Colombia is quickly becoming one of the most popular Latin American countries among travelers from around the globe. With safety on the rise, a beautiful culture to get to know, and some pretty magnificent attractions to visit, it’s really no wonder people love Colombia so much.
I have been to Colombia on several occasions now and continue fall more in love with each visit. However, with so much to see and do it can be hard to know exactly where to spend your time and where to go. Although a rather small country, getting around can take time and planning the ultimate Colombia itinerary can be tricky.
On my first trip to Colombia, I had two weeks – that’s it! With such time constraints, I was determined to get the most out of my trip and I can say that I did just that. This itinerary worked so well I’ve decided to share it with you and hope it helps you plan your ultimate trip around Colombia.
Overview Of This Colombia Itinerary
With only two weeks this itinerary will stick to the most popular bucket list places to visit in Colombia. As a first-timer, this is how you’ll get to know the country and although only a taste, I guarantee you’ll be wanting more.
This itinerary will also be based around flying in and out of Colombia from overseas by starting and ending in two major cities that operate plenty of domestic and international flights. There’s not much point in ending in the Colombian jungle when you have to fly home to Europe or elsewhere – am I right?!
Below is the basic outline of the trip and how I recommend to spend your time:
Day 1 – Bogota
Day 2 and 3 – Salento and Valle de Cocora
Day 4, 5 and 6 – Medellin
Day 7 – Guatape
Day 8, 9 and 10 – Costena Beach and Tayrona
Day 11 and 12 – Minca
Day 13 and 14 – Cartagena
The Best 2 Weeks In Colombia Itinerary
Bogota is the heart of Colombia and the nation’s capital. As the economic hub of the country, Bogota is home to a lot of culture and history. Although not typically high on most visitors Colombia bucket list, most come to Bogota as a port of entry to Colombia. With that said, there is plenty of things to do in Bogota and it’s a great place to shake that jet-lag and explore some of the history, food, and culture.
On your first day in Bogota, I recommend heading down to Chorro de Quevedo Square at 11 am or 2 pm to catch the free graffiti walking tour (tours run every day). On the tour, you’ll be guided around the city to explore unique artworks and learn all about their meaning as well as general history and culture. The tour lasts for around 3 hours and all that is asked for is a tip at the end.
That evening, take a trip up to Monserrate with the gondola to enjoy views over the city. This magnificent viewpoint is a must-visit and shows you just how large the city of Bogota is. After, head out for dinner to a local restaurant in your area. If you can, try a place with something truly Colombian on the menu such as Tamales or Ajiaco. My recommendation is to head to El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo for the best Ajiaco in town!
To make the most of Bogota, you may want to join a guided tour such as this Bogota full day grand city tour.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Day Trips From Bogota.
Where to stay in Bogota
It is important to weight your options when deciding where to stay in Bogota. The historic center of Bogota is near a neighborhood called La Candelaria. Here you can find lots of great hotels and hostels such as The Cranky Croc Hostel. This is where the majority of attractions are in the city but it can also be a little loud at night.
If you want to stay in a nicer area and don’t mind getting lots of taxis or public transport around the city then Chapinero is a much trendier and nicer are to stay. Selina Chapinero Bogota is a great hotel/hostel in this area.
For more options, read The Best Airbnbs In Bogota.
The second stop on this Colombia itinerary takes you far away from the large cities and into the country to explore the coffee regions of Colombia in Salento. This small but humble town is known as a “Pueblo” and in this Colombia itinerary, you’ll visit a couple.
Salento is famous for the nearby valleys and hillsides that are covered in coffee plantations. Coffee is a huge part of Colombia’s economy and it’s exported all around the world. For this reason, a coffee tour is one of the best activities to do in Salento.
Tours start at as little as $10 USD at coffee farms such as Buenos Aires Coffee in Salento. This is a basic tour from seed to cup and includes a free coffee at the end. You can also choose to do more in-depth tours that start at around $100 USD.
Afterward, spend your first day in Salento wandering town, drinking coffee, and even taking a walk up the large set of stairs at the end of Calle Real to the famous viewpoint over the town.
The next day you’re in for a real adventure to the Valle de Cocora. Head to the main plaza and jump in a communal jeep (no booking required) and enjoy a bumpy ride to the valley. When you get out, you’ll be able to explore the famous wax palms and take a nice hike through the valley. Along the way the views are gorgeous!
How to get to Salento
Getting from Bogota to Salento is best done with a domestic flight to Armenia and then a short bus ride to Salento. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Bogota to Armenia and then another bus to Salento. This journey is best done on an overnight bus as the trip takes around 8 hours.
Where to stay in Salento
Salento is a small, safe town so deciding what area to stay in isn’t something you should worry about. Choose a place that’s right for your budget and travel style. If you’re a budget traveler, El Viajero is a great option. It’s 5 minutes from town in a quiet area with beautiful views – and they offer yoga! If you’re more of a luxury traveler, Finca Hotel Rancho San Antonio is the best choice. The location is breathtaking and they have a pool and sauna!
Ah, Medellin! By far this is the most popular city in Colombia, and as most visitors find out, it’s a city with so much to offer. In fact, the reason I recommend 3 days in Medellin in this itinerary is simply because you’re going to need it! Not only are there a ton of awesome things to do in Medellin but there is a fun and vibrant culture here just waiting to be experienced!
Most people stay in the suburb of El Poblado in Medellin, so on your first day be sure to take a stroll around this area and get to know the city. It’s a great place to find a café or even a restaurant for a bite to eat. Seriously you’re spoiled for choice in Medellin. Towards the middle of the day be sure to take a trip to Centro and join the most famous free walking tour in South America.
Real City Tours’ walking tour of the historic district of Medellin is famous among travelers and that shows by the fact you NEED to book your spot in advance or you’ll be turned away – it’s that popular. The tour lasts for 3 hours and on it you’ll get to know the city of Medellin really well!
Afterwards, head back to El Poblado and go to a trendy restaurant called Cafe Zorba for the best (vegetarian) pizza in the city, cocktails, and live music.
The next day, go on a little adventure and take the train and cable car up to Parque Arvi. On this self-guided trip, you’ll navigate one of the nicest train systems in the world and take a cable car high above the city. Parque Arvi isn’t the highlight here either, it’s the views of the city from the cable car. Although a simple public transport option for locals it offers the best views in the city for only a couple of dollars.
On your last day in Medellin, a walking tour through the famous Comuna 13 neighborhood should be at the top of your to-do list (book your guided tour of Comuna 13 graffiti here). Comuna 13 was once the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellin but is now a flourishing community on display for visitors to see. On the tour, you’ll learn the history of Comuna 13 visiting a few famous attractions before getting to know the locals who call this hillside neighborhood home. It’s a humbling experience that really shows just how far Colombia has come.
Finally, the top not-to-miss attraction is the outdoor Plaza Botero Museum in downtown Medellin with the eccentric gigantic nude statues of people/animals. Make sure to also visit the Museo Casa de la Memoria, dedicate to the city’s past, and Comuna 13, where you’ll find the city’s best street art.
How to get to Medellin
Medellin is around 7 hours by bus from Salento. Although a long journey, bus is the most popular option and some direct shuttle are available right from Salento. You can also fly from the nearby city of Armenia to Medellin and this will save you a few hours.
Where to stay in Medellin
El Poblado is the most popular place to stay in Medellin for visitors. The area is safe, filled with restaurants and bars, and home to majority of the city’s hostels and hotels. For budget travelers, the most famous hostel to stay at is Los Patios Hostel. This modern hostel is super social and their rooftop bar has some of the best views on the city. If you want a quieter stay, I love Lettera hotel. It’s modern, clean, and located a little out of the party district on the safer side of El Poblado. I actually lived in this area for a month once upon a time.
In the afternoon of day 6 in Medellin, take the bus to the small town of Guatape. This cute and colorful town is one of the most famous day/overnight trips from Medellin. Although you can visit just for the day (if you’re short on time) I highly recommend spending at least one night so you can explore the town on your own without rushing too much.
As soon as you get to Guatape, take a walk around to see the famous zócalos. The best street to see them is Calle del Recuerdo which is actually replicated off the city that was flooded to make the lake/dam that Guatape sits on. With cobblestone streets and colorful buildings everywhere you look, it’s picture-perfect.
On your first eveneing in Guatape, head out for a cheap dinner and drinks and be sure to take your camera. Guatape is a party place for Colombians on a domestic holiday, so take advantage of this by staying out to enjoy the atmosphere.
The next day, head straight o El Penol and climb the famous rock. Its costs 18,000 COP an only takes around 30 minutes and is one of the best things to do in Guatape. From the top the views are magnificent!
Later that day consider going on a boat tour of the lake. The lake is actually man-made and there is a town that was flooded to create the dam (you can learn all about it on your tour.) You’ll also pass by Pablo Escobar’s house, although you can no longer walk around it.
How to get to Guatape
Getting to and from Guatape is easy from Medellin. Simply take a taxi or the metro to Terminal de Norte and catch the 3-hour public bus to Guatape for 15,000 COP. You can then catch the same bus back to Medellin. Departures are regular throughout the day.
Where to stay in Guatape
I’ve been to Guatape on three different occasions and every time I stay at the Lake View Hostel. They have dorms as well as nice private rooms (that resemble comfortable hotels) and the upstairs restaurant is the best in town. You must try the Pad Thai!
Costeno Beach and Tayrona National Park
Costeno Beach is a new up-and-coming beach destination in Colombia. Located just over an hour from Santa Marta, Costeno Beach is a famous traveler destination where the jungle meets the sea.
When visiting Costeno Beach the most popular activities include relaxing by the ocean, lounging around in a hammock, and drinking a few too many beers. It’s basically a place to relax and rejuvenate. Costeno Beach is also a popular place to stay and base yourself when visiting Tayrona National Park. In fact, it is only 15 minutes from the main entrance to the park.
Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s most popular national parks. It’s a beach and jungle destination home to stunning bays, unique wildlife, and some of Colombia’s indigenous culture. The park can be visited for the day or overnight by staying at one of the beaches in the park. The most popular place to stay is called Cabo San Juan.
From your accommodation in Costeno, you can easily access Tayrona. I personally recommend going on an overnight trip in Tayrona as there is a few hours of walking involved to get to the best beaches. So, spend one night in Costeno Beach and then one night in Tayrona before heading back to spend one more night in Costeno.
It costs 53,500 COP to enter Tayrona National park and then extra for accommodation. For example, a hammock at Cabo San Juan costs 40,000 COP per person. Cabins or more luxurious accommodation is significantly more.
Be sure to leave most of your belongings locked up at your hotel at Costeno Beach, that way you only have to take a small overnight pack with you to Tayrona.
How to get to Costeno Beach from Medellin
From Medellin, your best option is to take a domestic flight to Santa Marta and then a bus to Costeno Beach. You can choose to take an overnight bus from Medellin to Santa Marta, however, this journey is long and tiring and won’t save you much! Plus, domestic flights in Colombia are generally super cheap and frequent between the larger cities.
Where to stay in Costeno Beach
The most famous place to stay at Costeno Beach is the Costeno Beach Hostel. This large hostel serves amazing group meals, has a huge pool, and a really fun atmosphere. For a quieter, more luxurious stay, the Blue Mango Beach Hotel is a perfect choice.
Although almost every destination on this Colombia itinerary gets you surrounded by nature, few places do it as well as Minca. Located in the foothills only an hour from Santa Marta, Minca is a small town surrounded by green lush forest and much cooler temperatures. It’s known as one of the best places to go for bird watching and chasing waterfalls.
The best thing to do in Minca, in my opinion, is to stay at one of the famous hotels in the area. The beautiful locations of the hotels are what make the trip to Minca worth it. My personal favourite and one of the most highly rated hostels in the world is Casas Viejas. Located high above Minca town the views from the infinity pool and rooms are breathtaking. Every morning wake to the sound of birds and enjoy a relaxing stay in paradise. From the hostel, you can venture off on day tours such as horse riding, bird watching, and even hikes.
Getting around Minca is best done via moto-taxis and from your hotel, you can head off and explore the most famous attractions including coffee farms, cafes, waterfalls, and stunning viewpoints. Once there, the hotels in town have maps for visitors of all the attractions and if you want you can even rent your own motorbike to explore.
How to get to Minca
From Costeno Beach, Minca is around a 2-hour journey that can easily be done by local bus or taxi. From Costeno Beach take the hostel taxi to the main highway where you’ll catch a bus to Santa Marta. From Santa Marta, there are small shuttles that take guests to Minca. Alternatively, private shuttles or taxis can easily be arranged by your hotel in Costeno.
Where to stay in Minca
Casas Viejas is my go-to place to stay, however, their rooms and dorms are very basic. If you consider yourself more of a luxury traveler then Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro is a beautiful hotel with similar views that’s more luxurious. You can also stay in Minca town, however, this doesn’t give you the nature experience that most come to Minca for.
Finishing off this Colombia itinerary couldn’t happen in a more idyllic destination than Cartagena. Located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena is a place with lots of history, gorgeous architecture, and a mix of cultures.
Exploring the old city is without a doubt the most popular thing to do in Cartagena. The cobblestone streets and old buildings make for stunning photos and the cute cafes and restaurants are the perfect place to fuel up or hide from the hot sun. Be sure to walk the wall surrounding the old city, join the free walking tour, try some Colombian street food, and if you love seafood, eat at La Cervicheria.
With two days in Cartagena, take this chance to get out of the city and explore a nearby beach. Playa Blanca is the go-to for most visitors and it’s accessed via a short water taxi or bus trip. At Playa Blanca, you can sit back and relax and enjoy the beautiful Caribbean Sea with a drink in hand. Stop at a restaurant for some local seafood or even ride a jet ski.
If you have more time, head out later that night and party in Getsemani. This is the party district of Cartagena and here you’ll find lots of bars open until late.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Day Trips From Cartagena.
Getting to Cartagena
From Minca, getting to Cartagena will take around 4 hours. Take the bus from Minca town to Santa Marta and then jump on a bus or minivan to Cartagena. It’s a well-traveled route that doesn’t need to be booked in advance.
Where to stay in Cartagena
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing where to stay in Cartagena. Staying in the walled city or old town of Cartagena is the ideal place to stay for visitors. For budget travels, Republic Hostel is my favorite. The location is perfect and for the price, you get to stay at a fun, clean, and social hostel within the walled city. If you don’t mind spending a bit more Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel is beautiful. They have a rooftop pool (perfect for the hot Cartagena sun) as well as an included breakfast and quiet location.
For more options, read my post The Best Airbnbs In Cartagena.
Conclusions On This 2-Weeks In Colombia Itinerary
Colombia really is such a bucket list country to travel. From the urban areas famous around the world to the sprawling jungle, stunning beaches and friendly people it’s no wonder Colombia is becoming one of the top tourist destinations in the world. This two-week Colombia itinerary hits many of the best places to visit giving you a taste of the best Colombia has to offer. Of course, there’s plenty more to see, but that’s what return trips are for!
For more places to visit in Colombia, check out my posts:
This post was written by Bailey of Destinationless Travel. Bailey is a lover of mountain peaks, craft beer, and of course, travel! As a Canadian-born blogger, Bailey is lucky enough to have traveled Canada and countless other countries around the world extensively. Alongside her pattern Daniel, Bailey is always in search of her next adventure to share on their blog, Destinationless Travel. You can also follow them on Instagram.