Explore this undiscovered land
Colombia is undiscovered territory, rapidly emerging from a decade of darkness to become a hidden gem in Latin America's crown. From fragrant coffee plantations to secluded beaches, this fascinating country boasts an array of rich, contrasting landscapes just waiting to be explored.
Following jungle-clad pathways to mystical remains, embark on an intrepid tour and wander around vibrant cities steeped in history. A holiday in Colombia is truly magical.
There is a dream like quality to Colombia. Right on the equator, with the sun seemingly always overhead, music emanating from all around, heart-stopping views in every direction and the incredible warmth of the locals putting you at ease – you may, as I did, find it difficult to leave. The diversity of the country astonished me. Modern cities with skyscrapers and nightclubs; gorgeous Caribbean beaches - all protected National Park; jungle walks and Amazonian safaris; Colonial cities and archaeological ruins and exhilerating activities such as high-mountain trekking, whale watching, scuba diving and surfing. The list is endless and with Colombia, so are the memories.
Robin Griffiths, Personal Travel Expert, Liverpool
UNESCO World Heritage-listed and known as the ‘Best Fortified City of the Americas’, the Caribbean jewel of Cartagena lies on Colombia’s northern coast. Steeped in Spanish colonial heritage, its pretty plazas, cobbled streets, colourful buildings and ancient forts sit alongside modern shops, buzzing open-air cafés and fusion restaurants. If you wish to take home your own piece of Colombia then head to the vibrant Las Bovedas, where you will find handicrafts and folk art shops. Take a fun-filled open-air chiva bus ride or indulge in Rumba lessons – this is a city full of character and rhythm.
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta lies a true lost paradise, where thick rainforest gives way to deserted palm-fringed beaches. One of the Caribbean Sea’s most picturesque stretches of coastline, Tayrona National Park was once the territory of the Tayrona Indians, and many archaeological sites lie hidden within its realms. The region is biologically diverse, with over 300 species of birdlife, iguanas, black howler and titi monkeys, and the elusive and rarely-seen jaguar. For those who like to keep active there is a three and a half hour uphill hike to the ancient ruins at El Pueblito.
Bogotá’s historic centre boasts bustling plazas, museums and fine colonial buildings, including stately homes where charming courtyards and beautiful gardens hide behind heavy doors. Discover important religious artefacts at the 19th century Cathedral and visit the Museo Botero (closed Tuesdays), a colonial house bursting with famous art works.
Declared a national monument in 1954, the beautifully preserved colonial town of Villa de Leyva lies in a picturesque valley. Heavily influenced by its Spanish history with white-washed buildings, cobbled streets and charming churches captured in time,Villa de Leyva also has the largest plaza in Colombia. Visit the fascinating Museo el Fósil, built around the fossil of a 120 million-year old kronosaurus.