From Colonial Cities to Caribbean Coast

20-Day Colombia City and Coastline Itinerary - Colombia

Prices from £2,175 pp

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Duration20 days / 19 nights (flexible)

DepartureDaily

ItineraryBogota - Villa de Leyva - San Gil - Salento - Medellin - Cartagena - Santa Marta - Palomino

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Overview

On this Colombia tour you will experience the highlights of the country and some lesser explored areas. After visiting Bogotá and the colonial city of Villa de Leyva, travel to San Gil, a paradise for nature lovers and the adventurous. Then head to the coffee region and on to Medellin, a lively city and former home of the notorious Pablo Escobar. Your journey ends on the Caribbean coast, where you visit Cartagena and Tayrona National Park and finish on the beach of Palomino let your soul.

What's included

  • Accommodation – price based on 2 people sharing
  • Excursions as described below
  • Transfers as described

Our ready-made itineraries 1. Add your favourite itinerary to your travel plan  2. Send it our way 3.Our travel specialists will get planning and send you a quote

Location map

Your day-by-day itinerary

¡Bienvenidos a Bogota!

Colombia’s vibrant, mountain-flanked capital has come to symbolise the country’s resurgence as a whole. Once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities, it now welcomes visitors with open arms, and has the history, architecture and charm to be much more than just a starting point for your Colombian adventure. You’ll stay 2 nights in the colourful cobbled cultural centre – La Candelaria – filled with art, food and beautiful colonial buildings and plazas. We’ll also arrange a trip to the mountain of Monserrate with a local guide, so you can admire this great South American city from above.

a Bogota hotel at night with lights

Colombia’s vibrant, mountain-flanked capital has come to symbolise the country’s resurgence as a whole. Once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities, it now welcomes visitors with open arms, and has the history, architecture and charm to be much more than just a starting point for your Colombian adventure. You’ll stay 2 nights in the colourful cobbled cultural centre – La Candelaria – filled with art, food and beautiful colonial buildings and plazas. We’ll also arrange a trip to the mountain of Monserrate with a local guide, so you can admire this great South American city from above.

street art in bogota

Colonial Charm in Villa de Leyva

On your way north from Bogota you’ll visit the incredible underground Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira with a private guide, before stepping back in time with a couple of days in Villa De Leyva – a cobbled colonial gem where you can get a glimpse into Colombia’s distant past. With a mild climate, peaceful hilly surroundings and plenty of great places to eat and drink, Villa De Leyva provides a welcome break after bustling Bogota.

a traditional latin building

The following day, we’ll arrange a walking tour with a local guide for you to get acquainted with this small but interesting village. There are some great museums showing remnants of the area’s history, as well as an award-winning vineyard, a bizarre terracotta house and even an archaeological site on the outskirts which is home to many ‘fertility’ statues. The evening is free for you to stroll through the cobbled streets and plazas, taking in the tranquil atmosphere and picking out one of the many quality restaurants for your evening meal.

a colourful bus on the beach

Pura Vida in San Gil

In the morning you will be picked up at your hotel in Villa de Leyva and your private driver will take you to San Gil in around four hours. The small town has a lively centre where you can make yourself comfortable in the shade of a tree on a park bench and watch the goings-on in the plaza. You will spend the next two nights in a small, family-run hotel, which is located near the Rio Fonce and the central square. The rooms are comfortable and the hosts are very warm and attentive with great knowledge of the local area.

a woman holds up a bike

Today it is time to learn the kinds of activities and adventures that nature lovers and the adventurous can experience in San Gil.  In the area there are huge mountains, thundering waterfalls, numerous caves and rivers with strong currents. These features make San Gil a paradise for the adventurous whether its paragliding, mountain biking or hiking that takes our interest. If you decide you want even more adventure around San Gil, extend your stay to include a trip to Barichara – one of the prettiest villages in the whole country.

a woman ziplining

Bogota - Overnight Hotel

Tonight you will head back to Bogota and spend another night in La Candelaria, an area you’re starting to know well, before continuing your tour the next day.

a colourful Bogota street

Sky-high Trees and Steaming Coffees

Today you’ll travel to Armenia by bus or domestic flight and from there you will be taken to Salento by private transfer. The journey takes about an hour, and when you get there you’ll be able to enjoy your first cup of delicious local coffee. You’ll spend three nights in a colourful accommodation with Colombian flair that’s conveniently situated for you to be able to walk to the main square with many bars and restaurants.

a trail with palm trees and mountiains

During your stay, you’ll head out on three-hour coffee tour, where you’ll learn all there is to know about growing and selling the best coffee in the world. Colombia exports the majority of its best beans, so the plantation that you’ll visit is a great place to taste the best this region has to offer. No trip to this region is complete without a to visit the famous Cocora valley, so we’ll also organise you a ticket for a return trip in a classic “Willys” jeep. Once in the valley, you can walk directly to the sky-high wax palms, or you go through a gate to the right and take a beautiful 4-5 hour hike over hills with stunning views of the valley.

a coffee farmer

Eternal Spring in Medellin

With a seemingly ever-pleasant climate and a stunning location surrounded by steep hills and jagged peaks, Medellín is quickly shaking off its infamous past to become one of Colombia’s must-visit cities. You’ll find a character and fast-paced attitude which sets the city apart from the rest of the nation, and it can be a lot of fun to be a part of for a few days! You’ll spend 2 nights in a comfortable hotel in the trendy El Poblado district, with a host of restaurants and bars nearby.

a local man sits

On your second day you’ll take a tour with a local paisa (Medellín resident) guide who’ll show you the ins and outs (and highs and lows) of their city, including the cable cars which connect downtown with the neighbourhoods high up in the hills, and give a spectacular view of the city. You’ll also see the Botero statues, and some lesser-know highlights, before you’re left to explore, relax, or maybe experience a little of the city’s famous party scene!

a group in a local area

The Queen of the Caribbean

Today you’ll arrive in Cartagena and quickly understand why this is seen as the most beautiful colonial city in Colombia. Your charming accommodation is in the historic city centre and just a few minutes from the beach and all the main sights. The old town is a bit touristy, but its beauty means it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of a labyrinth of small alleys and many squares. Check out historic centre in the district of El Centro. Otherwise known as “The Walled City”, it’s here that you’ll find a thick wall fortification and colonial buildings that date back centuries.

colourful buildings in a city

For your second day in Cartagena, you’ll have a half day bike tour planned. Together with a guide you will get to know more about the history of Cartagena. You’ll explore the neighbourhoods of Getsemaní, Manga and Bocagrande, passing well-known sights and stopping at various places for your guide to tell you all about the cultural and historical aspects of Cartagena that many people miss out on. The rest of your time here is free to do as you please and there is a lot to discover just by strolling through the streets, watching the hustle and bustle and enjoying the cafes and local street food.

street art in Cartagena

Santa Marta - Overnight Hotel

Tonight you will stay overnight in a hotel in Santa Marta, this is a perfect stopover on your way along the Caribbean Coast and a beautiful city in its own right. Depending on what time you arrive, you can go for a walk through the old city centre trying some delicious street food or stroll along the beach.

a hotel in Santa Marta

Caribbean Paradise of Palomino

Depending upon your route, you’ll probably only need to travel a couple of hours today from nearby Santa Marta, or perhaps via the wonderful Tayrona National Park (we can arrange a day here for you along the way!). Palomino doesn’t seem like much as you drive along the main road, but you’ll start to feel that Caribbean holiday vibe pretty quickly. The village itself has become a little ramshackle haven from travellers, with some good places to eat, drink and maybe have a dance too. You’ll stay just 10-minute walk away from the centre, in a small-scale resort overlooking the beach, and with a pool and restaurant on-site.

hammocks on a beach at sunset

Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, the laid-back beach village of Palomino has slowly developed into a popular stop-off for travellers who make it as far as Colombia’s north-east coast. It’s easy to see why, with a dreamy location and just enough good places to stay, eat and drink to keep you blissfully satisfied for a few days. You’ll stay 3 nights in a small-scale resort just outside the village, and can spend your days relaxing under palm trees, tubing down the jungle-flanked river or swimming in the warm sea.

signs on a beach
Rob standing by tree

Speak to our Colombia specialist, Rob

"Colombia is a fascinating country, full of of the most caring, friendly people you're likely to meet. As the country continues to come out of the shadow cast by the Medellin Cartel everyone wants to show off their stunning country to you. It's a very special place."


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