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Two Weeks in Colombia

March 27, 2024

Filed in: Travel

“Colombia?” That was many people’s first reaction when I told them our next travel destination. It’s not on people’s radar as much as some other popular destinations like Costa Rica but put it on your list! It’s becoming more and more popular and I think it would be good to go there now before tourism explodes.

How did we end up picking Colombia as our trip for the summer of 2023? Basically I was just looking for flights below $1k from Calgary, Alberta to somewhere outside of North America. Europe was too expensive, then we considered Argentina but then settled on Colombia! Argentina is still on our list but since Colombia is a lot closer we chose there. To get there we flew to Toronto and then it’s a 6 hour direct flight to Bogota. There’s only a 1 hour time change as well which makes a big difference in travelling.

Other than Tayrona we stayed at Marriott hotels for our entire trip as we had enough points to stay for FREE! With AMEX bonuses you can get several nights for free especially in Colombia as your points go much further there. If you’re interested check it out HERE.

Our 2 Week Itinerary

Medellin – 5 nights

Cartagena – 3 nights

Tayrona – 3 nights

Santa Marta – 2 nights

Bogota – 1 night

As soon as we flew into Bogota we flew straight to Medellin. We flew everywhere in Colombia. You could take the bus but flights are fairly reasonable so it just makes more sense to fly. Bogota to Medellin was $96Cdn each.


By FAR my favourite place in Colombia! I’d go back in a heartbeat! The most beautiful city with amazing people. Flying into Medellin I was struck by the breathtaking landscape, the city sits in a valley and is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’. It is so lush, green EVERYWHERE, and the temperature is always 20-23 degrees celcius – which in my books is absolutely perfect!

Where we stayed and what we did…

Our first day we did a 4 hour Bike Tour with Green Bike Tour Medellin. The tour INCLUDED snacks and drinks and was $22Cdn each! We had empanadas, arepas and our first introduction to Lulu juice (so yummy!) Our guide Daniel was awesome. We were a group of 10 and we had two guides with us.

Our second day we took a taxi to the El Poblado neighbourhood (This is where many tourists stay). Taxis are very cheap in Medellin – almost all our cabs cost $5 and that was going halfway across the city. We were going horseback riding and they arranged for drivers to pick us up here and take us to the stables (included in the price). Horseback riding was another major highlight of the trip. So so fun. Absolutely stunning landscape. This was the kids’ favourite activity and none of them had been on a horse before. The tour included pick up from the city, 1.5 hours of horseback riding and an enormous traditional Colombian lunch and beer (see above) – $95 each. Link to tour HERE.

Day 3 we spent the morning at Communa 13. If I came back I would do an entire day here. So much to see and do and another highlight of our trip! We booked our Free tour through Zippy Tours. Steven was an excellent guide. In fact all of our guides in Colombia were exceptional. We learned so much about the community and the history. We were treated to some amazing breakdancing and street performers. The kids loved it here as well!

The reason we couldn’t stay all day at Communa 13 is because we had plans to go to a Medellin football game! Wow what an experience. We started by getting the kids team jerseys – $8. Tickets to the game were $14Cdn. Next time I would come earlier as pre-gaming was very fun but we didn’t have much time. There are a ton of restaurants across from the stadium, you can sit outside and have a drink or lunch before hand. Afterwards, the excitement is high and you could stay for dinner. The game was epic. The singing of the crowd was an experience in itself. Do NOT miss doing this when you visit Medellin!

Day 4 we took a day trip to Guatape but first to climb El Penol – a giant rock! Why climb this giant rock? See above for the views. There’s lots of shops and restaurants at the base of the rock and after the climb we took a tuk tuk to the town of Guatape. Loved this town. Very colourful – I described it as like walking into a crayon box – very lively, lots of people, restaurants, shops, just beautiful. Very few North American tourists. In fact, every where we visited in Colombia had very limited English. Don’t let this stop you though. Google Translate was our friend and people were more than happy to speak into our phone in Spanish to converse with us and vice versa! There’s a beautiful boardwalk to walk along in Guatape and we took a private boat tour of the lake for $40.

Guatape is about an hour bus ride from Medellin. The bus cost $6, the rock climb was $7, we had a delicious lunch in the main square of Guatape of fresh fish, french fries, salad and a beer for $9. The tuk tuk was $3.50.

Our last day in Medellin I really wanted to take the cable cars for a ride. These are unique to Medellin. Unlike most cities where a cable car is a tourist attraction, their cable cars are part of their transit system. Riding them gives you magnificent views of the city. About $1 to ride.


We flew to Cartagena from Medellin – $80 each. Our one and only time I felt in danger in Colombia was taking a taxi from the Cartagena airport to our hotel. Our driver drove extremely fast and recklessly and I was actually scared for our lives. Thankfully we did arrive safely.

Day 1 in Cartagena we did a Free Walking Tour in the old city. It was very hot and humid there and we were sweating buckets but it’s a very charming city. Much much more touristy than Medellin – at least in the old city. It reminded me a little bit of New Orleans. Seemed to be a place that would be really fun if you were in your 20’s.

Day 2 in Cartagena we left the city and did a private snorkeling tour. We all loved this and I would highly recommend it. We used Paraiso Dive Cartagena. Our trip included all morning snorkeling with two stops and then they dropped us off at an island with the Blue Apple Beach Club where we spent the rest of the afternoon. This was $100 each and well, well worth it. Kids absolutely loved the boat ride, the snorkeling and the beach club was amazing.

Day 3 we left Cartagena for our hotel by Tayrona National Park.

There’s a main road that leads to the entrance of the park with many hotels and we stayed on this road. There’s a bus that services this road and can take you right to the entrance of the park. Kids really like the hotel. It was $40 a night for two rooms and included breakfast. It had a nice pool, a restaurant/bar and a beautiful river behind it that we walked along, kids swung on the vines and walked across a suspension bridge. The manager is Canadian so he was very helpful and obviously spoke English which was nice.

Eco Hostel Kuima – it’s a basic hotel, not the Ritz! Also, I noticed many hotels might be called hostels but they’re not our definition of a hostel. This hotel was private rooms.

We caught the bus early in the morning and took it to Tayrona National Park. You can either stay hereovernight or hike for the day. We chose to hike for the day. We hiked to Cabo San Juan which took 2hr 45min – stopping along the way to marvel at the monkeys in the trees! There are little stands during the hike with drinks and popsicles for the kids. Not a difficult hike but HOT! When we arrived at the beach there are lots of little restaurants and bathrooms. We swam and hung out at the beach for about 3 hours and then headed back to the entrance as we didn’t want to hike in the dark. Highly recommend this hike and the beach! The entrance fee for Tayrona was about $18.

Our 3rd day in the Tayrona area I booked surf lessons for everyone. A 15 minute bus ride from our hotel at Riu Mendihuaca. We had lunch first at one of the many restaurants on the beach. Surf lessons were about $40 each for 2.5 hours with Tayrona Surf School. Our instructors were great especially with the kids. I think we had 5 instructors for 9 of us!

We left Tayrona and headed to Minca for a day trip. Minca is a little village in the jungle. We did a coffee and cocoa tour first and then took a 4×4 to the waterfalls. Although we enjoyed the coffee tour next time I would head straight to the waterfalls. We had hardly any time here and once we saw it we all wished we could have spent the day. It had enormous nets hanging over the falls to lay on and a restaurant. $5 entry. The waterfalls were magical and not that busy considering something similar to this in Hawaii would probably be packed to the brim! Plan at least 3-4 hours here. Cascadas de Marinka

From Minca we stayed in Santa Marta for the night. Honestly, we did not like it here, I would skip it next time. We flew from Santa Marta to Bogota for a 1 night stay before we flew home the next day. Flight was $113. We had nothing planned in Bogota so we just walked around the city centre, enjoyed a delicious lunch at La Puerta Falsa which is famous as it was featured in an episode of Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain. We had to wait in line for about 30 minutes but it was worth the wait. A very unique restaurant and the food was incredible.

Our trip ended in the main square with the kids feeding the birds (there are people selling corn for you) and laughing like crazy.

What I would change….

I would spend at least 2 nights in Guatape. There are Airbnb’s right on the lake – you can jetski, kayak, swim – wish we had done this.

If we had more time I would extend our time in Tayrona from 3 nights to 4-5 and scratch Santa Marta off completely. Loved this area.

In Cartagena if you have the time, spend the night at the Apple Bay Beach Resort – we loved it here and did not want to leave! An afternoon wasn’t enough.

Plan for the whole day at Communa 13 – it feels rushed to do it in a morning.

I hope this helps you in planning your trip to Colombia with kids! For a lot more content and videos of our trip I have it saved in my Highlights on my Instagram page.

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  1. Sandy says:

    What a great recap Virginia! Adding to the list…

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