Bogota, sometimes referred to as “the Athens of South America”, was first settled by indigenous peoples, though the founding date is generally set at 1538 by a Spanish explorer. Today, the city is one of the largest cities in South America and Colombia’s capital. Once considered a place to avoid, Bogota has cleaned up its act and is fast becoming one of the best places to visit in Colombia. Located at 2,640 meters (8,660 feet) in the Andes, Bogota has numerous attractions to entice visitors, including a planetarium, gold museum, botanical gardens, cultural events and a thriving nightlife. The city’s historic district can be found at La Candelaria, a pleasant quarter of cafés, churches and museums.
Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena was one of the most heavily fortified cities in South America; these fortifications can still be seen today. Travelers should take time to wander through the colorful old town, with its colonial architecture that includes museums, palaces and churches. “Bocagrande“, a long strip of hotel towers and condos fronting onto the beach, is also very popular. Cartagena’s old town is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Zona Cafetera (The Coffee Triangle)
A must-do while visiting Colombia is to pay a visit to the Zona Cafetera, south of Medellin and comprised of the area between the cities of Manizales, Armenia, and Pereira. In a country where coffee is king, you just can’t leave without spending at least a few days in this region of lush, green coffee plantations. Think Napa Valley vineyards, but with coffee plants.
Once dubbed the ‘most dangerous city on earth’, Medellín is now one of Colombia’s liveliest and most creative cities and it is now a vibrant destination for travelers seeking a culturally rich vacation. Located in a valley, surrounded by mountains, this city is always friendly with tourists.