A backpacker favorite, digital nomad hub, and sunny getaway all in one, Colombia is quickly becoming one of the top tourist destinations in the Global South, having racked up a personal record-breaking 5.5 million in tourist numbers in 2023.
According to the local authority, this is higher than the more modest, earlier prediction of 5.2 million, and as it is expected to grow further, it is safe to say ‘The Country of Wonders‘ (how Colombia is being promoted on an international stage) has entered a new golden era.
In case you have been wondering, here are 4 reasons why Colombia is so popular right now and why it could have yet another record-breaking year in tourism:
It Offers Unique Nature-Based Activities
Unsurprisingly, an impressive tourist offer is at the front of Colombia's tourism revival, especially when it comes to natural-world experiences.
Visitors to South America are often drawn to nature, having traveled thousands of miles to escape into nature and experience the tropical jungle in all its wild glory.
Lucky for them, just over half of the entire national territory of Colombia is comprised of forested land.
Thanks to a diverse geography, tourists can hike Andean peaks, spot exotic animals in the Colombian Amazon, cross dramatic arid landscapes, such as the Mars-like Tatacoa Desert, and even relax by the seaside on a laid-back Caribbean resort town, all in one trip.
Colombia is South American nature (and all its different facets) in a nutshell, and this year, you will be able to explore it in depth by booking an immersive seven-night Magdalena River cruise traveling through the heart of the country, calling at floating pueblos and unspoiled protected reserves.
According to Time Out, it is one of top five tourist experiences to look forward to in 2024, and it's one that's set to increase bookings.
The Cultural Side Is Mind-Blowing
Culture also plays a part in improving Colombia's appeal to foreign guests.
It is associated with the legend of El Dorado, a Mesoamerican city renowned for its riches whose existence has never been proven, and while we wouldn't recommend you go on a jungle expedition by yourself to be the first to find it, you can join a tour group in visiting the world-famous Tayrona ruins.
Located in a national park and area of outstanding natural beauty bounded by a turquoise-colored ocean, these are dwellings that once belonged to the Tayrona people prior to the arrival of the Spaniards and serve as proof of their sophistication as a civilization.
Colombia is also littered with European-built cities: from the walled Caribbean port of Cartagena, one of the first established by the Spanish, to the small settlements of Antioquia, nestled on verdant hills, it just oozes Old World charm, even though it's on the ‘wrong' side of the pond.
The prettiest of them, Guatapé, is a textbook example of European colonial architecture in the Americas, with its cobbled alleys, brightly-painted facades, and Greco-Roman Revival church – with a picturesque lake and monumental Guatapé Rock as backdrop.
Some Of The Most Exciting City Breaks You'll Ever Experience
Of course, it can't all be about beach getaways and quaint towns. Colombia is well-reputed for the vibrant city breaks it offers newcomers, especially in the form of Bogota, the national capital, and Medellin, arguably its most electrifying metropolis.
Buenos Aires may be associated with the elegance of Paris, thanks to the beauty of its Belle epoque buildings and European-inspired architecture, but Bogota is paired instead with Athens, owing to an impressive concentration of museums, universities and cultural centers.
Whether it's diving deep into Colombian History at the landmark Gold Museum, finding the most authentic eatery in La Candelaria, a centuries-old traditional district, or taking the funicular up to Monserrate, the bogotana ‘Acropolis', you will find Bogota's supply of unique cultural attractions is unlimited.
For Tripadvisor, it is the sixth-trendiest city destination in 2024.
Medellin, on the other hand, is your go-to spot for nightlife, jam-packed with youth hostels, entertainment venues, and edgy nightclubs, and boasting its fair share of Bohemian districts: in sum, don't count on going to bed early if going out on a Friday night (or any night).
Other than the lively, youthful atmosphere, Medellin is distinguished for its year-round warm weather, a perfect condition that has earned it the title of ‘City of Eternal Spring', and off-path tourism, with guided visits to colorful barrios and urban art-filled neighborhoods trending with tourists.
Flying Inside Colombia Is Cheap
Last but not least, Colombia is an incredibly cheap country to travel, from accommodation costs down to food, and even flying domestically.
According to the latest Consumer Price Index, prices of air travel in Colombia dropped by as much as 9.03% in 2023, a factor that has certainly contributed to an increase in intra-country bookings over the course of the previous twelve-month period.
When planning multi-destination trips in the ‘Country of Wonders', Americans benefit not only from the strength of the dollar against the much-weaker Colombian peso, but also low fares in general: a flight from Bogota to Cartagena, on the cost, can cost as cheap as $54 one-way.
Similarly, flights from Bogota to Cali, a major cultural city and a sprawling urban center in Southwest Colombia, touted as the next Medellin due to its youthful atmosphere and lively urban scene, are an even cheaper $30, while Bogota to San Andres, the Caribbean jewel, is still an acceptable $84.
With every major destination in Colombia served by an airport, and hosting low-cost flights, discovering the South American gem has truly never been easier.
The One Major Side Downside
There is one major downside to Colombia we can't just gloss over: despite being a world-class tourist destination, boasting unique city breaks and a thriving nature, it is plagued by a higher crime rate than average.
Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena are not places you want to let your guard down, particularly Medellin,; Americans were recently warned to be extremely careful using dating apps in the city.
For that reason, the U.S. Department of States urges citizens to ‘reconsider travel', but should they travel anyway, risks are probably minimized by keeping a low profile in urban zones, avoiding unnecessary displays of wealth, and refraining from visiting risky neighborhoods.
With that being said, a majority of tourists still report stress-free experiences, and Colombia continues to grow as a destination unfettered.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.