How to Spend a Wonderful 2 Weeks in Colombia

If you’ve got 2 weeks in Colombia, congrats! This incredible country is so diverse, and Kendall and I loved our time there. On one trip, you can visit the Andes mountains, beaches, and huge cities like Bogotá. 

We put a huge amount of research into planning this two-week itinerary, and we’re here to share all our top recommendations, including the best place to stay, the best things to do, and how to get around.  

Best Time to Visit Colombia 

The dry season in Colombia is from December to March and is the best time to visit.  Although the air temperatures stay similar throughout the year, you’ll want to visit when there’s less chance of rain, especially if you plan to hike the Lost City trek. 

Kendall and I did this trip in mid-February and thought that this was a great time to go.  One thing to note, however, is that parts of Tayrona National Park are closed during the beginning and middle of February.  

tourist in front of the Santa Marta sign
We had fantastic, clear skies when we traveled to Colombia in late February

How Many Days Do You Need in Colombia?

We think you need at least ten days to really get to know Colombia, but honestly, it’s such a huge, diverse, and incredible country that we could have spent months here.  Within ten days, you’ll be able to see three cities.  We recommend Bogotá, Santa Marta (with Tayrona National Park), and Medellín. 

If you want to do the Lost City Trek, we recommend at least a two-week itinerary.  This trek lasts 4 days, and you’ll want an extra day in Santa Marta to get settled in before you begin hiking. 

Tips for Visiting Colombia

Our top tips for visiting Colombia are to Fly between cities instead of driving, learn a bit of Spanish before you go, and pack light. 

Fly Between Cities

Colombia is a huge country, and the roads between cities are often winding and long.  Luckily, there are fairly cheap domestic flights between all of Colombia’s major cities, and this is definitely the way to go.

We used a lot of different airlines for our domestic flights (Latam, Avianca, and Wingo) and had great experiences with all of them.  Wingo is a budget airline and charges an extra fee for the check-in process at the airport, so just keep that in mind. 

airplane wing over the ocean
Flying is the easiest way to travel between destinations in Colombia

Learn Basic Spanish

Compared to our recent trip to Costa Rica, Colombia is a little less gringo-ified. We found fewer English speakers, especially in local shops and restaurants. I speak Spanish at a C1 level and loved the opportunities to practice.

If you don’t speak Spanish, no worries, you can most definitely get around, especially if you use basic tools like Google Translate.  However, even knowing a little Spanish will go a long way, so we recommend trying to learn the basics before you go.

I love the free website studyspanish.com.  This is my favorite resource for beginners, as it has fairly comprehensive lessons on each major grammar concept.  I also love Hola Spanish for intermediate learners who prefer video lessons. 

Plan Extra Time for Traffic

Bogota, in particular, can get very congested.  We recommend heading to the airport well ahead of schedule because the traffic conditions can vary quite a bit.

We got lucky during our time in Bogota and didn’t run into any major traffic problems when getting to the airport, but the drive from the airport to our hotel near Parque 93 on our first day took about double as long as it should have. 

traffic in bogota
Bogota is known for heavy traffic, so plan extra time when heading to the airport

Fit Everything in a Carry-On

We tend to be budget travelers, and we’ve found that the less you’re able to pack for international travel, the better.  Most of our domestic flights in Colombia did NOT come with an included carry-on (one personal item only).  Kendall and I paid for one carry-on duffel bag for the two of us, and then fit everything else into our ‘personal item’ backpacks.

2 Weeks in Colombia Itinerary: Days 1-4: Bogota

Bogota is the capital city of Colombia and is HUGE (over 7 million people).  This high-altitude city is gorgeous.  We especially loved driving through the mountainous neighborhoods of Chapinero.  The buildings seem to be built right in the mountains themselves.  

The other great thing about Bogota is that there are so many things to do. Because of its size, there’s no end to the options for tours and restaurants.

We also love that Bogota is a bit less touristy than other cities like Medellin or Cartagena.  

Where to Stay in Bogota 

We stayed near El Parque de 93, as we had heard that this is one of the safest areas of Bogota.  This area is close to all kinds of restaurants but does tend to be a little further away from the starting point for most Bogota tours (most tours start near the historical center of La Candelaria).

We had decided to stay in a nicer hotel, the Madisson Inn, because they offered transportation to and from the airport.  We had a good experience with them, but if we were to visit again, we would most likely choose a cheaper Airbnb in the same area.

hotel room with king bed
Our room at the Madisson Inn near Parque de la 93.

The other most popular areas to stay in Bogota are Chapinero, La Zona Rosa, and La Candelaria. La Candelaria is the historical center of Bogota and the starting point for most tours. This area of Bogota is safe during the day but becomes less safe at night. If you choose to stay in La Candelaria, we recommend heading back to your hotel in the early evening. 

Transportation in Bogota

Bogota has a bad rap for being less safe than other cities, and the most important way to stay safe is to use appropriate transportation.  The most important thing is: don’t ever hail a street taxi.  Bogota has a reputation for taxi drivers who will drive passengers to ATMs and force them to withdraw as much cash as possible.  The best way to avoid this is by using a pre-arranged taxi service with a reputable company.  

For airport transfer, the best option is to either book a taxi from the kiosk within the airport itself or pre-arrange transportation with your hotel.  

Another fantastic transportation option is Colombian Buddy.  This company has great reviews, and we used them to transport us to the Botanical Gardens on our first day in Bogota.  They offer airport transfers, transfers to tourist destinations, and a ‘buddy’ option, where you can pay for a local Colombian to accompany you during the day.

Rideshare services like Uber are considered fairly safe but are technically illegal.  If you decide to use Uber, most drivers will want you to sit in the passenger seat and will often want to pick you up a short distance away from the airport.  And there’s always the possibility that you could get stopped by the police.  

Things to Do in Bogota

Some of the best things to do in Bogota include a trip to the Monserrate viewpoint via cable car, a walk through the Bogota Botanical Gardens, and strolling the historical center of La Candelaria.

Bogota Botanical Gardens

The Bogota Botanical Gardens are a 20-30 minute drive from both La Candelaria or El Parque de 93, but we think the gardens are well worth the visit.  

First, you won’t see many tourists here.  In fact, we hardly saw anyone except the garden workers.  And the garden entrance fee is inexpensive.  We paid just a few dollars for the entrance to the gardens and a few more dollars for admission to the indoor atrium area.   

The atrium (tropicario) at the Bogota Botanical Gardens.
The atrium (tropicario) at the Bogota Botanical Gardens.

We spent about two hours wandering the paths and taking photos of all the incredible flowers.  We had used the Colombian Buddy transportation service to get to the gardens, and for a small extra fee, our transport lady simply waited the few hours for us to finish up and then drove us back to our hotel. 

Walk the Streets of La Candelaria

La Candelaria is a beautiful, historic neighborhood in Bogota, and it’s definitely worth walking along its colorful streets. The streets are full of interesting architecture, street art, and all kinds of shops and cafes. In La Candelaria, you’ll find the central Plaza Bolivar and Bogota’s best museums (the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum). 

tourist standing in front of a street mural in La Candelaria during their 2 weeks in Colombia
One of the street murals in La Candelaria.

Just remember to walk the streets of La Candelaria during daytime hours, as we heard it can get a little sketchy at night.  We visited La Candelaria as part of a full-day Bogota tour that included Monserrate, a market stop, and Bogota’s museums, but you can definitely walk the streets on your own. 

Botero Museum

I’m not a huge art or history buff, but I really loved the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists, known for painting and sculpting fatter-than-real-life versions of everything.  

This museum has all of Botero’s biggest works, and there’s no entrance fee.  We spent about an hour wandering through the different galleries, and photo-taking is allowed as long as you stay at least a few feet away from the paintings. 

The Botero Museum is right in the historical center of La Candelaria, so this is a great activity to pair with your visit to the historical center.   

tourist in front of in front of Botero's 'Mona Lisa'.
Kendall in front of Botero’s ‘Mona Lisa’.

Monserrate

Monserrate is the name of the iconic mountain located to the east of Bogota, and it has the best views over the city.  At the top is the Sanctuary de Monserrate, which was built around 1650 and is an important spot for religious visitors. 

Kendall and I loved visiting Monserrate, and we recommend you prioritize this trip while you’re in Bogota.  We did this as part of a full-day tour with Gran Colombia Tours, but you can also visit on your own.

tourists standing at the Monserrate viewing area over Bogota
Monserrate has incredible views over Bogota.

Monserrate is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sundays from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on holidays from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Ticket sales end an hour before the site closes, so keep that in mind.

If you’re planning on visiting on your own, simply coordinate transportation to ‘Taquilla Teleférico Monserrate’ on Google Maps. 

To get to the overlook and the cathedral on top, you’ve got two options.  There is a 3.6-mile pathway that’s quite steep and usually takes hikers around three hours to complete.

Just remember that Bogotá is a higher-altitude city, and the top of Monserrate is even higher (10,341 feet or 3,152 meters), so you’ll want to take things slow.  Kendall and I could definitely feel the altitude difference while up at Monserrate, and we didn’t even do the hike!

The other, more popular option for getting up to the viewpoint/cathedral is to take a cable car. You can purchase your cable car tickets at ‘Taquilla Funicular Monserrate’ on Google Maps. The cable car runs from Monday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., with ticket sales ending an hour before the cable car closure time. On Sundays, the cable car only runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

The cables running up to the top of Monserrate.
The cables running up to the top of Monserrate.

NOTE: They pack these cable cars pretty full, so don’t expect a fantastic window-side view. On our ascent, Kendall and I ended up squished in the very middle of the car and couldn’t see anything. You’ll have great views at the top, so don’t sweat it. We were lucky on our cable car ride back down and were able to stand right next to the glass side of the car. 

We spent about 45 minutes at the top, taking pictures and enjoying the fantastic views over Bogota. Our guide was great at pointing out different landmarks and neighborhoods in Bogota and explaining how the city was divided. 

Visit the Gold Museum

The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is one of the most popular museums to visit in Bogota, and it is indeed impressive.  This museum has thousands of pre-Hispanic artifacts on display.  And the museum is huge.  It’s got three different levels, and we didn’t have time to see all of it.

Displays at the Gold Museum
Displays at the Gold Museum.

My favorite part of this museum was the video displays on metalworking and goldworking; we got to watch exactly how these ancient artifacts were most likely crafted.  Super interesting stuff.

This was another stop on our full-day tour with Gran Colombia Tours, and we only spent about an hour and a half at the Gold Museum. If you’re a big history fanatic, we recommend visiting on your own and spending at least three hours.

The Gold Museum is located in La Candelaria, just a 10-minute walk from the Botero Museum, and admission is only a few dollars.

Museum hours are 9 am-6 pm Tuesday through Saturday and 10 am-4 pm on Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays. 

Visit A Local Food Market

We stopped at a small market near the Gold Museum in La Candelaria after finishing up at the Botero Museum.  This market is awesome and ended up being one of our favorite parts of our time in Bogota.  

Since we stopped at this market with our guide, we were able to sample different fruits before picking out a smoothie.  We tried pieces of lulo (a very sour orange-like fruit), maracuyá (passionfruit), and guanabana (a really interesting fruit with a sweet white pulp).

Tourist with a fresh fruit smoothie at a local market in Bogota.
Kendall with a fresh fruit smoothie at a local market.

Markets like these are also great places to shop for souvenirs or clothes.  Some of the other most popular markets in Bogota are the following: We recommend checking them out if you’ve got the time. 

  • Paloquemao Market: located to the northwest of La Candelaria
  • Usaquen Market: located further north, to the north of Parque de la 93

Take a Bike Tour

One thing you’ll notice when driving through Bogota is that it is actually super bike-friendly.  And we’re talking regular bikes (although you will see a TON of motorcycles as well).  

One of the many bike-friendly ramps in Bogota.
One of the many bike-friendly ramps in Bogota.

Most of these bike tours are inexpensive (less than $20) and last around four hours. This is a great way to get to know Bogota in a different way.

Fun fact: skating and rollerblading are also super popular.  Our Colombia Buddy driver told us all about her favorite roller-blading routes, and she actually went and purchased a new pair of wheels for her blades while waiting for us to finish up at the Botanical Gardens. 

We had plans to do an afternoon bike tour on our first day in Bogota, but our stop at the Botanical Gardens took too long.  We were bummed and will definitely have to do it next time!

Days 5-6: Santa Marta

On day five, you’ll take a domestic flight from Bogota to Santa Marta.  The Simón Bolívar Airport is about a 30-minute drive from central Santa Marta, and we recommend coordinating transportation beforehand. 

Where to Stay in Santa Marta

We stayed at Casa Carolina, a boutique hotel located just a 10-minute walk from the Parque de los Novios, the main plaza in the historical center, and a 5-minute walk from Wiwa Tours (our Lost City tour company).  

We absolutely loved this hotel; it was a great place with fantastic service and a convenient location.  The outside of the building is very unassuming; it’s actually hard to tell that it’s even a hotel, but the inside…wow.   The floors of rooms were surrounded by balconies with hanging vines, and the central courtyards had swimming pools.  These pools are amazing as Santa Marta gets HOT.  

The central court and swimming pool at Casa Carolina in Santa Marta.
The central court and swimming pool at Casa Carolina in Santa Marta.

We loved the included breakfast; you can order one al-a-carte item per day, and they’ve got a buffet-style spread of fruit, meats/cheeses, cereals, and bread. 

Days 7-10: Lost City Trek

We’ve written an entire post on hiking the Lost City Trek in Tayrona National Park.  I’m a huge hiker, so this was the highlight of our two weeks in Colombia.

Should you do the Lost City Trek? We think so, but of course, it depends on your personal travel preferences. This trek is one of the best ways in South America to see the Andes Mountains and learn about the indigenous groups that still live here. However, you do need to budget at least five days of your itinerary in order to do this trek. 

The terraces of the Lost City in Colombia.
The terraces of the Lost City. We did this 4-day trek with Wiwa Tours.

With two weeks in Colombia, this will mean that you only have time to visit two other cities (Bogota and Medellin), so if you don’t have much time and are dead-set on visiting other places like Cartagena, Barranquilla, or smaller towns like Salento, you might want to skip the trek. 

We went with Wiwa Tours and had an incredible experience with them.  Wiwa is the only tour group owned by an indigenous family, and our guide was a member of the Kogui tribe.  

We loved learning about some of his tribe’s traditions; it was a really unique experience that is hard to get with the other tour companies. Our tour group was super small (only four of us). This won’t always be the case; we got extremely lucky.

The other most popular tour groups are Expotur (we saw a ton of Expotur guides and groups) and Magic Tour Colombia.  We’ve heard great things about both of these companies.  

International companies like G Adventures and Intrepid also offer Lost City Tours. However, these companies offer exactly the same service as the local companies (they often even use the same guides) and simply take a larger cut of the profits. We like to support local companies whenever we can, and you’ll have a great experience with them!

Bunk beds with mosquito nets and a table with plates of food during the Lost City Trek in Colombia.
The bunk beds and meals we were served during our 4-day trek.

Days 11-14: Medellín and Guatape

Medellín, once known as one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia and the central point of Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel, has completely turned around and become one of the most popular cities to visit in Colombia.

Where to Stay in Medellín

We stayed at the Art Hotel near El Poblado and had a good experience with them.  They coordinated our transportation to and from the airport, and everything was clean and comfortable.

central court of The Art Hotel in El Poblado, Medellin.
The Art Hotel in El Poblado, Medellin.

Things to do in Medellin

Take a Day Trip to Guatape

Taking a day trip to Guatape from Medellín is a must-do.  We went with Viaja Medellin and had a fantastic experience with them.  This is a bus tour, so expect a large group (I think our group had about 30 people).  Everything was very organized and on time.  

We met our tour guide at 8 am right near the Parque de El Poblado, and started our bus ride to the iconic Piedra del Peñol (also known as Guatape Rock).  You can climb the huge flight of zigzagging stairs for incredible views of the man-made lakes (we highly recommend this, even though it costs 25,000 pesos extra).

View from the top of Piedra del Peñol (Guatape Rock).
View from the top of Piedra del Peñol (Guatape Rock).

From there, you’ll visit the colorful town of Guatape and take a boat tour of Guatape Lagoon.  This was another one of our favorite activities. 

The colorful town of Guatape.
The colorful town of Guatape.

Tour Comuna 13

You can take a fantastic four-hour tour of the Comuna 13, which used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin but has since been transformed into a beautiful district full of murals and other art. You’ll also take a cable car to get some great views over the city.  

Tour a Coffee Farm

This is something we wanted to do while in Medellin and didn’t quite have the time.  But if you’re able, there are multiple day trip options out to the nearby coffee farm in Palmitas.  You’ll get to learn all about the process of making coffee and do lots of coffee tastings. 

tour guide preparing fresh Colombian coffee.
Coffee tours are a fun way to test fresh Colombian coffee.

Some of these tours, like the one offered by D’arrieros Coffee Farm, also offer horseback riding as an optional activity. 

Take a Free Walking Tour

One great thing about Medellin is that there are companies that offer free walking tours.  Simply plug in your information and choose a meet-up time.  Real City Tours is one of these companies, and this is a great way to learn more about the city.  Most of these free tours do not visit Comuna 13, so keep that in mind. 

Try All the Colombian Dishes

Medellin is the perfect place to check off the last food items from your list.  Make sure you’ve sampled the following before you head home:

  1. Arepas – Corn cakes that can be grilled, baked, or fried, often served with butter, cheese, or other toppings.  These are popular with street food vendors. 
  2. Sancocho – A stew made with fish or other meat, potatoes, plantains, yuca, and corn.
  3. Patacones – Fried green plantains, flattened and then fried again, these are often served as a side dish.
  4. Bandeja Paisa – A huge plate of rice, beans, ground meat, chorizo, chicharrón, avocado, plantain, and arepa.
Tourist eating a Bandeja Paisa dish.
Kendall eating a Bandeja Paisa dish.

With More Time

If you’ve got even more time in Colombia, awesome!  Here are some additional destinations and activities to consider adding to your itinerary

  • Cocora Valley: located about an hour and 20 minutes from the city of Pereira, the Cocora Valley is full of beautiful hiking trails and iconic palm trees. 
  • Cartagena: one of the biggest Caribbean coast destinations, the walled city of Cartagena is known for its beautiful old town, with cobblestone streets and unique colonial architecture.
  • Bucaramanga: this city in northeast Colombia is home to the beautiful Chicamocha Canyon and is another great option to add to your trip.
  • Rosario Islands:  these islands, located to the southwest of Cartagena, have some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia with white sand and crystal-clear water.  These islands are a popular destination for those already stationed in Cartagena. 

2 Weeks in Colombia FAQ

Are Two Weeks in Colombia Enough?

Two weeks in Colombia is a great starting point for experiencing two or three cities.  You can explore Bogotá and Medellin and head over to the beaches in Cartagena or Santa Marta.  While two weeks is only enough time to scratch the surface of all there is to do in Colombia; it’s a great way to get a taste of the country.  

How Much Money Should I Take to Colombia For Two Weeks?

For a comfortable two-week trip to Colombia, budget travelers can plan on spending around $50-$60 per day, while travelers wanting to do more paid tours or eat at lots of restaurants might want to budget around $100 per day. This includes expenses for accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. 

Planning A Trip To Colombia? Check Out Our Other Posts

Complete Lost City Trek Packing List

Complete Lost City Trek Packing List

If you’re looking for a complete Lost City trek packing list, you’ve come to the right place! This trek has ...
2 Days In Bogota; How To Make The Most Of Your Time

2 Days In Bogota; How To Make The Most Of Your Time

If you have just 2 days in Bogota, you’ll be hard-pressed to do it all. This city is huge, and ...
Costa Rica vs Colombia Travel: How to Make the Best Choice

Costa Rica vs Colombia Travel: How to Make the Best Choice

If you are trying to decide between a trip to Costa Rica vs Colombia, you’ve come to the right place ...
How To Visit Guatape From Medellin: What You Need To Know

How To Visit Guatape From Medellin: What You Need To Know

Are you looking to visit Guatape from Medellin? The town of Guatape and its nearby iconic Piedra del Peñol are ...
Hike The Lost City Trek in Colombia: The Ultimate Guide

Hike The Lost City Trek in Colombia: The Ultimate Guide

Are you thinking about doing the Lost City trek in Colombia? We loved this trek, and it is still one ...