Vibrant and diverse, Colombia is a fascinating country in South America full of lively local cultures and rich history. It is a nation displaying a perfect balance between its historical past and its movement in to the future. Whether you are interested in learning Salsa or cooking some traditional Colombian fare, the country will surely give you more reasons to explore further.
On this 7-day adventure across Gabriel García Márquez’s homeland, see how the nation survived decades-long of civil conflicts and emerged as an amazing country full of natural beauty, vibrant cultures and friendly people.
This sample itinerary starts in Bogota and ends in Cartagena. Flights New York- Bogota and Cartagena-New York cost cost 405 USD -and 450 USD with JetBlue (if you decide to fly from and to Fort Lauterdale, FL the price drops to 225 USD). These kind of prices make Colombia very affordable from the US, even if you are on a tight budget. From Amsterdam and back, the cost of the airfare is about 800 USD; from and to Hong Kong the airfare is 840 USD; from and to Sydney, airfare costs about 1950 USD; and if you travel from Tokyo, the price of round-trip is about 1420 USD.
Detailed day by day itinerary Colombia in 7 days:
Day 1: Bogota
From El Dorado International Airport, it will take approximately 40 minutes to get to Centro Internacional, the largest business district in Bogotá. Centro Internacional is undoubtedly an excellent base to explore the city.
Where to stay in Bogota:
Bogota Marriott Hotel (Av. El Dorado #69b-53, Bogota, Colombia)
BioHotel Organic Suites (Cra 7 Bis # 124-36, Bogota 110111, Colombia)
Hotel Morrison 114 (Av. 19 No. 114 – 06, Bogota, Colombia)
JW Marriott Hotel Bogota (Calle 73 # 8-60, Bogota, Colombia)
W Bogota Hotel (Avenida Carrera 9 No. 115 – 30, Bogota, Colombia)
Get settled and eat at one of the many restaurants in Bogotá’s “Gourmet District”. Spend the rest of your first day in Colombia by exploring the nearby attractions in Centro Internacional. First stop is Museo Nacional (National Museum, Ak. 7 #28, Bogotá, Colombia)), founded in 1823 and is the oldest museum in the country.
Travel tip: Getting around Bogotá is pretty easy since it is very well connected by bus systems. TransMilenio, the bus rapid transit system that serves the entire Bogotá is recommended for travelers. It is a great option because it is cheap, frequent and most importantly, it uses dedicated lanes which keep them away from traffic. In addition to TransMilenio, taxis, buses and busetas (small buses) are other transportation options in Bogotá.
Day 2: The very best of Bogota – Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao, La Candelaria and Monastery of Monserrate
Start your second day early by enjoying breakfast at Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao. In this market, you will find variety of local produce, foods, flowers and plants from all over Colombia. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about the way of living in Colombia and of course meet the friendly locals.
Spend the rest of the morning at La Candelaria, “the old city” of Bogota. Explore its narrow, cobble stoned streets and enjoy the colorful colonial-style buildings. Throughout the neighborhood, you will find pleasantly hued churches, museums and cultural centers. You can actually ‘do’ nothing here and just marvel at its vibrant art scene.
In the late afternoon, take the old funicular or cable car to visit the Monastery of Monserrate (Carrera 2 E No. 21-48, Bogota, Colombia), one of the most iconic attractions of Bogotá. This is a perfect place to watch the sunset where you can get splendid panoramic views of Bogotá and beyond.
Day 3: Zipaquira
Take a half-day trip in the famous mining town of Zipaquira to visit the underground Catedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral). You descend down in the salt mine and will pass several Stations of the Cross icons and relics. In the end, there is the cathedral carved out of the salt. Aside from its religious importance, it also represents historical and architectural value.
Travel tip: It is best to travel early in the morning to maximize your visit in Zipaquira. To get to Zipaquirá from the center of Bogotá, take one of the TransMilenio buses and get off at Portal Norte. Then catch another TransMilenio bus that will head straight to Zipaquira. Travel time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes Entrance is 25,000 COP (8 USD) and includes a tour guide. Or you can book a tour with a pick-up from your hotel.
In the afternoon, visit Museo del Oro (Gold Museum). This museum exhibits more than 50,000 pieces of golden ware and pottery from the pre-Hispanic Colombian times. These pieces depicts many of the ancient legends and beliefs in Colombia. Plaza de Bolivar is another must see in Bogotá. It was once called Major Square as it was used for civil and religious functions centuries ago. Now, it houses the most significant government buildings in Colombia such as the National Capitol Building, the Cathedral, the Palace of Justice and the Palacio Lievano (City Hall).
Day 4: Head to Cartagena
On your fourth day, take an early flight from Bogotá to Cartagena (one way thicket cost 49 USD). Taking an overnight bus is another option however travel time is 18 hours and the price is not cheaper.
A Spanish Colonial gem, Cartagena embraces modernity while retaining its traditions and old world charm. Situated right on the brilliant blue Caribbean, Cartagena is becoming one of Colombia’s most popular destinations. Tourists will surely enjoy its beautiful coasts, myriad of flavors and colorful heritage. For budget conscious travelers, there are plenty of reasonably priced accommodations to choose from. If you want to splurge a bit, then you can try one of Cartagena’s boutique hotels and restored colonial residences. Stay within the old walled city to appreciate the quintessential Cartagena experience.
Where to stay in Cartagena:
Hotel Quadrifolio (Calle del Cuartel No 36-118 | Historic Center, Cartagena 130001, Colombia)
San Pedro Hotel Spa (Barrio S. Diego, Clle. S. Pedro Martir #10-85 | Centro Historico, Cartagena 00000, Colombia)
Hotel Casa San Agustin (Centro Calle de la Universidad No.36 – 44, Cartagena 1300, Colombia)
Hotel LM (Centro, Calle de la Mantilla No 3-56 | Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena 13001, Colombia)
Allure Chocolat (Avenida del Arsenal Nro. 8b-58, Cartagena 130001, Colombia)
Alfiz Hotel (Calle Cochera del Gobernador 33-28 | Centro Historico, Cartagena 130001, Colombia)
Explore the Old Walled City in the afternoon. The Spanish built a large concrete barrier that surrounds the entire city to protect their gold and keep pirates out. Here you will be amazed by lovely colonial casitas, little plazas and bougainvillea-line streets. Street art in Cartagena is fantastic, and there are so many cafes and restaurants if you get hungry or if you just like to sip some coffee. By walking around, you will get a real feel of the city. For sunset viewing, try El Convento de la Popa or the sea wall, both offers amazing city views.
Day 5: Beach time
Enjoy the beach on your Fifth day in Colombia! Cartagena does not really have a beach. However, there are some nearby destinations that are just a few minutes away by speedboat. Islas del Rosario, Playa Blanca and Baru are some of the most popular beach attractions. Day trips and overnight stays can be easily book through your hotel or travel agency in Cartagena.
Day 6: Calle de la Sierpe and Getsemani district
On your last day in Cartagena, take a stroll around the rest of this beautiful city. Frequent travelers would agree that Cartagena is a perfect walking city. Even without a rigid itinerary, you will definitely enjoy strolling in its delightful streets. Take a stroll down Plaza de Santisima Trinidad, where you will see local kids playing soccer and merchants selling different products. Marvel at the street arts and graffiti at Calle de la Sierpe.
In the afternoon, explore the Getsemani district, the once dangerous area that no single tourist would dare to visit. A couple of years ago, most of the houses in this area are in very bad shape; there were a lot of drugs and prostitution going on. Now Getsemani is better, safer, invigorating and authentic. At night, go to Cafe Havana (ESQUINA, Cra. 10, Cartagena, Getsemaní, Colombia; tel: +57 314 5563905) for salsa, live performances and a shot of local liquor, caleed Aguardiente. By 9 PM, this hot spot is packed with both young and old, sunburnt tourists and stylish locals, all vying for great live music and good vibes.
Day 7: “Goodbye Cartagena!” is more like “See you soon!”
For your final day in Colombia, get a one last whirl through Cartagena to take in any museums or other attractions that you might have missed. For a wide range and reasonably priced locally made handicrafts including ceramics and leather goods, head to Centro Regional de Artesania . Most souvenirs come with beautiful boxes and information about the artists which make wonderful presents for your loved ones back home.
Have you been to Bogota, Cartagena or any other places in Colombia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.