7 Must-See Places in Colombia That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Colombia is the most biodiverse country on earth. From flourishing cities to lavish landscapes, the country offers a taste of everything for the multifarious traveler. You’d be remiss not to experience everything the country has to offer. Yet, the average traveler knows little about the bountiful secrets that Colombia has in store.
If you want to experience Colombia fully, you’ll want to add these 7 places into your itinerary:
1) Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is a protected reserve along on the Caribbean coast that attests to the diverse landscape of Colombia. One minute you’re walking along the coast and the next you’re hiking under a canopy of trees that are home to the indigenous monkey population.
If you have the time, consider spending the night in one of the hammocks at Cabo San Juan and waking up along the beach. The sunrise in Tayrona is not something to miss. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee and hike 3 hours to your destination, but the experience is well worth it.
This small village of roughly 800 inhabitants is the ideal place to unplug and relax. There is hardly anything to do here except enjoy the nature. Limited cell reception means a deeper connection with your surroundings. Plus, Minca is an ideal place for hiking.
Set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Santa Marta, this forested region is full of the wildlife that makes Colombia so great. It is also where you can find an impressively large hammock that overlooks a beautiful gorge (perfect for photo ops). While you’re there, don’t forget to hike, or motorbike, up to the summit that overlooks the valley, then head down to La Candelaria Coffee and Chocolate Farm, where they offer tours and delicious samples.
Palomino is the perfect beach town: calm waves, a peaceful shore and the warm Caribbean coast. Not to mention the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. This is the ideal scene for a quiet and romantic getaway with someone special or even a relaxing weekend with friends. If you’re keen for a little adventure, grab some friends, rent an inner tube and wade down the Palomino River past a scenic nature backdrop.
Hint: skip the guide, hire a mototaxi to take you as far as possible, hike a bit to the mouth of the river, then hop in your tube and enjoy.
Guatapé is a resort area that is arguably one of the most picturesque towns in all of Colombia. It’s comprised of a man-made reservoir with indigo blue waters surrounded by mounds of green land and orange-roofed houses. The entire scene is postcard-worthy.
The main attraction of Guatapé, however, is El Peñón, a 70 million year old, 7,000-ft monolithic rock that emerges out of the water and sits a few meters from the center of the town. The 740-step staircase alongside the rock will lead you to the most spectacular, aerial view of the entire town.
Colombia is known for many things and coffee is certainly one of them. While the country has several coffee-growing regions, Salento should be at the top of your list.
The main road in this charming little town, called Calle Real, is where you’ll find the quaint, colorful houses that are typical of Colombia and shops that sell traditional goods. Just beyond the center of town, there’s a staircase that leads to El Mirador, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by coffee estates looking out onto a breathtaking view of the landscape.
6) Parque Jaime Duque
Parque Jaime Duque is a hidden gem that’s just a few hours outside of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city. Even though it’s difficult to ignore the large Taj Mahal replica peeking over the highway, the park isn’t very well known among locals.
From the outside it appears to be a remote fortress with randomly positioned statues and buildings. Once you venture inside, however, you’ll find that this amusement park has everything: arcades, water rides, animals, a food court, a circumventing train and, of course, bumper cars. The best part is that it’s virtually in the middle of nowhere, meaning shorter lines and more time to enjoy.
You’ve likely heard of the city: home to the most infamous Colombian drug lord, overcome with violence and unimaginable murder rates. Fortunately, the image perpetuated by one particular Netflix show is not at all an accurate depiction of the third largest city in Colombia.
Medellín is a mecca for innovation, technology and advancement in Colombia. The infrastructure alone speaks to the progressive nature of the city, which boasts a metro line, high-rise buildings and monuments resurrected in honor of peace.
The city is far from the place that it was several decades ago. In fact, it’s much like having the best of both worlds—a first world city infused with the warm, jovial energy of the Colombian people. It’s an ideal scenario that attracts travelers and expats from around the world, and is certainly a place that you should add to your travel list.