Colombia Itinerary: 1, 2 or 3 Weeks in Colombia

Mark Stewart Travel Planning, Travel Tips 7 Comments

So you’re planning a trip to Colombia. First off, congratulations, you’ve made a great decision. There are few countries we’ve ever visited that offer such outstanding diversity and beauty. From idyllic Caribbean beaches and colourful villages strewn about Andean jungles, to cities overcoming their tragic past. Our Colombia travel itinerary will touch a little of everything that makes this country so amazing.

The way this Colombia itinerary works is that it builds on itself. Whether you’re looking for a 1 week or 2 weeks in Colombia itinerary – or even longer – the base plan stays the same. As well, we’ve added a few extra options for those staying longer.

Colombia Itinerary – 1 Week

2 Days in Cartagena

Start your trip in the colourful coastal city of Cartagena.

Join a free walking tour and explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Take in the colonial architecture and old fortifications while sipping a strong local coffee, or practice your moves with salsa lessons from Cafe Havana.

Head over to Getsemani, the hip, backpacker district. Wander the alleyways in search of funky shops and small cafes. Sample grilled meats and fried arepas from street vendors while surveying wonderful works of street art.

Watch the sunset over the modern skyline across the harbour from a restaurant patio before finishing the night at one of the lively bars.

The following day, take a tour to one of the postcard-perfect beaches nearby. Playa Blanca is a popular spot. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the sand before heading back to the city for another great evening.

The first thing the next morning, head to the airport for a quick flight into Medellín!

Sun setting over the skyline of Cartagena - Colombia itinerary

Sunset over Cartagena

Medellin – Days 3 & 4

Once you’ve settled in and dropped your bags off, it’s time to dig into this incredible city.

Trying to explore a city like Medellín in such a short window would be very tricky. Your best option here is to sign up for one of the phenomenal free walking tours.

Tour the City

Real City Tours offers a great option that takes you through the heart of Medellín and explains the vibrant and tragic history of the city. Another one of our favourite tours is this one through Comuna 13, the vibrant neighbourhood that was once one of the most dangerous on the planet.

Following the tour, enjoy one of the many great activities Medellín has to offer. If you can only fit in one activity during your time in Medellín, we highly suggest playing Tejo. I mean, what’s more fun than drinking beer and blowing things up?

Day Trip to Guatape – Day 5

Wake up early and make your way to the bus station for a day trip to what is possibly the most colourful city of all time. Just two hours by bus from the city, Guatape is a must-do while in Colombia. Climb the 700 stairs to the top of El Penol and get a 360-degree view of spectacular beauty.

You can either head back to Medellín now for some more fun in the city, or stay the night in Guatape. All that matters is that you’re back in Medellín to catch a bus the next morning.


Colourful houses along a cobblestone street in Guatape Colombia

The Colourful Town of Guatape

Salento – Day 6

From Medellín, you’ll be spending the next several hours twisting through the Andes and some of the most verdant landscapes in the country. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the town of Salento, in the heart of coffee country.

Do some shopping or people watching while taking in the afternoon sun and drinking some of the best coffee on earth. Enjoy bandeja Paisa – the quintessential Colombian meal – at one of the best restaurants in town. And if you’re really lucky, take part in the occasional festivities in the town square.

On day two, visit the towering wax palms of the Cocorra Valley. Either take the back route in, roughly an hour round-trip, to the famous palms themselves; or take on the full seven-hour trek loop.
If you decide on the shorter version, or perhaps you’re not one for hiking, visit a coffee plantation and experience the life cycle of this beloved beverage.

Now it’s time to leave the countryside and journey via night bus to Colombia’s capital.

Grey, cloudy sky over a bright green valley with towering palm trees in Salento Colombia

The Towering Wax Palms of the Cocora Valley

Bogota – Day 7

The final stop in our 1 week Colombia itinerary is in the buzzing, mountain city of Bogota. When arriving at the bus station in the morning, sit down for a steaming bowl of soup or a bunuello and coffee. Depending on your luggage situation, you can choose to rent a locker at the bus station.

Note: don’t flag down a taxi on the streets of Bogota. Always use Uber or the designated booth at the bus station.

For planning your day, we have a separate guide for quick visits to Bogota, highlighting some of our favourite things.

Wherever you’re off to from here, whether it’s home or another adventure; enjoy!

Colombia Itinerary – 2 Weeks

Santa Marta and Around – 3 Nights

The port city of Santa Marta might not be the prettiest in Colombia, but that isn’t why you’re coming. It’s what lies outside the town itself that makes this one of the highlights of the country.

Fly into Santa Marta (Day 1) and spend a few hours checking out the shops of the old town. Visit the street stalls and sample some amazing Colombian street food like reganonas.

Camp in Tayrona National Park – Day 2

Prepare yourself for some of the most stunning and beautiful beaches in Colombia at Tayrona National Park.

Rise early and grab a taxi or local bus to the entrance of the park. From here, either enjoy a 2 to 3-hour hike – or horse ride – through the spectacular scenery to the main beach of Cabo San Juan. There’s a great campground here where you can spend the night. Another nice campground is at Playa Arrecifes.

Spend the afternoon exploring the rest of the park, relaxing on the beautiful beaches and swimming in the impossibly clear water.

After spending the night either in a rented tent or in a hammock under the stars make your way back to Santa Marta.

Beautiful beach with pale sand and bright blue water in Santa Marta Colombia

Just one of Many Beaches in Tayrona National Park

The Mountain Town of Minca, Colombia – Day 3

Grab another bus now and venture high into the Sierra Nevada mountains, to the village of Minca, an hour outside Santa Marta. Minca is a quiet, laid-back town with a bohemian vibe.

Follow the road north of town to the jungle swimming holes of pozo azúl and take cooling refuge from the sweltering air. Stop at one of the restaurants along the route or pick up some snacks from the vendors on the trail near the pools.

Choose either to stay in Minca, perhaps at one of the eco-hostels near town, or head back to Santa Marta for the night.

In the morning, take the bus from Santa Marta to Cartagena further down the coast, where you’ll spend Days 4 and 5 (according to the 1 week itinerary above).

Medellín and Guatape – Days 6 & 7

With the 2 week itinerary, you’re given one full extra day and night in Medellin. This is the perfect opportunity to take in both of the tours you would have sacrificed in the shorter visit.

Another great option, though you’ve got many, is to hit up Dragonfly for a soaring paragliding experience.

If you prefer the laid-back vibes of Guatape, (Day 8) you can easily spend your extra time extending your day trip. As long as you’re back in Medellín the next morning to catch the bus to Jardin!

Jardin – Days 9 & 10

Our favourite of the coffee-country towns in Colombia is Jardin, but the views along the ride from Medellín is worth the visit alone. Nestled in a stunning Andean valley, Jardin is the perfect spot to wind down a little from the chaos of the big city.

Hike up through surrounding hills and enjoy the views, sipping on a beer or two while building up the courage to ride the old Jardin cable car. Go fishing for your lunch and enjoy some incredible fried trout or visit the beautiful waterfalls near town.

Following your second night relaxing in Jardin, it’s time to take one of the most exciting bus journeys in the country, as you make your way south to Salento.

Colourful buildings of Jardin Colombia with green valley in the background

Beautiful Jardin, Colombia

Salento – Days 11 & 12

Same as in 1 week itinerary.

Bogota – Days 13 & 14

A full extra day in Bogota can make a huge difference in your experience. The graffiti tour is one of the best we’ve ever encountered, and I highly recommend it.

Also, if you haven’t yet had your fill of tasty Colombian cuisine, you’ll find everything in Bogota.

If you’ve got even more time available, get a few additional suggestions for your Colombia itinerary below!

Stairs in a park painted  with vivid colours in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota has some of the Best Street art in Colombia

3 Weeks in Colombia

For those of you looking for a 3 week Colombia itinerary, here are a few suggestions to add to the 2 week plan above.

Scuba Diving in Colombia

If you’re one for underwater exploration, Santa Marta has some of the best and cheapest Scuba diving in Colombia. Specifically from the town of Tanganga, just north of the city.

There are several reputable dive shops scattered throughout Santa Marta and Tanganga that offer day trips. Many of these shops even offer great courses, from open-water to dive master, at much lower prices than anywhere else in the country.

The Lost City Trek

This one will eat up most of your third week alone, but is one of the most exciting things to do in Colombia.

Trek through the Sierra Nevada mountains near Santa Marta, to ancient city ruins, hidden deep in the jungle. 4, 5, and 6 day options are available, depending on time, budget and fitness level.

Book your tour here.

Go Island Hopping & Stay at a Floating Hostel

While in Cartagena, spend a few extra days visiting the rest of the beaches nearby; or take visit the Rosario Islands and swim in a bioluminescent cove.

Spend a few nights at Casa en el Agua, a gorgeous eco-hostel built out in the sea several kilometres from shore!

Visit More of Coffee Country

If you enjoy your time kicking back in chilled-out Jardin, spend an extra day or two before heading farther south.

When you head down towards Salento, head over to Filandia, another beautiful town only 45 minutes away.

Green trees grow in square with a beautiful church in the background in Filandia Colombia

The Stunning Town Square of Filandia

Do What You Want!

Maybe you want to change things up even more. We’ve put together a complete guide to Colombia that can help you with even more options if you find the time.

Just try to remember, you’re never going to see everything a destination has to offer. Not in one shot anyway. If you’re tight on time, don’t worry about forcing more activities in, you won’t enjoy yourself – and that’s the whole reason you’re going, right?

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About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is the co-founder, photographer, author, and part-time editor of These Foreign Roads. A former chef, he left the professional kitchen in search of interesting experiences and unique cuisines from around the world.

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alice rosano
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i’ve never been to Colombia but I have to say it looks incredible. Very colourful and green, it also looks like It wasn’t overcrowded by tourist !

Mai
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Mai

Thank you for a very detali itinerary. And your pictures are stunning. I would love to save this post for my future trip😀

Linda
Guest

Colombia looks wonderful! I love the the small towns, palm trees, beaches, and your itinerary for island hopping. Definitely a place I would like to check out someday.

Bilal
Guest

Love this breakdown! We would love to climb the 700 stairs to the top of El Penol and enjoy the panoramic views of the city!

Kylee Hayes
Admin

It is such a gorgeous view from the top!

Sinjana Ghosh
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Sinjana Ghosh

Wow this is absolutely stunning. I love the natural beauty of Columbia

Kylee Hayes
Admin

It is such a gorgeous place to check out! Thanks for reading!