The first thing to understand when planning the ultimate Colombia itinerary is to realize that Colombia is not as dangerous as it once was. It is becoming the hot destination that travelers want to visit before all the tourists get there. With a number of world-class beaches, gorgeous architecture and an outgoing and generous population, it is quickly becoming one of the favorite places to visit in South America.
However, Colombia is a large country and it is impossible to see it all in one vacation. The country boasts a number of airports, which makes it easy to travel quickly between major regions and there is a solid bus network for all the smaller areas. However, a rookie mistake would be to try to see too much in one short trip. It is better to spend a few days in each area to relax and enjoy so you can return well-rested with great stories to share about Colombia. As many people say - the only risk is wanting to stay.
If you are intimidated on where to start, here is a great Colombia itinerary for first-timers to the country.
While most people would not put this city on the list of top ten destinations in South America, it is known to many as the jewel of South America and the perfect place to enter the country with many international flights. Two hundred years ago Cartagena officially announced independence from Spain, the fortified city on Colombia's northern coast still stands, protecting its beautiful colonial buildings.
Spending a few days just walking around the brightly colored buildings with a camera, and wandering the many museums and art galleries makes for a perfect day. It is also a great food destination for those wanting to try a unique combination of food that features traditional Colombian dishes, fresh seafood caught that morning and a Caribbean influence that can only be found in this area.
After learning a bit about the history and architecture of Colombia in one of its most loved cities, it is time to get active. Just outside the city of Santa Marta is what was once known as a small fishing village of Tayrona.
Unfortunately, once everyone read the guidebooks and flocked to this town, the area soon grew and is no longer as quaint as the guidebook continues to promise. However, this means English is spoken in town and it is very easy to get around. It may not be that hidden gem, but really is any town in a guidebook?
The biggest draw is that it is also the entryway to the famous Lost City also known as Ciudad Perdida. It does take 4-5 days to do the arduous trek so plan accordingly.
The most relaxing Colombia itinerary includes a visit to Playa Blanca. This is simply named the white beach and it there is no better way to relax after a grueling five days climbing around Tayrona National Park and Ciudad Perdida. The stunning white sands stretch for two miles and surrounded by some of the most beautiful blue water you have ever seen.
Simply catch an early morning ferry from Cartagena and there are plenty of options for accommodations ranging from hammocks on the beach to luxury hotels.
Instead of flying back home out of Cartagena, you can take advantage of Colombia's low fare airlines and catch a quick flight to Bogota. The capital city does not have the colonial charm of Cartagena but it is a cosmopolitan city that competes on the world stage with a number of fantastic art galleries and museums, including the popular Gold Museum which will keep you busy for hours. Another favorite is the Botero Museum, where you can view incredible work from one of Colombia's most famous artists, Fernando Botero.
If nightlife is what you are looking for, there is no shortage of bars, clubs, and concerts to keep a night owl happy.