Colombia is known as a country full of traditions and beauty. It has beautiful beaches and some spectacular archaeological finds that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Yet perhaps surprisingly some of it’s biggest cities are full of character and destinations you must visit when in the country. These are the four I highly recommend:
This city plays a very important role in terms of international trade, being home to one of the mains ports in Colombia. You will feel how the colonial period has impacted the city, just by walking through the streets. Cartagena has a variety of attractions including visiting the “Casa de Marqués Valdehoyos” (an old house portraying old Cartagena), the Cathedral, and the “Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas”, a fortress which was built to protect the city from pirates. Finally, if you’re a beach lover, Playa Blanca will not disappoint you. You can hop on one off the tourist boats or save some money and head there early in the morning with a public speedboat.
Bogota – Colombia’s Capital
This city is influenced by a mixture of cultures from English, Spanish and Indian. Bogota is very modern with lots of interesting architecture, restaurants and shops. There are many districts in Bogota, such as “Norte”, “Noroccidente”, “Occidente”, “Sur” and “Centro” – all having their own character and uniqueness. Expect to find a lot of things to do in this capital, including the “Cerro de Monserrate” – which is a stunning monastery located on top of a hill. You can take a cable car here and remember to take your camera to shoot some amazing views of the city. As for lodging, you’ll find some amazing accommodation in Bogota, including private bed and breakfasts in the city center or in one of the city’s exciting districts.
This is Colombia’s third largest city and was founded in 1536. If you want to go somewhere hot this summer then Cali is the place for you. Of course like Bogota and Cartagena, there are lots of things to do . The “Iglesia de la Merced” is a wonderful stunning cathedral, located in the Plaza Caycedo. There are of course plenty of museums to visit here, including the “Museo de Arte Colonial” and the “Muse de Oro”, and if dancing is your thing, there’s no better place to learn Cumbia and master salsa till the wee hours of the morning.
Perhaps Colombia’s most spiritual city, Popayan exudes a charm and beauty that does not go unnoticed- even to the untrained eye. Known as the “white city” because of the white walled buildings that dominate the cobbled streets, the old quarter is easily walkable and the best place where to stay. The best of Popayan can be visited in just one day, but just a 45 minute bus ride away is Silvia, a small village with an indigenous population (the Guambinos, easily identified by their black hats and blue capes) that will keep you in awe for the day.
Today the locals have earned their reputation as visionaries and entrepreneurs who love life on the streets and are famous for exaggerating their colorful stories. The hospitality, frugality and proactive spirit associated with the region are proverbial and the enticement of this wondrous place stretches even beyond the picturesque landscape and beauty.
Have you visited Colombia? Do you agree with my pick or do you have other favorites? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!