Best time to visit Colombia

best time to visit colombia


temperature and rainfall

Generally, the best time to go to Colombia is Dec-March – the driest months in the Andes. Keep in mind that these months, especially Dec-Jan, as well as Easter, are extremely busy with domestic and international tourists; prices will rise and you’ll need to book early. There is a shorter dry season in July to early Sep. The wettest months along the Caribbean are Sep-Oct, though it remains scorching hot. The Amazon is warm and wet year-round, of course, and the mountains will be much cooler and fresher, with warm layers needed at night, although the sun heats things up quickly during the day.

Things to do in Colombia


what to do in Colombia & what not to do

things to do in Colombia...


Colombia’s colonial cities are beautifully preserved – and almost always set against a stunning backdrop. Popayán, the ‘white city’, has numerous cathedrals; Barichara is said to be Colombia’s prettiest village; and Villa de Leyva’s cobblestone streets lead to the largest plaza in the country. The gem in the colonial crown is Cartagena, whose stunning, rainbow-coloured buildings have been lovingly restored, with double height windows draped in butterfly-filled bougainvillea.
There’s no shortage of mountains to trek in; the Andes form Colombia’s imposing spine, while the isolated Sierra de Santa Marta boasts the county’s highest peaks. Most guided walks take place in the lush foothills, taking advantage of the lower altitude. The scenery is stunning, with the added sparkle of hummingbirds. Walk through tropical forest to Caribbean beaches in Tayrona National Park, take gentle hikes out of Villa de Leyva, and trek through Cocora Valley, filled with surreal, 60m-tall wax palms.
Cycling is taking off here in a big way; you’ll see dozens of commuters pedalling along polluted roads as soon as you land in Bogotá. Cycling vacations take you far from the smog and into the clear air of the Central Andes making the most of the paved mountain roads, with hilly days balanced out with flatter routes. If you don’t fancy two weeks in the saddle, there are plenty of opportunities for daytrips into the surrounding landscape, with mountain biking around Salento, Villa de Leyva and San Gil particularly popular.

things not to do in Colombia...


Skip the Amazon. Unlike in some South American countries, you can’t just roll down from the mountains into the Amazon for a day or two. The entry point is Leticia, on the Peru-Brazil border, over 1,000km from Bogotá, and only accessible by air. But it’s worth the short flight here, as you stay in jungle lodges, meet indigenous communities, spot macaws, monkeys and caimans, and canoe along Amazon tributaries, keeping an eye out for pink river dolphins.
Make light of the past. You may have been glued to Escobar’s exploits in the series Narcos, but remember that for Colombians, this is neither fiction nor distant past. While Colombia may seem safe and prosperous to visitors, vast swathes of it are still out of bounds, and the wounds of La Violencia are still raw; Colombia has the highest number of internally displaced people in the world (6.9 million). Read up, chat with your guide and be sensitive. And don’t even think about contributing to the bloodshed by sampling some of the local cocaína.
Be shy on the dancefloor. Cali is Colombia’s salsa capital, and if you have even a single night here, you’d better spend it in a salsa club. Cali salsa is renowned for its super fast footwork – it’s incredible to watch, and even more fun to have a go yourself. If you’re feeling shy, take a class or two first – and perhaps a cheeky shot of aguardiente…

Colombia travel advice


tips from our friends in Colombia

Is it safe?


Rosanna Neophytou from our leading Colombia vacations supplier, Tucan Travel, shares her top Colombia travel advice:
“I didn't really know what to expect before my trip but for me the thing that stood out was just how welcomed and safe I actually felt. The Colombian people are very anxious to remove the negativity that has been associated with the country in the past. Everyone we met was friendly and welcoming. If people do have worries I do suggest a group tour as opposed to independent travel as you will be with an experienced leader and other travelers. Colombia is still fairly new to tourism so you will often find not many people will speak English or understand you. Traveling with a guide means you do not have to worry too much about language barriers but I would recommend practicing Spanish with the locals on your travels as that is all part of the experience.”

Packing advice


Rosanna Neophytou from our supplier, Tucan Travel:
“Bring a Spanish phrase book. Pack for a range of weathers – Bogotá can be quite cold in the evenings whilst Santa Marta and Cartagena get hot hot hot! Pack mosquito spray if you are going to Tayrona or other jungle regions, and prepare for slight altitude feelings if you fly into Bogotá and are not used to high altitude places."

Food tips


Vicki Brown, Responsible Travel’s writer and editor:
“My mistake in the first few days was to try and order non-Colombian food. The pizzas, pasta, wraps were just awful. As soon as I embraced the fried food and carbs, things got so much better. No – it’s not super healthy, and yes – it’s monotonous, but it’s also unbelievably tasty and fresh. Along the Caribbean coast in particular, the fried fish, plantain and coconut rice are incredible – wash them down with fresh fruit juice followed by a tinto – a “shot” of sweet, black coffee from a street vendor with a thermos flask.”

Responsible tourism


Rosanna Neophytou from our supplier, Tucan Travel:
“Be aware of the indigenous cultures that still remain in some regions – do not take photos without asking as some believe that the soul escapes when you take a photo.”

Get to know Gabo


Vicki Brown, Responsible Travel’s writer and editor:
“If you’re heading to Cartagena, read Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. It’s a love story between two people – but it’s also a love letter to Old Cartagena itself, which, on the surface, has changed little since the period in which the book was set, at the turn of the last century. Cartagena brings to life the magic realism that García Márquez was famous for – you’ll feel like you are living inside a novel for a few magical days.”

Colombia travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

And some advice from our travelers, in our vacation reviews:


“Colombia is vast, it is several landscapes and peoples that can be read and discovered as you travel. It is at times, tough and challenging, but even then it can be sublime; many parts of the Caribbean coast remain welcomingly untrodden, with a huge sense of release, without feeling part of the herd. But if you want to party, you will never have to go far. Most of the misgivings about Colombia are now misconceptions; just travel sensibly. It really helps to learn at least basic Spanish, it is the great liberator, and will magnify the rewards for a lifetime.” – Weng Yee
Photo credits: [Tempbox: YoTuT] [Houses: McKay Savage] [Safety: Luz Adriana Villa] [Fried fish dish: Adrian Rodney-Edwards] [Get to know Gabo: Erik Cleves Kristensen]
Written by Vicki Brown
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