Culture abounds in Colombia, and we don’t just mean architecture, history, art & literature, and tradition, but what will truly sweep you off your feet is its people, food, magical realism, music, and picturesque towns. If you are wondering why you should visit Colombia, we have thought of the most popular gemstones that represent Colombian spirit, which will unravel a whole new world for you.
Magical realism at its best, the birthplace of cumbia, and used by Gabriel García Márquez as inspiration for his literary work and to create the imaginary town of Macondo, we invite you to discover the unexplored, beating heart of the Caribbean. Departing from Cartagena, you will need to endure 6-hours on the road and a 2-hour boat ride, but the long trip will pay off as soon as you walk into Mompóx and realize you have traveled through time.
You will love walking through this colonial haven. Declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Santa Cruz de Mompóx was a refuge for families and Spaniards escaping pirate attacks. Legends say that gold brought from these wealthy Spaniards are hidden in the walls of churches and ancient homes. It is also known for its delicate filigree jewelry, so make sure to visit the Vivo Casa de los Oficios Museum next to the Santa Barbara Church.
Momposinos go all out during Holy Week, including paying a visit to the local cemetery to light candles honoring the dead. If you visit in September, you will be able to lose yourself in the rhythms of the Jazz Festival. Take a canoe tour through Magdalena River, taste their cheese (queso de cappa), learn about the ironsmith family trade, and finally, pay a visit to the Casa de la Cultura, where you can appreciate Colombia’s history.
San Andrés y Providencia
Known for its “7-colored ocean”, San Andrés offers you numerous and varied water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, jet ski, and kayaking. Rent a bike or a motorcycle and get to know the island. Spratt Bight is your obligatory beach spot, so don’t you dare miss out! It also has a hot and popular nightlife. We also recommend visiting Johnny Cay, the closest island to San Andrés.
Once a high-security prison, now one of Colombia’s natural paradises where the word ecotourism is an understatement. You can scuba dive at Remanso,Tiburonera, and Plaza de Toros. Playa Blanca and Playa Palmeras are the beaches where you will literally forget all about the outside world, and if you visit between July and November, you will be able to see hunchback whales. To visit this island, you will need vaccines for Tetanus and Yellow Fever.
Dunes and beaches. Unbelievable contrasting landscapes can be found at the tips of your fingers. Your soul will thank you for pampering it. Also, you will immerse yourself in a rustic and practically virgin natural environment, where you will likely be sleeping in hammocks or on the beach in Punta Gallinas and Cabo de la Vela. You can also visit the Macuira National Natural Park, which combines it all: desert, beaches, birdwatching, and indigenous Wayuu mythology. It’s called the “Oasis of la Guajira”.
New Year’s in Cartagena
The place to be to greet the New Year’s in Colombia is definitely Cartagena. You will see this city in all its glory and lights. You will be awed by the amazing Christmas lights and decorations in homes throughout the city. Cartagena in New Year’s is analogous to spending New Year’s Eve in New York City, United States. Cartagena is waiting for you, so come and experience it.
Every August, all kinds of colorful flowers line the streets of this amazing city for 10 days. But that is not all! You will witness the most spectacular and over-the-top flower arrangements you have ever seen, which exhibit a lot of hard work and skill, and is also the reason why this event is a source of pride for those who participate in it every year. It is a display of the flower artisans or silleteros, who not only create works of flower-art, but also carry them on their backs during the parades. You will also be entertained by the sense of humor and rimes of the troubadours, attend concerts by your favorite artists, travel back in time and appreciate original and classic automobiles, and view the most marvelous and perfect horses during this event. You have to experience this fair at least once in your life!
Get ready to party and get dirty! Yes, if you dare to experience it, you will surely end up completely covered – from head to toe – with flour and foam. Said to be one of the country’s all-time best annual events and declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. From December 28 to January 6, you will participate in parades that invite you to drink and dance until you drop. The last two days are especially unique and symbolize integration and equality.
During your visit to Colombia, make sure to stop in Boyacá, where the ruana (wool poncho)and sombrero(hat)are staple garments, and where the final battle of Colombian independence took place. This quaint little town is also where the highest quality emeralds are mined. We especially recommend you stop by Lago de Tota, El Cocuy, Iguaque, and don’t miss getting to know Villa de Leyva.
Lago de Tota
At this natural park you will feel so close to heaven. Camping, hiking, fishing, sailing, birdwatching, and even beaches complement the largest natural lake in Colombia. Rent a motorboat and visit its islands, including San Pedro, Santa Helena, and Cerro Chiquito. If you are an explorer at heart, you can also visit the colonial and rural towns of Cuítava, Tota, Iza, and Aquitania. Keep in mind it is 3,115 meters above sea level, so expect windy and cold weather, so make sure to pack warm clothes, in addition to your bathing suit.
This is an ideal place to forget about the real world and get in touch with nature, while spending time with family and friends. The hardest thing is actually getting into the cold water of Playa Blanca, but once inside, you will feel refreshed and happy, while thinking you are bathing in the place where muiscas worshipped their gods. Make sure to take enough cash because you will unlikely find any ATMs amid this amazing landscape in Boyacá.
If hiking is your thing, in Boyacá, you will find the National Park El Cocuy. Although it is forbidden to go beyond the snow-line, you will be able to hike to the edge of the Ritacuba Glacier or push your limits reaching Laguna de la Sierra, where you will be in awe of its beauty and sights. Warm clothes and sturdy boots, and even rain gear, are mandatory when it comes to undertaking this feat. We must also warn you, these are trails for those who have experience trekking through nature and at very high altitudes.
Get ready for an amazing eco-hike with friends and family. Although this takes a significant amount of physical exertion, the final destination is totally worth it. It is a 1-day adventure, involving an approximately 4-hour upward/downward trek. Make sure to take sunscreen, bottled water, comfortable and warm clothes, and you will surely want a poncho in case it rains.
At this National Park,Santuario de Fauna y Flora Iguaque you will be able to appreciate the sacred muisca lagoon, which according to folklore, is from where the mother of men, Bachué, emerged. Therefore, it is considered the cradle of humankind. A wondrous place indeed! There are a total of 7 lagoons originating from glaciers throughout this natural park in Boyacá, and you can explore each one.
Villa de Leyva
A favorite among both foreigners and Colombians, this quaint colonial town in Boyacá is exactly what you are looking for. Why visit it? Its kite festival, Festival del Viento y las Cometas, and candle celebration, Festival de Luces, are just two of the reasons. However, we can give you at least three more: its weather, its bohemian and tranquil atmosphere that resembles the true magic of Colombia; and its many sightseeing opportunities, as well as food, and artisanal works. The best advice we can give you is to come see it for yourself. Also, at about one hour away, you can visit the town of Ráquira, known for its artisanal and crafts market.
Once you have been to Colombia, “holidays” will take on a completely new meaning. Especially considering other additional Colombian perks, as it considered home to one of the happiest populations in the world. With so much to enjoy, you can’t avoid reveling in all of the joy this country offers. Book your hotel now at any of our 21 Hiltons throughout this breathtaking country in Yopal, Valledupar, Santa Marta, Medellín, Cucuta, Cartagena, Cali, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, and Barranquilla.