Introduction

Sun-soaked and stewed in culture, Colombia's dramatic Caribbean coastline is its dazzling crown, capping the country with myriad ecosystems, from the dense jungles of the Darién Gap on the border with Panama, to the hauntingly atmospheric desert of La Guajira near Venezuela.

The crown jewel along the coast is Cartagena, a colonial city with a beauty and romance that's unrivaled anywhere in Colombia, despite the enormous numbers of visitors it attracts. A yet undiscovered version can be enjoyed by journeying inland to find gorgeously isolated colonial Mompós, a sleepy hamlet lost in the jungle whose star is truly in the ascendant. Other attractions are more natural: the Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Tayrona, a wonderful stretch of perfect beach and virgin rainforest, and the thrilling and arduous Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trek, which will satisfy adventurers wanting to discover the remnants of an ancient civilization against a stunning mountain backdrop.

Highlights

  • Cartagena Soaking up the history as you stroll the colorful colonial streets of this unforgettable Spanish-fortress city.
  • Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Tayrona Beach-hopping through the magical coves of this coastal national park.
  • Ciudad Perdida Trekking through thick Colombian jungle to the mysterious pre-Columbian capital of the Tayrona people.
  • Mompós Discovering the region's most charming colonial town and – as word gets out – site of a tourism boom.
  • Minca Escaping the heat of the coast in this wonderful mountain refuge and chilled-out backpacker haunt.
  • Punta Gallinas Traversing the feral seaside desertscape of La Guajira Peninsula to the stunning sand-dune beaches of its northern tip.
  • Capurganá and Sapzurro Straddling the Colombia–Panama border in the tranquil villages and excellent beaches around the Darién Gap.

When to Go

Dec & Jan The beaches are at their best at Christmas as the humidity drops.

Feb–April The dry season means that you'll rarely have your day interrupted by a downpour.

Sep & Oct Prices are at their lowest and you'll have many places to yourself.