This weekend, my third trip to Colombia ends. Time to make a short article, to take note of which places I have seen here, what I can recommend and what remains to be seen, i.e. what’s high on my list to check out the next time around. I am not the kind of person that likes to spend most of their vacations or trips in a car, bus, or plane, so there is still quite a bit left to see. The to-do places are marked with the headings written in italics, some smaller places are grouped with smaller headings, below the big cities they are close to.
I went to MDE during each of my three trips and spend the majority of time of two of them there. Colombia’s second-largest city is probably still the place that I would recommend the most for a longer stay in a city. There is a pretty good public transport network, lots of good restaurants and sports infrastructure, for example around the stadium of Atlético Nacional and in Belen. The things that are interesting for me are in a few different neighborhoods, but generally not too far spread out.
Santa Fe de Antioquia
Antioquia’s former capital nearby Medellín is a historical town that is also worth checking out once.
El Carmen de Viboral
A rather quiet town near the Rio Negro airport that one usually arrives at when going to Medellin. I briefly stayed here when I first arrived to Colombia. Good place to relax a bit.
Rincón del Mar / San Onofre
If you like to go to a beach without much (touristic) infrastructure around, this place near San Onofre is a good option. For a few days, it can be quite nice – afterwards, at least I would start to miss some things. 😉
Even though I am not into really diving, which is probably the best thing to do around the island, I really like this place. For a rather touristic island, things are not too expensive and there is not too many people aggressively trying to sell you stuff, at least if you get away from the beaches in the main city. Usually I am not much of a fan of seafood, but here there is a lot good options to try things here.
The other island northwest of San Andres gets recommended frequently, mainly for being calmer and having the nicer landscape.
No final verdict yet, but so far I must say I am generally not the biggest fan – mainly due to the long distances, combined with the traffic. And maybe my Colombian friends biased me a bit here, with their negative opinions about the city… My favorite part so far is the historical quarter of Usaquén – some places are rather pricy, but definitely good food. Close to that are the Hacienda shopping center, which is a nice change to the usual mega shopping malls that you find everywhere else around, and Parque El Country. To get a good “overview” of the city, at least in the literal sense, you can go to Mirador La Paloma or Monserrate. At Monserrate you can expect some crowds even outside of the holiday seasons though.
Guatavita & Laguna
Both the town of Guatavita, as well as the famous lake nearby are worth visiting.
To the north, the home of Alpina dairy and a Poker brewery. Went to the factory sale and cafe place of Alpina. If you need to kill some time, before going back into Bogotá, it is an option – otherwise I would not recommend it, unless you are really into the dairy industry or something like that. Surprisingly, for a factory sale store, products there are more expensive than in regular supermarkets, like Éxito.
Just made a short stop here, at a quite big and impressive shopping mall called Fontanar. Therefore, I cannot say anything about the city itself yet.
Nice old city, beaches are fine, too, but if there is one place that is too touristic, with all the typical “symptoms” of that, it is definitely Cartagena. However, since it is the place to go to for vacations for Colombians, one should probably go see it at least once anyways, to get to know the country. Stayed in Morros, a bit further away from the city, which I can recommend as some of the symptoms are less pronounced there.
Due to some “personal connections”, I will probably visit this place some time soon. And maybe some other places around Tolima as well.
Santa Marta gets mentioned most frequently among the places that I should still visit. As it is the oldest city in Colombia, I think it should be quite interesting.
to be continued / updated…