12 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Colombia Now
#1 - It's much safer than you think
Fans of the Netflix show Narcos will find that the Colombia it portrays is far from what you’ll experience today in most of the country. Colombia has made incredible progress in the last two decades, capped off with the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the main guerilla group. This means that with the same common sense you’d use in a major U.S. city or traveling in another country, you should be fine on the streets of Colombia.
#2 - It's (relatively) undiscovered....for now
Only now is word starting to get out about Colombia as a spectacular travel destination, meaning you can still have an experience largely devoid of the big crowds in some Latin American hotspots. In restaurants, boutiques and museums, you’ll find yourself surrounded by lots of locals, and rarely have to stand in a long line….unless you’re headed to a soccer game or waiting to get into a hot nightclub!
#3 - Bogota is booming
Anyone who visited Bogotá even 5 years ago will notice a remarkable change. This gritty capital is a must for city lovers and it welcomes visitors with a constant trickle of new restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels. The Sunday ciclovia shuts down a main artery for exclusive bike use, giving you the chance to explore the city along with thousands of locals out for a leisurely ride. On the exploration side, there’s something for everyone – colonial and contemporary art, the views from Monserrate, the parks of Bogota’s fashionable neighborhoods, and nearby mountain hikes. With a longer stay, you can check out the impressive underground salt cathedral at Zipaquira or the beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva.
#4 - Nature and foodie options galore in the Coffee Region
Aside from its stunningly beautiful, lush setting in the northern Andes, the Coffee Region – comprised of three provinces including Quindio, our favorite – offers foodies and nature lovers an amazing array of options. Taste some of the world’s best single-origin coffee on the farm where it’s produced, before sitting down to a fresh lunch made with ingredients your friendly hosts have grown themselves. After you’re full and caffeinated, hop on a horse or go for a hike through the countryside and mountains. Or perhaps zip lining, biking, or a sunrise hot air balloon ride? No matter which of the many options you choose, you can look forward to a late afternoon siesta at the rustic luxury of Hacienda Bambusa, with mountaintop towns in the distance.
#5 - Cartagena - the Caribbean's crown jewel
More than 2 million visitors arrive by air or sea to Cartagena every year, and with good reason – this is perhaps the spectacular, well-preserved former Spanish colonial outpost in the Caribbean. With its impeccable walled city, the bohemian Getsemani neighborhood, and the neighboring islands of white sand beaches easily explored by private boat, its easy to see why many consider Cartagena to be Colombia’s crowning jewel.
#6 - Astounding street art
The street art scene has exploded since Bogotá decriminalized graffiti in 2011, resulting in a veritable open-air art gallery across the city. The art is everywhere and hard to miss, but a specialist guide (often an artist him/herself) can help you see the best work by some of the world’s best-known street artists.
#7 - Medellin
Until not long ago the epicenter of the war on drugs, Medellin today is a city reborn. Its impressive new cable car system, linking the once-remote working class hillside communities to the city center, has been a source of economic growth and is also a tourist draw as it connects to a mountaintop nature reserve. Cultural institutions such as the Parque Biblioteca España were built in areas formerly riddled with drug violence to facilitate social and economic change, and are one of many reasons why Medellin was recognized in 2013 as the world’s most innovative city. Being Colombia, the locals are of course friendly and eager to show off the transformation of their city!
#8 - Yes, coffee
This country’s produces arguably the world’s best coffee, so it’s no surprise that this is a major draw for visitors. The ultimate way to experiences Colombia’s coffee culture is to spend a few blissful days exploring the Quindio province of the Coffee Region, visiting small organic farms and mountain towns. For those short on time, it’s equally possible to taste and learn about Colombia’s most famous export in or near cities like Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin.
#9 - Colombians are amazing
While each of us at Almaz Journeys has our favorite place in Latin America, we all have to admit Colombians may just be the friendliest and most welcoming people anywhere in the world. They’re also deeply proud of their culture and heritage and always eager to share their homeland with interested visitors.
#10 - Authentic experiences
Because Colombia is not (yet) overrun with tourism, and because Colombians are so welcoming, it’s much easier to go beyond surface impressions and have meaningful, authentic experiences. Whether tasting the best street food, trying your hand at the traditional game tejo, or meeting former combatants to learn firsthand just how far the country has come, you’ll have the chance to connect and see the real Colombia.
#11 - Tayrona National Park
Colombia is blessed with one of the most beautiful national parks in Latin America, a protected area where the jungle meets the Caribbean coast. With gorgeous beaches, lagoons and mountains, the park is home to thousands of animal species and largely free of development. For this reason, simpler accommodations are generally the rule except for some more luxurious options further in from the coast in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.
#12 - A tremendous travel value
This is just the icing on the cake, but upscale travelers will find that Colombia offers an exceptionally good value. There are world-class boutique luxury hotels, dining, and unforgettable experiences that all cost significantly less than comparable options elsewhere in Latin America.
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