Two Weeks in Colombia: The Perfect Itinerary

Colombia is one of the most beautiful, biodiverse, and friendly countries in the entire world. It had been a dream destination for me for many years. It wasn’t until I spent two weeks in Colombia with an amazing itinerary that I realized I should’ve come sooner. 

There is so much to love about Colombia. Traveling throughout the country is easy and affordable. Even flying from one city to another is cheaper than taking a bus in places like the United States. 

The affordability enabled me to create the perfect itinerary for two weeks in Colombia! 

Table of Contents

The Perfect Colombia Itinerary

This itinerary is a treasure trove of diverse adventures, ranging from city explorations to national parks on the Caribbean coast and even a hangout session with the world’s tallest palm trees.

There is so much to do in Colombia that a two week itinerary won’t be enough time to see everything. However, it will be enough to experience the amazing culture and make lasting memories. 

Two Weeks in Colombia Overview

    • Medellin: 4 nights
    • Santa Marta/Tayrona: 2 nights
    • Minca: 2 nights
    • Salento: 3 nights
    • Jardin: 2 nights

Things to Know Before Visiting Colombia

Safety

When you talk to people about visiting Colombia, one of the first questions they ask is, “is it dangerous?”. 

When traveling, especially to a new country, you should always be observant of your surroundings. Like many countries, Colombia has areas you might not want to visit. 

This can be due to crime rates or civil unrest. But Colombia has made huge strides in recent years to create a safer place for tourists. 

Always be careful of your belongings, and do not flash anything too valuable around. But safety shouldn’t be a reason not to visit the beautiful country of Colombia! 

Average Cost for 2 weeks

The cost of traveling to any new location in the world will vary widely from person to person. You can stay at hostels and eat street food, or you can stay at high-end hotels. 

But, the purchasing power of $100 USD in Colombia is significant due to the lower cost of living compared to the US. $100 in Colombia is equivalent to over 300,000 Colombian pesos. With careful planning and budgeting, you can have a memorable experience in Colombia without breaking the bank.

The average weekly cost of travel in Colombia ranges from $200 to $1000. I personally spent around $250 each week in Colombia. 

You can find great deals on flights to Colombia from the US, especially the East Coast and Florida. Begin your flight search here.

(Daily averages in USD)

  • Accommodation: $8 – $250
  • Food: $10 – $50
  • Transportation: $2 – $75
  • Activities: $5 – $100

Photo by Andrés Gómez on Unsplash

Day 1: Fly into Medellin

The day has finally come! It’s time to start your adventure in Colombia. Medellin has a big international airport with many flights from different countries. 

You might find yourself on a flight to the capital of Colombia, Bogota. This is another amazing city that I will have to visit again. Depending on what time you arrive in the city will determine if there’s any activity to be done that day. 

Personally, I enjoy going straight to my accommodation, unpacking, and then going for a walk. I’ll look for some potential restaurants and stop by the supermarket. I stayed at an Airbnb most of my time in Medellin, but there are many hotels and hostels to choose from. 

El Poblado is the popular part of Medellin that most people visit, but Rosales is a good neighborhood if you’re looking for somewhere quieter.

Day 2: Visit Arvi Park

Medellin is commonly referred to as the ‘City of Eternal Spring,’ and you’ll soon understand why. You’ll likely experience multiple afternoon showers, which makes this city so special. 

Being the city of eternal spring means a lot of nature surrounding it! Visiting Arvi Park is a popular activity amongst locals and tourists!  To get here, you’ll have to take the metro and then take the cable car. This is an activity in itself and offers stunning views of the city. 

There are many trails inside the park. I opted to hike the Ancestral Trail, which follows the city’s outline and passes some archeological sites!  Be careful as the park is closed on Mondays (yes, I made that mistake myself).

Ancestral Trail Hike Details

  • Distance: This is a 2.7-mile point-to-point trail. Walking to the trailhead will add more distance and create a loop.
  • Duration: It should take no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete this trail. This all depends on how long you take in the park views and if you stop to eat lunch.
  • Incline: The elevation gain is around 472 feet or 143 meters. This elevation gain is spread far along the trail that you will barely notice it.

Tour OptionArvi Park and Waterfalls Medellín City Tour 5-Hour

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Day 3: Explore Comuna 13

Medellin’s history is one of sorrow but also hope. At one point it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world during the time of Pablo Escobar. And Comuna 13 was one of the worst neighborhoods. 

Visiting Comuna 13 is a must during your two weeks in Colombia. Since Pablo died in 1993, the city has begun a transformation through art and love. It’s now a safe area to visit and the neighborhood has changed for the better. 

I suggest taking a walking tour with someone who knows the area’s deep history. You’ll also have the opportunity to see all the amazing artwork done here. 

Day 4: Take a Day Trip to Guatape

A few hours east of Medellin is the town of Guatape and a massive lake. You might have heard about this town from pictures of La Piedra del Peñol or the Guatape Rock. 

This is one of the most unique structures I’ve ever seen, and when I knew I was visiting Colombia, I immediately added it to my itinerary. You can either go for a few nights or take a day tour. This tour costs $32 USD and includes the following:

  • Transportation to & from Guatape
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Boat tour of the lake
  • Tour of Guatape Town

Tour Option: Full day to Guatapé from Medellín

Day 5: Fly to Santa Marta

This will be the first travel day on the itinerary. Flying is affordable, making planning the trip of a lifetime just a bit easier. Flights will be between $25 to $50, depending on the time you want to fly. This normally doesn’t include a carry-on bag, which will cost extra. 

Santa Marta wasn’t my favorite town, per se, but I also didn’t spend too much time there. It’s often overshadowed by Cartagena to the west. 

The main reason I wanted to go to Santa Marta was to visit Tayrona National Park and the mountain town of Minca. Depending on when you arrive in town, you can explore a little, grab a bite to eat, and relax at your accommodation. 

Explore hotels in Santa Marta here.

Day 6: Go Camping inside Tayrona National Park

When people ask me what my favorite thing I did during my two weeks in Colombia, I often refer to camping on the beach inside Tayrona National Park at Cabo San Juan.

It was a unique experience, and the wildlife we saw made it even more special. There are many different ways to visit Tayrona, including going with a tour or visiting independently. 

If I can manage it independently, I’d choose that route. And that was the case with this activity. Below, I’ll go over the step-by-step process of how to visit Tayrona independently: 

  1. Head to Mercado Publico: You can find this on Google Maps or Mapsme
  2. Look for the “Tayrona” sign and a light green bus. It should cost around $8000 COP to go from Santa Marta to the El Zaino entrance. 
  3. You’ll then have to pay an entrance fee of $57,000 COP and a $5,000 mandatory insurance fee daily. This means if you plan on camping here, it’ll cost a total of $67,000 COP to enter the park. 
  4. Follow the trail on Mapsme to Cabo San Juan and purchase your overnight stay option

You’ll have the opportunity to choose between hammocks, tents, or sometimes a cabin. Camping in tents is by far the best option in my opinion. 

There are two different locations, one along the beach and one a little bit inland. The ones along the water are $50,000 COP and much better, but they sell out the quickest. We didn’t have the opportunity to sleep there, so we opted for the more inland hammocks, which cost $40,000 COP. 

Tour Option: Tayrona Bay Sailboat Trip from Santa Marta

Day 7: Head to the Town of Minca in the Mountains

The mountain town of Minca is located 45 minutes south of Santa Marta. This small but epic town is full of different hikes and waterfalls! 

We woke up early on the beach of Cabo San Juan, ate a couple of breakfast bars, and hit the trail. Once you are back to the park entrance, you can either take a taxi or wait for the bus. We met someone along the trail and decided to split a taxi. 

The cab was $30,000 COP, but we haggled a bit. This can become affordable if you have multiple people to split it with. 

Once we returned to town, we headed back to our hostel to grab our bags. If you already have your luggage with you, you can find the colectivo to Minca in the Mercado Publico. When we went, the ride up to Minca cost $9,000 COP each, but it could be slightly different now. 

Once you arrive in Minca, you can unpack, relax, and enjoy one of the many great restaurants in town. 

Tour Option: Minca Full Day Tour from Santa Marta

Day 8: Hike to Marinka Waterfalls

Many waterfalls are located in and around Minca, but none are more beautiful than the Marinka waterfalls. 

This is the only waterfall you must pay to visit in town, but it’s well worth it. The entrance is a 45-minute hike up the road, but moto-taxis are also available in the center of town. 

We chose to hike whenever we could, and the trail up to it wasn’t that bad. It’s on a wide dirt road, and the entrance is on Google Maps. 

The entrance fee is $10,000 COP, and you can visit two separate waterfalls. There’s also a small restaurant on site where you can purchase snacks and drinks. 

Tour Option: Full Day Marinka Waterfall Tour from Santa Marta

Day 9: Fly from Santa Marta to Pierra and Visit Salento

Day 9 consists of another long travel day. Salento is in the coffee region of Colombia and is also home to the tallest palm trees in the world. 

You can fly to either Pereira or Armenia. Salento is located around an hour from each of these cities. Take the Colectivo back into Santa Marta and then find a taxi to the airport. Once you land in Pereira or Armenia, you can take a cab, bus, or Uber like us. 

You’ll immediately fall in love with Salento. The buildings are beautiful colors and the vibe is amazing. 

We stayed at the Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel and loved it! Grab some dinner and get ready for a big adventure tomorrow. 

Day 10: Explore Cocora Valley

Hiking through Cocora Valley and seeing the massive wax palms is a bucket list item. It’s one of the most popular activities in Colombia and you can easily see why! 

There’s no need to book a tour as reaching and exploring the park is easy from Salento. In the square, there will be multiple jeeps called Willy’s. 

Go to the booth and ask for a ticket to Valle de Cocora. One-way tickets should cost around $4,000 COP. Make sure you buy both tickets before leaving. 

Once at the park, you must pay $7,000 COP to enter. There’s a lot to do once in the park, like grabbing a coffee, eating at one of the many restaurants, or hiking the trails! 

We followed some trails around the park and then headed to the two miradors. These are viewing areas where you can capture some of the best photos of the wax palms.

Tour Option: Cocora Valley and Salento Hike Tour

Day 11: Go on a Coffee Tour

As I mentioned previously, this area of Colombia has some of the best coffee in the world. Many coffee tours leave Salento every day. 

I’d suggest asking your accommodation for some recommendations or visiting a tour agency in town.

If coffee isn’t your thing, you can visit Santa Rita Falls Park outside Salento. The trails are easy, and there’s a lot to see here. You can walk to the entrance, take a taxi or even a bus! 

Tour Option: Coffee Farm and Salento Walking Tour with Lunch

Day 12: Bus to Jardin

It’s starting to get close to the end of the trip! Medellin is around five to six hours north of Salento but there’s one more town to stop at along the way. That town is Jardin.

Jardin was my favorite town. We visited it during our time in Colombia because of the vibes! It’s a laidback town where you can enjoy your day, even by sitting at a coffee shop all day. 

Getting here will be quite the journey. It took us two buses and 9 total hours (including waiting for the next bus) to get from Salento to Jardin. This is in large part due to the rocky roads on the second leg. 

Here’s how to get there:

  • Go to the bus station in Salento and purchase a ticket for Riosucio. There’s only one bus per day and it leaves at 9:45 A.M.
  • Stay at the same station where the bus drops you off and wait for the people to start yelling “Jardin”. This was a colorful bus with open sides.
  • The total cost will be $58,000 COP

If this is too long of a travel day, you can opt to either fly or bus to Medellin or Cartagena to end your trip in the city.

Day 13: Hike to La Cueva del Esplendor

Jardin is home to one of the most unique waterfalls I’ve ever seen. La Cueva del Esplendor is an insanely powerful waterfall that flows straight through a massive hole. 

If you’re uncomfortable following offline maps, I suggest taking a tour guide with you for this hike. It’s technically located on someone’s property, so they will charge you an entry fee. 

Many people don’t like this, but it’s an amazing waterfall to miss. This is an all-day hike, so I suggest starting early to have more daylight afterward. 

Many restaurants are near the square and plenty of street food, too! The people of Jardin are so kind; you won’t regret visiting. 

Day 14: Bus to Medellin (or Day in Cartagena)

This is the last day of your two-week itinerary in Colombia. The bus ride to Medellin from here is much more enjoyable than getting to Jardin. 

We took the bus company “Rapido Ochoa,” which should cost around $9 USD. The bus station is right outside the square. 

If you have an extra day to spend in Medellin, you can visit other hikes and parks or simply enjoy some great food and drinks!

If you choose not to head to Jardin, enjoy your time in Cartagena on the last day of your trip. Explore the old walled city, go for a street art tour in Getsemini, eat amazing street food, take a day trip to an island, and have a fun time ending your trip.

Final Thoughts on Two Weeks in Colombia

Colombia is home to one of the most beautiful cultures in the world and should be high on everyone’s bucket list! There are so many activities to do in this country, from amazing cities, history, beaches, hikes, and waterfalls. 

Two weeks isn’t enough time to see the entire country, but you’ll get a good grasp of what life is like during your time here. 

Discover the best of Colombia in a two-week adventure. From city explorations to Caribbean coast adventures, create unforgettable memories in this biodiverse country.
Discover the best of Colombia in a two-week adventure. From city explorations to Caribbean coast adventures, create unforgettable memories in this biodiverse country.

Bio: Phillip Anderson is a freelance travel writer, personal trainer, and adventure enthusiast from Virginia Beach. Growing up, he spent most of his days either hiking in the Shenandoah, going to the beach, or working out. He has traveled to 32 countries and embarked on various challenging multi-day treks in diverse terrains worldwide–most notably, in Peru, Ecuador, and the US. These treks have taken him through some of the most pristine landscapes in the world.

Connect with Phillip:

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