If you have a trip to Colombia planned, you may be wondering where the best places are to explore, and where you should start your adventure. Colombia is a varied country, with mountains, beaches, cities and countryside – so there really is something for every kind of traveller and every taste.
We asked our Colombian insider Nidia about her favourite places in Colombia, and the locations she thinks are the best places in Colombia.
If travelling is about experiencing local culture and seeing how locals live, then La Boquilla is a must-visit location. La Boquilla is an area outside of Cartagena, and it’s here that Nidia recommends for an authentic and local experience in the fishing community. Fishing is a major trade in Colombia, and this day trip is a true glimpse into real Colombian life and the practises and traditions that go alongside it.
“When you go to La Boquilla, which is outside the city, around 30 mins driving out of Cartagena, you see the real Colombia. La Boquilla is a fishing village, and when you go there you visit a local family there. The man you spend time with, who teaches you how to fish is a local fisherman, you then have lunch in one of the local houses, which is a truly authentic experience. You also learn how to fish the true, traditional, artisanal way, not the normal one done today.”
You can experience this unique tour on our La Boquilla day trip, click through to read more about the day and what to expect.
Bogota is Colombia’s capital, and is a bustling, busy, energetic and urban city. The city is home to many amazing sights and attractions, and is a must-see for tourists and travellers making their way through the country. A city often reveals a lot about the way of life and the local customs of a country – and life in Bogota tells a story of Colombia’s history and future.
One of the tours we run in Bogota is a cooking and food tour, where you’ll even get to purchase your ingredients from local markets and food stands. Nidia says this is an amazing way to experience a taste of local life, as well as trying your hand at local cuisine too!
For wildlife and experiencing Colombian nature, Nidia thinks the Amazon Jungle is one of the best places to visit.
“Basically towards the south of the country, there’s the river. The North side of the river is Colombia, Venezuela and part of Brazil and towards the south is Ecuador and Peru. This is one of the best places in Colombia.”
The jungle is a big part of Colombia’s landscapes, and makes up almost a third of the country. Because this landscape is so important and integral to the country – it has to make your ‘visit’ list. Many of the Amazonian rivers pass through Colombia, such as: the Putumayo, Caqueta, Orinoco, Apaporis, and, the mighty Amazon itself.
Exploring this region of the country, and seeing the Amazon river for yourself is a truly memorable experience and is definitely an authentic glimpse of Colombia.
There are many coffee farms you can visit throughout Colombia, and Nidia thinks a trip to one of these farms is a truly unique and personal look into the local life. What makes it one of the best places in Colombia? It’ll all down to how much exposure you get to authentic and genuine local life.
We offer a coffee farm day trip, and Nidia speaks highly of the experience and how much you get to explore and witness as part of it.
“This is a clear example of how to understand true Colombian coffee and really understand what is behind a cup of coffee. You learn about the Colombian culture, the history and the weather, and how all of that affected the coffee trade. On the tour, you go to the community and you learn a bit about the process of each farm. There is also a lot of history in this area – pre hispanic history – there were loads of indigenous communities living in this area and you see the remains of these. And you learn about what happened at the start of the beginning of the 20th century, the economic situation of the area and how the production of coffee has changed, the civil war and everything”
After visiting a Colombian coffee farm and seeing all the incredible skill and hard work that goes into the farming, you’ll never take a cup of coffee for granted again!
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is another one of Nidia’s best places to visit in Colombia. This mystical underground Catholic church is a beautiful and rare structure, built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres underground. Located near the rural town of town of Zipaquirá, it is often a place of pilgrimage for Christians in Colombia.
Nidia also recommends spending time exploring the local countryside around the Salt Cathedral though, as it’s a beautiful part of the country full of stunning views and vistas.
“In this part of the countryside it will be pretty much you and no one else”
There’s no feeling quite like having the sand between your toes, and no visit to Colombia would be complete without taking advantage of the beautiful beaches and incredible climate.
For those wanting a day at the beach to relax and recuperate, Nidia speaks highly of Santa Marta. For Nidia, the beaches in Santa Marta are the best in the country, and a must-see.
“If you want to relax and want to visit the beach, that area is really good. The best beaches in Colombia are in Santa Marta, especially in the Tayrona National Park, which is on the Caribbean coast. Cristal, La Piscina, Cañaveral, Cabo San Juan are all beaches inside the park I love. These beaches are very good to visit and because it’s a natural park, the area is quite well protected, in terms of the ecosystem”
If you want to take full advantage of your time in Colombia, be sure to read our other recommendations and blog posts – or check out the variety of tours and day trips we offer.