Where do we start with Colombia? From Amazon rainforest and Caribbean beaches, to ancient archaeological ruins and cobbled colonial streets, Colombia is the full South American package. But with all that to explore, where do you even start?
Our #STATravelBlueTicket winners hit up Colombia on their world tour, so we caught up with Emilia on their must see Colombian sights.
1. Free Walking Tour, Bogotá
The bustling capital city of Bogotá is well stationed as a starting point for any backpacking route around Colombia. The city boasts a large international and domestic airport so is often viewed as just a transit point. HUGE error! There is so much to do in Colombia’s creative capital, which is home to some of the best street art in the world.
Bogotá was the perfect start to our trip exploring Colombia. We took a free walking tour around the city and it completely exceeded our expectations. Our in-the-know guide, Carlos, relayed the history and politics behind the city and answered all our questions while we explored backstreets that we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. To top it all off, we got to finish the tour with free coffee and cocktails. Winner!
2. Cocora Valley, Salento
The colonial town of Salento is a well-known coffee mecca, so if you love a cup of Joe, this is your place. But once you’re done drinking cerveza and trying your hand at Tejo (a traditional throwing sport) in the town square, head out of the city to the beautiful Cocora Valley. Days spent here will be filled with rustic little bridges, mountainous ridges and beautiful palm tree filled views. Just don’t forget your hiking boots!
3. Coffee Tour, Salento
Caffeine addict or not, this tour is a great experience. Strap a coffee-picker basket around your waist and find out if you could make it in the coffee industry. On the tour, you will learn about the harvesting process and the different types of coffee on the plantations. At the end, you will be treated to a tasting session where you will be able to try a cup of Salento’s most favoured beverage! Cheers (or whatever it is you say when drinking coffee…).
4. Free Comuna 13 or ‘Graffiti’ Walking Tour, Medellin
And so to the infamous Medellin and the notorious Comuna 13! For anyone who’s watched Narcos, you’ll know that this area used to be a hotbed of transporting illegal weapons, drugs and money. The days of Pablo Escobar are over though, so head here for a contemporary scene full of culture, graffiti and wonderful residents that make the city well worth a visit.
Take a free walking tour for a serious eye-opening journey into the Comuna’s history, as well as some lit graffiti too. End the tour on a high with a free salsa class to shake what your mama gave ya!
5. Visit Playa Cabo San Juan del Guía beach, Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park as a whole, is a must. But within the park, is the beautiful Play Cabo San Juan del Guía beach. If you fancy a good-old hike, then choose between a five-hour or two-hour trek. The five-hour is a little more difficult and not very well signposted, while the two-hour is a lot easier on the ol’ thighs. If you’d rather avoid walking altogether, then jump on the boat from Tatanga.
Once you’re done sunning yourself, you can head straight into the wildlife that’s literally on your doorstep for more – you guessed it – hiking!
6. Overnight hammocks in El Cabo San Juan, Tayrona National Park
Staying overnight in Parque Tayrona is an absolute must. There aren’t traditional hotels or hostels so you’re left with two options: camping, or renting hammocks for the night. Hammocks, duhhh! We went for this option and it was BEAUT. You can either sleep on the beach or on a large rock overlooking the ocean, but be quick, they sell out fast!
And if sleeping under the stars isn’t what travelling is all about, what is?!
7. Watch the Sunset at Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena
We found the charm of Colombia’s most visited and pastel-hued city, Cartagena, was best experienced in late afternoon from the walkable stone walls of this stunning fortress. Watch the sun set over the Caribbean Sea as you stroll the Old Town. Don’t forget to stop off at Mercado de Bazurto which sells everything from fresh fruit to fresh fish and is a taste of real Cartagena.