When you hear Colombia, do you think of beautiful beaches, delicious food, and lush jungle forests? If not, you should. My twelve days in Colombia were unforgettable and I’ll be the first to admit- I was surprised by how different it was from the country’s portrayal on television.
Days 1-3: Bogota
Start your trip on a high -literally- by visiting Montserrat, the mountain that looms over the city. From the top, you can see sweeping views of the city below as well as the surrounding hills.
For dinner, head to Andres DC in Zona T for an eclectic restaurant with an extensive menu offering meat, seafood, and local specialties. Later, the restaurant becomes one of the best bars in the city and its perfect for a night out.
Get your bearings in Bogota by taking a free walking tour. I did my tour with Free Walking Tour Bogota which departs twice daily from Santander park (look for the red umbrella). As if one walking tour wasn’t enough, I did a second one- Free Food Tour Bogota– which, yes, included lots of delicious free food including local fruits and coca tea (you are expected to tip your guide at the end).
Visit the famous Catedral de Sal outside the city. You can either go on your own or through a tour company. If you’re not in a rush, there is a scenic train that takes you through the city and into the countryside.
Day 4-6: Santa Marta / Parque Tayrona
Parque Tayrona was the highlight of my trip because of its pristine beaches, my night sleeping in beach side hammocks, and the hiking trails.
Arrive in Santa Marta for a relaxing evening. You will be waking up early tomorrow so try not to be too hungover.
Depart in the morning for Parque Tayrona. Leave your luggage at your accommodation in Santa Marta and bring only a day pack. The 2 hour hike will take you through coastal forests and alongside the beach. Stop along the way to relax at the hidden beaches on your way to Cabo San Juan where you can spend the night in a hammock or tent.
Wake up early to take advantage of the empty beaches. After you’ve explored the rest of the park, return to your accommodation in Santa Marta and reward yourself with a shower and a delicious meal at Balcon de Ouzo.
Read Before You Go: Everything You Need To Know About Parque Tayrona
Day 7-9: Cartagena
Travel to Cartagena. In the afternoon, climb to the top of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. On your way back, walk through the Getsemani neighborhood to admire the street art and grab a quick bite at one of the many hip cafes.
Take a day trip to nearby Playa Blanca with crystal blue waters and sandy beaches.If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a hammock to sleep overnight in a rustic accommodation.
Spend your day wandering through the old streets of Cartagena and shopping at artisan markets. Celebrate your last night in the city at Cafe del Mar with cocktails on the city walls at sunset. Afterwards, have a dinner at Restaurante Donjuan.
Day 10-12: San Andres
The flight to San Andres takes 2.5 hours. The tiny island, located just 120 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, is a Caribbean gem known for it’s diving and snorkeling. The locals, Raizales, speak English and San Andres-Provadincias Creole as their primary languages, a holdover from the Puritan settlers in the 1600’s. The entire island is considered a National Park so you will be required to pay an entry fee at the airport (cash only).
Rent a golf cart or motorcycle for your grand tour of the island. Pack a snack and a snorkeling mask so you can stop off wherever you please. Don’t forget to visit the local church where you can climb a ladder to the tallest point on the island.
Drink one last pina colada before heading to the airport. Hopefully you’re tan, well-fed, and happy by now.