Traditional Foods You Have to Try in Colombia

Arepas are perhaps the definitive street food found across Colombia
Arepas are perhaps the definitive street food found across Colombia | © Ida Pap / Alamy

While Colombia may not be well known around the world for its cuisine, the country is home to plenty of delicious traditional foods. Each region of Colombia has its own individual dishes and unique takes on the country’s typical cuisine. Here, we consider some traditional Colombian dishes from specific regions around the country.

Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa is a traditional meal from the Antioquia region of Colombia, which includes the cities of Medellin, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Guatape and Jardin. In fact, it is so well-loved that it has been adopted as Colombia’s national dish. This hearty meal usually contains white rice, red beans, ground or minced beef, plantain, chorizo sausage, corn, pork crackling, fried egg, an arepa and usually half an avocado. The ingredients can vary between cities and restaurants, with certain ingredients being added or taken away.

Lechona

Ajiaco

Originally from the Bogotá and Andes Mountains region of Colombia but more recently found all over the country, this traditional soup is ideal for the cooler mountainous locations. This dish is a white soup made with chicken, a variety of two or three kinds of potato, corn, sour cream and usually white rice and avocado.

Sancocho

Sancocho stems from the traditional Spanish stew and is popular all over South America. Each country has a unique take on the dish and Colombia is no different. Here, the version varies between fish on the coast and different kinds of meat in other regions. It always contains yuca, corn, potatoes and plantain and is usually served along with white rice. This dish originates from the Valle de Cauca region, home to the cities of Cali, Buenaventura and Tulua.

Changua

This breakfast soup originates in the Andes region and provides an ideal start to the day in what tends to be a cooler region. The milk-based soup is made with water, milk, egg, onions and cilantro and is often served with bread and hot chocolate.

Arepas

Arepas are the most common traditional dish in Colombia and are served as an accompaniment or a snack. Arepas are served throughout Central and South America, but Colombia has its own original type of arepa. Arepas can come in a number of varieties, including arepas de choco (made from corn and filled with cheese), arepas con queso (filled with cheese), and arepas de huevo (an arepa which is deep-fried with an egg cracked inside and then refried). Each region in Colombia has its own traditional way to eat and make arepas.

Fritanga

This dish can be found in a variety of forms all over Colombia and each contains slightly different ingredients depending on the region or restaurant. This hearty, meat-filled dish contains a variety of grilled meats (chicken, beef, pork crackling, chorizo sausage) and is usually served with different kinds of potatoes, arepas, plantain and corn. This dish is designed to be shared among family or friends – each having a fork or cocktail stick to dig in.

Hormigas Culonas

This is a delicacy from the Santander region of Colombia, a region north of Bogotá that is home to the cities of Bucaramanga, Barichara, San Gil and Floridablanca. Hormigas Culonas are a specific, large, leaf-eating species of ant that are traditionally found in this region and are eaten for their flavor. These ants can be served fried or roasted in salt and are either crushed or kept whole.

Tamales

Tamales can be found all over Central and South America, served in a variety of ways using a range of ingredients. Colombians traditionally eat tamales with meat, vegetables, fruits or cheese and this corn-based delicacy is cooked and served wrapped in a plantain leaf. Tamales can be found all over Colombia in supermarkets or restaurants.

Rondón

This Afro-Caribbean-influenced dish is typically found on Colombia’s Caribbean Islands of San Andres and Providencia. This soup is made primarily from a fillet of fish or other seafood along with snails, yams, potatoes, yuca and baked plantains cooked in coconut milk and pepper. Rondón is often served with coconut rice and fried plantain.
Sound tempting? You’ll have the chance to sample authentic Colombian cuisine on Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Colombian Andes adventure, while our exclusive eight-day Colombian Caribbean trip includes a guided street food tour of Cartagena – led by our local insider.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article