14 days in Colombia: The complete two-week itinerary

With its white-sand beaches, soaring Andean peaks, fertile pasturelands, dense jungles and idyllic palm-fringed shores, Colombia is a paradise of diversity for nature lovers. Moreover, Colombia is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse nations on the planet, where history and culture is showcased around every corner. If you’re interested in exploring Spanish architecture surrounded by modern skyscrapers, major cities like Cali, Medellín, and Bogotá have you covered, and there’s no shortage of luxurious hotels, fine dining and high-end shopping options. And if you’re looking for a sizzling gay nightlife scene, Colombia’s urban districts won’t disappoint.

Tailor Made Journey

Tailor-Made Colombia: Bogotá to Cartagena

Explore the ethnic diversity and varied geography that shapes Colombia's strong regional identity while traversing an exotic market in Bogotá; navigating salt mine tunnels, where a singular underground cathedral resides; and reflecting on the history of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Colombia at a glance

Colombia is taking significant steps towards promoting equality and inclusiveness, with the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2014 being just one example. The gay scene in Colombia is vibrant, colourful and thriving. You’ll find an array of restaurants, shops, boutiques, wine bars and nightlife options in gay-friendly neighbourhoods throughout the nation. For the most part, Colombia is a place where you can be yourself openly. You’ll see many same-sex couples holding hands and showing public displays of affection. However, while Colombia has some of the most progressive LGBTQ laws in South America, it’s important to keep in mind that attitudes in some sections of society remain on the conservative side, particularly in coastal regions, and most of the country is deeply Catholic. Exercise a bit of common sense and caution when travelling outside of the big cities. While homophobia still exists in some rural areas, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any practical problems, especially in busy tourist areas.

Bogotá is a must-visit destination for LGBTQ travellers, with one of the largest gay clubs in the world – Theatron – hosting an epic party every Saturday night. Most of Colombia’s cities hold Pride parades during June, July or August, with the largest ones taking place in Bogotá and Medellin. Cartagena’s pride event coincides with a circuit-style dance festival called Rumours. For Halloween, Bogotá hosts a large and popular LGBTQ festival that attracts people from across the country. The Carnival in Barranquilla in February is another exciting event that features a day of celebrations dedicated to the LGBTQ community.

Photo: Flavia Carpio

Cartagena | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Best time of the year to visit

Generally speaking, between December and March is the ideal time to visit Colombia, when you can expect favourable weather conditions and little to no rain. September to October tend to be the wettest months, but keep in mind that rainforests can be wet throughout the year. Likewise, Colombia’s coastal regions can be unforgivably hot regardless of the season, but you can always cool down by taking to the ocean. Provided you plan your trip in advance and know what to expect, any season can make for an unforgettable getaway in Colombia.

Photo: Diego Guzman

Practical tips for your Colombian getaway

Colombia is a delight to explore, thanks largely to its warm and welcoming locals, diverse range of experiences and value-for-money. Although luxury travel is affordable and on the rise, most high-end hotels could still stand to improve their services. For foodies, Colombia doesn’t disappoint; numerous restaurants have earned spots on ‘Best Restaurants’ lists in recent years.

While the country is relatively safe, you should take precautions during your trip. Avoid walking in tricky areas at night, wearing flashy jewellery and staring at your phone outside for long periods of time. Police corruption remains an issue in most places, so exercise caution if stopped. To avoid high roaming charges, it’s best to buy a Colombian SIM card at the airport. Traffic in Colombia can be hectic, so you might want to hire a driver rather than rent a car. Uber and Cabify operate in larger cities, and better-class taxis called ‘Dusters’ can be arranged through most hotel concierges.

Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Days 1–4: Bogotá

Nestled among the chilly Andean peaks, Bogotá is the vibrant and cultural capital of Colombia. La Candelaria, the city’s historic downtown, is the city’s epicentre, home to colonial architecture, museums and restaurants. You’ll find most of Bogotá’s popular tourist attractions near the Plaza de Bolívar, and Cerro de Monserrate lies to the east. The city’s working-class neighbourhoods are located to the south and southwest, while the north is home to entertainment districts such as Zona Rosa and Zona G plus an abundance of boutique hotels. From here, Bogotá’s upper-class Andes-hugging buildings reflect stunning sunsets – the perfect start to an uproarious evening.

Bogotá | Photo: Jorge Gardner


Bogotá | Photo: Ivan Ramirez

Where to stay

For best-in-class service at an eclectic hotel in Bogotá, you might want to book a room at the Casa Legado, which is a renovated 1950s art deco home in the Quinta Camacho neighbourhood. It boasts seven stylish guest rooms plus common areas that include an exotic fruit garden, a kitchen, a dining room and an ivy-draped courtyard. The appearances of the rooms are inspired by the personalities of host Helena’s family members. Included in the price at Casa Legado are treats such as a gourmet breakfast, food and drinks, city bike rentals and picnic baskets. Read our interview with the owner of to the Casa Legado for more information.

Photo: Casa Legado

Things to see and do

During your stay, you’ll want to visit some of Bogotá’s historic highlights, architectural gems and fascinating museums. The Museo Botero houses works by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, known for his bronze sculptures and distinctive paintings of chubby characters. The museum also showcases pieces from Botero’s personal collection, including works by Picasso, Monet and Klimt. At the Museo del Oro, you can browse over 55,000 pre-Columbian artifacts, which are organised thematically over three floors. The Museo de Arte Moderno highlights visual art from the 20th century to the present, often featuring Latin American artists. From the hilltop location of the 16th-century Monserrate sanctuary, you can take in sprawling views of Bogotá. To admire a collection of subterranean salt-carved Catholic icons, embark on a tour of the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral, an underground architectural wonder.

Museo Botero, Bogotá | Photo: David Lengen

Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral | Photo: David Lengen

Where to eat

Restaurante LEO is the flagship restaurant of local celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa. Her love of anthropology, contemporary art and culture is evident in both her cooking and the restaurant’s artistically bold appearance. The restaurant showcases little-known Colombian ingredients while championing local communities and gastronomic traditions. The menu, called Ciclo-Bioma, takes inspiration from Colombia’s diverse ecosystems. The restaurant features two dining rooms; one led by chef Espinosa, and another headed by her daughter and sommelier, Laura Hernández Espinosa.

Prudencia, headed by Colombian-American husband-and-wife team Meghan and Mario, provides a striking setting for lunch. Its revolving four-course menus are made using local ingredients, often with a hint of wood-fired international flair. Mesa Franca, a hot Bogotá up-and-comer, reflects the come-one, come-all banquet-style of chef Ivan Cadena’s Araucanian farm upbringing. For imaginative Colombian dishes that make use of some of the country’s rarer regional ingredients, reserve a table at Mini-Mal, a Chapinero Alto hotspot that’s known for its Altiplano, Colombian and jungle-sourced food.

Restaurante LEO Bogotá | Photo: David Lengen


Bogotá’s Chapinero neighbourhood is the city’s gay district, known for its vibrant nightlife that you can relish in popular nightclubs like Kaputt Club and Theatron.

Kaputt Club is a lively spot that opens until the early hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It may not be the largest club, but it’s usually filled to the brim. Its vibrant atmosphere has made a mainstay of the city’s gay scene. Theatron, on the other hand, is a gay mega-complex that draws in up to 8,000 people on a Saturday night. Spread across five levels in this former cinema are 13 uniquely themed rooms, which include a room dedicated to 1980’s music and a salsa room. Arrive between 10pm and 2am to get free drinks included with your admission fee.

Cocora Valley | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Day 5–7: Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero)

Located in Central Colombia, the Coffee Triangle is a region that primarily occupies the Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío departments, represented by the regional capitals of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. The region lies in the fertile valleys of the Nevados Natural Park’s central snow-capped mountain range, where you’ll see endless coffee plantations and colourful wooden houses with flower-filled balconies. You can also discover a plethora of botanical gardens, green and snow-covered parks, and hot springs. In 2011, UNESCO recognized the Coffee Cultural Landscape as a World Heritage Site, solidifying its place as a must-see destination in Colombia.

Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Where to stay

Bio Habitat Hotel offers a range of accommodation options surrounded by the rainforest’s flora, fauna and wildlife. From the terraces of the Master Suites and Suites, you can soak up sprawling views of the coffee plantation backdropped by the Andes Mountains. Reserve one of the Grand Master Suites for upgraded facilities like a private infinity pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. The Aviaries and Aviaries Master rooms provide a more secluded experience, with glass walls that bring the atmosphere of the forest indoors. While you’re here, enjoy a beauty ritual or deep-tissue massage at the spa.

Things to see and do

For those who love the outdoors, the Cocora Valley in the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados offers a fantastic way to explore Colombia’s lush landscape. The valley is home to the whimsical Quindío wax palms, which grow up to 60 metres tall. It’s also a habitat for animals including the endangered yellow-eared parrot. The trails of the Cocora Valley are much less challenging but no less scenic than those found elsewhere in this Volcano-laden national park. During your day hike, stop for a breather at the Acaime La Casa de Los Colibríes hummingbird sanctuary. Besides the birds, the views from here are sublime.

If you’re a coffee lover, consider taking a tour of a coffee farm, during which you’ll also learn about the local way of life. Colombia is the world’s third-largest exporter of coffee and the leading producer of arabica coffee. Over 25% of Colombia’s rural population relies on the coffee industry for their living. El Ocaso and Finca Buenos Aires are two popular coffee farms that offer insights into how coffee is cultivated.

Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Day 8–11: Tayrona Natural Park

Colombia’s Caribbean coastline is an awe-inspiring spectacle, characterised by diverse ecosystems ranging from dense jungles to haunting deserts. Cartagena, renowned for its colonial-era architecture and distinctive culture, is a standout attraction, while Mompós, an isolated forest hamlet, is gaining popularity. The region’s natural wonders include PNN Tayrona’s pristine beaches and virgin rainforest and the challenging Ciudad Perdida trek, which offers a glimpse into an ancient civilisation – not to mention views of stunning mountain scenery.

Where to stay

Cayena Beach Villa is nestled in a breath-taking stretch of coastline where the Caribbean Sea meets snow-capped equatorial mountains. Here, you can lose (or find) yourself in the natural surrounds of lush jungle, towering mountains and swaying coconut palms. You can also spot exotic wildlife such as howler monkeys, caimans, toucans, and colourful birds and butterflies. Thanks to the villa’s prime location, exploring the area’s must-see destinations is a breeze. Experience a luxurious tropical escape like no other at Cayena Beach Villa.

Playa Koralia | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Things to see and do

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is a stunning natural wonder that’s home to pristine golden sandy beaches backdropped by coconut palms and lush rainforest. The park spans 30,000 acres of land and 7,000 acres of coral-rich sea along the coast from Bahía de Taganga to Río Piedras, with the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the background. The park gets crowded during peak season (December and January), but it always promises a rewarding experience. Most of the park’s beaches are unsuitable for swimming, through snorkelling is allowed at a select few.

If you want to hike in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, we suggest following the Cerro Kennedy route. Along the way, you can look out for native and migratory birds and explore the charming village and waterfalls of Minca. The indigenous communities of Wiwa, Arhuaco, Kogui and Kankuamo own the area, which is a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. For an immersive experience, you can take a four- to six-day trek to Ciudad Perdida, the archaeological site of an ancient Tayrona city hidden deep in the lush greenery of the Sierra Nevada. Embarking on a tour with an authorised tour provider comes highly recommended.

Tayrona National Park | Photo: Azzedine Rouichi

Days 12–14: Cartagena

Known as the “Queen of the Caribbean”, Cartagena de Indias is a charming, historic city on the Caribbean coast. The city is surrounded by an impressive 13 kilometres of colonial stone walls that once protected the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Town, where you’ll see cobbled alleys, leafy plazas, historic churches, and beautifully preserved colonial architecture. Instead of following a sightseeing route, you might prefer to take a leisurely stroll through the Old Town at your own pace to soak up the atmosphere. You can stop at many excellent bars and restaurants along the way.

Cartagena was once considered the only safe spot in Colombia for tourists during its narco heyday, and it remains a popular destination with local and international visitors. Here, you’ll find rooftop bars, cutting-edge restaurants, funky nightlife venues, and beautiful murals in the up-and-coming area of Getsemani. While over-tourism can make the city somewhat hectic, Cartagena still boasts a vibrant charm that leaves a lasting impression.

Cartagena | Photo: Sara Illustration

Cartagena | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Where to stay

If you fancy spending a night or two in a luxurious hotel that showcases the beauty of Colombia, reserve a room at the Casona del Colegio in Cartagena. The hotel has 13 unique rooms, each designed to reflect the vast ecological and biological diversity of the country. From the exquisite rooms to the communal spaces, every corner of the hotel is a tribute to Colombia and its best artisans, with materials and even fragrances sourced from all over the country. Located in the heart of Cartagena’s historic centre, the Casona del Colegio is close to trendy restaurants, cafes, and plenty of happening bars.

Things to see and do

For vibrant street art, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars, explore the hipster neighbourhood of Getsemani. The neighbourhood’s main square comes alive at night, when backpackers and locals converge to indulge in street food and cheap booze. If you want to browse modern art from local, national and international artists, pay a visit to the Cartagena Museum of Modern Art, which occupies a colonial stone building.

Don’t miss the chance to rejuvenate yourself with a relaxing deep tissue massage or beauty treatment at Aurum Spa, located within the Casa San Augustín hotel. For luxury Colombian skincare and home fragrance products made with natural ingredients from all over Latin America, shop at Loto del Sur; we love the black tonka-bean candle and reed diffuser and the Ron de Bahía body soap and mist.

Cartagena | Photo: Leandro Loureiro

Where to eat

When you fancy a spot of fine dining, you’re spoiled for choice in Cartagena, but there are a couple of standout restaurants that have captured our attention.

Celele, a jewel in Cartagena’s culinary scene, puts the spotlight on the unique flavours and ingredients of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Chefs Sebastián Pinzón and Jaime Rodríguez took inspiration from their Proyecto Caribe Lab research project to create a delicious menu that includes dishes such as farm-raised chicken confit with green banana purée, which goes down great with the restaurant’s selection of wines, craft beers, fermented spirits and Colombian fruit cocktails. Celele has an à la carte menu, but you can order the ten-course tasting menu with drinks to sample a bit of everything. Meanwhile, Mar y Zielo, a cosy gastrobar and restaurant in the heart of Old Town, offers traditional Colombian food made with modern cooking techniques. You can enjoy delicious food, premium spirits, modern cocktails and wine with beautiful views from the rooftop bar area.


For a quintessentially Colombian night out, head over to Alquímico, a beautiful mansion bar with three floors, each boasting a different cocktail concept. The ground floor offers all the classics, while the first floor is inspired by Colombia’s colours. Climb to the rooftop terrace to sip drinks inspired by Colombia’s wildlife. During the pandemic, the team set up a farm to support the local community, which helped the bar win the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2020. Expect a lot of crowd-jostling at Alquímico, particularly on weekends. You might want to arrive before 8 pm.

Cayo Cangrejo, San Andrés y Providencia | Photo: Guillermo Bresciano

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