I just finished travelling around South America for ten months, and besides the fact that the entire experience was incredible, there was one country which really stood out for me - Colombia!
Colombia is a country which has managed to shed its previous reputation by welcoming travelers with open arms to explore what is not only a beautiful place, but also very safe these days!
During my 6 weeks in Colombia I made some incredible memories.
I swam in pristine beaches, bungee jumped in the jungle, explored graffiti-covered streets, and had beers with the friendliest locals.
Colombia is a country with its own unique charm, one which is hard to describe and is better experienced.
Regardless, I’m going to try to explain the best I can why Colombia is so amazing, and I am hoping that it inspires you to book the trip to see what Colombia has to offer for yourself!
1. Colorful Cities
I could easily use the term “colorful” to describe the exciting and interesting things going on in the cities on Colombia.
It is true, Colombian cities are vibrant and fun to explore.
However, when I first thought of “Colorful cities” to describe Colombia I was actually meaning it literally.
So get your camera ready for some incredible photos of bright buildings and artwork while wandering the streets.
Colombia’s large inland cities of Medellin and Bogota boast some of the best street art I have ever seen! Some of this art is legal, and some is not, but nonetheless, it is all intriguing and adds flare to the otherwise grey concrete streets.
Some of the street artwork is purely for visual pleasure, but many of it has political or historical significance.
When I was in Bogota I joined a street artist on a walking tour of the city center and learned about many of the stories that are behind the masterpieces.
In Medellin, a visit of the Comuna 13 neighborhood will showcase a variety of stories painted on walls. It is one thing to just see the artwork and enjoy it for its beauty and the talent of the artists, but a whole other level of depth is added once you understand each pieces’ importance.
Besides Medellin and Bogota, the colorful colonial-style buildings in both Cartagena and Guatape will always remain as a strong image in my mind.
Rainbow colored houses for as far as the eye can see. It is nearly impossible to wander these bright streets without a smile on your face.
Just look at the photo and you will know exactly what I mean!
2. Thrilling Adventures
To me, a good trip is never quite complete without a few thrilling adventures – and in Colombia I had a few of these experiences.
The first experience that comes to mind is bungee jumping in San Gil.
First of all, I have never even heard of another place that offers bungee jumping for only $20 USD!
I know what you’re thinking, “for that price it couldn’t possibly be safe!”
Well, it felt pretty safe when I did it. The equipment looked new, the operators spoke English, and overall it was just what I was looking for – a thrill.
Besides that though, the bungee jump is over a gorgeous river in the jungle and right before I took the leap, I enjoyed a view of the jungle and where it meets the town of San Gil.
If jumping off a 70m high crane isn’t really your thing, then maybe an amazon or jungle adventure might be!
A section of the amazon jungle extends into Colombia allowing visitors to jump on a boat or tour and explore. And besides the Amazon, there is the famous Lost City Trek which takes those brave enough on a 4-5 day hike through the jungle to see some Inca ruins.
These ruins are said to be nearly as impressive as Machu Picchu, but also nearly deserted so that visitors can enjoy them in peace.
Some of the other adventurous things to do in in Colombia include whitewater rafting, canyoning, kayaking, paragliding, skydiving, surfing, and kite surfing.
Whether you want to try one of these activities for the first time, learn the ropes and become an expert, or just practice something which you are already well-versed in, Colombia is the place!
3. Amazing Beaches
Colombia’s Caribbean Coast has some incredible beaches!
Some beaches are beautiful and tranquil while others have bars and music. Regardless of what you are looking for in terms of a beach, you will find it in Colombia.
The city of Santa Marta has some stunning beaches right within the city itself.
El Rodadero beach is a great place to relax during the day and an exciting place to check out for sunset and in the evening when all the vendors come out. It is also possible to get a boat ride to Playa Blanca beach for only a couple of dollars.
Near Santa Marta there is also a very famous area for beaches.
The Tayrona National Park will show you various beaches, and some of the most beautiful you will ever see, all within walking distance of each other!
A day trip to Tayrona is possible or there are camping spots, cabins or hammocks for hire, all within the park.
We can’t forget the city of Cartagena when we speak of beaches in Colombia.
Near Cartagena it is possible to visit some more fantastic beaches.
I personally loved Playa Blanca! Although it has become very developed and quite touristy, it has still managed to maintain its sense of tranquility.
Playa Blanca is easily accessible via a day trip from Cartagena.
I personally didn’t get a chance to visit the Pacific Coast of Colombia, but friends have told me it is also amazing. I plan on making this a part of my itinerary for my next trip to Colombia!
4. Interesting History
Colombia has become famous for its history, thanks to the popular television show “Narcos”.
Narcos became so popular because Colombia’s history is that interesting, and believe me, there is so much more to it then what the show tells you.
Upon my arrival in Medellin I immediately joined a walking tour of the city where I was doused in political history and current political issues Colombia still faces to today.
Narco’s makes Colombia’s history seem easily distinguishable as “right versus wrong” where there was so much more to it than that. And, Pablo Escobar wasn’t always involved.
Believe it or not, some Colombians still today support Pablo Escobar and as much as even mentioning his name in public could get you in the middle of a heated political debate.
To be honest, I couldn’t even begin to get into the history of Colombia in this article, it would take me a whole book!
But, I suppose that is just another reason why you should go to Colombia for yourself!
Learn about the history, the present, and make up your own opinions.
5. Vibrant Nightlife
Not everything in Colombia is adventurous or historical.
Colombia also makes the perfect travel destination for anyone looking to let loose and have a few drinks.
The nightlife in Colombia is crazy, everywhere.
Big cities like Medellin have clubs which are busy every night of the week as well as musical and sporting events (football/soccer games.) Small towns have little street-side pubs where locals are ecstatic to have a few drinks with you.
If you are looking for a party while visiting Colombia I suggest visiting during a major event such as the World Cup or Carnival.
Colombians (like most South Americans) love to party, and an event or special occasion gives them all the more reason to have a huge celebration.
After my trip to Colombia I have continually suggested to others to make the trip there as well.
I think Colombia is such a diverse country in terms of things to do for travelers.
These are some of the reasons I loved Colombia, but I’m sure if you went for yourself that you would discover a few more to add to the list!
Bailey is a 25 year old Canadian who hasn’t lived in Canada for more than four years. She has been busy traveling the world! Bailey just finished a 15 month adventure in Latin America and now is headed for New Zealand where she plans to live out of a van. You can follow Bailey on her adventures and get all of her travel tips by reading her blog, Destinationless Travel.
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