This 10 days in Colombia itinerary will cover three main cities in the country – Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.
It is a great itinerary to get a feel for a few different cities throughout the country and to learn more about what they have to offer. There will be plenty of fun and unique activities to take part of along the way, making this one action packed trip for your time in Colombia.
From enjoying beautiful viewpoints over Bogota to paragliding above Medellin to hopping into a mud volcano in Cartagena, this trip will have it all and much more!
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1) 10 Days in Colombia Itinerary Overview
To get started, I want to layout what this 10 day trip to Colombia will look like. The itinerary will take you to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena, with two internal flights getting you between the cities.
- Days 1 & 2: Bogota
- Days 3 – 6: Medellin
- Days 7 – 10: Cartagena
The itinerary is laid out by arriving the evening prior to day 1. This way you will have nearly 10 full days of exploring, as you then leave sometime on the last day of the trip.
It is also important to note that the itinerary starts & ends in two different cities. This means you will need to book a multi city ticket from your departure point (i.e. fly into Bogota / return from Cartagena). Based on logistics, you can also do this trip in the reverse order.
2) Colombia Map View
Take a look at the map below which shows you where each city that is part of this itinerary is located throughout the country.
The trip begins in Bogota in the center of Colombia, before going north to Medellin and finally onwards to the coastal city of Cartagena.
In order to get from one city to the next you will need to book two quick internal flights (day 2 & day 6), and there will be plenty of options to choose from for those routes.
3) Colombia 10 Day Itinerary
Now let’s get on to the actual trip! The following is a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this 10 days in Colombia itinerary.
Feel free to scroll through and click on any more in depth posts along the way.
Day 1 – Bogota
The first day in Bogota will take you through the historical district, hitting the top museums, plazas and viewpoints. You will follow that up with a local game called Tejo and a nightcap at the one and only Andres Carne de Res.
Below are 6 of the main places you can enjoy during a full day exploring Bogota:
The first stop of the day takes you to the Gold Museum (Mueso de Oro), located in the the La Candelaria neighborhood.
The museum is filled with thousands of different objects, sculptures and artifacts, all of which have ties to the pre Hispanic culture of Colombia. As you might expect, everything here is made out of gold!
Plaza de Bolivar
Just a 10 minute walk from the Gold Museum, you will find the Plaza de Bolivar.
The plaza is named after Simon Bolivar, a key figure in the fight for freedom from Spanish rule.
It is a beautiful plaza surrounded by the Palace of Justice, the Parliament, the Cathedral of Bogota, among others. And of course situated in the middle of the plaza is a statue of Bolivar himself.
Once you have enjoyed some time around the plaza area, you can continue towards the nearby Botero Museum. Botero is known as one of the most famous Colombian artists, and the museum is one of the highest rated in the country.
You can recognize his artwork immediately from the unique type of painting/sculpturing he does. If it is a person, an object or a piece of fruit you will find them all throughout this museum.
After some time down in the city center, it is now time to head up above the city. You can take a quick taxi or simply walk to Monserrate, where you will then take a funicular, cable car, or hike up the mountainside.
Once above, you will get some of the best views of Bogota that you can for looking in all directions.
Stay up top to get some nice pictures and relax after a long morning of exploring the historic city. You will also be able to grab lunch with a view at a couple nice restaurants on top of the mountain.
If you are up for it, you can finish out your time in Bogota with a fun game of Tejo.
If you haven’t heard of Tejo before, think of bocce or shuffleboard but with a twist. The game is setup with two people on a team at opposite ends of the room.
Each player gets to throw a metal disk at a clay board about 20 feet away (the professional court is about 50 feet long).
The clay board has a metal circle aligned with four paper squares filled with gunpowder. The object of the game is to throw the metal disk at these paper squares. If you hit the square correctly it should “explode” with a loud pop and some smoke.
Learn More | How to Play Tejo in Colombia
Andres Carne de Res
If you happen to be in Bogota on a Friday or Saturday night I highly recommended to head to Andres Carne de Res in Chia, which is about a 45 minute drive north.
Andres is a mixture of a restaurant, bar, club, and entertainment hot spot, with the location spanning a whole block.
There is also a restaurant within the city center, if you want to experience a more toned down experience than the Chia location.
» Check out the 6 Things To Do in Bogota guide for all you need to know about the day
For nights 1 & 2 of your trip take a look at some highly rated options in the Zona Rosa / Chapinero area:
Day 2 – Bogota & Flight to Medellin
Your second day in Bogota could comprise of a number of things. It all depends though when you decide to fly out to Medellin. Here is an idea of a few options that can be done on day 2.
If you are staying in Zona Rosa you can spend some time around there visiting the shops, malls, restaurants and outdoor spaces.
If you have an afternoon flight to Medellin and are catching up on some sleep from the previous night at Andres, it can be a great option.
Walking around Zona Rosa/Zona T you will find plenty of high end shopping to do and a huge mall (Centro Andino) that you can stroll through.
If you are into gambling at all you can stop by a one of the casinos around the area and play some games around there too.
Trip to the Salt Cathedral
The Salt Cathedral is about an hour away from the city. Here you will find a huge underground cathedral in a salt mine.
Depending on what time you wake up/what time your flight is you could definitely make it there and back in about 4-5 hours if you hire a driver for the day.
Your hotel can help set this up for you or you can book a Salt Cathedral Tour ahead of time.
The Bogota Graffiti Tour is a free tour of the city given twice a day where you can see all the beautiful artwork that Bogota has to offer on its streets.
A few other options if you have a full day available:
1) Salt Cathedral combo with Lake Guatavita (legend of El Dorado lake) – you can either join a tour or hire a driver for the day that can take you around both places.
2) Parque Natural Chicaque – a beautiful natural park where you get away from the craziness of city life and enjoy some nice hiking, viewpoints and relaxation
3) La Chorrea Waterfall – another hiking opportunity in the mountains of Bogota
Fly to Medellin
After a couple days of exploring some of the top highlights of Bogota, it is then onto Medellin. The flight should take just about an hour, making it an easy and quick trip.
Once you arrive in Medellin, make your way to your hotel as you then get ready for several days of exploring the city.
Here are some great options in the El Poblado area of Medellin for nights 3, 4 & 5:
- The Charlee Hotel
- Intercontinental Medellin
- Hotel Estelar Milla de Oro
- In House The Hotel
- Hotel Poblado Alejandria
Day 3 – Medellin / Parque Arvi & Jardin Botanique
On the morning of your first day in Medellin you will get head up the cable car system and into Parque Arvi. During the afternoon, you can then enjoy some time around the Jardin Botanique.
In order to visit Parque Arvi, you will head to the Acevedo station. This is the base of the first of two cable cars, which will take you all the way up above the city to the Santa Domingo station.
On this first car you will get amazing views of the entire city of Medellin to the north, west, and south.
Once you get to the Santa Domingo station follow the signs to the Parque Arvi cable car. This cable car takes you even higher up the mountain and into the forest and eventually to the park itself.
Depending on how much time you have in Arvi you can do a bunch of different things – everything from hiking, walking tours, ziplining and more.
There are also a few outdoor restaurants and bars at the entrance along with a market filled with different local cuisine.
It is now time to make your way back to the city. Once you have taken the two cable cars back down, head on over to Jardin Botanique.
If you have not had lunch yet you can do so at the restaurant inside of the gardens.
You can then spend some time to walk around the gardens and enjoy the wildlife. There are huge iguanas just hanging out all around, plenty of different birds by the lake area and even a butterfly habitat.
It is a pretty relaxing place to check out that’s just right in the middle of this busy city.
Day 4 – Medellin / Paragliding & El Centro
Day 4 is going to be an exciting one if you are a thrill seeker. About 40 minutes north of the Poblado area is San Felix – the main paragliding area of Medellin. Here you will find yourself high up in the mountains above the entire city.
During this experience, you will join a tandem paraglide with an instructor and fly above the Medellin valley down below. The flight should last around 30 minutes or so before landing back in the same spot you took off from.
I would recommend taking part of a paragliding experience in the morning as that is when the winds are usually at their calmest. You can read more about some paragliding tips and logistics in the guide linked below.
» For more info about a morning of paragliding take a look at the Paragliding Medellin Guide
Explore El Centro
Since you will probably be finished paragliding late morning, you can then head over to El Centro, the historical district of Medellin.
If you are into free guided tours, Real City Tours has one of highest reviewed and well spoken of tours you will come by. They take you to all the main attractions and give you some background and history of the city.
The afternoon tour starts at 2:30PM and lasts about 4 hours (must book in advance through the link above). If you aren’t into tours you can also just do it on your own. Follow this map and walk through at your own pace.
El Centro is filled with plenty of different types of experiences. You have everything including Alpujarro, Parque de le Lucas, the National Palace, El Hueco, Museo de Antioquia, Botero Plaza, and Parque Bolivar.
It really is just a great couple miles of authentic Medellin, seeing the past and present and enjoying the city. Once you are finished with either your guided or non guided tour hop in a cab back to your hotel to end your day.
Day 5 – Day Trip to El Penol/Guatape
A two hour drive from Medellin lay the towns of El Penol and Guatape. In the middle of the two is a massive rock formation called La Piedra de Penol that will give you one of the best views in Colombia.
The day trip will consist of climbing the giant rock, visiting the colorful town of Guatape, and stopping at some viewpoints along the way. When it comes to day trips, it won’t get much better than this one.
» To learn more, I put together a Day Trip to Guatape and El Penol Guide that can get you ready for the trip
» I would highly recommend joining in on a group or private tour if you want all logistics to be taken care of for the day.
Day 6 – Medellin & Flight to Cartagena
This day will all depend when you leave for Cartagena. If you are leaving in the morning you won’t have much time to do anything.
If your flight is in the afternoon, feel free to sleep in a bit after a few very busy days and then walk around the Poblado area and Parque Lleras.
You can also head to any attraction that you may have missed the prior couple of days.
Next make your way to the airport, catch your flight and then land in the coastal city of Cartagena.
You will see right away how different Cartagena is from the other two cities. While it will clearly be more touristy, it is also such a great city to walk around and enjoy.
The walled city feels like an old European town, with great restaurants, bars and squares throughout. If you are into the nightlife scene then you will definitely find a place around the walled city that will suit your needs.
If staying in the Walled City take a look at some of these hotel recommendations for nights 6, 7, 8, & 9:
Day 7 – Cartagena / Mud Volcano
You can spend the next morning strolling the old city, and exploring all the twists and turns. It really is a great place to just walk around and get lost in. After having some lunch you can then head to the El Totumo Mud Volcano.
Located around 1 hour north of the city, you will find this small volcano filled with mud.
Here you can jump inside, float in the mud, and even get some massages. A definite unique experience to take part of during your 10 days in Colombia.
» Check out the El Totumo Mud Volcano Guide for all you need to know to
Day 8 – Cartagena / Out at Sea
Your next day of your 10 days in Colombia will have you hit the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
There are a few different options to choose from deciding what type of experience you would like to have.
You can take a day trip to Playa Blanca and/or the Rosario Islands or you can also rent a boat and explore a whole bunch of places out at sea.
» The Renting a Boat in Cartagena Guide will dive into the second option and go over all you need to know.
The guide talks through highlights such as snorkeling the Rosario Islands, having lunch at Cholon, and relaxing at Playa Blanca.
Day 9 – Cartagena
During the last full day in Cartagena you can do some more strolling around, relaxing, and walking the wall before heading out to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.
If you are staying within the walled city you can take a cab or even walk over (at most 20-30 minutes). It is a huge castle/fort on the east side of the city where you can take in some great viewpoints of Cartagena.
There are also tunnels that run within the fort that you can walk through. You can either just walk around by yourself or use a tour guide who can give more insight into the history of the place.
Either way it was a great site to see and one of the more popular spots in the city.
Day 10 – Cartagena & Depart Colombia
On day 10 you can spend some of the day relaxing in the city before catching your flight back home.
Colombia as a whole has so much to offer and can be tailored to each traveler’s needs. There really is something for everyone out there.
Of course there are more cities and attractions to go to but this gives you a good sense what you can take advantage of in the country’s three main cities during a 10 day trip to Colombia. Hope you enjoy it!
4) How to Get to Colombia
For most people who are visiting the country, flying into one of the international airports is going to be the way to go.
Colombia has various destinations that offer international airports. There are actually 10+ cities all around the country that have them.
For the purpose of this itinerary, you can either fly into Bogota (if going south to north), or Cartagena (if going north to south).
As mentioned, it is important to note that with many Colombia itineraries, you will not be arriving in and departing from the same destination. Instead you will be flying into one spot and then flying out of another.
The way the itinerary is laid out has the trip starting in Bogota and leaving from Cartagena. So, just be aware of those differing arrival/departure points as you are planning your trip.
5) How to Get Around Colombia
Since there will be some traveling between cities, there are logistical aspects of your trip that you will need to think about.
In general, internal flights will be the way to go. There are several airlines that run hundreds of flights each day between major cities.
I would recommend looking into LATAM and Avianca when going about your internal flight options. Wingo is a third option, but it is a budget airline. And Satena is a fourth option (they offer flights to Medellin’s city center airport).
For the purpose of this itinerary, there will be two internal flights to think about:
- Bogota to Medellin (day 2)
- Medellin to Cartagena (day 6)
When choosing flights, I would recommend doing them either very early in the morning or later in the afternoon/evening.
With 10 days in Colombia, you do not want to waste a full day traveling. So, try to avoid those midday flights, where you really won’t be able to enjoy any time on either side of the flight.
Medellin Note: as mentioned above, Medellin has a city center airport (EOH). By flying into/out of this airport, you will be able to avoid a 30-45-minute drive to the outer city airport (MDE). Just note that fewer airlines use EOH.
While flying is the main option, there are also busses that connect cities around the country. For the purpose of this itinerary, I would recommend to avoid busses as it can take up valuable time. If you were on a longer trip and had more than 10 days to spare, then you could certainly consider busses instead of flights.
6) Traveling Within Cities
Once you have made it to a city, you will need to think about how to get to the various attractions.
For the most part, there are four main ways to go about it – walking, public transport, Uber/taxi, and guided tours.
Whether it is Bogota, Medellin, or Cartagena, you can certainly make your way around on your own two feet to get around the cities.
Of course, some attractions will just be too far away from one another (that is when you can utilize the next few options). But for the most part, do expect to spend some time on your feet as you explore these various destinations.
If you need to make your way along some longer distances, the most affordable option will be public transport.
Whether that be local busses, trams, or cable car rides, those can all be utilized during your time in the country.
Just be sure to understand your route, where to buy tickets, and how to get from point A to point B. I did find standard Google Maps to be pretty easy to follow for overall directions.
While public transport can be the cheaper option, taking an Uber or taxi can be the more convenient. You will find Ubers and taxis all throughout the cities that you are visiting, and these can be pretty cheap compared to other countries.
If you want door to door accessibility, then that will certainly be possible in Colombia.
Lastly, there can be instances when you want to explore a city as part of a guided tour (whether that be a group or private option).
Guided tours are a great way to visit a certain area, while having someone there to teach you all about the area & having the ability to ask questions.
There are so many different tours to take part of in the country. Whether that be a walking tour, graffiti tour, food tour, or day trip tour, there are options out there for you.
7) When to Travel to Colombia
One of the main considerations when planning a trip to Colombia is the time of year to visit.
Luckily, Colombia is a year round destination and there isn’t one particular very bad time to go there.
The country is pretty nearby the equator, which means you will not find “seasons” per se. Instead, the average temperature in each city is pretty steady during the year give or take a few degrees.
However, rain does come and go throughout the months. Each region can be affected a bit differently by the rain and climate conditions (i.e. El Nino).
For the purpose of this itinerary, below are some weather basics for Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.
- Daytime Temperature: 60F – 70F (15C – 21C)
- Nighttime Temperature: 50F – 55F (10C – 13C)
- Rainiest Months: April to July
- Daytime Temperature: 75F (24C)
- Nighttime Temperature: 60F (16C)
- Rainiest Months: March-May & September-November
- Daytime Temperature: 85F – 95F (30C – 35C)
- Nighttime Temperature: 70F – 75F (21C – 24C)
- Rainiest Months: May to November
Many people opt to head to the country during the northern hemisphere’s wintertime. Going to Colombia between December and February is a top time to consider as you plan your trip.
8) Travel Tips
To better help you out during your 10 days in Colombia, below are some travel tips and some general things to know.
When traveling in taxis or Ubers, don’t be surprised if your car “randomly” gets pulled over for no apparent reason.
This happened to me a couple times during my visit in both Cartagena and Medellin. The police essentially just want to make a few dollars and be on their way.
Learn Some Spanish
While English is spoken here and there, expect lots of taxis, locals, and restaurants to not speak it.
Learning just some basic words and phrases can make a big difference when traveling.
To cover yourself in all situations, be sure to download an app like Google Translate, which can help ease the communication with the locals.
In addition, it is super helpful when looking at restaurants’ menus that have no English on them.
Avoid the Pablo Tourism
While there is a good chunk of Colombian history centered around Pablo Escobar, the country has changed drastically over the years.
From my conversations with locals and some tour guides, many do not want to be associated with that time in the country. And they don’t want people coming to the country to do Pablo type of tours.
Stick to the natural beauty and the culture, rather than something that few want to think about in today’s world.
Specifically, in Cartagena, be aware that you will come across tons of street performers, vendors, and hagglers trying to make a couple of bucks off of you.
The city is by far the most touristy place in Colombia, and the locals know that. For some, this can ruin the charm of the old walled city.
As you walk around, or eat at outside at a restaurant, just be aware that you more than likely will be approached to buy something or to tip for a rapping performance.
-> Before diving into the itinerary be sure to also check out the Colombia Helpful Tips Guide I put together to better prepare you for your trip.
9) Is Colombia Safe
When you tell others you want to go to Colombia, the first thought that comes to many people’s minds is that Colombia is not a safe place to travel to.
That is understandable given the fact that it used to be one of the most dangerous countries with drug cartels ruling different areas and deadly violence prevalent throughout.
However times have most definitely changed and I can say that during my trip there not once did I feel unsafe or in danger. There actually is quite the police presence in major cities which I am sure hinders potential crime.
Now even though I would say Colombia is safe, there will always to certain areas to avoid and times where you will need to use your best judgement.
Wandering out late at night alone is probably not the best idea unless you are around a major area filled with bars and restaurants.
So do not let others stop you from taking a trip there – it is not what it used to be at all!
10) What to Bring to Colombia
As you go about your packing list for Colombia, you will want to consider some important items.
Expect the weather across the three cities to be different, with the coast being much hotter than the inland cities.
So, as you pack, be sure to have comfortable clothing items across the temperature spectrum (nighttime sweaters/sweatshirts will be common!).
In addition to a standard packing list, below are some items you may want to bring along:
- Rain Jacket
- Sunscreen, Hat, & Sunglasses
- Quick Dry Towel
- Small Daypack
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Flip Flops
- Moisture Wicking Clothing
- Bathing Suits
- Nighttime Outfits
11) Is 10 Days in Colombia Enough
Colombia is a big country and there are a lot of cities to visit & things to do all throughout. So, as you can imagine, there is just no way to fit everything in on one visit (or even multiple visits).
However, with 10 days in Colombia, you will be able to comfortably visit around 3 different cities.
This will give you the chance to experience some of the best of the best out of the cities that you choose from.
I would not try to fit in more than 3 places with 10 days in the country as that would entail way too much traveling and less time actually enjoying where you are.
At the end of the day, I would say it is enough to visit three places in the country. And in the case of this itinerary, those 10 days will take you to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.
Head over to our Colombia itineraries and guides page to check out some more helpful posts, and feel free to comment below with any questions!