Colombia: Luxury & Private Trips
Whether you’re seeking a cultural experience in a dynamic, historical capital city or want to sip coffee at its tranquil highland source, you’ll find it (and so much more) in Colombia. The lively cities of Medellín, Cartagena, and the capital, Bogotá, immerse visitors in history, culture, and music. Oh, the music. The wide variety of musical styles explains why it’s known as the “Land of a Thousand Rhythms.” Beach lovers can find stunning white-sand beaches offering a variety of water sports on the Caribbean Coast, while nature lovers will be impressed with the unique wildlife, tropical jungles, and a tranquil coffee region surrounded by verdant mountains. Despite having a complex, storied history, Colombia has reinvented itself as a forward-thinking, charismatic, and peaceful country. Discover Colombia travel with us through its delicious food, charming locals, infectious music, and incredible biodiversity.
What is Colombia best known for?
There is no one highlight in Colombia—no equivalent of Machu Picchu to Peru, or the Galapagos to Ecuador. The draw of Colombia is its culture—people, history, art, food—and its mix of cities, beaches, and adventure. It’s a dynamic place, still reinventing itself, expanding its cities, and welcoming new residents from around the world.
Colombia travel highlights
- Stunning beaches and fascinating colonial history in Cartagena.
- Hikes and nature walks in mountainous jungles, cooking classes, and cacao and coffee plantations in the Coffee Region.
- Salsa dancing in Cali, which lives up to its nickname, “the Salsa Capital of the World.”
- Pink dolphins in the Amazonas region.
- Surf, sand, and sun on the many dreamy beaches along the Caribbean Coast, including Isla Barú, Tayrona National Park, and Santa Marta.
- Wander the cobblestone streets of Villa de Leyva and visit El Infiernito, an archaeoastronomical site
What to expect on a luxury trip to Colombia
Colombia offers a balance of vibrant cities, stunning beaches, and immersion in nature. The country is known for its warm and friendly people, eager to show off their country and culture.
- Memorable luxury accommodations: Luxury travel in Colombia includes unique boutique hotels filled with character. The 17th-century hotel and farm, Hacienda Zuleta will welcome you as family and spoil you like their favorite grandchild; at Patio del Mundo, you can escape the hustle and bustle of Medellín in the colorful garden; Casa San Augustin, in old town Cartegena, is a swoon-worthy romantic hideaway. With the increase in luxury travel in Colombia since the well-publicized hard times in the 1980s and early 90s, the travel experience is evolving by the minute.
- Exclusive experiences with expert guides: Private city tours with a Colombian flair abound and include visits to the Botero Museum, empanada-making classes, salsa lessons, graffiti tours, market visits, and cigar workshops. Food, art, and music fill your soul (and your stomach). Cities are large and bustle with activity, so they are best experienced with a local guide and driver.
- Seamless, worry-free travel: With a range of domestic flight connections, traveling between cities is quick and easy. Extraordinary Journeys will take care of all airport transfers.
- 24/7 in-destination support: Our job doesn’t end when your boarding pass is printed. Extraordinary Journeys is always by your side—even while traveling. We have reliable boots-on-the-ground support and a 24/7 concierge just a phone call away.
- Music: Though salsa, bachata, and reggaeton weren’t started in Colombia, the country has some of the heaviest hitters in terms of musical artists.
- Literature: With his books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Colombian-born Gabriel Garcia Marques is one of Latin America’s most celebrated authors. Considered the father of the literary genre magical realism, traveling through Colombia can feel as if you’re stepping into one of his novels.
- Art: Fernando Botero, known for his “gorditas” paintings and sculptures, is celebrated in Colombia with a wonderful museum in Bogotá. Murals fill cities with color, and even graffiti artists train in different styles to create colorful, meaningful art with social commentary. At the Gold Museum, some 55,000 pieces of pre-Hispanic art are on dazzling display.
- Food and drink: Cuisine draws from indigenous Columbian cooking, and Spanish and African influences. Don’t leave without sampling arepas, sort of a corn-flower pancake filled with a variety of flavors like eggs, meat, and cheese. Wash your arepas down with a shot of aguardiente, an anise-flavored liquor made from sugar cane.
- Recent history: Colombia has a storied history of drug lords and violence, popularized in countless television series and documentaries. Curiously, that’s one of the things that makes it such an intriguing place to visit now. You’ll find a friendly population excited to welcome visitors.
One of the reasons we love Colombia is that there are many relatively short, direct flights from various American gateways. Jetlag isn’t a problem as the time difference from most of the U.S. is small, if any. This means you can hit the ground running and enjoy a taste of the country during a long weekend. Ideally, you should dedicate at least a week to squeeze in some city time, beaches, and adventure. Still, two weeks is a perfect amount of time to experience a variety of regions and cities.
Most international flights arrive in Bogotá. From there, it’s just a short flight to any other destination in Colombia. There are also some direct flights into Medellín and Cartagena. An Extraordinary Journeys South America specialist will advise on what makes the most sense, given your itinerary.
While Spanish is the official language of the country, English is spoken by many, especially in hospitality settings, including airports and hotels. It’s always helpful to know how to say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias), and, of course, hola (hello), when greeting someone. Not to worry, Extraordinary Journeys will arrange English-speaking guides and drivers for your trip. If you wish to explore on your own, some basic phrases will be helpful. Colombians are extremely polite and will be happy just to see you make an effort.
No, American citizens do not need a visa to visit Colombia.
The currency is the Colombian Peso, but Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. ATMs are available in most large and smaller cities and towns. It’s always helpful to have a bit of cash handy should you need it for tipping.
Yes, Colombia is safe to travel to. Like anywhere, common sense and situational awareness are important. In 2016 the government signed a peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the nation’s largest rebel group, which essentially brought an end to the civil conflict.
When is the best time to travel to Colombia?
Colombia is a year-round destination, but travelers will likely favor the dry season months.
As the equator goes directly through the country, Colombia lacks the traditional four seasons. Still, there are rainy and dry seasons, but these vary according to the region.
In Colombia, it’s the elevation that determines the temperature. Tropical weather in lower elevations, such as Cartagena, averages in the upper 80s in the daytime and mid-to-upper 70s at night. Mountainous areas are cooler. With its moderate temperatures, Medellín is known as the “City of Eternal Spring.” And Bogotá is downright cool, averaging in the mid-high 60s in the daytime and mid-40s at night.
Regarding rain, if you’re visiting the Amazon between December and May, plan on precipitation. However, most of Colombia is at its driest from December to March.
Held each August, the colorful Medellín Flower Fair is well worth a visit. The Ibero-American Theater Festival, one of the world’s largest performing arts festivals, takes place in April (semi-annually) in Bogotá.
Note: Festive season (December 20 to January 5) can get crowded as that’s the height of the local and international holiday season.
Where to travel to in Colombia
Travelers to Colombia typically arrive in larger cities like Medellín (MDE), Cartagena (CTG), or Bogotá (BOG), as they’re well-connected through a variety of U.S. and South American carriers. Travelers typically spend at least a week or two to enjoy the various regions.
With districts filled with high-rise buildings and others with quaint homes and shops, Medellín is diverse. Mountainous terrain offers wonderful panoramas, and the mass transit system cable cars make it easy to get around. Residents are happy to have shed the violent past and are thrilled to show off their city to visitors. Once the sun sets, Medellín’s nightlife heats up.
Bogotá, Colombia’s high-altitude capital city sits at 8,500 feet and is very walkable. Art fills the city at galleries, museums, and in street art. With nearly eight million people, gastronomic diversity abounds, from sizzling street food to fine dining.
Perched on the Caribbean coast, history fills this nearly 700-year-old city. From the UNESCO-listed city walls to the fortress Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, to the historic center filled with charming colonial-style buildings, history in Cartagena is visible and fascinating. Nearby islands with stunning beaches are easy to travel to by ferry.
The UNESCO-designated coffee-growing region isn’t just for espresso lovers. An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape, it’s also strikingly beautiful. Learn how beans are grown and processed and what life is like in the small colonial towns. Caffeine isn’t the only reason your heart rate may rise in the Coffee Region. Adventurous pursuits like zip lining, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, hiking, and trail riding are thrilling ways to pass through the region’s spellbinding valleys.
While Cartagena is a great jump-off point for island beaches on the Caribbean Coast, many gorgeous beaches can also be found all along the mainland coast. Further along, Tayrona National Park in the coastal Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains has developed into a great eco-destination. Also in this area are villages inhabited by the Arhuaco community and indigenous population.
Villa de Leyva
Hike to hidden waterfalls, explore El Infiernito, a pre-Columbian archaeoastronomical site, and walk the cobblestone streets past whitewashed colonial buildings, all in and around this well-preserved town. Villa de Leyva also hosts a number of festivals, including the Tree Festival (October), an international film festival (autumn), and the National Wind and Kite Festival (August).
As Colombia offers so much to experience across all of its regions, most people choose to spend their entire holiday there, but it’s also possible to pair it with Peru or Ecuador as there are direct flights between all capital cities, as well as some others.
Some of our favorite Colombia itineraries
Explore the dynamic culture of Colombia’s cities and unwind on pristine beaches.
Discover two of Colombia’s iconic cities and natural beauty of the coffee region.
Savor culture, coffee, and nature on this trip covering Colombia’s major cities, a beach break,…