What is Colombia Known For? The Good, The Bad and Local Tips


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Ever wonder and curious about what is Colombia known for? And what are Colombia’s attractions that make it a dream travel destination in South America?

You’ve come to the ideal blog post, as we have Giorgy from G-Extreme Travel – an expert about traveling in Colombia – ready to share her knowledge.

Colombia is a unique and life-changing experience that will leave you completely different in ways you didn’t know were possible. Keep reading you understand why!

What is Colombia Known for? This photo shows the contrast between historical and modern Cartagena, one of the famous cities in Colombia.
What is Colombia famous for? Well, so many things that you will be surprised!

So, what is Colombia Known For?

Are you ready to be changed forever? Strap yourself in and let’s discover together why so many people are drawn to this vibrant country, from its lush landscapes and indigenous cultures to its lively cities and stunning coastline with beautiful beaches.

To demonstrate how beautiful is Colombia, here is a list of all the wonders reasons why!

Colombia’s famous cities you must visit

From the colorful colonial architecture of the walled city of Cartagena to the bustling streets of the capital city of Bogota and the up-and-coming foodie scene in Medellin. Colombia has a bit of something for everyone.

Historical Cartagena is one of the famous cities in Colombia!

And what would Colombia be without Cali‘s nightlife, also called the Salsa Capital? All of these cities have their own unique charm, and together they make Colombia the amazing country it is today.

However, don’t visit only the major cities, pay a visit to Colombia’s little towns and hidden gems that deserve more attention than what they get! From the hippy town in the middle of a lush rainforest, Minca, to the oldest colonial of Cartagena and Mompox.

Photo of a colonial church in Mompox, one of the must-visit places in Colombia.
Mompox is not well known, but worth a visit!

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime with San Gil – the adrenaline capital of Colombia! Whether it’s rafting, paragliding or simply hiking around its gorgeous nature reserves, this town is sure to make your heart skip a beat.

Or, if you want to visit the most colorful town in Colombia, don’t forget to go to Guatape. This picturesque town is where you can see what a postcard looks like in real life!

Colombia is known for its Natural Wonders 

Aren’t you a fan of cities? Don’t fret, I thought to include the incredible natural wonders Colombia is famous for!

The Cocora Valley palm trees are almost 200 feet tall. The photo shows a few hills and a valley covered with them.
These three are gigantic!

– Cocora Valley

Colombia’s Cocora Valley is famous for its towering wax palms, one of the tallest palm trees in the world, and Colombia’s national tree. The palm trees can reach up to 60 meters (circa 200 feet tall).

It’s a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers alike, and it’s easy to see why.

The valley is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. Indulge your senses on a journey to the local coffee plantations and discover what makes this region’s brews so special.

– Caribbean Region of Colombia

On the other hand, if you are more for a stunning beach to relax and soak in the sun, you should consider visiting San Andres. This is a small island off the coast of Colombia that is famous for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and the incredible biodiversity of its coral reefs. 

Here are a few activities you can do on San Andres island, check them out!

Not as famous as San Andres, the island of Santa Catalina is also worth mentioning and adding to your itinerary. It’s a beautiful island, that’s as San Andress, is renowned for its captivating diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Woman jumping on the sand of a beach in Tayrona National Park in Colombia.
Are you looking for amazing beaches and national parks? Colombia has them all!

Are you prepared to lose yourself in the place where the ocean and jungle collide? If so, look no further than Tayrona National Park – situated along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Here, you can explore miles of breathtaking landscapes while being surrounded by gorgeous flora and fauna. Get ready for an adventure like none other! It’s indeed a fantastic place for nature lovers and beach bums alike!

The coastal cities of Santa Marta, Palomino e Taganga are good starting points for exploring Tyrona National Park doing one-day or multiple-day visits.

Still talking about the Caribbean region, Colombia is also known for La Guajira, the northernmost point in Colombia and home to some of the most spectacular golden desert places in the country. Indeed, la Guajira is a place of beauty and breathtaking nature.

– Colombia Lost City

The beach city of Santa Marta is also the starting point of another Colombia famous adventure that involves nature and history. The Teyuna City, aka the Lost City, is another attraction in Colombia worth visiting. 

Built by the Tairona indigenous people more than 1,000 years ago, the lost city was discovered only in the 1970s. You could say that it’s Colombia’s version of Machu Picchu, but older, less famous, and with less access and infrastructure for visitors. But don’t let the lack of advertisement put you off from this experience.

Here are a few tours leaving from Santa Marta to the Lost City of Colombia. 

– La Tatacoa Desert

La Tatacoa Desert is a large semi-arid region located south of the city of Neiva, where a unique landscape of eroded canyons and rocky hills is what makes it stand out from the rest (You could be forgiven for believing you are still in a dream, so fantastic is the realization.).

The desert is also a great place for stargazing as the clear skies allow for a perfect view of the night sky. I mean, who wouldn’t spend a night outside in the hammocks under the starry sky?

– Colombia Rainbow Rivers

Did you know that Bolivia is not the only place where nature paints a rainbow? Caño Cristales is a river located in the state of Meta in Colombia, and its name comes from the fact that during certain times of the year, its crystal clear waters turn into a rainbow of colors. It is a truly unique and beautiful sight to see and not to be missed!

– Los Nevados National Park

The Los Nevados National Park is a spectacular mountain range located in the central part of Colombia. It is home to a variety of plants and animals, as well as many spectacular peaks such as the Nevado del Ruiz. As in many national parks, Los Nevados offers a wide variety of activities such as hiking (also climbing) and camping.

 

Photo of the Penon de Guatape, a large monolithic rock in the colorful town of Guatape.
Would you dare to climb this Colombia famous attraction?

– Penon de Guatape

The Penon de Guatape is a large monolithic rock in the colorful town of Guatape. Allow yourself to hike up El Peñol, this huge monolith that offers incomparable views over the mountains and lakes. 

If hiking the Colombian natural wonder sounds a bit daunting, join a group tour like this one and have fun with other travelers.

Colombia is such a biodiverse country! Don’t just take my word for it- come explore and see the magic of Colombia with your own eyes.

So, have I convinced you yet about what Colombia is known for and worth visiting? I still have so much to talk about this beautiful country. 

Colombia Amazon & Biodiversity

We talked about natural wonders, but Amazon deserves its own topic! And what can I say about the Amazon Rainforest that hasn’t already been said?

This vast jungle is truly a magical place, filled with breathtaking natural beauty and mystery. From the lush greenery to the myriad of wildlife, there is something truly special about this place that captures your heart and soul.

And what’s even more amazing is that the Amazon is home to some of the most unique plants, incredible bird species, and animals in the world. If you are looking for an adventure of a lifetime that bewitched you, then look no further than the Amazon Rainforest. Trust me, this is one place you will never forget.

Colombia Famous Food

What I love about traveling is embracing the places to the fullest, which means discovering the culture and the food! And food in Colombia is an attraction in itself!

From Bandeja Paisa, Ajiaco, Empanadas, and Arepas to Sancocho, Colombian food is full of delicious and flavorful dishes that will have you coming back for more.

Arepas, one of the famous food in Colombia, are a type of cornbread that is popular in many Latin American countries. However, what makes Colombian Arepas different is that they are made with white corn and stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables.

Sancocho is a hearty soup that consists of chicken, beef, pork, or fish stewed with vegetables. This dish is typically served during special occasions like Christmas and New Year’s. (Oh sorry, I only stepped out for a while, I got hungry and had to make an Arepa for myself!)

If you are wondering about the water situation in Colombia… well, yes, you can drink tap water in Colombia!

Woman trying a local Colombian fruit that looks like an orange by tastes like a kiwi.
The wonder world of Colombia’s tropical fruits!

Delicous Colombia Fruits

This culinary journey was truly beyond belief! I joined a food tour in Colombia, and it is something that I highly encourage everyone to experience. My mind was blown away by the sheer variety of exquisite fruits Colombia offers. The flavors were simply out-of-this-world!

Imagine picking up a citrus fruit that looks like an orange from the outside, but upon slicing it open, you discover its inner beauty is in fact of a kiwi. As soon as your teeth sink into it, take pleasure in how amazing the flavor is – an explosion of wondrous tastes!

I think you cannot ask for anything better, try to believe it!

Famous Colombia Coffee

Strangely enough, coffee is not my go-to beverage. I often reply with “I’m drugged by happiness instead of caffeine!” when someone asks how I stay awake and alert. Nonetheless, Colombian coffee has managed to captivate me; it’s the only type of brew that can truly be regarded as enjoyable in my book!

The coffee grown in Colombia are some of the best in the world and the country is known for having some of the most flavorful and robust coffee beans around…

In Colombia, you can take a tour to learn about the coffee production process. You can also visit a finca (coffee plantation) to see firsthand what it takes to make this exquisite product.

Here is an interesting Colombian Coffee Tour departing from Medellin, one of the largest cities in Colombia, but still close to coffee plantations. Check it out!

Colombia Carnaval and Year-around Festivals

Ah, Colombia Carnaval of Barranquilla! Words cannot express what an exciting and unforgettable experience it truly is.

This carnival is a four-day celebration that takes place every February or March in the city of Barranquilla. The festival is celebrated with parades, music, and street dancing. People of all ages (you include) can be seen wearing bright, colorful outfits as they take part in the festivities.

Participants in the Barranquilla Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia Barranquilla Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in the world.
Colombia is famous for its party and carnivals!

If you can make it to the Barranquilla Carnival, there is no need to feel disheartened since Colombia is renowned for more than just Carnival. As a matter of fact, the country offers a plethora of fairs and festivals which are held year-round in all municipal areas across the nation!

Feria de Manizales: From bullfights to parades, the Manizales Fair celebrates the New Year with a variety of traditional and modern activities between January 5-11th.

Carnaval de Negros y Blancos: Every year, between the 2nd and 7th of January, Colombia celebrates one of its most cherished festivals: The Black and White Carnival. With a history that extends back to 1607 when Antioch’s black slaves stood up against authority, this incredible celebration has been officially declared a UNESCO Cultural Heritage.

Vallenato Festival: When it comes to events in Colombia, the Vallenata Festival stands out from all others as a star attraction. Whether referred to by its full title – International Festival of the Vallenata Legend – or simply ‘Vallenata’, this event promises an unforgettable experience! Between the 27th and 30th of April, Valledupar—the capital of Vallenato—comes alive with a colorful festival.

During this time, not only is dancing partaken in but all forms of art associated with Vallenato are revived as well. This includes peasant poetry recitations, storytelling sessions based on oral traditions, and other socio-cultural expressions to revel in. Come join us for an unforgettable experience while admiring Colombian artists!

– Festival of Andean Music: Every May, the vibrant and colorful Mono Núñez Festival of Andean Music enlivens Ginebra in Colombia’s Cauca Valley. The festival was first held in 1975 to commemorate Maestro Benigno Mono Núñez and has since become an iconic annual event that showcases world-renowned Andean music on a global stage.

Medellin Flower Fair: The Medellin Flower Fair is one of many yearly events that take place in Colombia during August. This festival was first celebrated in May but changed to August in 1958 so that it would coincide with the month of Antioch’s independence. 

Latin American Festival of Folk Dance: Every October, the Valle del Cauca region hosts a festival to preserve and celebrate its cultural identity. Attendees enjoy workshops teaching traditional dances, craft fairs showcasing unique creations, exhibitions displaying local artwork, delicious gastronomic festivals featuring regional cuisine, educational events providing insight into Latin American culture and history as well as musical performances by talented musicians.

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to experience Latin American culture firsthand! From the Festival of the Green Moon in San Andrés Islas to the Drum Festival in Bolívar and then finally, ending with a bang at International Film Festival in Bogotá – this month is truly an exciting time for festivals!

The Independence Fair: In November, citizens of Bolívar gather to commemorate the Independence Fair, where they can witness Colombia’s National Beauty Pageant. Participants parade in whaleboats while wearing swimming costumes and evening dresses before the final crowning event takes place. During this celebration, a Popular Crowning of the Beauty Queen is held for all to admire.

The Gold Pirarucú, the Festival of Popular Amazonian Music, is one of the most celebrated festivals in November. It is also the most famous festival in the country.

Cali Fair: There is no doubt that the Cali Fair draws the most visitors and tourists to this region. The fair has been taking place since 1957, between the 25th and 30th of December. Some of the most popular events include bullfighting, the crowning of the beauty queen from Cali’s municipalities, street performances, salsa music, and a large concert.

Apart from this, some other notable events include the World Festival of Salsa in Cali, Magdalena’s National Cumbia Festival, and Pereira’s Harvest Festivities.

Traditions Colombia is known for

Aside from its jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenery, what makes Colombia so special is its unique cultural traditions. So here are a few Colombian cultural facts.

Three women sitting in front of graffiti art in Colombia.
Let Colombia surprise you!

First off, let’s talk about leather goods- an industry that has been in the country for centuries and which is still extremely popular. The Colombian leather craftsmanship here is world-renowned, producing some of the most beautiful pieces found anywhere in South America.

Their unique designs are a combination of traditional Colombian techniques and modern sensibilities, resulting in items that you won’t find anywhere else.

Colombia is also known for its gold and emeralds, which have been mined in the country since pre-Columbian times. In fact, it’s thought that around 80% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia! These precious gemstones are often used in traditional Colombian jewelry, which makes for some truly stunning pieces.

And last but not least, we have to mention Graffiti Art. Colombia is home to one of the world’s most vibrant and creative graffiti scenes, which has been steadily gaining international recognition.

Whether you’re a fan of street art or not, it’s an experience that everyone should have at least once and it’s going to teach you the sad story behind it! Here are two graffiti tours worth booking when you are in Colombia. 

The famous Colombia Salsa

You cannot say you visit Colombia without dancing salsa or at least seeing someone else dancing salsa.

Two people taking silly photos with a fake salsa dance costume.
When you are not properly dressed for Colombian Salsa! LOL

Salsa originated in Colombia but has since spread around the world. It is a fast-paced, international style of social dance that combines basic steps with intricate footwork to create an energetic performance.

There are many different types of salsa styles, including Colombian Salsa (or Cumbia as it’s known in some parts of Latin America), Bachata, and Merengue. As said above, it doesn’t really matter what your level of experience is, there are classes available for everyone from beginners to advanced dancers.

And if you’re feeling really brave, you can even try out for a spot on one of the professional dance teams!

The Explosive Colombia Tejo Game

Colombia is known for many things but what most people don’t know is that it’s also the home of the explosive game – Tejo! Founded way back in colonial times, this unique sport is still popular today and offers a fun and challenging experience.

A group of friends posing in front of the target of the Tejo Game. It's a traditional game in Colombia where the players use gunpowder to provoke explosions.
Tejo Game – An explosion of fun!

Tejo is an interesting mix between curling, and bocce ball and is played on a special Tejo court.

The objective of the game is to throw metal discs at a target (usually a clay disc) and detonate it. But what makes this game really unique is the use of gunpowder! The explosives are placed inside the target and when hit, set off a loud explosion.

The player who detonates the most targets in one round wins the game.

With its vibrant colors, loud booms, and plenty of action, Tejo is certainly one of the most unique sports you’ll ever see.

And it’s a great way to hang out with friends and family while having some explosive fun! So what are you waiting for? Try Tejo and have blast!

Colombia is known for its friendly people and celebrities

When it comes to Colombia, there is one thing that stands out – the Colombian people!

Colombians are some of the friendliest, most welcoming individuals you will ever meet. With a population of over 50 million friendly faces, it’s no wonder why tourism has increased in recent years.

Plus, Colombia is home to famous celebrities in the world.

You probably know a bunch of famous people from Colombia, think for a while!

You can find famous Colombian people in many fields, from world-renowned authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Fernando González Ochoa to the contemporary painter Fernando Botero, and famous artists like Sofia Vergara, Shakira, and J Balvin.

If you like sports, you probably also heard of Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana, both famous cyclists from Colombia, and the racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

Colombia is a hotbed of talent and creativity. The personality of Colombians really sets them apart from many other places. They’re always so full of life, with an infectious energy that spreads throughout the country.

They also have the best sense of humor and are always up for a good time! From dancing in the streets to playing Tejo, Colombians don’t shy away from having fun.

So if you ever find yourself in Colombia, be sure to join in on some of the festivities and get ready to experience what makes this country so beautiful and worth it!

Colombia is also known for bad things

As in every place in the world, Colombia is neither all steaks and French wine. Indeed, Colombia is also known for bad things, sadly for its long history of drug trafficking and revolution.

Photo of the slums in Medellin. On the bad side, Colombia is famous for drug trafficking, cartels and FARCS.
What is Colombia known for negatively?

In the past, Colombia has been plagued by several cartels and illegal organizations, including the infamous Medellin Cartel run by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s. This caused immense violence and disruption throughout the country, which still affects it today. You can learn about it in this Pablo Escobar Guided Tour

Additionally, Colombia is also known for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This guerrilla group has been active since 1964 and has caused a great deal of harm to Colombian citizens. Although the conflict between FARC and the government ended in 2016, its effects are still felt throughout the country.

Overall, there are plenty of negative aspects of Colombia as well, which are important to be aware of. One of them is safety! Colombia doesn’t make the list of the Safest Countries in South America, but even though it’s with visiting. 

If you are in doubt about traveling to Colombia because of its bad reputation, read this Colombia Safety Guide and you might change your mind. 

Although it can be difficult to recognize the bad things along with the good, what’s most important is that we always maintain a realistic perspective whenever visiting or discussing any country and its culture. Understanding both sides will help us navigate the world more effectively and foster understanding between people.

Travel Advice:

Don’t forget your Travel Insurance! You don’t want anything to ruin your trip, right? So don’t take the risk! Reliable travel insurance can help you in case of travel issues, from accidents to health problems, travel delays and lost luggage.

There are many insurances in the market, our picks are HeyMondo and SafetyWing. We used both and always had a good experience. Click on the insurance names to get a quote.

Wrap-Up: What Colombia Is Known For?

In conclusion, what Colombia is known for is what makes it a unique and beautiful country. From its friendly inhabitants to its natural wonders and notorious drug trafficking, Colombia has something for everyone–from adventure seekers to history buffs.

Of course, the country has some dark aspects as well that should not be overlooked, but with proper education and awareness of these issues, travelers can still enjoy all that Colombia has to offer.

Have I convinced you so far? Start planning your trip to Colombia today!

You can find the best hotels in Colombia here! And use 12Go or Bookaway to book local transportation!

Love these Colombia interesting facts? Pin it for later?

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