We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.

Are you planning to visit Colombia soon? Then this article is an easy overview for you to keep up with your travel plans and enjoy your trip well-prepared and at the fullest. Traveling to Colombia is not difficult, with good planning and prior research on the destinations you want to visit, you will have no problems if you arrive and decide to travel on your own or hire a travel agency like Impulse Travel to give you an extra hand in organizing your trip and focus on sit back, relax and enjoy the destination, getting to know the beautiful Colombian culture, and letting yourself be captivated by the warmth and friendliness of its people. If you want help with your trip, you can fill out our vacation form with your general details and we will get our hands to work on our magic. 

So, without further ado, let's start looking at the 10* bullets (newly added and not surprising topic at the number 10) of the most important aspects to keep in mind when preparing for your trip to Colombia:

1. Check if you need a visa 

This shouldn’t be a problem for most travelers. The majority of visitors from Europe and the US are granted a 3-month tourist visa. However, you should make sure that you can prove that you’ll be leaving the country after this period (i.e. have plane tickets) in case you are asked. If you plan on staying longer, you can apply for a visa extension at the Ministry of Foreign Relationships or the Office of Migración Colombia. They have an office in most major cities. Find out the exact visa requirements for your country here. The page is in Spanish but it should be fairly easy to navigate through it as you only have to type in your home country, your type of passport (ordinary in most cases) and the reason for your trip.


2.  Vaccinations and Travel Insurance

As for every holiday abroad, you should make sure to organize travel insurance before coming to Colombia. A little extra tip: ask the insurance company if they can provide the coverage documents in Spanish. This will save you a lot of trouble in case you have to use your insurance. Moreover, you should consult with your doctor on recommended vaccinations. Of course, this is a personal decision but, for example, some National Parks highly recommend a vaccination for yellow fever for certain areas such as Caño Cristales, the Amazon and Eastern Plains region. At the El Dorado Airport in Bogota, you can get the yellow fever vaccine for free at the Vaccination Point located on the second floor next to the DIAN offices. Its recommended to have the vaccine 10 days before traveling to these regions, have your full vaccination card with you as well, and know your allergies before accessing this vaccine.

COVID vaccine is no longer required to enter Colombia.

3. Learn some basic Spanish and Colombian slang words

Most people probably know “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Thanks” in the language of the country that they are traveling to. In Colombia knowing a little more Spanish will help you get around and receive some extra generosity and look for better bargaining dialogues. Colombians are very friendly and ready to help. If you can tell them in broken Spanish where you want to go, they’ll get you there. Don't be shy and let yourself go once you arrive here, while some people in the city could be more direct and cold like, in any other part of the world, the majority of colombians are joyful and warm, they'll go the extra mile for you to get you where you need and even offer some of their generosity when purchasing vegetables or fruits in the local markets asking for the "ñapa" (freebie). The communication of the language will help you break the ice with the locals and put into practice some local dialect customs such as asking for something for free ("regalado"), saying sorry ("que pena") every time you ask for something, and call "vecino/a (neighbor) to basically every person that is not your neighbor and that you are greeting on the street.  Anyway, away from the tourist hotspots English won’t be very helpful, so make sure to brush up on your Spanish knowledge a bit. There are several apps like Duolingo and Memrise that help you learn the basics in a playful way. Travel with a note book and write down every day of your trip to remember all the new things you are learning every day and practice them as you travel like new words, names of dishes, names of places you've visited and things you've learned about to connect more with the destination and engage with locals about their country! Anyway, you don't know if you will be coming to Colombia again having so many other places to visit on the Planet but this will definitively help you with your empathy while traveling and re-live with joy and fun words those moments in Colombia!

Eating fruits on the street!
Fruit stalls are everywhere in Colombia so you don't want to miss out on trying as many as you can with your Spanish skills!

4. When to go to Colombia

The main season for traveling in Colombia is from December to February. The climate is warm and dry in most places during this time. June to August are drier months also when you will get to enjoy clearer skies and less rain but don't trust completely your weather app as the climate in the tropics varies swiftly and you can always get caught in the rain. Luckily, you won't miss good cafés to wait for the rain to clear out before continuing your colombian exploration. If you are traveling during the Holiday or the Summer months consider avoiding the weekends to visit Touristic Sites because the influx of national tourists as well as foreign will be high and you will be caught in the line for 2h waiting to visit Monserrate for example. 

The best travel time also depends a lot on what you plan to do during your stay and while some regions can be visited throughout the year here’s a little help on when to go to more complex regions:

Pacific Coast (whale watching): July – October. Check and book this trip on our webpage here! Another interesting season to visit the Pacific Coast is from late October to December when the sighting, nesting, and release of sea turtles takes place. 
Caribbean and Atlantic Coasts: Avoid the rainy season between May and June as well as in October. We love the Caribbean and we have some of the most incredible single experiences you can book through our website here.
Amazon: Wet season for the first half of the year, dry season between July and September. The dry season allows more activities such as hiking through the rainforest and enjoying the banks and beaches of the rivers with tranquil waters for a nice swim in the jungle. The rain season allows deeper exploration of the flooded jungle on canoe trips teeming with wildlife. Explore our Remote Amazon Jungle, the Path of the Anaconda, or the Gateway to the Amazon trips on our site if you are interested in traveling to the lungs of the earth. 
Caño Cristales: One of the most famous sights in Colombia is the Rainbow River. This natural spectacle is only between June and November, so we highly recommend that you book the trip in advance as the demand is high and the capacity of the destination as well as the flight frequency is pretty low. You can book the 3 day trip on our webpage and inquire about longer trips!

Red and Gold colors of Caño Cristales
The river bed of Caño Cristales becomes colorful due to the flowering of the aquatic plants Macarenia Clavigera during the rain season.

5. What to see or where to go in Colombia

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world. From the Caribbean beaches in the north to the tropical rainforest in the south, there is so much to see that you can easily get overwhelmed when trying to plan your travel route. This incredible richness isn't just about the stunning landscapes; it's deeply intertwined with the presence of indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for millennia. Their profound understanding of nature's delicate balance is evident in their traditions and cultural practices. From the Tayrona people who carved intricate cities into the Sierra Nevada mountains to the U'wa people who fiercely protect their sacred headwaters, indigenous communities have played a vital role in shaping Colombia's unique relationship with the environment. Recognizing and respecting this rich heritage is crucial for a truly immersive Colombian experience. When people think about Colombia they think about natural richness and they are not wrong, we have 6 different geographical regions and all of them are worth visiting and exploring with ease, to discover and understand the incredible secrets of every main region in Colombia. The Tourism Office recently published a YouTube series of Colombia's 6 geographical and tourist regions. Start watching it right now!

But this is not all. This bio-historical tapestry, woven with threads of indigenous heritage and the arrival of the Spanish, and the Africans, has resulted in a vibrant and distinct Colombian culture. This beautiful blend is evident in the charming towns scattered across the country, particularly within the "Red de Pueblos Patrimonio" (Heritage Towns Network). Here, colonial architecture stands alongside vibrant indigenous crafts, and traditional festivals showcase a delightful mix of influences. Exploring these towns allows you to experience the soul of Colombia – a place where history whispers through cobblestone streets and ancient traditions live on in every corner. If you are curious to learn more about these Heritage Towns go check the official website of the network and enjoy reading and watching the incredible history of these 17 town list! 

Depending on how much time you will be spending in Colombia, you should select a few places that you definitely want to visit. You can then connect them by adding stops in between. Get some inspiration for places and activities that belong to every authentic Colombian experience in our “Ultimate Bucket list for Colombia”

Also worth mentioning: Colombia's travel regions are so rich that delving deeper into each one reveals you don't necessarily need to travel from north to south to experience the country's soul. Every major region holds its own magic. You can discover coffee plantations outside the big cities like Bogota, Cali, or Medellín without venturing to the Coffee Triangle in Armenia or Pereira or explore specialty coffee areas like Minca, the Sierra Nevada or the Department of Huila, renowned for producing the best quality coffee nationwide in the recent years. Another example is the Cocora Valley, while this is the most touristic place to witness our National Tree, the Wax Palms, there are many other places you can go and walk under these giantes that amazed the explorer Alexander von Humbolt in 1801, like Tochecito, Sasaima, Sevilla, La Unión, Salamina, La Maria and more, diminishing the volume and impact of tourism in local communities and the environment by visiting places off the beaten path. This allows you to spend more time in each destination, exploring it in greater depth, by doing so, you'll not only discover hidden gems often overlooked by tourists and even many locals but also experience Colombian life in the most local and authentic way possible.

However, Colombia boasts so many unique sites that visiting Los Nevados National Park or hiking in Tayrona National Park on the same trip will require traveling between cities. This inter-city travel presents the delightful pleasure of encountering changing landscapes, people, and cultures. But you know, you can't visit the whole country at once so better leave something for later!

6. Pack for all climates

Most travelers arrive in Bogotá first. Being the fourth highest capital of the world, the city is dominated by the unpredictable mountain climate. You can get a sunburn from the Andean sun in the morning and literally, two hours later drown in a spontaneous downpour.

Bogotá is only the tip of the iceberg. In Colombia you can experience snowy mountains and, after a few hours of traveling, relax at the beach in the sun. Of course, what you need to pack depends on where you want to go but you should prepare for many different weather conditions. Once you start getting to know Colombia and talk with colombians about our unpredictable weather you will notice that there is only two climates: "tierra fria o tierra caliente", which literally translates to cold or warm land. So your packing list should include a pair of long trousers, some shorts, walking sandals (its okay to walk with sandals on the streets in the warm lands but preferably wear shoes in the cold lands so you don't look too "gringo"), flip flops for the beach, a jacket for the high areas and a light raincoat that won't occupy too much space in your luggage just in case you face some rain or go wander in the paramo landscape someday. Additionally, if you plan to go dancing or explore Colombia's famous rumba, pack some dresses and shirts so you blend in with the locals because when we go out dancing, we like to look and feel good!

7. Cash is King in Colombia

While all big supermarket chains and restaurants accept credit cards, there are also many small stores and delicious empanada and fruit juice stands that won’t. It is advisable to either withdraw some cash at the ATMs or bring it with you in a major currency (Euro/US-Dollar) and exchange it in official stores. If you are withdrawing cash at the ATM, inform yourself about the fees that the bank in your home country and the local Colombian banks may charge. Also don't forget to call your bank to let them know you will be traveling outside of the country so they don't block your card once you start making transactions overseas. 

8. Stay safe with the necessary precautions

When traveling in the urban areas inform yourself with the locals, the hotel staff or your local friends about the area you are staying at and basic need services such as banks, supermarkets, restaurants, pubs, public transportation and places you don't need to see like shady neighborhoods. Its very important you know your surroundings well and keep inside the safe zones when walking around the city. In tourist sites and on public transport stay close to your belongings and don't take your cell phone or camera out if you don't need them strictly, enjoy the moment and stay present, our cities are full of life and magic so you don't want to miss out on that street magician instead of watching someone do a bad trick on Tik Tok. For example, the buses in Bogotá are often so crowded that it’s easy to slip a phone or wallet out of a pocket without its owner noticing. Learn more about “how not to give papaya” in our designated blog post about traveling safely in Colombia.

When embarking on an adventure through Colombia's rural and remote areas, embrace the tranquility and beauty of these lesser-explored destinations while ensuring a seamless and enjoyable journey. One of the key strategies for a smooth travel experience is to plan ahead by booking your accommodations and tours in advance. This not only provides you with peace of mind but also allows you to avoid the hassle of scrambling for last-minute arrangements. By securing your lodging beforehand, you can rest assured that you'll have a comfortable retreat waiting for you after a day of exploration. Furthermore, booking tours in advance offers numerous benefits, including the opportunity to explore with knowledgeable guides who can enrich your experience with their insights into local culture, history, and natural wonders. These guided tours often provide a structured and safe way to discover the hidden gems of Colombia's countryside, ensuring that you make the most of your time while minimizing any uncertainties. You can fill out our contact form on the footer of our home page and ask for any help that you need!

9. The rumba or the party

Prepare to be swept away by Colombia's vibrant rumba scene as you plan your journey to this dynamic destination. From the pulsating rhythms of salsa to the infectious beats of reggaeton, Colombia's party culture is an essential part of the travel experience. Dive into the bustling nightlife of cities like Bogota, Cartagena, Medellín and Cali, where dance clubs ignite with energy and passion. Experience the exhilaration of Colombia's legendary festivals, from the colorful Carnaval de Barranquilla to the electrifying Feria de Cali or the traditional Festival Petronio Alvarez where homage is paid to the Afro culture of our Pacific Coast. Embrace the warmth of Colombian hospitality as you dance, laugh, and celebrate alongside locals, creating memories to last a lifetime. If you love music and would like to live and experience the soul of the Caribbean rhythms go check out our most amazing travel series Sounds of Colombia. 

Partying in Cartagena
Partying in Cartagena

10. The Colombian food

Have we talked about the food yet? Get ready to smell, taste and see things you've never seen before. Worm Icecream? Yes please! Coca leaves cookies? Exotic fruit beers? Delicious chocolate with the highest quality of cocoa? Potato soups from the Andes and fish soups in the Caribbean? We have it all. Colombian cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, reflecting the country's rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary influences. Preparing for your trip to Colombia involves tantalizing your taste buds with the array of dishes that await you, from savory arepas stuffed with cheese and grilled meats to hearty bandeja paisa or sancocho to cure that "guayabo" (hangover) you have from the night before. But it's not just about the food – it's about the endless possibilities of dining delicious local delicacies to fine dining in immersive and sensorial experiences in multiple high-end restaurants. Want to discover all the secrets of our cities and navigate them like a local? Fill out our City Guides form and you'll get Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena ultimate city guides!

Three types of Arepa
Arepas (grilled corn dough) in its many forms!

So this is it, our 10 recommendations on how to prepare for your trip to Colombia. If you already have your travel dates or are just starting your research about our country, we hope this short blog has been informative and at the same time fun to read. With this information, it is enough to encourage you to travel either alone or accompanied by a team of experts and we hope that your experiences in Colombia will be unforgettable!

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