when to go
No matter what your travel priorities are, Colombia brings the fuego. While the landscapes are staggeringly diverse, there’s one constant: this country does not do mild. Get ready for a full dose of flavor.
The northern coast doesn’t just give you a mountain range pouring into the Caribbean Sea, it caps it with snow. In the interior, the Cocora Valley not only serves up lush green mountains and a fairytale-like cloud forest, it adds the world’s tallest palm trees to the scene (up to 200 ft!). So it should come as no surprise that the passion of the Colombian people mirrors the intensity of their landscapes. They’ve made a national sport out of all-night boozy revelry and dancing, and they warmly invite everyone to join in.
If Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota were an outfit, they’d be a power suit. Three pieces, each with its own shape and function, come together for one fierce look. While each city offers a distinct landscape and climate, they all give you fabulous art, culture, food, nightlife, and just like everywhere else in Colombia, friendly people.
Wildlife + Scenery
The most biodiverse country in the world per square mile, Colombia is bursting with mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, rainforests, desert, and the Amazon jungle. This incredible range of habitats provides homes for more bird species than any other nation, along with rare species of dolphins, whales, sloths, monkeys, jaguars, anteaters…and the list goes on.
History + Culture
The ancient ruins of the Lost City may be second only to Machu Picchu in grandeur, but there’s no comparison when it comes to crowds. For cultural insights, experience one hell of a Carnaval celebration in Barranquilla. Or visit the Wayuu indigenous community, a fiercely independent matriarchal society in La Guajira Desert.
Cartagena, Barichara, Villa de Leyva, and La Candelaria barrio of Bogota. These are just a few places where colonial architecture has been so painstakingly preserved and restored that it will be hard to believe you’re not on a movie set. And because Colombia can’t do anything without a scenic backdrop, they all provide sea or mountain views.
This colorful, meticulously preserved colonial city is one of our favorites in the world. On the shores of the Caribbean, the cuisine here revolves around seafood, an endless variety of tropical fruits you’ve never heard of, and frequently, a deep fryer. Trust us, it all works beautifully.
After a night of rooftop cocktails at the woman-owned Malagana Cafe, sleep it off in one of the city’s fabulous boutique hotels. Woman-owned Townhouse Hotel offers hip, artistic rooms and a rooftop bar with plunge pools. Or splash out at one of the two hotels owned by famed Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, both so chic it almost hurts. Almost.
Tayrona National Park
Unspoiled beaches | Hiking | Wildlife | Ruins | Ecolodge digs
Over the last decade, Medellin has transformed into a world-class hub of innovation and culture. And yes, it’s safe! Surrounded by the Andes and averaging daily temps of 72 degrees, the City of Eternal Spring does not disappoint.
The vivacious dining scene in Medellin is influenced by two factors: the surrounding countryside is astoundingly lush and fertile, and paisas, as locals are known, have never met a trend they weren’t keen to adopt. The city’s chefs excel at creating innovative dishes from wildly fresh ingredients, and serving them in design-savvy settings. One of our favorites is OCI.Mde, where Chef Laura Londoño uses her training from Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe to create contemporary, slow-roasted dishes that honor her roots. The unique menu and cozy-chic ambiance will make you want to order everything and linger for hours.
Outside Medellin, family farms work with an ideal climate to produce some of the world’s best coffee. Visit a woman-owned coffee farm and stroll through charming colonial villages. Take in the wide array of flora and fauna, including the world’s tallest palm trees, on a hike or horseback ride through the surreal Cocora Valley. In a country brimming with scenery, this region works hard for the title of most beautiful.