Culture Trip brings you City Loops, Done Differently – the trending multi-destination routes for 2020 with a twist. Deep-dive into the culture of a destination and discover how to get the most out of your itinerary, from what to see and do to what to eat and where to stay.
The cities of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali all bring something new to the table when it comes to Colombian culture – be it salsa dancing well into the night, tucking into the nation’s favorite dishes or soaking up ancient art.
A ‘biodiversity hotspot’ – meaning it’s home to a number of endemic species that can’t be found anywhere else – Colombia’s natural world and climate are on par with its culture. Embrace it all, traveling by either plane or train between its cities.
The arts scene in Bogotá is vast: museums housing gold (some 55,000 pieces in Museo del Oro), history and science sit alongside independent contemporary galleries. To get a feel for both artistic offerings, first pay a visit to the Botero Museum, situated in a colonial mansion in the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria. Works here range from Picasso to Monet, with the oldest piece of art stretching back pre-1862. A 20-minute walk across town will take you to the Bogotá Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO). The clue is in the name at this museum designed by architect Rogelio Salmona; visual art spans from the early 20th century to today, with key works from Dalí and Warhol.
Slap bang in the middle of happening Usaquén, the stylish W Hotel is in a prime location. Numerous fashion stores and restaurants surround the hotel in the buzzing neighborhood, which is only a 40-minute journey from the airport.
Get a flavor for Colombian cuisine at Restaurante Club Colombia
Restaurant, South American, $$$
With its name, Club Colombia, being an ode to the nation’s second-favorite beer (the first being Heineken), Restaurante Club Colombia promises the best in Colombia’s food and drink. Alongside its great beer, an assortment of Colombian and Latin American foods like ajiaco (chicken with three varieties of potato) and frijoles (Colombian-style beans) need to be tried at this restaurant that offers both casual and fine dining.
Taking the Medellín Metrocable up to Parque Arví yields bird’s-eye views of the city. You’ll bank some of the best shots in your camera roll and be able to explore Medellín’s famous ecological nature reserve once at the top.
Colombia’s national dish, bandeja paisa, is native to Medellín, meaning the most authentic version of this meat-intensive meal of chorizo, carne molida (ground meat), fried egg, black pudding and avocado is found here. Restaurante Hatoviejo are masters at mustering up this beloved dish.
Bars and nightclubs abound in El Poblado, but to its south is an area with a very different feel. Envigado and its green spaces offer more of a suburban vibe, conducive to a good night’s sleep. The Hotel Poblado Alejandria is a contemporary option that sits in the middle of hotel prices for the area. Much like accommodation in Bogotá, it’s close to both local airports.
The salsa capital of the world, Cali is all about the party. Dancing aside, its historic center and art attractions like Gato de Tejada will fill days of exploring.
Unleash your salsa moves at Tin Tin Deo
Salsa bars are open every night of the week in Cali – something that’s unique to the city. Make the most of your chance to let loose and book in for a free beginner lesson at Tin Tin Deo, before dancing the night away with locals and like-minded travelers.
After a long night of dancing, enjoy coffee and Colombian treats at the bakery known as the best in the city. A local favorite, pandebono is a cheesy bread snack that you have to try here – consider it your fuel for a morning of exploration.
A short distance from landmarks like Cristo Rey, the Church of San Antonio and Colombia’s third-tallest building, the Torre de Cali skyscraper, Cali Marriott Hotel is a great base when you’re looking to get a feel for Cali. As it’s one of the more expensive hotels in the area, expect luxury.