Tourist Attractions in Colombia
Without comparison, the most famous of the tourist attractions in Colombia is Cartagena. However, picture a country with Spanish Colonial architecture, mountains reaching just under 6000 meters, 20% of the Amazonas, the second largest biodiversity of all nations on the planet, a long stretch of coastline both on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea including an island Archipelago off the coast of Nicaragua.
Throw in a wide diversity of cultural influences from several different ethnic roots and cultures and you have a huge amount tourist attractions in Colombia to discover.
#1 of the tourist attractions in Colombia – the old town that is. This is where the rich come to play. There's a lot of energy, restaurants, bars, night clubs, museums and let's not forget, Colonial architecture to be experienced. On top of that, it's romantic and in my opinion, there's a mystery to the place.
Expect to spend a little more money that other tourist destinations in Colombia and if you can afford it, staying at one of the many boutique hotels is an experience in itself.
This was the main Spanish settlement and slave trading destination to the Americas when the colonialists first arrived. This is therefore, one of the most important historical monuments in South America and lucky for us, we can enjoy the sights, food and fun without having to really consider just how problematic this all is...
- Don't drink tap water and be careful with salads and vegetables that have not been cooked.
- It gets very hot during the middle of the day. Try to walk around early morning and in the evening.
- The beaches are not nice nor is the sea particularly clean. - This is not the place for a beach vacation.
- It is the safest tourist destination in Colombia but take care at night. Outside of the old town, the city is poor and you should take care or know what you're doing.
Things to do/ eat/ stay:
- Visit Bolivar Park, the Gold Museum, the Plaza de Aduana and Heredia Theater.
- Stroll around and take in the atmosphere.
- Eat at Donde Olano (French Creole)
- Stay at Casa Quero if you can afford it. Top notch and personal boutique hotel.
- Have drinks on the roof of your hotel and gaze out at the rooftops and old church towers after dark.
Gold Museum in Bogota
The Gold Museum in Bogota blew me away and that rarely happens in museums with me. In the traditional sense, this is probably one of the most important tourist attractions in Colombia. It's the same concept as the one in Cartagena but a lot bigger with far more in-depth history and information. They also have a good café and restaurant.
This is a must-see if you want a sense of deep Colombian history and what existed in terms of culture and advanced civilization before the Spanish came and slaughtered them basically. I was moved by seeing the beautiful ornament and getting a strong sense for the ancient civilizations that lived here originally. I was humbled by it.
Bogota is divided into rich North and poor South. To the North lies Usaquen, a beautiful old Colonial part of the city with an extensive selection of exclusive restaurants.
80 Sillas (Ochenta Sillas) for excellent ceviche and seafood in a hip setting.
Hacienda San Jose in the Coffee Region
This will provide one of the finest experiences you can have. If you can, just go!
20 minutes outside of Pereira in the coffee district lies this converted coffee hacienda that is now a boutique hotel. It is romantic, beautiful, calm and the service outstanding and unpretentious. This is about elegance without the fuss. Go for walks on the dirt road outside of the estate and take in the landscape, drive and explore the coffee district, visit the spectacular Manizales below the snow clad Nevada del Ruiz. This is one of the more beautiful parts of the world.
Medellin, Santa Fe de Antioquia & the best restaurant in Colombia
If you visit Medellin and like style, stay at Hotel Calle 10 (pronounced: Hotel “caye diez”) but if you prefer a big pool and more amenities, the Intercontinental will do.
For a youth hostel, Case Kiwi is the one. Paul who runs it is a great guy and cares.
Visit Santa Fe de Antioquia, 1.5 hours outside of Medellin to see a very well maintained Colonial town. There are enough good restaurants to keep you happy. You can tell by looking.
Eat at Quearepaenamorarte (what must I do to make you love me?)
On the road to Rionegro from Medellin at the roundabout where the road heads off to El Retiro. This is the best Colombian food in the country and I will personally enjoy someone trying to challenge this claim.
The owner has dug deep into the traditional foods of Colombia and embraces the local tastes. As with all great things, it's not pretentious or trying to be “European” and failing at it. This is the real thing.
There are of course many more tourist attractions in Colombia, but these are the ones that I endorse without any hesitation. Feel free to recommend others!
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