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The Perfect Week in Colombia

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Ok, so maybe you'll need a week and a half. Perhaps even two? Stay a month. There's more than enough to do on this trip from Bogotá to Medellin and then along the coast of the Caribbean Sea from Cartagena to a National Park or the Lost City. Explore vibrant cities and relaxed seaside towns. Hike. Take a cable car from neighborhood to neighborhood. Eat. Dance. Drink. And plan your return.
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Monserrate Bogotá, Colombia
The peak called Monserrate towers over central Bogotá and lends its name to the church that tops it. Perched more than 10,000 feet above sea level, the sanctuary—dedicated to the Passion of Christ—has beautiful gardens...
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Bogotá’s museum of all things gold is one of Colombia’s greatest treasures. Yet despite the name, you’ll find more here than just the precious metal. In addition to stunning displays drawing on a collection of more than...
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Set within the Banco de la República’s museum complex, the Botero Museum offers a sampling of paintings and sculptures by famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero, best known for his still lifes and his exaggeratedly rotund human...
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Parque De La Sal, Zipaquirá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
About an hour north of Bogotá lies the so-called Salt Cathedral, an intriguing and impressive church that has been sculpted from the empty chambers of a working salt mine, one that’s been in operation since pre-Hispanic times....
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Bogotá, Bogota, Colombia
Since Bogotá relaxed its rules about street art, the usual hurried scrawls that used to cover walls in some neighborhoods have been replaced by beautiful murals of vivid color and pleasing form. Though some are purely decorative—often...
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Cra. 9 #75-70, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Chef Harry Sasson is nothing short of an institution in Colombia’s culinary realm, one of the people responsible for having reactivated a local interest in haute cuisine. Mixed-grill aficionados will thrill equally to his langoustines (with...
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Calle 69 A # 5 – 75, Zona G, Bogotá, Colombia
Once a quiet residential neighborhood near Bogotá’s financial district, Zona G (as in gourmet) is now an all-city dining hot spot that’s abuzz day and night, serving everything from upscale burgers (at Gordo) and pizzas (at...
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Cra. 7 ##69A-22, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
From hand-carved wooden doors to rustic ceiling beams, elements rescued from demolished colonial-era convents were incorporated into the architecture of this luxury property when it was built in 1946. A designated historic landmark,...
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Cl. 73 #51d14, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Medellín’s botanical garden is a 35-acre oasis of green amid the bustling city. Stroll through lush tropical vegetation, towering trees, and flowering bushes to a quiet, picturesque pond amid the gardens. Or peek into a butterfly...
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Carabobo, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
At the center of Medellín, Plaza Botero gets its name from Colombian artist Fernando Botero, who donated 23 of his much-loved, disproportionate-bodied bronze sculptures to the city. There’s a huge chubby head, a reclining woman, and...
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Via a Piedras Blancas, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Medellín’s urban renewal, following decades as one of the world’s murder capitals, has drawn international attention. Perhaps nothing symbolizes the revival more than the Metrocable, a system of cable cars that connect the city...
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Cl. 10 #25-18, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
The Parque Lleras neighborhood is the throbbing heart of Medellín nightlife. The namesake park is tiny, but its surrounding blocks are packed with bars, restaurants, and clubs, many featuring terraces. Wherever you choose to go, it’s...
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Parque Bicentenario, Cl. 51 #36-66, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
This sobering museum reminds visitors that Colombia’s beauty, natural and otherwise, has often coexisted with civil war and its brutal violence. Galleries present stories and images as well as survivor, victim, and ex-combatant testimonies....
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Cra. 53 #7375, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
The four huge red cubes set amid the verdant mountains around Medellín will seize your attention and pique your curiosity—they are pavilions that architect Alejandro Echeverri designed to house Parque Explora, a science museum that is...
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Carrera 40 # 10A-22, Medellín, El Poblado, Colombia
Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or just for a spontaneous night of indulgence: Medellin is blessed with romantic dining spots. El Cielo, just opposite Parque Lleras, is as well-known throughout Latin America as its creator Juan...
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During the day, El Social, is your average corner store. But, as sundown comes on, the owners start putting small tables and chairs on the sidewalk and patio. Then the people start pouring in and the beer begins to flow. They'll also serve you...
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calle san Augustin nº 6-14, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The best way to enjoy Cartagena’s historic center is simply to get lost. Wander the narrow streets that flow past gaily colored edifices and into small, leafy parks or sprawling plazas. Stroll the city ramparts, the walls built starting in...
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Catch a boat from the dock just opposite the Cartagena city gate and take a ride out to the Islas del Rosario, a protected archipelago of 27 coral islands surrounded by reefs teeming with exquisite flora and fauna. Island activities include...
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Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia
The spirit of the late Gabriel García Márquez—one of Colombia's most beloved cultural figures, and certainly its most beloved writer—lives on in Colombia, and is felt palpably in Cartagena. Though the Nobel Prize–winning author lived in Mexico...
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#34- a, Cra. 6 #34108, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The interior spaces as well as the incredible rooftop at an amazing former mansion in Cartagena’s historic center are the setting for the Colombian Caribbean’s most talented bartenders. The cocktails mixed here are magic potions that...
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Calle del Colegio # 34-60 Local 1, Centro Histórico, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The 19th-century residence that houses this restaurant by chef Juan Felipe Camacho presents a subtle maritime vibe. The gustatory offering highlights a little bit of everything, but seafood and local shellfish—in generous portions—are...
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la No. 36 44, Universidad de Cartagena, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
Occupying three whitewashed colonial buildings sheltered from the bustling streets of Old Town Cartagena, Casa San Agustín sits on the site of a former aqueduct and channels its heritage with a swimming pool that tunnels through its stately...
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Cl. 36 #3-86, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
In a city that inspired the most famous works by the winner of a Nobel Prize in literature, you'd be forgiven for expecting a place to buy novels on every corner. Cartagena's book offerings are somewhat slim, but the best by far is Ábaco, a...
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Cra. 60 #6838, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
Barranquilla’s must-go eatery for exceptional, local, and home-style specialties prepares its meals using organic, locally sourced produce only. In a warmly decorated, landmark colonial residence, Donde Mamá serves up a Colombian...
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Cl. 36 #46 - 66, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
Colombians from the Caribbean coast, known as Costeños, are immensely proud of their cultural, musical, literary, and historical heritage, all of which are on display at this interactive museum. The country's famous shore stretches from the...
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Cra. 54 ##70-10, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
El Prado, a grand hotel that stands as a testimony to Barranquilla’s golden days as Colombia’s gateway to the world, is now on the nation’s registry of historic places. When it opened in 1930, it boasted of being the first luxury...
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Carrera 44 #72- 263, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
Barranquilla’s famed pre-Lenten carnival is the supreme forum for residents’ festive spirits, but that same dance-till-you-drop energy can be found all year round at La Troja, now in its 52nd year. The barroom is a no-frills, open-air...
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Cra. 43 #59-03, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
Founded in 1954, La Cueva, in the seaside town of Barranquilla, gained renown as a favorite watering hole of some of Colombia’s most famous artists, writers, and intellectuals, most notably the so-called Barranquilla Group—which...
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Av. del Libertador - Sector San Pedro Alejandrino, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
The 17th-century estate where Simón Bolívar died in 1830 is the site of several Bolivar monuments as well as an art museum featuring works by Latin American artists inspired by Bolívar, the hero who freed Bolivia, Colombia, ...
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One of the best ways to see Santa Marta is on the waterfront promenade, the Paseo El Camellón (also known as the Paseo de Bastidas), which runs between the city's old port and the new marina. The palm tree–lined walk has several...

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Cra. 3 #19-29, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Centrally located on Parque de los Novios, Ouzo serves the city's best Mediterranean dishes, including brick oven pizzas, seared octopus and roasted lamb with orzo. The chef and owner, Michael McMurdo, began his culinary career in New York City at...

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Cl. 19 #2 - 17, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Located on a corner facing Parque de los Novios and with a large shaded section of sidewalk dining, Donde Chucho manages to be rustic and sophisticated at once. The kitchen is known for its generous portions of expertly cooked seafood and...

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Magdalena, Colombia
Tayrona National Natural Park has become such a popular destination during typical vacation periods that authorities have had to limit admission. But an off-season visit offers singular luxuries like miles of all-but-solitary beaches, jungle...
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Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Ciudad Perdida (or “lost city”) is believed to have been a political and spiritual center for the people that inhabited the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta highlands around 800 C.E. Treasure hunters "discovered" the complex in the 1970s...