After decades of civil unrest, Colombia has rebuilt itself and established its place as the new "it" destination. From colorful seaside towns to large metropolitan cities, Colombia has it all. Despite spending a week there, we felt like we barely scratched the surface on everything the country has to offer. The itinerary below provides a great introduction to the country's vibrant culture, history, and perhaps most importantly, food. Check out AFAR's travel guide for more ideas on how to structure your vacation.
All US and EU citizens who do not also hold Colombian citizenship must present a valid passport to enter and leave Colombia. US and EU citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less. Holders of passports issued by Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are granted visa-free access for a maximum of 90 days if they hold visas or residence permits issued by the US or a Schengen Area country. The visa exemption also applies to US Green Card holders. Holders of US or Schengen visas must ensure their visa is valid for at least 180 days from their arrival date. Be sure to check your country’s requirement via official sources.
The official language of Colombia is Spanish. We found that most people in the hospitality industry spoke English, but there were times we had to break out our high-school level Spanish. The currency of Colombia is the Colombian Peso. As of May 2020, 1 USD = 3954.51 Colombian Pesos.
Getting around Colombia is fairly easy. We took flights between each city. Within a city, we either walked, took an Uber, or had our hotel arrange a car — such as from the airport in Bogotá to our hotel and to/from Andrés Carne de Res.
We even took public transportation in Medellín after the Barrio Transformation Tour so that we could see the city via cable car. The subway system there was not too difficult to figure out.
If you want, in Cartagena, you can hop on a Chiva bus during the day to various attractions or at night for a party bus atmosphere. It will take you through various historical neighborhoods while providing you with live music, dancing, and rum.
One of the best meals we had in Colombia was at Carmen in Cartagena. The portion sizes and presentation of the food exceeded our expectations and the service was great.
The stand out dish was the Pez Palma — artisanal Colombian fish, coconut rice risotto, fresh hearts of palm, peachpalm sweet & sour. The cocktails were also great. I strongly advice making a reservation at least one week in advance as it would be hard to get a table as a walk-in customer.
Located roughly 45 minutes outside of central Bogotá, Andrés Carne de Res is a giant 2.76-square-mile restaurant with 11 dining areas, 2 dance floors, 5 kitchens, and a climbing wall. It’s definitely a fun and unique experience that I would recommend if you are traveling with a group. Be sure to make a reservation online prior to going.
The restaurant’s menu is huge - twice the size of the Cheesecake Factory’s. We enjoyed their arepas and would recommend others to try some. Throughout the meal, performers came to our table, played music, and handed out props such as hats and sashes. After dinner, dance off everything you ate on one of the dance floors.