© iStock / R.M. Nunes
© iStock / R.M. Nunes

Colombia: Latin America's best-kept secret

5 minutes to read

Embraced by the Pacific Ocean to the left and the Atlantic Ocean to the right, Colombia does not have seasons because of its location on the Ecuatorial line. The unchanged nature of its climate provides locals and visitors with a wide range of landscapes. From huge mountains and volcanos along the Andes mountain range, one can also find paradisiac beaches embellished with majestic tropical weather and vast deserts full of history. Finally, the tremendous rainforest will make you feel right in the lungs of the world. This land has endless biodiversity matched by few countries in the world. For instance, it is home to more than 700 amphibian species, out of which 350 species are endemic, meaning they are found exclusively in Colombia. The richness in natural resources, landscapes, and culture are all close to immeasurable. If you are curious to learn more about this rhythmical country, its contrasts, unique flavors, warm smiles, keep reading. Let's find out more about the most welcoming place on Earth, Latin America's best kept secretColombia.

Bogotá and Medellín

Two of the most internationally known Colombian cities are Bogotá and Medellín, both located in the Andean region, one of Colombia's five natural regions. The first one, our beautiful and cosmopolitan capital city, Bogotá, with 7,181 inhabitants, is a melting pot, full of contrasts. A fundamental visit to Bogotá includes the historical city center, called La Candelaria. While there, simply take a stroll by the streets, visit one of the cafés and taste some local drinks. If you are into museums, there are some good options as well, such as Casa de la Moneda, Museo del Oro and Museo de Botero.

© iStock / Gabriel Leonardo Guerrero Bermudez
© iStock / Gabriel Leonardo Guerrero Bermudez

While in the center, you can also visit Casa de Nariño, the house of the Colombian presidents since 1908, where you can take a tour and hear some of the country's political history. From here, you have easy access to Monserrate Hill, a place built like a very small town located on the Andes eastern mountain range, with amazing views. You can go up walking or ride the funicular or the cable car. 

Museo del Oro de Colombia, Bogotá
Museo del Oro de Colombia, Bogotá
Cra. 6 ##15-88, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Museo Botero, Bogotá
Museo Botero, Bogotá
Cl. 11 #4-41, Bogotá, Colombia
Museo Casa de La Moneda, Bogotá
Museo Casa de La Moneda, Bogotá
Cl. 11 #4-93, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

The second one, the city of the eternal spring, Medellín, is full of stories and art. Medellín is located about eight hours away from Bogotá by car. It is affectionately called "the city of the eternal spring", and it is hometown to numerous worldwide known artists. 

This is one of the best cities in Colombia for nightlife, with streets full of dance clubs and bars, concerts, events and all-night-long raves. Medellín also has beautiful main squares and urban parks to wander and soak in the local's vibe. A little bit towards the comunas, there is the Arvi Ecoturistic Park with 16.000 hectares, out of which 1.760  are very well kept natural forests, and it has 54 kilometers of trails to make walks around easier. Also, if you are wondering how Medellín was reborn, you can have fun while learning about Medellin's history portrayed in murals and walls when you take the graffiti tour in the Comuna 13.

Comuna 13 San Javier, Medellín
Comuna 13 San Javier, Medellín

Caribbean and Pacific Ocean

Colombia has been blessed with two oceans, you can visit incredible beaches on the Pacific or the Atlantic coast. An iconic city well worth paying a visit is Cartagena, a place like no other. This city unwinds you, excites you, and it wraps you up in an atmosphere of romance and festivity. 

© iStock /Working In Media
© iStock /Working In Media

What is interesting about this city is how well-preserved colonial architecture in the historical center joins in harmony with modern architecture in the urban areas. The Walled City, in the historical center, is a not-to-miss spot. It has been declared the National Heritage of Colombia and the World Heritage Site of UNESCO. 

The Walled City - Ciudad Amurallada, Cartagena
The Walled City - Ciudad Amurallada, Cartagena
Cl. 36 #6-106 #6-2 a, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Very close to Cartagena, you find Barranquilla, home to one of the best carnivals in the country, attracting people from all over the country and world, declared a cultural heritage by UNESCO. And finally, worth visiting is also Santa Marta, the national capital of scuba diving, with dreamy beaches and amazing places to practice watersports.

Casa Grande Surf y Camping, Santa Marta
Casa Grande Surf y Camping, Santa Marta
Kilómetro 37 Vía Riohacha, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Gran Malecón del Río, Barranquilla
Gran Malecón del Río, Barranquilla
Gran Malecon del Rio-Sector Puerta De Oro, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
© Michelle Jiménez
© Michelle Jiménez

Coffee Triangle

The coffee culture is something highly important and representative of Colombia. The Colombia region that portrays the best this country's essence is called "The Coffee Triangle" (Eje Cafetero). It has unimaginable nature, and its essence is born with the muleteers and coffee growers. 

In this region, you can visit some of the main cities. The city of Pereira, located in the Colombian department of Risaralda, is considered the capital and gate to this whole region. Armenia is an amazing city with numerous coffee farms where you can spend a day or stay overnight learning and soaking in everything about the coffee culture and process from its growth to the cup. And Manizales is a small charming town with gothic architecture. From Manizales, you can also access the National Natural Park Los Nevados, a park filled with frailejones and kilometers of breathtaking nature, plus a volcano with a snowy peak which you can see or try to hike.

© iStock/ Photographer, Videographer, Writer
© iStock/ Photographer, Videographer, Writer
Zurcos - Historia de Café, Pereira
Zurcos - Historia de Café, Pereira
Vía Altagracia, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia

You can also find charming and quaint typical towns like Finlandia and Salento. And Valle del Cocora is a valley full of some of the tallest wax plants, Colombia's National plant. 

The Amazonas rainforest

© Michelle Jiménez
© Michelle Jiménez

The Amazonas is a whole experience that you will for sure cherish for the rest of your life. The biggest area of the Amazonas jungle is between Brazil and Perú and shared with  Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, and Surinam. This tropical forest is the largest one in the world, and it produces 20 percent of the oxygen of all our planet.

Leticia and Puerto Nariño are the only two towns in the Colombian department of Amazonas. This is a place like no other where you can disconnect from the outside while connecting with yourself through nature. The Amazonas is full of butterflies and birds that make every day colorful. Here, you can explore the jungle, river and town. This department is home to 674 species of birds, 158 amphibians, 195 reptiles, 212 mammals, 753 fish and more than 6,300 different flora plants. It is also home to natives Huitotos that still preserve their traditions. This is a trip suitable for all people, anyone can go, and in my opinion, everyone should go. 

© iStock / xeni4ka
© iStock / xeni4ka
Puerto Nariño's lookout tower
Puerto Nariño's lookout tower
Puerto Narino, Puerto Nariño, Amazonas, Colombia
Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Paz, Leticia
Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Paz, Leticia
Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia

Colonial Heritage Towns

© Michelle Jiménez
© Michelle Jiménez

There is an established network of seventeen Heritage Towns in Colombia. These stunning and charming heritage towns have a representative colonial architecture, traditional culture, typical regional gastronomy, natural environment, and preserve a big part of Colombia’s history since before colonial times. A few of them have also been declared UNESCO cultural heritage sites. 

Some of these towns are: Barichara considered the most beautiful town in Colombia. Villa de Leyva is a quaint colonial town full of history and containing the country's biggest square. And San Juan de Girón creates a small town part of the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga, with cobblestone streets and all-white houses in its historical center. Visiting the Heritage Towns of Colombia goes very close to traveling through history. Cobbled streets and main squares are the living voice of the memory and history of Colombia, the cultural heritage of Colombia.

Parque San Pío, Bucaramanga
Parque San Pío, Bucaramanga
Parque San Pío, Cra. 33 #45, Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
Plaza Mayor de Villa de Leyva
Plaza Mayor de Villa de Leyva
Plaza Mayor De Villa De Leyva, Cra. 10, Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia
Bioparque Moncora, Barichara
Bioparque Moncora, Barichara
Bioparque Móncora, Barichara, Santander, Colombia

Eco-tourism

Colombia's adventure capitals San Gil, Zapatoca and La Mesa de Los Santos, all located in Santander, are only a few to name, but to be honest, options are endless and almost every city would have some possibilities to practice eco-tourism.

El Gallineral Natural Park, San Gil
El Gallineral Natural Park, San Gil
Cra. 11 #21-1, San Gil, Santander, Colombia
Cascada La Lajita, Zapatoca
Cascada La Lajita, Zapatoca
Zapatoca, Santander, Colombia
Parque Nacional del Chicamocha PANACHI, Aratoca
Parque Nacional del Chicamocha PANACHI, Aratoca
Parqueadero Parque Nacional Del Chicamocha, Aratoca, Santander, Colombia

The most welcoming place on Earth, Colombia, is full of charms and kindness. Its nature, culture, people, architecture and landscapes make this a perfect destination for all styles. Visit Latin America's best-kept secret and find out why the only risk is wanting to stay!


The author

Michelle Jiménez

Michelle Jiménez

I am Michelle, 30 years old, from Colombia. Passionate about traveling and different cultures, cuisines and languages. Nature and sports lover. I am in love with Colombia and I’ll do my best to make you fall in love too.

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