Colombia is a country of spectacular contrasts and one of the most dazzling and vibrantly diverse countries in South America. With its lush and dramatic landscapes, wealth of biodiversity and timeless colonial cities, it's a country packed with untouched charms just waiting to be discovered. Any trip to this South American gem will captivate your senses and offer a unique glimpse into the continent's major highlights.
Soaked in history, Colombia is culturally diverse and home to the friendliest and most welcoming people. From the country’s modern and innovative cities, to its dreamy colonial towns, it is packed with world-class museums, national monuments and heritage sites to discover. Bogota oozes an urban cool and is the capital city, revered for its historic downtown and home to the fascinating Gold Museum, which showcases Colombia’s golden past and is home to the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold in the world. Medellin is the place for trendy restaurants and arty wares, whilst Cali, the salsa capital of the world, is the best place to wiggle your hips and dance to the beat this city lives and breathes.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Cartagena is Colombia’s crown jewel, rich in cobbled streets, ornate churches and majestically eroded forts; it is the most enchanting and perfectly preserved colonial city in Latin America. The cobbled towns of Popayan and Villa’ de Leyva, are also worthy of mention and take you back to the days of a bygone era and escape the crowds of Cartagena.
With its equatorial position, Colombia is home to palm-fringed beaches, snow-capped Andean mountains, lush Amazon jungle and coffee-strewn hill tops; its physical geography is amazingly varied and home to a wealth of flora and fauna. Accounting for 1,700 recorded species of bird, 450 species of mammal and over 500 species of reptile, Colombia is home to some of the most diverse animal life on the planet. These include the pink river dolphin in the Amazon, the Andean condor in the Coffee Triangle and the majestic hump-back whale in the Pacific. A trip to Colombia offers a wealth of wildlife opportunities in an untouched and pristine setting.
Its contrasting lands also make Colombia an adventure wonderland, with over 55 National parks to explore. The adventure capital of San Gil is famed for its rugged topography and is the place to raft, rappel, and mountain bike. A multi-day trek through the lush green jungle of the Sierra de Nevada Mountains leads to the archaeological site of the ‘Lost City’ and horse-back riding amid the towering wax palms in Valle de Cocora allows you to explore the country’s Andean spine.
Further adding to Colombia’s major allure are the remnants of mysterious civilisations; scattered across the country they provide a glimpse into pre-Colombian culture. From the archaeological sites of the Tayrona people in Tayrona National Park, to the life-size ancient volcanic statues in San Agustin and the mysterious underground tombs in Tierradentro, Colombia boasts a wealth of ancient culture.
As the only country in South America to have both a Pacific and Caribbean coast Colombia is also home to over 300 beaches. These range from the wild, sugary-white beaches of Tayrona National Park to the diving mecca of San Andres and the laid back Caribbean vibe of Providencia. Beach holidays in Colombia are as varied as you can get.
With so much to do and see, Colombia is South America’s hottest destination and one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Bursting with incredible landscapes, colonial charm, ancient culture, and undoubtedly the best coffee in the world, a holiday to Colombia has it all.
Here, our Latin America specialist Grant explains why Colombia is a must-visit destination.