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Visiting Colombia? Here Are Some Options to Consider

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When you think of Colombia, what comes to mind?

According to an informal, thoroughly unscientific survey I conducted, most people think of coffee, arepas (griddled corn cakes), and Pablo Escobar. I’m a salsa dancer, so I think of all the great salsa music the country has produced—shout out to Grupo Niche!

When I decided to return to Colombia this spring (my last visit was in 2014), I was curious to see who else was traveling in Colombia and why they decided to visit. While Colombia is certainly receiving international visitors, and I met a handful of travelers from Switzerland, France, Mexico, the United States, and the UK, tourism is returning very slowly and the vast majority of travelers are Colombians who haven’t been able to or aren’t interested in traveling abroad. Shortly after my visit, Bogotá and Medellín experienced some political violence and COVID-19 infections spiked across the country, but things have since calmed down on both fronts.

Any time I met an American, which was rare, I was quick to ask why they chose Colombia. The most common answer: because it’s not Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mexico. It’s my favorite country in the world and I even lead Day of the Dead tours in Mexico City, but as Mexico is one of the easiest countries to travel to right now, it has attracted huge numbers of American tourists during the pandemic. The Americans I met in Colombia went there specifically because they wanted to explore a country that wasn’t overrun with Americans; they wanted to travel with locals. I was surprised to learn that most American visitors knew very little about Colombia and had done very little research before their trip; they basically booked a flight to Bogotá and asked around when they arrived. As Bogotá receives the most direct flights from the US (from Newark, Miami, Atlanta, etc.), it makes sense to start your trip there and that’s just what I did.

Colombia no longer requires that travelers provide a negative PCR test within 96 hours of visiting but if you’re not vaccinated, getting tested would be the courteous (and potentially life-saving!) thing to do. Travelers must fill out a CheckMig form between 1-48 hours of arrival, confirming some details about their upcoming trip and that they haven’t been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. Rules and regulations could change so be sure to check for updates prior to your trip.

Before leaving Colombia, you’ll have to fill out the same CheckMig form and show the confirmation email to airport staff before you’re allowed to check in. Oddly, though I checked “departing Colombia”, my departure survey contained some of the arrival-specific questions that had also been in the “arriving in Colombia” survey. I answered them the same way I did when I first arrived and received the confirmation email, which I showed to airport staff.

It sounds like a cliché, but Colombia really does have something for everyone—beaches, jungles, mountains, metropolitan areas, hiking, biking, rafting, world class museums, and a killer culinary scene. Each city and region has its own flavor so if possible, try to spend a few days in at least a few cities. My most recent trip was nearly a month-long and I debated changing my flight (again!) to spend even more time there. This piece is a sort of primer for travelers who are thinking about visiting Colombia for the first time or who maybe only visited the tourist hotspot of Cartagena (which is exactly what I did on my first trip to Colombia), and who now want to dig a bit deeper into this incredible and diverse country.


Colombia’s capital city is the country’s cultural and political hub but its designation as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world is what really drew my attention. The city is blanketed with 248 miles of bike lanes and is home to Latin America’s oldest and largest Ciclovía, where 75 miles of car-free lanes attract tens of thousands of cyclists each Sunday.

City bike tours are available but if you prefer to walk, Bogotá’s most famous walking tours, the War and Peace Tour and Graffiti Tour, are both excellent. Local anthropologists,........

© The Daily Beast

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