There’s no one better to give Colombian travel tips than a native Colombian! I was born in Bogota, went to high school there, and visit on a yearly basis to catch-up with family and friends.
Must Go in Colombia
La Candelaria is a lively and artsy part of town. It is the equivalent of the Old City in other cities and there are galleries, old colonial architecture, student bars and restaurants. Cerro de Monserrate is a mountain that towers above the capital of Colombia with amazing views of the city. You can take the cable car to the top, where there is a church and a delicious restaurant.
La Zona Rosa y El Parque 93 are two areas home to nightlife, bars, and restaurants. Crepes and Waffles is a great restaurant where you can taste Colombian classics on all kinds of crepes.
Cartagena is Colombia’s coastal city and the Old Town is romantic and beautiful. Travel down the narrow roads and maze-like terraces and rooftops, covered with small swimming pools and hidden balconies.
A day trip to Las Islas del Rosario is worth it to get a secluded getaway on beautiful beaches. If you’re on a tight budget, you can sleep on the beach at Mar de Plata and mingle with the locals. For a feast, buy some lobsters from the fishermen and have them grilled for a delicious and memorable experience.
Hatoviejo Restaurant is the best place in the centre for regional dishes such as plato montañero, a mix of fried pork skin, eggs, and ground beef. Mercado San Alejo is great for buying souvenirs, antiques, arts and crafts, and walking around.
Must Do in Colombia
Dance Salsa with a Colombian
Dancing Salsa with a Colombian is a life changing experience. Most restaurants cater to Colombian’s need to shake their hips. In Bogota, go to Andres Carne de Res which epitomizes Colombia through its food and vibrant dance-filled ambiance.
Fiery Water is a Colombian trademark and it contains 24%-29% alcohol. It is mostly drunk as a shot or over iced cubes throughout any festivities.
Go to Parque Tayrona
This is one of Colombia’s most popular national parks. It is set on the jungle-covered coast at the foot of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. The biggest attractions are the beaches, shaded with coconut palms and set in bays. If you want some of the freshest food and don’t mind no electricity, Reserva Natural El Matuy is a great place to stay.
Must Eat in Colombia
This is a potato soup and contains chicken, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes, and guasca, a weedy herb that gives the dish part of its flavour. This soup is served with capers, table cream, and avocado all mixed in just before eating. If you’re in Bogota, Andres Carne de Res has an amazing Ajaico that you will never forget.
Arepas de Choclo
Colombian Corn Cakes with fresh cheese make for the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. A plus if enjoyed with coffee or hot chocolate. Arepas de Choclo are the sweetest and moistest of the Arepa family.
Arequipe is creamy and has a caramel flavour. It is very common to find street vendors selling two slices of obleas wafers with arequipe in between, making for a delicious and addicting treat. Arequipe with cheese is a very common dessert that you’ll find, as the salty sweet combo sends the taste buds into overdrive.
Cultural Tips for Traveling in Colombia
Colombians are incredibly friendly and kind. They will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home. They are also very proud of their country, and will love to help you enjoy Colombia.
Cheap travel tips for Colombia
Backpackers will average US$15 to US$25 per day. If you’re looking for a more comfy trip, with better restaurants, mid-range hotels, and an occasional flight, you’ll average between US$25 and US$45 daily. You can save money by using a student card when buying plane and museum tickets, or by going to free days at museums.
Bus ticket fares are always negotiable, and some haggling will knock off approximately 20% to 30% of the cost. But if you want to be successful, be ready to shop around at various bus company windows.
Airbnb is cheaper than a hotel, nicer than a hostel, and puts money in the pockets of local families. Here’s a five-star private room in Bogota for $13 a night and here is a GORGEOUS apartment in Cartagena for $74 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!
Thanks so much for sharing, Carolina! Do any of you guys have Colombian travel tips to share?