Typically, Kevin and I love to take a 2 week vacation. For most Americans, taking 2 full weeks of vacation is often seen as extravagant (as our European friends know, this barely scratches the surface to truly get away). This year, however, we were both short on time due to work commitments, schedules, life…You know the drill. Obviously, we would have loved to stay longer in Colombia. But we were surprised at how much we could cover with just a 10 day itinerary. Flights go just about everywhere and are cheap!
So, for my overworked friends, below is a great itinerary to hit up many of the country’s best areas. I’ve included our original plans along with the “revised version” because of our flight to the coffee region got cancelled due to bad weather (and the plane couldn’t land, taking us back to Bogota!).
Travel Day; Arrive in Bogota
Hotel: Hotel De La Opera ($115 a night)
Note on hotel: This is an incredible hotel with lap pool and free spa. However, I would NOT recommend the neighborhood (Candelaria). Stay in the Northern part of Bogota in Zona Rosa. This section is so much safer. Candelaria is a “no go” zone once the sun sets. Take this as a warning, it’s not even remotely safe at night as of writing.
City: All day in Bogota
Hotel: Hotel De La Opera
Breakfast at La Puerta Falsa, Colombia’s longest-running business — Get the Tamales, hot chocoloate and Ajiacao (a corn soup with meat and avocados).
Now that you’re full, take the cable up to Monserrate, Bogotá’s highest peak. Avoid this place on Sundays when the admission is free and lines wrap around as far as you can see
Visit Museo del Oro (the gold museum), open 9 am- 7 pm
Visit the Museo Botero (Art Museum for all things rotund, you gotta see the “fat Mona Lisa, it still makes me laugh), open 9 am-7 pm
Head to Plaza de Bolívar, see pigeons/architecture
Dinner at Andres DC aka Carne De Res – Reservations are essential
City: Bogota/Zipaquira/Villa De Leyva
Hotel: Hotel la Posada de San Antonio ($116 total, great location/okay hotel)
Go to morning market at Usaquén (only if it’s Sunday, shift schedule accordingly)
Rent a car (if you’re brave!) and drive to Zipaquira Salt Cathedral (about 1 hour without traffic, but expect at least 2 hours drive)
Continue your drive to Villa De Leyva, get dinner at one of the many restaurants near the main square)
City: Villa De Leyva/Bogota
Hotel: Click Clack Hotel ($125 a night, located in Bogota’s Zona Rosa – best part of Bogota)
Scenic cycle ride with Cyclotours (3-4 hour bike ride) – we did the Little Dino Tour: Self Guided; 10 AM – 2 PM; Approx $12 pp.
If you have time, check out the winery on the edge of town called Marques De Villa De Leyva… stick to the white wine, trust me!
Drive to Bogota (3.5 hours); About 6:30 PM arrive Bogota (overnight)
City (we intended to visit): Pereira in Coffee Country
City (in actuality): Bogota, and stayed at the Click Clack Hotel again
Our original plan was to fly to Pereira in the coffee country, hire a driver to take us to Hotel Salento Real Eje Cafetero. Go horseback riding through Cocora Valley, then visit the hot springs called Termales de Santa Rosa.
However, bad weather grounded us, and we scrapped those plans and grabbed dinner in Zona Rosa and watched Captain America at the Cine Colombia.
Then it was back to the Click Clack Hotel, not a shabby place to be stuck!
City (intended): Salento, then Medellin
City (in actuality): Bogota, then Medellin
Hotel: Overnight in Medellin in the El Poblado section (there are many options, but unfortunately ours wasn’t the best so I’m not recommending here)
If we were still in coffee country, we’d take a tour of a coffee farm then head up to Medellin.
Our new plan turned out to be the best thing we did in Bogota – a full day tour with Bogota Bike tour. This tour covers graffiti, history, a coffee factory, the red light district, a game of tejo (a game you throw disks at a clay board and try to hit the gun powder to explode!) and a fruit market. It really covers a lot!
In the evening, we took a flight to Medellin on Avianca. And stayed at a hotel in El Poblado, which I won’t even include because it was the worst hotel on our trip! There are plenty of options, but stay in El Poblado for the best vibe.
City: Full day in Medellin
Hotel: Overnight in El Poblado neighborhood
Start it off at 10 AM with a Pablo Escobar Historical Tour of Medellín ($150 for 2 people). I’d recommend “Don’t Say His Name Tour.”
Ride the Medellin Metrocable, it’s so much fun!
Visit Botero Square and check out the rotund sculptures
Then walk to Versailles, nearby and a fantastic lunch spot
Take the metro back to El Poblado – and relax at Cafe Velvet (open late)
In the evening, check out the cool bar scene. I’d recommend Burdo Restaurant
City: Full day in Cartagena
Hotel: Hotel Bantu – 2 nights ($220 per night for Superior Room), doesn’t get any better than this!
Fly to Cartagena in the AM
Food & Culture Tour (Cartagena Connections): Depart 2:30-5 PM ($30 PP) – Finishes up in Getsemani neighborhood
Climb the fortified walls and walk the periphery of the Old City
– Drinks at Café Del Mar (time this for sunset, everyone comes here to watch and pay for the overpriced drinks! But that view!)
– Trace the stone wall back toward Puerta del Reloj; Plaza De La Trinidad
Café Havana – live music
City: Full day in Cartagena
Hotel: Hotel Bantu
9 AM-12 PM Volcano Mud Tour that I wrote about here (Cartagena Tour Guides)
Get freeze pop in Cartagena at La Paletteria (Calle 35 & Carrera 4)
Dinner: 1621 Restaurant
Fly from Cartagena back home