Colombia is a wonderfully diverse country, in terms of its nature and rich cultural heritage and history. This means that there are many stunning places to visit. From cool and modern Bogotá to the cobblestone streets of Cartagena, and from the Caribbean coast to the Amazon jungle, Colombia has plenty to offer, whatever you’re interested in. It can be difficult to narrow down where to go, so we’ve listed 7 of the most spectacular landmarks in Colombia to help you plan your vacation.
1. Monserrate, Bogotá
One of the defining features of Bogotá is Monserrate mountain rising up over the city, 3,512 metres above sea level. At the top is a church, making it a very popular pilgrim destination. There are also restaurants and cafés to allow visitors to spend time at the top, absorbing the incredible panoramic views over the entire city. It is especially pretty over the Christmas period due to the lights and decorations. Travellers have the option of taking a funicular or a cable car to the top, walking or going as part of a city tour.
2. Botero Plaza, Medellín
The City of Eternal Spring is also the city of endless artworks. One of its most photographed features in Medellín is the Plaza de Las Esculturas, also known as Botero Plaza. This beautiful space lies in front of the Museum of Antioquia and the Uribe Palace. Its name comes from the 23 statues by the celebrated Colombian artist Fernando Botero adorning the plaza. The iconic statues, such as “The Hand,” “Eve,” and “Maternity” are out in the open, free for all to enjoy. You can also learn more about them on a Fernando Botero Walking Tour.
3. Castillo San Felipe, Cartagena
Cartagena’s busy Caribbean port was once filled with many envoys of slaves and treasures, making it the most looted port in the New World, and forcing the Spanish to build a castle and fort to protect it. The result: Castillo San Felipe, the strongest fortress of all their colonies. Home to many battles, including a loss to a French privateer, and an impressive defence against an English Admiral with his army of 23,000, this impeccably preserved castle is striking to visit with its maze of tunnels and great views of Cartagena.
4. Mompox, River Magdalena
Officially named Santa Cruz de Mompox, and also known as Mompós, this beautiful little town on an island on the Magdalena River looks like something straight out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. No surprise really, given that he spent his childhood navigating up and down this river. Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it takes a fair amount of determination to get to, involving boats, ferries and buses. The most direct route to get here is from Santa Marta, although Cartagena also offers a number of options. The trip is worth it to see this colonial town where time seems to stand still.
5. The Lost City – Tayrona National Park
Deep in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada, are the ruins of Ciudad Perdida. The Lost City was thought to have been founded in 800AD, an entire 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu, by the Tayrona people. Unconnected to the El Dorado legend, whose mysteries are to connected to Guatavita Lake near the capital city, the Lost City holds other charms. With limited numbers allowed in, and a tough 5-day trek from Santa Marta, you won’t find the crowds of Machu Picchu. Instead, prepare for a rewarding jungle hike surrounded by pristine nature and ancient ruins.
6. Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, Bogotá
One’s of country’s biggest tourist attractions, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira is in an incredible engineering feat. Initially built by miners of the salt mines as a sanctuary before work, it was later extended, with a capacity of around 8,000. After structural concerns, a new cathedral was built and opened in 1995. It’s an incredible sight, an underground labyrinth, illuminated by colourful lights. You can visit it from Bogotá on a tour to Zipaquira and Guatavita Lake.
7. Coffee Triangle
The concentrated coffee-growing region of Colombia, known in Spanish as the Eje Cafetero, is an incredibly lush and scenic area, with its many green hills and valleys, and tall waxy palms. It’s hard to pick just one spot here, since the small area invites you to explore its many secrets. Two unmissable spots, though, are the town of Salento and the nearby Cocora Valley. A visit to the Coffee Triangle is a must during your vacation in Colombia.
Colombia has plenty of other top attractions!
For more ideas on where to go and what to do in Colombia, visit Colombia4u.com.