10 Off-The-Beaten-Path Places You Need To Visit In Colombia

It’s not just me, also Lonely Planet thinks it’s about time for you to get out there and visit Colombia. The iconic travel brand just awarded its “Best in Travel” award naming it as the 2nd best country to visit in 2017. Rightly so, because Colombia is pretty amazing.

  • It is the only South American country with two coastlines
  • It is the country with the highest level of biodiversity per square meter in the world
  • It is home to the highest coastal mountain in the world, the Sierra Nevada
  • Colombians have been ranked as the happiest and most welcoming people in the world

Convinced? Let me share 10 of my favorite off-the-beaten-path locations with you.

1. The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest

About a third of Colombia’s area is covered by the Amazon Rainforest (about the size of California). Pristine jungle, incredible wildlife and one famous river awaits you. However, beware: trips to the jungle are only recommended with a guide. Book ahead and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. Activities include boat tours on the Amazon, feeding monkeys on monkey island, hopping over the border to explore wildlife on the Peruvian side of the river, hikes through the forest, visits to indigenous villages…

Fun fact: the Amazon is also the place where the idea of NomadApp was born while we were hiking through the jungle and looking for wild sloths. Since then, we’ve been on a mission to make it easier for you to get out there and see the world. Get the app for free here.

2. Guajira Desert

Guajira Desert

juannikin / Via Instagram: @juannikin

Colombia’s great unknown Guajira Desert covers the northern part of the continent including Venezuelan territory. The region is home to the indigenous Wayuu people and boasts some mind-boggling landscapes. Have you ever wanted to ride a motorbike into the sunset where all you can see around you is sand dunes, bizarre rock formations and the ocean? Then The Guajira is the right choice for you. Don’t expect any luxury though — be prepared to spend a day traveling through the sand to get to the few Wayuu settlements where you can rent a room from local people.

3. Punta Gallinas

Punta Gallinas

Punta Gallinas is the name of the northernmost point of the South American continent. If you stand at this remote desert spot in the Guajira desert, the whole continent lies behind you.

4. Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

One of my favorite spots on this planet is the Tayrona National Park. It’s big enough to spend weeks camping out, snorkeling, and exploring remote Caribbean beaches. Also, you can embark on a four-day hike to “Ciudad Perdida”, a Machu-Picchu-like lost city in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains.

5. Zona Cafetera

Zona Cafetera


The Valle de Cocora is a valley in the department of Quindío in the country of Colombia. It is located in the Central Cordillera of the Andean mountains and home to the iconic wax palms. The palm trees get as high as 60 meters and are increasingly endangered. The whole national park and area around Salento is known for its coffee estates and picturesque scenery.

6. Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias

Caribbean flair, great music, delicious food and colonial charm — that’s what makes up Cartagena de Indias. It is the undisputed queen of the Caribbean coast. It’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a labyrinth of cobbled alleys, colorful houses, tasty street food, and massive churches.

7. Guatapé Lake

Guatapé Lake

A few hours away from the capital Bogota you will find totally different climate and culture. Medellin is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the department of Antioquia. A nice day trip around the city is a visit to the breathtaking Guatapé Lake. Guatapé is an amazing town surrounded by Antioquia’s hills and lakes. Visitors usually flock to the famous El Peñon rock, which towers at 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) above sea level. Don’t miss out on the scenic views over the Guatapé Lake.

8. Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales

Also called the “River of Five Colors” or “Liquid Rainbow” the river is often referred to as the most beautiful river in the world. Between end of July through November the river’s colors change from yellow, green, blue, black and red. The stunning colors are caused by bacteria on the bottom of the river.

9. Cañón del Chicamocha

Cañón del Chicamocha

No, the Grand Canyon is not the only Canyon in the world. Actually, the Cañón del Chicamocha in Colombia is the second largest in the world. It is a Colombian national park (also known as Panachi) located about 50km from the city of Bucaramanga, Santander. Prepare yourself for one of the longest cable car rides in your life and breathtaking views.

10. Bogotá


Bogotá, has gone through a big revival during the last decade and is now considered a hidden gem for travelers. Located high up in the mountains the climate is quite different from the Caribbean vibes you got in Cartagena. Insider tip: hike up the Mount Monserrate and enjoy the best view over Bogotá.


What are you waiting for? Colombia has gone through a decade of transformation and should totally be on your 2017 bucket list. Mountains, cities, two oceans, rainforests, rolling hills, Caribbean flairs, deserts, some of the most hospitable and friendly people in the world, delicious food, great music, cheap transportation… Colombia has it all! Let’s go!

Need a tool to find out where to go after Colombia? We’d love to help you find out where to go next – get NomadApp for free.

Originally published on Buzzfeed.

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