As I have mentioned in my previous posts, the travel madness all started when I turned 30. Thirty was the first year I planned a solo international trip to Paris. My 30th birthday trip was definitely one to remember. I fell in love with Paris for the first time. I got a once in a lifetime chance to see Serena Williams play at the French Open (which she won that year) and also attend my first French cooking class. Since this special birthday and extravagant trip, I have been contaminated by the travel bug. Every year, I am now known to be planning an international excursion to celebrate my special day. I, of course, have made sure to visit Paris every year sans COVID. I also like to try and explore at least three new countries every year.
I don’t really have a numerical travel goal. My true goal in life is to try and visit every country on this earth before my time has run out. I, at this time, have traveled to six out of the seven continents on this earth. It wasn’t until last year though for my 39th birthday that I finally reached South America for the first time. I made up my mind that I wanted to bring in the last year of my 30s in Colombia. Over the years I had heard many positive experiences about Colombia and I set out to the explore the country finally for myself.
The week that I spent in Colombia was nothing short of incredible. I, like always, thoroughly did my research to maximize my experience during my travel. I was able to visit five different cities each with their own unique vibe. I started my trip south in Medellín and worked my way north to finish my trip in Bogota. I honestly enjoyed my time in Medellín more than my time in the better known and capital city of Bogota.
Since it has been almost exactly a year since my visit to Colombia, I thought it was definitely time to share my experiences and my travel guide with you. May is a great time of the year to visit Colombia. The weather is mild enough to explore different cities without being too hot or cold. Medellín, Colombia is known as the land of eternal spring thanks to its optimal atmosphere, making any time of year the best time to visit.
My 39th birthday and first trip to South America was absolutely amazing. I wanted to share as much information and my itinerary below, so hopefully you’ll consider Colombia a destination for your birthday vacation or solo trip.
Please see my Colombia Travel Guide below.
Transportation: For my trip I originally flew into Bogota from LAX and took a smaller flight to Medellín once I arrived to Colombia. The flights are very affordable to travel throughout the country. My flights were on average approximately $20 (USD) one way. I used Avianca Airlines as my main flight carrier. Once you have reached your destination in Colombia the most affordable and reasonable way to travel is via local buses. If you’re going to be going longer distances or need a more direct way to travel, taxis and Uber is the best option. Always be sure to have cash on hand just in case.
Money: Colombia is a very affordable country to visit. I definitely appreciated how far my US dollars stretched in this country. I did notice during my journey that my money definitely stretched further in the less populated cities. Colombians use the Colombian Peso as their cash. $1 USD = $4556 COP (Colombian Pesos). As I mentioned above, be sure to have some COPs on hand for the taxi and street food, but debit/ cards are pretty much excepted everywhere else.
Language: Spanish is the official language of Colombia. I would say my Spanish is intermediate. I most certainly understand more than I can say correctly. I was able to do well enough with my Spanish to get a cab, order food at restaurants, go shopping and have basic conversation. I tried to speak as much Spanish as I could to hopefully feel more comfortable with the language by the end of my trip. If you don’t know Spanish very well, I would say use your translator on your phone/ smart device. Bogota also provided more English speaking citizens I noticed during my trip.
Food: All the food I ate during my trip was absolutely amazing. Everything tasted super fresh. The first thing I had during my trip were these vegan tacos in El Pablado with a freshly made strawberry margarita. I recommend trying the street foods, especially the Buñuelos. They’re fried cheese dough balls that come is different varieties and you can put sauce on top! The food prices are very reasonable too. I ate like a queen my entire trip and didn’t break the bank.
7 Day Colombia Itinerary
Day 1: Flight from Bogota to Medellín Colombia. Approximately 1 hour.
Check into hotel.
Where I stayed? 23 hotel in the El Poblado district in Medellín. This hotel was wonderful. The location was the best. It’s located in a very safe area. I felt comfortable walking alone at night. It is also located in walking distance to some of the best restaurants and shops Medellín has to offer. Breakfast was included in my stay and the food was amazing!
The entire experience was ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
See restaurant menu and prices here!
Day 2: Comuna 13 tour of Medellín.
This tour is an absolute must! This tour allows you to see and visit all that accompanies the great city of Medellín. From the street art, to the different neighborhoods, the cable cars, the food, etc. The tour starts downtown and then takes you all over the city. There is a lot of walking uphill and downhill involved so dress accordingly. The tour is well worth the cost and then some.
Dinner at Rocoto. See complete menu here!
Other places to check out in Medellín
- Llera Park
- Spanish Park Library
- León de Greiff Library Park
- La Candelaria
- The metro cable
Day 3: Day tour of Guatapé
This is another must see spot in Colombia. This tour starts in Medellín. You travel by bus a few hours away to the first stop of Piedra del Peñol. Piedra del Peñol is a gigantic rock featuring over 700 stairs you climb to the top. Once you reach the top you overlook this incredible view of Guatapé. The city of Guatapé itself is absolutely breathtaking. This city looks as if it were built out of a child’s storybook. This city is filled with so much color and coordination.
Day 4: Flight from Medellín to Cartagena
Where I stayed: I stayed at the Radisson Hotel which was directly on the beach. The hotel was not located close to where the action (el Centro) and sites were in the city and I do not recommend.
Must see in Cartagena: Visit the Getsemaní neighborhood. This well known portion of Cartagena is filled with colorful street art of beautiful Black and brown people.
Day 5: Day trip to Palenque, Colombia
Palenque is a city in Colombia that was the first founded by freed enslaved Africans. Palenque is considered the first free town of slavery in America. This tour was full of history and immersive experiences of African roots. I really enjoyed being able to visit this city and participant in the full experience.
Must do in Cartagena: After my tour from Palenque I was dropped back off in the city centre of Cartagena. I had enough time to walk around, explore and take some pictures before my amazing cooking class. My class was a one on one lesson where I learned how to make a popular and authentic delicious Colombian dish of fish, coconut rice and plantains. I recommend taking a Colombian cooking class if not in Cartagena, somewhere else during your South American journey.
Check out Colombian cooking class here!
Day 6: Flight from Cartagena to Bogota.
Where I stayed on Bogota- Hotel Bioxury. I really enjoyed staying at this establishment. The hotel was located in the best location. It was within walking distance to all the best shops for shopping and restaurants for eating. The living wall in the lobby was gorgeous as well.
Day 7: Breakfast/ Lunch in Bogota and head to the airport.
Breakfast was included during my hotel stay at Hotel Bioxury and was absolutely fresh and delicious. I did check out a French bistro located within walking distance from the hotel that had something pretty decent food as well.