Besides the fact that Colombia has stunning National Parks and a beautiful coffee region with some of the tallest palm trees you will ever see, it is also home to a couple of big bustling cities where salsa is King and the nightlife seems never-ending.
On top of all that, Colombia has shorelines at the Pacific and Caribbean side, a lot of cultural heritage, and some of the most delicious street food you will ever taste.
This Colombia backpacking route is an indulgence for all your senses.
The Colombia itinerary below gets even more comprehensive if you add the extra destinations for those who have more time and money to spend. So it can either serve as a Colombia itinerary for 2 weeks and if you add the extra stops, this backpacking itinerary expands to a Colombia itinerary for 3 weeks.
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Beach bumming, Coffee region and Salsa!
Duration: minimum 2 weeks
Currency: Colombian Peso (COP)
You can use the Colombia travel route below for inspiration.
Start off your Colombian backpacking route with a mix of city culture, colonial heritage and some well-deserved relaxation days at the Caribbean coast of Cartagena.
Take a stroll around the old town with its ancient city walls, visit the Castillo de San Felipe and dance till your feet hurt in one of the many vibrant salsa bars.
If you have more time, saunter around the Mercado de Bazurto food market and get a taste of the local life.
Extra interesting Places in Colombia: Mompos
From Cartagena head inland to Mompos and travel through time with a visit to this colonial town which is a UNESCO site. Getting there and back can be a bit of a challenge so you surely need more time to take this detour.
The town of Mompos inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez when writing its best selling novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Make sure to read this book, along with these other inspiring travel books, before visiting the magical town of Mompos.
As the next stop in this backpack route for Colombia, have a look at this beautiful place on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, use Santa Marta as a hub to do numerous excursions nearby.
You really can’t afford to miss out a trip to Tayrona National Park and sleep in a hammock or tent on the beach.
The more adventurous ones can participate in the multiple day trek to Ciudad Perdida and find these ancient ruins in the jungle.
If you like to get out of the city, go to the cozy village Minca to chill and enjoy nature with a visit to the Pozo Azul Waterfall and natural pool.
In the event that you have a few extra days, take a trip to the fishing village of Taganga.
Inside tip: en route from Cartagena to Santa Marta, you can make a stop in Barranquilla, where you can visit this spooky ghost town!
Tayrona NP, photo by Inge
Extra interesting Places in Colombia: Valledupar
Head over to colonial Valledupar and soak up the indigenous culture in the nearby town of Nabusimake.
Not only has Bucaramanga everything a big metropolitan city has to offer but also it is surrounded by some absolutely stunning valleys!
The most popular adventure activity to do here is paragliding! Even though this is not for the faint-hearted it could be one of the highlights of this trip!
Did your visit to Bucaramanga make your adrenaline pumping and are you up for more?
In that case, your next stop should be the capital of extreme sports: San Gil! In this backpacker town, you can do everything! You can go paragliding, bungee jumping, and wild river rafting as well as canyoning, zip lining, and rappelling a waterfall.
Of course, you want to unwind after all these kicks. Hence take a trip to Barichara and chill out walking around town while enjoying some local cuisine.
A visit to Gallineral Park will get your imagination running about elves and mystical creatures of all kind as this truly is a magical place.
Most backpackers include San Gil in their itinerary for Colombia because they want to get some adventure, which you can find in San Gil!
Extra interesting Places in Colombia: Villa de Leyva
If you want to break up a long travel journey between other stops, then Villa de Leyva is a perfect stopover.
A tour to The Terracotta House and the site El Infiernito are the most popular things to do here. However, you can also enjoy a relaxing vineyard tour.
Colombia’s capital city has a lot to offer and it definitely belongs in this Colombia backpacking itinerary.
For the culture junkies, there are a plethora of Museums to choose from like the famous Museo del Oro and the Museo de Botero.
Don’t feel like visiting Museums? Just walk around the Candelaria district and savor the atmosphere of this cobblestoned center with tons of bars and restaurants to chill, do a graffiti tour, visit the Jardin Botanico or choose another activity.
Whenever you want to get away from the city you can explore the Laguna de Guatavita or hike the Cerro de Monserrate.
Extra interesting Places in Colombia: San Agustin
The bus drive to San Agustin is long and bumpy, but definitely worth the effort.
This is an excellent place to take a jeep tour to the curious statues of San Agustin. In fact, the natural beauty of this region will take your breath away! The San Agustin jeep tour takes you through lush green hills to spot waterfalls and stops at the Estrecho del Magdalena, a narrow canyon in the rocks where the powerful river passes through. Not the best spot for swimming!
View of San Agustin surroundings at hostel Casa de Francois, Photo by Lobke
If you like a beautiful colonial town with a lot of charm then Popayan is the place to go next. You can do several day trips from here however the town itself is appealing enough to keep you busy.
Popayan, Photo by Inge
Room at the Park Life hostel, Popayan, Photo by Inge
Known as the salsa capital of Colombia, this vibrant city will not disappoint.
Even if you don’t like to dance, Cali has a lot more to offer than salsa alone.
Walk around the lovely Barrio San Antonio, visit butterfly farm Andoke or go on a day tour out of town to visit San Cipriano.
After the hustle and bustle of big city Cali, Salento will be a welcome diversion and a haven of tranquility. It is one of the cutest and snuggest towns in the whole of Colombia.
Get your muscles active and hike Valle del Cocora with its giant palm trees and in the evening play a game of tejo in one of the local spots in town.
Salento is a part of the coffee triangle of Colombia so if you are keen on taking a coffee tour, do it here!
View Salento town, Hostel Casa de Lily
Valle del Cocora, Photo by Inge
Finish your Colombia backpacking route in the metropolitan Medellin, city of everlasting spring.
What to do first?
Check out the Parque Explora, visit the Plaza de Botero or get lost in space in the Planetario?
A super modern metro system can take you there in no time. A metro cable can take you uphill so you have a stunning view over the city. One of the highlights is a day trip to the colorful town of Guatape and its Piedra or El Penon.
If you want to end your trip with a bang, go out and party at the El Poblado area.
Medellin, Photo by Inge
Guatape, Photo by Inge
El Penon, Photo by Inge
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