Colombia is a diverse and beautiful country and this is the ultimate Colombia itinerary for 2 weeks of travel!
2 weeks is a pretty solid amount of time to travel through Colombia and hit the highlights. We ended up spending 3 months there because we fell in love with the people, the food, and the destinations. It truly is a gorgeous country!
We’ll cover the ultimate Colombia itinerary 2 weeks, northern Colombia itinerary, Cartagena travel itinerary, Colombia road trip itinerary, and more!
THIS POST IS ALL ABOUT THE BEST COLOMBIA ITINERARY FOR 2 WEEKS.
COLOMBIA ITINERARY 2 WEEKS:
Medellín is a great place to start your Colombian travels. The international airport is always busy and flights aren’t too expensive from anywhere in the Americas. Medellín is a sprawling city of 3.5 million people. There are tons of comunas (or neighborhoods) and each one offers such a different feel. We stayed in the El Poblado and La Lorena neighborhoods and loved the walkability of both. These are our top 3 recommendations for things to do in Medellín.
Things to Do in Medellín:
This neighborhood is easily accessible by the great public transportation in Medellín. It was once the most dangerous neighborhood in the world and has made huge strides to lose that title. This community is now thriving after the younger generation made a turn towards hip hop. Many kids are now involved with street art, music, and fashion. Street art is the main draw here and you will see some incredible works of art. We took a free walking tour (always be sure to tip with walking tours!) through FreeTour.com and loved everything we were able to learn.
There are new escalators taking you up 28 floors and tons of tourists now which has been great for the local economy. Be sure to be respectful and don’t ask about the negatives as much as the positives. And don’t mention Pablo Escobar, he was a violent man that tore many families and communities apart.
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Public transportation in Medellín is some of the best in South America. There are plenty of trains connecting various comunas throughout the city. You can even take the public train to Acevedo stop and hop on a cable car to Santo Domingo where you’ll take the final leg up to Parque Arvi. There are multiple cable car lines throughout the city. The best one for visitors to take is the A-Line to K-Line to L-Line up to Parque Arvi. The views are gorgeous from the cable cars and with social distancing, you could get a whole car to yourself!
Pro Tip: Google Maps is a great resource for planning public transportation routes and time schedules!
The downtown area of Medellín is definitely worth checking out although it is not the safest part of the city. We made sure to keep our belongings in sight and we weren’t flashy with our gear. Simple precautions we always take no matter where we are. You can also take a free walking tour here with Real City Tours. Most tours will include stops to Plaza Botero, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellín, and Parque de Las Luzes as these are the main sights downtown.
Top Activities in Medellín
Budget | 574 Hotel – Located in a great location in the El Poblado district, this hotel hosts large rooms and private bathrooms. Get access to an airport shuttle, luggage storage, and a complimentary breakfast.
Mid-Range | Viaggio Medellín Grand Select – El Poblado neighborhood is the best district for visiting with tons of great restaurants and this hotel is in the heart of El Poblado. Be sure to check out the restaurant with a giant wall of windows overlooking Medellín for complimentary breakfast!
Luxury | Sites Hotel Medellïn – This modern hotel has a rooftop pool, hot tub, and BBQ facilities. The rooms are bright and clean with modern furnishings and breakfast included.
>> Check out your perfect Medellín accommodations with Booking.com!
COLOMBIA ROAD TRIP
This was by far our favorite part of traveling in Colombia. We rented a car through Localiza for about $25 per day. Be sure to get an automatic because the hills driving out of Medellín are crazy and the manual we had couldn’t handle it! And the drive is so beautiful!! Seriously, we stopped far too often to take photos and thoroughly enjoyed the driving experience. There were a few tolls (around 20,000 pesos each way) so you’ll need spare change on hand. But the roads were well taken care of and it was an easy drive! Just be sure you don’t have “Avoid Tolls” on your maps app because it will take you some crazy routes!
The drive from Medellín to Guatapé is 2 hours and stunning all along the way. The views over Medellín were amazing and we stopped a few times to capture the city from above. Once in town, you will find parking to be fairly easy along the street. And we hope you’ll fall in love with the town as much as we did. These are our top 3 recommendations for things to do in Guatapé.
Things to Do in Guatapé:
This is what Guatapé is most well known for, and for good reason! El Peñol is a massive rock that you can climb over 600 steps to get to the top. The top offers panoramic views over the lake, Embalse del Peñol. You will also find a gift shop, so be sure to climb to the rooftop for even higher views, and a few small snack stands. We tried the Mango Michelada for 8,000 pesos. You can easily drive there and pay for parking at 6,000 pesos for 2 hours, just be sure to head to this location on Google Maps for the parking lot.
Plazoleta de Los Zócalos
One of the best things about Guatapé is just how colorful it is. It is probably the most colorful town we have ever visited. Every building is full of color, from restaurants to shops to hotels to apartment buildings. In the main plaza, you will find a set of steps painted every color, an umbrella street, and plenty of Zócalos. Zócalos are squares on the bottom half of buildings that tell a story. Some are about the history of the Guatapé, some about what the shop sells, and some just pretty decoration.
Since the lake, Embalse del Peñol is located right in town, there is plenty of water sports to take up. This lake has such a unique shape and tons of coastline. You can take anything out on the water, from wakeboarding to jet skiing to paddleboarding or kayaking. There is plenty to do on the lake and it’s usually great weather to get out!
Top Activities in Guatapé
Budget | Casa Hostal Las Palmeras – This simple hostel has rooms with shared bathrooms and clean rooms. It has great reviews and is located a few blocks from the main plaza.
Mid-Range | Serendipity Hospedaje Boutique – Located just off the lake with views of El Peñol, this is a great spot to relax in Guatapé. Rooms are clean and all have private bathrooms.
Luxury | Bosko Guatapé – Each room is a unique dome room with a private view and bathroom with an outdoor shower. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, and plenty of lake views on property.
>> Check out your perfect Guatapé accommodations with Booking.com!
We are not kidding when we say Jardín, Colombia is one of our favorite towns in the entire world. We have a lot more to see of the world, but the atmosphere of Jardín was absolutely magical. From kicking up your chairs in the plaza to the slow-paced lifestyle of everyone there. It was amazing. Truly. These are our top 3 recommendations for things to do in Jardín.
Things to do in Jardín:
The main plaza in Jardín is honestly the main attraction. You could easily sit in this plaza from morning to night and be perfectly content, or at least I could be. There are tons of cafes and restaurants around the plaza that have matching chairs and tables in the plaza. You can get anything from coffee to beer to pasta to traditional Colombian food. If you go during the day, you will see tons of locals and tourists sitting on leather-backed chairs leaning against the walls and chatting. It’s so fun to learn your own chair against the walls and just people watch. At night, there are tons of vendors and people everywhere. We also went to a few of the surrounding shops and found a great leather shop and bought a beautiful leather belt where they sized me perfectly for it.
Just a few blocks from the center of town is La Garrucha, an old-school cable car. The cable car has since been renovated from its original wooden box form, but it is still pretty rudimentary. If you are scared of heights, don’t look down while you cross the gorge. Once you get to the other side, there is a cafe that has amazing views over all of Jardín with small meals, beers, and coffee.
CRISTO DEL REY
On the other side of town, you can head up to Jardín’s Cristo del Rey (Christ the King) statue. Many Latin American towns have their own version of this statue and they are usually high up over the town looking over everyone. This one can be reached via car, tuk-tuk, or hiking. We drove up to it but couldn’t make it all the way to the actual statue due to crazy rains and general scardy-catness. We drove to the Café Jardín and were able to park easily and grab a delicious Chai Tea overlooking the town.
Top Activities in Jardín
Budget | Hotel Valdivia Plaza – This property offers a great central location with family rooms available and a shared lounge for all guests to use.
Mid-Range | Apartamentos Primavera – Each room comes with a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, and balcony. Most rooms have great views of the main cathedral in town.
Luxury | Casa Passiflora Hotel Boutique – There are not many luxury locations in Jardin but this one is clean and modern with full Queen sized beds. There is also a garden and restaurant and bar on property with a great location only a block from the plaza.
>> Check out your perfect Jardín accommodations with Booking.com!
Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia and is home to more than 10 million people. It’s located quite high in elevation at 8,660 feet (2,640 meters) and you can certainly feel the effects. We stayed in the Chapinero region and liked how close it was to both the best restaurants and most touristy stops for everything. There are tons of things to do in Bogotá and food should be at the top of your list. These are our top 3 recommendations for things to do in Bogotá.
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THINGS TO DO IN BOGOTÁ:
This was sadly the very last thing we did in Colombia and we wish we had done it so much more. Tejo is a local’s game where you drink a lot of beer and through metal disks at firecrackers. Think of it like cornhole but with firecrackers. There’s supposed to be a scoring system but we were truthfully there for the firecrackers. We both ended up popping off a firecracker and it was so worth it. For only 50,000 pesos we were both able to play for an hour and could buy beers while we played. There is a huge range of places to play. We played at a truly local joint at Club de Tejo La 76 and just a few doors down was a more classy, bar scene option at Tejo La Embajada.
Bogotá is known to have some of the best food in the continent and certainly some of the best food in the country. Being such a large city, there are plenty of dining options for anyone. We always used our weekly date nights for finding a new restaurant to try. Some of our favorites are:
- El Chato (#1 Restaurant in Colombia)
- Cantina y Punto
- Sauvage Restaurant
- Ko Asian Kitchen
Back to the more touristy options and for some reason, Colombia loves its cable cars. Monserrate is accessible by hiking (1.5 hours) or cable car (a more popular option). The views over the city are stunning and the church and shrine at the top of the mountain are great to explore. There is a superstition that if you are unmarried and ride in the cable car together, you will doom your marriage!
Top Activities in Bogotá
Budget | Hotel Casa SAB – Boutique Bed & Breakfast – This property is only a few miles from the T-Zone, the best area in Bogotá. It has private rooms, a garden, a terrace, and even a shared kitchen.
Mid-Range | Four Points By Sheraton Bogotá – With a great location and a brand that you can trust all around the world. There is a full restaurant and bar on property and breakfast is included in most reservations.
Luxury | JW Marriot Hotel Bogotá – Located in the trendy entertainment and financial district with 4 restaurants, a bar, and a spa on property. The rooms are luxurious with great views over the city and access to the indoor pool!
Cartagena is probably the most popular city in Colombia for foreign tourists and for good reason. This charming colonial town is right along the ocean and has some amazing beaches and fantastic food to offer. You can stroll the streets forever shopping and admiring the architecture and you can spend days visiting all the different beaches Cartagena has to offer. These are our top 3 recommendations for things to do in Cartagena.
THINGS TO DO IN CARTAGENA:
VISIT ROSARIO ISLANDS
The Rosario Islands are located just off the coast of Cartagena and are truly a tropical paradise. The water is incredibly clear and you’ll find some of the best snorkeling in Colombia off these islands. Isla Grande is the most popular and if you book a day tour to the islands, you will likely stop through here and Barú Island and Cholon. You could also stay the night or charter a private boat. We decided to book at beach clubs and visited Bora Bora Beach Club on Isla Grande which had everything included. We also visited Blue Apple Beach Club on Isla de Tierra Bomba (not technically part of Rosario Islands) and it was our favorite stop in Cartagena with amazing views, a sunset cruise after, incredible food, good drink deals, and a pool!
Explore Old Town
The old town in Cartagena is complete with cobblestone streets, a surrounding fortress wall, old cathedrals, rooftop restaurants, and tons of fun doorways and walls. You could spend days taking photos all over town. Be sure to check out Calle de la Iglesia, Monumento Torre Del Reloj, Movich’s rooftop, Calle de la Sierpe, and Café del Mar. These spots have some of the best views and coolest architecture or artwork! Be sure to check out Gran Inka, Epoca Coffee, Club 1940, and La Cevichería for some of the best food Cartagena has to offer.
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VISIT CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE DE BARAJAS
This castle is located just outside of the walled city upon a hill. This castle was built back in the 1600s and has some stunning views over the old town and the ocean. You can take a guided or audio tour, although it is not necessary. There is a ton to learn here and it is cool to learn about the history of Cartagena before it became such a tourist destination.
>> Check out our full Cartagena Itinerary!
Top Activities in Cartagena
Budget | Oz Hotel Luxury – Oz Hotel Luxury is conveniently located a few blocks from the beach and has clean and spacious rooms. Be sure to check out the rooftop lounge area for gorgeous views over the town and ocean.
Mid-Range | Casa Movida Hostel – This property is colorful and home to private rooms and bathrooms. It has a great location and a pretty garden and courtyard and indoor pool.
Luxury | Hotel Casa San Agustin – This hotel is located in the heart of Old Town which is the best place to stay in Cartagena. You’ll find a gorgeous courtyard with an outdoor pool and plenty of spacious rooms.
>> Check out your perfect Cartagena accommodations with Booking.com!
If you have the time or want to switch out a few of the destinations we have a few more recommendations for you!
Santa Marta is just 4 hours driving from Cartagena and has a totally different oceanside town to explore. Here you will find Tayrona National Park which has some of the bluest waters you will ever see. There is also a colonial town to explore as it was the first Spanish settlement in Colombia. Just a few hours outside of Santa Marta is Minca, a small town with some gorgeous tree-top hotels and hostels like Hostal Casa Loma Minca.
Cocora Valley is home to the world’s tallest palm trees. This valley has sprawling green hillsides in every direction dotted with 200 feet (60+ meter) tall palms. There are plenty of hikes and local villages to explore while visiting. In order to get here, you will need to rent a car from Bogotá (or Medellín) and drive the 7 hours or hop on a bus for the 7-hour bus ride.
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