8 Best Cities to Visit in Colombia

Colombia is one of the best places to visit in South America! It’s widely diverse and it has tons of really interesting things to do and places to visit. With its 1.14 million square meters, Colombia is home to some big cities where millions of people live, and, while it’s natural landscapes and wonders are a must to visit, many of these urban lands are worth checking as well.

best cities to visit in Colombia

Here are some of the best cities to visit in Colombia. In no particular order, we have chosen a few options because of their importance, but keep in mind that the country has approximately 118 cities distributed along 32 departments.

1. Bogotá

No trip in Colombia can be 100% completed without a visit to its capital, Bogotá. It’s a city located in the mountains, 2600 meters closer to the stars, with a wide range of places to visit and things to do. Bogotá is a wonderful opportunity to discover museums, nightlife, historical monuments, mountains, good gastronomy and more.

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá north of Bogota is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine deep underground. There’s just something deeply impressive about seeing this church deep under the ground, like something out of a work of fiction. And it is the epitome of a tourist trap, as you’ll remember if you’ve been.

It’s normally thought that you only need a few days in Bogotá when visiting Colombia, but the truth is, you can actually stay for months and never run out of options or be bored!

2. Medellín

Medellin city in Colombia with a violent past has transformed lately and is looking forward to a brighter future. Enjoy a stroll in the centre of Medellin to admire the statues of world-famous Botero, visit Comuna 13, Comuna 1 and Arvi Park.

Commonly known as the city of eternal spring, Medellín is one of the most touristic and innovative cities in Colombia and we dare say, in Latin America. It’s popularity among expats and tourists has increased over the years and it’s diversity of people and things to do as well. In Medellín you can party, you can eat, you can be surrounded by nature and much more.

It has really good average weather (not cold, not warm) and it’s the only city in Colombia with a subway, so it’s actually easy to move around. Medellín is definitely a “no miss” in your trip!

3. Cali

Cali may not be the first city that comes to mind before planning a trip to Colombia. Because no, it does not have the undisputed charm of Cartagena, or that no-one-what Medellin has, or the beaches of the Caribbean, or anything of all that goes in compact in any tourist brochure. Cali does not impact at first sight, and maybe that is its own attraction. To love it you have to discover it.

Cali is the third most important city in Colombia and it is a paradise for lovers of good rumba, where the Salsa runs through your veins and invites you to the endless party in Menga. You can always cool off with a lula while touring the city. Here you cannot miss the Monument to Christ the King, the Pance River, the Acuaparque de la Caña and the Church of the Hermitage.

The worldwide capital of salsa! If you like dancing and partying, this is the place to go. Cali is an amazing city with a vibrant culture and wonderful cuisine, especially sweets, as it’s close to a lot of big sugar cane crops. Located in the west of Colombia, it’s also the only major city that's close to the wonderful Pacific Coast.

Cali is also known for its fair (Feria de Cali), which happens each late December with a lot of salsa, dance, concerts and fun. It’s truly a magnificent destination that shouldn’t be missed!

4. Cartagena

One of the most known coastal cities in the country. Cartagena has a charming city centre (or old town) enclosed by colonial walls and full of wonderful places to visit, stay, enjoy, party, and eat. Cartagena is super popular as a tourist destination as well as the small islands around it like Barú and Islas del Rosario.

It’s nightlife is also hugely enjoyable with well known bars and discos. It could be quite expensive though, but it’s a must if you are touring Colombia. From Cartagena, you can travel to other Caribbean cities like Barranquilla or Santa Marta.

Cartagena definitely has the older architecture. Cartagena’s old walled city exists almost entirely for tourism. Cartagena is never cold, and it’s usually sunny. But the heat will make you not want to leave your hotel. Cartagena is in a flat coastal plain. And while yes, it is on the Caribbean, Cartagena’s beaches are nothing special. Gabriel García Márquez lived in Cartagena and had a house in the walled city, but you can’t tour it.

Also, if you want to capture the best images of the city, you should definitely go to the Mirador de Belalcázar. In Colombia, the Amazon is part of one of the natural regions comprising of Amazonas, Caquetá, Putumayo, Guainía, Putumayo and Vaupés.

5. Popayán

One of the most underrated cities in the country but also one of the most interesting ones historically speaking. It’s considered the religious capital of Colombia because of its colonial architecture and popular processions during Holy Week; but, even if you are not religious, we promise you’ll enjoy Popayán and its narrow cobblestone streets.

The city is also well known for its gastronomic offer that has its roots on Spanish, african and indigenous cultures, and for being close to a natural park (Puracé) where you can actually climb a volcano!

6. Leticia

Located on the banks of the Amazon River, Leticia offers Colombian restaurants of typical and international food and modern hotels that have the necessary amenities for a pleasant stay.

Very close to Leticia are lakes of great beauty such as those of the Yahuarcacas region, and in the vicinity of Puerto Nariño, are the lakes of Tarapoto, in the channel of the canyon of the same name. You can also visit the lakes of Zaraiva, Terezinha, Laguiño and Laguna Grande, in Brazilian territory, and the Moroyoa lake in Peru.

In the calm waters of the lakes the serene Victoria Regia blooms, the largest lotus flower in the world that supports the weight of a baby and is characteristic of the Amazon. One of the characteristics that makes this world reserve so attractive is precisely its indigenous population, which coexists with nature and is made up of groups belonging to the primitive linguistic families Arawak, Tucano and Huitoto.

But more admirable still is to see the technique of the three stones for roasting and boiling food. Casabe is a kind of large arepa made with flour of yucca brava. You cannot miss wheat bread and exotic fruits such as arazá, copoazú and amazonian anón. Something more conventional, are the pyrarucú balls, and continuing the exotic journey, the caimarón or llanera grape is offered in clusters.

Also the bittersweet champagne, which looks like the breva or cacay, similar to cocoa, is consumed after drying and roasting in the sun. Three hours from Leticia is the Amacayacu National Park, a reserve made of trees such as mahogany, rubber, balsa and red and white cedars.

7. Villavicencio

Caño Cristales river in Colombia is famous for the many species of aquatic plants which colour its waters red, pink, yellow, green and blue, giving it the nickname the Liquid Rainbow. These riverweeds bloom from the start of August through November, the most notable species being Macarenia clavigera, which is only found in the river.

8. Manizales

This one is probably the least known out of the six cities on this list, but that just makes it even more interesting and special! Manizales is located in the geographical heart of Colombia, right in the middle of the coffee region, so, you can expect to have an amazing cup of this magic drink if you happen to be there. It’s also close to one of the most popular trekking

and climbing parks in the country (Los Nevados National Nature Park) where most of the best mountain climbers of our nation usually train for months. Don’t cross out Manizales during your stay here!

On the other hand, a very important thing to take into account is that in Colombia we speak Spanish and most of the people don’t know English that well. So, learning some Spanish will definitely help you in your trip.

We hope you are more eager to come to Colombia soon and get to know the wonderful and diverse country that it’s! These cities are definitely some of the best places to visit in Colombia, and recommend taking your time to discover each of them because you’ll end up with a super complete experience and understanding of the Colombian culture. Enjoy the land of magical realism and safe travels!
Kalyan Panja