In August this year, Dan and I ventured off to explore Colombia for a month with honestly no idea what to expect…
Would it be as dangerous as everyone made out?
Would the people be friendly?
Would the food be good?
In the end we kind of just thought screw it, it seems like a pretty cool country, so we jumped on a plane to Bogotá.
Before we knew it the month was over and if felt like we were only just beginning to know the place.
You know how it is… Time flies when you’re having fun (we had lot’s of fun).
We wandered the beautiful historic streets of Bogotá…
Sipped amazing coffee and networked with digital nomads from all over the world in Medellín…
Soaked up the sun in Cartagena….
Relaxed in our rooftop pool in Santa Marta…
And fell in love with everything about Palomino…
Yet, there were still so many more experiences to be had.
Unfortunately we had to return to Brazil for a commitment but next time we go back we’ve got a whole other list of places to visit!
Colombia quickly became one of our favourite countries and we’ve been encouraging friends and family to visit ever since.
So now I want to show you why Colombia is such an incredible travel destination…
After reading this, I think you’ll have a new addition to your bucket list! 😉
7 Reasons Why You Should Seriously Travel To Colombia ASAP
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7. Learn how to speak Spanish
If you’ve been wanting to speak Spanish then what better way to learn than spending a few months in a beautiful Spanish speaking country like Colombia?
There are a few ways to go about this:
You can enroll yourself in a school and learn Spanish intensively over a period of 6 weeks or so…
You can hire a private tutor and learn from your local café (I saw many tourists doing this)…
You can do an exchange where you teach a local English and they teach you Spanish…
Or you can simply travel to more remote areas, stay with locals and learn Spanish through natural interaction…
The majority of Colombians don’t speak a lot of English which means you will have to learn some basic communication in order to have a smoother travel experience.
So if your goal is to learn Spanish, you will have absolutely no problem achieving this when you travel to Colombia.
6. Delicious food full of fresh flavours (not to mention the coffee)
We had our first traditional Colombian breakfast dish on our first morning in Colombia.
We’d been told by our Airbnb host that we had to try ‘tamale’ as this was the most authentic way of having breakfast.
The first little coffee/snack joint we came across had a good special going on tamale so we gave it a go…
5,000 COP (just over $1.50 USD) bought us the tamale itself, a coffee (or hot chocolate) and some bread, and seriously, one of these was enough food to fill the both of us.
Tamale is a mixture of meat, egg, vegetables and beans all mashed together with masa (a starchy dough) which is then wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed.
This was possibly the most unique/interesting breakfast I’ve ever tasted.
Every meal after that just kept getting better and better.
The flavours were more intense and varied than what I’d been served up in Brazil and the people weren’t afraid to cook with lemon, chilli and coriander, which are my favourite.
I don’t normally enjoy salad much (I’m more of a vegetable person) but every salad I tried in Colombia was teamed with a delicious, fragrant dressing or mixed with fresh herbs so I ended up really loving my salads.
And the fish… Wow. If you head to the Caribbean coast (Cartagena, Rosario Islands, Santa Marta, etc) you will find the most flavoursome whole grilled fish and ceviche.
My mouth is watering.
And then there’s the coffee…
Everyone’s heard the rumours about Colombia producing amazing coffee…
It’s totally true.
When I drink ‘normal coffee’ (the stuff people brew at home), I need sugar.
To me, it tastes bitter and I found out why the other day…
Apparently the cheap coffee that you buy in supermarkets is produced with defects, so the producers burn the beans to get rid of the defects…?
So then you are left with burnt tasting beans, which is why you need sugar.
I don’t know much about coffee at all but I know when it tastes good.
Go to a well established café when you travel to Colombia and I can guarantee that if you love coffee, you won’t need sugar.
5. Network with other entrepreneurs and expats
Medellín in particular is a entrepreneur and expat hotspot.
A great deal of foreigners who run online businesses or work remotely choose to travel to Colombia for all the reasons I’m mentioning here.
No only that, many travelers fall in love with Colombia and decide to return permanently and set up physical businesses. I met foreigners with cafés, hostels and shops.
Also, if you get to know the Colombians themselves, you will find out that many of them have an entrepreneurial flare, running side businesses on top of working full time.
So if you are a business owner, thinking of starting your own business or even looking into ways you can work remotely, Colombia, especially Medellín, is a fantastic place to network, gain ideas and form business relationships.
4. Diverse scenery and incredible natural beauty
It was the Caribbean beaches that originally inspired us to travel to Colombia.
We’d seen images all over the web of rustic beaches lined with dense rows of coconut trees on one side and crystal clear, turquoise water on the other…
The Caribbean coast of Colombia was actual paradise and we needed to go…
So we did.
But upon arriving in Colombia we soon realised that while the country boasts stunning tropical beaches, it also possesses some of the world’s most diverse and breathtaking natural environments…
From Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world’s highest coastal mountain range, which is home to over 30,000 ethnic people…
To the dry desert terrain of La Guajira and Tatacoa…
To the dense vegetation of the Amazon forest in Colombia’s east, Tayrona National Park on the Caribbean coast and the Darién Gap on the Colombia/Panama border…
To the steep mountains and deep valleys of the Andes, one of the world’s longest mountain ranges which runs through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile…
If you want variety, Colombia’s got it all.
3. High danger levels are a thing of the past
Before we traveled to Colombia we were in Brazil (Dan is from Brazil) and something funny happened.
When we told people that we were going to Colombia they were like…
“Oh, are you sure? Like, isn’t it really dangerous?”
These were Brazilians asking if Colombia was safe.
I started to worry, thinking, if Colombia is so much more dangerous than Brazil, what are we in for?!
We went anyway because we’d been dreaming of visiting the beaches of Colombia for so long…
And as it turned out, we felt safer in Colombia than we’ve ever felt in places like Rio de Janeiro or parts of São Paulo in Brazil.
Go back 20 years and yes, Colombia was an unsafe country to be in…
Between the drug war and the FARC movement (which was considered a terrorist organisation), people in cities like Medellín were scared to leave their own houses in fear of being killed or kidnapped.
But when Pablo Escobar, the most powerful and dangerous drug lord in history was shot and killed, and an end was put to years of violence, things began to change.
Now, Colombia is a completely different place.
In fact, it’s the happiest country in the world.
I’m not kidding, various studies about the world’s happiest nations have been conducted over recent years and Colombia has consistently come out on top.
And what’s more, only very recently, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with FARC after 52 years of war between the two political groups.
This is amazing.
But I can’t lie, there are a few things you need to watch out for when you visit Colombia, one of the main things being theft.
There are still many people living in poverty in Colombia so if you spend all your time waving your fancy new iPhone 7 around, consider it gone by the end of your trip…
You need to keep valuables out of site and easy reach. This way, you won’t get anything stolen nor will you encourage vulnerable people to give into temptation.
Colombia still remains one of the main cocaine producers in the world, however, as a tourist or expat, you’d barely know it.
Now a criminal “peace” has been established in Medellin and in October 2013, Medellin registered its lowest murder rate in three decades.
2. Considerably low cost of living
If you are from Europe, the US, Australia or countries with a similar economy, Colombia is an extremely inexpensive country to travel in…
So by traveling to Colombia, not only will you save money but you’ll also help to boost their economy.
It’s a win win!
There are certain cities that are cheaper than others. Out of the cities we visited, I think Santa Marta and Medellín were the least expensive.
Cartagena was the most expensive because it is a tourist destination.
The prices in Cartagena were on par with what we’d spend in Brazil’s major cities… Which is still inexpensive compared to most of western Europe.
So, let’s do a few price comparisons, shall we?
As I mentioned earlier, in Bogotá we had a traditional breakfast served with bread and coffee for $5.000 COP: $1.65 USD.
In Santa Marta we had a local lunch with meat, rice, beans and salad as well as a soup and a drink for $6.000 COP: $2.00 USD.
In Medellín I saw coffee and hot chocolate being sold (in local places) for $2.000 COP: $0.70 USD.
In Medellín we also stayed in a large room in a beautiful Airbnb apartment for just over $60.000 COP per night for 2 people: $20.00 USD.
Hostels dorms were around $10.00 USD per person, per night.
Uber… Well Uber was amazing…
Base fare: $5.500 COP = $1.90 USD
Price per minute: $150 COP = $0.05 USD
15 minute ride: $7.750 COP = $2.70 USD
So as you can see, Colombia is a fantastic country to visit if you’ve been wanting to travel but deem it too expensive.
And the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets because you can find long term rentals, cook food at home, do your own laundry, etc… All of these things help to save money.
If you want to learn how you can achieve long term or full time travel and continue earning an income at the same time, download our free eBook, 12 Steps To Full Time Travel.
1. Friendly and welcoming people
Of course, people are the number one reason why I would visit Colombia again.
Not only because they are kind, welcoming, chatty and hospitable but because they are also happy and consistently vibrating with positive energy.
It feels good to be around Colombians, you know?
If you’re feeling down, just talk to a Colombian and they will pick you back up in no time.
From our singing, dancing taxi driver…
To our hilarious Airbnb host…
To our attentive paragliding guide…
We LOVE Colombians!
Now it’s over to you! Leave your answers below…
- What were your preconceived ideas about Colombia?
- Now that you’ve read this post, would you travel to Colombia?
- Have you been to Colombia and have something more to add? Let me know!
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