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7 Best things to do in Colombia for first-time travelers! [2022]

Known for its delicious coffee, tropical beaches, and colorful houses, Colombia should be on every traveler’s list. This country is quite vast, from the Andes mountains to the deserts in the north and the endless grasslands in the east. But Colombia also has plenty of cities all worth visiting, such as the capital Bogotá, Santa Marta, Cartagena, and more. 

If you decide to travel to South America and spend some time in Colombia, selecting the right activities could be overwhelming. That’s why we decided to give you a few suggestions on the best things to do in the country so that you can easily choose from our list and fully enjoy your time there! 

Best things to do in Columbia

1. Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park beaches Columbia.
Photo by Levi Ari Pronk on Unsplash

If you’re planning a visit to Colombia, you need to explore its wildlife. One of the best ways to do so is by checking out Columbia’s many national parks in the country. Tayrona National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions!

Tayrona National Park is located in the northern Caribbean region with stunning paradisiac beaches, palm forests, and crystal blue waters. 

Apart from the breathtaking landscapes, Tayrona National Park has a vast fauna with more than 300 species of birds, such as the colorful military macaw and dark montane solitary eagle. This is also the only area left on Earth where the cotton-top tamarin still lives. 

Tayrona National Park features 770 species of plants, 350 algae, and a spectacular coral reef that you will be able to see while snorkeling. 

2. Tour a coffee plantation

Coffee plantation in Columbia.
Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Colombia is considered by most people the coffee capital of the world. Coffee plants here grow naturally, and there are several plantations scattered across the whole country. 

If you think you know how good coffee tastes, think twice. Nothing beats the taste of a Colombian cup of coffee made with freshly ground beans! 

One of the top things to do in the country is to visit a local coffee plantation. 

A great option is this Airbnb experience hosted by Alejandra and Santiago, two siblings who grew up in a family of coffee producers.

Through this tour, you will learn everything about coffee production. Alejandra and Santiago will take you for a walk through their coffee plantations. They will introduce you to a local family who has been working in this industry for years. 

The tour also includes several shots of coffee for you to taste. By paying an extra fee, you can also enjoy a meal at this farm to try some of the delicious products of these lands. 

3. Visit Santuario de Las Lajas

Santuario de Las Lajas Columbia
Photo by Omri D. Cohen on Unsplash

We associate gorgeous sanctuaries, stunning castles, and ancient monasteries with Europe and Asia. Still, Colombia has probably one of the most fascinating examples of religious architecture in the whole world. 

The Santuario de Las Lajas is a basilica church located in the south of the country. What makes this basilica so fascinating is its location. It is, in fact, built inside a canyon, and you will have to walk on a bridge crossing a gorge to reach its entrance. 

The Santuario de Las Lajas was built in the Gothic style between 1916 and 1949. The interiors are very colorful and will remind you of the Sagrada Familia of Gaudí in Barcelona.

This church is a popular pilgrimage site for local Christians. Some believers come all the way from Ecuador to see it.

4. Party it up in Cartagena

Cartagena Columbia Tourist attractions.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

If you’re a party animal and are looking for a place to dance every evening, Cartagena is the city for you. Located in the north of the country, Cartagena has breathtaking beaches facing the Caribbean Sea. During the day, you can enjoy the sea and sunbathe to get the perfect tan, while in the evening you can go clubbing.

Cartagena is the perfect mix between tradition and modernity. In fact, it is characterized by a historic center with colorful tiny houses and a modern neighborhood with high skyscrapers facing the sea.

This city has an abundance of bars serving all sorts of cocktails and plenty of salsa clubs where you will be able to shake your hips all night long. Cartagena also features several clubs open till early in the morning where people go to listen to local DJs.

5. Dive in the mud of Totumo Volcano

Playing mud in Totumo Volcano
Photo by Karen Maes on Unsplash

We couldn’t end our list without adding some crazy activity! Totumo Volcano is located in the north of Colombia, next to Cartagena. It is filled with a special mud that people believe has beneficial properties for your skin. Whether this is true or not, swimming in a pool of mud in the crater of a volcano is surely a unique experience worth trying! 

Marcela and Willy offer local excursions to the Totumo Volcano several times per week. At the end of your bath, you will get the chance to clean yourself by taking a shower in a closeby facility and then head to a Gertsemani restaurant for lunch.

6. Explore Medellín.

Medellin Columbia city.
Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

If you decide to travel to Colombia, you cannot miss a visit to one of its most popular cities, Medellín! Once you’re here, make sure to book a tour of the city with a local guide to learn everything about the history of this fascinating city.

Another option is to join a food tour to try some local delicacies such as bandeja paisa. Plaza Botero is also a must-visit with the Museum of Antioquia, an art museum dedicated to the city’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero.

If you have some extra time, you can also ride the iconic cable car or have a picnic in Parque Berrio. 

7. Learn to dance, the columbian way.

Dance in Columbia.
Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash

If you like to move, you should take a dance class during your stay in Colombia! Colombians love to play music and dance together. Every evening, you will find plenty of bars with local musicians and dancers performing. If you want to be among them but don’t know where to start, don’t worry. We got the perfect solution for you!

Thanks to this dance class, you will learn all the most popular Latin rhythms ranging from salsa to bachata and champeta, a dance typical of Cartagena. 

You can join the class both as a single or with a partner. Tiffany and Jose will teach you step-by-step all the right movements throughout the lesson, together with some local slang from Cartagena to blend in with the locals. 

Throughout your class, you will also be given a chance to enjoy some red wine, refreshing beers, or local rum. At the end of your lesson, your teachers will send you a video tutorial of all the steps learned during your class to keep practicing at home!

Plan your trip to Columbia!

Now that you’re in the know of all the cool and fun things to do in Columbia, why not start planning your trip with Pilot?

Pilot is your brand new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features!

Did we mention that it’s completely free? Try it out now!

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