Oct 27

21 reasons why you have to visit Colombia in 2017


After the iconic travel company Lonely Planet issued Colombia with a resounding seal of approval in their annual ‘Best in Travel’ awards by named the country as the 2nd best country to visit in 2017 (you can read all about the award here), I started thinking that, although it’s an amazing thing to see the country that we’ve been working so hard to promote for over 5 years included so high in lists like these, the ‘Best in Travel’ article itself doesn’t give many actual reasons as to why Colombia should be top of your travel list. So, instead of just assuming that you know why you should be making a trip to Colombia a top priority in 2017, I’m going to give you some darn good reasons myself. 21 reasons to be exact. So here are 21 reasons why you have to visit Colombia in the upcoming year…

1. Now is the time to visit Colombia

Right now Colombia is in the perfect sweet spot between off-the-beaten-track and popular. What do I mean by that? Plenty of exciting and diverse places with amazing things to see and not too many visitors, but with a good tourism infrastructure, lots of hotels and hostels, and plenty of agencies and activities to make the trip a great one. If you’re not too adventurous you can stay in nice boutique hotels and enjoy customized tours, but if you fancy something a little more ‘out there’ you can visit any one of the 20-odd Colombian departments that rarely see tourism


visit the cerros de mavecure
The Mavecure Hills in Guainia rarely see tourism – head there in February for great weather and no crowds


2. Safety is getting better than ever

We’ve never claimed that Colombia is a completely safe country, but we have tried to redress the imbalance a little – a trip to Colombia isn’t the dance with death that many people still believe it to be. Traveling in Colombia isn’t like visiting rural France, but with peace talks ongoing between the government and guerrilla groups there hasn’t been a safer time to visit Colombia in decades. Previously ‘no-go’ zones of the country are opening up to tourism, making the country an even more attractive prospect for those travelers worrying the country is becoming too popular.

3. It’s not just the ‘Gringo Trail’ anymore

The classic traveler route of ‘Bogota-Medellin-Cartagena-Santa Marta’ is tried and tested and still (rightfully) popular, but travelers are starting to open their eyes a bit more to ‘alternative’ destinations, and realize that Colombia has a great deal more to offer than a classic 2 week itinerary. Even more gratifyingly, most of these destinations aren’t even in the Lonely Planet guides so, if you plan well, you can hop around the entire country, experiencing jungle, mountains, coast, plains, postcard-perfect towns, and rarely see another traveler. For those people worried that ‘the secret’s out about Colombia,’ just be a little more adventurous, and you can have lots of secrets of your very own…


Check it out: “500 Reasons we love Colombia”


Hornoyaco Mocoa Putumayo
You’ll hardly find a mention of Putumayo and it’s remarkable waterfalls in any guide books


4. The cities are booming

Far from the concrete jungles popularly portrayed in movies and Netflix, Colombia’s cities are undergoing a real renaissance. Bogota is buzzing with new bars, restaurants, cafes and live music venues, whilst Medellin is becoming a real tourism hotspot, increasingly famed for it’s nightlife, tourist attractions, and progressive urban planning. Even the coastal cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta are seeing more and more top bars and restaurants open, not to mention boutique hotels and hostels. Urban travel in Colombia has never been better!


experiencia cafetera wakecup coffee tour
You couldn’t learn from a better teacher


5. And the coffee will get you buzzing!

There’s not much more to say other than this: Colombia produces some of the world’s best coffee and, increasingly, Colombia is the place to sample it. From a growing number of third-wave coffee shops in the big cities, to some of the most interesting and informative coffee tours out there in the coffee region, Colombia is the place to be in 2017 to enjoy the best cup o’ joe you’re ever likely to taste…

6. Colombian hospitality is unparalleled

This should really be No. 1 on the list. Colombians are just about the kindest and friendliest people you’re likely to meet on your travels. The news that Colombia had been named so highly in Lonely Planet’s list was generally met here with pride and happiness, and most travelers in Colombia are blown-away by the openness they experience here. A visit to Colombia in 2017 isn’t just a visit to one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, but also to one of the friendliest.


“How I Fell In Love With Colombia”


Happy Colombians
Welcome to Colombia!!!


7. Art, culture, festivals etc.

Colombia isn’t just booming when it comes to tourism, it’s booming in art, culture, music and many other things. From one of the largest theatre festivals in the world in Bogota, to literary, street-art, modern art and music festivals, the Colombian capital seems to be hosting a different event every week these days. And then there are the hundreds of traditional Colombian festivals to explore – the second largest carnival in the world in Barranquilla, Pasto’s Black and White Festival, and, most excitingly, the biannual Rionegro Carnival will be taking place in 2017. Get that plane ticket booked…


“1000 Photos – yes, 1000! – of Colombia”


8. Sun, sea and surf

With both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, Colombia has some of the best beaches you’re ever likely to visit. From the dramatic Pacific beaches of Guachalito and Almejal, to the icons of Tayrona National Park and La Guajira, there are types of beaches to suit all tastes here. And it’s not just for lazing around in the sun either – head to Costeno Beach surfcamp to learn how to ride those waves, or pay a visit to the new hostel collective on Isla Grande near Cartagena to kayak among the mangroves. Colombia’s the place to work on that tan in 2017…


Humpback Whales Bahia Solano
A stunning Humpback Whales breaching with the Utria National Park in the background


9. Incredible Ecotourism

As the second most biodiverse country on earth, Colombia has the nature element of your trip covered. And, as tourism booms, ecotourism is improving day-by-day as well. Whether you head to the Pacific coast to watch humpback whales, the Amazon to see pink dolphins, Tayrona Park for monkeys, or the Sierra Nevada for birds, Colombia is potentially the ecotourism destination of next year.

10. Birds everywhere!

Colombia is also the world No. 1 in bird species, with over 1,900 registered up to now. The beauty of birding in Colombia is that you don;t have to be an expert to enjoy it. Head out with Jungle Joe in Minca to see toucans and owls, visit La Guajira for flamingos, or head east into Los Llanos for incredible views of herons, storks and ducks. Or join an expert company like Manakin Nature Tours or Colombia Birding for a 2 week tour you’ll never forget. If you really love birds, then make sure you’re in Cali in mid-February for the annual Colombia Bird Fair as well…


Flamingos La Guajira Colombia
Who wouldn’t want to see that…


11. Cultural diversity

Colombia is far from being a nation of Sofia Vergara’s and James Rodriguez’s – in fact, the country is about as culturally diverse as they come. Pay a visit to San Basilio de Palenque near Cartagena to experience a culture directly out of Africa, visit La Guajira to learn about the isolated Wayuu indigenous culture, or just get out to a club on the weekend in Bogota to dance to a fascinating mixture of African, indigenous and Caribbean rhythms…speaking of which:

12. Music you won’t believe has been hiding from you all these years!

Colombia is enjoying a real cultural renaissance when it comes to music as well, and all you hipsters out there won’t believe the music that’s waiting here for you! Check out Bogota clubs like Latino Power, Matik-Matik and Casa 9-69, where you can experience talented artists cherry-picking from Colombia’s cultural melting pot and making music so exotic and strange, yet so familiar, you won’t be able to resist a dance. Chongo de Colombia, Ghetto Kumbe, Romperayo, Meridian Brothers, La Tromba Bacalao, Herencia de Timbiqui, Son Palenque…the list could go on for as long as you’ve got!


Las Gachas Guadalupe Santander


13. So many red rivers…

Tranquilandia in Guaviare, Las Gachas in Santander, the Atabapo River in Guiania…and none of those are even the No. 1 red river, Cano Cristales. For a surreal country, Colombia is certainly blessed with weird red rivers!

14. Some of the most hidden wonders on earth…

The Mavecure Hills, the Serrania de la Lindosa, Malpelo Island, Chiribiquete…these names are probably all quite unfamiliar, but are potentially some of the most remarkable places on earth! And they’re all in Colombia…as I said, make 2017 the year you explore some of the world’s most unknown wonders in Colombia


visit the cerros de mavecure
All 3 of the Cerros de Mavecure seen from the Inirida River


15. It’s great value!

It’s not quite how it was a few years ago, when the exchange rate was extremely favorable to travelers, but Colombia still represents great value for money, especially for those people traveling with a holiday budget –  2 weeks in Colombia vs. 2 weeks on a Caribbean island…the cost doesn’t even compare! And flights out here are more plentiful and reasonably priced by the day!

16. Fruit, glorious fruit

Just take our fruit quiz and discover the wonder’s of fruits you never even knew existed…all of them ripe to enjoy in Colombia in 2017 (pun very much intended!).


Paragliding Chicamocha Canyon Colombia
How could you not want to be that person!?


17. So many bucket list check opportunities

Paragliding, swimming with dolphins, diving with sharks, whale-watching, white-water rafting, climbing a volcano, learning to dance salsa, eating weird and exotic things, seeing a toucan…a visit to Colombia means you can effectively check about 20 different items off your bucket list in one easy trip!

18. You’ll be in good company…

If you consider the Pope good company…he’ll be visiting Colombia in a much-publicized trip in 2017.

19. There’s nowhere better for souvenirs!

Coffee, woolen ponchos, rum, incredible handmade artisan bags, vases, clothing etc. etc. You certainly won’t be struggling with all those family and friends souvenirs if you plan a visit to Colombia in 2017…


Minca Colombia
The view from the ‘largest hammock in the world’ in Minca


20. Some of the coolest hotels you’ll ever stay in

You can stay in a floating hostel in the Caribbean, a hut on a hill in the jungle, a pyramid in the coffee region, a hammock suspended in mid-air in Antioquia…not to mention nights under the stars in the Sierra Nevada, on a beach in the jungle in Guainia, a hammock in the deserts of La Guajira. A trip to Colombia can also involve some of the nicest and most unique accomodation you’re likely to experience…

21. Just look!


The Best of Colombia
I mean…c’mon!


31 thoughts on “21 reasons why you have to visit Colombia in 2017

    Michael on

    Nice piece. I’ve lived in Colombia for more than seven years and recommend it for your next vacation.


    Miranda on

    Great information! When you travel to Colombia don’t forget to visit Caño Cristales It’s so beautiful out there.


    London on

    Very nice pictures, I really like this place and the coffee has been great for a long time.


    Avalon on

    Colombia is amazing! I arrived a year ago while backpacking and never left. @Dayna: yes go alone! I have found (as a solo female traveler) that traveling alone makes it very easy to meet people since you’re so flexible and unattached. @Ana I agree… knowing some Spanish is very helpful. There are good Spanish schools in Medellin like Colombia Immersion and EAFIT that are good for both the Spanish and the meeting-people aspect of traveling.


    Sami on

    I lived in Colombia for 3 years, but sorry to say that Colombians are NOT friendly at all to people with dark skin…how can they be extremely friendly when the first thing they look at is your appearance??? To them skin colour, social class and money are the most fundamental things….and they will treat ypu different depending on your skin colour. If you have white…then you will have a whale of a time, but if you have dark skin…..you will only be faced with hostility and zero hospitality. I talked to many other foreigners and they seem to experience the same especially in Bogota and Medellin. Colombia is beautiful but one of the most racist countries i have ever been to….Colombia is so diverse yet people dont mix and it is definately not common to see people of different colours together….virtually impossible….I will never in my life forget how i was treated in that country and my only fault was having dark skin. White skinned Colombians dont accept that people with dark skin can have money, be successful and dress nice….instead you are seen as an uneducated person and a thief. Very few Colombians are genuinely nice….most are very fake, users and only care about self image and tale advantage of people. Ask Colombians themseleves ‘I love my people, but I dont trust them’ so common to hear this….it explains it all.


      JL on

      Hi Sami. Unfortunately we have to agree with you in most of what you say. Even though tourism has increased notably in the last 5-7 years, internally Colombia drags a disgraceful tradition of racism and above all – but strictly related – classism. And although generalising is never a good thing everything you mention is real so we can only hope, working with our blog, to keep encouraging the fact that travelling means diversity and acceptance of other realities. Un Abrazo.


      Diana on

      Hi! Sorry to hear that!
      Unfortunately it can be also related with the places that you mentioned : Bogota and Medellin. As big cities, they are not always friendly for Colombians even. I have been living in both of them and it’s true that in these two places, some people pay more attention about where are you living, what are your parents doing for work, your salary, etc. But it happens to me also in other places in South America and even more in North Africa so I guess is related to development.
      I am Colombian and I feel really sorry if you had a bad experience.
      I don’t know from where did you get the impression that is not common to see people from different colours… From my experience, I have black and ingenious friends. Black people are mostly in Pacific region so it’s normal that you don’t see so many who have been borned in the centre of the country but I don’t think the friendship is related to the colour but more to migration and economic differences. It’s not like Europe where black are with black, arabics with arabics and inmigrants mostly also with inmigrants.

      There is a “hidden” racism, yes, one that people use to make jokes (that are not so funny for me but in every country there are stereotypes) BUT Colombia has been NEVER the most racist country! You can see the global ranking and Colombia is not even in the list. I have been living in too many countries, three different continents and so far I found too many times more racist!
      I hope if one day you decide to go again, stop visiting the big cities and enjoy more the coast and the smalls towns because you will be surprised to see how different people can be there compared to big cities, in a really positive way.


    Liliet on

    You guys totally forgot about my little paradise San Andres Island, where the ocean of 7 colors can hipnotiza any one, where our beautiful culture and multi language make of our Island a magical place, we have our green moon festival where reggae is the expresión of our soul, go to san Andres is transport your self to an unbelievable place where the ocean tale over your soul and you forgot everything else immersing your self in aquatics sports, diving in to the clear water to see amazing creatures, you can enjoy great gastronomy as rondon, pan de fruta, crab soup and many other dishes that can transport you to a different world , romantics sunsets on board of a beautiful votes, an exting horse ride throug the beautiful beaches with sand that look like cristals, please don’t forget my little paradise


      Ruth Liz on

      This is very true.


      Susana on

      Thank you for your advice ! My husband and I just got back to Miami from Santa Marta Colombia ! It was so wonderful ! We loved it there! Beaches food and very friendly people!! Now we would like to make some plans for next year to visit San Andres Island. Can you tell me how we can arrange to fly there without stoppping in Bogota ? I can’t take the altitud in Bogota it really bothers me. I would appreciate any ideas and recommendations as to when us the best time to go to San Andres. Thank you so much . You can write me to
      [email protected]


        Chris on

        Hi Susana, you should be able to fly directly to Cartagena and then take a LAN flight to San Andres from there


    Dayna on

    Columbia has been on my travel list for years. I live in Florida so logistically its very accessible to me. However I cant find anyone who wants to share Colombia and all she offers with me.
    I am female mid-aged. Should I just go alone???


      REY on

      para estos viajes es mejor bien acompañado y con el espíritu aventurero colombia es hermosa y tiene variedad de sitos que lo cautivan a uno yo empece esa aventura,bogota, medellin, santa marta y cartagena y me ha parecido lo mas inteligente que he hecho algo que llevo en mi mente y mi alma,lo seguiré haciendo con la guía de DIOS primeramente.un buen día.


      aude on

      Yes go ! I’m 26, female and travelling there right now, absolutely loving it !


      Ana on

      I think if you take it an “eat, pray, love” trip, it’s totally great if you go alone. But be prepared for the language barrier. Colombians are extremely friendly, and they won’t hesitate to invite you to parties or just hang out with them, but no matter what, they will ALWAYS speak in Spanish. An alternative could be if you contact other foreigners that are traveling around that time and you get new friends along the way.

      PS: It’s FUNDAMENTAL, that while you’re speaking in Spanish or English, you never say or write Columbia. They will get VERY offended. It’s ColOmbia.


        andres on

        You’re right but i think that in many cases when foreigns come and visit medellin even not speaking anything spanish we can communicate cuz here a lot of people understand and spek english


      Gustavo on

      Where are you planning to go? I am planning a trip inside some unique places in the country and a traveling pal would be perfect.


      Mao on

      Hello Dayna when are you traveling to Colombia??? Let me know


      Adriana on

      Yesssss you should ! In Colombia you never will feel alone!


      David on

      It is COLOMBIA not Columbia… thank you 🙂


      andres on

      It’s Colombia not Columbia!


      Olga on

      Is not Columbia, is Colombia (;_______;). I guess if you buy tickets to Columbia, you’ll arrive in the wrong place


      Olga on

      Is not Columbia, is Colombia (;_______;). I guess if you buy tickets to Columbia, you’ll arrive in the wrong place.
      I think you should take the risk, if you don’t you may lose a lot of oportunities and experiences. Also if you travel alone, maybe you will enjoy more than traveling with someone.
      If youever come to the Eje Cafetero (in Colombia) let me know 🙂


    Rebecca on

    I visited a few years ago for the first time and have been DYING to go back since…from the finca visits…hot springs…GORGEOUS Medellin…miles of sugar cane…funky hotels and hostels…I fell in love (and that was just driving from Medellin to Cali). Never EVER did I think Colombia could be so amazing. I moved from NYC to Belize 9 years ago and Medellin is the only other place that I visited that I thought – WOW I could SO live here. Dying to come back – Rebecca


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