In the Colombian Eastern Andes, at 2,640m above sea level, the captivating capital of Colombia is the perfect place to begin your exploration of this multifaceted country. The oldest and most evocative district of the city, the cobbled streets and squares of La Candelaria are lined with stately churches, townhouses and palace dating from the colonial period. Nearby, the must-see Museo de Oro has a dazzling collection of gold artefacts, ornaments and jewellery, while the summit of Cerro de Montserrate – an emerald green hill topped by a church on the eastern outskirts of the city - offers sublime views.
But as you will soon find out on the 11-day Journey Latin America Signature Colombia: Private Culture and Coffee TourBogotá is far from frozen in the past: this ever-changing cosmopolitan city boasts a thriving street art scene, while modern neighborhoods such as the Zona Rosa are packed with great places to eat, drink and dance all day long. night.
2. Cartagena and the Islands
A true architectural treasure, Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities in South America and an essential stop on any visit to Colombia. 12 day trip to Latin America Trailblazer Colombia Private Tour immerses you in the fascinating history of the Caribbean port, which centers around its romantic walled city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of wonderfully preserved palaces, mansions and churches.
A short walk away is the bustling neighborhood of Getsemaní – home to some of Cartagena’s trendiest restaurants and bars, which spill out onto the streets and squares – and the imposing Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, an impregnable fortress that once relegated pirates and naval fleets for centuries.
Beyond Cartagena, Gran Colombia in the Caribbean has so much more to offer. Head out to the crystal clear waters and pristine beaches of the surrounding area Rosary Islands or – further afield – the secluded coral island of San Andrés and its small, idyllic neighbor Providencia, which offer world-class snorkeling and diving.
3. The Caribbean coast
The jagged peaks and verdant foothills of the Sierra Nevada provide a dramatic backdrop for Colombia’s Caribbean coast, which is lined with a string of bays and gorgeous beaches dotted with coconut palms. Here you’ll find the Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, a popular hiking spot thanks to its verdant forests that stretch down to the azure sea and echo with the chirping of birds.
Beyond its natural attractions, the Caribbean coast is home to the bustling port of Santa Marta – Colombia’s oldest city – and the nearby town of Barranquilla, which hosts the second largest carnival in South America.
16 day trip to Latin America Weaverbird: Spirit of Colombia Group Tour also transports you inland, following the meandering Magdalena River to the regional town of Aracataca – birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez – and on to Mompós, a sunny city famous for its wealth of elegant buildings and its attractive, slow pace of life. life.
4. The coffee region
Coffee is synonymous with Colombia and the heart of the industry is the Zona Cafetera, a tropical region in the western Andes. The hills of the departments of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda are carpeted with coffee plantations called fincas – many of which date from the mid-19th century – which have opened their doors to visitors to provide insight into the process from bean to barista.
12 day trip to Latin America Self-Drive Colombia: Exploring the Coffee Region and Beyond The private tour showcases the best of the region, with guided tours around coffee plantations and forests of towering wax palms – which can reach up to 60m in height – as well as atmospheric overnight accommodation in a finca.
Beyond the cafe, the tour’s flexibility also allows you to explore the Zona Cafetera’s other attractions at your leisure, including the rugged Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, which features everything from snow-capped mountains and creaking glaciers to forests. clouds filled with birds and steaming hot springs.
Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its consistently warm and sunny climate, Medellín is a dynamic and welcoming place in the Colombian Eastern Andes. As well as vibrant food and nightlife scenes, Colombia’s second-largest city is a cultural hotspot, with a huge range of galleries, museums and venues, including the Museo de Antioquia, home to many works the most refined works of the famous Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero. Meanwhile, if you fancy a change of pace, charming towns such as Santa Fé de Antioquia can be easily visited on a day trip.
As you will find on Journey Latin America’s 18-day Private Tour of Unknown Colombia, Providencia and Panama City, Medellín is also famous for its flowers. This heritage is celebrated every August during the Feria de Las Flores (Festival of Flowers), a 10-day festival whose centerpiece is a colorful parade of silleteros (flower vendors) carrying bright and wonderfully creative flower arrangements on their backs.
6. The Andes
Serpentine river valleys divide the Andes into a series of mountain ranges, in the highlands of which lie some of Colombia’s best-preserved colonial-era towns and villages. A visit to Villa de Leyva – one of the highlights of the 14-day Journey Latin America Chachalaca: Colombia Colonial Group and Coffee Tour – feels like stepping back in time. Founded in 1572 and boasting a stunning mountainous setting, the city is full of glorious whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs, centuries-old churches and the sprawling Plaza Mayor.
The highlands are also rich in indigenous cultures and sites, including Lake Guatavita, which is said to have been one of the sources of inspiration for the legend of El Dorado. The scenery is equally impressive, especially the high altitude Paramo, a characteristic marshy environment. And there are also quirky attractions like the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, which was built deep underground in an old mine.
7. Go remote
From the isolated archaeological site of Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) to the dense rainforests of the Amazon and the seemingly endless plains of the Llanos Orientales, a biodiverse region dotted with cattle ranches, Colombia has plenty to offer travelers with a sense of adventure.
13 day trip to Latin America Off the Beaten Path Colombia: San Agustín and the Amazon the private tour makes it easy to get off the tourist trail. It takes you from the Tatacoa Desert, an otherworldly landscape whose clear skies are perfect for stargazing, to the remote Amazon town of Leticia, a jumping-off point for boat trips to meet indigenous communities and searching for majestic creatures such as anacondas and pink river dolphins.
The tour also includes two intriguing archaeological sites: San Agustín has the largest group of megalithic sculptures and religious monuments on the continent, while Tierradentro has a fascinating complex of ancient underground tombs.