Backpacking in Colombia? 10 Things You Can’t Miss!

Are you going backpacking in Colombia? You’ve made a great choice because Colombia has everything a backpacker dreams of. Think vibrant nightlife in cities, breathtaking nature, and friendly locals. Plus, Colombia is also very affordable! To give you a quick idea of what a backpacking trip through Colombia can look like, here are 10 things you shouldn’t miss.

#1 Hiking among the tallest palm trees in the world

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful spots in Colombia called Valle de Cocora. In this valley, you’ll find wax palms that can grow up to 60 meters (197 feet) tall! You can embark on a stunning hike here that showcases the diversity of the surroundings. The 11-kilometer (6.8 miles) route takes you through a tropical rainforest, across rickety bridges, and eventually leads you to Valle de Cocora.

#2 Free graffiti tour in Bogota

When you go backpacking in Colombia, your adventure likely starts in the capital city, Bogota. To immerse yourself in the culture right away, it’s recommended to join the free graffiti tour. Graffiti is an important part of Bogota’s culture, and during the graffiti tour, you’ll learn about the history of Colombia and the fascinating stories behind the murals. You can read more about this tour in our article with tips for Bogota.

#3 Take a mud bath in the Totumo Volcano

How about taking a plunge into a volcano filled with mud? It may sound a bit strange – and it actually is – but in Colombia, it’s possible. The Totumo Volcano is located about an hour’s drive from Cartagena and is one of the smallest volcanoes in the world. Take a dip, smear mud on your face, and emerge with radiant skin. You can book this tour here.

#4 Chill above the clouds in the largest hammock in South America

Backpacking in Colombia is incredibly exciting because there are so many cozy hostels to discover. For many years, Casa Elemento was one of the most famous hostels in South America, known for its gigantic hammock with fantastic views over the jungle of Minca. Unfortunately, Casa Elemento is no longer available, but in its place, Sierra Minca has taken its spot. The view remains unchanged, and the enormous hammocks are still there. It’s a great place to stay for one or more nights, but you can also visit for a small fee to relax for a day in the heated pool or hammocks. If you’re curious about other things to do in Minca, check out the comprehensive article with tips for Minca.

#5 Paragliding above Medellín

There’s no doubt that Medellín deserves a spot on your travel itinerary. You may know Medellín from the infamous Medellín Cartel of Pablo Escobar, but nowadays, this city has transformed into one of the most progressive cities in Latin America. The atmosphere is fantastic, and there’s plenty of fun things to do. There’s one must-do activity in Medellín that you might not expect: paragliding! From the sky, you’ll see the city from a completely different perspective. Running down the mountain with your pilot, before you know it, you’ll be peacefully gliding over the mountains and Medellín. What a wonderful feeling of freedom! You can book the paragliding experience here.

#6 Visit the most colorful village in Colombia

Take a day trip from Medellín to the most colorful village in Colombia called Guatapé. This village has been painted in every color of the rainbow and is delightful to stroll through in the afternoon. The colorful houses are not the only reason to visit Guatapé. Just outside the village, you’ll find La Piedra del Peñol. This is a remarkable natural phenomenon as this enormous rock rises unexpectedly from the ground. Put on some good shoes because you’ll climb 740 steps. Once you reach the top of the rock, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the water-rich natural area.

#7 Play with explosives in Salento

The game of tejo is the national sport of Colombia. You throw a metal disc at a box of clay that contains explosives. When you hit the target, the explosives go off and you earn points. The concept is simple, but it’s secretly more challenging than it seems. This is the perfect place to have a fun evening while enjoying a Colombian beer. One of the best places to play tejo is at the tejo bar Los Amigos in the cozy mountain village of Salento.

#8 Relaxing on the Rosario Islands

Off the coast of Cartagena, you’ll find the paradisiacal Rosario Islands. This archipelago consists of 16 islands with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue water. It’s a delightful place to end your journey through Colombia and work on your tan. In the article with tips for Cartagena, you can read about the different ways to visit the Rosario Islands.

#9 Nightlife in Cartagena or Medellín

An evening of partying should not be missing from this list. Medellín and Cartagena are cities with the best nightlife scenes. In both cities, the parties often start at squares where people gather for drinks before the clubs open. In Cartagena, it’s Plaza de la Trinidad, and in Medellín, it’s Parque Lleras.

#10 Visit Tayrona National Park

Jungle, wildlife, and vast beaches. Tayrona National Park may be the last on this list, but it’s certainly not the least. Take a beautiful jungle hike here and spend a night on one of Colombia’s most beautiful beaches. Set off early the next day as the jungle creatures awaken. Keep your ears and eyes open and try to spot the rare tamarin monkeys. We encountered them just after sunrise when they curiously observed us from high up in the trees. These fast and adorable monkeys are sadly highly endangered and only exist in this region of northern Colombia.

More tips for backpacking in Colombia

To make backpacking through Colombia easier, we have written 14 articles about Colombia. From a great travel itinerary to our favorite hostels and the costs of traveling in Colombia. Additionally, on our Colombia page, you’ll find mini travel guides for each destination, packed with great tips on hostels, activities, and good restaurants. In short, everything you need to prepare your trip and make the most out of it!