Don’t miss the best 8 places to visit in Colombia

About Colombia

In Colombia, it’s a common joke among guides to quip, “I bet your parents aren’t happy you’re traveling here right now!” The laughter and nodding that follow hold a grain of truth. But as I soon discovered, Colombia is a country with much more to offer than meets the eye. Over the course of a month, I embarked on an enthralling journey that spanned bustling cities, serene mountains, and picturesque coastlines. Join me as I recount my travels, sharing insights and invaluable tips for fellow adventurers!

My route included next cities:

  • Medellin
  • Jardin
  • Santa Rosa
  • Salento
  • Armenia
  • Cartagena
  • Santa Marta
  • Minca
  • Tayrona Park

Get exclusive tips from Alisa Meledy now!

Travel smart with WhatsApp group-chats, detailed maps and more!



I came to this city to learn more about Colombian culture and history and I got exactly what wanted from all the museums and walking tours. BUT! I understand more and more that I prefer traveling into nature rather than cities and Medellin was not the biggest highlight of my trip:) 

In my opinion one week is enough to learn the good parts of the city, have fun and study Colombian history. Here’s my recommendations.

Free walking tours

Do free walking tours with Real city free walking tours and Zippy tour comuna 13! I always do free walking tours wherever I go, I find guides very enthusiastic and prefer paying them directly rather than paying to a tour company. These companies are very friendly and well organized and will show you the most important cultural parts of the city.

Night Life

Dance salsa/bachata anywhere you can! Especially recommend @bachata_alparque. The park itself is beautiful to visit too. Whatsapp group-chats for dancing will especially help you finding the best places to learn and practice dancing. Leave your email here and I’ll be happy to send you ALL WHATSAPP GROUPS OF COLOMBIA.

Night life: hostel Viajeres rooftop, Casa de la luna, jazz or other events at @lapascasia


Go for a day trip to Guatape city to see the cute town and the ROCK. Exploring the vibrant streets of Guatape Town was like stepping into a real-life painting. Every corner revealed a burst of colors and unique details, making it impossible to put my camera down.

Company I went with @MDE_.Tours, also organize football tours in Medellin!

Arvi Park

Go to Arvi Park for a hike and Pueblito Paisa for sunset views. Arví Park in Medellin is a peaceful natural reserve with hiking trails and diverse ecosystems. It's a haven for nature lovers seeking tranquility and outdoor adventures. The cable car ride to Arví Park offers stunning panoramic views of the city and a chance to experience local culture at stations like Santo Domingo Savio. Remember to wear comfortable attire, bring your camera, and make the most of this unique journey to explore both the city and its serene surroundings.

📍Where I stayed - International house co-living

Great people, nice location with free huge stadium right in front of the building where you can find any work out you want. Amazing rooftop with good kitchen. The only BUT in this place is the airplanes you hear every morning taking off at 5:30 am. I’m not a light sleeper at all but was waking up every morning because of that. Also no subway around but Uber is pretty cheap so I used it. Also there’s lots if nice restaurants for a good price around.



If you are in Medellin, Jardin is a must seen place. I’d recommend staying here for 4 nights. There’s so many activities to do: hiking, swimming in waterfalls, horseback riding, paragliding. And of course you want to rest in between. I was there only for 2 nights and kinda wish I stayed longer, cause I didn’t get to do paragliding! Jardin is magical and I’d say it’s similar to Salento in a way (without tall palm trees though).  I also recommend buying a local coffee here if you are not planning on visiting Salento or other coffee regions after.


In the photo I shared the map of the hike that I did. First of all eat a carrot cake in Dulces Del Jardín, after head out to the trail that is just outside of the cafe. It will lead to waterfall Amor, followed by a cave with bats (look for the door inside a rock to enter), enjoy a nice view from a panoramic cafe on the way, and in the end get into a local cable car at Garrucha to return to the town. There’s also lots of other hikes to the waterfalls around the town.

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Don’t forget to check out Andean Cock-of-the-Rock in the local Reserva Natural Jardín de Rocas The reserve is home to diverse wildlife and offers a chance to witness the stunning display of the male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock during its mating rituals. The whole town in general has plenty of birds, including my favorite humming birds. Btw make sure you get to the reserve before it closes at 5 pm.


DON’T DO IT IN MEDELLIN, DO IT IN JARDIN! It’s cheaper, closer, more beautiful. Paragliding in Jardin is a popular adventure activity due to its stunning landscapes and favorable wind conditions. One of the well-known companies for paragliding in Jardin is "La tienda del parapente." They offer experienced instructors and a focus on safety.

Horse Riding

1. La Garrucha Trail: This trail takes you to the La Garrucha viewpoint, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

2. Cueva del Esplendor Trail: This trail leads to the “Cueva del Esplendor” (Cave of Splendor), a beautiful cave with a waterfall inside.

3. Cascada del Amor Trail: here you can enjoy the tranquil beauty of a waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation.

4. Coffee Plantation Trails.

Leave your email and I will send you the WhatsApp number for booking the tour.

📍Where I stayed - Hostal Naty Luna

Very nice and clean hostel with an amazing host! Right in the center of the town. They also offer discounted tours here and will be happy to help you with anything you need.

Salento + Santa Rosa

Salento + Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Hot Springs

This town was a short 1 night stop on the way to Salento and nice place to relax after a long bus ride. To get here you need to switch buses in Riosucio. There’s two hot springs you can go to in Santa Rosa: Termales de Santa Rosa De Cabal and Termales San Vicente, I chose the first one cause it was closer to the town. You can easily get there by Jeep from the city center. Definitely worth a stop! So beautiful here! Try to go there during the weekday to avoid crowds. We arrived around 4 pm and went for the night ticket.

📍Where I stayed

As I traveled here with some new friends I met in Jardin, this was a perfect place for 3 people to stay! The place is very clean, has two big beds. The host even offered us a ride to the hot springs and back for a very reasonable price.


If you’re a traveler who seeks a blend of nature, culture, and adventure, Salento should undoubtedly be on your bucket list. 

Nestled amidst the lush mountains and coffee plantations, Salento is a hidden gem that offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural delights, and unforgettable memories. Here’s my recommendations on what to see in Salento:

📍Valle de Cocora: A Majestic Marvel 🏞️

This place seemed like something straight out of a fairytale. Get here by Jeep that departs from the main square. You can buy a ticket in a special booth there. The towering wax palm trees, stretching towards the sky like nature’s own skyscrapers, left me awestruck. I took longer hike and it took me pretty much all day to finish it with all bird cafe and photos stops on the way. Make sure to bring your camera along, RAIN JACKET, snacks and water. 

Tejo: A Colombian Tradition with a Bang! 

📍Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos

You can’t truly say you’ve experienced Colombia until you’ve played Tejo! Picture this: a metal disc hurled towards a clay-filled pit, with a target made of gunpowder. The sound of impact followed by the joyful laughter of fellow players is something I won’t forget. A big part of the game, as the locals say is drinking beer! It’s not just a game; it’s a celebration of camaraderie and a unique part of Colombian culture.

Horseback Riding Adventure

(there’s people offering those tours on the streets, you can have a ride for $20-$25, the more people you have the cheaper the tour is!)

Feeling a tad adventurous, I decided to hop on a horse and explore the surrounding countryside like a true Colombian gaucho. The rhythmic sound of hooves on the dirt path, the gentle breeze against my face, and the ever-changing vistas made me feel like I was living a dream. It’s an experience that not only connects you with nature but also with the history and culture of the region. Leave your email and I will send you the WhatsApp number for booking the tour.

Jeep Adventures and Coffee Quests 🚙☕

📍Don Eduardo farm/Momota Farm

One of the most thrilling aspects of my Salento journey was hopping into a colorful jeep, ready to explore the countryside. The bumpy rides through rustic roads added an element of excitement to every journey. And speaking of journeys, if you love coffee make sure you go to local plantations, where you can learn about the intricate process of coffee cultivation and indulged in the freshest and most aromatic coffee. Don’t miss this chance to immerse yourself in the world of Colombian coffee!

Other Places to see and to do here:

📸Salento Viewpoint and river walk

We didn’t expect this at all but while checking out a viewpoint of the town (Salento mirador), we got recommended by a local guy to do a hike to a nearby river. The trail led us through a forest where we got lost, cause the track was not obvious, we got exhausted but made our way to this nice, fresh and cold river!

📝I didn’t have much time in the town but I highly recommend taking some spanish classes here. I walked by Spanish School everyday, but they were closed all the time I was there, still recommend it if you want to boost your Espanol! 

🌈 One day trip to Filandia! It’s a charming and picturesque town known for its beautiful landscapes, coffee culture, and traditional architecture.

Food: Wabi - Japanese place, Restaurante Andrea - cheap Colombian place with good Comida del dia, Serendipia Encuentro, La Tapería Salento

📍Where I stayed

Price wise it was a good place for 3 people but a little too loud, bad hot water pressure and not that much at the kitchen to use. Again, for the price we paid not bad at all. But few things to consider before booking.

Get exclusive tips from Alisa Meledy now!

Travel smart with WhatsApp group-chats, detailed maps and more!



From Salento, I took a bus to Armenia (1 hour) and from there flew straight to Cartagena. The bus from Salento takes you to the bus terminal from where you can get a bus to the airport super cheap and fast (30 min). Short flight and here I am in Cartagena. The contrast was striking! After the quiet and unhurried charm of the small mountain town, I found myself walking amidst the merciless heat, navigating through endless waves of cars in Cartagena's bustling streets. The transition from serene landscapes to the vibrant chaos of the city was truly a journey of contrasts.

Historic Old Town (Ciudad Amurallada):

Free walking tour with Free Tour Cartagena. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the colonial architecture, colorful buildings, and charming plazas like Plaza Santo Domingo and Plaza San Pedro Claver. Don’t miss Castillo San Felipe de Barajas: Visit this massive fortress that offers panoramic views of the city. It’s a historic site with tunnels, battlements, and a deep history dating back to the colonial era.

Getsemani Neighborhood:

Free Tour Cartagena will also take you to this area. Experience the local culture and art scene in the vibrant Getsemani neighborhood. This area is known for its street art, live music, and lively nightlife. They also have free graffiti tours around this area which I recommend. Make sure to check out some local restaurants: Espiritu Santo, Mama-Nilma, Santa Cattleya, the food is sooooo good and the prices will surprise you in a good way!

Centenario Park

My highlight in Cartagena was this public park because it was the first time I saw a sloth with my own eyes! There’s also little monkeys you can find climbing the trees, if you have a coconut or banana, they’ll be happy to try some. The animals you’ll see here were taken from wildlife traffickers and safely put in this public park where they live a happy free life running around and entertaining tourists. Don’t be shy, ask the park workers help you find the animals, they’ll be glad to show you hidden sloths in the leaves.

Rosario Islands

If you are in Cartagena for longer than 2 days take a boat trip to the nearby Rosario Islands for pristine beaches, clear waters, and opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxation. I didn’t get to go to the Islands for the lack of time, but did diving in Santa Marta instead! Places people recommended me:

1. Isla Grande: Largest island with snorkeling, diving, and beaches.

2. Playa Blanca: White sandy beach for sunbathing and swimming.

3. Aquarium: Learn about marine life and conservation.

4. Cholon: Sandbar area for boat parties and snorkeling.

5. Coral Reefs: Vibrant underwater world for snorkeling and diving.

📍Where I stayed - Clock Hostel

Nice place for a couple nights with good AC (you need it in Cartagena lol). Good location in the Old City center. Very convenient but nothing spectacular.

Santa Marta + Minca

Santa Marta + Minca

Santa Marta

From Cartagena I took a mini van from Marsol company to Santa Marta. It cost USD $15, the road took 4 hours and was very easy. In Santa Marta I spent 2 nights and it was enough to see the city and have a couple dives which I highly recommend to do here (only USD $50 for 2 dives). I dived with Caribbean Pro Centro de Buceo and it was nice and safe. I already have my diving certificate but many people recommend this company for getting your diver’s license as well!

Food in Santa Marta: Juancho Cevicheria y Restaurante, El Mexican Santa Marta, Arepas de yiya, Ikaro café

📍Where I stayed

Best Airbnb host ever! The place itself was very loud from the road, no AC so it gets very hot, but the host provides you with everything (even tampons!), he is a very nice old man, even showed me good places for dinner! The location is good too and if you need to leave your stuff when you go to Tayrona here, you can easily do that.


From Santa Marta I took a bus to Minca where I switched to Jeep and made it up to Masaya Casas Viejas Hostel. Here I spent 5 nights because the guy I met in Medellin was advertising so much I couldn’t resist. The hostel is in the middle of nowhere and has many activities, of course I tried them all! If you choose to stay here make sure to book it in advance they get sold out weeks before! The food is amazing, the place is beautiful and not expensive at all for what you get!

Other things to see in Minca without the hostel

Pozo Azul waterfall

Cascada de Marinka (the largest waterfall in the area)

Cerro Kennedy (the highest point) for breathtaking vistas

The Los Pinos viewpoint

The La Victoria coffee farm with or without coffee tour, here you can buy a huge bag of coffee for only USD $8!

And some good places to eat in Minca:

Cafeteria y Laboratorio de Cafe Caficosta, Arabesca, Duni Cafe, WAIRA ice cream & speciality coffee

Tayrona Park

Tayrona Park

  • From Masaya hostel they offer direct ride to Tayrona Park for a very reasonable price if you share the car with other guests from the hostel.
  • VERY IMPORTANT! Enter through Calabazo entrance, it’s much less crowded and you’ll enjoy the park more! Since the park entrance is quiet pricy (about USD $20) I recommend staying here at least one night, better two. All places have both hummocks and beds. Make sure you book all places in advance, they get sold out very fast and you might end up not having a place to stay. Leave your email and I’ll send you all the WhatsApp numbers for booking your spot!
  • Small tip for you! At the entrance they ask how many days you’re going to spend in the park, say one and pay less for the insurance, they don’t check it afterwards, but if anything happens and you need medical support, that might be an issue. My friend had some issues with his stomach and the doctors took good care of him which was super nice.
  • Also there’s no need to bring any food you’ll find restaurants at each campsite.

I recommend to:

  • Take a motobike ride from the Calabazo entrance to the hiking point, this way you’ll skip the boring part and save some energy for the hike.
  • Head to Playa Brava Beach. Stay here for a night or just chill for a couple hours before going to the next destination.
  • Next day, or after having some rest and food keep going towards San Juan Beach. The first part of the hike will be quiet challenging cause it’s up the hill but after you get to some empty wild beaches on the way you will understand that it was worth it! San Juan is more crowded than Playa Brava BUT the ocean here is more swimmable. You can snorkel or even see the fish literally just standing in water. And also the sunrise here is amazing, don’t miss it!
  • After spending second night in San Juan go to the main entrance, which would be an exit for you! You can either walk all the way out or take a collective from the spot where a proper road starts.

My one month in Colombia was over, the last night of it I spent in Bohemia Beach Hostel playing volleyball and enjoying the sun.

My trip in Colombia was amazing - filled with vibrant experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and warm encounters with the local culture. From the captivating cities to the pristine beaches and lush countryside, Colombia's diversity left a lasting impression. Each city, town, and village revealed its own unique colors and flavors, while the landscapes shifted from misty mountains to lush valleys, and from vibrant jungles to hidden lagoons. But beyond the physical beauty, it was the warmth of the Colombian people that truly left an indelible mark. Whether sharing stories with locals in a pueblo, savoring traditional Colombian dishes, or dancing to the rhythm of coastal music, every encounter felt like a gift. Travel to Colombia, you won’t regret it!

Get exclusive tips from Alisa Meledy now!

Travel smart with WhatsApp group-chats, detailed maps and more!

Follow me on Instagram for more travel tips!