Colombia is one of the fastest growing destinations and has so many things to offer. It is rich in diversity of nature, beauty, ecology and is perfect for explorers, eco-lovers, culture enthusiasts and adventurous travelers. Here are 20 reasons why your next holiday should be in Colombia:
1. The People
Colombia is a multiethnic society. The country has around 50 million people who are a mix of Europeans, Africans, and Amerindians, predominantly Spanish-influenced. Most of the population lives either in the highlands of the Andes or along the coast of the Caribbean. The locals have a great reputation for friendliness and hospitality, they are generally welcoming people. The locals enjoy having visitors in the city and go over and above to help you. Colombians foster their new and growing tourism industry and you can be sure to meet some very interesting and friendly people.
Image source: https://co.pinterest.com/pin/493566440390389343/
2. The Beaches
In Colombia, there are over 300 amazing that you can visit - on the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Two of the most popular beach areas in this country, both featuring turquoise water and white sand, are the Rosario Islands
and the beaches in the Tayrona National Park. Find more information about Tayrona Park in our blog post about the best national parks in Colombia
3. The Coffee
If you are a coffee lover - Colombia is a must visit! Colombian coffee is famous throughout the world and is one of the country’s biggest exports. Colombia has perfect weather conditions that allow growing the might best coffee in the world. Even though the majority of the coffee is exported, a small amount is kept within the country, giving the locals the chance to sample some of the best coffee in the world. The coffee production generates income for over 500,000 coffee farming families. The country had a large number of coffeehouses, shops, and tours in the coffee region
“Eje Cafetero” south of Medellin. It has a pleasant climate and allows you to experience life as a coffee farmer. There you will learn how this popular product is produced from seed to cup, and mingle with some local farmers.
4. The Festivals
If you want to experience the people and the culture in Colombia, it is an absolute necessity to visit one of the festivals. You can visit the Carnaval de Barranquilla which is the 2nd largest festival in the world or the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros in Cali. During the festivals, the entire city shuts down for a few days and you will see everybody comes together and celebrates with dancing, music, and drinking. The streets are filled with parades and parties. The carnivals are a big draw for tourists, who are very warmly received by locals. If you are in Colombia during one of these festivals, it is highly recommended to be a part of one of these events. Read our blog post on the top festivals in Colombia
to find out more.
Image source: https://eliturs.com/carnaval-de-negros-y-blancos-narino/
5. The Food
Colombia has a rare and delicious cuisine - unique in the world. The range of climates and altitude allows the local farmers to grow a large variety of crops all year round, and the country is home to a number of unique fruits and vegetables. The country prides itself on its homemade meals. Juices are popular as well as rice and corn arepas. A must try is the limonada de coco, a delicious coconut, and lime drink. As well as the bandeja paisa, a massive platter with three different types of meat, rice, beans, potatoes, and a small salad. Especially if you are a meat lover this cuisine will not let you down. The dishes vary depending on where you are in the country and depending on the local specialty. Another traditional dish is soups like Ajiaco and Sancocho. Read our blog post to find more about the typical dishes and foods in Colombia
6. The Nightlife
Colombia is known for its extravagant bars and clubs. Locals have a natural rhythm for dancing and partying. The cities all offer vibrant nightlife and the people like to dance until sunrise. In the nightlife of this country, you can find all the different areas of the country, bringing with them their traditions and cultural influences.
7. The Street Art
In 2011, Bogotá decided to decriminalize graffiti and this has marked a creative new era for the city. The flyovers, office blocks, and municipal walls became canvases for talented street artists. The old city area La Candelaria in Bogotá is part of a mayoral drive to protect listed historic structures - in other districts, the expression has been allowed to flourish.
8. The Lost City
One of the most alluring activities for tourists is the trek to the ancient lost city, hidden in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Santa Marta. The Teyuna archaeological site in the country’s far north is believed to have been founded at the start of the ninth century. This makes it about 650 years older than Peru’s Machu Picchu. The city itself was once home to the Tayrona people.
9. Exotic Fruits
Biodiversity does not just mean plants and animals, this country has a myriad of edible diversity too! Colombia’s exotic fruits are a highlight: fruits grow in every climate, whether cold, warm, tropical, or dry. Many fruits are native and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. If you head to a local market you can sample colorful fruits: from guavas, dragon fruits and zingy zapotes to lulos. Getting your “five-a-day” has never been easier.
10. Botero's Art
Fernando Botero, the figurative painter and sculptor, is famous worldwide for his satirical works. He produced art with big features, giving the impression of obese people or animals. His artwork has been featured in Singapore and New York. His sculptures can as well be found scattered around his hometown Medellin and his paintings are showcased in the Botero Museum in the center of Bogotá.
11. Caño Cristales
Caño Cristales is probably one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. For a large share of the year it appears to be regular, but between September and November a miracle happens - it becomes multicolored. It is tinted in 5 colors: red, green, black, yellow and blue. This is why it is also called “The River of five Colours” or “Rainbow River”.
12. The Amazon
The Amazon is an incredible place for tourists who seek intense contact with nature and get to know some of the most representative cultures of the country. Almost a third of Colombia is made up of jungle regions. The capital of the department, Leticia, is a friendly little place, located right on the border with Brazil and Peru. But the main reason to visit is the Amazon River and the rainforest that surrounds it are the strange and exotic plants and animals. The jungle is the longest in the world with its 6,800 kilometers. This is a destination where 212 species of mammals and 195 of reptiles live. If you are curious to learn more, read our blog post about the Colombian Amazon
13. The Desert
The Tatacoa Desert is actually not a desert: It is a dry tropical forest with a rich, colorful terrain. Millions of years ago, it was a lush forest full of vegetation and animals. Today, earth and rock stand where trees and flowers once stood. The land is not covered with dunes, as you might expect, but with rocky canyons that form dry labyrinths whose red and grey colors are interrupted by the occasional green bush. It is considered one of the largest vertebrate fossil sites in South America and has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Read our blog post to find out how to visit and what to do in the Tatacoa Desert
14. The Gothic Church
The Las Lajas Sanctuary (also called Las Lajas Cathedral) is famous for both the legend surrounding it and for its stunning architecture. Spanning across the Guaitara River, the Gothic-style church has a breathtaking structure. It was built between 1916 and 1949. The legend says that the Virgin Mary visited a mother and her deaf-mute daughter during a fierce storm. It is believed that years later after the daughter died the mother re-visited the site and the daughter was then revived by the Virgin Mary. The area is said to have healing powers and many reports of this have been made over the years.
Image source: https://destinationlesstravel.com/2018/06/30/las-lajas-sanctuary/
15. The Nature and the (National-)Parks
If you like getting lost in nature on your vacations - this country is the place for you. There are plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities
. There are as well a lot of easily accessible parks in the cities. In Bogota, you will find the Simon Bolivar park, which is even larger than Central Park in NYC. The opportunities to escape into nature here are endless. The country has 59 national natural parks, which vary in landscape, climate, and ecosystems. Many of them offer unique experiences for visitors. All national parks are designed to protect the wildlife, ecosystems, culture and architectural heritage of the area. You can visit the rainforest as well as the mountains which both have a rare species of wild animals. The Andean mountains bring about some of the highest points in Colombia and some of the nicest scenery as well.
16. The History
You have probably already heard something about the Colombian history - it is quite fascinating. The history dates back for centuries, with Pre-Colombian communities creating many of the towns and cities. The country has been heavily influenced by its natives as well as by the Spanish, French and British. It strongly reflects its history as a colony of Spain. Colombia is often referred to as the most Roman Catholic of the South American countries, and most of its people are proud of the relative purity of their Spanish language. The country is now turning a corner from its history of the last 50 years. Civil war has torn through the country, but 2016 a peace agreement was signed.
Image source: https://www.colombia.co/en/this-is-colombia/culture/august-7th-flag-day/
17. The music and rhythms
Dancing and music have been an integral aspect of the culture for centuries. They represent the various influences, being a very important part of it. The music from the Andean region has indigenous as well as Spanish influence, played mainly with string and wind instruments. In contrast, the music from the coasts has a clear African influence, with drum rhythms predominantly Salsa, Cumbia and Vallenato are very popular styles in the whole country, and have now reached global audiences. The country’s most popular dance style is Cumbia, which also happens to be one of the most popular music forms in all of Latin America.
18. The Cities and Towns
The biggest and most famous colonial cities in Colombia are Bogota and Cartagena. Both have lovely old quarters with Spanish architecture, pretty churches, statues and squares. For a smaller alternative, Villa de Leyva is a three-hour drive north of Bogota. Offering pretty cobblestone streets, Villa de Leyva is located near to a desert area with dinosaur fossils and remnants of a previous empire. Another city worth a visit is Medellín, the second biggest city in this country. It is an up-and-coming conurbation and has passed through an urban and social transformation over the last 20 years turning it from one of the world’s most violent cities to an award-winning center of innovation, which is becoming a model for other cities around the world. Learn more about Medellín's Transformation
in our blog post series.
19. The Salt Cathedral
The colonial city of Zipaquirá, a short drive from Bogota, is home to one of the most popular attractions in this country: the underground salt cathedral. The cathedral is located within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters deep, it was built using 250,000 tons of rock salt and is 75 meters long and 18 meters high. It opened in 1954, hewn from the town’s salt deposits and was traditionally used by miners. The mine is the largest deposit of rock salt in the world. Today it is a pilgrimage site for many Catholics. The salt cathedral is a functioning church but doesn’t have a bishop and isn’t officially recognized as a cathedral in Catholicism.
20. The Safety
Colombia has not always been considered as a holiday option due to security problems in the past. However, in the last 20 years, the country has become much safer, tackling many of its issues and problems. Both Medellin and Cali as well as the capital Bogota and Cartagena are all safer places today. Many foreign travelers can be seen everywhere in Colombia and locals are happy to have a blossoming tourism industry.
The whole of Colombia is rapidly becoming a must-see tourist destination, with a large increase in visitors from all around the world within the last five years. With its Caribbean beaches, snow-capped Andean mountain peaks, rainforests, and national parks, Colombia offers something for all types of travelers. The country’s magic, its astonishing variety of climates, landscapes and the friendliness of its people turn every trip into an unforgettable experience.