Why Colombia Is Irresistible: 6 Must-Have Experiences!

Colombians are known for their friendly and hospitable natures, which is one of the reasons why the country has become one of the most buzzed-about tourist destinations in the past year. In addition to how welcoming Colombians are to tourists, the country’s diverse landscape attracts all types of travelers. Whether you're looking to relax, indulge or dance the night away, Colombia has something to offer. 

1. Colombia Travel: Andrés Carne de Res

Dine and dance at Andrés Carne de Res

The elaborate, artistic restaurant Andrés Carne de Res bills itself as an atypical paradise and is the place to go for it all: delicious Colombian food, interesting artwork and a wild night out. The menu includes traditional Colombian dishes – some of the best food to be had anywhere, in fact – and dinner turns into dancing, with people hopping up on tables and spinning in pairs around the dance floor, creating one of the friendliest and most fun environments in Bogota and beyond. The original location is in the small town Chía outside Bogota, and as everyone will tell you, it’s worth the drive and extra effort to get there. The Bogota location Andrés DC in the trendy Zona Rosa area is a favorite and frequented spot, too, and people fill the four floors starting in the early evenings. All locations are decked out with cool artwork, colorful lamps and awesome sculptures hanging from the ceiling. 

2. Colombia Travel: Cartagena Beaches

Relax on the island beaches near Cartagena

The Spanish colonial port city of Cartagena de las Indias is the place to go for a bit of history, but also to hit the beach and bask in the Colombian sun. While Cartagena has stretches of sandy beaches right within city limits, particularly in the Bocagrande area, the most picturesque are located on nearby islands a short boat trip away. Along Barú Island and the Rosario Islands (which also is a national park) the sand is as fine and white as it comes and the water is the color of bright blue and green gemstones. Many operators run between the main Cartagena port and the islands every day, which makes the trip easy, even if just for a day. 

3. Colombia Travel: Food

Consume arepas, bandeja paisa and aguardiente

Colombian cuisine is simple, fresh and flavorful. Three of the most traditional food and drinks that Colombians regularly consume are arepas, bandeja paisa and aguardiente. Colombian arepas, originally developed by the country’s indigenous population, are made from corn dough and often accompany meals or are eaten as little snacks, sometimes topped or made with cheese, eggs or chorizo sausage. The taste and preparation varies depending on the region, and the version cooked up on the Caribbean coast involves deep-frying them with an egg inside. Regardless, the best place to grab them is from the most popular-looking street carts or tiny bakeries. Bandeja paisa comes as a heaping plate of food, a traditional dish of the antioqueña region (Medellín is the capital) that often includes rice, beans, steak, pork, eggs, sausages, fried banana, avocado and arepas. The anis-flavored aguardiente is the liquor of choice for Colombians, and when most people go out dancing for the night, they purchase a bottle to share, taking shots (it is always consumed straight up) and passing it around.

4. Colombia Travel: Coffee Country

Tour coffee country

Colombians are proud of their standing as producers of some of the best coffee beans in the world have developed tourism to encourage visitors to tour the lush, mountainous coffee plantations and their nearby cities. The Colombian coffee triangle in the Paisa region is where it is cultivated and the three points of the triangle are the departments Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda. The popular, central cities within those to visit to get a taste of java region are Manizales, Pereira and Armenia, so you can stop or stay in the cities and then head out in the fields.

5. Colombia Travel: Salsa Dance

Salsa dance with the locals

The city that is considered the salsa capital of the world, Cali, is located in Colombia, and a night on the town anywhere in the country means you should expect to salsa. Locals often stake out tables around the dance floor at salsa clubs and alternate between resting there to down their aguardiente or chat with their group of friends, and hopping up to hit the dance floor. Most people dance Cali-style salsa, and some of the most popular places to head for hours of dancing span from huge, packed clubs and tiny pubs. Some of the best include the aforementioned Andrés Carne de Res locations, Café Havana in Cartagena,Tin Tin Deo and Changó in Cali and El Eslablón Prendido in Medellin.

6. Colombia Travel: Botero

Appreciate Botero’s artwork

Colombian artist Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most beloved cultural figures and is renowned internationally for his work. Botero’s style, particularly the curvy figures he depicts, are instantly recognizable whether in his paintings or sculpture. Individuals, animals and scenes of daily life are common subjects in his work, and his pride in his country and heritage come across. Botero was born in Medellín, and while his art decorates the cities across the entire country, the Botero’s work is especially on display in his hometown. The Antioquia Museum contains many of his paintings and the adjacent Plaza Botero contains many of his bronze sculptures. The Botero Museum in Bogota is another institution dedicated to the living artist.