Get inspired by our typical itinerary in Colombia

Bogota centre ville

A typical itinerary in Colombia

The beaches, the Amazon rainforest, the Cordillera des Andes, colonial architecture, biodiversity and charming people … Colombia has everything to seduce you. Radiant between the Pacific and the Caribbean, this highly contrasted country is perfect for a trip of several weeks. Hence the interest of our typical Colombia itinerary!

It will take you several days to fully appreciate the different atmospheres that Colombia has to offer. It is a complex country and full of history, ideal for adventurers who like to travel with their backpacks (but not only :)).

And as such a journey is not organized lightly, we have prepared a road map gathering the essential sites, but also some hidden treasures. As a bonus, we even detailed the transportation choices (usually by bus) to get there, and added our valuable advice. You are ready to read our typical Colombia itinerary ?

But beware, once you have read this itinerary, you will have only one idea in mind: to leave as soon as possible to Colombia!

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Bogota

So let’s start our itinerary in Bogota, the capital. Most probably it is here that you will arrive with your international flight. If you like cities, you will be comfortable in this huge megalopolis. A hotspot for culture in Latin America, Bogotá will charm you with its historic Candelaria district, breathtaking views from the Monserrate, its Plaza Bolivar surrounded by impressive monuments, its Gold Museum, or its botanical garden. It’s not the activities that are missing here, nor the tasty dishes!

Another interesting point of the capital is its situation on a plateau of the Andes Cordillera, at more than 2,600 meters above sea level. In addition to all these assets, Bogota also has the advantage of being located in the middle of the country. This greatly facilitates the organization of transport to discover other Colombian territories.

Recommended length of stay: 2 days

Voyage en Colombie

 

Bogota – Villa de Leyva via Zipaquira

From the capital, Zipaquira can be reached by the Savanna tourist train, or with the bus line “La Verde”, which goes to Villa de Leyva. A short stop in Zipaquira is a good idea if you like atypical architecture and minerals. There is a sumptuous salt cathedral, in which unbelievable colors and unreal games of light are getting mixed in a mysterious way.

At Villa de Leyva, another decor awaits you. This small village is built around a gigantic paved square, place of the festival of lights in December, and kites in August. In addition to the architecture of the houses, you can see dinosaur fossils, museums, and the beautiful convent Ecce Homo.

Travel time: 3 hours by train for Bogota-Zipaquira, 4h30 by bus from Bogota to Villa de Leyva with a stop at Zipaquira

Recommended length of stay: 2 days

Cathédrale de Sel Zipaquira

 

Villa de Leyva – Guadalupe

Guadalupe is a small hidden gem that is difficult to access. From Villa de Leyva, take a bus to Bucaramanga, and stop at Oiba. From there, a public transport will take you to Guadalupe. Once arrived, you will be happy to notice that you are the only tourist (or almost).

You will have the opportunity to make authentic encounters with the inhabitants, and discover the waterfalls and other “gachas” (small basins in the rivers). It is a quiet place and renowned for the beauty of nature.

Don’t forget your swimsuits and towels, but also sunscreen, hat and lots of water!

Travel time: 3 hours by minibus and Jeep
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Voyage en Colombie

 

Guadalupe – Barichara

After Guadalupe, our itinerary makes you head for the most beautiful village in Colombia, aka Barichara! White houses, small cobbled streets, colorful flowers, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will charm you for sure.

If you are also an adventurer of taste buds, you can even taste some roasted ants!

Travel time: 3h30 by minibus and Jeep
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Voyage en Colombie

 

Barichara – Bucaramanga

The calm and beauty of Barichara now give way to the modernity of Bucamaranga. Change of atmosphere in this nice city which displays a temperature of 25 degrees all year round.

The main attractions are the Santander Historical Museum, the Los Dolores Chapel, the parks, and the Botanical Garden.

Travel time: via San Gil, about 3h30
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Bucaramanga – Santa Marta

After the beginning of your stay in the mountains, you now continue the itinerary and head for the Caribbean coast and the city of Santa Marta. A place to relax, sun, and sandy beaches. Santa Marta is one of the oldest Colombian cities and is full of history. But that’s not all. It is also bordered by two natural parks to visit absolutely: the Tayrona and Sierra Nevada Natural Park.

If you can, take a trek to Minca, discover the waterfalls, the lush vegetation and the rocky mountains. To end in style, go for a walk to Taganga, a quiet fishing district north of Santa Marta. You will not want to leave this little paradise.

Travel time: about ten hours, with possibility to make the trip by night or by small plane
Recommended length of stay: 2 to 3 days

 

Santa Marta – Cartagena de Indias

Still on the Caribbean coast, let’s continue with the inevitable Cartagena de Indias. The city and its fortress are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, and that’s not for nothing. High place of the history of the Spanish conquest, Cartagena is a port of first importance whose heritage is impressive.

To understand the magic of the city, just get lost in the alleys of the historic district, or walk the walls at sunset. The Clock Tower or the Cathedral Santa Catalina de Alejandria are also worth seeing.

Travel time: 4 to 5 hours by bus
Recommended length of stay: at least 2 days

 

Vente de fruits

Excursion from Cartagena to Parque Nacional Natural Marino Islas Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo

As you are right at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, you should take some time to enjoy it, right ? A small detour  on your itinerary through this natural park is perfect to relax and have a good time in a postcard setting.

If in addition you are fond of snorkeling and diving, you will be like a fish in the water!

Journey time: 1 to 2 hours by boat from Cartagena
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Côte Caraïbe

 

 

Excursion from Cartagena to San Basilio de Palenque

Don’t miss this unusual village, just a few dozen kilometers outside of Cartagena. It has even been classified as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

This comes from its cultural mixture brought by the African populations who elected there by creating the first free slave camp. Since then, a unique language has been created, as well as culture, religion, gastronomy and traditions. This very special place, which is nothing like the rest of Colombia, is definitely worth a visit.

Travel time: 1h30 one way, with an organized tour from Cartagena
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Cartagena de Indias – Medellin

Once you are well relaxed by the Caribbean, it is time to return to the mountains for your Columbia typical itinerary and discover Medellin. It is one of the largest cities in Colombia, and has all modern transport such as the metro, the tram, and even cable cars.

Its name is often associated with drug cartels, but that time is over, and you will be safe there. You can see the famous Botero sculptures at the Antioquia Museum, and the huge Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. If you like history, do not hesitate to take a guided tour of the city, there is so much to say about it!

Travel time: 1 full day (or night) by bus, 2h30 by plane
Recommended length of stay: 2 days

Parc Fernando Botero

Excursion from Medellin to Nuqui and Parque Nacional Ensade de Utria in the Choco region

It is a little distant from Medellin, but you won’t regret it. This excursion on the Pacific coast of Colombia is breathtaking.

Between ocean and jungle, you will observe an extraordinary biodiversity and many whales. You have to see it to believe it, this place releases a really intense energy. In addition, this place far from everything is not frequented by tourists, which will allow you to go quietly to meet the inhabitants if you wish. Finally, if you have ants in the legs, it’s a very good surf spot.

Travel time: 50 minutes flight to Nuqui, then access to the park by boat
Recommended length of stay: 1 to 2 days

Voyage responsable Colombie

 

Excursion from Medellin to Guatape (Piedra del peñol)

Guatape is best known for the huge monolith (piedra del peñol), which can be reached by an impressive staircase. The climb is rough, but the panoramic view is worth all the cramps you might get!

In Guatape you will also find particularly well decorated houses with bright colors. If you are still in shape after the piedra del peñol, there are many hikes in the middle of the forest and waterfalls to do in the surroundings.

Travel time: 2 hours by local bus, but there are also organized tours from Medellin
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Guatape - El Penol

 

Medellin – Aguadas

You are now entering the region of coffee, banana and sugar cane plantations. Aguadas is part of the heritage villages of the country, as well as the cultural landscape of Colombia’s coffee recognized by UNESCO.

Besides the tasty coffee that can be enjoyed, in Aguadas you also have the very famous craft of braided hats.

Travel time: between 4 and 6 hours
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Voyage en Colombie

 

Aguadas – Salamina

Continuing your itinerary through the lush valleys of the café, you will come across a small and very welcoming village. Salamina is also a heritage city of Colombia. It’s nickname is the “City of Light”.

You will see that it seems out of  time, as it only opened to tourism recently. And above all, lift your nose! The multicolored balconies are a real treat for the eyes. You can also visit the wax palm forests, so typical of the region.

Travel time: 2 hours
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Balcons en bois

 

Salamina – Armenia


In comparison, Armenia is a big city, with many activities, and of course, excellent coffee. The Quimbaya Gold Museum is very interesting, and if you want to reach out to Calarca, you will not be disappointed by Quindio’s beautiful botanical garden.
Travel time: 5 hours, passing by Manizales
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Village de Salento

 

Armenia – Neiva

Neiva is a rich city that has developed a lot in recent years. But if we stop there, it is not to contemplate its modern buildings. We come to Neiva for its proximity to the Tatacoa desert and its cactus proudly standing on the arid ocher-colored rocks.

A real landscape of far west, far from the tumult of the city.

Travel time: 7 hours
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Neiva – San Agustin

The road is long from Armenia until San Agustin, but once arrived, you will be happy to have made this great detour. The city is home to an archaeological park so impressive that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On more than 30 kilometers, you can walk the park and discover the statues carved in stone between the 1st and 8th century of our time. The civilization that inhabited here developed a very advanced art of sculpture, mixing religious and funerary rites.

This site is really well preserved and is a wonderful testimony to the history of Colombia. If you can, make a short trip to Mocoa to swim in the beautiful waterfall of the end of the world.

Travel time: 4h30
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

Site archéologique San Agustin Colombie

 

San Agustin – Popayan

Tourists often ignore Popayan, but do not make this mistake. It is an architectural marvel comparable to Cartagena. This white city has innumerable religious buildings, all more beautiful than the others. The museum of religious art contains magnificent craftsmanship in gold and precious stones. If you come during Holy Week, you will have the chance to see beautiful processions. The clock tower is also a must in the city.

Another important information, the cuisine of Popayan is so famous throughout South America that it is listed as City of Gastronomy by UNESCO.

If you are sensitive to nature, the Puracé volcano is only a few kilometers from the city.

Travel time: 3h30 with arrival in the middle of the night
Recommended length of stay: 2 days

Popayan Colombie

 

Popayan – Cali

Before coming back to Bogota, here is a last stop in our itinerary around Colombia. Cali is not necessarily the most beautiful city in the country, but it offers a nice place to spend an evening between two trips. Its historic downtown is well preserved and quite pretty, as are its sculptures punctuating the streets.

But Cali is especially famous for its festive nights and discos. Before leaving the country, let yourself be tempted by a memorable Colombian night!

Travel time: 4 hours
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Cali – Bogota

Back to the starting point, Bogota, to complete this colorful Colombian adventure. Feel free to stroll a few hours in the warm streets of the capital to soak up a little of the sweetness of life.

Eat a last ajiaco and buy some craft souvenirs before flying off to new adventures. But you will certainly not forget Colombia anytime soon!

Travel time: 12 hours by bus, 1 hour by plane
Recommended length of stay: 1 day

 

Centre ville Bogota

Bonus for the typical Colombia itinerary: Bogota to Leticia

If you still have some time and money, take the opportunity to explore the Amazon River (and its pink dolphins!) in Leticia. This city is on the border between Colombia, Peru and Brazil. There, many indigenous communities are still active, and it is possible to meet them, respecting of course their traditions.

Take a local guide who will take you into the jungle, and tell you the story of this special place. Leticia is the gateway to the Amazonian forest, and all its natural splendors. You have to see it at least once in your life, and that might be the perfect opportunity for you.

Travel time: 2 hours by plane
Recommended length of stay: 2 days

 

It is now time to fix the date of your holidays, compare all flight comparison sites for Colombia, choose your itinerary and pack your bags. Have a nice trip !

 

Other articles that might interest you :

Nos conseils pour votre voyage en Colombie : Santé et Sécurité, Pharmacie de voyage, Liste des choses à emporter

Découvrez nos infos pratiques sur la Colombie concernant climats, meilleur saison pour voyager et principaux sites à visiter

 

Découvrez nos voyages en Colombie !

Colombie Classique : La Colombie sous un autre regard

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