Two week Colombia itinerary
The ultimate two week Colombia itinerary where you will find the exact route we traveled and all our recommendations on where to sleep and where to eat.
What is the first thing you think when someone mentions Colombia? We all have heard the cliches that cling to the collective imaginary of this country. Drugs, guerrilla, Pablo Escobar.
Our month in Colombia was everything but these cliches and we have left the country filled with a sense of love for this land which is transforming like a caterpillar into a butterfly.
After decades of actually being and being labeled as dangerous, Colombia is finally turning around its reputation by welcoming tourists in a climate of hospitality and trust.
One of the elements we loved most about Colombia is its energy, which is contagious. From the music playing loudly at every corner, to the warm days and nights filled with arepas and salsa, it is almost impossible to not have a good time.
During our month in Colombia we visited the green hills of Cocora Valley filled with palms and coffee; we learned to dive in the tropical Caribbean coats; spoiled ourselves in the colonial beauty of Cartagena; ate fresh coconuts and slept on a hammock in Tayrona National Park; danced the night away at the sound of salsa and made friendships from all over the world.
Sounds amazing, right? The thing is, we could have listened to all the negative things people have to say about Colombia (generally without having been there!) and never have experienced any of it. But we didn’t, because we believe any place has something to offer if you visit with an open mind and heart, curiosity and respect.
Here you can find our two week Colombia itinerary: Bogota - Salento - Cartagena - Santa Marta - (Taganga) - Palomino - Tayrona National Park - Bogota. We, unfortunately, didn’t reach the North part, Punta Gallinas, which is said to be spectacular, but we would definitely suggest continuing North if you have the time.
Bogota: 2 days
Bogota’ requires a bit of exploring to show it’s charm, so don’t give up if at first, it gets slightly overwhelming. The capital and the largest city in Colombia, is an interesting place to get a feeling of Colombian city & mountain culture.
Where to sleep in Bogota
As the center of town can we very crowded and overwhelming (maybe unsafe?), we decided to stay in one of the emerging neighborhoods called Chapinero. Our hostel Hobu, which offers both private rooms and dorms was lovely and very comfortable. Its also in a convenient location to catch a taxi to the city center.
What to do in Bogota
The best thing we did while in Bogota was a ‘free’ food walking tour. With a group of around 15 travellers from all over the world, we literally ate our way through Bogota. From every type of arepa to empanadas, ajiaco, pandebono and many more local delicacies, we spent a good hour and a half discovering the culinary side of Colombia's capital.
Our second favourite thing in the city was visiting the Botero museum. Even if the name of this Colombian artist might not ring a bell, you have probably seen one of the artworks of his rounded figures. Rounded women, rounded men, rounded horses, rounded tables, fruits and everything in between. A beautiful, cosy, bouncy world where everyone is as round as a ball. The artist gives the viewer a perspective on the world and its most relevant and pressing issues in a softer way.
Salento: 3 days
Salento is the perfect base to discover the exceptional Cocora Valley, home to some of the worlds tallest palms and some of the best coffee you will ever taste. A cute, colourful town, where life happens mainly on the streets, sipping lemonada de coco and dancing to the sounds of South American beats.
Where to sleep in Salento
Salento is filled with lovely looking hostels. From the many options, we chose The Plantation House under a friend’s recommendation and had a wonderful stay. Don Eduardo (aka Timothy Edward) and his wife run the simple but comfortable and clean hostel, which also offers the best coffee tour on Tripadvisor.
What to do in Salento
To discover the full beauty and history of the oldest palm trees in the world we recommend doing two separate tours. The classic Cocora Valley hike, which can be done without any organized group, just hop on a jeep in the main square that takes you to the valley and spend the day hiking the beautiful green hills.
Cartagena: 3 days
A completely unique South American city, Cartagena stole our hearts. The colonial beauty of this city is one of a kind with its blooming balconies, colourful houses and secret courtyards. In Cartagena, we had some of the best meals in Colombia and fun nights out in viby bars.
Agua Boutique Hotel is at the centre of the bustling old town, but the moment you enter the wooden gate it feels like you have stepped into an Eden. With only six rooms and the most incredibly attentive staff, Agua is a very intimate and welcoming environment. A place where every detail has been designed to offer a home-like experience immersed in beauty.
For a budget option, we recommend Republica Hostel. An old townhouse transformed into a hostel with a pool, rooftop area, courtyard and open kitchen. Vibrant colours, quirky interior design, friendly staff and a wonderfully mixed crowd from all over the world.
Our best days in Cartagena were spent walking around the old town, having delicious lunches and dinners in the many restaurants the city has to offer. At sunset, go to the city wall to have drinks overlooking the Pacific ocean.
For a perfect day trip from Cartagena, make your way to Islas del Rosario, a tropical paradise. You can easily get to the islands from the main port by buying one of the organized tours. We visited Bora Bora Beach Club on Isla Grande, which is a laid beach club with comfortable sunbeds, music and cocktails.
In the evenings, learn to salsa and put your moves to practice in one of the famous clubs. Read our full article on Cartagena, including recommendations on where to eat, here.
Santa Marta: 2 days
As the first taste of the Caribbean coast, make a stop in Santa Marta. A quiet beach town on the way to Tayrona National Park. Santa Marta is not a very touristic location, so you will get a real feel for the Colombian coastal life. Street food vendors at every corner, sunset beers on the beach and people enjoying the slow life.
Without a doubt, the coolest spot in town is Republica Hostel . Probably the best hostel we stayed in during our travels in terms of comfort, coolness and vibe. It features a pool in the wide open-air courtyard, where you can hang out during the hot hours and which, on Saturday nights becomes a stage for pool parties (they end at 11 pm so don't worry about it being noisy). The rooms are extra comfortable, clean and quiet and it’s a ten-minute walk from the beach.
What to do in Santa Marta
The life in Santa Marta revolves around the beach and most travelers use the town only as a base to venture further up the coast or to start the trek into the ‘lost city’.
We didn’t do the trek but rather used Santa Marta as our base to reach the even smaller town of Taganga where we completed our PADI Scuba diving course.
If you are interested in learning to dive, read all about our experience in Taganga. If you are keen to do your PADI Open Water certificate you will need to add 4 days to your itinerary, while for the PADI Advanced certificate you will need to add another 3 days.
Palomino: 2 days
We fell in love with Palomino and its hippie soul. This tiny village was once the capital of the marijuana trade, today, it's one of the most relaxed places in the country. Vegetarian restaurants and hippie craft stands cover the one main road which leads to a wide tropical beach.
Where to sleep in Palomino
El Bohio Hostel is a family run hostel where Sofia and her daughter Jenny make you feel at home the moment you arrive. Expect spacious, sunny rooms, decorated in a modern minimalist style. The stay also includes a delicious breakfast, try the arepa, they are incredible!
What to do in Palomino
Tubing is a must do in Palomino. It consists of floating down a wide river immersed in the colombian jungle, comfortably perched on a doughnut style floatie, while sipping on a beer and watching the scenery and jungle animals pass by.
For more tips on what to do and where to eat in Palomino, check out this article.
Tayrona National Park: 2 days
Tayrona National Park is the best way to end your Colombia adventures. This vast national park is home to a lush tropical jungle and to some of the best beaches in the country. Imagine crystal clear turquoise water, white powdery sand and carpets of fresh coconuts to be picked at your leisure. Sleeping on a hammock while listening to the waves of the ocean nearby is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
Read about our article on Visiting Tayrona National Park: everything you need to know, including all the tips on where to sleep, what to bring and the best spots to visit.
We had the time of our lives in Colombia and we do hope you will consider visiting this fascinating country. We promise good times, delicious food, sunny days and all the tropical vibes!