One Month Colombia Itinerary

The Best One Month Colombia Itinerary: Bogota to Cartagena

For a well-rounded trip that takes in all the big Colombian highlights, one month in Colombia is the perfect amount of time to plan for. You will be able to experience everything from cities, jungle, beaches, history, and lots more in between. Here’s my favourite one month itinerary for Colombia.

Contents

How Many Days In Colombia Is Enough?

There are so many great places to visit in Colombia so the length of your trip depends on what you want to achieve.

 

I think three to four weeks is enough to see the country properly without having to rush.

 

Here are my suggestions for how long to spend in Colombia:

 

  • A week In Colombia – A week in Colombia is enough to see two cities, for example Bogota and Medellin.

 

  • Two weeks In Colombia – two weeks is enough to see one of the main cities like Bogota or Medellin and then spend some time on the Caribbean coast in one place like Cartagena.

 

  • Three Weeks in Colombia – with three weeks you’ll be able to follow a classic route that goes from Bogota to Medellin, then to the Caribbean coast to popular towns like Santa Marta and Cartagena.

 

  • 1 Month In Colombia – a month is perfect to do all of the above suggestions, and then add in some extras like a trip to the San Bernardo Islands or the Lost City Trek.
One Month Colombia Itinerary

Colombia 1 Month Itinerary

Day Location Highlights
1-3
Bogota
Gold Museum, Botero Gallery, Vintage Shopping
4-6
Medellin
Parque Arvi, Laurelles Food Tour, Paragliding
7-8
Guatape
Jet Skiing on the reservoir, climbing El Penol
9
Medellin
Tejo or Salsa classes
10-12
Santa Marta
Tayrona National Park, Minca
13-15
Taganga
Scuba diving, rooftop club, relaxation
16-20
Lost City Trek
Get lost in the jungle and live to tell the tale!
21
Santa Marta
Rest and relaxation after 5 days of trekking
Optional
Barranquilla
Carnival
22-24
Palomino
Surfing, river tubing, full moon beach parties
25-27
Cartagena
Playa Blanca, volcano and mangrove tour, historic walled city, San Bernardo Islands
28-29
San Bernardo Islands
Casa en el Agua

Days 1-3 - Bogota

Your journey will probably start here as it’s home to Colombia’s main International airport, so spend your first three days acclimatising to the Colombian way of life here.

 

Top attractions I recommend:

 

  • Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is home to many eye-catching ancient golden artefacts from the pre-Columbus era. It’s 4.000 COP Tuesday – Saturday/national holidays and free on Sundays
  • Museo Botero houses many artworks and sculptures by the renowned and proudly-celebrated Colombian artist-come-sculptor Fernando Botero whose chubby forms are endearing and captivating.
  • If you fancy getting some unique bargains, definitely visit Marly (accessed via the TransMilenio bus line), along Av. Caracas from Calles 50-60. Here you’ll find all the city’s vintage shops condensed into one area.

 

Check out my full Bogota post for more inspiration of places to visit.

TOP TIP:  If you want to save time and enjoy more of Medellin or the Caribbean coast (which are much nicer destinations), then cut down the number of days in Bogota to 2.

Plaza De Bolivar, Bogota (Colombia)

Day 4-6 - Medellin

Medellin has so much to offer, you’ll be spoiled for choice with things to do.

 

With great weather all year round, rooftop bars everywhere and incredible nightlife, you might end up staying longer than 3 days.

 

Here are some of my favourite things to do:

 

  • Laurelles Food Tour is the best way to explore this cool, laid back neighbourhood in Medellin. Time: 2:30PM (2 hours) Cost: 100,00COP per person (roughly $25 dollars / £20) 
  • Explore Medellin from on-high with a 15-minute paragliding trip! Approx: 220.000 COP. 
  • Take a Metrocable gondola up to Parque Arvi to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Keep an eye on the time though as the last Metrocable closes firmly at 6pm or else you won’t be able to get back down to the city!

Read the full Medellin guide for more recommendations.

Medellin From Above

Day 7-8 - Guatape

A couple of hours outside of Medellin is the beautiful town of Guatape, known for its towering rock formation El Penol and the man-made reservoir where all the Colombian celebrities have homes!

 

  • Climb El Penol – climb the 740 steps to the top for panoramic views of the reservoir.
  • Boat Tours – take a boat tour on the reservoir at sunset, or even better, rent a jet ski!

Check out the full guide to visiting Guatape from Medellin here.

Day 9 - Medellin

You may want to spend an extra night in Medellin after your time in Guatape.

 

It’s a 2-hour bus back, but then you’ll need to take a one hour flight to Santa Marta on the coast.

 

If you decide to stay an extra night, there’s so much more to see and do. Why not try a game of Tejo or Salsa classes? You can enjoy a free class at Dance Free every night.

 

For more on the best things to do in Medellin, head to this post.

Views of El Penol (Guatape)

Day 10-12 Santa Marta

Santa Marta is more of a city to use as a base for getting to other places on the Caribbean coast, so you won’t need long here.

 

I recommend:

 

  • Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is the hacienda at which Colmbia’s historic hero Simon Bolivar died. It’s now a museum with original furniture and artefacts inside as well as many chilled-our iguanas in the gardens. This is a great place to learn about the great man that earned Colombia her freedom. 25,000 COP 
  • A short 30 mins drive from Santa Marta, Minca is a magical mountainous world of coffee plantations, waterfalls and eco-hostels. Spend a day here exploring to your heart’s content
  • A trip to Santa Marta would not be complete without a stay at Dreamer Hostel. With air conditioned dorms and a DJ pool party once a week, it’s every backpacker’s dream stop…! Or if you want to be on the beach stay at La Brisa Tranquilla
  • Go hiking in Tayrona National Park and sleep on the beach in a hammock! Speak to member of staff in your hostel who will help you arrange your overnight trip.

If you want to stay longer then check out the full itinerary post here.

The Streets Of Santa Marta (Colombia)

Day 13-15 - Taganga

Once a small fishing village on the outskirts of Santa Marta, Taganga is now known for being one of the cheapest places to learn how to scuba dive.

 

If you’re interested in learning or want to do some fun diving, this is the place!

 

  • The best place to scuba dive in Taganga is Ocean Lovers Taganga. The instructors and guides are excellent, the kit is in great condition and the dive sites are in Tayrona National Park. An intro session will be $82-89 USD and a full PADI Open Water qualification is around $400 USD. Fun dives for qualified divers are $50 USD. You can even stay in their boutique hostel! 
  • Take a sunset cruise of the bay with your new backpacker friends 
  • For a party with a difference, head to La Brisa Loca for a crazy party hostel with a rooftop pool. Then if you want to go clubbing, El Mirador Club & Social. It’s a rooftop club with great views over the bay of Taganga so you can dance the night away with a gorgeous evening view.

Day 16-20 Lost City Trek

La Ciudad Perdida or  ‘The Lost City’ is an archaeological site that predates the building of Peru’s Macchu Pichu by 650 years!

 

Lost in the jungle since the time of the Conquistadors, it was re-found in 1972 by explorers.

 

The 5-day trek is one of the most epic things you can do in South America and well worth the challenge.

TOP TIP: I always recommend booking tours in person when in South America. Online prices are always inflated. It's better to visit tour companies and see if they have any deals on. For reference, Baquainos have the best reputation. Waiwa are also a great option and use guides from the indigenous communities.

Views from the Lost City, Santa Marta (Colombia)

Day 21 - Santa Marta

After coming back from 5 days in the jungle, you’ll want to rest and spend some time doing absolutely nothing.

 

As mentioned, ‘The Dreamer’ is one of the best hostels in Santa Marta and the hammocks and pool make it the perfect place to chill after trekking.

Day 22-24 Palomino

Time to escape the big cities and get off the beaten track. With white sand beaches, river tubing and the odd full moon party, you’ll have a great time in Palomino.

 

  • Learn to surf with Tide Escuela De Surf. The instructors are known for being professional, patient and passionate about what they do which always makes for the best learning conditions.
  • Think lazy river, with booze…! That’s it: RIVER TUBING! This is one of the most fun things you can do in Palomino so don’t miss out! It costs around 45,000 COP and takes three hours 
  • Whilst Palomino isn’t ‘known’ for full moon parties, if you’re ‘in the know’, you’ll be able to find one! When you arrive, make sure to speak to the locals or the staff working at your hostel as they’ll be able to point you in the right direction!

Read the full Palomino guide here.

Palomino Beach (Colombia)

Day 25-27 Cartagena

Cartagena is a real highlight of any Colombia trip, so you’re going to end your adventure ins style. Turn up the heat and get ready for some serious Caribbean flavour.

 

  • Lounge on white sandy beaches, swim in crystal-clear waters, and maybe even indulge in a beachside massage or seafood lunch at Playa Blanca.
  • Indulge in a peculiar mud bath and interesting mangrove tour at Totumo volcano
  • Walk along the fortifications of The Walled City (Ciudad Amurallada) at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas to enjoy the city from a slightly higher vantage point

For even more Cartagena ideas on what to do whilst here, check out my Cartagena post

Cartagena Rooftops (Colombia)

Day 28-29 - San Bernardo Islands

Ending your trip in Cartagena would certainly be a high, but why not fit in one more place!

 

The San Bernardo Islands, nestled off the coast from Cartagena, offer a dreamy escape from the city.

 

Among them lies Casa en el Agua, a unique hostel floating on turquoise waters in the middle of the ocean.

 

Here you can enjoy simple island living, snorkelling in the day and sleeping in cosy hammocks under starlit skies at night.

 

You can go snorkelling around the hostel to find vibrant coral reefs teeming with colourful fish, or go kayaking if you want to explore further afield.

 

You can then hop aboard boat tours to the San Bernardo Islands to explore mangroves, walk on secluded beaches or enjoy fresh seafood cooked by the locals on the islands.

 

With such a unique setting and breathtaking scenery, the San Bernardo Islands promise an unforgettable retreat, and the perfect way to end one month in Colombia!

Rosario Islands, Cartagena

What’s The Best Way Of Getting Around Colombia?

If you’re a backpacker, then the best way of getting between most stops is to take night buses.

 

Not only does it mean you don’t have to pay for accommodation, it also means you get to make the most of your days in each destination.

 

However, taking flights between places like Bogota and Medellin also makes sense.

 

Internal flights are cheap in Colombia and you’ll avoid a long bus through the winding roads of the Andes.

 

For around $30-40 more, it ight be worth it depending on your budget!

 

My one-month Colombia itinerary has been built around travelling this way so here is a quick guide for you to bear in mind when planning your trip.

Popular Bus Times In Colombia

My top seven tips for overnight bus travel in Colombia

  1. Make sure you book a bus that has fully reclining (aka ‘cama’) seats as you’ll be able to sleep more comfortably. Maybe even bring a travel pillow for ultimate comfort!
  2. Wear warm clothes. The drivers often crank-up the AC and it gets COLD! I’m talking coat, gloves, hat…even a blanket if you can get hold of one!
  3. Bring an eye mask and ear plugs. They’ll help to block out the lights and noise of the bus, passengers and other vehicles on the road.
  4. Keep your valuables on your person, hidden. I kept my passport, phone and some money in my bumbag, inside my jacket, under my blanket.
  5. If you suffer from motion sickness, take your meds! The roads are winding and you’ll need them.
  6. Pack water and snacks and make sure you’ve had a good meal before you travel. The stops are often remote and the refreshment choices can be limited.
  7. Ensure you have toilet paper and hand sanitiser with you…thank me later!

What is the best way of booking bus tickets in Colombia?

There are two ways of booking bus tickets: either online or at a bus station, which you can usually book for the same day.

 

I did both on my trip and wouldn’t say either one was better, it just depended on my mood, my plans or how confident I was with my Spanish!

 

 

  • Buying tickets online – If you want to book online I recommend Busbud. The advantage of booking online is that you can find out what each bus company offers in terms of luxury (reclining seats, power sockets etc.) so if you want to browse before you buy, this is your best option.

 

  • Buying tickets at a bus station – There will be stands for each bus company selling tickets to a variety of destinations. Look for the stands selling tickets for your next stop, assess the prices and make sure they provide those all-important fully reclining seats!

How To Find Cheap Flights In Colombia

If you want to save time on this 1-month itinerary and fit as much in as possible, then some internal flights are necessary.

 

For example, from Bogota to Cartagena is a flight I recommend. It takes 1h 30m and if you book enough in advance you can find flights for as cheap as $50.

 

I use Way Away Plus to find my flights when travelling around South America. They not only find the best deals but they’ll also give you cash back on each flight.

How To Get To Colombia

Most international flights will fly into Bogota or Cartagena.

 

From America:

 

  • Miami, Dallas, Atlanta New York and L.A all have flights to Bogota. 
  • If you want to fly into Cartagena, you can find flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. 

 

From the U.K:

 

  • You can fly to Bogota from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
  • If you want to start your adventure in Cartagena, you’ll need a stop over in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Orlando

Is A Month Enough In Colombia?

A month is more than enough in Colombia to see the highlights including Bogota, Medellin and all the best stops on the Caribbean coast such as Cartagena and Santa Marta.

 

The extra days also gives you time to include the Lost City trek if you want to.

 

However, I’ve missed out some other popular spots on this itinerary that you may want to visit:

 

  • Cali [link]
  • The Amazon (Leticia) [link]
  • Barranquilla [link]

If you want to see these places, then you can easily swap out some of my suggestions. Or stay for even longer!

Is Three Weeks Enough For Colombia?

Within three weeks you can spend a week between Bogota and Medellin. That then gives you two weeks to see the Caribbean coast.

 

You can then spend 10 days in Santa Marta and Palomino on the beach. Then the other 10 days in Cartagena and visiting the San Bernardo Islands.

 

If you wanted to do the Lost City Trek (5 days) then you would have to sacrifice time in other places. I would recommend a full month if you wanted to do this trek.

 

Here’s a suggested three-week itinerary for Colombia:

 

  • Day 1-3 – Bogota
  • Day 4-7 – Medellin / Guatape
  • Day 8-10 – Santa Marta
  • Day 11-13 – Taganga
  • Day 14-16 – Palomino
  • Day 17-21 – Cartagena

Is Two Weeks Enough For Colombia?

If you’re a city person, then two weeks is a great amount of time to see Bogota, Medellin and then Cartagena.

 

If you prefer the beach, then two weeks is also the perfect amount of time to explore the coast and go from Cartagena to Santa Marta to Palomino.

 

However, I wouldn’t recommend visiting every place I’ve outlined in this post as you won’t get much time in each place and most of your time will be spent moving around.

 

Here’s a suggested two-week itinerary for Colombia:

 

  • Day 1-2 – Bogota
  • Day 3-5 – Medellin / Guatape
  • Day 6-8 – Santa Marta
  • Day 9-10 – Palomino
  • Day 11-14 – Cartagena

Is A Week Enough For Colombia?

One week is only enough time to see two cities, for example Bogota and Medellin, or Bogota and Cartagena.

 

I would recommend spending as little time in Bogota as possible as places like Cartagena or Santa Marta have much more going on.

 

For example:

 

  • Day 1-2 – Bogota
  • Day 3-4 – Cartagena
  • Day 5-6 – San Bernardo Islands (from Cartagena)
  • Day 7 – Bogota

 

Or for a more action packed week itinerary in Colombia:

 

  • Day 1 – Bogota
  • Day 2-3 – Santa Marta / Tayrona National Park
  • Day 4 – Minca
  • Day 5-6 – Palomino
  • Day 7 – Return to Bogota

 

If you can fly into Cartagena then even better as a week on the Caribbean coast is ideal. Here’s how I’d do it:

 

  • Day 1-3 – Cartagena (with a day trip to the San Bernardo Islands)
  • Day 4-5 – Santa Marta (with a day trip to Tayrona National Park)
  • Day 6 – Palomino or Minca
  • Day 7 – Return To Cartagena 

When's The Best Time To Visit Colombia?

When it comes to planning your Colombian adventure, here are some things to consider:

 

  • January and February are two of the best months to enjoy the best weather. July and August are also great months to go. With sunny days and warm temperatures, these months offer ideal conditions for exploring Colombia’s diverse landscapes and captivating cities.

 

  • Additionally, the shoulder seasons of March and September can also provide favorable conditions, blending warm weather with fewer crowds, ideal for backpackers looking for the best deals on tours and accommodation.

 

  • Rainy season includes all the grey months below. You’ll still have warm weather on the Caribbean coast but you’ll have short, heavy downfalls of rain most days
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What To Pack For Colombia

Colombia is a hot country year-round so you’ll want to pack for warm weather and beach activities.

 

I usually take shorts, vests and a couple of t-shirts for the nights. I also take a pair of nice trousers for visiting fancier restaurants in Medellin.

 

If you want to do the Lost City Trek, then I recommend taking hiking gear too. Here’s my load out:

 

 

  • Hydroflask Water Bottle – super lightweight and designed especially for hiking. You can drink the tap water in Colombia so this is a great way to stay hydrated. 

 

  • Patagonia R1 Mid-layer Fleece – lightweight but warm, perfect for cold evenings when you’re up in the mountains. MensWomens

 

  • Patagonia 3L Torrentshell Waterproof – lightweight and packs down easily. Go for UNIQLO if you want budget versions but still high quality.  Mens | Womens

 

  • Mountain Warehouse Waterproof Hiking Boots – go into the store and try these on first. Always go a size higher as your feet swell up when hiking. Go for waterproof too! It’s much better being able to walk through streams and big puddles without getting wet feet.

 

  • Merino Wool Hiking Socks – warm and odour resistant so you can wear for a couple of days. You want a thick pair of socks for hiking so you don’t get blisters. You can get these from mountain warehouse. They usually do 3 for the price of 2 in store too!

What's The Best Sim Card For Colombia?

I stopped using physical SIM cards a few years ago when reliable e-SIMs hit the market.

 

Airalo is my favourite eSIM for travelling around Colombia and South America in general.

 

Here’s why:

 

  • Save Money – No more high roaming bills with access to the best eSIMs (digital SIM cards) for every country in South America!
  • Easy – No more stress trying to buy a physical SIM. You can download and install a data pack and get connected as soon as you land. 

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