Walking through the worlds tallest palm trees, treating your tastebuds to Colombias finest coffee, to the top tourist destination for local Colombianos, this is your one-stop guide for the most beautiful places in Colombia.
Since the late 70-80’s the Latin American country of Colombia attracted the world’s attention as a country steeped in internal Civil conflict, the cocaine industry and political unrest thanks to the likes of Pablo Escobar.
A wave of doubt and apprehension surrounded the very thought of backpackers and foreigners travelling to Colombia for this very reason, as murder and narco trafficantes in Colombia kept many tourists at bay.
Thankfully, South American travel has increased; and as a result Colombia has tried really hard at tearing down an image that has plagued the country for decades.
Clear your mind; and forget everything you thought you knew because we are about to show you 3 of the most beautiful places in Colombia to visit in 2021
Colombia has so much to offer.
Discover the charm and city in the jungle feel of Medellin; to the country’s capital of Bogota to the nation’s Salsa capital Cali.
Colombia is easily one of our favourite countries in all of South America.
The home of blue, red and yellow is full of vibrance, warm-hearted friendliness and the greatest cup of coffee you will ever taste.
There are so many beautiful places in Colombia, you will undoubtedly want to extend your trip longer and longer.
Take a stroll through the mesmerising caribbean city of Cartagena, Colombians colonial old port town with its colourful ‘old town’ cobblestone streets.
If buildings and cities aren’t your thing then you must be a coffee drinker!
In which case, you cannot part ways with the country without first saying hola to Salento, the coffee triangle region known as ‘La valle de Cocora’ in the Quindio region.
Palm trees and espressos as far as the eye can see. Visit one of the many fincas that operate coffee and cacao tours, its also one of the top tourist attractions in Colombia.
Undoubtedly a month is no-where near enough time to explore this grandiose country, so after 1 month here, we’ve made a guide to the 3 MOST beautiful places in Colombia.
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Your Guide to the 3 Most beautiful places in Colombia
Arguably one of our favourites and starting the list of the most beautiful places to visit in Colombia, Salento’s popularity comes from being the centre of the coffee triangle.
La Valle de Cocora sits high in the Colombian Andes of Los Nevados National Natural Park; a vast valley of palm-trees and local run coffee farms known as finca’s that span 377 Sq km.
The Cocora valley is amongst the most popular tourist destinations in all of Colombia, perfect for the travel photographer and coffee drinkers alike.
Once inside the park climb the hills of the valley bed through the clouds to stand a top the 60m high wax palm trees; one of the most beautiful places in Colombia.
It’s impossible to get sick of this sight from the top.
Getting to the Cocora valley is one of the simplest tasks of your day.
Many of the local ‘Jeep taxis’ run a very loose timetable all day from about 6am through till roughly 4pm.
Most of the time they run every 30mins to an hour, depending on the amount of tourists and drivers available, however this is a very rough estimate, they tend to run their own timetable.
The journey from Salento to Cocora valley will take 20-30 minutes vand cost around 4000COP
VISIT A FINCA COFFEE MAKING TOUR
You cant turn a corner without finding a Finca offering coffee tours, so we’ve made things simply for you.
But what is a Finca you ask? A Finca is a country estate, or a ranch.
In the case of Colombia, Fincas are little farms on large estates that grow, produce and export coffee; and with Salento being one fo the more picturesque and beautiful places in Colombia, the setting and backdrop for these tours is perfect.
So do not leave without doing a coffee tour.
Finca Cafetera Las Brisas: Finca de Don Elias
We chose to go with a family run, organic finca called ‘Don Elias”‘ Coffee tour (Finca De Don Elias)
100% of their coffee beans are organic and hand picked, having been in operation for more than 20 years, Don Elias moved from Cali to Salento to start up this wonderful finca.
I can theoretically survive off coffee for the rest of my life, so don’t miss out on one of the best tourist attractions in Colombia.
Of all the beautiful places in Colombia we visited in our month here, the coffee triangle region of Colombia was one to never forget!
Cost: costs around 12000 COP per person as of 2021
Hacienda San Alberto Coffee Experience
The coffee here at San Alberto is the most awarded coffee in the entire Quindio region
That’s saying a lot for a whole region known for incredible coffee!
Based at the entry to Valle de Cauca in Buenavista, be amazed at the views of the Western mountain range and Valle de Cauca river as you learn about the coffee making process of plantation, processing and fine selection of coffee brands.
At the end of the day enjoy a great cup of coffee handpicked and grinder all by yourself.
Finca El Ocaso Salento
If trying premium coffee is your thing then look no further than El Ocaso Coffee farm.
Located 16km from the main region of Valle de Cocora, this high-end family run business have all your bases covered, and they are the only company in Quindio to offer coffee cupping.
Cupping is a process by which you smell individually grinded blends of coffee beans to appreciate the aromas. Fancy huh?
The tours start at 70,000 COP per person ($25 AUD)
The tour length is 3 hours long and offer both Spanish (9am) and English (2pm) tours.
The even have information on their website about how to get here, by plane, jeep, car, walking, or Horse!
Finca Don Eduardo
The original Plantation house is the oldest of all the plantation houses in Salento being well over 100 years old.
Finca Don Eduardo, the newly created Finca owned and operated by Plantation House is a short 10 minute walk from the town of Salento, Quindio.
Here like many others before it you will have the chance to see the coffee process from when it is grown off the tree, to the final tasting platter where they show you the final products they offer.
Don Eduardo cultivates 4 sub-varieties of coffee
- Variety Colombia
- Arabico Tipica
In addition to the coffee roasting process, Don Eduardo Finca also has two bamboo forests and three waterfalls for guests to enjoy during their stay.
WHERE TO STAY IN SALENTO
When it comes to accommodation, there are a lot of highly regarded hostels & guesthouses to choose from
The one question you need to ask yourself is do you stay closer to town, or further away.
Staying closer means you wake up basically inside Salento town, but staying further out means you pay for a small jeep to drive you back into town, 5 minutes away.
But the views…..oh the views!
Sit outside overlooking the mountainous ranges in awe of one of the most stunning and beautiful places in Colombia
We chose to stay at Yambolombia Hostel, an eco-lodge with a 6 bed dorm and two private rooms about a 5-10 minute Jeep ride outside of the city.
To be honest paying the jeep ride in is worth the stay, as it becomes more quiet and remote; just enough for your brain to relax and depart from the busy city.
A fairly new eco-hostel, but if waking up to incredible morning views of rolling hills and palm trees, a pet Dog & a Horse with the coolest Rastafarian hippie owners all sound good to you, then you’ve found paradise!
Of all the beautiful places in Colombia, Salento is one you wont soon forget, and your stay in Yambolombia will be the perfect way to settle in.
The permanent residents of Yambolombia include a Horse, and a female German Shepherd: the most adorable duo going round!
Hot, humid & gorgeous.
There’s a reason Cartagena is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia.
These colourful city streets and their vendors demonstrate how Colombia has taken its tourism capacity to the next level.
Travelling here from the eastern coast of Palomino and Buritaca, we were greeted by a Police van and the Inspector of sorts who welcomed us into the new and improved Cartagena.
A oddly placed attempt at getting the locals and international guests to rediscover their home town.
But nonetheless Cartagena is simply beautiful and definitely one of the more beautiful places to see in Colombia.
Most notably for the colourful streets once home to the most famous of all Colombians (no its not Shakira) Gabriel Marquez.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner called Cartagena home for a year, and has been used as the backdrop of his dream-like creations, yet few people come here in awe of this.
None the less, Cartagena is a major tourist attraction in Colombia.
Like most industrialised and tourist hot spots, Cartagena has long been a favourite of locals.
It’s most notably famous for the distinction between the ‘old town’ and ‘new town’.
Old Town Cartagena is lined with cobblestones and magical street art that invites wonder and amazement into your soul as you discover the many artisan coffee shops, restaurants and street vendors alike.
Old town was our favourite district in Cartagena andI’m sure Gabriel Marquez would consider Cartagena in the top most beautiful places in Colombia.
From the ladies selling mangoes on the corner outside the coffee shop, to the guitarist on the corner, and the local fruit ladies carrying their lunch atop their head!
IT’S NOT KNOW FOR ITS BEACHES
If it’s beaches you’re after, sadly you will be disappointed.
Despite being in our guide of the most beautiful places in Colombia, the beaches here will scare you off a little.
West of Santa Marta you won’t find too many beaches on the mainland that invite you to lay down and enjoy a cerveca.
This is true also for Santa Marta itself & Barranquilla.
If it’s beaches you’re after, then the best places to visit in Colombia are east of Santa Marta towards Buritaca, Palomino and Playa Bonita.
Photos are not free!
I’m sure you have seen photos of the many Afro-Colombian women carrying fruit atop their head.
No, they’re not carrying their food to eat it, they’re waiting for you to take a photo.
Much like a universal studios character waiting for his picture taken these pretty ladies will be asking for your money after your happy snap, so buyer beware.
And they know how to barter!
It might seem a bit odd, but what they’re asking really isn’t all that much considering they walk around with these fruit baskets all day long!
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT CARTAGENA?
We can honestly say that our entire trip to Colombia went off without a hitch.
In fact in 2017 Cartagena was awarded the safest city in Colombia.
Undoubtedly due to the increase in tourism and high police presence, it attracts a certain type of wealth from around Colombia that you wouldn’t necessarily see the likes of in Bogota, or Salento.
Always be cautious of where you place your belongings and how fancy you dress; chances are nothing will ever happen to you but you don’t want to be the 1% statistic
Although Bogota wasn’t one of our favourites from the point of view of being one of the more beautiful places in Colombia, it did however provide us with an invaluable insight into the country’s history.
In fact if we are being honest with you, the only reason we found ourselves in Bogota was because we had our passports stolen 4 months earlier in Chile.
As Colombia was our last destination in South America, we had pre-arranged to purchase new passports from the Australian and Canadian embassies in Bogota.
Nonetheless, there is a certain charm and charisma to Colombia’s capital.
In our opinion what made Bogota enjoyable was the activities we chose to get involved in.
The most peculiar and abstract game you ever did hear of and a truly unique tourist attraction in Colombia.
A traditional throwing sport in Colombia consists of throwing a small concrete block at a target 10-20m away; the aim is to land the object on the target.
Oh and by the way the target is filled with gunpowder, so if you hit it right, BANG!
We played this sport as part of a bike tour package we did through Cerros bike tour with our guide Nick.
The tour itself was incredibly informative and fun to be on, as we biked our way through the historical streets of Bogota stopping at a large local fruit market trying different local fruits, cycling along the infamous Candelaria district – Colombia’s world renowned graffiti district.
Politically influenced street art that has grabbed the world’s attention due to its depiction of a violent and oppressive past now sees the walls and streets filled with artwork of young and old, with a lot of attention given to the indigenous custodians of Colombia.
Realistically, Bogota was never high on our itinerary so should we find ourselves back in Colombia we would more than likely choose to seek out the more natural world attractions like the coast, the jungle or the Amazon rainforest.
Colombia is a beautiful country and Colombians have tried super hard to destroy a decades long stigma of drug trafficking, violence, oppression and internal political conflict.
So the most important thing you can do to help in that image is to be respectful of their country and of their history.
Visit Colombia for all the right reasons.
If you do that, Colombia will take you on a journey you didn’t even know you were on.
The most beautiful places in Colombia are not necessarily all those listed above, but if you are on a time limit and a budget these three will certainly lead you on the right path.