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Colombia Itinerary: One Week in Colombia

Updated March 19, 2020

This Colombia itinerary has it all. With some local advice, we created this 7-day travel plan that hits Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena. And since we believe that locals know best, we asked our local trip planners what to do in each city. 

For a personalized itinerary based on your travel interests, work with a local to build your trip. Our trip planners are locals who know their hometown way better than generic guidebooks. Learn more.

Day 1: Bogota’s fantastic neighborhoods

Bogota | Pedro Szekely/

Both Colombia’s capital and largest city, Bogota is by far your cheapest option vis-a-vis flying in from the States—hence, the first stop on your Colombian adventure.

Arrive and drop your luggage—just choose your neighborhood!

Bogota has tons of incredible neighborhoods. For personalized neighborhood advice, see what locals say—but many of our trip planners say that the neighborhood of Candelaria is hip, central, and full of things to do. 

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Get acclimated… with coffee and food

Coffee in Bogota | CucombreLibre/Flickr

Locals tell us you'll find tons of great food in La Candelaria—and, more importantly, you'll find excellent coffee. Explore the neighborhood like a local! Our trip planners suggest grabbing tinto (a popular Colombian style coffee) to go with your breakfast arepa. You can find arepas stuffed with eggs, meat, cheese, and other fillings. 

Local Tip:

It is good to always have cash for taxis, tips, small meals, street food, and souvenirs. Having about 200,000 COP (about 60 USD) should be more than enough—you can leave the rest in the hotel.

Explore La Candelaria

La Candelaria | robinjavier/Pixabay

La Candelaria, the oldest neighborhood in Bogota, is an incredible place to explore. Locals tell us that strolling along the cobblestones of Calle del Embudo is a good way to take in the neighborhood's colorful buildings, Spanish colonial architecture, and vibrant street art. It's an excellent place to get some local tips—our trip planners suggest visiting Boliver Square (Bogota's main plaza) to enjoy stunning views of La Catedral Primada and Liévano Palace, and to enjoy the city's rich street culture

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Eat, eat, eat

Arepas | canliga/Pixabay

Bogota locals rave about their city's incredible food scene. Look for street carts and cafes selling empanadas, arepas, and tamales to spice up your afternoon. Bogota is rapidly becoming a foodie destination, which means you'll have plenty of fantastic choices. Don't travel blind—our trip planners can suggest their favorite spots. 

Local Tip:

Grab a bowl of ajiaco for lunch, which is made of chicken, potatoes, and guascas (an herb which tastes like oregano) 

Take the cable car to Monserrate

Monserrate | young shanahan/Flickr

For an unforgettable sunset, locals recommend hopping on the cable car at the base of Monserrate (the mountain overlooking Bogota) before sunset. Our trip planners say that the voyage up the mountain is a thrill—but nothing compared to the gorgeous view once you get to the top. 

Local Tip:

Taking the cable car usually costs about $7 USD, but drops to about $4 on Sundays

"How did I ever not travel like this?! Ana’s local insight & planning was a game changer. It’s like having a digital concierge, travel agent, and local fixer all rolled into one!"
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

Day 2: Dive into Bogota's rich culture

Bogota is full of tremendous museums, coffee, and nightlife.

Look for all that sparkles at the Gold Museum

Gold Museum | McKay Savage/Flickr

Bogota's Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) houses an impressive collection of 30,000 gold artifacts (the largest collection of pre-Columbian relics in the world). Locals tell us that the museum is beautiful, informative, and easy to navigate. Save money with local advice—our trip planners tell us that the Museo del Oro is free on Sundays. 

Local Tip:

Enjoy a traditional Colombian breakfast of chocolate con queso to start your day. 

Have an afternoon beer in Chapinero

After spending the morning immersed in Colombian history, spend the afternoon enjoying Colombian culture—specifically, the local flavor! Our local trip planners tell us that Bogota is an excellent spot for craft beer, especially the neighborhood of Chapinero.

They tell us that you can't go wrong at the Bogota Beer Company. But if you're looking for more personalized advice, our Colombia trip planners can definitely prepare an afternoon pub crawl along Chapinero's craft beer bars. (Your guidebook comes with a map preloaded with destinations!)

Wander through Bogota's dynamic markets 

Bogota Fruit Market | Laurent de Walick/Flickr

Speaking of local flavor...our local trip planners recommend visiting as many of Bogota's markets as possible. The Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao, Bogota’s main food market, is full of vendors all day, every day, selling everything from fresh fruit and produce to flowers to local cheese! (With so many stalls, navigating the market can feel overwhelming. If you don't know where to start, see what locals say about their favorite stalls.)

Party it up in Zona T

Properly known as Zona Rosa, locals tell us that Zona T is Bogota’s premier party neighborhood—and it has some excellent restaurants as well! For a wild start to the night, grab dinner at Andres Carne de Res, where absurdly-dressed musicians play tableside while you eat.

Then, dance it all off at one of the many clubs in the area—our trip planners tell us that Zona T is a particular favorite for those who love live DJs and large volumes of aguardiente (a popular Colombian spirit that tastes like black licorice).

Day 3: Day trips and tejo!

Bogota is incredible, but locals recommend leaving the city to fully experience Colombia’s charms. Our trip planners say these destinations make for a fun day trip!

Journey to a coffee plantation

Coffee | Azi Ze/Unsplash

Colombian coffee is fantastic—and visiting the coffee farms near Bogota is a great way to see how the process works. Locals tell us you'll have a choice between small, family-run farms and bigger ones. Our trip planners can help set up a tour—if that's your travel style—or can simply offer directions if you'd like to explore on your own. 

Local Tip:

Tibacuy is a great farm to visit—but it is about 2.5 hours from Bogota. Get local tips on the best way to get there. 

Trek through Colombian nature

Locals tell us that you can visit Chicaque Natural Park just outside of Bogota—where lucky hikers sometimes spot sloths hanging from tree branches—or Chingaza National Park, where mountain lakes and hiking trails abound. Our trip planners say that if you get lucky at Chingaza, you might even see a majestic Andean condor or a spectacled bear!

Benefit from local tips—our trip planners say that if you want to visit Chingaza National Park, a request form must be submitted at least 15 days prior to arrival.

Local Tip:

Less than an hour’s drive from Bogota is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira—an architectural wonder carved out of salt and stone a full 500 feet below ground—in an active salt mine! 

Return to Bogota for a night of tejo

Ready for some explosive fun? Locals tell us that the popular game of tejo involves tossing a metal puck at gunpowder-filled targets. It’s most often played at special tejo bars, which are also known for their cheap quantities of beer.

Our trip planners say that Tejo De La 76 is one of Bogota’s most well-known tejo bars, but the best places keep a low profile—if you want to get off the beaten path, see what locals say about their favorite places to play. 

Day 4: Travel to Medellin and take in some culture

Known as “The City of Eternal Spring”, locals tell us that Medellin is Colombia’s hub of art and learning. 

Find your Medellin homebase

Medellin | Daniel Vargas/Unsplash

Locals tell us that unlike Bogota, Medellin is more a cohesive city and less a collection of distinct neighborhoods.

That’s not to say it’s homogenous—not by a long shot—but neighborhood borders in Medellin are much more based on socio-economics than a general vibe.

Locals say that El Poblado is popular for most travelers. If you're looking for personalized advice on where to stay, our trip planners can give suggestions based on your travel style. (Are you a solo traveler? Visiting Medellin with kids? They can help out!)

Take Medellin's famous metro

Medellin Metro | USA-Reiseblogger/Unsplash

Medellin's metro is fantastic, expansive, and clean. 

If you're worried about taking public transit, get some local tips on how to navigate safely. Our trip planners will provide detailed transit instructions so that you can see the city with confidence. 

Local Tip:

You may have heard that Uber no longer exists in Colombia—after leaving, the company returned less than a month later with a new set of rules. Basically, you can rent a car that comes with a driver. 

Enjoy Botero and bandeja paisa

Botero Plaza, located in the center of Medellin, features 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero, the famous Colombian artist. If you love seeing the Botero sculptures, then locals suggest heading to the fantastic Museo de Antioquia to see more of Botero’s exceptional work.

After all that art, you're bound to be hungry. Locals tell us that you need to feast on bandeja paisa while in Colombia! Our trip planners rave that bandeja paisa, "...is a perfect dish for someone who is starving as it is huge! It includes pork, chorizo sausage, and a fried egg served with red beans, rice, plantain, arepa, black pudding, and avocado."

You'll find great bandeja paisa throughout the city, but this is a place where you can definitely benefit from local insights. Our trip planners say Hacienda (near Botero Plaza) and Mondogo's are great choices (Mondongo’s has operated in the city for over 40 years!).

Local Tip:

Medellin’s Parque Explora is an interactive museum that features Colombia’s diverse flora and fauna. It even features the largest freshwater aquarium in South America!

Day 5: Explore Medellin

Explore Medellin’s less well-known neighborhoods

No longer the realm of Narcos, locals tell us that the Medellin of today is packed with quiet residential areas and university students. Our trip planners suggest visiting Comuna 13 to see Medellin's renaissance in action. Once the city's most dangerous neighborhood, Comuna 13 has become a vibrant destination for locals and travelers alike.

Enjoy the markets and restaurants

If you love markets, locals suggest diving into the shopper’s paradise that is El Hueco to buy everything from clothes to food to power tools! For dinner, check out one of Medellin's spectacular restaurants, like Carmen (they won the 2017 Wine Spectator Award) or see what locals say about the latest cool restaurants. 

Dance to reggaeton!

Locals tell us that reggaeton is popular in Colombia—and especially in Medellin. Spend your last night in Medellin at a reggaeton club! According to our trip planners, Parque Lleras is your best bet for finding either a great genre-specific club or a popular favorite like the beloved Discoteca Luxury

Day 6: Travel to Cartagena and wander through Old Town

Perched on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is a dynamic mix of history, culture, and beach life. 

Stroll through the Old City

Cartagena | Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash

Cartagena’s preserved Old Town is a masterpiece of 17th- and 18th-century architecture. Locals rave about the cobblestone streets and flower-covered terraces; the outdoor cafes buzzing lazily in the shade of Spanish facades; and, of course, the colors everywhere. 

Local Tip:

Be sure to see Cartagena's beautiful city walls!

Chow down on tropical treats

With Cartagena’s abundance of cafes and vendors, locals say you'll have no trouble finding delicious snacks wherever you go.

Our trip planners tell us that Cartagena’s most popular finger foods, fritanga, is essentially a platter of fried chorizo, chicharron, potato, and plantain (though other fried goodies are common in fritanga as well).

Locals also suggest grabbing some fresh pandebono. A popular cheese bread, this crunchy snack is well worth buying fresh

Local Tip:

You'll find tons of tropical fruit juices sold fresh on every street corner.

Dance the night away

If you're looking for fantastic and low-key nightlife, then locals tell us that Cartagena's chill scene is for you. They recommend starting the night in Getsemani, one of the city's hippest neighborhoods. Grab a mojito and find a salsa bar! Cafe Havana is great, but for personalized recs see what our trip planners say about their favorite nightlife spots. 

Day 7: Have a relaxing end to your stay

Beach in Cartagena | GRAPHICALBRAIN/Pixabay

One word: beach. Ok, three: beaches and islands. Cartagena is so much more than a dynamic and historical city—our local trip planners tell us that visiting the nearby islands will add some major relaxation value to your trip. And after all that exploration, you deserve it. 

Not sure if you want to go to the popular Rosario Islands or somewhere off the beaten path? Get local insights about which beach to hit up first. Our trip planners can give you suggestions based on your travel style and budget!

Still have questions about travel to Colombia?
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