Jan 07

Top 10 Colombian Travel Destinations for 2014

Humpback whale in the Chocó


You’ve waved goodbye to 2013 and welcomed in 2014 with the usual merriment, drunkenness and optimism. This year you’re going to work harder, spend more time with your family, read more, do more exercise and quit smoking. Yes, we believe you. But how about some more modest, achievable goals like, for example, travelling in Colombia more?

You could visit the main tourist destinations, such as Cartagena, Tayrona or the Coffee Region, or you could make a bee-line towards some of the lesser-known regions of Colombia in order to get a taste for the real flavour of Colombia. Here’s our list of some of the best places for you to visit in Colombia in 2014.

1. Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales, photo courtesy of Chris Allen
Caño Cristales, photo courtesy of Chris Allen


This stunning rainbow river will seriously blow your mind. What makes it even better is that it is fairly difficult to get to (you have to fly to La Macarena either from Villavicencio or Bogota) and the best time to visit is between July and December, so mass tourism has not yet taken hold.

2. La Guajira

Punta Gallinas, La Guajira
The striking colours of Punta Gallinas, La Guajira


We have spoken about visiting La Guajira previously on this blog, but we thought it deserved another mention here. Breathtakingly surreal landscapes, stunningly bold colours and eerie levels of serenity mix together to create a totally unique travel destination.

3. Barranquilla

Marimonda Mask at Barranquilla's Carnival
Marimonda Mask at Barranquilla’s Carnival


Although Barranquilla is a destination in itself, we are referring more specifically to Barranquilla’s Carnival, the second largest in Latin America, beaten only by Rio. Music, floats, dancing, bright colours and, well, everything you might expect from a massive Colombian party, fill the streets with joy and merriment. A must-visit for any party-goer or culture-vulture.

4. Minca

Minca, in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is home to some spectacular sunsets
A Minca sunset from the terrace of Casa Loma hostel


Only about 45 minutes from Santa Marta, this small mountain town is quickly gaining the recognition it deserves, which is why you should get there before it becomes heaving with tourists. With the mountain air providing a welcome respite from the stifling heat of Santa Marta, this is the ideal place to unwind, walk amongst nature, swim in waterfalls or simply gaze in wonderment at the fantastic sunsets.

5. Cali

View of Cali from the San Antonio neighbourhood
View of Cali from the San Antonio neighbourhood


So, perhaps you’ve all heard about Cali, the Salsa capital of the world, but how many people actually visit? Sadly, not as many as those who visit Medellin or Cartagena. Yet, as far as Colombia’s cities go, Cali is right up there. Warm, open people, a friendly culture and all the salsa clubs you can shake a stick at are just some of the reasons to visit. Add to that some great museums, a fantastic zoo and nearby attractions such as Buga and Lake Calima and you’re onto a winner.

6. Providencia

Providencia Island, Colombia
No more complaining about traffic jams…


San Andres’s little sister, Providencia, is your stereotypical Colombian Caribbean paradise. You’ll find golden sands, crystal-clear water and barely a soul in sight. Spend a few days whiling away your time on a perfect beach, sipping some rum and admiring the views but be careful – you might find it hard to leave.

7. Cocuy

Night falls on El Cocuy
Night falls on El Cocuy, photo courtesy of YoTuT


Another destination that we have touched on before, Cocuy is perhaps not what most people would expect to find in tropical Colombia. Not for the faint-hearted, this snow-capped mountain destination is perfect for anyone into hiking, fresh air and unique and beautiful landscapes. With most of the park at over 5,000 metres, Cocuy will literally take your breath away.

8. Las Lajas Sanctuary

Las Lajas Sanctuary near Ipiales in southern Colombia
The Santuario de las Lajas


Even if you’re not particularly religious, you’ll find it hard not to be impressed by the Las Lajas Sanctuary, near the border with Ecuador in southern Colombia. Precariously balanced in a gorge, this church has been attributed with numerous miracles. Even if you don’t get your miracle, you’ll be hard pushed to find a more awe-inspiring church in Colombia.

9. Isla Gorgona

Isla Gorgbna, in the Colombian Pacific, is a great place to go whale-watching
A spectacular photo of a humpback whale by Toya Viudes from Colombia de Una


This small Pacific island, about 35 km from the Colombian coast, is interesting for a number of reasons. From August to October, visitors can enjoy the yearly passage of humpback whales, a good enough reason to visit all by itself. However, the island was also used as a maximum-security prison from 1959 to 1984, with venomous snakes on the interior of the island and patrol sharks ensuring that only one prisoner ever escaped. The prison is now covered in dense jungle, but small portions of it can still be seen.

10. Choco

San Pacho Festival, Quibdo
The Festival of San Pacho is just one of the many attractions in Choco


This under-visited and misunderstood region of Colombia is slowly improving its reputation and beginning to attract more visitors. Impressive thick rainforest dominates the landscape, while raw, savage coastline completes the picture. The Afro-Colombians that live here are extremely friendly and eager to shake off the negative reputation. Here you will find a totally different culture, with unique food, music and traditions.


So where will you be heading in 2014?



15 thoughts on “Top 10 Colombian Travel Destinations for 2014

    AlanM on

    Loved the time I went up the Central Cordillera and towards Tolima- read the story at http://alanpmillsuk.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/climbing-the-andes-a-slow-start/


    Christin on

    Hi Azzam,

    Thank you so much for this nice article and beautiful pictures. I am from Germany, my Hausband will be relocated to Cali this summer. As i am very excited about this, the same time i am also so concerned, because we have two very yough kids. I don’t how is life like im Cali. Is it safe at all for kids? We will be living in Ciudad Jardin. Any information will be highly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance!


      Azzam on

      Hi, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s very exciting to hear that you will be moving to Cali but of course I understand your concerns. I will send you an email with any information that I think you might find helpful!


    Francine on

    SALENTOOOO!!! How is Salento … and most of QUINDIO for that matter not on the top 10! AMAZING MUST SEE for people traveling to Colombia! Colombia is pretty amazing, proud to say its my new home!


      Azzam on

      You are totally right Francine, people definitely must visit Salento! With this post we were attempting to give some alternative options, rather than the main tourist destinations that everyone visits. But that isn’t to say that they aren’t must-see destinations! I’m glad that you’ve chosen Colombia as your new home by the way!


    Francine on

    I cannot believe SALENTO, QUINDIO and most of quindio for that matter, is not on the top 10!! UNBELIEVABLE…. must post about SALENTO =)


      Azzam on

      We have previously written about Salento, but we strive to continue to update our material and will of course look into creating more posts about Quindio. In the meantime, here are some previous posts on Salento:



    Jorja Alcorn on

    Gorgeous Colombia! The places mentioned are all beautiful and worth to visit. Never been to South and Central America yet and I just think I have to plan to see the places. Thanks for the post.


      Azzam on

      No problem, we’re happy to help! You definitely should make your way over to Latin America and obviously Colombia! When you do, make sure to get in touch with us…


    Prince Bhatia on

    I have never heard any of the places before and these places look like full of fun especially the Cocuy,it seems more like the dream world.


      Azzam on

      It almost is like a dream! Well, we hope you manage to visit some of these places, and don’t forget to get in touch with us if you do!


    David on

    Are you serious about Cali? Unfortunately I have family there and have to visit quite often to see them. It has very few tourist attractions, the zoo is good and the eco parks (Parque de las Garzas) are good, however it is not worth visiting. There is a reason why more people visit Medellin or Cartagena, they are much better places to visit


      Azzam on

      You are right, perhaps Medellin and Cartagena have more traditional tourist attractions, but we feel as though Cali is often ignored when in fact it is a fantastic city in my opinion. The culture, music and people are very different from other places in Colombia and there are a number of interesting towns and places to visit nearby. I feel that the city has a great vibe, especially during feria! I totally appreciate your comment though, the idea of the article was to offer some alternative places to visit, outside of the typical tourist destinations.


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