Reveal the magic of Colombia on an adventurous itinerary spanning from one month to 1-2 weeks. Choose the best destinations for your trip from paradise beaches, mountains, colonial cities, and the jungles of Amazon! Learn how to save money and book cheap flights, where to stay and what to see – we have everything covered.

This itinerary has been thoroughly updated in May 2019

Colombia is enormous and versatile; experiencing its various faces takes weeks. I mean, where else you can experience so much on the same holiday, inside just one country? The Caribbean beaches, archeological sites, mountain treks, and other adventurous activities are some of the best in South America, and the Colombian Amazon remains relatively unspoiled, unlike the Peruvian and Brazilian sides.

We tried our best to squeeze the secret ingredients into the ultimate 4-week Colombia itinerary, which is conveniently divided into four 1-week itineraries – or two different kinds of 2-week itineraries. If you’re planning 1-2 weeks’ trip in Colombia, just pick your favorite areas, and the logistics and other practical stuff are already planned for you. Read on to catch further tips for planning either one-week or two-week itinerary in Colombia!

No matter how much time you have and where you decide to go, the magic of Colombia will steal your heart. Take off with us!

The Ultimate Colombia Itinerary (For One Month or 1-3 Weeks)

  • One Week in Cartagena and The Caribbean Coast: Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta, Minca, Tayrona National Park

    • Detour: Lost City Trek or La Guajira or the Caribbean Islands
  • One Week in Medellin and The Colombian Andes: Paragliding, Cultural Tours, and Guatape

    • Detour: the Coffee Triangle, Salento, and Valle Cocora
  • One Week in San Agustin, Neiva, Desierto Tatacoa, and Popayan: Archeological Mysteries and Natural Miracles of Colombia

    • Detour: Tierradentro or Cali
  • One Week in Bogota and the Amazon: Leticia, Puerto Narino and Amazon Tours

    • Detour: Amazon tours in Brazil or Peru

The Ultimate 1-Week Colombia Itinerary

  • Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena in One Week

Dreamy sunsets at the beach of La Mar de Bien, near Palomino
Dreamy sunsets at the beach of La Mar de Bien, near Palomino

Tips for Your Own Colombia Itinerary

At first, we decided to create the ultimate one-month Colombia itinerary, which grew popular among backpackers and luxury-minded travelers alike. Then, we started to get inquiries for the best 2-week or one-week itinerary in Colombia, so we kept on drafting new itineraries which all have now been field-tested by our readers.

Our ultimate one-month route is easily divided into 1-week, 10-day or 2-week itineraries and we drop tips on how to expand it into 5-week or 2 months exploration through Colombia’s hidden gems.

Tips for Personalized One-Month Colombia Itinerary

If you’re planning a 4-week itinerary, read the whole article and pick the destinations that tick your fancy. Although our 4-week itinerary is popular, it still gets best with little tweaks that make it your own.

For example, if you love hiking, add Lost City Trek. If you love beaches, add more time on the Caribbean coast, possibly a couple of days inside Tayrona National Park and a snorkeling trip to Rosario Islands, and consider visiting the Caribbean Islands of Providencia and San Andres.

If you want to experience everything that you can within one month in Colombia, go with our original 4-week itinerary.

Tips for Planning 1-Week Colombia Itinerary

One week in Colombia forces you to choose carefully where to go and what to see. You cannot see everything, but it can still be the best trip ever!

When planning your route, check out all the chunks on our 4-week itinerary and choose one one-week loop that resonates with you. I’d recommend the Caribbean Coast, Medellin, or the Amazon, depending on your preferences. Then, add a night in Bogota (unless you choose Cartagena and find straight flights there, then you can skip Bogota totally).

If you find more than one area in our 4-week loop that enchants you, pick two areas and check if you can find cheap flights to minimize travel time. For example, it’s relatively easy to cover Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, and Medellin in one-week (but you’ll need flights to make it happen). We’ll give a more concrete example itinerary at the end of this article.

Tips for Planning 2-Week Itinerary in Colombia

The easiest way to create an awesome 2-week itinerary in Colombia is to pick two one-week chunks from our ultimate route. Then all the logistics are easy to handle, and you will have enough time to explore the destinations that you have picked.

With two weeks in Colombia, you can also be creative and modify the itinerary into your likings. If you’re into beaches, tick off the first part of our 4-week itinerary: Cartagena and the Caribbean Coast. Keep it as your base, where to add more destinations according to your schedule. Check out if you can find cheap flights to Providencia to explore the Caribbean Islands, or extend your Caribbean Coast itinerary to cover Riohacha and La Guajira Peninsula.

The easiest way to craft an amazing 3-week itinerary in Colombia is to pick three loops from our 4-week plan.

Climb to Cartagena's San Felipe Castle for views to the Getsemani, Old City, and Bocagrande


Cartagena (3-5 days): Old Colonial City with Spanish Castles and Beach Hideaways

Start your 4-week tour around Colombia from the cobbled streets of Cartagena de Indias. Visit Spanish castles, feast on culinary delights, and just wander around the old walled city spellbound.

Cartagena has probably the most picturesque old town we’ve ever visited. The pastel-colored colonial houses cast well-needed shadows into hot afternoons, and bougainvilleas hang from the pillared balconies like clouds from the paradise. The turquoise Caribbean lures you to take a boat to dreamy beaches and small islands, the nearest called Tierrabomba being just 20 minutes’ ride from the shore.

What to Do in Cartagena in 3-5 Days
Check out this epic list of our favorite activities and sights in Cartagena:
41 Cool Things To Do in Cartagena, Colombia

Less than four days won’t be enough to experience Cartagena at a relaxed pace. Plan to unwind and indulge in the Colombian culture. Roaming around unintentionally unwraps the secrets of this old colonial city. Local and international restaurants cater to your every craving, and a couple of small specialty coffee houses give a perfect introduction to the coffee heritage of Colombia. Check out an article about the best cafés in Cartagena and get charged up! Colombian coffee beans are among the best in the world.

How to get to Cartagena from Bogota

There are several cheap, daily flights from Bogota, so don’t bother with the exhausting bus trips or drives. We paid around 30$ per person for the one-way ticket, and even cheaper fares are available. Save time on transits to squeeze more destinations into your Colombian itinerary!

Tayrona National Park and Beaches Near Palomino (2-3 Days): Untamed Colombian Beaches, Ancient Ruins, and Mellow Vibes

Get sun-toasted at the immaculate Caribbean beaches, dip in the turquoise waters, and admire majestic boulders that have witnessed the rites of ancient civilizations. Tayrona National Park is made for an adventurous day of beach hopping, snorkeling, and hiking or horseback riding. In the backdrop of Sierra Nevada mountains lurks the pre-Hispanic ruins of Pueblito, the town of Tairona people, which sees surprisingly few tourists. The charm of Tayrona National Park can be experienced in one long and adventurous day, but it will entice you to linger for more leisure beach time.

Tayrona National Park is the most visited park in Colombia for a reason and shouldn’t be skipped. To craft your visit truly unforgettable and avoid the negative sides of tourism, check out our guide on visiting Tayrona National Park: “Beach Hopping by Horseback in Tayrona National Park. We opted to stay outside the national park to avoid the masses and found our untamed paradise beach near the town of Palomino.

How to Get to Tayrona National Park and Palomino from Cartagena

We took a door-to-door minivan from Cartagena to our hotel La Mar de Bien near Palomino (4,5-7 hours, depending on the driver and company). It was cheaper, easier, and quicker than flying with ground transports at both ends (taxi to the airport, flight, taxi to either bus terminal and bus trip or one-hour taxi drive straight to Palomino from the airport).

Santa Marta and Minca (2-3 Days): Authentic Colonial Feel and Misty Mountains

Locals prefer Santa Marta over Cartagena for its authenticity. Many tourists visit Santa Marta only for the nearby attractions since it makes a great base for exploring Tayrona National Park and the nearby mountain village of Minca. We’d recommend stealing a couple of nights from your 4-week itinerary for the colonial center of Santa Marta. Choose one excursion (ours was Minca) and afterward just enjoy the treats of “a small city break”: stroll around the streets with locals, enjoy great dinners, and discover the hidden charm of this Colombian colonial city.

“The authenticity” means that Santa Marta is not polished for tourists like Cartagena, and the experience will be more “raw”. There are just a couple of picturesque streets, a small park, and a short “beach boulevard”, where locals hang around street food stalls. Outside the colonial center, there’s not much to see. Nearby Taganga offers a backpacker-style beach getaway with bars and party vibe, but we’d recommend venturing into the beaches near Palomino for a secluded and boutique-style beach holiday.

Visit Minca for a Short Mountain Break

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range can be visited on a day (or multi-day) trip from Santa Marta. If you yearn to hike, bike or ride on the mountain trails, it might be a better idea to take a tour from Santa Marta or overnight in Minca to arrange it independently. There’s a trailhead in the town (ask from locals) for a short independent stroll. Also, an organic coffee plantation or some of the nearby waterfalls can be visited on an independent day trip. If you’re enticed to visit Minca but short on time, consider changing our itinerary so that you’d stay in Minca instead of Santa Marta.

How to get to Santa Marta and Minca

Door-to-door minivans are an affordable and relatively comfortable way to travel short distances in Colombia. The travel time is only 1-1,5 hours from Palomino or Tayrona National Park to Santa Marta.

There’s no direct bus between the center of Santa Marta and Minca. We negotiated a deal with a local taxi driver in Santa Marta to visit Minca for a couple of hours. You can also take a shared taxi/minibus from the Santa Marta market. Shared taxis are reasonably priced: around 8000COP per person. The drive takes only 30 minutes.

Itinerary Expansion: the Lost City Trek or La Guajira Peninsula

If you have more than one month in Colombia or would like to skip something on our itinerary, consider adding the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) or La Guajira peninsula to your itinerary. For Lost City trek you’d need at least 4 days, but preferably an extra week for some relaxation afterwards. From Santa Marta area you can do just an overnight trip to La Guajira desert and the picturesque fishing village called Cabo de la Vela.


Medellin (3–5 Days): Explore the Roots of the “Paisas” and Pablo Escobar, Indulge in Adrenaline Activities or Amazing Restaurants

Without visiting Medellin and the paisa district, you cannot say you’ve seen Colombia. After the Netflix hit series “Narcos”, many tourists visit Medellin in search of the infamous Pablo Escobar sights. But Medellin is so much bigger than its narco reputation! From the former murder capital of the world has risen unbelievably success stories, which are imitated in other troubled cities all around the world. Of course, things are not that black and white. Explore Medellin on your own to draw your own conclusions.

Medellin took me by surprise and jumped high to my list of favorite cities. Nicknamed as “the city of Eternal Spring” and with hilly streets, Medellin reminds a lot of San Francisco. Every Colombia itinerary should include Medellin, no matter how many days or weeks you have in Colombia!

Some of the main draws of Medellin: fantastic restaurant and coffee shop scene, a plethora of tours and activities from trampling the “Pablo Escobar trail” to paragliding and other extreme sports, the unexpected green oases around the center, outdoor escalators that have turned a former slum into a creative and safe neighborhood, the famous cable car, vibrant street art culture rivaling with the small art galleries and outdoor statues of Fernando Botero, and so complex and magnetic urban culture that I have to leave it for another article.

Visit Guatape for a Short Countryside Break

Just for the craziness of it, we were supposed to take part in the paintball war at the ruins of Pablo Escobar’s former hacienda in Guatape. Unfortunately, the activity was canceled just before our tour, and the decision appears permanent.

The quaint town of Guatape makes still a lovely countryside break if your Colombian itinerary allows a couple of extra days. The town is located on the bank of an artificial lake that used to be among the favorite holiday destinations of drug lords at the time of Escobar. If your Colombia itinerary allows, I’d recommend expanding your stay in Medellin-Guatape area into one week.

Our consolation prize was a thrilling experience of paragliding upon the red roofs of Medellin, click here to check out the pictures! We also loved exploring the street-art painted Comuna 13, formerly a notorious gang area, which has been uplifted to the new heights with the famous outdoor escalators.

How to get to Medellin from Santa Marta (or Bogota)

Avianca has one straight daily flight from Santa Marta to Medellin (1 hour 15 minutes), so grab it! We paid around 60$ per person. Other Colombian carriers offer the leg with a layover in Bogota. The bus trip from Bogota to Medellin is nightmarish and even locals avoid it – you’ve been warned. Even road trips through the mountains might turn out to be not so fun or safe (further details at the end of this article). The bus trip from Medellin to Guatape takes two hours, and the famous La Piedra (stone monolith) can be visited on the route.

Popayan (2 Days): White-washed Colombian Colonial Town

The white-washed Popayan inevitably collides with your itinerary, if you’re planning to visit the archaeological treasures of San Agustin or Tierradentro. Yet another Colombian colonial town, you might think. Somehow Popayan is still different. It feels even more authentic than Santa Marta, and you won’t see many other tourists.

To be honest, Popayan was our least favorite place in Colombia. Still, we were glad to experience its unique atmosphere. It’s said to be the most religious city in Colombia, so if you’re into churches and monasteries, you’ll appreciate it more than we did. Nearby mountain village Silvia hosts a colorful market every Tuesday, and other villages and thermal springs can be explored on a horseback riding or mountain bike trip.

How to Get to Popayan from Medellin (or Bogota or Anywhere in Colombia)

Once again: getting to Popayan is easiest with domestic flights. Bus travel or self-drive is doable but would require changing the itinerary since it would take days to drive from Medellin to Popayan. We reserved our flights pretty late and ended up paying around 100$ per person.

Itinerary Expansion: 1 Week in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle & Cali

If you’re considering road travel from Medellin to Popayan, expand the itinerary and stay 2-3 days in the “the coffee triangle” (the town of Salento or bigger cities of Manizales, Armenia, and Pereira) and Cali respectively. I’d add a one-week loop in the case of road travel. If you have time and don’t hate long drives or bus trips, I’d even recommend expanding our one-month itinerary into 5 weeks!


San Agustin (3 Days): Horseback Riding and Hiking Among Ancient Statues

San Agustin is considered as the most important archaeological site in South America, surprisingly winning the title from the hyped Machu Picchu. While we loved them both, I’d probably pick the less visited San Agustin as my personal favorite. The cryptic stone statues, graves, and ceremonial sites are scattered around stunning river valleys, jungle, and rolling hills.

Horseback riding between the archaeological sites of San Agustín makes an exciting day trip. Hiking inside the archaeological park of San Agustin deserves another day. The small town charm keeps you entertained for a couple of days, and the waking tourism boom has brought a couple of good hotels and restaurants. If you have more than two weeks in Colombia, please include San Agustin in your itinerary!

How to Get to San Agustin from Popayan

In our itinerary’s southwestern loop, road travel is your only choice. Luckily, it’s worth the effort this time! The road winds up to the scenic high-altitude páramo almost straight after Popayan, and it’s dubbed as the most beautiful bus route inside Colombia. Local bus crawls the distance between Popayan and San Agustin in 4–7 hours; minivans can speed it up even to 3 hours. The road is getting paved slowly, cutting travel times each year.

Desierto de la Tatacoa and Neiva (2 Days): Surreal Mini Desert

Tatacoa Desert is among the Colombian destinations that scream magical realism. It’s hard to believe that such a mini-desert with canyons reminding of Arizona even exists in the middle of green hills and mild tropical climate of Colombia. Near the visitors’ center and observatory lies “the red desert” with a labyrinth of narrow pathways. To keep things even more interesting, a short moto ride takes you to the “gray desert”, which has its own oasis, a natural pool.

How to Get to Neiva and Tatacoa Desert from San Agustin

This is the second – and last – leg in our 4-week itinerary requiring road travel. Minivans can cut the distance between San Agustin and Neiva into 4 hours (reserve longer, if you go through Pitalito).

Tatacoa Desert can be visited on a day trip from Neiva (take a taxi to the desert or a minivan to the village of Villavieja, from where you can hire a moto taxi). With its observatory, Tatacoa Desert is a perfect spot for stargazing, so feel free to stay there, if you’re not afraid of basic accommodation. We opted to stay in Neiva for comfort and great food – one of the best dinners we had during our one month tour in Colombia.

I’d strongly recommend including Tatacoa Desert into your Colombian itinerary, though it’ll mean an extra loop. We flew from Neiva to the Amazon to minimize transit time. Bus from Neiva to Bogota takes around 6 hours; Avianca has several direct flights daily.

The surreal view to the
The surreal view to the "red desert" of Tatacoa desert


Amazonas (4–6 Days): Explore the Colombian Amazon – or Visit Brazil and Peru!

Visiting Amazon is an essential part of experiencing the multiple faces of Colombia – and shouldn’t be left out of the one-month itinerary. Amazonas, as Colombians call their stretch of the river basin, covers a third of Colombia.

Visiting Amazon on the Colombian side will feel more authentic than embarking on the jungle adventures from the Brasilian or Peruvian side. The Colombian border town of Leticia rivals those of its neighbors, and if you pick a good hotel, it could even feel a pleasant small town for a couple of days. Get inspiration for your stay from our list of “Best Things to Do in Leticia”.

Still, Leticia is just a starting point for your Amazon adventures. Venture deeper with public or private boats and take hikes in the rainforest, visit indigenous tribes, spot pink and gray river dolphins, and go fishing if you please. We stayed two nights in Leticia and two nights in the small eco-village of Puerto Narino, 75 kilometers upstream from Leticia.

Puerto Narino is an excellent base for independent Amazon adventures. There are a couple of decent lodges, and plenty of villagers are eager to take you on affordable, yet private Amazon excursions with their wooden fishing boats. Ready-made Amazon tour packages come with hefty price tags. Search online before you book to make sure that the guides and lodges will meet your expectations.

Getting to Leticia from Bogota (or anywhere in Colombia): Tips to Save Money

If you’re visiting Colombian Amazon, the flights are obligatory. There are no roads to Leticia from the Colombian side. We paid 80–100$ one way, per person. Rather high price is the main reason why many tourists drop Amazon from their itinerary.

Here’s the trick: we encourage you to fly from any destination inside Colombia to Leticia. You’ll have a layover in Bogota, but according to our investigations, the multi-destination flight will be only a slightly more expensive than a single leg from Bogota to Leticia. We paid around 100$ for the Neiva-Leticia leg and 80$ for the Leticia-Bogota leg. Book early for the best deals; we reserved all our internal flights pretty late.

From Leticia, we took a public riverboat to Puerto Narino (75 kilometers, 1,5-2,5 hours) in the Colombian Amazon. Book tickets at the port the day before. Please, add at least one full-day Amazon tour into your Colombia itinerary!

Bogota, the Cool Capital of Colombia (2 Days or More)

Whereas many capitals in southern or central America feel rather ugly, Bogota is a cool and even beautiful colonial city. If you’re into museums, reserve more than two days: in Bogota, you’ll be spoiled.

I love the hilly layout and tourist-filled old town La Candelaria, but it’s the strike of “urban cool”, similar to that of Medellin, which charms me even more. Sample some of the best coffee in the world in hipster coffee shops in up-and-coming Chapinero area, follow the beats to the clubs of nearby Zona Rosa, and climb to green Cerro de Monserrate to escape it all.

Due to the international airport, your itinerary in Colombia probably starts and ends in Bogota. We had only 2 nights to spare in the capital, which allowed us to see only a scratch. If your itinerary allows, stay longer for a more thorough urban exploration – oh yes, the street art scene is booming. In the meantime, raise your spirits by sampling our guide to the best cafés in Bogota!

Ultimate 1-Week Colombia Itinerary

Our top recommendation for the ultimate one-week Colombia itinerary is to combine Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin areas. Then, you would experience the best beaches and colonial cities in Colombia, see some of the most iconic sights, feel the beat of hip Medellin and visit the famous cable car and outdoor escalators, and indulge in the best coffee, food, and drinks.

Beware: This is “all you can see in one week” type of itinerary. If you’d prefer more peace and quiet, just pick one chunk from our 4-week route and make it your own with little tweaks.

Day 1: Bogota

Spend one night in Bogota either in the beginning or end of your trip, depending on your flight schedule. So, either choose connecting flight from Bogota to Cartagena right after your international flight or return to Bogota from Medellin by air in the morning of your return flight. Check out Bogota section above for things to do in Bogota in one day.

Days 2-5: Cartagena

Check out Cartagena section from above and this article for the best things to do in Cartagana. Plan on taking one day trip, for example, snorkeling in Rosario Islands, visiting a mud volcano, or the mountain village of Minca.

If you want to squeeze in even more, visit Tayrona National Park: but beware, it’s a long day trip. If you’re willing to drop off Medellin, you can opt to stay inside Tayrona National Park one night and one night in Santa Marta.

Days 5-7 Medellin

Two nights in Medellin can pack in a lot! Visit Pablo Escobar sights – or even take Escobar-themed tour, spend an afternoon in Comuna 13, and go paragliding if you dare! Medellin is among our favorite cities, you will love it!

Take a short internal flight from Medellin to Bogota before flying back home.

Where to Stay in Colombia: Our Picks for Affordable Boutique Hotels

We did a massive legwork to dig out the best boutique hotels in Colombia. Our picks include affordable design hotels in the big cities of Colombia, genuine boutique hotels in San Agustín and the Amazon (yes, you can do those Amazon adventures comfortably!), and a secluded beachside villa near Tayrona National Park. Check out our list of the affordable boutique hotels in Colombia to spice up your Colombian itinerary!

If boutique hotels are not your thing, we have even better news for you! Traveling on a tight budget and staying in hostels is so much easier than trying to find luxury hotels in Colombia. So, just enjoy the easy ride while backpacking in Colombia.

Browse here the best hotel deals in Colombia!

La Mar de Bien Boutique Hotel lies between the mountains and the beach of Riohacha

Find Cheap Domestic Flights in Colombia

During our one-month tour in Colombia, we preferred flying instead of exhausting drives or uncomfortable bus trips. Distances are long, the Andes and other mountain ranges pierce the country, and many roads remain unpaved.

We needed five flights to complete this 4-week itinerary on a relatively tight schedule and were extremely happy with the Colombian domestic carrier Avianca. However, the default flight prices for foreign visitors are rather high. Check out our flight hacks and book the domestic flights in Colombia at cheap, local fares!

The Ultimate Itinerary Expansions: From 5 Weeks to 2 Months in Colombia

Unless you are blessed with unlimited time, you’d need to decide which destinations to skip, since all the enchanting sights of Colombia would keep you busy for months. Hence, this 4-week itinerary highlights our interests and is overshadowed by the fact that we needed to prioritize.

Itinerary Expansions at the Colombian Caribbean Coast

The biggest miss for us is the Lost City trek. We would have needed a week more – or at bare minimum four days – to complete it. So feel free to tweak our itinerary into a 5-week tour with Ciudad Perdida trek. For us, the Lost City is a perfect reason to return to Colombia!

Personally, I would have wanted to visit the sand dune beaches of the remote La Guajira peninsula, which can be reached by a long jeep journey from Santa Marta.

I love islands, so it was extremely painful to drop out the Caribbean islands of Providencia and San Andres. High flight prices (even with the flight hacks) helped me with reasoning. The untamed beaches near Palomino and inside Tayrona National Park did the job this time. I’d suggest adding an extra week in your itinerary for either the Caribbean Islands or El Cocoy, which comes next on our list.

Extra Loops for Mountain Trekking and Rock Climbing

I was eager to also include a longer trekking trip to the Colombian mountains, preferably in the national park of El Cocuy, where the snow-capped peaks reach out to staggering 5 kilometers. Luckily, we saw drastic high-altitude páramo landscapes on our journey from Popayán to San Agustin.

As a fresh bouldering enthusiast, I yearned to test my skills on the massive rock wall of Suesca, so I tried my best to lure Piritta into this small town with ghost stories, but without success. Suesca can be reached on a day trip from Bogotá, but I would have combined it with the colonial gem of Villa de Leyva.

More Colonial Cities and Towns

Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bogota, and Popayan showcased us the colonial roots of Colombia during our one month tour. If you feel the need to fine-tune your “time travel vibes”, just add one of the smaller colonial towns, such as Mompox, Jardin, Villa de Leyva, or Barichara, into your Colombian itinerary.

Amazon Tour Add-Ons

Piritta’s major tweak in this itinerary would be to add more time in the Amazon. Visiting the reserves on the Peruvian and Brasilian side remain in our dreams. But we know that we will return to the Amazon; so those adventures will wait for us.

Extra Week in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle

Then there’s of course ”the coffee triangle”, which was on our itinerary until the nick of time. We decided to trade the picturesque coffee town of Salento, hot springs near Pereira, and horseback riding amidst the towering wax palms of Valle Cocora into the adventurous triangle of Popayan, San Agustin, and Neiva.

However, we were happy about the choice since San Agustin was one of the highlights of our 4-week Colombian tour! As coffee geeks, we got the best fix ever in the specialty coffee shops of Bogota and managed to find great brews also in Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Medellin. If you have more than one month in Colombia, the coffee triangle is a perfect one-week add-on to any itinerary.

Special Detour For Lover of Colombian Coffee

We’ve visited several coffee farms during the last years and were just looking for the best quality beans from small producers, which are usually hard to find outside specialty coffee shops. Smaller farms tend to export their gold, and even bigger farms might not sell their best beans on the spot.

I still have one recommendation, if you’re a coffee enthusiast. Go off the beaten track and visit the rising star of Colombia’s specialty coffee trade, La Palma & El Tucan. They’ve recently opened “an experimental boutique hotel”, which allows ordinary coffee tourists get a unique glimpse into a modern coffee farm. Their beans are to die for, and you can find them also in Bogota. The farms inside the Colombian coffee triangle tend to be old-fashioned and extremely touristy to my likings.

As you can see, our one-month itinerary in Colombia was full of compromises, because the country is so tremendous. If you can, spend more than one month and explore deeper than we did to avoid tough calls. Still, even a 4-week tour in Colombia will steal your heart!

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Discover the magic of Colombia in 4 weeks! Explore paradise beaches and the roots of ancient civilizations, peek in the high-altitudes and mysterious mini-desert, and sail down the Amazon!

One Month in Colombia: Should You Fly, Drive, or Take Buses?

Congrats for hanging along this long: you already know our answer! Since we hear this question a lot, I decided to give a bit longer explanation.

Internal flights safe both time and money, but most importantly, they save your nerves. Road travel is slow in many regions, mountain roads might be dangerous, and locals drive like crazy. Road accidents are the leading cause of death for young people in Colombia. The door to door vans offer quicker – and generally more comfortable – transits than buses, but many drivers are risking safety with their speed.

Is Car Rental Cheaper than Flying?

Internal flights are generally cheaper than renting a car for a couple or max. three-person group. If your party is larger than four, renting a car might get cheaper than flying around. Still, I’d calculate all expenses carefully, as road tolls are rather expensive.

If we’d travel through Colombia for another full month, I’d still fly around like we did on our first tour. Additionally, I would rent a car for some areas for easier access to off-the-beaten-path destinations, like La Guajira, Jardin, and San Agustin/Tierradentro. I would definitely avoid using buses for distances that take longer than one hour and use private transfers instead. Like in many other countries in South and Central America, bus travel in Colombia is unpredictable and tiring.

Then again, these choices affect your budget. If you’re backpacking in Colombia and used to travel by buses in South and Central America, you will be totally fine with the local buses. If you’re a flashpacker, as I could describe ourselves, consider investing 200-700$ (per person, depending on your destinations) in domestic flights, door to door vans, and also possibly private transfers/car rentals. For families, I’d suggest flying if your budget allows: it’s considerably safer and stress-free.

The blurry lights of Medellín

Colombia Facts

  • Official name: Republic of Colombia, República de Colombia
  • Official languages: Spanish and 68 ethnic languages and dialects; also English in the Caribbean islands
  • President: Juan Manuel Santos (2017)
  • Population: More than 49 000 000 (2017)
  • Currency: Peso (COP)
  • Geography: 6 natural regions: the Andes, the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast, the Amazon rainforest, the plains (Llanos), and the islands (Pacific & Caribbean)
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Colombian Visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days for citizens of the Americas, most of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Africa
  • Time zone: COT (5 hours behind GMT)
  • Mobile phone network coverage: Great 3G all over the country (excluding the remote corners of the Amazon, of course)

Bizarre Facts About Colombia

  • The name Colombia comes from Christopher Columbus (you guessed!)
  • Colombia ranks first in bird species and is the second most biodiverse country in the world (right after Brazil, which is seven times bigger!)
  • President has declared World Cup match days as a national holiday – Colombians are crazy about the football!
  • In his heyday, Pablo Escobar used to smuggle 15 tons of pure cocaine into the US each day, collecting 420 millions a week!
  • Pablo Escobar offered to pay Colombia’s national debt (10 billion)
  • Colombia is all about renaissance: for example, Medellin was known as “the murder capital of the world”, but now its success story is imitated around the world.
  • The mythical El Dorado and Macondo have their roots in Colombia. The birth town of Gabriel García Márquez even tried to change its name into Macondo!

Is It Safe To Travel To Colombia In 2019?

Since we’ve been asked a lot if it’s safe to travel to Colombia this year, here’s our opinion. Colombia is a perfectly safe destination for Americans, solo female travelers, and families with small kids. We encountered plenty of American travelers during our 4-week tour, in all areas of Colombia.

Of course, before booking a trip to any destination, you should check the current travel warnings. Here you can find the latest, updated travel information from the US Department of State. According to the current travel warning, tens of thousands of US citizens visit Colombia safely each year. There have been no reports of Americans targeted based on their nationality.

It’s safe to visit the majority of the tourist destinations – and all destinations listed in our Colombian 4-week itinerary. Although the security situation in Colombia has improved radically, due to narco-trafficking and guerrilla (and paramilitary group) activity, there are still some “red zones”, which you’d probably like to avoid. Plan your itinerary carefully to also avoid ground transport through the areas with a travel warning. Luckily, internal flights are cheap in Colombia (especially if you use our flight hacks), so you can visit all the tourist areas safe and sound.

If you have any concerns about visiting Colombia or questions about our 4-week itinerary, please just ask in the comments below – we are happy to help!

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