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Top 5 things to do in Colombia
Colombia is a country filled with picturesque coastlines, bustling cities, diverse landscapes and colonial charm. With so much to see and do, we thought we would help you out and highlight our top five things to do in Colombia…
Explore the old colonial town of Cartagena
Cartagena, on the northern coast of Colombia, is a beautiful seaside city and UNESCO world heritage site with lots of history. We reckon this colonial gem is without a doubt Colombia’s main attraction. The inner-walled town is filled with colonial architecture; you’ll find churches, plazas and mansions all contained in an area small enough to walk and explore. The old town is the only walled city in the Americas and was built in such a way to protect the town from enemies. Due to an unfortunate string of problems relating to finance, weather, workforce and military strategy meant the city took over 200 years to complete! Take a leisurely wander around the old town, admiring the richness of its colonial architecture and enjoying the local shops, cafes and street food stalls along the way. Once you’ve finished exploring the old town, take a boat from the beach to explore the nearby islands, such as the Islas del Rosario which are surrounded by beautiful coral reef.
Stay at the Sofitel Santa Clara – a 17th century converted convent that offers luxury and charm and is a great base to explore the colonial charm of Cartagena.
Trekking to the Ciudad Perdida
The Lost City trek ‘Ciudad Perdida’ is easily one of the most adventurous and breath-taking treks in Latin America. Built by the Tayrona people, this pre-Colombian town was abandoned around the time of the Spanish conquest, and only rediscovered in the 1970’s. Hidden in the depths of the Sierra de Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains, this archaeological site is accessible only by foot and takes four or five days to complete. Hiking through the lush green jungle, wading through crystal clear rivers and swimming in fresh natural pools, is what makes the journey so special. To guide you through this untouched and varied terrain, an indigenous guide from one of the local communities will lead you to the ruins and offer a personal insight to their indigenous culture and history of their lands. If you like adventure, spectacular scenery and doing something completely different then the lost city trek is not to be missed. But be warned, this journey is back to basics, with accommodation being limited to hammocks or bunk beds and basic facilities.
Visit Tayrona National Park
Visiting Tayrona National Park is an absolute must whilst on holiday in Colombia. This beautiful marine and coastal park has a unique landscape – offering deserted rugged beaches with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
Due to the vast size of the park (it stretches for 85km), there are plenty of fantastic walks and nature trails to embark on. We recommend trekking through the jungle before taking a dip in the warm Caribbean waters. Tayrona National Park provides excellent beach lounging, with deep bays, pelican-filled white sands, coconut palms and glistening waters. The enormous variety of flora and fauna on offer here, as well as the park’s rich culture, mean there is plenty to keep everyone fascinated.
We recommend staying at Ecohabs – this ecological hotel perched on a forested hillside within the park is definitely the best option in the area and the perfect base from which to explore.
Head to the Coffee Triangle
Colombian coffee is second to none and a trip to the Coffee Triangle cannot be missed. The triangle encompasses the cities of Armenia, Manizales and Pereira, but the main draw is the rural areas and plantations. Most of the accommodation in these areas is converted farm houses or haciendas with great views and serving delicious, seasonal food. Take a tour of the coffee farms and order a little ‘tinto’ cup (a thick black coffee that Colombia has become famous for) in the cafes and restaurants. After a day of learning about coffee, why not enjoy relaxing in one of the numerous thermal springs. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, a trip here will not be wasted; the coffee triangle is also home to rare fauna and flora, including the surprisingly tall and spindly wax palm trees.
Our favourite place to stay is Hacienda San Jose Pereira – a family-run coffee Hacienda located in the heart of the action and full of charming colonial décor.
Be dazzled by Bogota’s Museo de Oro
Undoubtedly one of the most interesting museums in Latin America, Bogota‘s Museo de Oro (which translates as the Gold Museum), contains pieces of gold and other materials from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. In total, there are more than 55,000 pieces of gold in the museum – making it the richest collection of pre-Hispanic gold anywhere in the world and by far the best gold museum in Latin America. On the third floor there is the ‘offering’ room which explains how gold was used in rituals. The museum is closed on Mondays but free on Sundays, so if you are going to spend a few days in Bogota we recommend you plan your stay accordingly – this fascinating museum is not to be missed!
We really like Hotel de la Opera – located in Bogota’s historic La Candelaria district (the most charming area of Bogota), this beautifully atmospheric colonial boutique hotel makes the perfect base for exploring the churches, galleries and restaurants of Colombia’s capital.