Colombia Travel, Tours, Backpacking & Gap Year
Colombia is a really up and coming destination, many of those who have never been associate this country with drugs, violence, guerrilla fighters, and paramilitaries. Fortunately, it only takes a few glances upon the warm, smiling faces to understand how different this destination today.
Adventure Tours, Backpacking Trips & Gap Year Programs in Colombia
Colombia Travel Guide
Find activities and inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Colombia. On our guide you can also get information, tips, itineraries and advice for visiting Colombia on a budget.
- Country Area: 1,138,900 km2
- International Dailing Code +57
- Language: Spanish + local languages
- Population: 45,400,000
- Capital: Bogotá
- Visa & Eligiblity: You can enter Colombia on a tourist visa, this is provided on arrived and you can stay for up to 90 days.
- Currency: Colombian Peso (COP)
- Language: Spanish is spoken in Colombia and sometimes it can be rare to encounter many local people who speak English fluently. Before departing download a language app, buy a phrase book or try to learn some words and phrases before departing
Top Reasons to Visit Colombia
- Safer than you think
- Great value for money on accommodation, sightseeing and activities
- Tourism is growing every year, get here before the crowds arrive
- So many different experiences available
- Beautiful beaches
- Ancient temples and ruins
Weather & Best Time to Visit
You can visit Colombia all year round and there is no one best time to visit. The Caribbean coast is generally warm with lots of sun whilst the highlands are generally cool most months. The Amazon jungle is always hot and humid
How to Get to Colombia
From the UK flights can take around 14 hours to Bogotá although you will need to get a connection due to there not being any direct flights. There are direct flights from mainland Europe and other destinations like Miami in the USA
Visa & Entry Requirements
- Is a visa required?: Yes
- Allocation of Tourist Visa: At destination airport
- Duration of Tourist visa: Two Months
- Cost of Tourist Visa: No Cost
- Tourist Visa Extension: Yes, extended for up to two months at a time for up to six months in-country
- Cost of Tourist Visa Extension: 40USD for two months
- Passport validation: 6 months required before expiry
- Return/onward flight ticket: May be required
- Confirmation of Funds: Not required
Best Places to Visit in Colombia
There are so many places you should see in Colombia, here are some things you should add to your itinerary:
A vibrant and bustling capital city, the urban center of Colombia, home to over 8 million people.
“The City of Eternal Spring” that has a consistent spring-like climate year-round. It is Colombia’s second largest city and capital of the state of Antioquia, home to over 2 million people. Situated in a picturesque valley hugged on all sides by beautiful green mountains, it has a booming nightlife and cultural scenes.
With a railroad, the boom of the coffee industry, and profits made by mining investors, Medellin grew into a major metropolis over the twentieth century. Medellin has had a colourful history and despite a past disrupted by violence, today it is one of the safest cities in all of South America and somewhere you should put into any holiday itinerary.
Often described as South America’s most beautiful colonial city.
The villages are home to warm friendly people, and are where you can experience traditional Colombian lifestyles
Other unique places you might want to visit include Villa de Leyva, Taganga and Santa Marta, La Ciudad Perdida, the Coffee Zone, the Amazon, Barichara, Cali, Caribbean coast and islands, Pamplona, Popayan, San Gil, Santa Marta and the Tayrona National Park.
Festivals & Events
Here are some of the best festivals taking place throughout the year you might want to check out:
- Carnival, throughout the country - Februrary - March
- Easter, throughout the country - March - April
- Flower Fair, Medellín - August
- Hay Festival, Cartagena, January
- International Jazz Festival, Bogotá - September
Travelling & Backpacking in Colombia
In 1500, the first Europeans set foot on what is present day Colombia. Settlements grew, and in the later half of the sixteenth century, the inhabitants began to diversify; Indigenous communities and Spanish settlers were joined by African slaves in Cartagena. Today, telltale landmarks in Cartagena give testimony to this diverse cultural landscape. Colombia declared independence in 1819. Instability, lost territory, and civil wars riddled Colombia for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You will learn so much when visiting.
Colombia is a beautiful country and we have small group holidays from the worlds leading international travel operators where you will get a local authentic experience. You will get to meet local people and also do something meaningful far better than just sunbathing. There are lots of different packages available and where you go and for how long really comes down to personal choice. We recommend choosing an itinerary which includes visiting cosmopolitan cities like Bogotá and Cartagena which are both facsinating cities with lots of sights and activities.
Colombia has some of the best beaches on the continent, as well as pretty colonial towns, there are also lush National Parks including Tayrona where you can go trekking to see ancient ruins from lost civilisations at Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). This country is also the home of salsa dancing and lessons can be booked in locations throughout the country. All these places can be explored when backpacikng or travelling in Colombia . The tourism industry is growing every year and its recommend you get here before the crowds arrive. Don't miss out, book your travel to Colombia with One World 365 today. The only risk is wanting to stay!
Colombia Travel Tips
Suggested Daily Budget
Colombia is not the cheapest country in South America but it is also not the most expensive. We recommend budgeting for around £20 ($35) - £35 ($50) per day. This is a general guide though and really depends on where you go and what you do. Cartagena and Bogata are the most expensive cities in the country party due to being the most touristy.
You can find cheap hotels, hostels throughout the country. A dorm bed is your cheapest option with beds costing around £6 ($10) per night
If you want to travel independently the cheapest way to get around the country is on public bus, but remember this is a huge country (around double the size of France) so you might want to consider flying on one of the budget airlines which operate in the country like Viva Colombia.
Money / Budget
Be sure to inform your bank before departing and give the dates of travel and destinations to prevent security blocks on your bank and credit cards. Always take enough cash to cover your expenses for the first week in case there is a problem with your bank cards or access to ATM’s is limited. Travellers cheques can be cashed in major centres but it is a good idea to have at least two different credit/debit card options i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, or Cirrus. If at any time you have any problems in accessing money you can use Western Union transfer. Money can be sent from your home country and received in Colombia the same day.
Health & Safety
There are no required vaccinations for entering Colombia, you might want to consider taking maleria tablets if you are going to be in rural areas. Recommended depending on location in Colombia. Before leaving you should visit your local gp or travel clinic for information on other recommended medications you may need while travelling. Present day Colombia is considerably safer than it was during its shaky past. Its cities are exceptionally vibrant, and Colombians are happy to be welcoming more foreigners than ever before. Many people don't know Colombia is the oldest democracy in Latin America and following nearly forty years of insecurity, this nation has emerged in the last decade and is now one of the safest countries in Latin America.
Gap Year in Colombia
Colombia is one of the hottest gap year destinations in the world right now. Expect a a rapidly developing economy, modern cosmopolitan cities, gorgeous Caribbean beaches, the luscious Amazon rainforest, charming colonial villages, buzzing night-life and much more. We have an exciting range of gap year programs available to book all year round. Researching ideas for your gap year? Our directory will help you book an experience.
One of the best ways to explore Colombia is on an organised tour. There are lots of different trips available which will take you to see the highlights of the country, departures are all year round and you can book or enquire via our directory today. You will get to travel with other people and be led by an experienced guide who will be able to provide more information on the places you visit.
On an adventure tour in Colombia you can go trekking, venture off the beaten track, go deep into the Andes mountains, see spectacular rural countryside or head to the coast for incredible beaches. Our top activities include walking tours of Bogata and Cartagena, visiting the Chicaque Nature Reserve, going trekking in the Andes, going off the beaten track in the Amazon, seeing the initial coffee production and visting the stunning Rosario Islands.
Our Colombia adventure tours will take you to the heart of the country and you will eat at local restraurants, see how friendly and welcoming local people are and you will be able to create memories to last a lifetime. There are short day sightseeing tours of cities like Bogata and Colombia whilst some overland tours are longer, usually 1-4 weeks in duration. If you are seeking the ultimate experience you can also find overland tours in South America which start in Colombia and then travel down through other countries in the continent.
If you sign up through a travel operator we have listed on our website they will usually provide airport pickups and transfers making your trip easier and also make the whole experience stress free and easier.
Top Reasons to Book an Organised Trip
- One of the safest ways to see the country
- Authentic experience
- See a local side of the country and visit places you might not otherwise visit
- Prices for tours in Colombia are quite cheap compared to other destinations
- Make new friends from all over the world
Best Colombia Tour Operators
There are lots of local and international tour operators and agencies offering Colombia tours to international vistors, all offer unique itineraries with different prices. You can search our recommended trips above.
Colombia Small Group Tours
Our tours are perfect if you are travelling solo and would like to meet other people and travel in a group. You will get to meet other international travellers and get taken to the best locations in the country with an experienced guide. Most of our tours specifically cater for the 18-35 age group and are a really popular option due to meeting other people, getting day-to-day activities, hotel check-ins, selected meals, accommodation and also transport/guides included in the price. Don't worry if you are slightly older, most tours accept all ages.
Colombia Budget Tours
We have a selection of tours for all budgets, so whether you are looking to explore on the cheap or you have a bit more money to spend you will be able to find a trip to match your interests. Our website features lots of cheap tours of Colombia allowing you to discover the highlights of the country and not break the bank.
Usually travellers of the same sex will share a twin room, but there is also the option to pay a little extra and get a private room. Accommodation can vary depending on the tour and location. Some tours also include homestays which allow for a facsinating cultural exchange.
Typical group sizes are around 10-18 travellers with an average of 12 but this can vary between the tour and operator.
On most tours you will travel overland in a private small tour van. For day trips and excursions sometimes you will use public transport and sometimes use internal flights to allow you to see the highlights as quick as possible.
How to Book
Search our featured trips above or contact us for specific advice. If you need any help booking a tour in Colombia please get in touch.