COLOMBIA TRAVEL TIPS: How to plan a trip to Colombia
Colombia is an exciting country in the northern part of South America with growing tourist interest. Therefore, If you want to visit this beautiful country, these Colombia travel tips will come in handy: find out how to plan a trip to Colombia, why you should visit Colombia, the best time to visit, what to eat in Colombia, the best things to do as well as some essential travel tips.
Why visit Colombia
Why should you visit Colombia? Although this Latin American country has a rough social-political history, things are now changing. It has vibrant and eclectic cities and a huge selection of things to do. Nowadays it’s climbing its way up the list of top tourist destinations in South America – read these essential Colombia travel tips to find out why.
Essential Colombia travel tips
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language.
MONEY/ATM: Colombian Peso is the currency. Most establishments accept cards, but you’ll need cash for smaller purchases. ATMs inside banks are advised for safety reasons.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: the plugs types in Colombia are A and B. The standard frequency is 60Hz and voltage 110V.
VISA: a formal visa isn’t required for a standard 90-day visit. If you want to stay longer than 180 days you’ll need a formal Colombian visa.
Best time to visit Colombia
Colombia has pretty steady and consistent weather all throughout the year. However, there are occasional wet and dry periods. Its location near the equator provides tropical climates, but conditions are never extreme enough to avoid visiting.
Furthermore, the best time to visit Colombia is between December and March because these are the driest months. Unfortunately, this is also the peak tourist season. Prices are higher but on the other hand, you will be able to explore the country at its best.
How much is a trip to Colombia?
Colombia is a relatively cheap country to visit, therefore organizing your trip on a budget is totally possible! These costs are rough and can change.
You can find hostel dorms from as little as $9 per night, and $7 in smaller towns or villages. Cheap hotels start from $18, but more like $36 in high season. Larger cities have Airbnb’s with shared rooms for around $11 or an entire apartment for an average of $78.
Traditional Colombian food is usually a bargain, whether it’s from street stalls or restaurants. The cheapest snacks are little empanadas for less than 10 cents. Local food can start from as low as $3 per meal in the main cities, or even less in the countryside.
There’s a wide range of activities in Colombia witch are often cheap or free. For instance, most tours cost $9, museums are $3 and there are several affordable adventure sports across the country.
What to eat in Colombia
Colombian food takes influence from Spain, Africa, indigenous Colombia, as well as Arabia. Therefore dishes can be very creative! When looking for what to eat in Colombia, look for traditional street vendors, homely cafes, and restaurants. Here you can taste recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
This is an iconic tasty snack for on-the-move exploring. It can be compared to English Cornish pasties or Jamaican patties. They are several options for fillings, for example, chicken, beef, cheese or vegetables and usually rice. What makes them different from other Latin American empanadas is that they’re deep-fried, which is believed to give them a special flavor and sense of indulgence.
This little side-dish originates from pre-Colombian times and is now one of the most popular foods in the country. It’s a flatbread made of cornmeal or wheat which accompanies any Colombian meal. They’re dished out in almost every casa as a home staple, with fillings of cheese or egg. Each region has its own variation though, so be sure to try each one during your travels.
This calorie-full meal is the national dish of the country and can keep you going with energy for hours. Made with rice, slices of avocado, arepas, chorizo, beans, minced meat, black sausage, plantain, fried pork rind, and a fried egg to top it off. It’s a popular substantial lunch before a busy day, or for special occasions.
Colombia puts its own twist on this Latin American dish. It’s typically a cooked corn base filled with vegetables like potatoes and peas, meats like chicken or pork, cheese, rice, or even fruit. It is then wrapped and cooked in plantain leaves. This and a combination of spices give it a unique flavor which varies from region to region.
If you want a hot, tummy-warming meal this traditional hot stew is the perfect option. It’s a water-based soup with plenty of vegetables and meat. For instance, plantain, sweetcorn, potatoes, cassava, yucca, and cilantro. Common meat options are chicken, beef, or fish too. It’s cooked for several hours to create a comforting and delicious bowl full of many flavors.
Best things to see and do in Colombia
This country has a wide variety of sights and activities, therefore these are just some of the best things to do in Colombia.
Colombia’s capital city is a truly bustling and vibrant place. You can enjoy its culture, museums, galleries, restaurants, fashion and rich history. Traditional attractions are Cerro de Monserrate, stunning squares and Its gorgeous downtown area.
Sightseeing in Medellin
This is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the mountainous Antioquia province. Its temperature is pleasant and consistent throughout the year, explaining its nickname as ‘the City of Eternal Spring.’ It’s situated in a valley, with a backdrop of immense mountains and coffee plantations. In addition to that, the city is famous for its flower festival in August, something you don’t want to miss.
The salsa capital: Cali
The salsa capital of the world will make you want to dance on the street with the locals. Although often skipped because of its reputation, Cali can be a fun and safe place for travellers. Its crime rates are improving and it’s now a beautiful place to visit. Furthermore, Cali is the third-largest city in Colombia and also home to national parks, palm tree squares, unique markets and romantic riverside walks.
Sierra de la Macarena National Park and Cano Cristales
This used to be Colombia’s first natural reserve, though now is a national park. Here you can explore ‘the river of five colours,’ an incredible and picturesque sight! Visit when the skies are clear to see the long river with its most vivid colours – if you time it right you can see the riverbed turning a brilliant red, with shades of yellow, green, blue and more.
The Lost City
Also known as Ciudad Perdida, this city was only discovered in 1972. If you’re outdoorsy, brave and have 4-6 days spare, you must try the trek through the 27-mile rainforest. Indigenous communities line the road in the jungle, along with fascinating flora and fauna. It’s an archaeological site tucked deep into the South American rainforest.
Cosales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Park
This is a rare sight with the most diverse and colourful coral reef along the Caribbean Colombian coastline. It’s primarily underwater, and its crystal-clear water means you can see the huge variety of sea life, organisms and colours on the seabed. Beaches are white-sand and sparkling, while the islands around are perfect for snapping shots and relaxing amongst the beautiful nature.
The Amazon Rainforest
You’ve likely heard of this huge ecosystem, which covers areas of Colombia as well as Peru and Brazil. Here a couple of communities live really close to nature with exciting wildlife – monkeys, sloths – and tropical jungles. You can go boating and fish for piranhas or hike through the luscious vastness. It’s a challenging experience but extremely rewarding.
Tayrona National Park
This is an immense park, stretching 3000 hectares of coral-filled sea and 12,000 hectares of tropical land. It’s tucked inside the steep hillsides of the highest coastal mountain range in the world. The National park stretches along golden beaches with sparkling oceans. Meanwhile, other parts consist of thick rainforest. Hiking through this park is quite special, as are the hidden beaches you can discover only by boat.
Finally, did my essential Colombia travel tips left you hungry for once in a lifetime, memorable experiences in vibrant cities and tropical jungles? If this sounds like your perfect trip, and if you found these Colombia travel tips and guide useful please let me know in the comment below.