Colombia

With its Caribbean beaches, Amazon rainforest, majestic mountain ranges and bougainvillea-shrouded villages, Colombia offers a veritable cocktail of attractions. Culturally and artistically rich, the country is buoyant with the vibrancy of its people and the thrill of its adventures. So get your artistic juices flowing in the homeland of the Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marguez, or get your adrenalin pumping with hiking, tree-top walks or scuba diving.

A land of diverse landscapes, cultures and attractions, the South American nation of Colombia is every bit a tourist’s dream. The only country in the region with two ocean coasts, Colombia offers visitors the opportunity to explore beaches, tropical jungles, snow-capped mountain peaks. In addition to its impressive terrains, the country is also home to age-old archaeological sites, historic towns, and vibrant cities where a diverse mix of Spanish, African, European and Middle-Eastern influences are reflected the food, architecture and ethnic traditions.

What’s on offer in Colombia?

Bogota - Cathedral Bolivar and Monserrate - Colombia

Bogota

Located 2600m above sea level at the base of the Guadalupe and Monserrate mountains is Colombia’s capital and one of South America’s leading cultural destinations. Patrons of the arts are spoilt for choice with the city’s museums, art galleries, stage theatres and national monuments. So impressive is Bogota’s collection of libraries and academic institutions that the city has earned itself the nickname “The Athens of South America”. The historic district of La Candelaria boasts many of these sites as well as stunning historic architecture and numerous hotels and hostels that make it an ideal setting for travellers wanting to take in the essence of the city.

Coffee triangle - Colombia

The Coffee Triangle

Colombia is known to produce some of the world’s best coffee – in a picturesque mountain region called the Zona Cafetera – meaning the Coffee Triangle. Encompassing the Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío regions, Zona Cafetera has embraced tourism and offers a wide range of authentic hotels or traditional farmsteads, from which travellers can tour the area’s emerald-green hilltops, fertile valleys and famous high-altitude coffee plantations. Visitors can spend time on the farms, learning about the coffee growing process, which is especially fun during the harvest seasons that run from April to May and October to December.

Medellin - night view - Colombia

Medellin

Once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities, Medellin has since shed its bad reputation and is now more commonly referred to as “The City of Eternal Spring”, treating residents and visitors to consistently warm temperatures. Medellin is located in Aburra Valley and surrounded by seven hills that provide excellent views of the city. Back in town, visitors can experience the work of world-famous artists such as Fernando Botero in local parks and plazas, wonder at the beautiful display of Christmas lights during the festive season, and celebrate as the city is overrun with colour during the 10-day Feast of Flowers festival.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta N.P.

Established in 1964, the sanctuary is unique in both its natural and cultural attractions. Few places on the planet are home to such diverse ecosystems as are found here: tropical dry forests, rainforests, plains and snow covered peaks make up this fascinating landscape. A number of indigenous communities reside in the area; including the descendants of the native people who established Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City). This spectacular archaeological site is the cradle of an ancient Indian civilisation, believed to have been established in 800AD, more than half a century earlier than Machu Picchu.

Cartagena - skyline - Colombia

Cartagena

This Caribbean coastal city offers visitors a mix of the enchanting old and the exciting new. Step into the cobbled streets of the walled city, a World Heritage Site with 400 year old stone walls covering 13km, and explore an intricate maze of pastel homes, colonial architecture, churches, and historic sites such as the Palace of the Inquisition. Outside the old city lies the chaotic bustle that is typical of South American cities, an experience best sampled by visiting the Mercado Bazurto central market. To the south of the city, tourists are treated to trendy cafes, restaurants and a buzzing nightlife.

Fast Facts

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Bogotá, the capital, enjoys pleasant temperatures year round. The coastal regions are tropical and very warm without exception; the interior highlands can be cool, especially at night.

TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT-5.

VISAS: Visas are not required by UK citizens for stays of up to 90 days.

LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in some tourist areas.

CURRENCY: Colombian Peso

FLIGHT INFORMATION: There are up to four direct flights per week into Bogota from the UK. Iberia and Air France fly via their European hubs of Madrid and Paris and several American carriers fly via the US.

FLYING TIME FROM UK: Approximately 12 hours to Bogotá.


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