Dubbed 'The City of Parks,' Santander's capital has some fine green spaces and is a suitable spot to recharge your batteries. It comes to life at night, when dozens of clubs, hundreds of bars and the students of 10 universities don their party hats.

Buca, as it's known to locals, is one of Colombia's major cities, with a greater-metropolitan population of about a million; it's packed with skyscrapers and surrounded by mountains. While it may not be the most interesting city in the country, it's not overrun with visitors and is a pleasant place to get a taste of the region's culture.

The city was founded in 1622 and developed around what is today the Parque García Rovira, but most of its colonial architecture is long gone. Over the centuries the city center moved east, and today Parque Santander is Bucaramanga's heart. Further east are newer, posh neighborhoods with hotels and nightspots.