2 Weeks in Colombia: 3 Itineraries

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If you are unsure where to go for your two weeks vacation but pretty sure you want to visit Latin America, have you considered Colombia? It’s a Caribbean country located just south of Panama and north of Ecuador.

Colombia has a diverse landscape. It features the magnificent Andes Mountain, the rich Amazon rainforest, and the ever-stunning Caribbean coast. This means that there are tons of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, water activities, and even mountain biking during your 2 weeks in Colombia.

Apart from beautiful nature, Colombia is also rich in culture and traditions. It reflects both the marks of indigenous culture and the Spanish colonizers’ time in the country. Exploring this place means seeing how much influence Spain has on Colombia.

However, it didn’t fail to show the heritage of the indigenous people who lived here before the invaders arrived.

Finally, art, such as dancing, music, and street painting, is highly valued in Colombia. You will see exactly what I mean as you travel through the cities and rural areas. And, of course, you have to try local dishes and drinks during your visit to make the trip even more memorable and unique.

ALSO READ: 2 weeks in the Caribbean Island hopping

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING COLOMBIA

4 images - Guatape islets from the top, Cristo Rey statue, colourful houses in Cartagena, Bogota downtown - 2 Weeks in Colombia Itinerary

Even though Colombia is a popular destination, there are still some things that you should know before you book your flight and make hotel arrangements.

In the section below, you will learn when is the best time to visit Colombia (which months to avoid), what a reasonable budget looks like, and how to get around the country.

When is the best time to go to Colombia

December to March is the dry season of Colombia, making it one of the best times to visit. However, it’s also the peak season and when the schools are on break. Hotels get booked quickly, the prices are usually higher than usual, and there are more crowds here.

For people who want to visit the Amazon Rainforest, it’s ideal to see Colombia during the rainy season, which runs from May to November. The colours in the forests are magnificent, but it’s not the best time to head to the Caribbean coast.

Overall, the best time to visit Colombia is before the dry season, around October to November or in March to April. The prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists.

Are 2 weeks enough for Colombia

14 days in Colombia is feasible. Luckily, airports are accessible enough, making the crossing between the valleys a bit faster. If you plan to rent a car and travel on land, two weeks in Colombia might be a relatively short amount of time.

Choosing 1-2 regions might be the best idea for your trip. For example, spend one week in the region of the Caribbean coast, where you will get to do boat tours and water activities – experience the ideal beach vacation.

If you want to learn the history of Colombia, you can plan to spend the second week either in Bogota, the capital city of Medellin.

Getting around

I personally find getting around Colombia relatively easy. Some flights connect major cities such as Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla/Cartagena, and Cali at a reasonable price.

Bus travel between these cities is suitable for those on a budget. However, because the country is on the Andes Mountain, the journeys are longer, but still much more affordable than flying.

On the other hand, renting a car could also be an ideal option if you prefer that. You will have more freedom of your time and can actually discover areas that planes and buses don’t usually go to. Remember that driving in Colombia is a bit more challenging due to the mountainous terrain and poor road conditions.

You can use ride-hailing apps for going around the city, such as Uber, inDriver, and Tappsi. Using these apps avoids any chance of getting ripped off by a metered taxi.

Bottomline, the best way to get around Colombia depends on your budget, the places you plan to visit, your level of comfort, and the time you have,

Language and currency

Spanish is the official language in Colombia, and finding people who speak English outside the tourist area can be challenging. There are also indigenous languages used in Colombia, such as Quechua, Wayuu, and Kuna, to name a few.

It’s best to either learn a few phrases or make sure that you download a translator app on your phone to help with communicating with the locals. Spanish is a very useful language, which you can learn for free on Babble or Duolingo.

The Colombian Peso ($COP) is the currency used in Colombia. Although paying with a bank card is widely available in the areas where foreign visitors flock, it will be smart to carry some cash with you for emergencies and when visiting rural towns.

Visa

Travel visa in Colombia for foreign visitors is quite easy. Most people can enjoy visa-free upon arrival, which allows a stay for up to 90 days.

This is true for travellers with passports from most parts of the Americas (North and Latin), Europe, Russia, Central Asia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

If your country is not mentioned above, but you hold a valid visa from the US and the Schengen Area, you can use those visas as a substitute visa. This is applicable to nationalities of Cambodia, China, India, Macau, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What is the average cost for 14 days in Colombia

On average, a single person should plan a budget of $1,500 for 2 weeks in Colombia. This includes a private bedroom in a mid-range hotel, eating out, booking tours, and taking public transport and taxis.

If you plan to be on a tight budget, $900 will do the job but requires you to stay in dorm rooms. This is suitable for backpackers and young travellers.

For those looking for a bit more comfort and luxury, $2,500 for 2 weeks in Colombia is a good number. You’ll enjoy staying in four or five-star hotels, booking premium tours, and high-end restaurants, and taxiing your way around.

These numbers are for an individual person and don’t include your flight to get to Colombia and out. It also doesn’t cover your travel insurance and other travel gear. If you’re a two-person travelling together, you’ll be able to save some money by sharing a room/twin room.

Other basic travel tips

You can use the following services when it comes to travel arrangements such as booking your accommodations and flights. Some of these tools allow you to cancel without a fee or for a small fee if your plan changes.

TOP THINGS TO SEE IN COLOMBIA (pinned map)

Click the icon on the top right to enlarge the map. Credit: map data: Google

2 WEEKS IN COLOMBIA ITINERARY

Spending 14 days in Colombia is a fantastic way to experience and learn about the country’s diverse culture. There are so many things to do and see during your trip, but to avoid overwhelming yourself, it’s best to have some sort of itinerary to follow or use as a guideline.

You will most likely land in Bogota, the capital city. It’s a place location 2,640 m (8,661 ft). Expect the city to be hilly and roads to be covered in cobbled stone – offering a truly European atmosphere.

If you don’t plan to stay here long, use your time to get a local sim card, cash, book your bus, pick up the car rental, and learn more about the places you want to see.

If you still need convincing if Colombia should be your next destination, perhaps this itinerary of 2 weeks in South America can help you decide.

Itinerary #1: First-timer – Bogota and Medellin

This travel itinerary is suitable for those travelling to Colombia for the first time. You will be able to explore at least 3 major cities and see the top-rated attractions of the country. Learn about the history of Bogota, explore the cobbled stone alleys of Medellin, and enjoy the Caribbean in Cartagena.

This travel plan is also slow travel, which means you can spend more time in each city and get to explore the surrounding areas.

If you’re on a budget, you can take the bus to travel from one city to another to save some money. If you prefer comfort, all these cities have major airports, so air travel shouldn’t be a problem.

Day-to-day overview:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Bogota. Look for a local simar card with data if you need it and collect some cash.
  • Day 2 to 4: Explore Bogota and surrounding areas
  • Day 5: Travel from Bogota to Medellin by air or land
  • Day 5 to 19: Enjoy Medellin with a day trip to Guatape
  • Day 10: Travel from Medellin to Cartagena by air
  • Day 10 to 14: Discover and relax in Cartagena
  • Day 14: Fly back to Bogota to catch your flight home

Bogota and around for 5 days

The vibrant city of Bogota is rich in cultural heritage and has a fantastic art scene. When I landed in Colombia, I actually went and caught a flight to Medellin right away without seeing the city first. I decided I wanted to see Bogota at the end of my trip, which I’m happy I did.

I ended up with plenty of time to spend in Bogotal and around the region, which allowed me to see more than the city attractions.

If you love history as much as I do, La Candelaria is the city’s historic centre. You can walk around Plaza Bolivar and see the main square, walk through the alleys, and then visit Catedral Primada. I recommend you sign up for a city tour or walking tour, though.

A knowledgeable local can help a lot in understanding Bogota’s history. Most walking tour lasts for 2-3 hours only. This means you can schedule it for the morning and have the afternoon to do something else, probably a food and drinks tour.

For the next few days, you should make sure to visit Montserrat Hill for a nice little hike or do a day trip to Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. If you’re flying out of Bogota back home or heading to your next destination, leave the souvenir shopping for that day to avoid wasting an entire day browsing stores.

2 images - guatape rock and islets, Edeficio del Capitolio Nacional building in Bogota

Medellin and around for 4 days

Medellin is easily my favourite city in Colombia. Also known as the “city of eternal springs”, Medellin is a mountainous city surrounded by national parks and dense forests. However, the city itself is bustling and lively.

El Poblado is the melting pot for foreign visitors. Here, you will find exciting restaurants, bars, and other entertainment. Comuna 13 is definitely something you want to visit, which you can do on your own or through a guided tour.

This community showcases colourful street art reflecting the area’s dark history because of drug cartel wars.

I highly advise you to take a day trip to Guatape, a stunning colonial town only 2 hours from Medellin. Take a photo of traditional houses and learn about the town’s history. You should also claim the massive rock formation of Piedra del Penol for an excellent view of Antioquia province.

I booked a day trip to Guatape from Medellin, which covers transport, a fantastic local guide, and plenty of stops to discover more about Colombia and its culture.

You can get to Medellin from Bogota in two different ways. The fastest and most convenient way would be to fly, which takes just a little over an hour and usually costs $50 per person.

There are two airports in Medellin you can fly into; Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (MDE) or Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH). The latter one is closer to the city centre.

Another option is by bus. I’m not going to lie, but many tourists feel a bit sketchy about taking the bus. I took the bus from Medellin to Bogota, and the experience was fine.

I know other people’s experiences are a little different, so please make a decision that suits you best. The bus ticket costs $20 to $25, and the travel time is around 9 hours.

Cartagena and around for 5 days

I almost didn’t visit Cartagena only because I spent too much time in Medellin, but luckily I was able to squeeze it in! Cartagena is the gateway to experiencing the Caribbean Sea’s beauty without spending exorbitant costs.

This coastal city in the northwest of Colombia features thrilling activities. From water excursions, visiting historical sites, hiking trails, and also dipping yourself in some volcanic mud – there is something for everybody.

You can start your day by discovering the Old Town, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site. It’s loved for its well-preserved colonial architecture and rich history. You can then make your way down to Palacio de la Inquisicions and Torre del Reloj.

Regarding water activities, sign up for the most popular boar tour, which will take you to Rosario Island, a group of 27 islands surrounded by crystal-clear water and corals. Here, you can go snorkelling, scuba diving, or just swim and enjoy the sun.

To reach Cartagena from Medellin, you can hop on a quick 1-hour flight which costs $15 to $50, depending on the airline you choose and your baggage (Rafael Nunez Airport/CTG).

You can also fly to Barranquilla (Ernesto Cortissoz Airport / BAQ), a bigger city near Cartagena. The flight ticket costs about the same, a little cheaper actually and more frequent.

You can also take a bus from Medellin to Cartagena. But the drive is very long and honestly not cheaper than flying. The journey is around 17 hours, and a bus ticket costs between $35 to $45 per person.

Itinerary #2: Complete – Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla/Cartagena, Cali

Now, this itinerary for 2 weeks in Colombia covers all the major and significant cities in the country. This travel plan will take you to various places, highlighting Colombia’s culture, history, heritage, cuisine, and more.

The number of days in each city is shorter than in the first itinerary above. This is a tight schedule, but perfect for people who want to see everything in one visit. With the right planning, you can maximise your time in Colombia.

Day-to-day overview:

  • Day 1: Land in Bogota, arrange an airport transfer, get some essentials
  • Day 2 to 4: Discover Bogota
  • Day 5: Get from Bogota to Medellin by air
  • Day 5 to 7: Travel around Medellin
  • Day 8: Get to Barranquilla or Cartagena from Medellin by air
  • Day 8 to 10: Enjoy Barranquilla or Cartagena
  • Day 10: Travel from Barranquilla/Cartagena to Cali
  • Day 11 to 14: Discover Cali
  • Day 14: Fly back to Bogota to get home

Bogota for 4 days

Start your trip in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. This city is one of the highest capitals in the world in terms of elevation. It sits at 2,640 m(8,600 ft) above sea level. It is also the political, cultural, and economic centre of Colombia.

Bogota city is rich in history. It’s been habited by indigenous Muisca people and gained even more history during the colonial period.

Apart from that, the city is also known for its natural beauty and, of course, showcases the magnificent Andes mountain range. Regarding the art scene, Bogota is home to various festivals throughout the year, and the streets are filled with amazing murals, graffiti, and public art installations.

Medellin for 3 days

The next stop is Medellin. Another mountainous city located northwest of Bogota. Medellin has a dark history, but today, it’s a beautiful and innovative city. It is situated 1,496 m (4,905 ft) above sea level in the Aburra Valley on the Andes mountain range.

Medellin is known for its progressive policies and various programs addressing poverty and education. Apart from visiting Comuna 13, take a trip down to the Museum of Modern Art, Museu of Antioquia, and Explora Park to learn about the history and culture and watch the daily life in Medellin is like.

You can take an hour’s flight from Bogota to Medellin (either via Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (MDE) or Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH). EOH airport is much closer to Medellin city centre. The flight ticket shouldn’t be more than $60 per person.

You can also reach Medellin from Bogota by bus. The trip will take longer, but a little more affordable than the plane option. A single bus ticket will be around $20-$25; the journey time is around 9 hours.

2 images - Los Martires houses in Bogota and shoreline from aerial view of Cartagena beaches

Barranquilla/Cartagena for 4 days

Barranquilla and Cartagena are not the same cities. Barranquilla is the capital city of the Atlantico region of Colombia and a much busier and more populated city. Cartagena, on the other hand, is a smaller city southwest of Barranquilla.

You can choose between these two cities where to go depending on what you like. These two cities are not too far from one another.

Barranquilla has a lively scene with many restaurants, clubs, and bars. This is a fantastic place to go if you enjoy going to dances or signing up for dance classes such as salsa, cumbia, and other Colombian-style dances.

Cartagena, on the other hand, is more calm and known for its beaches. Although there are still exciting bars and clubs, it’s a better option if you see yourself going to the beach to read a book or enjoy the water.

It’s only a 3-hour drive, around 130 km (80.7 miles). This means you can take a day trip from one city to check out the other.

You can fly to Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) to get to Barranquilla from Medellin. The journey will take an hour and costs around $15 to $50.

From Medellin to Cartagena, book a flight to Rafael Nunez International Airport (CTG). It’s also an hour direct flight with a ticket price of $15 to $50.

Cali for 3 days

Do you know that Cali is also called the “Salsa Capital of the World”? The dance, not the dipping sauce! This means that if you love dancing or want to learn more about salsa dance, Cali should be on your list during 14 days in Colombia.

Cali might be the less-known city in Colombia, but it actually features a well-designed public transportation infrastructure. Including bus lines, highways, and service roads. It’s also a place with mouthwatering cuisine, a perfect destination for foodies who are fans of empanadas, arepas, and tamales.

During your visit, make sure to check out Cristo Rey Statue, Old Town, Cauca River Valley, and attend a salsa concert and an event at Jorge Isaacs Theatre.

You can get on a plane from Cartagena or Barranquilla to Cali. The airport is called Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (CLO). The flight is short, around 1 hour and 30 minutes direct from Cartagena, and the one with a connection is around 4 hours from Barranquilla. The ticket price is around $30 to $60 per person.

Itinerary #3: Away from Tourists – Villavicencio, Santa Marta, Cali, Popayan

For those who want to avoid the wave of crowds, especially if you plan to visit during the peak season, this travel itinerary for 2 weeks in Colombia might be more suitable for you. This will take you through smaller villages yet historic and rich in culture.

You’ll most likely have to arrive in Bogota still. Perhaps you can spend a day there where you can take a beat for a moment, get a local currency, and figure out your next few days. You can also use this itinerary the other way around and start in Popayan if you want to.

Day-to-day overview:

  • Day 1: Land in Bogota, travel to Villavicencio
  • Day 2 to 4: Travel around Villavicencio
  • Day 5: Get Santa Marta, fly from Bogota
  • Day 5 to 8: Explore Santa Marta
  • Day 9: Travel from Santa Marta to Cali by air
  • Day 10 to 13: Travel around Cali and Popayan
  • Day 14: Get back to Bogota to fly back home

Villavicencio and around for 4 days

Villavicencio is a smaller city southeast of Bogota, around a 2 hr and 30 min drive. Exploring this city gives a different experience for foreign visitors. There are fewer tourists but there is so much to see.

If you love being around nature, you can explore the region’s national parks, go wild swimming at the rivers and waterfalls, and spot various unique wild animals such as capybaras and jaguars.

There are also a lot of adventurous activities, including white rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Learning about Colombian culture is also a highlight in visiting Villavicencio.

There are buildings with colonial architecture, such as La Voragine Cathedral, where you can learn about the Eastern Plains or discover the Macarena Mountains to learn about the indigenous people of Colombia.

Santa Marta for 4 days

Santa Marta is a smaller city in the northern region of Colombia. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Barranquilla and 4 hours from Cartagena. If you want to experience the beauty of the Caribbean without spending too much and be in a more serene area, Santa Marta is a fantastic place to be,

Spend your days relaxing on the beach or going on boat tours where you can do some snorkelling, diving, and windsurfing. If you want to go on a hike, you can check out the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a lovely mountain range far from the city. There, you will see a variety of plants and animal species.

For those looking for some history and culture, admire colonial buildings around Santa Marta, including Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Simon Bolivar died.

You can reach Santa Marta by flying directly to Santa Marta (Simon Bolivar International Airport) from Bogota. The flight takes an hour and 30 minutes and usually costs $30 to $40 per person.

Both Cartagena and Barranquilla have their own airport, but then you’ll have to waste hours of driving to reach Santa Marta.

2 images- Santa Marta beaches and Cristo Rey statue

Cali and Popayan for 4 days

Cali and Popayan are two cities in the southwest of Colombia. Cali is known as the home of salsa music and dance, meaning you must sign up for a class or watch a salsa show while in town. If you’re visiting in December, during the last week, there’s an annual salsa festival to which performers worldwide are invited.

You can also learn more about the history and culture of Colombia by visiting educational sites, including the Cali Art Museum, La Merced Archaeological Museum, and the towering Cristo Rey Statue.

On the other hand, Popayan is a charming colonial city famous for colonial architecture, religious heritage, festivals, and natural beauty. The local government did a fantastic job in preserving over 200 colonial-style buildings, from churches, towers, and houses dating all the way back to the 16th century.

Popayan is also known for being rich in religious heritage. It’s even called the “White City” because of many religious buildings painted in white. Finally, Popayan is also surrounded by lush forests where you can go hiking and bird watching.

The most popular spot is Purace National Parl which is popular for volcanic landscapes, hot springs, and the Coconuco thermal springs.

From Santa Marta, you can fly to Cali, but it has to connect to Bogota. You can also head to Barranquilla or Cartagena to catch a direct flight to Cali. The flight ticket usually costs $60 to $80, and the travel time is between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes, depending on the connection.

Both Popayan and Cali are great places to end your 2 weeks in Colombia in such a relaxing and educating scene. If you have an international flight, you will have to travel back to Bogota to catch it.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN COLOMBIA (per city)

Now that you have some ideas on how to plan an itinerary for Colombia, it’s time to show you a list of must-see places in each city to help you decide which attractions and activities you want to do during your trip.

Bogota

Medellin

Cartagena/Barranquilla/Santa Marta

Cali

MUST-TRY COLOMBIAN DISHES, DRINKS, AND SNACKS

Apart from sightseeing, another thing that you have to do while in Colombia is to try local dishes. They say every food is always better from its origin, which is valid for Colombian food.

Colombian cuisine offers a multicultural blend of indigenous, Spanish, African, and other international dishes. If you want to try out the local food, there are many options to choose from.

  • Bandeja paisa – rice beans, meat, avocado, plantain, fried egg
  • Aijaco – soup made with potatoes, chicken, corn, avocado
  • Arepas – cornmeal cakes, served as grilled and filled with cheese, meat, and other desired ingredients
  • Sancocho – soup cooked with vegetables, and meat, served with rice
  • Empanadas – deep-fried pastries filled with meat, cheese, and vegetables
  • Aguardiente – anise-flavoured liquor
  • Chicha – fermented corn drink
  • Limonada de coco – coconut water with sugar and lime juice
  • Mate – made with leaves of the yerba mate plant, typically a shared drink
  • Tinto – traditional coffee, dark roast served black or with milk
  • Flan – caramel-topped custard
  • Tres leches cakes – moist cake made with three kinds of milk (evaporated, condensed, heavy crema)
  • Bunuelos – deep-fried balls of dough topped with sugar or syrup (served during the holiday season)
  • Torta negra – chocolate cake with caramel filling
3 images of Colombian food - Bandeja Paisa, Bunuelos, and arepas - 2 Weeks in Colombia Itinerary

ACCOMMODATIONS

To finish off your 2 weeks in Colombia planning, here’s a quick list of my recommended places to stay per city. Depending on your budget, you’ll also find them in categories to make it much easier.

Bogota

Medellin

Cartagena

Cali

Barranquilla

Popayan

Villavicencio

Santa Marta

SUMMARY OF 2 WEEKS IN COLOMBIA

Deciding to spend 2 weeks in Colombia can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience since it has so much to offer. From cultural activities, incredible sights, tasty food, and friendly locals, there is no reason you shouldn’t consider Colombia your next vacation destination.

Colombia has gained lots of attention in the last decade. This means it’s a good idea to plan your trip to make the most of your time. I hope that these itineraries for two weeks in Colombia have helped give you an idea of how to plan your holiday.

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Colombia offers a rich blend of colorful culture, lush landscapes, and colonial history. Explore vibrant cities like Bogotá and Medellín, coffee plantations, the Amazon rainforest, and beautiful beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. via @twoweektraveller