From city to beach and jungle to desert, Colombia has it all! Traveling to Colombia is becoming increasingly popular because of the great diversity of landmarks, nature and culture. The country has long had a negative image, but a roundtrip in Colombia is now much safer and more enjoyable than before. With a size of more than 1 million km², the distances between the cities are large, so it is useful to plan your itinerary in Colombia well. With this versatile itinerary through Colombia in 1 month, you’ll travel past bustling cities, tropical beaches and wild jungle.
In this article:
Itinerary Colombia for 1 month
Bogotá ➤ Salento ➤ Jardín ➤ Medellin ➤ Santa Marta ➤ Minca ➤ Tayrona ➤ Palomino ➤ Cartagena ➤ Rincón ➤ Isla Múcura ➤ Cartagena
Most people start their itinerary in Colombia in the capital Bogotá. From different cities in the world there are direct flights that take you to the city in about. Located at an altitude of 2600 meters, Bogotá is one of the top 5 highest capitals in the world. So don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel a little dizzy.
In Bogotá live no less than 10 million people. The center La Candelaria is full of colonial buildings, but also trendy restaurants and streets filled with street art. The city is very diverse and knows wealth and poverty. Not everyone loves Bogotá, but the city has a certain charm. To learn to appreciate the city, it is often recommended to stay longer than a few days. You can also undertake enough fun day trips from Bogotá.
Number of days in Bogota: ± 2-4 days
From Bogotá you can travel to Salento by bus in about 8 hours. The bus can be taken from Terminal de Transporte to Armenia. After a 7 hour ride you change in Armenia to the bus to Salento which will take you in an hour to your final destination. Not in the mood for a long bus ride? From Bogotá it’s possible to fly in an hour to Pereira and then catch a bus that will take you in 1 to 2 hours to Salento.
Would you like to see more of central Colombia, then follow the itinerary described in this article. If you have less time, you can also travel directly from Bogotá to Medellin and skip Salento and Jardín.
Salento is a destination that should not be missed in your itinerary in Colombia. The village is known for its colorful houses and pleasant atmosphere. But the real reason not to skip Salento is because it’s a perfect starting point for visiting the Cocora Valley. Here you’ll find the world’s tallest palm trees through which you can take beautiful yet challenging hikes.
All about what to do in Salento and useful tips for your visit to Valle de Cocora.
Number of days in Salento: ± 2-4 days
From Salento you can travel to the village of Jardín. This is a long journey of about 8 hours in total and at least one transfer. So first thing in the morning you will travel to Riosucio. There is a daily bus from Salento at 7:50 am that costs around 30,000 COP and takes 3 – 4 hours. From Riosucio you catch the bus to Jardín. This ride takes an average of 4 hours.
Jardín is a small village in the middle of the mountains surrounded by green jungle and numerous rivers, streams and waterfalls. It’s a perfect place to explore on foot and enjoy the viewpoints, the green nature and the beautiful birds and butterflies.
If you’re not much of a hiker, the small center is also great for strolling around and grabbing a drink at one of the many terraces. The center is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and charming atmosphere.
After Jardín you will continue your journey to the big city of Medellin. This can be done by taking a direct bus that takes about 4 hours. The views along the way are stunning!
Number of days in Jardín: ± 2-4 days
The large city of Medellin is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. It used to be one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia under the policy of the drug lord Pablo Escobar. Nowadays it is a very safe and pleasant city with plenty things to see and do.
The place to be for travelers is the neighborhood El Poblado with trendy restaurants and cute bars and cafes. One of the most popular activities in Medellin is the cable car that takes you to Parque Arví in the mountains.
There is also plenty to do outside the city. For example, just a 2-hour drive from Medellin lies the charming village of Guatapé. Guatapé is one of the most colorful villages in Colombia and is not without reason such a popular destination. You can climb the rock La Piedra del Peñol where a great view awaits you.
Number of days in Medellin: ± 3-4 days
After the big city, it’s time for some sun, sandy beaches and mountains in the tropical north of Colombia. After a domestic flight of just over 1 hour you will arrive in the tropical Santa Marta. If you wish, you can travel on to the mountain village of Minca.
As soon as you step off the plane in Santa Marta, a warm wall of heath greets you. This dusty city on the Caribbean coast has a very different climate than Medellin. Santa Marta is an important port of the region. The city itself is not very special to spend a long time, but it is mainly an ideal base for visiting various destinations.
From Santa Marta you can explore much of the Caribbean coast, but you can also easily travel inland such as to Minca. To travel to Minca you take the bus from Estacion Minca in Santa Marta.
Number of days in Santa Marta: ± 1-2 days
Breathtaking views, beautiful sunsets and a lovely laid-back vibe. If this sounds like music to your ears, then the mountain village of Minca in Colombia is definitely for you! The tiny village is located in the north of Colombia, in the district of Santa Marta. If you’re used to the climate in Medellin, Minca will be a real change of scenery and a good sweat. The climate is tropical with high daily temperatures and high humidity.
Number of days in Minca: ± 3-4 days
After Minca, it’s time for jungle and beaches in Tayrona National Park. To reach the park, travel back to Santa Marta and take a bus east towards Palomino. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the national park, about an hour’s drive from the city. You can’t miss it, because you won’t be the only one!
Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is the most visited park in Colombia and for good reason. Here you will find wild jungle with a great diversity of wildlife, beautiful beaches and you can get in touch with the indigenous people of the area.
It is possible to stay overnight in the park and I can definitely recommend that because it is a special experience.
Number of days in Tayrona: ± 1-2 days
From Tayrona National Park, traveling to your next coastal destination, Palomino, is easy. Wait along the road and stop buses heading east. Often you only have to wait for a few minutes for these buses to arrive. Ask the bus driver if the bus actually goes to Palomino and about 45 minutes later you will be in the village!
Before traveling to Palomino, I was warned by other travelers, “Once you arrive in Palomino, you never want to leave!”. It’s a real backpacker village and it’s true, there are plenty of travelers who have decided to stay in the village for weeks and others decided to call it their new home.
What makes Palomino so popular is its lovely laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. You can go tubing on the river, swimming in the sea and go wild at the fun parties at various locations.
Days in Palomino: ± 2-100+ days
From Palomino you travel in about 7 hours by bus to the port city of Cartagena. There is a direct bus to the main bus terminal and from there you can take a cab to the center.
When in Cartagena you can stroll through the old colonial center. The colorful buildings with cute balconies and charming plants are located in the most atmospheric streets. In the evening there is a big party on the squares with musicians and artists. It is wise to be on your guard though, because pickpockets are regularly active in the city.
Number of days in Cartagena: ± 1-3 days
After the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s time for some relaxing beach days in Rincón del Mar. You’ll travel here in about 3 to 4 hours with a transfer in San Onofre.
Rincón del Mar
From the big city, to a tiny fishing village. Colombia has many beach destinations, of which Rincón del Mar is one. The relatively undiscovered destination is located on the tropical Caribbean coast, about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Cartagena. It’s a wonderful destination where you can witness the authentic traditional fisherman’s life.
All you can do here is take a swim in the sea, chill under a palm tree with a cocktail in your hand, and eat freshly caught fish. What more could you ask for?
Rincón is the perfect base for a visit to the tropical San Bernardo archipelago, consisting of 10 small islands. The most popular islands are isla Tintipán, La Palma, Múcura and Santa Cruz del Islote, the most populous island in the world! I can personally absolutely recommend the small island Isla Múcura.
All about the fishing village of Rincón del Mar.
Number of days in Rincón del Mar: ± 2-4 days
From Rincón del Mar, you can reach the tropical Isla Múcura by speedboat in about an hour.
White sand beaches, a crystal clear sea and swaying palm trees on a tiny island. Isla Múcura is the perfect destination for a little bit of nothing, except swimming in the sea, sunbathing with a cocktail in your hand and taking time to read a good book. For me, it was one of the highlights of my itinerary in Colombia.
Exploring the island is difficult because of the dense mangroves, so you spend most of your time around your accommodation. These are all located on the beach, so that’s absolutely no problem!
All information about paradisiacal Isla Múcura.
From Isla Mucura you can either travel back to Rincón del Mar or take a direct speedboat to Cartagena. From Cartagena you can easily fly to your final destination in Colombia.
Number of days on Isla Mucura: ± 2-4 days
Beste time to travel this itinerary in Colombia
Colombia has a dry season and a rainy season. The best time to travel Colombia with this itinerary is approximately from December to March and from July to September in the dry season. From April to May and from October to November it is rainy season in Colombia.
The temperature is constant throughout the year thanks to its location around the equator. But the temperatures do vary from city to city because of the altitude. So in Salento or Bogota you will need a vest in the evening and in Palomino you will still sweat like crazy at night.
The Caribbean coast is best visited in the winter months of December to March. From June to September it is generally dryer on the coast, but you have a slightly higher chance of a downpour. The rest of the year it rains considerably more and that’s not beneficial for your beach days. The climate there is generally dryer than the Pacific coast. At the Caribbean coast, the temperature is around 30°C all year round and it often does not cool down below 23°C at night.
The best time to travel Central Colombia is from December to March and from June to September. The climate of central Colombia is very diverse thanks to the large differences in altitude of the different regions. When you drive from Medellin to Salento, you will notice multiple changes in temperature and humidity along the way. For example, in Salento it’s relatively dry during these months, but in Jardín you have almost every day of the year chance of rain.
Costs and budget for Colombia
South America is generally a tad more expensive than many South Asian countries. However, Colombia is definitely a backpacker-friendly country. This means that you can travel through it with a relatively small budget.
A simple but comfortable double room costs between 100,000 and 200,000 COP (€ 23 to € 46). For a bed in a dormitory you pay about 25,000 to 60,000 COP (€6 to €14).
As for meals, prices vary by city and type of restaurant. For example, a simple meal at a local joint will cost you COP 10,000 (€2.30) and for European food in a restaurant you will quickly pay 45,000 to 80,000 COP (€10 to €19).
Add in the tours and day trips and you end up with a budget of about 150,000 to 250,000 COP (€35 to €57) per day for a itinerary in Colombia.