Backpacking Colombia: 10 must-visit highlights

There is so much to see and do in Colombia. But what are the things you should really not miss? If you include these highlights on your travel list, you will have a great time for sure. In our opinion, these 10 places and experiences should definitely be included in your trip.

Colombia | The Orange Backpack
reisroute in Colombia | Guatapé | The Orange Backpack

Backpacking Colombia: 10 must-visit highlights

#1 Visit a colonial village

Whether you choosing Villa de Leyva, Barichara or Jardin, a colonial village should be included on your itinerary. We included even more than one in your perfect travel itinerary! Think of the cute streets, white houses, a beautiful village square and quiet atmosphere.

#2 Paragliding in San Gil

San Gil is the adventure capital of Colombia. Whether you want to raft with the national team, make a cool mountain bike tour or go paragliding, here you are in the right place. Paragliding at San Gil was one of the most unique travel experiences for us! Near San Gil is a spot in the mountains with unique thermal conditions. You can continue paragliding on the exact same mountain the whole time, so you can actually land where you take off! Add a beautiful mountain view and your bucket list is a bit shorter.

#3 Colourful Cartagena

Cartagena is without a doubt the most beautiful city in Colombia. The colourful streets and the relaxed, tropical atmosphere will make your visit one of the highlights of the country. Admire the architecture, watch the sunset from the city wall and enjoy the street life!

reisroute in Colombia | Cartagena | The Orange Backpack
reisroute in Colombia | Valle de Cocora | The Orange Backpack
reisroute in Colombia | Valle de Cocora | The Orange Backpack

#4 A traditional game of tejo

Only Colombians know how to make a game out of throwing explosives. There are even special tejo halls for it! During the game, you throw rocks to a clay pit. In there is a small explosive that explodes if you manage to hit it with your stone. It is very difficult, we can tell you from experience! In Salento you can play tejo at Los Amigos and in San Gil Macondo Hostel hosts a tejo night every Thursday at the Comité Municipal de Tejo

#5 Hiking under meters-high palm trees

Valle de Cocora will overwhelm you. The dayhike leads through a green valley and a thick forest with rope bridges over then a mountain top to a beautiful valley with meters-high palm trees. You will feel very small when walking under these huge trees! Not in for a hike? You can also take a shortened route to the palm tree valley, but you’ll miss out on the beautiful walk.

#6 Relax in Minca

Minca is a place where travelers usually stay longer than planned. You can fully relax in this cool mountain village with its beautiful hotels and hostels. We slept at the popular Casa Loma on the mountain top next to the village. From there you’ll be able to enjoy the most beautiful sunset you can imagine and you’ll get an unique sleeping place in one of the huts. During the day you can hike – or jump on a motorcycle taxi – to one of the waterfalls, coffee plantations or viewpoints.

reisroute in Colombia | Minca | The Orange Backpack
Minca | reisroute in Colombia | The Orange Backpack
reisroute in Colombia | Minca | The Orange Backpack

#7 Visit a coffee plantation

If you like a good cup of coffee, you will probably already know the Colombian coffee bean at home. Time to see where it comes from! Coffee plantations can be visited at various places in Colombia, where you will get an explanation of the long and laborious process of eventually transforming the bean from a coffee plant into your cup of coffee. Of course, you can right away taste the result after your tour.

#8 Eat a bandeja paisa

The most traditional meal in Colombia is the bandeja paisa. But think twice before you order it. The bandeja paisa was once created as a meal for the poor people who could only afford a meal once a day. As that one meal had to provide enough energy for a full day of hard labour, you can expect more calories in this dish than on the rest of the menu. ‘Cause why choosing between sausage, minced meat, avocado, beans and rice, if you can also have it all on one plate?

Colombia | The Orange Backpack
Colombia | The Orange Backpack

#9 Gautapé and El Peñó

The most colourful village in the country is only a two hour bus drive away from Medellin. You can endlessly walk through the colourful streets to admire the painted houses. Combine that with climbing the huge El Peñó for a beautiful view over the lake area. The perfect day trip!

#10 Take the cable car in Medellin

It is the easiest to get around Medellin using the metro. Your metro card also includes the cable car running over the city! To create a better connection between the slums on the mountainside and the rest of the city, a cable car was constructed. A perfect way for travelers to see the slums from above – getting down is not recommended for safety reasons – and enjoy a great view from the top. We actually went up twice!

reisroute in Colombia | Guatapé | The Orange Backpack
Medellin | reisroute in Colombia | The Orange Backpack
Colombia | The Orange BackpackColombia | The Orange Backpack