National Parks

Colombia has carved out 12% of its national territory for its Natural National Park (Parques Nacionales Naturales; PNN) system, which includes nearly 60 protected areas covering cool Caribbean waters, soaring Andean peaks, tropical grasslands and expansive Amazon jungle.

PNN Tayrona Palm-packed white-sand beaches at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.

PNN El Cocuy Commanding peaks, mountain lakes, icy glaciers and views to Venezuela highlight Colombia's best high-altitude day hikes.

PNN Sierra de la Macarena Home to the unique Caño Cristales, a red-hued kaleidoscopic water-world unlike no other.

PNN El Tuparro Sandy river beaches, green grasslands and some 320 species of birds, plus jaguars, tapirs and otters.

Museums

A clash of indigenous culture, colonization and conflict means Colombia has a wealth of history from which to cull for its plethora of museums.

Museo del Oro Home to the biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world.

Museo de Antioquia One of Colombia’s best museums to admire the portly works of native paisa son Fernando Botero.

Museo Botero A full trajectory of Colombia's greatest living artist, plus cameos from other international masters – and it's all free.

Palacio de la Inquisición Frightening instruments of torture on display inside a 1776 Cartagena palace.

Wildlife

Pristine Amazon jungle accounts for more than a third of Colombia’s total area – it’s the best spot to observe wildlife in its natural habitat.

Río Yavarí Straddling Brazil and Peru, the Amazon lodges here, reached from Leticia, are surrounded by abundant fauna.

PNN Amacayacu Home to some 500 bird species and 150 mammals – including a brilliant outpost of rehabilitating monkeys.

PNN Ensenada de Utría Whale-watching central on Colombia’s Pacific coast, a preserved inlet visited by humpbacks from July to October.

Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos A vibrant colony of up to 10,000 pink flamingos descends on this 700-hectare nature reserve in the wet season.

Hiking

Colombia’s varied terrain harbors dense jungle, sky-high mountains and snow-capped Andean peaks, including the abundant páramo (high-mountain plains), a rarity found in just a handful of countries.

PNN El Cocuy High-altitude day hikes here take in commanding peaks, mountain lakes, icy glaciers and views to Venezuela.

Ciudad Perdida Multiday jungle trek to one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in the Americas.

PNN Los Nevados Challenging one-day jaunt through the páramo to the glacier summit of Nevado Santa Isabel.

Valle de Cocora Giant wax palms strewn about verdant valleys and misty green hills highlight this half-day hike.

Tierradentro Take in Tierradentro’s pre-Columbian underground tombs surrounded by gorgeous surrounding hillsides on this full-day hike.

Memorable Food

Colombian gastronomy leans hard on amazingly fresh seafood, succulent steaks and unique culinary curiosities forged from rediscovered homegrown ingredients.

Leo Take a fine-dining trip through creative Colombian cuisine at this fiercely local top-end treat in Bogotá.

Mini-Mal Culinary introspection at its finest: regional ingredients form gourmet goodness at this Bogotá trendsetter.

Prudencia This Colombian-American Bogotá newcomer serves innovative dishes closely steeped in Colombia's domestic culinary bounty.

Asadero de Cuyes Pinzón Throw yourself mouth-first into Pasto culture by dining on the local delicacy: grilled guinea pig.

Mercagán Some say this multivenue restaurant serves the nation’s best steak.

Gringo Mike's This courtyard restaurant in adventure capital San Gil has cornered the market in plentiful flavor-forward international food.

Platillos Voladores A glorious interplay of Asian, European and Afro-Colombian influences and largely local ingredients in steamy Cali.

La Cevichería This tiny Cartagena spot serves world-renowned ceviche and seafood.

Beaches

Colombia is more famous for mountains than beaches, but the country is blessed with sun-toasted stretches of sand on both its Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

Playa Taroa Slide down a massive sand dune onto Colombia’s most beautiful – and emptiest – beach in Punta Gallinas.

Playa Morromico Waterfalls crash from jungle-covered mountains at this secluded private beach, one of Chocó’s most romantic destinations.

PNN Tayrona Preserved and very popular, this national park has serene, golden-sand bays and cerulean waters.

Providencia This tiny and remote Caribbean island has several stretches of gorgeous beach backed by thick jungle and towering palms.

Playa Guachalito A Pacific-coast, gray-sand paradise, flush with orchids, heliconias and wild jungle.

Playa Blanca A novel 3015m-high white-sand lakeside beach deep in the Andes.