The Ultimate 10-Day Colombia Itinerary
Colombia is an interesting country with beautiful nature, lush rainforests, stunning coastline, and exciting cities. Spend time hiking Cocora Valley, a valley near Salento with the tallest palm trees in the world. Explore La Candelaria and visit the Gold Museum in the country’s capital, Bogotá. Catch a ride over the city of Medellin on the cable cars. Visit the coastal city of Cartagena where you can walk around the colorful old city or spend time relaxing on the beach. Continue reading this 10-day Colombia itinerary for the best things to do and see in Colombia.
Table of Contents
How to Get to Colombia
Many airlines fly to Colombia, with the cheapest flights typically to the major cities of Bogotá, Medellin, and Cartagena. From the US you can easily get to Colombia with JetBlue, Delta, American and United. If you are planning to go to Colombia, start looking for flights early and wait until you can find a good flight deal. We flew to Bogotá from Phoenix for $440 with JetBlue with a deal Going notified us about. Sign up for Going to get flight deals to Colombia delivered to your email.
How to Travel Around Colombia
Traveling Around Colombia by Plane
The main airlines that fly within Colombia are Latam, Avianca, EasyFly and VivaAir. Flying is a great option to travel around Colombia faster, but it does cost more than taking a bus. Domestic flights within Colombia can cost from $20 USD to $100 USD one way depending on when you purchase the flight and where your origin and destination is. I recommend purchasing the domestic flights at least one month in advance, before the prices start to increase. Most of the airports in Colombia are very small so you only need to get to the airport about an hour or 1.5 hours before the flight.
When choosing a flight, make sure you read the airlines luggage policy. Some of the airlines base prices do not include luggage, and the cost of the luggage can greatly increase the price of the ticket. Also, some of the airlines only allow very small bags onto the plane. Avianca often has the most expensive tickets, but they allow a free checked bag and the flights are more often on time, so it can be worth it. Their carry on baggage allowance is also bigger.
Colombia by Bus
Colombia has an extensive bus network that can take you throughout the country. You can see bus routes and book tickets for your trip on Bookaway. Busses are a cheap option, and you can often find night busses so you can save money on hotels by sleeping on the bus overnight. There are main bus stations in every city where you can purchase tickets and see timetables. Since Colombia is a large country, traveling by bus can take a long time and there can be unexpected issues and delays (we had a bus that got a flat tire). If you only have 10 days to explore Colombia, I recommend skipping the bus for the longer distances such as Bogotá to Salento and opting for a flight instead.
Best Time to Travel to Colombia
Temperatures remain similar in Colombia throughout the year, the main change is dry versus wet season which varies between different parts of the country. The main rainy season is April to June and October to November. The temperature within the country varies widely depending on where you visit, with Bogotá typically having highs in the 60s and Cartagena with highs in the 90s. Try to visit outside of the peak season which runs from December to March to find cheaper prices and less crowded attractions.
Things to Know Before Your Trip to Colombia
Colombia is a great country to explore, but there are some things that you should be aware of and plan for to make sure you have a good trip.
Safety often comes up when you plan a trip to Colombia. All the places that we went to and that I am including in this itinerary we felt safe, but we tried to not be out too late at night and were always vigilant. Always keep your belongings close to you, don’t wander around neighborhoods that you didn’t research before (especially at night), and be careful when taking taxis or Ubers.
Travel Medical Insurance
Don’t forget to get a travel insurance policy for your trip! SafetyWing offers affordable, flexible, and reliable travel medical insurance that can be purchased ahead of your travels or while you are already traveling.
Stay Connected: Wifi, Sim Card
Wifi is present at most hotels, Airbnbs, and some restaurants. In some cities there are Wifi hotspots like Medellin. If you prefer to make sure you always have service, you can find a sim card and data plan at many vendors in the cities by looking for small stores that have ads for cellphone plans. The main companies in Colombia are Claro, Tim, and Movistar. We purchased a sim card and data plan with Claro which cost 5K COP for the sim card plus 15k COP for two weeks of 2 gb of data. A sim card is very helpful in order to get around with google maps, call an Uber, and research your plans while on the go.
Hot Showers! or Lack Thereof
One thing that I was surprised about in Colombia is that many accommodations did not have hot water. After traveling to many countries in South America, Central America, and Asia and not encountering this, I didn’t expect it in Colombia either. If you cannot shower without hot water, or would prefer a nice hot shower after a long day, make sure to closely check the information before you book your accommodation. If your accommodation listing doesn’t specifically say that there is hot water there most likely is no hot water. In some places, like Cartagena, not having hot water wasn’t a problem because it was so hot and humid.
How to Book Where to Stay in Colombia
In Colombia there are varying accommodation options depending on where you are. In the bigger cities such as Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellin there are many hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs. In these cities we decided to stay in Airbnbs because we felt we got the best value and the best locations. If you prefer a hotel or hostel, I recommend searching on booking.com. In places with less accommodation options such as Salento and Tayrona, we booked hotels and guesthouses with booking.com.
One thing to note when choosing accommodations is that not many places have hot water, toiletries, air conditioning, or heat. If the accommodation you are looking at doesn’t specifically say it has these amenities it means that it most likely does not. If you are not sure I recommend checking with the hotel or the Airbnb host before booking.
What to Pack for 10 Days in Colombia
I highly recommend traveling light for your trip to Colombia. You will be moving around a lot on this 10-day Colombia itinerary, and packing light will make your trip significantly easier. I like to travel with my Deuter pack which is easy to carry and can fit all you need for 10 days in Colombia. If needed, you can do laundry in Colombia by finding a laundry facility or booking an Airbnb or with a washer. We knew we would most likely need to do laundry halfway through our trip in Medellin, so we chose an Airbnb that had a washer available.
- Day Pack: Bring a small backpack for your adventures during the day.
- Rain Jacket: A rain jacket will be very helpful in Cartagena and Tayrona where it rains often.
- Light Thin Clothes: You will need light clothes for Cartagena and Tayrona where it is really hot and humid.
- Hiking Clothes: Make sure you have a couple hiking outfits for Tayrona and Cocora Valley.
- Warm Sweaters: Bogotá can be cold, and Salento got cold in the evening and morning, so make sure you bring layers.
- Sneakers: You will need sneakers for hiking Cocora Valley and Tayrona, and you might want to wear them on longer days exploring cities such as Medellin and Bogotá.
- Toiletries: Many hotels and guesthouses in Colombia didn’t provide shampoo or conditioner, so make sure to bring some with you. Use these reusable travel size bottles and fill them with your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
- Sunscreen: Bring a sunscreen under 3 oz so you can carry it with you in your carry-on.
- Bug Spray: You will definitely need bug spray for Tayrona National Park, so make sure you bring a travel size one with you.
- Hand Wash Detergent: Bring detergent to hand wash your clothes in case you need to re-wear something and didn’t have a chance to find a place to do laundry.
- Beach Towel: Bring a beach towel for Tayrona. This quick dry towel is perfect for traveling.
- Camera: Make sure to bring your camera and charger to capture all your incredible adventures.
Colombia 10-Day Itinerary
Click on the map below to open this interactive 10-day Colombia itinerary map
Day 1: Bogotá
Bogotá City Tour
On your first day in Bogotá I recommend doing a tour with Beyond Colombia. They offer a free walking tour (funded by donations) of Bogotá that is about 3 hours. It is a very interesting tour that provides a lot of information about Bogotá, its history and culture. They offer tours in English at 10 am and 2 pm daily and meet in front of Museo Del Oro. This tour is a great way to start your trip to Colombia and learn more about the capital of Colombia and the country. The tour will take you to the highlights in Candelaria including Simon Bolivar Square, Museo Botero (Botero Collection), and more.
If you prefer to do a full-day tour in Bogotá, you can book this Bogotá City Tour that will guide you throughout the city to Mount Monserrate, Museo Del Oro, Barrio La Candelaria, Parque de Santander, and more.
After your tour, explore Candelaria more on your own. Eat traditional Colombian food at La Puerta Falsa, a tiny and unique cafe where you can try ajiaco soup and tamales.
Day 2: Bogotá
Get a View of Bogotá from Monserrate
Monserrate is a mountain over 10,000 feet high over Bogotá, which gives you an incredible view of the city. To get up to the top of Monserrate you can walk, ride the cable car, or take the funicular. Give yourself at least 2 hours for the entire visit since the line can be long to get on the funicular and cable car and you don’t want to get stuck on the top of Monserrate before your flight.
Gold Museum (Museo Del Oro)
Museo Del Oro is an incredible gold museum in Bogotá. The gold museum is split up into four exhibition galleries. The first exhibit shows working metals, and describes the processes used to transform the metals you will see in the museum. The next exhibit focuses on people and gold in pre-hispanic Colombia. In the third exhibit you will learn about cosmology and symbolism, showing important gold pieces and explaining the meaning behind them to the indigenous people. The last exhibit is called the offering, which focuses on religious art.
If you want to see more exhibits in Museo Botero outside of the Botero exhibit, return here on your own time. The museum is free and open most days until 7 pm (Exception: closed Tuesday and open Sunday until 5).
Day 3: Visit a Coffee Farm and Explore Salento
How to Get to Salento from Bogotá
I recommend flying from Bogotá in order to save time. You can fly in the afternoon of day 2 or the morning of day 3. There is no airport in Salento so you would need to fly to either Armenia or Pereira and then take a bus or taxi from there. We chose to fly into Pereira because the airport is closer to Salento and there were better and cheaper flights. The busses from Pereira to Salento only run until about 6 pm, so if you land any later your only option would be taking a taxi or arranging transportation with your hotel beforehand. The busses from Pereira leave from the main Pereira bus terminal (Terminal de Transportes de Pereira) which is about a 20 minute drive from the airport.
Where to Stay in Salento
I recommend staying in the town of Salento so you can easily walk to the main square, restaurants and shops. There are some accommodations further away, but the only way to really get around is by walking or taking a jeep, so unless you have a car with you I don’t recommend staying outside of the town. Booking.com is a great option for reserving your hotel, guesthouse, or hostel in Salento.
Tour a Coffee Farm
One of the highlights of this 10 day-Colombia itinerary is visiting a coffee farm. There are many coffee farms near Salento that you can choose from. The coffee farm that we decided to visit and that I highly recommend is Finca El Ocaso, located about 5 km from the main square in Salento. Finca El Ocaso traditional coffee tour is about 1.5 hours long and takes you through the process from growing the coffee beans, picking the beans, sorting through the beans, roasting the beans, and brewing the coffee. The tour was very interesting and a great opportunity to be able to learn about coffee in Colombia.
Spend time walking around Salento, checking out different stores and restaurants. The main square, Plaza De Bolivar, has some booths where you can purchase souvenirs and at night there are also food stalls. Carrera 6 has a lot of shops with unique crafts, hats, and souvenirs. At the end of this road you can also climb up to the mirador, where you can see a nice view.
Day 4: Hike Cocora Valley
One of the highlights of this 10-day Colomia itinerary is hiking in Cocora Valley and seeing the famous wax palms towering above. Cocora Valley is a short 30 minute jeep ride from Salento. This 5 hour hike takes you through a forest of palms, a lush forest, along a river and through a pasture. Hike Cocora Valley clockwise so you can get to the forest of palms first and enjoy your time there. Throughout the 12 km hike you will see many viewpoints of the valley and surrounding mountains. Continue to our Guide to Hiking Cocora Valley for more information.
Fly from Salento (Pereira / Armenia) to Medellin
You could fly to Medellin either in the evening on day 4 or in the morning of day 5, whichever has the best flight prices and the best times. We flew from Pereira to Medellin for only 40 USD. The EasyFly flights from Pereira to Medellin fly into the closer airport right in the city, so flying to Medellin is definitely worth it. In order to get back to the airport from Salento, take the bus from Salento to Pereira or Armenia, and then fly from there. The bus station in Salento is located in the northwest corner of the town, near the intersection of Carrera 1a Norte and Calle 6 Norte.
Day 5: Medellin
Visiting Medellin is one of the top things to do in Colombia. Medellin is an exciting and vibrant city with great food, museums, art, and culture. After recently going through a transformation, Medellin is great international city to visit. Known as the city of eternal Spring, Medellin has great weather, with the temperature staying around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Where to Stay in Medellin
Medellin has many hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs. If you are looking to stay in a hotel or a hostel, booking.com has many options that you can search for and sort by price. Airbnb is also a great choice in Medellin, as there are a variety of accommodations ranging from private rooms to entire apartments. I recommend staying in El Poblado as it is a short Uber or metro ride away from the other best things to do in Medellin. There are also a lot of great restaurant options in El Poblado.
Explore El Poblado
El Poblado is expensive for Medellin, but it is really nice and has lots of great restaurants and bars. El Poblado gets pretty quiet during the day but there are some great brunch spots like Cambria and D’Andre Gourmet. At night El Poblado comes alive, with lots of great dinner spots, bars, and clubs. Our favorite restaurants for dinner were Bonhomia and 37 Park. If you are looking to go out for drinks and desert, Botanika Lounge has the most delicious chocolate cake.
Get a View of Medellin on Metro Cable Line J
One of the best things to do in Medellin is to ride the metro cable to see more of the city. From San Javier station you can take a Metro Cable (line J) up to La Aurora. This metro cable goes over some of the poorer neighborhoods in Medellin. When you get to the end of the line at La Aurora you can stay on the cable car and continue back down. Try to hop on an emptier cable car if you can so you can enjoy panoramic views of Medellin. If you happened to get on a crowded one, get off at the next station and wait to get back on when you see an empty one. The cable cars are cleaned frequently, so when they are cleaned the doors are closed until the next station so there are plenty of chances to get empty cable cars.
Comuna 13 use to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin. In 2002, the Colombian military overthrew the rebel groups in Comuna 13, which was controversial because it led to a lot of deaths. The residents have since turned to dance and art as a form of expression which has led to some of the most unique street art. In 2011, escalators were installed to allow the residents to more easily get up and down the neighborhood for easier access to better work opportunities.
Explore Comuna 13 by riding up the escalators and stop at different streets to checkout the street art and galleries. You will walk by dance performances and vendors selling food and crafts. We went to Comuna 13 on our own during the daytime and felt safe. We made sure to stay near the escalator area and around where the graffiti and other tourists were. You could also book a tour of Comuna 13 which will allow you to learn more about the story behind the graffiti and the history of the neighborhood.
How to Get to Comuna 13 Escalators:
To get to Comuna 13 escalators and where the popular graffiti is, you can either take an Uber or the metro. If you take Uber make sure to put your destination as Escalator Comuna 13 which is the bottom of the escalators. If you decide to take the metro you would take orange line B to San Javier. From here it is about a 25 minute walk southwest up a hill to the beginning of Comuna 13 Escalators. Most of the area you will walk in from the metro station to the escalators is pretty quiet so it didn’t feel very safe since we didn’t see any tourists walking. Therefore I recommend booking a tour of Comuna 13 or taking an Uber straight to the Comuna 13 Escalators.
Try Different Food at Mercado Del Rio
Mercado Del Rio is a high end food market with all different types of food including Peruvian food, Mediterranean food, Mexican food, Spanish food, crepes, hamburgers, sushi, pasta, and more. There are many different stalls on the bottom floor and a couple of restaurants on the top floor. Here you can find nice outdoor seating where you can enjoy your food and the nice Medellin weather.
How to Get to Mercado Del Rio:
Take line A to Industriales and take a right when you leave the metro. Take a right on the first street on your right and continue walking south. Total walking time from the Industriales metro station is about 10 min.
Day 6: Medellin
Right in front of Antioquia Museum you can find Plaza Botero. This plaza has many of Fernando Botero’s most famous bronze sculptures. Out of these 23 sculptures you can find caballo (horse), cabeza (head), gato (cat), hombre a caballo (man on a horse), perro (dog), mano (hand), and more. This plaza can get busy and has many pickpocketers so watch your stuff!
Antioquia Museum in Central Medellin has a lot of great exhibits including the popular Fernando Botero exhibit. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist known for paintings that play with proportions and size. There are also often hidden stories in his paintings that are fun to look for. Antioquia Museum has many exhibits including an international art hall, Luis Caballero room, and 20th century room.
How to Get to Antioquia Museum:
Antioquia Museum is located a couple minutes walk from Parque Berrio metro Station on line A. The metro is the easiest way to get here since this is a very busy part of Medellin.
Memory House Museum
Ride the Metro Cable to Parque Arvi
Memory House Museum (Museo Casa De La Memoria) is a museum with exhibitions regarding the armed conflicts and Medellin’s history and transformation. The museum is free and is a great place to spend a couple hours and learn more about Medellin and Colombia. We felt like this museum gave us a better understanding of the city and what the residents have experienced.
The metro cable is very easy and convenient and since it is a public transportation and not a tourist attraction there is barely any wait compared to cable cars in other cities like Bogotá. To get to metro cable K you will need to take metro line A to Acevedo metro station. Metro Cable K is only about 2 minutes up to Santo Domingo Station. At Santo Domingo Station you will get off and find metro cable L which goes over the neighborhoods in northeast Medellin for about 6 minutes and then over the forest of Parque Arvi for 9 minutes. This metro cable ride offers great views of Medellin and Parque Arvi. When you get to Parque Arvi you can do some hikes, relax at the cafe, or rent a bike and go for a ride.
Day 7: Guatape, Day Trip from Medellin
One of the best things to do in Colombia is to visit Guatape and Piedra Del Peñol. Guatape is a colorful town about 1.5 hours from Medellin beside a beautiful lake. Spend one of your 10 days in Colombia visiting Guatape and climbing Piedra Del Peñol, or Peñon de Guatape, a granite rock towering at 656 feet. You can climb up the 740 steps to the top of the rock near Guatape for an incredible view. Guatape is an easy day trip from Medellin which you can do on your own or by booking an organized tour to Guatape. For more information, continue to our guide for how to visit Guatape and Piedra Del Peñol in one day.
Day 8: Cartagena
Cartagena is a colorful coastal city in the north of Colombia. The main part of Cartagena that people visit is the old city which is very cute but also very small. Therefore, it is possible to visit Cartagena in just one day. Cartagena is extremely hot and humid, and most places do not have air conditioning. We enjoyed our time in Cartagena, but we were there for two days and wish we had only spent one day there.
Explore Old City Cartagena
The old city has nice shops and restaurants, colorful houses, and historic buildings. See the clock tower, San Pedro Claver Church, Parque De Bolivar, Plaza de Santo Domingo and more. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Cartagena, you can visit the Palace of the Inquisition, but do note that some of the information is only in Spanish. Next spend time shopping at Las Bovedas, small shops built into the walls of the city. Here you can find a lot of souvenirs, local bags, and crafts.
Street Art in Getsemani
Getsemani is a unique neighborhood in the Old City with a lot of street art, small restaurants, and bars. Spend time walking around this area and admiring the street art.
Castillo De San Felipe De Barajas
Castillo De San Felipe De Barajas is a famous fortress built by the Spanish in Cartagena which is worth a visit. You can walk through the underground tunnels and see views of Cartagena from the higher parts of the fortress. You can walk here from the old city, but make sure to bring plenty of water.
Walk the Old City Walls
Next walk around the old city walls and stop for drinks at Cafe Del Mar for sunset. Make sure to arrive early enough to get seats by the water. Cafe Del Mar is a great location on the city wall with a nice breeze that allows you to get away from the heat in the Old City below.
Where to Stay in Cartagena
I recommend staying in the old city Cartagena. You can find many Airbnbs within the walled city. Make sure to check if there is air conditioning in the Airbnb. If it does not list that there is air conditioning that means there is none, and it gets extremely hot and humid so you will need it. Some Airbnbs have a small air conditioning unit but only in one room, so make sure you double check with the host.
Day 9: Cartagena and Bus to Tayrona National Park
Spend the early morning getting breakfast at a cafe and walking around the quiet streets of the old city before the city wakes up. Epoca Expresso Bar is open from 7 am so it is a great option for an early breakfast.
Bus / Shuttle from Cartagena to Tayrona National Park
The easiest way to get to Tayrona National Park from Cartagena is to take a bus to Santa Marta and then take either a bus or a taxi from there to Tayrona. We took Berlinas bus to Santa Marta for 40,000 COP. Berlinas is more expensive than the public bus but it is worth it because it is faster and leaves from right outside the old city of Cartagena.The Berlinas bus leaves from the Berlinas Marbella station which is located at Cra. 18 #57 in Cartagena. The busses leave about every 40 to 50 minutes but it really depends on when the bus gets full.
The bus ride can take 4-6 hours depending on traffic and any other problems. The busses are more like small vans and they have strong air conditioning, so make sure to bring layers. There is Wi-Fi available but it didn’t work well during our trip. The bus will drop you off in the center of Santa Marta. From here in order to save time I recommend taking a taxi directly to Tayrona National Park which takes about one hour without traffic
Day 10: Tayrona National Park
Finish your 10-day Colombia itinerary by visiting Tayrona National Park. Tayrona National Park is a protected area in Northern Colombia located near the city of Santa Marta. This park offers a mix of lush forest and breathtaking beaches. Most of the park is closed to car traffic, so it is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet hike through the forest to many beaches. When planning your trip, try to visit the park outside of the busiest time which is December through end of January. I recommend staying at Ecohotel Yachay Tayrona which is located inside Tayrona National Park. To learn more about Tayrona National Park and plan your day there, continue to our guide on how to visit Tayrona National Park in one day.
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