Travelling in Colombia with kids may not seem like the best idea, but a trip to this South American country with the little ones in tow can be a richly rewarding and positive experience. There are plenty of activities to please both children and parents, and in a strongly family-oriented culture, Colombians are always happy to welcome families to their country. Any one of these activities would be a wonderful way to explore Colombia with kids.
The ultimate kid-friendly Colombian travel activity, Parque Explora in Medellin is a learning centre, aquarium, miniature zoo, playground, and picnic spot all rolled into one easy outing. With a 3D cinema, exhibitions of colourful frogs, piranhas and electric eels, interactive science games, and much more, Parque Explora will delight kids and satisfy parents that their children are playing and learning at the same time. It’s also adjacent to Medellin’s Botanical Gardens, the perfect spot to eat lunch in the sunshine and watch wild iguanas roaming alongside a lake.
The best way to get outside and enjoy some exercise in Colombia’s capital, the ciclovia takes place every Sunday, when hundreds of kilometres of roads are temporarily shut down and thousands of locals ride their bikes, rollerblade, and walk the dogs along the normally crowded highways. It’s also a great Sunday family outing: rent some bikes or pack the roller skates, and take a family bike ride through the city, stopping along the way to sample local fruit juices and snacks at roadside stalls.
San Andres, a beautiful Caribbean island a short flight away from the mainland, is a great place to travel with children, thanks to its numerous sandy beaches and warm, clear waters. A real family highlight would be exploring the underwater magic of the island’s reefs and corals by going on a snorkelling trip. There are many tour operators who can arrange a boat and equipment rental to take families out to any of the myriad little bays surrounding the main island, where they can enjoy hours of fun observing the thousands of colourful fish, rays, and turtles that call the area home.
Coffee is Colombia’s most famous product and, although the kids might not actually be able to drink the coffee, a coffee tour can be a really fun and interactive activity for both parents and children: younger kids will enjoy getting their hands dirty picking the ripe coffee beans, as well as all the big and noisy machines they can play around with to clean and prepare them. Then the parents get to enjoy drinking it! It might not seem the most obvious child-friendly activity, but a coffee tour could end up being one of the most memorable parts of a family trip to Colombia.
Unless your kids are especially fussy eaters, a few hours sampling traditional Colombian foods in Bogota’s sprawling Paloquemao market makes for a great child-friendly activity. Kids will love exploring the wonderful world of Colombia’s exotic fruits and juices, and it’s a fun way to enjoy Colombian food as a family and in a less formal setting than a restaurant. Several tour companies offer trips to Paloquemao, and there are also popular fruit tours available in Cartagena or Medellin.
A popular day trip from Medellin for people of all ages, Parque Arvi is also a great place to explore with children. Reached by a cable car ride from the centre of the city into the surrounding mountains (itself a fun family experience), the park is full of hiking trails, picnic spots, and local markets. There is also a beautiful lake where families can rent boats, and a hotel complex complete with 4D cinema and adventurous climbing activities in the surrounding forests. Parque Arvi is the perfect place to get out of the city and explore Colombia’s natural wonders with kids.
A theme park located in the heart of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, the Parque Nacional del Café is another great way for parents and kids to enjoy coffee together. With an interactive coffee museum, a live song and dance show detailing the history of coffee, an orchid garden, plus rollercoasters, log-flumes, bumper cars, and go-karts, the park is jam-packed with fun activities that both parents and children can enjoy. With over 50 different attractions, you could keep the kids busy and happy all day at the National Coffee Park.
Colombia’s best zoo is run by a conservation foundation, and is committed to researching and preserving native Colombian species. Zoos might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cali’s is an excellent one, with a strong educational message and an emphasis on Colombian wildlife. They have the classic zoo animals (lions, tigers, zebras), but the highlights are the primate, amphibian, and butterfly exhibits, and around 90% of the animals in the zoo are native to Colombia. The Cali Zoo is another perfect way to combine child-friendly fun and education in one easy day trip.