Colombia’s back. After decades of civil conflict, Colombia is now safe to visit and travelers are discovering what they’ve been missing. The diversity of the country may astonish you. Modern cities with skyscrapers and nightclubs? Check. Gorgeous Caribbean beaches? Check. Jungle walks and Amazon safaris? Check. Colonial cities, archaeological ruins, high-mountain trekking, whalewatching, coffee plantations, scuba diving, surfing, the list goes on.
No wonder the ‘magic realism’ style of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez emerged from here – there is a dreamlike quality to Colombia. Here at the equator, with the sun forever overhead, the fecund earth beneath your feet, heart-stopping vistas in every direction and the warmth of the locals putting you at ease – you may find it difficult to leave.
Colombian culture, like the country’s weather, varies by altitude. The essence of Colombia resides in the mountains in the alpine cities of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, and the smaller cities of the Zona Cafetera. This is the industrial heartland of the country. Geographical isolation has kept the accent relatively unaffected by outside influence; Spanish here is precise and easy to understand. The infrastructure in the mountain region is good, the water drinkable, the roads well maintained. In the heat of the Caribbean coast, life is slower, and the culture more laid-back. The accent is the unhurried drawl of the Caribbean basin, and the infrastructure, unfortunately, is still in need of some attention.
In darker days people used to say, ‘if only it weren’t for the violence and drugs, Colombia would be paradise.’ Well the drugs may still be here but the violence is gone, at least for now, and it is, indeed, paradise. It is an easy country to fall in love with, and many travelers do. It could well become your favorite country in South America.
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Best places to stay in Colombia
Colombia travel guide
Like a portrait of South America in miniature, Colombia’s soaring Andean peaks, translucent Caribbean waters and enthralling Amazon jungle sustain a friendly fusion of cultural, archaeological, and salsa-fueled adventures.
Travel literature review: The Robber of Memories
The Robber of Memories by Michael Jacobs Rating: 4 out of 5 Reviewed by Steve Waters Truth be told, Colombia has had its fair share of bad press over the decades.
Colombia's best beaches
Best places to eat in Colombia
Colombia - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Colombia starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on how to make the most of Colombia’s amazing natural landscape.
Bogotá) is on the move.
Is the snap year the new gap year?
The old gap year order has changed. While it's still a common rite of passage for young people to take a year to explore the world, the gap year’s shorter, punchier younger sister – the ‘snap year’ – is here to stay. Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's UK-based web editor, takes a look at the trend.
South America on a Shoestring travel guide
Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest, Patagonian glaciers, Incan ruins, colonial towns, white-sand beaches and vertiginous nightlife: the wonders of South America set the stage for incredible adventures.
Colombian Cultural Adventure
Colonial towns, the coffee corner 'Eje Cafetero', the Cocora Valley, the Tairona Coastal Park and vibrant Cartagena
Travel to Colombia and discover South America's best-kept secret on this adventure through verdant mountains, aromatic coffee plantations and powdery beaches. Discover Bogota's colonial heart and laze on palm-fringed beaches along the Caribbean shoreline. Along the way meet some of the locals that make Colombia one of the world's friendliest countries.
It’s hard to remember, on those cold days when you pile on your heavy coat and scarf, that there are places on the planet where the sun rarely stops shining. The Colombian city of Cartagena has skies so blue and cloudless that they look permanently polarised.
Colombia - Caribbean Coast (Chapter)
Sun-soaked and stewed in culture, Colombia’s 1760km of Caribbean coastline covers a range of ecosystems, from the dense jungles of Darién Gap on the border with Panama in the southwest, to the barren desert of La Guajira near Venezuela in the northeast.