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.

7-DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1 - BOGOTÁ

  • Early Lunch @ La Puerta Falsa. Known for their traditional ajaico and tamales. Get there early to avoid a line.
  • Museo del Oro. The gold museum is the meeting point for the free walking tour. Don’t spend too much time in here.
  • Free Historical Walking Tour. 3 hour tour that covers the Botero Museum, Simon Bolivar Square, La Candelaria neighborhood, among many other places. Highly recommend.
  • La Candelaria. After the tour, spend some more time in this neighborhood lined with shops, cafés, and vibrant street art.
  • Dinner @ Andrés Carne de Res. Dance the night away at the original location in Chía. Be sure to make a dinner reservation and hire a car/book Uber in advance. I recommend making a reservation no earlier than 7:45pm for the full experience.

DAY 2 - BOGOTÁ

  • Coffee Tasting. Be sure to visit a café to sample some Colombian coffee.
  • Free Street Art Walking Tour. I highly recommend taking a second walking tour that covers the street art throughout Bogotá. Learn about the history behind the vibrant murals in the city.
  • Monserrate. Hike or take the cable car to the top of Monserrate and enjoy the view of Bogotá from atop. Be sure to check out the church at the top. Perfect place to watch the sunset.
  • Dinner @ Central Cevicheria 85. Walk around  Chapinero, a more affluent neighborhood before heading to Central Cevicheria for dinner.  I recommend making a reservation on a weekend night.


DAY 3 - CARTAGENA

  • Morning Flight BOG > CTG.
  • Late Lunch @ Carmen. Probably the best meal we had on this trip. Highly recommend.
  • Getsemani. Spend a few hours wandering through the old city’s shops and plazas. You can also take a free walking tour to learn about the city’s history, but in my opinion, it wasn’t that great.
  • Sunset Drinks @ Café del Mar. Relax and enjoy a nice sunset from this open café and bar located on the city wall. 10/10 would recommend.
  • Café Havana. After dinner, head to this café and bar to enjoy live music and salsa dancing. Located outside the old city, but is walking distance.


DAY 4 - CARTAGENA

  • Breakfast @ Ely Gourmet Café. Great place for coffee and pastries.
  • Rosario Islands Beach Day. Charter a boat to take you to one of the Rosario Islands where you can lounge on the beach and go swimming, boating, and snorkeling. Lunch is typically included.
  • Dinner @ Alma. After freshening up, head here for an amazing dinner. Be sure to try the  lobster risotto with oxtail marmalade.
  • Donde Fidel Salsa Dancing. Enjoy live music and dancing at this small café that spills out into the street.


DAY 5 - CARTAGENA

  • Abaco Libros y Café. Grab a quick bite to eat at this cool cafe.
  • Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Take a Chiva bus to the fortress and spend an hour or two wandering around and learning about its history.
  • Lunch @ El Boliche Cebicheria. Amazing ceviche restaurant. Make a reservation in person 1-2 days before as they are very popular.
  • Getsemani. Spend the rest of the afternoon in the old city before hopping on a flight to Medellin.
  • Evening Flight CTG > MDE.

DAY 6 - MEDELLÍN

  • Barrio Transformation Tour. Highly recommended walking tour of most densely populated neighborhood in Medellín. Learn about its history, the struggle of its people, and the different faces of the city’s recent transformation.
  • Cable Car. Take the cable car to the subway station and head to El Poblado. Enjoy the sweeping views of the city from all directions.
  • El Poblado. Spend the rest of the day in this trendy neighborhood with lots of boutiques, bars, and cafés.


DAY 7 - MEDELLÍN

  • Free Walking Tour. Gives a good overview of the city and its history. Typically 3 hours long.
  • Late Lunch @ Hacienda Junin. Try the traditional regional dish called the Bandeja Paisa.
  • Flight out of Colombia.

LOGISTICS

VISA INFORMATION

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.

LANGUAGE & CURRENCY

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

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.

RESTAURANT SPOTLIGHT

CARMEN (CARTAGENA)

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.

ANDRÉS CARNE DE RES (BOGOTÁ)

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.

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