5 Amazing Colombian Backpacking Destinations to Know [Photos]

Welcome to Colombia
Welcome to Colombia

I think I’ve made it clear to most folks but if I haven’t, COLOMBIA IS AN AMAZING DESTINATION to get lost in (no, not like I need a helicopter evacuation lost). The vast options of activities complemented by cheap prices, makes traveling this country easy and affordable. But with so many options and so little time, where should you travel to? Spin the map and pick 5? Yes, maybe in the future but here are my 5 Favorite Colombian destinations that shouldn’t be missed. (Not in order)

1. Medellin

Flower Festival, Medellin
Flower Festival, Medellin

Medellin, aka the city of eternal spring, lives up to the hype. Despite being a massive city (not a fan of huge cities), this place never disappoints. Pulsing nightlife, Colombia’s top cafes, and friendly Paisas, make this an ABSOLUTE must visit. Don’t miss this city or you’ll forever regret your Colombian experience. 4 Day Medellin Guide

2. Salento

Valle De Cocora, Salento
Valle De Cocora, Salento

Apart of Colombia’s infamous Coffee Triangle, sits Salento. I wasn’t overly excited to come here at first but was quite despondent once I departed. Arguably the worlds best coffee, crisp cool climate, and some of the worlds tallest Wax Palm trees make this spot highly desirable. Read more about one of my favorite days in Colombia: Backpacking Salento’s Valle De Cocora

3. San Gil

San Gil, Colombia
San Gil, Colombia

Adventure capital of Colombia. If you have any type of preference to the outdoors, make sure you get yourself here. San Gil almost provides to many activities, especially for those short on time. With affordable options for River Rafting (Up to Class 5!), Paragliding, Mountain Biking, & Bungee Jumping, the only way to do them all is stay longer. My time in San Gil was extended because there always seemed like a new choice for the next day.

San Gil – Colombias Outdoor Capital

4. Choco

Colombia's Pacific Coast, Termales
Colombia’s Pacific Coast, Termales

Colombia’s Pacific Coast is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Isolated, lush, and laced with a completely different pace of life. EVERYTHING is different. Language, food, music, everything. You have to see it to believe it. Best time to visit is during Whale watching season but any other time will still provide you with an abundance of memories.

Choco Backpacking Guide: The gem of the Pacific

5. Guatape

Guatape, Colombia
Guatape, Colombia

The giant rock staircase aka El Penol, is almost always the immediate topic when Guatape is mentioned. For good reason, the view from the top is ridiculously scenic. This Puebla is only an 1.5 hours away from Medellin, but it had a big enough impact on me to squeeze into my top 5. Most people only visit here for a day trip but for those who have a more liberal timeline, stay longer to get to know this Puebla more…… More than a day trip in Guatape, Colombia

What’s important to remember about Colombia is the striking differences department to department. Some aren’t as drastic as others but once you start moving around the country you realize its like traveling to different countries at times. Cartagena, Choco, and the Amazon especially.

3 That Missed the Top 5

Bogota

Monserrate, Bogota
Monserrate, Bogota

City lovers rejoice. This is a HUGE city with HUGE rewards. Go with an open mind as countless people told me before it was a waste of a city. Decide for yourself.

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic and everything in between

Barichara

Barichara, Colombia
Barichara, Colombia

Just outside of San Gil, Barichara is one of the most picturesque Colombian pueblas. I only spent a day here but it was absolutely stunning. Only 30 minutes away from San Gil, is just another reason I enjoyed it that much more. Visit Monday- Friday to avoid crowds and have the city to yourself.

Cocorna

A truly hidden gem. ONLY ONE PERSON I met in 3 months in Colombia knew of this place. Also very close to Medellin, (1.5 hours) this Puebla is labeled as the San Gil of 10 years ago. Rafting, Paragliding and scenic valley views make this a tranquil getaway from Medellin.

Now some of you might be thinking……

“Eric, why isn’t my favorite city on here?”

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“Eric, why isn’t Tayrona on here?

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“Eric, where is Cartagena?”

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Well to let you know and as I’ve said before, Colombia is a country of countless amazing destinations. There simply are to many to fit on to a Top 5 AND I haven’t been everywhere yet. But that will change with time, so be patient my friends.

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This list was primarily made to help you plan and give you an idea of what I think are some places that shouldn’t be missed. (At least for your first time around). Also your trip is weather dependent. So it’s another variable you have to consider when visiting. However, take this list as you may and hope to see you one day in one of these places OR another part of the world.

IF, you’ve been to Colombia, do you agree with these 5? Or, did I forget your favorite city? For the mean time these are my next Colombian destinations I’m vying to make my way to. Please let me know if there’s a spot I should plan to visit 🙂

  • Ciudad Perdida
  • Minca
  • Tayrona
  • San Andres
  • Guajira
  • Tatacoa Desert
  • Canon Cristales

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