Colombia is a country where the media perception often does not meet its reality. While the nation had issues with drugs, crime and guerrilla violence, much of that is in its distant past yet fear of this beautiful country continues to linger. Travelers often agree that its slogan of “The only risk is not wanting to leave” is a true reflection of their holiday and if you speak to Colombians many hope that you leave the country with a new understanding that you will share with others. It is not surprising to see it top travel lists with popular publications as more people see it as the next hot destination.
There are so many reasons to visit Colombia but here are five to get you thinking about your next holiday.
Colombians could possibly be the most friendly in South America, rivalling the hospitality of Brazil. A very outgoing and boisterous culture, it is common for new friends to invite you to dinner, a party or some other celebration. While it is important to be safe on your holidays and take necessary precautions, many travelers have stories of Colombian hospitality.
For sun and sand
Colombia’s North West coast is located on the Caribbean. With its white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water it is perfect for a beach holiday. If you’re not looking to head that far south don’t forget about San Andres island, located just off the coast of Nicaragua but is part of Colombia. Check out our post on the best beaches in Colombia.
The country has done a fantastic job of preserving its Spanish colonial architectural heritage. Those in the North are treated to the jewel of South America – Cartagena, which is known as one of the most beautiful cities in South America. This walled in city is a delight for travelers who want to spend the day wandering its cobblestone streets admiring the colourful buildings and balconies.
But the beauty of Spanish colonial architecture is not unique to Cartagena, most cities maintain their historic or “old city” including Bogota which has turned the Candelaria neighbourhood into a tourist area.
If for some silly reason you tire of the brightly colored homes and shops just head down to Popayan in the South, also known as the “white city.” The entire city centre is entirely in white with a number of churches, it boasts a devout Catholic population and is a popular place to visit during Semana Santa.
To learn to dance
No doubt Colombia is the home to many fantastic dancers. If you are a beginner and want to learn to salsa dance it is a great and economical place to learn. Medellin, a city that becomes a favorite to many travelers has many salsa bars where beginners are welcome.
Head a bit South to the Pablo Escobar’s infamous city of Cali and you will find it is shedding its infamous drug cartel past and is now more famous for its style of salsa with quick steps. Unlike other forms of salsa like in Cuba, Cali-style salsa is influenced by other dances such as the Pachanga and Boogaloo. Colombia is a country that is known for great travel value. There are many beginner group and private lessons in Cali that begin at $2 a class so there’s no reason not to learn.
For a great cup of coffee
If you just want to get away somewhere quiet with lots of great walking trails and beautiful scenery you cannot miss out on the coffee region of Colombia.
Unfortunately, like most coffee producing countries it can be challenging to get a good cup of coffee as most of it is exported. However, it is possible to get a great cup in the coffee triangle towns of Manizales, Salento and Pereira. In between the java the region is fantastic for day hikes with many options for beginners and intermediate trekking.
Intrigued? Check out our two-week itinerary for Colombia.