Why travel Colombia?
Colombia has been capturing my imagination for close to a decade now, through books and people I’ve met over the years. During that time I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the country, from Medellin to Manizales, from the Caribbean Coast to high up in the Andes to the salsa capital and the Vallenato valleys. And even after a decade, there is so much I have yet to explore. But why travel Colombia?
Why pack a bag and venture south, when any number of government sites warn travellers to steer clear? What is it about Colombia that has people declaring their love for the country and its people? What’s so magical about the place that causes people to flock to unknown beaches just to get a glimpse of the country’s charm? Well, it’s the people, of course, the breathtaking landscapes, the history, the beauty and the magic.
Colombia’s tourism board, ProExport, created an entire campaign around the lure Colombia has on travellers. “The only risk is wanting to stay,” the slogan charmed. And they’re right. If you love history, adventure, kind people, home-cooked meals, knockout landscapes and more fruit juice options than you can even imagine, then be sure to travel Colombia. Here’s some information I’ve learnt along the way that will hopefully help you organise your own trip to Colombia.
Arrival and entry into Colombia
According to Immigration Department of Colombia, foreigners who visit Colombia do not need to organise their visa before making travel plans or to be allowed into the country. On entering Colombia, you will be given a 30- or 60-day tourism visa.
The length of your visit will be decided by the immigration officer who stamps your passport, and the amount of time can vary. But generally a 60-day visa is given. It is also important to have a ticket proving your onward journey available, as you will generally be asked to provide this at either the international airport when you arrive in Bogota, or in the United States, if you are flying via Los Angeles.
Of course, if you’re anything like me, then you might find yourself not wanting to leave the country at all. If that is the case then there is the option to extend your stay. There is a process of extending your visa, though, and it includes going to the Immigration Department in Bogota (Calle 100 #11B-29 ph: (571) 408 8000).
When you arrive at the Immigration Department you will be asked to queue for an extension, if your extension is granted then you will have to make a short trip down the road (walking distance) to the Banco Occidente where you will pay your extension fee.
Then you’ll bring this back to the office and get your passport stamped. Be aware, though, that tourist are only able to stay in the country for six months of the calendar year – 180 days. That means if you arrive in July, then you will be able to stay until the following June, given all your extensions are approved.
There are no entry taxes upon arriving in Colombia, but there is an exit fee which must be paid in cash. This fee is updated every year, and is generally between $35-$70USD. Entry taxes are not required upon arrival in Colombia.
Things to do in Colombia
If you’re wondering what to get up to while you travel to Colombia, well, here’s a whole stack of blog posts about some of my own experiences travelling around the country.
- 11 Things to do in Medellin
- 100 Places to visit in Colombia
- 10 Things to do in San Andres
- 15 Things to do in Bogota on a Budget
- 10 Things to do in Salento
- 13 Things to do in Manizales
- 8 Must-try adventure activities in Colombia
- Places to visit in Cartagena
- Things to do in Santa Marta
- 5 Bars in Cali if you’re not into Salsa
Living in Colombia
Thinking about living in Colombia? I’m not surprised! Take a look at some helpful information before making the move:
- House hunting: How to find a place to live in Colombia
- 8 Habits I brought back to Australia after living in Colombia
- What’s it like living in Colombia?
- Top 50 reasons I love living in Colombia
- A list of my favourite expats in Colombia
- Information about buying a property in Colombia
Food. It’s always about the food. Here are a series of posts and recipes about Colombian food.
- Bogota Food Tours with Loon Lio
- La Mesa Food Tours in Medellin
- Bogota Food Tours with Diana of 5Bogota
- Colombian street food: Best eats on the streets
- What is an arepa?
- 10 Dishes to fall in love with Colombia food
- Colombian recipes: Patacones con Hogao
- Why I can’t justify being a vegan when I travel to Colombia
- Cooking like a Colombian with cilantro
- Plain it ain’t: An ode to the plantain
- Colombian recipes: How to make cholado
- Top 5 Bogota desserts
Safety in Colombia
- 6 Completely illogical reasons not to travel to Colombia
- 5 Tips for catching taxis in Colombia
- Safety in Colombia: A guide for staying safe while you travel
- Safety in Colombia: Are we sugar-coating Colombia?
And here are some more travel tips and advice for Colombia and the rest of the world.
- What is solo female travel in Colombia like?
- How to pack for a long flight
- How to plan a trip to Colombia
- 6 Reasons why travelling to Colombia is scarier than you think
- How to plan your first trip abroad
- How to save for overseas travel
- How to plan a year abroad
- Sleeping on couches: How to be a good guest
- How to avoid a pre-overseas trip freak out
Tours and experiences
- Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral
- Guatavita Lake
- Bogota Graffiti Tour
- Bogota Safari Food Tour
- La Mesa Food Tour in Medellin
- Medellin Cable and City Tour
- Salento mountain biking tour
- Cocora Valley Hiking
- Cartagena Mangrove Tour
Learn Colombian Spanish
Do you want to learn Colombian Spanish? Here are some of my videos and links to learn how to make like a Colombian while you’re travelling around the country.
- A beginner’s guide to Colombian Spanish
- My favourite Colombian expressions
- 10 Free resources to help you learn Spanish
Blogs and bloggers I LOVE!
Don’t just take my word about Colombia, here are some of my favourite blogs and bloggers who I’m sure you are going to fall in love with, too.
- A Little Cameo
- Anna Trigellis-Smith
- Banana Skin Flip Flops
- Barranquilla or Bust!
- Colombia Calling Radio
- Colombia de Una
- Discovering Ice
- Flora the Explorer
- How to… Bogota
- Medellin Living
- Que Pena Con Usted
- Richard McColl
- Red Wine and Lipstick
- See Colombia Travel
What have I missed? Is there anything else you want me to cover about Colombia? Be sure to send over an email and let me know!