The ultimate Colombia Travel route

Traveling through Colombia is becoming more and more popular. People are discovering the creative cities, friendly locals and breathtaking beaches and rainforest. Creating your travel plan for Colombia can be tough though. There’s a lot of amazing destinations, but they are spread out all over this large country that consists of desert, rainforest and mountains. This means, that to see it all this Colombia travel route will include some long travel days. I spent 4 weeks exploring the cities, the coffee region, beautiful beaches and humid jungle.

My Colombia travel route:

Colombia travel route map

Bogota

We started our trip in Bogota. We knew we didn’t want to spend too much time here, but we needed a day to recover from the long flight. This is usually the cheapest city to fly into, so chances are you will also start your trip here. Walk around plaza Bolivar and climb up the mountain Monserate if you only have a day in the city. You’ll get a feel for the vibe and a good view of the city.

Bogota to Salento

By bus: In Bogota you take the bus to Armenia from terminal de Transporte. The best company to use is Bolivariano. The bus ride from Bogota to Armenia will take 7 hours. There you’ll change buses to Salento and this bus ride will take around 1 hour.

By plane: Another option is to fly to Armenia or Pereira. From both Airports you can take a bus or taxi.

Salento

One of my favorite towns in Colombia. Even though I liked the hustle and bustle of the cities, Salento is a quaint town in the coffee region, with beautiful hiking and nature. It’s mainly known for the Valle de Cocora, which has the highest palm trees in the world. Read more in my full guide on Salento.

Salento to Riosucio: One bus per day that departs at 9:45 AM. The price is $38,000 COP/€8,75

Riosucio to Jardin: You’ll have to change buses in Riosucio. In Riosucio you’ll get on the chiva, a colourful open bus which will take you to Jardín in about 4 hours.  Be prepared for a very bumpy ride. At times the road definitely felt a little dangerous. The road is narrow and slippery and I’m pretty sure at one point one of the wheels of the bus slipped off the road a bit.  The price is $20,000 COP/€4,60

Jardin

Another town located in the coffee region, but more secluded then Salento. Many skip it, because the trip there is long, but I can tell you that is absolutely worth it! Especially if you enjoy hiking, this is a destination not to miss. If you’d like to find out more about all the things to do you can read my guide for Jardin, Colombia.

Bus Jardin to Medellin: The earliest bus departure from Jardin is at 04:45 arriving to Medellin at 07:45 the same morning. The latest bus departs at 17:45 and arrives at 20:45 . The bus ride takes 3 hours. cost €8.

Medellin + Guatape

Medellin is a city with a lively night scene and many trendy restaurants and café’s. Lots of people end up staying longer then they expected, because they can’t get enough of the party scene. From Medellin you can also visit Guatape, a colorful village on a lake where many come to climb the famous big rock (La Piedra del Peñol ), that gives you a view of the surrounding nature reserve with all its little islands. Many go on holiday in one of the many resorts, to relax and do water-sports on the lake. Guatape can be done as a day trip or you can stay at one of the resorts on the lake. The town itself it’s pretty, but there’s not much to do and I was happy with the day trip we did.

Flight from Medellin to Santa Martha + taxi to our lodge near Tayrona National Park. 

Tayrona National Park

One of Colombia’s most popular national parks. It’s 150 km’s of stunning beaches and jungle filled with wildlife. It’s also a sacred spot for four different tribes that live in this region. You could visit for a day, staying just outside the park, or you can camp inside the park and wake up in paradise.

Three times a year the park closes for maintenance for the tribes to conduct their rituals and for nature to recover.

Closing dates Tayrona 2024

1 februari until 15 februari

1 juni until 15 juni

19 oktober until 2 november

Bus to Santa Martha. 1 hour | Price: Around 15 000 COP. 

Santa Martha

We flew into Santa Martha from Medellin and continued straight on to Tayrona. When returning from Tayrona National Park, we only stayed in Santa Martha for one night before starting the famous La Ciudad Perdida/Lost city Trek. There’s many more interesting places then Santa Martha, so using it as a short stopover was perfect.

Lost City Trek/La Ciudad Perdida

This may just have been my favorite experience of my whole trip in Colombia. The 4 days can be grueling, because you’ll spend most of the days hiking up in a very humid climate, but you’ll share a very special experience among the group that you’re hiking up with. You’ll meet the tribes that still live in the dense jungle, you’ll swim in rivers and eventually you’ll find the lost city, the sacred archeological site at 1200 meters. Read all about this experience and what to expect in my guide to the Lost City Trek. 

Minca

After the trek we made sure to be dropped off in Minca. This is the perfect place to relax after the intense hiking. This little village sits in the middle of the jungle with beautiful hikes and waterfalls surrounding it. Many of the hotels and hostels have incredible views and beautiful pools to relax at. It’s a destination where people go to relax and enjoy nature.

Cartagena

The last stop of our trip was Cartagena. The pretties city in Colombia can’t be left off the list. The colonial historical centre showcases pretty squares with dancers and music and colorful facades. The cafe’s and restaurants are plentiful and it’s easy to enjoy yourself  in the city for a few days. If you’d like some time on the beach, I’d say skip Playa Blanca and take a few days on the Rosario Islands.

Time left? Visit the Tatacoa Desert

If I’d had more time, I would have definitely visited Tatacoa desert. It’s a long way out from most places and the long bus ride would have cost us two extra travel days. If you do have time however, it looks like a very special place to visit!