Top attractions to see in Colombia within a week:
- Bogota – Museo de Oro (Gold Museum); Mt. Monserrate (Overlook); Andres Carne (Restaurant/Nightlife)
- Parque de Tayrona
- El Totumo (Mud Volcano)
If you have more time, I would add the following locations:
- Medellin (Good Nightlife)
- Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) – Located in the Tip of Colombia
- Coffee Plantation
Bogota is the capital of Colombia. Colombia is spread out over a large area. The main shopping and night life area is the Zona Rosa. It is definitely the best place to base operations.
The main museum is Museo de Oro aka the Gold Museum. It is in the center of Bogota. It is pretty impressive museum that takes around 2 hours to see.
Outside of the museum, one can get an awesome view of the entire city from Mt. Monserrate. You take a tram to get to the top of Mt. Monserrate.
When we asked people what is the best restaurant/nightlife in the city, the constant answer was Andres Carne. It was the one consistent answer. Andres Carne is a muli-floor restaurant that turns into a big dance party. They serve the alcohol by the bottle and not the glass here. A bottle of alcohol runs anywhere from $40 – $60. It is very reasonable.
If in a big rush, you could probably see all of these highlights in one day. We took our leisure and saw them over 3 days.
Cartagena was the first Spanish colony on the American continent. Cartagena has skyscrapers that are juxtapose to an old city. The old city, which is surrounded by walls, has lots of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars.
The hotels within the old city are very expensive. We found that our best option was to rent an apartment through airbnb that was 20 minute walk from the old city. It was situated on the beach.
The total cost was $800 for 5 nights in 2011. It was a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 queens and 2 doubles. For those interested, it was located in the Edifico Infinito building.
The main downside to Cartagena is that it is a Port of Call for cruise ships. When a cruise ship is docked, it will increase the number of people in the old city X fold. If possible try to avoid Cartagena, when the cruise ships are in town.
Parque Tayrona, and El Totumo
When we stayed in Cartagena, we also decided to do a trip out to Parque Tayrona. Parque Tayrona is a beautiful national park on the beach.
On the way out to Parque Tayrona, we stopped at El Totumo, a mud volcano. The mud volcano is awesome. The mud volcano can probably hold 20-30 people. After you leave the mud volcano, you walk down to the river where these old ladies wash all the mud off you.
We probably were there for 1 – 2 hours.
After El Totumo, we had a couple more hours to Parque Tayrona. The goal was to reach a campsite (Cabo San Juan) at the end of the Parque. If you arrive early enough, you might be able to stay at a Pavilion on the top of some rocks. In this pavilion, you get the benefit of a nice breeze. We unfortunately arrived late and had to stay in the ordinary campsites.
To get the campsite, we hiked from the park entrance all the way to the campsite. From the park entrance, you initially need to hike threw the woods before getting to the beach. One also has the option of renting a horse if you don’t feel up for the hike.
You should try and arrive before 3:00 pm. We got there shortly after 3:00 pm and did not make it to the campsite before it got dark. Luckily, we had a flashlight app on our iPhone that allowed us to see where we were going. The hike takes about 2 hours to reach Cabo San Juan.
My friend’s cell phone had signal allowing us to find “hidden beaches” where literally no one was on. Overall, it was a great experience.
We only stayed one night here before heading back to Cartagena, but this is an amazing place.
This person has an amazing guide on Parque Tayrona.
Itinerary for Colombia in 1 week
Day 1: Fly into Bogota
Day 2: Bogota – Museo de Oro and Mt. Monserrate
Day 3: Bogota – Walk around City and Andres Carne
Day 4: Fly to Cartagena
Day 5: Cartagena – Old City
Day 6: El Totumo and Parque Tayrona
Day 7: Parque Tayrona and drive back to Cartagena
Day 8: Fly home
Since we did weekend to weekend, this itinerary worked for us. If only had 7 days, I think it would be best to eliminate 1 day in Bogota.
You could also add day at Parque Tayrona and eliminate day in Bogota if want more relaxing vacation.
Itinerary for Colombia in 2 weeks
For 2 week vacation, I would follow the itinerary above and maybe add an additional day in Parque Tayrona.
There are several options:
1) Add hike to the Lost City that is 5 to 6 day trek
2) Add 2 days in Medellin and Coffee Plantations; if choose this option, you would likely want to take bus from Bogota on north
3) Head to Cali and some of the other beach locations