : A Day Trip To Palenque

Palenque is the first free town for Africans in the Americas. A historic town with beautiful murals and rich history, I recommend a visit to everyone that comes to Cartagena. Day Trips to Palenque are limited (and costly for solo travelers) due to low tourism because of COVID, so I recommend a personal driver. I got a private solo tour of Palenque, lunch, and a mural tour of the old city in Cartagena for $60. Eduardo also invited a friend who is a Palenque native, she gave me an in-depth history of Palenque, and we watched a dance performance. You can see more of it below. Contact Eduardo via Whatsapp at +57 320 665 6208 and let him know Abigail from TheLadyWhoTravels sent you! 

Where To Stay: Hotel Capellan de Getsemani is located in a very safe neighborhood away from all the noise. I enjoyed the elegant grounds, professional staff, and 5-star amenities. 

Make sure to follow me on social media to read more about my travels, and have a safe trip! 

colombia travel itinerary 1 month

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