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20 top tourist attractions in Colombia
Colombia has amazing destinations to explore and a great variety, among which its beaches, mountains, rivers and jungles stand out. You will always find something new to do. Therefore, it is very easy to fall in love with Colombia and the only risk is that you want to stay. So we show you 20 tourist attractions to see in Colombia.

Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Colombia: Top Things to Do

Colombia is blessed with its equatorial position and two coasts that provide a diversity of landscapes matched by a few countries. For this reason, I will show you the top 20 things to do in Colombia because there are many options.

As you change your altitude in Colombia, you go from the hot Caribbean coast to emerald-green hills in the Coffee Triangle. Continuing this same route, you will find Bogotá, the third-highest capital in the world. Later, there are several snow-capped mountains.

Also, Colombia has Los Llanos, a huge 550,000-square-km grassland shared with Venezuela. Throw in some desserts and the Amazon jungle, plus the Pacific coast. Colombia has an amazing diversity of landscapes, and the country is divided into 6 regions. By clicking on the icons, you can find out more information.

For this reason, more and more people want to know Colombia. In 2022, according to figures reported by Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo ( Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism) in  Portfolio magazine: “Colombia received more than 4.6 million non-resident tourists“, an increase of 114.7% compared to 2021.

Jeff lived in Colombia for eight years and had the opportunity to explore many places in the country. In this article, you will find the 20 most surprising tourist attractions for him. They are in alphabetical order and updated for the year 2024.

If you want to visit any of the destination included in this blog, please contact our partner Apple Travel who can provide you touristic services, as tours, tourist guides, flight tickets and more.

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Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in Colombia
The most beautiful river in the world: Caño Cristales

1. Caño Cristales – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Caño Cristales is a famous river in Colombia known as the “river of five colors,” which is also considered by many to be “the most beautiful river in the world.” The river has also been called the “liquid rainbow.”

During several months each year, Caño Cristales becomes a rainbow of vibrant colors, including red, green, yellow, blue, and black hues, in a natural display that reportedly happens nowhere else on Earth.

This river is in the Serranía de la Macarena National Park, located in the Meta department of Colombia. In addition, Caño Cristales is a tributary of the Guayabero River.

Serranía de la Macarena is a protected national park in Colombia that covers 2,500 square miles (6,200 square kilometers). The Serranía de la Macarena park is located where three large ecosystems in Colombia meet, each with a high diversity of flora and fauna: the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountain range, and the savannah plains of the East Llanos.

Where is?

In the Department of Meta, La Macarena Municipality

Best time to go

Between June and December

Visitors

More than 9,500 tourists every year

The place is considered one of the most biodiverse areas of Colombia. It reportedly is home to over 500 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, over 2,000 species of plants, and over 1,200 species of insects.

Visiting this place is more of an adventure trip, as it’s not so easily accessible. You need to get there by a combination of air, boat, 4×4 vehicle, and some hiking. But for Jeff: “It’s an unforgettable trip as the river is breathtakingly beautiful.”

However, from 2023, there will already be a direct flight from Medellín to La Macarena to attract more tourists so that people can reach this attraction more easily.

Carnival in Barranquilla: second largest carnival in the World, photo courtesy of Carnaval de Barranquilla
Carnival in Barranquilla: second largest carnival in the World, photo courtesy of Carnaval de Barranquilla

2. Carnival in Barranquilla – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Carnaval de Barranquilla (Carnival of Barranquilla) in Colombia is the most important carnival in the country.

In 2024, Barranquilla’s carnival will be held from February 10 to March 13, 2024. If you happen to be in Colombia during this time, many consider it a must-see event. Barranquilla’s Carnival slogan is quien lo vive, es quien lo goza” “those who live it are those who enjoy it.

Much of Barranquilla shuts down during the four days of carnival. And enjoy the massive party in Barranquilla.

Where is?

It is located in the department of Atlantico, on the Colombian coast.

Best time to go

February and March.

Visitors

More than 670.000 tourists every year.

In 2002, Carnival in Barranquilla was declared a Colombian National Culture Heritage. In 2003, Carnival of Barranquilla was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

If you plan to go to Carnival in Barranquilla in 2024, it’s not too early to plan, as tickets are already on sale. Also, making your lodging and airline reservations early for this popular event is better because it is the most important carnival in Colombia, and many locals and foreigners want to go; therefore, hotels and tickets sell very quickly.

View of Cartagena, Colombia
View of Cartagena, Colombia

3. Cartagena – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Oozing history, romance, and sun-drenched beaches, the allure of historical Cartagena is hard to resist.  Inside El Centro in Cartagenavisitors are surrounded by pastel-colored buildings, flower-clad balconies, and vibrantly dressed palenqueras balancing fruit bowls on their heads.

Combine that with the scorching heat, and Cartagena feels more like a Caribbean island. And once you step off the plane onto the searing tarmac, you will think you’ve escaped to a different country.

But you haven’t. And that is the main appeal of a short break to Cartagena from Medellín.  You can experience all the delights of island life with a short one-hour domestic flight from José María Córdova International Airport. And with inexpensive domestic flights from Medellín, it would be a sin not to venture there.

Where is?

It is located in the department of Bolívar, in the north of the country.

Best time to go

From December to April is a good idea because it is a dry season in the city.

Visitors

More than 3,700,000 tourists every year.

Cartagena’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a maze of cobbled streets, balconies, plazas, and churches surrounded by a wall. Also, because: “The port of Cartagena has the most complete set of fortifications in all of South America.”

Since the pandemic in 2020, Cartagena was no longer a cruise destination; however, in 2023, this changed, and from October, the arrival of more than 190 ships to the city is expected, which is expected to increase tourism in this city.

There is so much to see and do in Cartagena. So, we provide a recommended itinerary for 72 hours in Cartagena.

Ciudad perdia
Colombia's Lost City - Ciudad Perdida

4. Ciudad Perdida – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Ciudad Perdida is the site of an ancient city in Colombia that is older than Machu Picchu in Peru. It’s a challenging but rewarding hike with ancient ruins, jungle, river crossings, native villages, waterfalls, and much more. Ciudad Perdida is also one of the largest pre-Columbian towns discovered in the Americas.

It is located deep in the Sierra Nevada coastal mountains near Santa Marta. It remains accessible only on foot and is one of Colombia’s most exciting and breathtaking hikes. This is definitely one of the most rewarding and challenging hikes I have been on.

Ciudad Perdida is an archaeological site of an ancient city in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains near Santa Marta. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, about 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu in Peru.

Where is?

It is located in La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the north of the country.

Best time to go

Between June and February because they are dry periods in the area, ideal for walking.

Advice

Since the walk is between 4 and 6 days, wear comfortable clothing and mosquito repellent.

For about 350 years, Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) was hidden from all but occasional natives. But Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1972 when a group of local treasure looters found a series of stone steps rising up the mountainside and followed them to the abandoned city.

The hike to Ciudad Perdida is one of the most amazing things to do in Colombia. But it’s not for everyone due to being a four-day to six-day hike in the jungle.

Pretty much everybody knows about Machu Picchu in Peru. Ciudad Perdida in Colombia remains much less discovered by tourists, with perhaps only a few hundred tourists visiting it each week.

If you go to Ciudad Perdida in Colombia, you will have something to really remember. And the fantastic landscapes and views plus the sense of remoteness will stay with you for a long time.

Colombia's Pacific Coast
Colombia's Pacific Coast

5. Colombia's Pacific Coast – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

The Pacific coast of Colombia is often overlooked by tourists visiting Colombia. The relative difficulty of getting to the Pacific coast (the area is only accessible by domestic flights), coupled with the lack of Internet and developed tourist infrastructure, makes many people visit a place like Cartagena on the Caribbean coast or islands such as San Andrés. But there are many things to see and do on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

Colombia’s Pacific coast can be considered somewhat wild and mysterious. And it’s also considered relatively remote. But for the slightly more adventurous traveler who wants to experience untamed nature and undiscovered beauty that is off the beaten path for most foreign tourists, the Pacific coast can offer some of the best of Colombia.

The region is one of the most biodiverse places in Colombia and the world: “It is home to more than 62 species of birds and dozens of fish. Other important species in this region are the jaguar, the titi monkey, the humpback whales that visit the coasts of Chocó for almost three months to give birth to their babies, and the harpy eagle. And the most poisonous vertebrate in the world: the golden poison frog.”

Where is?

Located in the Pacific Region, in the west of the country.

Best time to go

If you want to see the whales, the best time is to go between the months of July and October

Advice

Always remember to preserve and respect nature in every space you visit.

In addition, the local hospitality is unparalleled. And the beaches are the perfect place to relax and soak up the silence – when the rain stops long enough for you to enjoy them.

From unspoiled beaches to wild jungles and humpback whales, there is much to do, and we looked at 12 things to do on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

There are not many destinations in Colombia as ruggedly spectacular as the Pacific coast of Colombia. But don’t expect to find the luxurious accommodations you can find on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. But there are several comfortable eco-resorts/hotels.

This place is off the beaten path for most foreign tourists. So, the few who venture to this little-visited area of Colombia will find unspoiled beaches, wild jungles, majestic whales, and unforgettable people.

Desierto de la Tatacoa: The Tatacoa Desert in Colombia
Desierto de la Tatacoa: The Tatacoa Desert in Colombia

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6. Desierto de la Tatacoa – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Tatacoa Desert (Desierto de la Tatacoa) is located in the Colombian Department of Huila, about 24 miles (38 km) from Neiva in Colombia. In addition, the Tatacoa Desert is considered the second-largest arid zone in Colombia, and the first is La Guajira.

The stunning and surreal desert landscapes in the area and fossil remains, plus being considered a good location for star gazing, make it a popular tourist area. Tatacoa has almost no pollution or noise. So, it attracts tourists who enjoy the silence, scenery, and tranquility. But it is still off the beaten path for foreign tourists.

Technically, the Tatacoa Desert is not really a proper desert. Some say it is semi-desert, and others say it’s a semi-arid, dry tropical forest. You can sometimes experience rain at night in the area. Also, the area is heavily eroded and has dry canyons that develop transiently.

Where is?

In the department of Huila, in the southwest of the country.

Best time to go

June, July and August because there is not as much chance of rain

Visitors

More than 4,000 tourist every year.

This desert area is filled with rocky canyons that form dry labyrinths in red and grey colors that are interrupted by occasional green bushes.

This provides access to some stunning and surreal desert landscapes in Colombia. 

Also, the Tatacoa Desert is located in the middle of nowhere. So, it’s a tranquil place and a great place to enjoy the natural beauty in the area with some amazing views.

View of the lake at Guatapé from El Peñón de Guatapé
View of the lake at Guatapé from El Peñón de Guatapé, photo by Wilc82

7. Guatapé – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Picturesque Guatapé is a very popular pueblo to visit from Medellín. It’s a great place for a day trip or a weekend getaway from Medellín. I think no trip to Medellín and Antioquia would be complete without a trip to Guatapé. And it’s likely the most visited pueblo in Colombia by foreigners.

This is located next to the massive man-made lake created by a hydroelectric dam built in the 1970s. So, it’s now a lakeside pueblo with many sidewalk restaurants and cafes, plus water activities in the area. Also, there is Peñón de Guatapé, which is a gigantic rock with incredible views of the lake and surrounding area.

Guatapé is easy to get to. It’s only about two hours away from Medellín. The pueblo is also extremely colorful, with the homes painted in many colors, and many have additional decorations.

Where is?

It is located in the department of Antioquia, in the northwest of the country.

Best time to go

The weather is the same all year, however between February and May, you will find fewer people

Advice

If you want to climb the stone, remember to wear comfortable shoes and water

Guatapé is also known as “The city of the zócalos,” and in addition to having colorful houses, one of the most important characteristics of its buildings is the zócalos, a tile with drawings of animals, traditions, and more, which represents each of the families in the town.

While it is possible to go there as a day trip from Medellín, there is much to do to keep you entertained and make it worth staying overnight.

This area is one of the most tourist areas in Antioquia and Colombia. However, there are no official figures from the government of how many visitors arrive each year, but the guides are encouraged to say that approximately up to 50,000 people can visit on weekends.

Where the desert meets the sea in Colombia: La Guajira
Where the desert meets the sea in Colombia: La Guajira

8. La Guajira Peninsula – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

La Guajira Peninsula is one of South America’s most visually stunning places worth visiting. La Guajira Peninsula is a desert environment located along the northern coast of Colombia.

This desert region is the northern tip of Colombia and South America. The region is home to the indigenous Wayúu people.

This place also keeps part of the incredible biodiversity that Colombia has. It is home to over 1,000 pink flamingos and is an ideal bird-watching place since it has more than 252 species. It is home to 26% of the country’s bird diversity.

Where is?

It is located in the municipality of Riohacha, in the north of the country.

Best time to go

from January to February, August to September. In this period, there is a warm temperature and little precipitation

Advice

Travel light and with a small backpack.

Remember, this hostile desert climate has isolated it since colonial times. Also, this barren peninsula is about 149 miles (240 km) long and no more than 31 miles (50 km) wide.

In addition, La Guajira is off the beaten path of foreign tourists and can provide an “end-of-the-world” feel. Furthermore, about a third of the driving is off-road. But if you are looking for a beach all to yourself, this adventure is for you.

The La Guajira Peninsula’s capital is Riohacha, about 109 miles (175) km northeast of Santa Marta. And it has a population of over 170,000. Also, this is where most La Guajira tours start.

Several tour companies in Santa Marta offer multi-day tours of the La Guajira Peninsula. Also, we included La Guajira Peninsula in our list of 16 top things to do in Santa Marta.

The most beautiful church in Colombia: Las Lajas Sanctuary in Ipales, Colombia
The most beautiful church in Colombia: Las Lajas Sanctuary in Ipales, Colombia

9. Las Lajas Sanctuary – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Las Lajas Sanctuary (Santuario de Lajas) is arguably considered the most beautiful church in Colombia. It’s also considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The Telegraph even named Las Lajas Sanctuary the most beautiful church in the world in 2015, and in 2007, it was named one of the 7 wonders of Colombia.

The church sits on a 130-foot-tall bridge over the Guáitara river. In addition, it’s located less than seven miles from the Ecuadorian border.

Where is?

In Ipiales in the southern Colombian, Department of Nariño.

Best time to go

Easter week.

Visitors

More than 750,000 tourists every year.

This is a Gothic Revival-style church built inside a canyon of the Guáitara river. So, it’s often been called a jewel of engineering. This Roman Catholic church is dedicated to the veneration of Our Lady of Las Lajas Ipiales.

The Las Lajas Sanctuary is famous for its stunning architecture, a series of legends involving the appearance of the Holy Virgin, and a mysterious mural of which nobody knows its origins.

This is considered one of the world’s most beautiful churches. And it’s definitely worth visiting if you are crossing the Ecuador/Colombia border by land. In addition, we have looked at the top 14 churches in Medellín.

Christmas lighting 2022 in Medellín inspired by the movie "Encanto".
Christmas lighting 2022 in Medellín inspired by the movie "Encanto".

10. Medellín's Christmas Lights – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

One event that Medellín is famous for is the annual Medellín Christmas lights display, known as Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado.

The first public Christmas lighting in Medellín reportedly happened in 1851 at Plaza Mayor, which is currently the location of Medellín’s large convention center.

This tradition began in 1955 when EPM was consolidated as a public utilities company. Starting that year, part of the city was adorned with a modest special Christmas lights display jointly funded by EPM, the local government, and the press.

By 1967, EPM started to manage Medellín’s Christmas events each year. In addition, the company became responsible for designing, installing, and funding the light display.

Where is?

Medellín is located in the department of Antioquia, in the northwest of the country.

Best time to go

December and January.

Visitors

More than 7 million tourists every year.

Over the years, the annual Christmas lights were broadened in scope. So, they are now considered one of the biggest tourist attractions in Medellin. Tourists come from around the world to Medellín to see Alumbrados Navideños, and now they can use private transportation services from the airport to Medellin or to any other destination. Click on the green button below and choose the type of service you want (unique trip or round trip).

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Something characteristic of the lighting in Medellín is that the Medellín River is crossed, and areas such as El Parque Norte Parques del Rio are also illuminated; it is also a good idea to visit places close to the city, such as Envigado or Sabaneta Park, which have amazing Christmas lights.

Each year, up to 4 million people see the Alumbrados Navideños display in the city. However, in 2023, a record was broken when more than 7 million tourists arrived to see the city’s lighting, especially because in that edition, they were inspired by the Disney movie “Encanto.”

Feria de las Flores - Medellín's annual flower festival
Feria de las Flores - Medellín's annual flower festival

11. Medellín's Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival) – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Medellín’s biggest annual festival is the La Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers). 

This is a huge annual celebration of paisa culture. 2023 was the 66  annual Feria de las Flores in Medellín. And the theme was “Florecer es alegría” or “flowering is joy” in English.

The Festival of Flowers schedule is packed with many big and small events. In 2023, there were over 400 different events between public and private for La Feria de las Flores.

Where is?

Medellín is located in the department of Antioquia, in the northwest of the country.

Best time to go

August.

Visitors

More than 50,000 international travelers every year.

The first Feria de las Flores, or flower festival, reportedly occurred in Medellin in May 1957. It was intended to host a tribute to the thriving flower business in the Medellín area.

It all started with the municipality of Santa Elena, when every week without fail, the silleteros went down to Medellín to sell their flowers and took an hour-long walk to reach the city. Seeing this route was so beautiful that they decided to make it a tradition and the city’s main festival. If you want to travel safe from the airport to Medellin and book in advance your pick up and assist to Feria de Flores, get the Medellin Airport to City service.

In 1968, the month of the festival was changed to August. This was done to celebrate the independence of Antioquia. Over the next 60 years, additional events were added to the festival, increasing the duration to 10 to 11 days each year.

The three big headliner events during Feria de las Flores each year are the big super concert, the classic car parade, and the flower parade.  And each year, we publish a popular Feria de las Flores guide with a schedule and expat tips.

Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados
Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados

12. Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Los Nevados, also known as Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados (Los Nevados National Natural Park), is a popular national park in the country, located in the heart of the coffee region in Colombia. It’s a beautiful park known for its snow-capped volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, and forests.

It is located in the Central Andes, the highest of the three branches of the Colombian Andes. The park was created in 1973 to help conserve important ecosystems, such as three glaciers in Colombia, high Andean wetlands, and high Andean forests.

Where is?

It is located in the coffee region of the central Andes of Colombia.

Best time to go

From December to March because the temperature is warmer

Visitors

More than 52,000 tourist every year.

The rivers that descend from Parque Los Nevados’ snow peaks supply water to the farmlands and aqueducts of cities, towns, and villages in the center of Colombia.

Visit this place, which provides access to some of the most stunning stretches of the Colombian Andes with incredible landscapes. The varied altitudes in this park encompass everything from humid cloud forests to glaciers on the highest peaks.

This place is ideal for those looking for a connection with nature, ideal for bird watching, such as the snowy parakeet, the parrot, or the Andean condor, and for those who enjoy the diversity of flora in Colombia, you will find the famous frailejón and the wax palm, something very representative of Colombia

Cabo San Juan de Guia beach in Parque Tayrona, photo by David Shankbone
Cabo San Juan de Guia beach in Parque Tayrona, photo by David Shankbone

13. Parque Tayrona – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Parque Tayrona, also known as Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona National Natural Park), is a popular national park in Colombia located along Colombia’s Caribbean coast that is known for its beautiful beaches and biodiversity. Parque Tayrona is a tourist hotspot in Colombia.

Tayrona Park comprises 12,000 terrestrial and 3,000 marine hectares, making it one of the areas with the greatest species diversity in Colombia and South America.

Where is?

In the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the department of Magdalena.

Best time to go

Between March and May because during these months there is a dry period and the number of tourists is lower.

Visitors

More than 450.000 tourist every year.

If you want to learn more about Medellín and other cities in Colombia , download the ProColombia guide “Colombia: A Must-See Destination.”

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View of the Catedral and the city of Popayán from El Morro del Tulcán

14. Popayán – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Colonial gem Popayán in Colombia is best known for its white buildings and beautiful churches. It’s a city off the beaten path for foreign tourists to Colombia, but Popayán is definitely worth visiting.

Popayán is the capital of the Cauca department in Colombia. The city’s historical downtown is considered one of Colombia and Latin America’s most beautiful and best-preserved Colonial centers.

In addition, the city has a strong religious presence with many churches and traditions like Semana Santa (Holy Week) and gastronomy recognized by UNESCO for the fusion of Spanish, indigenous, and Afro-descendant cultures.

Where is?

It is located in the department of Cauca, in the southwest of the country.

Best time to go

Holy Week for religious plans or from June to September for its warm weather.

Visitors

More than 77.500 visitors during Holy Week every year.

All these ingredients make Popayán a recommended destination during your trip to Colombia. It’s a lesser-known city in Colombia with a vibrant history and beautiful Colonial architecture.

Popayán has a colonial architecture matching Cartagena’s, a history rivaling the history of Bogotá or Medellín, and a religious presence as prestigious as Jericó. All those ingredients make Popayán a unique and admiring place to visit.

Rio Claro Nature Reserve, photo by Motero Colombia
Rio Claro Nature Reserve, photo by Motero Colombia

15. Rio Claro Nature Reserve – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Rio Claro Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural Cañon de Río Claro) is considered by many as one of the must-do activities in Antioquia. It is located only about three hours from Medellín.

the perfect place to enjoy abundant nature with a picturesque crystal-clear river, canyon, and tropical rainforest. In addition, it enables completely unplugging from the hectic pace of daily life in the city.

Established in 1970, the 1,606-acre (650-hectare) Rio Claro Nature Reserve is a private reserve, and it’s a spectacular example of Colombia’s biodiversity. It is located about 94 miles (152 km) southeast of Medellín on the Medellín – Bogotá highway.

Almost every reserve area offers a view of the river, canyon, and tropical rainforest. This exquisite framing creates a Garden of Eden effect, further accentuating the sublime chorus of birds, insects, and monkeys.

Where is?

In a region known as the middle basin of the Magdalena River, in Antioquia.

Best time to go

Every month of the year because the climate is the same, between 23 and 25 degrees.

Advice

It is recommended to bring anti-mosquito repellent.

Here, the diversity is not simply geological. Animal species within the reserve are estimated at 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 70 species of reptiles, 45 species of amphibians, and 50 species of fish, beyond abundant species of insects and invertebrates.

There is a two-hour and thirty-minute Class I and II rafting trip in inflatable rafts. This rafting trip provides access to bird, reptile, and monkey sightings and a leisurely swimming break. Also, there are many swimming beaches throughout the reserve.

Rio Claro is truly the quintessential place to unplug. There are no TVs here, and Wi-Fi is only available at the main entrance reception area. So, let the jungle sounds lull you to peaceful sleep and discover the extraordinary beauty of nature.

The Cocora Valley in Colombia with its wax palms
The Cocora Valley in Colombia with its wax palms

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16. Salento and the Cocora Valley – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

This is a picturesque pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region, and the nearby Cocora Valley is one of the most striking landscapes found in Colombia.

Salento is a sleepy pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region that is definitely worth visiting. Salento is a relatively small pueblo, occupying just 12 calles by 10 carreras. It’s a place where horses trot down the street unmounted, and roosters can be heard crowing in the morning.

Like many Colombian pueblos, Salento’s white-walled homes and shops have vibrantly painted doors and windows in eye-catching cobalt, tangerine, and turquoise shades.

Where is?

It is located in the Department of Quindio, in the northeastern sector of the country.

Best time to go

Between December and March because it is their summer season

Advice

This is an excellent area for you to enjoy the best Colombian coffee

It is located in the Central Cordillera of the Andean mountains. It’s a place to come to reconnect with nature. Somewhere to take long hikes and indulge in lots of food.

Near Salento is the spectacular Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora). This breathtaking area of Colombia is surrounded by emerald green hills and dotted with the country’s national tree – the wax palm.

Something characteristic is that the wax palm reaches unusual heights, not only for a palm but for any other type of tree, reaching between 60 and 80 meters.

Coming to Salento without going to the Cocora Valley would be like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. You have to do it.

San Agustín Archaeological Park: Colombia's Ancient Statues
San Agustín Archaeological Park: Colombia's Ancient Statues

17. San Agustín Archaeological Park – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Colombia has the largest group of pre-Columbian monuments and megalithic statues in South America that are located in the San Agustín Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueologico). This site was even named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because it has South America’s largest set of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures.

The sizable park features the largest complex in South America of pre-Columbian megalithic funerary monuments and statuary, burial mounds, terraces, funerary structures, and stone statuary.

Volcanic stones from now-extinct nearby volcanoes proved irresistible to the local sculptors, who worked the stones into grand monuments. The result is well over 500 statues scattered over a wide area in the lush green hills. The statues vary in height, with the tallest being 23 feet (7 meters) high.

Little is known about the people who inhabited this area and carved the statues. The dates of the statues are not known but are believed by some to have been carved sometime between 50 to 400 A.D. The statues include human figures, animals, deities, and monsters.

Where is?

Between the municipalities of Isnos and San Agustín, in the department of Huila.

Best time to go

From January to April because the weather is cooler

Visitors

More than 88.000 tourist every year.

The result is a mystical place in a spectacular landscape worth visiting, particularly if you like impressive archaeological sites. I would say this site is comparable to Easter Island’s Moai statues, but not quite on the same scale.

San Agustín Archaeological Park has a seemingly endless count of fantastic stone statues located in green hills and surrounded by valleys and mountains.

Remember that you can visit this park every day, except Tuesdays, because they close it to the public that day. In fact, they do this at different times of the year in many places in Colombia to preserve and prevent them from being damaged.

San Andrés: Colombia's Caribbean Island
San Andrés: Colombia's Caribbean Island

18. San Andrés – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Colombia’s Caribbean island is San Andrés, a popular vacation location. San Andrés is so different from Colombia that you will think you are in another country. In addition, San Andrés is located closer to Nicaragua than it is to Colombia.

The archipelago and several other islands are a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It features many beaches, islets, and coral reefs that are filled with flora and fauna.

In San Andrés, according to figures from the Botanical Garden of the Universidad Nacional Sede Caribe, a total of 198 species of birds are recorded, most of them migratory. On the other hand, it is believed that there are about 653 species of fish.

Where is?

It is located in the west of the Caribbean Sea in Central America.

Best time to go

From December to May because it is a season without rain.

Visitors

More than 1.38 million tourist every year.

San Andrés even have their own language to speak; it is called “creole,” a mix of English, Spanish, and African languages. But they also speak Spanish on the island. They use Criolé to communicate among the isleños (people born in San Andrés).

Also, there are many things to do in San Andrés, with beaches, snorkeling, diving, good seafood, several small islands nearby, and so much more. It’s definitely worth adding San Andrés to your list of places to visit in Colombia, especially because it is known as the sea of seven colors.

San Gil: Colombia's Adventure Capital
San Gil: Colombia's Adventure Capital

19. San Gil – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

Known as “Colombia’s Adventure Capital,” with so much to do nearby, including white water rafting, paragliding, caving, rappelling, hiking, and much more.

San Gil is a pueblo in the Santander Department of Colombia with a population of less than 50,000. It was founded in 1689. So, San Gil is over 300 years old. In 2004, San Gil was named the tourist capital of Santander.

Where is?

It is located in the department of Santander, in the northwest of the country.

Best time to go

From June to September and from December to February. because there is no rainy season.

Visitors

More than 34.000 tourist every year.

It is being discovered yearly by more foreign tourists, but it’s still off the beaten path for most tourists visiting Colombia.

There is so much to do nearby that you could spend weeks there and not experience everything because a few minutes away, you will find other towns such as Barichara, Pozo Azul, and Peñon Guane, which are also ideal for those who enjoy extreme adventures. So, it’s definitely worth adding San Gil to your list of places to visit in Colombia.

The shores of Laguna Negra, near San Jose del Guavaire, photo by Roisin Mulligan

20. San Jose del Guaviare – Top Tourist Attractions in Colombia

As little as two years ago, the small town of San Jose del Guaviare in Colombia was a complete no-go zone for tourists. The region was associated for decades with drug trafficking and the ongoing violence that plagued Colombia for decades.

Now, it is emerging as a prime destination for eco-tourism, and rightfully so. Sandwiched between the plains of Los Llanos and the thick jungle of the Amazon, San Jose del Guaviare offers infinite opportunities for anyone looking to get off the beaten track and experience a true adventure.

San Jose del Guaviare is a truly fascinating and beautiful region. Also, the eco-tourism industry is breathing new life into the area and providing opportunities for work and growth.

Where is?

Located north of the department of Guaviare, between the Orinoquía and the Amazonas.

Best time to go

between June and September.

Advice

Always remember to take your tours in this place accompanied by a local guide, to avoid getting lost in the jungle.

And that is without going into the area’s wealth of activities and sights. From wildlife watching to jungle trekking to delving into Colombia’s prehistoric past.

For those who enjoy nature, in the jungle, you can also take guided tours to watch exotic birds such as the soldier egret, the white and brown heron, the royal parrot, the palm parrot, the macaw, the gallant, and the toucan. , the gaván, the dirty-faced parakeet, among others.

This is truly an unforgettable experience for any traveler who wants to see a different part of the country.

Visit and explore Colombia

Below we leave you some blogs that can help you if you want to know more Colombia.

Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Colombia: Top Things to Do

Colombia has amazing destinations to explore and a great variety, among which its beaches, mountains, rivers and jungles stand out. You will always find something new to do. Therefore, it is very easy to fall in love with Colombia and the only risk is that you want to stay. So...

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Medellín vs Cartagena: Which is the Better City to Live In?

In this comprehensive analysis, we aim to shed light on the key differences between two of Colombia's most popular cities: Medellín vs Cartagena. By comparing them on 19 different categories, we hope to provide expats with valuable insights that can help them decide which city is better suited for their...

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8 Best Pueblos Near Medellín Worth a Visit Including Hidden Gems

Discover the beauty of Antioquia by exploring our curated list of the 8 best pueblos near Medellín. From the ever-popular destinations of Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Jardín, Jericó, and Barbosa to the lesser-known hidden gems, this list will inspire you to embark on a journey of exploration and adventure.

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Medellin Guru's Comprehensive Visa and Passport Series

The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in October 2022 were significant. So, on the Medellin Guru site, we have a comprehensive series of visa articles that are kept up-to-date and should answer most visa questions. These articles include:

We have looked in detail at the nine most popular Colombian visas used by foreigners:

  1. Digital Nomad Visa
  2. Retirement visa
  3. Marriage visa
  4. Investment visa
  5. Business Visa
  6. Resident visa
  7. Work visa
  8. Student visa
  9. Visitor visa

Also, we have looked in detail at three additional Colombian visas, which are less popular for foreigners:

In addition, we have a guide to Colombia tourist visas and how to extend a tourist visa. Also, we have a guide to renewing U.S. passports in Colombia and a guide to obtaining a Colombian passport.

Furthermore, we provide information about travel insurance that meets the insurance requirement for Colombian visas. And we have a guide to how apply for a cedula extranjeria in Colombia and a guide to using notaries in Medellín and Colombia. Finally, Medellin Guru has partnered with a visa agency to offer Colombia visa services.

All of our Colombia visa articles are up to date (2023) and constantly receive updates in 2024.

If you want to know more information about visas and how to live legally in Colombia, we recommend expatgroup.co. They are our allies and many of our readers have carried out successful visa processes with them.

Medellin Guru Visa Service

The visa agency we partnered with has helped 1.377 Medellin Guru reader

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The Bottom Line: Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Colombia – Top Things to Do in Colombia

More and more people are visiting Colombia each year. For example, in 2022, according to figures reported by Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo ( Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism) in  Portafolio magazine: “Colombia received more than 4.6 million non-resident tourists“, an increase of 114.7% compared to 2021.”

Until this article was written, these were the destinations that surprised Jeff in Colombia. However, this article will continue to be updated as new tourist places in the country become known.

What is your favorite place or attraction in Colombia that should be on this list?

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5 thoughts on “Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Colombia: Top Things to Do”

    1. I would also add Parque del Cafe in Armenia, although a 3 hour ride from Cali, it was a lot of fun and we learned things about the coffee process that we never knew.

    2. Thanks for the helpful article. I haven’t been to many places in Colombia yet but I plan to go to several of these places next year.

    3. David Williams December 11, 2018

      Thanks for the nice article. Colombia has some amazing places to visit and many of them haven’t been discovered by foreigners yet.

    4. Nice post with some great photos. Keep in mind some Spanish is needed at all Colombia places with few Colombians speaking English. But Colombians are all warm, welcoming and helpful. And it’s a safe country for the most part.

    5. Thanks, great article with some nice photos. I have only been to 6 attractions on this list so many more to check out. I plan to go to carnival in Barranquilla next year for the first time.

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